Socialism begins at home: Bernie Sanders staff demands $15/hour

Article from Newsweek:

Campaign workers for Bernie Sanders have taken aim at one of the senator’s key policies in his 2020 presidential run — raising the federal minimum wage. According to The Washington Post, some members of Sanders’ campaign team have been lobbying to raise their wages so that they make the $15 hourly rate that the Vermont senator has frequently called for both on the campaign trail and in Washington D.C.


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LGBTQ+ as a hierarchy

Pride Month is over, but I am not quite ready to return my attention to Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes.

From a deeply closeted New York Deplorable (she runs a small business and therefore is unable to cheer for bigger government and higher taxes with appropriate enthusiasm):

I couldn’t help noticing that the purportedly Native American Two Spirit is at the bottom and therefore implicitly inferior to all of the white European ways of being LGBTQIA+ that are above. Also, Intersex is two notches better than Nonbinary. Who made that decision?

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If black Americans get reparations for their stolen land…

… do they have to then turn the money over to Native Americans? (perhaps allocated by Sachem Elizabeth Warren?)

“Black People’s Land Was Stolen” (NYT):

in addition to invoking the 40 acres black people never got, the reparations movement today should be talking about the approximately 11 million acres black people had but lost, in many cases through fraud, deception and outright theft, much of it taken in the past 50 years.

These property holdings could have provided a foundation for black wealth-building in post-Jim Crow America. Instead, they became a source of riches for others. Rather than helping to close the racial wealth gap, blacks’ landholdings became a key force in widening it.

By 1910, black people claimed ownership of nearly 16 million acres in America.

As often, though, whites undermined black property ownership by more subtle means. White tax assessors routinely overvalued black-owned land, forcing black property owners to bear a heavier tax burden than whites (to pay for services they didn’t receive) and slowly draining families of earnings. If black-owned property became valuable or a black property owner challenged white supremacy, local officials could simply declare the property tax-delinquent and sell it at a tax sale.

These continuing practices, more than the government’s broken promise of 40 acres and a mule 150 years ago, explain why black families today have 10 cents to every dollar held by white households and why that gap continues to widen.

Suppose all of the above is true. Wouldn’t it make more sense to restore land ownership to the Native Americans?

[Separately, the idea that multi-generational wealth can be assured with a one-time injection of land has been tested in the U.S. and is chronicled in the book The Son Also Rises. From a chapter of Real World Divorce:

Is the focus on cash transfers for the benefit of children supported by research? “What Happens When We Randomly Assign Children to Families?” (Sacerdote 2004; National Bureau of Economic Research), a study of Korean children adopted by American parents, suggests not. It turns out that there was a low correlation between the ultimate income of a child and the income of the parents. Adoptees brought into homes with $25,000 per year in income had the same family income, as adults, as adoptees who had grown up in homes with $200,000 per year in income. There is a stronger correlation between the income of biological children and their parents, suggesting that genetics is more important than environment when it comes to career attainment.

The Son also Rises (Clark 2014; Princeton University Press) contains a survey of the academic literature regarding the effect of family wealth and unearned cash transfers on children. In 1832 there was a land lottery in Georgia where winners received a parcel of land roughly equal in value to the median family wealth at the time (i.e., the typical winners ended up with twice as much wealth, about $150,000 extra in today’s money). How did the children of the winners do?

They were no more literate than the children of losers. Their occupational status was no higher. Their own children in 1880 (the grandchildren of the 1832 winners) were again no more literate. Worse, they were significantly less likely to be enrolled in school than the grandchildren of the losers. … Wealth is not statistically higher for lottery winners’ children…

Clark also reviews a study of Cherokee Indians who, starting in 1998, received substantial boosts to their income from casino profits. For children who had not been living in poverty, “there was no measurable change in any educational outcomes, including high school graduation rates…” This was despite the fact that a child who graduated high school would immediately become eligible for his or her own $4,000-per-year payment.

The professor writing for the NYT, Andrew Kahrl, states confidently that black Americans today would be way richer if ancestors had obtained all of the land that they were promised 150 years ago, but he cites no research to bolster his opinion.]

Finally, I think it is interesting that the New York Times publishes a piece in which annual property tax is characterized as a slow draining away of rightfully obtained wealth!

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Is it okay to take down our Pride flags?

June is nearly over and, with it, Pride Month.

On June 1, a church in nearby Concord, Massachusetts added a Pride flag of equal size to their permanent Black Lives Matter flag (parishioners are so interested in black lives that they elected to live in one of the whitest towns in the U.S.!).

Can they take the flag down this evening? If so, why? Is the LGBTQIA lifestyle something to be proud of only 1/12th of the time? If the point of Pride Month is to demand additional rights and privileges for Americans who identify as LGBTQIA, why is it okay to shelve those demands until June 2020? “The Struggle for Gay Rights Is Over” (Atlantic):

Identifying as gay, bisexual, trans, or “queer”—anything but straight—is, in some milieus, a new marker of cool. In one recent survey, less than 50 percent of 13-to-20-year-olds (all part of Generation Z) identified as “exclusively heterosexual.”

But if the goal is to drive this number down to 0 percent, why is it okay to put the campaign on hold for 11 months?

More importantly, is it okay to go to Chick-fil-A tomorrow? (Maybe they should have said that they were closing on Sundays during June in observation of Pride Month?)

[Finally, why is it okay to have equal size flags for Pride and Black Lives Matter? Have the legal wrongs suffered by LGBTQIA Americans been equal to the wrongs suffered by African Americans? If so, shouldn’t there be reparations for Americans who identify as LGBTQIA or descendants of deceased Americans who identified as LGBTQIA (NYT, below, says “maybe”)? If not, shouldn’t the Black Lives Matter flag be larger or flown in a higher position?]


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Does a Pride flag mean EVERYONE is welcome?

A Facebook friend shared the following post from a Conservative Rabbi:

(i.e., a prime spot for a Black Lives Matter sign (in a nearly-all-white town, of course, with restrictive zoning to keep it that way) was taken up with a different victim group’s banner)

He added “We stand for radical hospitality. EVERYONE is welcome!”

Of course, I had to ask “Would someone who advocated for strict adherence to Leviticus 18 and 20 be welcome?” (see Wikipedia for “Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits homosexual conduct”)

There was a bit of back and forth, leading me to suggest an update: “everyone who agrees with us is welcome”

A righteous congregation member replied “Do you mean to suggest that the hypothetical conservative people you reference would be unable to respect that others have different moral perspectives from them, and would make a scene harassing others, causing them to be asked to leave?”

I refined the question: Okay, so the hypothetical person comes to the “EVERYONE is welcome” temple wearing a T-shirt reading “Follow Leviticus 18/20” on the front. On the back is “Outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be heard”. On the head of this person is a red MAGA hat. The person is carrying (not on Shabbat, I hope!) Tefillin in a Trump Hotel laundry bag in one hand and a Reelect Trump 2020 tote bag in the other hand. Will this person be just as welcome as a person wearing a rainbow T-shirt?

A sincere congregation member: I imagine such a shirt might prompt conversation, and as long as all parties engaged in conversation in good faith, I have trouble believing Mr. T-Shirt Man (as I’m now thinking of him/you) would be asked to leave.

I asked how this would be different from a Catholic Church putting out a “Stop abortions now” (an issue on which Americans disagree) and saying “EVERYONE is welcome,”

The righteous response: a key difference is that the Catholic Church promotes a moral code that is anti-abortion, and presumably could even excommunicate members who have abortions. Therefore, such signage would be hypocritical. It seems that perhaps you are perceiving there are “two sides” that are mirrors of one another, but there are crucial differences between a Catholic or Evangelical church that says “abortion is immoral” and are working to criminalize abortion—but still say “all are welcome” — and a Jewish Temple or, say, a UU church that sees abortion as a medical procedure between a women and her doctor (but not going around and foisting the procedure on others) and welcomes all comers. The former groups are trying to control / legislate others’ behavior, but the latter groups are not.

I pointed out that the LGBTQ banner was sometimes unfurled in order to control and coerce others, e.g., preventing Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants, forcing the Colorado baker to make a same-sex wedding cake, or boycotting Israel (maybe they’d rather visit one of the anti-Israel countries in which homosexual acts are punishable by death?).

Me: Circling back to the original post, would your temple be equally welcoming to the Colorado baker who was the subject of the Supreme Court case as you would be to someone wearing a Provincetown Pride T-shirt? If not, it is inaccurate to say that EVERYONE is welcome!

Congregation Member 1: exerting pressure on corporations to change their practices is not the same as legislating the elimination of human rights for certain groups of people. Apples and oranges.

Congregation Member 2: you seem to say above that a flag representing “[Jewish] gays are welcome,” is a point of view?

Readers: What do you think? Does hanging a pride flag signal adherence to a political point of view and therefore tend to exclude people who don’t agree with that point of view (e.g., Orthodox Jews, observant Muslims, Catholics, etc.)? Or is it legitimately characterized as an “EVERYONE is welcome” sign?

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Zillow welcomes me to the gayborhood

A recent email from Zillow:

We’re marching at Pride 2019 to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community. Because home is more than just an address — it’s the place you belong.

Live where you love

Gayborhoods are often in high demand — but they don’t always carry a high price tag.

We believe all people should live in a world where they feel valued, supported and like they belong.

[Do they want Trump-loving anti-abortion anti-immigration gun-loving Americans to feel “valued, supported, and like they belong”?]

The featured Gayborhoods have a percentage of same-sex couples ranging from 2.3 percent to 7.6 percent:

Zillow explains how they found these: “Census tracts and groupings with the highest percentages of same-sex couple households were matched to the neighborhood that best contained them.”

We are informed by our best minds that between 10 and 20 percent of Americans are gay (Smithsonian reporting on research by National Bureau of Economic Research).

Admittedly not every household contains a couple, but if the 10-20 percent figure is correct, shouldn’t a neighborhood with only 2.3 percent same-sex couples be considered a Straightborhood?

Finally, what percentage of American homes these days are “the place [the occupants] belong”? Does someone who has moved from the other side of the U.S. for school or work “belong”? A person who votes contrary to the prevailing political doctrine in the neighborhood? An undocumented immigrant who can be deported at any time by the not-yet-abolished ICE?

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Why don’t all government contractors identify as women?

From “Should You Get Certified As A Woman-Owned Small Business?”:

Generally-speaking, if you’re thinking about working with the government in any way, then getting it’s worth at least looking into getting certified as a women-owned small business (WOSB). You can do this through the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce or another approved third-party certifier. The benefits of getting certified as a WOSB include being able to pursue public sector work and any “set-asides” the government has. Every year, the U.S. government aims to award at least five percent of its contract funds to women-owned small business.

A question for Pride Month: If a person currently identifying as a “man” owns and operates a small company (“small” for the Defense Department is fewer than 500 employees) that does business with the government, why not switch to identifying as a “woman” so that the company qualifies for favorable treatment as a Women-Owned Small Business?

The Federal set-asides for “women” were set up under a different conception of the term. With $17+ billion at stake, why not a trip to the DMV to ask for a change from male to female?


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Evil corporations put profits before human life

One of my virtuous neighbors was talking about evil corporations that prioritize profit over human life, not making products as safe as possible.

Of course I had to agree that this was, shall we say, Deplorable.

I asked “What about our own town?” We don’t have Danish-style bike infrastructure, in which a curb separates an automobile road from a bike lane and a second curb separates the bike lane from the pedestrian sidewalk. A cyclist was killed in our town recently, an accident that wouldn’t have happened with a Danish-style system.

I then pointed out that we have several busy roads through town that aren’t divided, thus inviting a deadly head-on collision. Since we do not want to put a price tag on human life, wouldn’t it make sense to raise property taxes sufficiently to widen these roads and insert a concrete divider in the middle?

Had he stood up at town meeting (at which recently the good townsfolk voted to spend $110 million on a new school for about 440 town-resident K-8 students) to demand these initiatives for safer roads?

The corporate critic was horrified at these ideas: “That would cost a fortune,” he said, “to acquire the strips of land and build the barriers. It would never make sense.”

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Why are abortion laws that are anathema in Georgia okay in Europe?

Virtuous American corporations are boycotting Georgia due to some more restrictive abortion laws (list from The Wrap; article on an Amazon Studios production being pulled).

Yet the same companies that refuse to make movies in Georgia (a welcome respite for Georgia taxpayers? How much cash must they shovel out to the world’s wealthiest corporations?) happily operate in European countries that restrict abortion. For example, Netflix has a big office in Spain in which abortion is restricted beyond the first trimester (Wikipedia). Amazon has a big operation in Ireland, whose abortion laws are condemned by Amnesty International (see below; Amazon also operates in Northern Ireland where abortion is even more restricted).

If abortion is the litmus test for movie studios, why do they continue to operate in California? This chart shows that California bans abortion after “viability” (about 21 weeks with modern technology) whereas Massachusetts allows abortion up to 24 weeks. Why not pull up stakes and move to Massachusetts? (save a ton of money on personal income tax; similar winner-take-all divorce/custody/child support system) Or drive just a few hours east to Nevada, which also allows abortion to 24 weeks, and skip out entirely on state income tax? (family law plaintiffs should sue before leaving California, though; Nevada caps child support at $13,000 per year for a single child and starts from a presumption of 50/50 shared parenting)

All around the world there are countries with restrictive abortion laws (map). Why is it only U.S. state laws that get these virtuous corporations to speak up and vote with their checkbooks?

(Separately, if the idea is to help adult women in Georgia who are seeking abortions, how does it help to reduce their employment opportunities? Wouldn’t a woman in Georgia who wants an abortion at 23 weeks be better off with a movie production job with a paycheck that will enable her to hop a flight to New York or Massachusetts or fill up a car with gasoline for the drive to Florida? (see above chart))


  • “Amazon relocates operations to new Belfast Titanic Quarter site” (abortion is generally illegal in Northern Ireland (BBC), yet Amazon chooses to operate there despite the fact that it would be practical to do everything from the less restrictive Republic of Ireland and drive across the soft border as necessary)
  • Georgia family law: with child support revenue capped at less than $30,000 per year for one child, it is bad state in which to profit from a casual sexual encounter with a movie star
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