Friday, September 11, 2020

Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

Here is a great video on the roles that luck and hard work play into success. I think it makes a great point that leaders also tend to be lucky.  I think this idea gives some credence to the idea that system of government with not just elected officers, but also randomly selected, would give a larger breadth of experience in government.

 <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Monday, June 29, 2020

Why I Don't Support Donald Trump

A friend of mine and an avid Trump supporter recently asked me to share my thoughts on Donald Trump and why I probably will not be voting for him in this upcoming election. To share a little context, I was a lifelong member of the GOP. But after the election of Donald Trump, I have left the party. Describing why I am not a fan of Donald Trump is a bit of a daunting task and one that I likely will only manage to do a cursory job of.

Moral Character

Donald Trump is an individual that lacks moral character. Donald Trump in the Billy Bush tapes that have been brought up again and again talks about sexually assaulting women. While I don’t believe in extramarital affairs, Donald Trump isn’t merely unfaithful, he seems to have committed illegal acts. In short, Trump is at best a liar, and at worst, a rapist. Neither of them are traits I look for in a president. He simply is not a good moral character. I think he is a poor role model for children across the U.S. and over the world. His moral flaws seem irredeemable.

Mentally Unfit

Donald Trump has an enormous ego. It has led him to say many hilarious and stupid things over his time in the White House. Statements like, “Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.”

Sure other president’s have said stupid things before, George Bush once spoke about how he knows how hard it is to put food on your family. But for Donald, this isn’t a mere gaffe. He at his core thinks he is an intelligent person, often the smartest person in the room. Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” who he talks with consistently about foreign policy, Trump responded, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things."


This is one of the most troubling answers I could possibly imagine to this question. The idea that anyone could know enough to deal with foreign policy alone is laughable. There are just too many countries to have anything but a cursory knowledge of most of them at best. The idea that Donald Trump knows enough about the world that he doesn’t even need to talk to anyone else is just not reality. Donald Trump isn’t as smart as he thinks he is.

Donald Trump has also claimed he is excellent at business, and excellent at taxes. An interview with Donald Trump's accountants shows otherwise, “Mitnick said that Trump had “virtually zero” role in preparing his own taxes.” Donald Trump hired the same CPAs his dad worked with. Donald Trump is no genius when it comes to his taxes. And I’m not sure he is a genius at business. Then again, it's not a requirement to be great at business to be a good president.


Trump is racist

There are lots of statements about who Trump employs or doesn’t employ at his businesses. There may be merit to these claims, I haven’t researched it much myself. But here is an example out of Donald Trump's own mouth:

“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”


The idea that most Mexican immigrants are bad people, and that good people are so rare Donald can only assume a few are good people is so abhorrent, I can’t believe it. Growing up in San Diego, this is simply not my experience at all. The Mexican immigrants I have met are some of the kindest and hardest working. Many times in my life, poor, Mexican families have welcomed me into their homes, shared food with me, and have been some of the kindest people I know.

Someone asserted to me Donald isn’t provably racist. He is xenophobic for sure, but he only discriminates against poorer countries. At the same time, I don’t think you can make that distinction. While Trump may give an alternative explanation, if you just look at the color of the skin of the people targeted by his policies, you will notice a trend.

So far, I have only spoken on Trump's flaws as a person. Let's get into how his policy is wrong.

In addition to being racist towards Mexican immigrants, he wants to build a wall. Spoiler, there really is a wall already. Growing up in San Diego, I have been to it. I have crossed the border on foot. La linea they call it. The Line, it's a bit of a play on words as it is not just a border line, but a literal line to get back into the country. It took hours.

But back on topic, Trump says, “They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.”


This statement doesn’t really have any basis in reality. The work that Mexican immigrants do is often work that no one else will do. You cannot hire Americans to work as day laborers picking fruit. The work is too hard and the pay is too little. Many processes in farming require a human hand. Peaches have to be picked by hand. Denying workers to come to the United States means increased labor prices and increased costs of foods. Really, everyone loses when we stop migrant labor. The migrants don’t get jobs, and everyone pays higher prices for food.

Let's move on to a related topic, Trade.

Donald Trump does not understand economics. He actively fights against free trade. He asserts he is bringing jobs back to the United States. In truth, there were some jobs that left the U.S. when NAFTA was signed. I have a friend in Michigan who told me about this father's business drying up after NAFTA. It is a pain felt strongly by some. But it wasn’t just jobs in the U.S. that were affected. NAFTA destroyed the corn industry in Mexico, they just can’t compete with cheap U.S. corn (source). But what does this shuffling of jobs mean? It means that the countries most suited to a particular task will perform that task and we all are better off for it. Mexico gets cheap corn, we get cheaper cars or other goods requiring labor. The system runs more efficiently and we all get some benefit, it isn’t a zero sum game. Trump doesn’t seem to see this though. He sees trade with China as a win-lose relationship. He just doesn’t come to the table with the right mental model.


Oftentimes, I think the sentiments some of my religious friends use regarding Trump is that he has done bad things in the past, but he is doing one critical matter. He is appointing conservative justices to the Supreme Court to fight Roe vs Wade, and that is why they are supporting him.

There are a lot of aspects to unpack from this. I do have to mention the pick of Brett Kavanaugh is still perplexing to me.

Kavanaugh, understandably, lied about some aspects of his past. When asked about a Devil’s Triangle, a sex act, Kavanugh claimed it was a drinking game. (Source)

That is a somewhat minor detail about the hearing and his past, but still, it bothers me he lied under oath. And it does paint him in a different light. Claims by his accusers in this light seems to make some sense.

Let's get back though, Trump appoints conservative justices. For me, this isn’t a plus either. I think this topic deserves a post of its own. In short, as a deeply religious person, I believe abortion is a decision a woman must make with God, not the government. While abortion is terrible, in some cases (like rape or incest) it might be the least terrible option for a woman to make. That decision should be hers to make. She should not have to explain, recount, or relive the experience that brought her to that place. By no means am I pro-abortion, I think abortion is not the correct choice in many instances. I am pro-education though, pro the teaching of correct principles, not pro-force and coercion.

Trump Recently

Lastly, let's talk about what Trump did recently, just days ago from writing this.

In the Rose garden, Trump made the following statement, “I will fight to protect you. I am your President of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” (Source)

Minutes later, Trump ordered federal troops to break up a peaceful protest. So he could take a photo-op with a bible at a local church. Trump did exactly what he said he won’t do. Not months later, not days, not even hours. Literally minutes after his speech he went back on what he said.


Perhaps in a boardroom amongst his contractors and business associates Trump's rhetoric was effective. Perhaps in a different setting Trump is a genius and is competent.

But on the global stage, Trump comes across as a would-be dictator, an idiot, a hypocrite, and a buffoon. After all this writing I still have not scratched the surface on why Donald Trump is unfit for office. He is a disgrace to our great nation, and a disgrace to the Grand Old Party.

I haven’t even touched his crony ways of running the country. Providing states aid through his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the governors that are close and well connected get aid, and those that aren’t suffer. That he did not divest in his companies before taking office, that he makes money by hosting events at his own hotels and resorts. There are certainly countless other items I am missing from this very incomplete piece, but this has to end at some point.

Donald Trump certainly is no Hitler. But that is also an insanely low bar to meet. I would more rack him up with the likes of Warren G. Harding, the U.S. president that literally lost the White House china in a game of cards.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Why I might seriously vote for a man who wears a boot on his head.

If you aren't familiar, Vermin Supreme is politically... well, something. A bit of a character. Kind of like the “the rent is too damn high” guy or “Lord Buckethead.”

Vermin has run in before. For the past 30 years, he claims. In the past he has advocated for mandatory tooth brushing laws as well as for free ponies for every American which also double as a form of ID. These positions and policies are just jokes. Like Stephen Colbert’s persona in the Colbert report.

This election, things are different for Vermin. This year, for the first time, Vermin is actually taking the campaign seriously. Listen to him at one of the libertarian debates.

I'm in shock. This year he is also the only candidate with any name recognition at all. So I really might vote for him in this upcoming primary. Now, does this mean I will vote for him in the general election? I don't know about that yet. Let's take it one step at a time.

I am a little sad to be missing out on some of the other interesting primaries. The democrats certainly have some interesting things going on. And as a blog that loves to talk about UBI, Andrew Yang is pretty interesting (although, as I live in California, which is a state that votes pretty late in the primary process, I often don’t actually get to vote for the candidates that interest me. It seems Andrew Yang recently dropped out before I would have had a chance to support him. This same thing happened to me in 2016, when Donald Trump was the presumptive nominee before I even got to vote.)

On the republican side, Bill Weld is pretty interesting too. He is taking one delegate so far from the sitting president, which honestly is quite a feat. I am very happy for him. I voted for him in 2016 and would happily do so again.

Also, be on the lookout, as the blog has an exciting update post coming out shortly to talk a little about where the authors of the blog have been and the state of the blog.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Jay Shafer's Stunning $5,000 Tiny House

In an earlier blog post, we discussed how UBI could be the solution to homeless.  I think this video helps support the idea we proposed earlier. Housing should be much much cheap, and there should be many more affordable options to people. I think tiny homes is a great possible solution to many of the US's homelessness issues.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Ukraine Whistleblower, Transcript, Complaint & Impeachment -- Real Law R...

This is a very informative video. I sometimes wonder how the US got to this state.  As a former lifelong member of the GoP, I don't know what the party is thinking. Hoping for real change in 2020.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The War On The Poor In America: How Homelessness Became A Crime

Let’s talk about what may be the ultimate form of poverty: Homelessness.

Homelessness isn’t a new phenomenon -- and the homeless have never been treated with tremendous kindness by the system in which we live. In fact, there tends to be an overwhelming assumption among the “haves” that the homeless “have-nots” have somehow earned their homelessness by making poor choices in life.

In reality, there are so many factors that can lead to homelessness that they’re impossible to count. Some of them include:

  • Running away from an abusive family situation.
  • Being kicked out (as a minor) by a family for being gay, lesbian, trans or otherwise not cis-gendered.
  • A medical crisis that threw the finances of the household underwater.
  • Mental disorders (including drug or alcohol addiction) that make working impossible.
  • Delays in processing claims for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits.
  • A lack of social services (or lack of funding) designed to assist people in the midst of economic crises.

Let’s add to the picture the fact that anyone working a full-time minimum-wage job (if they can find an employer willing to grant them full-time hours with the resulting benefits) still can’t afford a modest two-bedroom rental anywhere in the United States. You can quickly start to understand that homelessness is not a personal failing. It’s a failing of the system that’s supposed to help personal struggles.

So, why then, are American cities responding to the homeless as if they are waging a war? The war, one might think, would be against poverty and the system that keeps people stuck in a cycle of homelessness. Instead, it’s the homeless that are seen as the problem and outright attacked.

How Are American Cities Declaring War On The Homeless?

City governments are going out of their way to make areas inhospitable to the homeless -- seemingly with the idea that if they can make the homeless disappear then the problem is somehow solved. (There’s a revolting sort of logic to this. After all, if the affluent and working-class people don’t have to be troubled by the sight of some homeless people on the streets, then the problem seems to be solved and city leaders can relax.)

Let’s talk about how cities go out of their way to make homelessness a bigger burden than you may have thought possible:
  • Anti-begging laws, which require homeless people to buy a permit in order to stand on a street corner asking for donations.
  • Fining motorists for stopping to give homeless people donations.
  • Designing urban architecture that makes it impossible for homeless people to sit down or rest in public spaces, including the use of spikes on window ledges.
  • Ordinances that make sleeping in public -- even inside a car -- a punishable offense.

Some cities have even taken the step of disbanding homeless camps wherever they can locate them -- even on private land when the homeless are there by invitation. They also shut down “illegal” shelters and donation points that aren’t officially sanctioned. This forces the homeless to find shelter anywhere they can -- often in secret camps in the woods where they are more exposed to the elements (and more danger).

What Can Be Done To Redirect The Efforts Against Homelessness?

Homelessness isn’t a problem that can be made to go away simply by making the homeless invisible. Some things can be done (experiments with a universal basic income come to mind as does building mini-homes that can be maintained on a minimum-wage job) to help erase the problem of modern homelessness.

First, however, city governments need to acknowledge that the homeless are people -- and deserving of the resources that can help them escape their situation.

This was a guest piece by Maggie Black.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Factually! with Adam Conover: Homelessness

I listened to a great episode of a podcast on homelessness. Some of the figures about the cost of homelessness remind me of our post on UBI as a Solution to homelessness. Anyways, enjoy!

Is Success Luck or Hard Work?

Here is a great video on the roles that luck and hard work play into success. I think it makes a great point that leaders also tend to be lu...