Archive for the ‘Local Politics’ Category

Why “Buying Local” is a Joke

July 27, 2017

Around town, there are signs and stickers and advertisements, attempting to convince all of us residents to “Buy Local” instead of driving down the hill to the larger city (in the next county, five miles away from my house) and shopping there.

There is no incentive for me to shop local.  First, taxes are lower down the hill, so my groceries are cheaper.  Second, there are more stores with better hours down the hill.  Third, the stores are better stocked, better staffed and have a better shopping experience.  Fourth, there are fewer idle police officers, writing tickets for 3 mph over the speed limit, or dirty license plates, or other giant wastes of time.

“Buy Local” is a bunch of crap.  It attempts to guilt trip you into buying a product you would not normally buy, or paying more for a product.  If your store has better produce, you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to buy your produce.  If it has better prices, you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to pay less.  If you provide a more convenient experience, you can charge more, and you don’t need a guilt trip to convince people to pay more for a quick stop.

Instead, the whole “Buy Local” is a bunch of guilt.  The town will either guilt you based on environmental concerns (if you buy from the local farmer’s market instead of the Walmart, you are saving all of that truck traffic), or based on community “needs” (if you buy local, you help but your neighbor’s daughter through dance lessons instead of sending money to an executive somewhere else).

In reality, if you have a better product, or some advantage (convenience, better hours, cleaner store, etc.) people will come.  They will often drive out of their way for it.

Be wary of any store that tries to convince you to buy a product on anything other than the product’s value to you.  They are simply asking you to pay more for a product than it is worth to you, based on some guilt- guilt you did not earn.  Guilt for their inferior product or inferior store.  It’s the same guilt a bum expects you to feel for “having” when they “have not.”

Walk away from those establishments until they can trade value for value.

Thank you for reading my post.

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Free Market Wins Again

June 2, 2017

I recently was involved in a story where a large gas station in an isolated area locked its doors during a tornado warning.  People driving on the state highway flocked to the gas station to find shelter, only to have the teenager on duty point to a “Closed” sign, sending the scared travelers fleeing in all directions.

As a private company, it is the store’s right to close their doors.  However, as it turns out, this was not the company policy.  Based in Oklahoma, their bathrooms are designed to be tornado shelters.

Rather than complain to the police about the locked doors, an influential storm chaser tweeted the dilemma.  As word spread, the corporate offices responded to the storm chaser, and the doors were to be unlocked. Thankfully, the tornado did not affect any of the folks who were seeking shelter.

In the end, free-markets, and words on social media made a huge change for a small town.

Thank you for reading my post.

The Albuquerque Riots -Just a Rerun

May 28, 2016

As many of you know, Donald Trump spoke in Albuquerque earlier this week.  Outside a “protest” took the form of rioting and setting fires.  Not all protestors were involved or supported these actions, but plenty did.  A quick scan among my Facebook “friends” showed varying degrees of support for these actions.

But where have I seen this before?

Today, I was reading the next chapter in Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand, and it all made sense.  In this collection of essays and speeches, there is one titled, The Cashing-In:  The Student “Rebellion” that sums up what is happening.  The Student “Rebellion” took place on the UC Berkley campus in the 1960’s, concerning students’ rights and free speech on campus (which included soliciting funds for the Vietcong).  However, what these students were advocating was not free speech, but the “freedom” to speak whatever they wanted regardless of who owned the land.   (Rand, 295) This particular situation was a little bit muddier, as the land was state-owned property.  However, the protesters’ message was clear.

The implications of this are huge. Don’t like interracial couples?  Feel free to protest in their bedrooms.  After all, how dare them try to block your free speech?  This is what happens when we throw away property rights in the false name of “free speech.”

In the middle of this essay, Ayn Rand highlights a few of the points this “rebellion” was actually about, philosophically, and then we’ll compare it to the Trump protest:

“…there is no justification, in a civilized society, for the kind of mass civil disobedience that involves the violation of the rights of others–regardless of whether the demonstrators’ goal is good or evil.  The end does not justify the means.  No one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others.”  (Rand, 291).

“The forcible occupation [sit-ins] of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality.  An individual has no right to do a “sit-in” in the home or office of a person he disagrees with–and he does not acquire such a  right by joining a gang.  Rights are not a matter of numbers–and there can be no such thing, in law or in morality as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.”  (Rand, 291)

Another goal is, “To facilitate the acceptance of force, the Berkley rebels attempted to establish a special distinction between force and violence:  force, they claimed explicitly, is a proper form of social action, but violence is not.  Their definition of the terms was as follows:  coercion by means of a literal physical contact is “violence” and is reprehensible; any other way of violating rights is merely “force” and is a legitimate, peaceful method of dealing with opponents.”  (Rand, 292).  “The theoretical purpose of that grotesque absurdity is to establish a moral inversion:  to make the initiation of force moral, and the resistance to force immoral–and thus to obliterate the right of self-defense.”  (Rand, 292-293).

Just a few statements that I agree with, and we’ll apply them to the next Trump protest to see how many of them are violated.

Rand, Ayn.  Capitalism:  The Unknown Ideal.  Signet, New York, 1966.

Corruption in Universities

May 19, 2016

I am not yet prepared to discuss the name of my university- the one where I work.  However, it has come to my attention that it is incredibly corrupt. I have seen hints of it in the past, but I saw it for the first time personally the other day.

On Monday, I received notice that I no longer had an office.  Or a lab.  All in all, our department lost around 80% of its space during a Friday meeting.  I received an angry email asking why there was still stuff in these spaces.  We were supposed to leave these spaces in 2017 when another department is scheduled to move, but suddenly, we don’t have them anymore.  An hour later, I got an email threatening to “surplus” everything that was left.

Could it be retaliation?

Two years ago, we had a professor who caught a certain administrator’s daughter cheating (again).  This professor (who won professor of the year that year) was planning to fail this student.   However, he was untenured, and was denied tenure instead.

This year, that same administrator was running for the position of president, as the current president planned to retire. At least one professor from our department was on the search committee.  He was not selected (there were some REALLY good candidates), and now, in spite of increased enrollment, we lose space.

Now, I head to work to tell high school students to study hard and do well in school so that, what?  If they have a relative working at the National Labs, they get a free pass, but otherwise, there are no jobs?  Many of our graduates have no jobs- and they have engineering degrees!

Intel is laying off even more people than initially announced.  It was the biggest private employer of technical folks in the state.  Instead, they are disguising how many people are gone- in addition to the layoffs, they have forced quite a few into retirement.

It’s all a fraud.  All of it.  Education, schooling, college. It’s really just welfare for PhD’s.  I’m currently using my master’s dipoma in engineering as a door mat, as it is from this university.  It’s worth more as a door mat than as a diploma.

I want it all to crash down so that it can be rebuilt.  It just involves displacing 500 years of inbreeding and the meth that plague this state.

I don’t think that will happen.  Perhaps the only honest path for me, rather than lying to students about jobs and futures and potential is to quit and work an honest, real, fast-food job.

The Link Between Provincial Attitudes and Tribalism

January 29, 2016

Currently, there is a lot of support for “buying locally” and that “local” is somehow synonymous with “moral.”  There are city-wide campaigns in some areas to “shop local” or cries to, “save our small town.”

Do you wonder why your teenage boys fight?  In gangs, over girls?  You’ve taught them that the entire world ends at the city or county line.  There is no word outside of the little box called, “local.”  Without seeing the world as a large place, full of possibilities, is it hard to imagine our young folks fighting over small pieces of ghetto territory?

I will not post the link, for fear of political retaliation, but one small college town newspaper recently featured an editorial concerning candidates for the new university president.  The search committee narrowed down the applicant pool to a few candidates, but did not include one of the current school administrators.  This editorial stated that one of the biggest qualifications was this administrator’s birth city and current location- both of which were the same town as the college.  His hometown should be the qualification for his  presidency, that over the skills and experince of the other candiidates!

In reality, simply purchasing something because it was generated locally, or hiring someone because he or she lives in the area is a disgusting form of tribalism.  These types of advertising campaigns and government programs are used to substitute an imaginary moral with a value. They rely on the consumer to overlook the product itself and instead look at where the product was made.  A well-made, value-added product would not need to rely on such claims. These claims can only made by an inferior producer, with only a few notable exceptions- locally grown produce, for example, implies that it is fresher than produce brought in from another place.

To choose (or not choose) an employee or a product based on non-essentials, such as race, gender, or family history is a poor way to do business.  These things are not important to the quality of the product, or the value added.  Also, these non-essentials are not under the control of the person seling the product.  Buying from members of your “tribe” simply because they are members of your tribe is tribalism. Refusing to buy because the seller is not a member of your tribe is also tribalism.

To choose (or not choose) an employee or a product based on philosophical grounds is not a choice that stems from the quality of the product or the value added.  However, because the money you spent on the product or employee is inconsistent with the value system or may be used to actively destroy a set of values you uphold, it could be in your interest to make this choice.  Therefore, a boycott can be a moral reason for not choosing a product or employee.  Because this choice to buy or not buy is based on the choices of the seller is NOT tribalism.

So then, what about the case of “buying local” or “hiring local?”  A local product or individual is not a matter of choice- a person is born where he or she is born, and he or she has no say in the matter.  The circumstances to which a person spends their childhood is often mandated by parents, including the location of their home. Imagine the absurdity of hiring only folks that grew up in a single parent household!  Yet, somehow, when we “hire locally” we are stating that the circumstances one is born into are far more important than the value of the product!  This is clearly tribalism in its ugliest, most concealed from.

Next time you see a “shop local” sign, think back to the true meaning of these signs. “Buy from our tribe, only.”  You can replace the text in your mind with, “Only shop at white-owned stores” or “Don’t buy from the Jews” if you prefer, as these signs all mean the same thing.

Thank you for reading my post.

Provincial Attitude

December 13, 2015

The Socorro El Defensor-Chieftain has more vomit-inducing nonsense in their editorial section.

The first letter to the editor encompasses everything that is wrong with a provincial attitude. This author honestly believes that you owe your community everything, and that any dollar you spend outside of your community is a sin. The author makes this clear when the author states, “If you work here, live here!” and “If you want to live in Albuquerque, – work there and let someone who wants to live in Socorro have your job.”

East Berlin was much crappier than West Berlin; so much so that they had to build a wall around it to keep people from leaving. This Socorro resident would love to do the same; build a wall around it to keep people from leaving and spending their money elsewhere.

In a free-market capitalist society, money goes where it is best spent. If you want more of it to be spent in your store, improve your store, don’t complain that the other guy’s store is better. If Socorro wants to encourage people to move there, they should clean up the crime and corruption. Then, maybe more folks would move there. Their people should stop opposing every big box store that wants to move to town, and complaining about every new contract that EMRTC gets. Don’t attack things that bring people to your town, if you really want to expand your town.

I also like the line: “After all there are soon to be 66 hardworking dedicated residents who may be looking for jobs.” No, actually, many of the commuters are college professors. No, your Smith’s employees can’t replace university professors. Sorry. I was once a Kroger (Smith’s) employee, and now teach college. They are different, and it’s not a matter of having a warm body, any warm body, do a job.

The problem is, the author, and many folks like the author, have no interest in expanding their town. They wish to stagnate. They want things to remain just the way they have always been. When things change, they throw a fit. There was always a Smith’s, and they assumed there would always be a Smith’s. These were likely the same folks that complained when Netflix boxes showed up and replaced the video rental stores.

I personally left the area after my office mate was attacked so badly that she was left blinded in one eye. It was one of a series of random attacks on college students by the local high school gang. Everyone knew it was happening- I did some work in the high school, and I heard about it. Other students were approached by the local gang- “are you one of them Techie fools?” However, after all of this, many weeks later, after several editorials were written, the police issued a statement. The statement said that Tech students were not being targeted. It said that my office mate likely hurt her eye when she fell down, and that the “kids” that attacked her probably didn’t mean to hurt her. It was bullshit, and we all knew it. I moved soon after.

I still love Socorro. I still love the college there. However, I have no interest in living in such a closed-minded, provincial community. I will commute to do my job, and yes, I will spend the dollars I earn through my efforts where they best serve me, and not feel once ounce of guilt that those dollars are leaving Socorro.

Thank you for reading my post.

Our Smith’s is Closing

December 10, 2015

Our local Smith’s grocery store is closing. There is a giant effort to keep them in town, and the reasoning is completely terrible. Smith’s decided to close their store. Whatever their reasons are perfectly acceptable, as it is their business.

The locals around here are passing around a petition to keep the store open. Some are well intentioned; they took it for granted that there was a Smith’s in town, and now they vow to shop there always and forever. Those are mistaken.

More disappointing are those that feel they have some right to a Smith’s. They demand that Smith’s exist for their benefit. I’ve heard arguments about how, “Smith’s owes them service,” or that “Smith’s needs to supply” them. They insist that Smith’s be willing to run at a loss rather than close up shop.

I’ve also heard folks claim that Walmart has run Smith’s out of business, and if it wasn’t for Walmart, the town would be better off. Wrong again. Competition is always, always a good thing. Walmart showed up and other stores either had to step up their game, or pack their bags. Smith’s chose to pack its bags.

This, and all other “save our small town store” movements typically follow one of these two formats: 1) we are owed a store or 2) big, evil corporation ruins everyone’s lives.

I’m sad to see Smith’s go, but it’s their decision. And it’s long past final.

NM Politics – HJR 6

February 18, 2013

I am very unhappy with a proposal in the New Mexico Legislature- HJR 6. The full text of the bill can be found here.

The statement of purpose for this bill is “Proposing an Amendment to Article 20 of the Constitution of New Mexico to Require the State Minimum Wage Rates to be Increased Annually at the Rate of Inflation.”

I’ll start out by saying that I fully oppose the notion of a minimum wage on moral grounds. As the employer, I should be able to decide what a job is worth to me, and as an employee, you should be able to decide whether or not to accept employment. If I charge too little, I will find no employees. If you ask too much, you won’t have a job. It is self-regulating.

Instead, someone decided that all jobs should be worth a minimum amount. Wrong. You have no moral right to decide how I spend my money. If I decide sweeping my floor is worth $3.00 an hour, who are you to decide that I must spend more?

Furthermore, tying minimum wage rate to inflation is like tying the legal blood alcohol content of drunk drivers to the drunkest driver arrested. Each time the minimum wage goes up, so will inflation. Next year, we’ll raise minimum wage to reflect that change in inflation, and so on.

Everyone who supports this bill thinks how much easier it will be to pay their bills if they make a few more dollars. What they don’t think about is that the grocery store is going to have to pay more per hour to its employees, and thus is going to pass that cost on to the consumer. Guess who will pay more for a gallon of milk? Everyone. Then, we find it is as hard to get by on $9 an hour as it was last year on $8 an hour. So we raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour. Guess what happens next year?

This bill is a terrible encroachment on the freedoms of business owners and outright poison for the economy. I hope, for all of our sakes, it doesn’t pass.

“Albuquerque Launches Voluntary Gun Disposal Program” – Waste of Tax Money

January 5, 2013

I happened upon this article on the local KOAT news site. The Albuquerque Police Department is holding a gun turn-in this weekend, and will continue to do so every Saturday this month. Criminals, er um, I mean concerned citizens can turn in their guns to the police to have them destroyed.

While the program is voluntary, I have several major problems with this program:

This program is “no questions asked.” You turn in the gun, and it is destroyed. It’s like the mafia hitman’s wet dream- dispose of every weapon which you’ve used in a crime, and we won’t ask, just destroy the evidence. If I committed a crime with a gun, and then attempted to destroy it to hide the evidence, I would be charged with Tampering with Evidence. Now, I can go to the police station and have them destroy it for me.

Along these lines, these guns will most assuredly not be checked against the list of stolen firearms. I had a Glock 32 stolen in 2006. If it shows up at this gun destruction program, I’ll never see it again. I probably never will anyway, but returning stolen property might have been the only inkling of hope this program had at benefiting the tax payer.

The effect of this program will not be less crime. The people who turn in guns will be a) parents of teenager wanna-be gangstas (who will just steal another gun) b) criminals looking to ditch stolen/”used” weapons and c) people who inherited guns and have no idea how much they are worth.

The first group will not yield many weapons. Mom finds either a stolen gun, or some useless piece of garbage (read: Jennings, Bryco, etc) and turns it in. Thug gets his cell phone taken away for five minutes and then breaks into another car or house and steals another gun.

The second group will also not yield many guns. If you’ve committed a crime, or are cracked out, you probably don’t want to voluntarily go chat with the police.

The third group is being ripped off. If you saw someone who inherited a mint condition ’67 Corvette, and a sleaze showed up and told her that it was only worth $500, you’d try to stop the transaction. You’d know the car was worth more, and that the sleaze was taking advantage of the person. By the time someone mentions guns on their will, they are probably nice weapons, worth lots of money. Instead of selling them, the police say they’ll break them for free.

The only honest intention this program could have would be to return stolen property to its rightful owner. Instead of doing so, the Albuquerque Police are more afraid of scaring away the few criminals that would turn in their (likely stolen) weapons.