- In 1938 Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law, setting the first minimum wage at $0.25 an hour. That’s about $4.63 in today’s dollars. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. The minimum wage discussion is a difficult one because its intent and the reality of what we’ve morphed into today are very different. I don’t have any problem setting a minimum wage because left to its own devices business, in the absence of competition, will take advantage of people. The horrible child labor conditions of the 30’s, which was the impetus for FLSA, are a prime example. So what does a minimum wage mean? It’s the minimum amount you can pay someone who has no skills. As you acquire more skills, your time is now worth more. Here’s another crucial point that gets lost. The wage an employer pays is ascribed to what they value the job, not the person. I need someone to pack widgets into a box. I do not need someone with any prior skills or training. I value that position as being worth a minimum wage. (again, this is in the absence of competition) When I’ve hired multiple widget packers I may now need someone to be the chief widget packer, a position with more responsibility and skills needed. I value that position as worth a higher wage. And on it goes. The presumption is that people will continue to rise up the wage ladder commensurate with their newly acquired skills and motivation. Here’s where the conversation gets difficult and is worth an independent discussion. Our middle class jobs are being wiped away, and will continue to be erased. Large numbers of people are being forced back down the wage ladder due to lack of opportunity at their acquired skill level. This forces out the true minimum wage earner and spawns the discussion about how does a former (or potential) middle class earner support themselves only on a minimum wage? And the related side of this is immigration, legal and otherwise. Large numbers of people are arriving with no skills and limited English, and have no other option than minimum wage work. Many of these folks are attempting to support large families on these wages. While the right conversation to be had is how do we best build back our middle class jobs and addressing immigration, the government solution is to simply pay these folks a “living wage”. Sounds great, but the US is a very diverse place. $15 an hour may be sustainable by a business owner in a high wage area like LA or a company like Amazon, but what does the owner of a diner in rural America do? Can they really afford to pay a high school kid $15 an hour to wash dishes or stock shelves at the local hardware store? It’s not an easy discussion. Unfortunately it’s not a discussion we’ll ever have because it will be demagogued to death. Which will only make starting a small business even more difficult, which worsens the middle class job market. Which is a recipe to invite government subsidies to “help”. It’s not a winning trajectory to be on.
- Apparently we suddenly have a domestic terrorist crisis. The formation of a federal domestic spy agency is well underway. Just like the Patriot Act, we’ll happily sign away more of our freedoms because the state run media tells us there’s racists hiding under every rock. Clearly the rioting and looting all summer don’t count as domestic terrorism because those are approved “woke” causes. During yesterdays crowning of Biden, Antifa ran amuck in Portland and Seattle doing all sorts of shenanigans. Silly Antifa. Why doesn’t that make the news? They even smashed up the original Starbucks. You’d think hipsters everywhere would be outraged. This must be a very confusing time for woke Starbucks baristas.
- Biden immediately violated the Federal mask mandate he had just signed, appearing at the Lincoln Memorial just a few feet away from reporters… without a mask. The media will call him out on his hypocrisy, right?
- This last year, we implemented a world-wide lockdown more severe than any climate alarmist could have dreamed for. Vehicle and air travel limited beyond what could ever be realistically proposed, even by the climate guru Greta Thurberg. It was the perfect experiment to see if models would match reality. And… it made no difference in the growth of atmospheric CO2. I suspect we’ll just ignore this inconvenient truth and march forward with a new and improved Paris Climate Treaty 2.0.
- When Sen Tom Cotton wrote an op-ed suggesting we deploy the National Guard to help quell the rioting and looting this summer, the journalists at the New York Times were so triggered that two editors lost their jobs for allowing such an opinion to be printed. 25,000 troops deployed to protect Washington from a supposed insurrection of white supremacists and racists… and not a peep. The hive mind of the media is an interesting thing.
- I had to take my dog, a.k.a The Troutdog, to get his nails trimmed yesterday. I wish I could capture the look on his face when he jumps out of the truck and realizes where he is. It’s the look of complete betrayal. “Dude, I thought we were going for a ski…” He then quivers and violently shakes like he’s waiting for a cattle prod up the rear end. I wonder what goes through his little brain that he thinks this is so terrible? Mrs Troutdog refuses to take him because she doesn’t want him mad at her. LOL.
Song of the day: The Clash – This is Radio Clash (Official Video)
- I’ve seen episodes of NCIS and Perry Mason, so I know the importance of a timeline. But first a quick step back in history. The year was 1846 and President Polk wanted war with Mexico. Well, not necessarily war but he wanted the shipping ports of California. War was just a means to an end. The border between Texas and Mexico was highly disputed and Mexico had troops stationed in an area they believed was their territory. Polk ordered General Taylor to take his 4,000 troops and advance to the Rio Grande river. Mexico didn’t take kindly to what they saw was an invasion of their country and the inevitable conflict happened. US troops died. Polk went to congress and declared that Mexico had shed American blood on American soil. Congress and America got appropriately fired up and declared war (interestingly a young representative named Lincoln was one of the few to object. It cost him his seat in congress). My point is that what you see and your impression is very much shaped by how it’s reported. Back to the timeline. On Jan 6th I was at work all day, so my view of what happened was what I saw on the “news” shows when I got home. President Trump apparently called for his angry mob of protesters to march on the capital, resulting in the violence we saw. Trump is an evil maniac and we must impeach, invoke the 25th amendment, make sure he doesn’t have the nuclear codes, and erase all evidence he was ever in office. Maybe history will just show an asterisk like Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France wins? Is that really what happened though? That pesky timeline shows that idiots began breaching the Capital’s security 20 minutes before the end of the President’s speech. Seeing as it’s a 45 minute to hour walk from the speech location to the Capital (the area was shut down to cars), there’s no way these folks could have been inflamed by Trumps rhetoric and rushed to breach the doors. Reporters on the ground said that cell signal was non-existent, so they couldn’t have been listening either. The text of Trumps speech shows that he specifically said let’s “peaceably march” to the capital. Obviously these folks were planning to do this well before Trump said anything. You can argue that he should have known what was going to happen if he held that rally. That’s fair. The rally and speech was a dumb move on many levels. But to declare the President incited violence, is a danger, and needs to be immediately removed from office and erased from social media is beyond stupid. It’s simply the media, democrats and never-Trumpers exacting their final revenge. We certainly didn’t hold any of these officeholders and media to account when they were encouraging and celebrating protest in the street during the mostly peaceful BLM riots. Or when the Hart Senate building was occupied by Kavanagh protesters. Or when there were marches, protests, and rallies at Trump’s inauguration. The notable orator Madonna said that day that she dreamed about blowing up the White House. #notmypresident Ah, but those are woke causes. It’s different. Biden’s ironic inauguration theme is “America United”. Apparently a bunch of people on both sides didn’t get the memo. You have 75 million pissed off, angry voters. Yes, Trump should have kept his narcissistic ego in check and quietly conceded. And the left, media, and big tech should stop poking the bear. Eventually something (more) bad will happen if they don’t. And it will be everyone’s fault.
- I got my second vaccine on Monday for the virus that must not be named. I had no issues with the first one. I had no issues on Monday with this one. Felt fine on Tuesday when I woke up. By noon, I felt like I got hit by a truck. Headache, body ache, and a serious brain fog. I still don’t feel a hundred percent this morning. Interesting the second shot invokes such a strong reaction. Worth it though. I can now run naked through the Covid ward without fear.
- To use the irony word twice in one day… Twitter apparently has zero self awareness. Twitter’s Public Policy group posted the following: “Ahead of the Ugandan election, we’re hearing reports that Internet service providers are being ordered to block social media and messaging apps. We strongly condemn internet shutdowns – they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet.” Apparently deciding what speech is allowed is only moral if you’re the one doing it.
- And speaking of the continued purge, Facebook has declared the phrase “stop the steal” as scary, banned words. They stated: “We are now removing content containing the phrase ‘stop the steal’ under our Coordinating Harm policy from Facebook and Instagram.” Well, if you don’t like it go create your own social media app. Just as long as you don’t utilize Google, Apple, or Amazon services.
- We’ve begun the process of what Mrs Troutdog calls ‘divesting from work’. I changed my hours to part-time. I don’t know what that means yet. Honestly, I’m freaking out a little bit about this. There’s an element of guilt not working full time. The point is to start figuring out what full retirement will eventually look like for us. It’s a very strange feeling. Stay tuned.
- If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll remember we had a sewer backup that filled our bathtub with some objectionable material. We thought it was fixed, until it wasn’t. Turns out there must be a tree root through the line somewhere catching “stuff” as it flows down. Unfortunately we can’t really do anything about it until spring as everything is covered in feet of snow. Sigh.
Song of the day: Big Audio Dynamite – E=MC2
- I think Scott Adams, the Dilbert guy, said it best about our current situation: “When you upgrade software, there is a moment in time in which you no longer have access to the old software but you have not yet completed loading the new version. That’s us, right now.” As someone who spent an entire previous life in the technology sector, I can assuredly say that all new software features and bug fixes are done with the best of intentions. But software is designed and written by people and best intentions sometimes have unintended consequences. For example, we put in a very clever new feature in at one point, designed to thwart DOS attacks on our system. It unfortunately took out the entire network for hundreds of thousands of people trying to tune in to watch the super bowl. Oops. We’re all waiting to see if this upgrade is the one we really wanted.
- Overnight a Portland Antifa mob attempted to break into a police department, then went on to smash up businesses. Representative Nadler, chairman of the judiciary committee, says they’re a myth. That’s good, because otherwise I might be worried about living in Portland.
- Update on the ginormous TV. The problem with the weird look (the soap opera effect) did indeed turn out to be the built in motion graphics. Turned that off and we’re back to the 24 frame look that’s expected.
- The number of people fleeing CA, WA, hell, every big city, to our little town is overwhelming. Last year my local cross-country ski place on a Thursday afternoon would be empty. Maybe one other car in the parking lot. Yesterday the lot was completely full, cars circling for parking spots. I expect that on a weekend, but mid-day on a Thursday? I’m not sure I like this development.
- The authentic voice discussion continues. Mrs Troutdog and I have been having some serious discussions. It’s getting less scary and a little more fun to think about what might be coming next. It can be overwhelming to realize that you only have so many years left to see and do things. How do I want to spend those years? First up will be some work changes. And keeping an actual budget that we stick to. I got all excited planning some road trips, then realized you also have to plan out what’s actually open these days. Damn virus. She hasn’t bought into the Sprinter van idea yet, but I’m crafting a killer power point presentation that may change her mind. Stay tuned.
- Speaking of vehicles, I’m at a crossroads with my truck. Ten years old, runs great, have had very few (minor) service issues. Paid off long ago. I *think* it could reliably go another 75k miles without crazy expensive repairs. At least another 5 years at my annual mileage. The unknown is that it is of the age where the transmission could fall out tomorrow. Do I put money into it, bringing it up to the modern era and adding some desired upgrades? Or do I put that money into a new truck (likely my last new vehicle) that in theory will be more reliable for a longer period of time? Or do I hold out for the Tesla Cyber Truck? Opinions?
Song of the day: Cake – The Distance (Official Video)
- During the never ending BLM and Antifa riots this year I said on multiple occasions it was time for the police to take action. Billions of dollars lost in damages, buildings burned, business lost. 30 people killed. It’s time to start cracking some heads and locking up these assholes. And then the brief occupation of the Federal capital building happened yesterday. Do I still feel the same way? Yep. Protest is one thing. Rioting is something else. But in my inside voice I also had a different feeling about these rioters. I understand the frustration. I understand the anger. I don’t agree with what they did, but I get why they’re doing it. And then it clicked. The supporters of BLM and Antifa feel the same thing. They’re angry and feel hopeless. They feel marginalized by the system. That utter frustration makes people want to speak out, to be heard. Unfortunately with any protest, that emotion can start spilling over into riots. In every crowd there’s always a bunch of knuckleheads who are simply opportunists, ready to take advantage. Those are the folks who make the news. I agree with almost nothing BLM or Antifa stand for, but I do get the feeling of being left behind by the system. The irony (there’s that word again) is that BLM, Antifa, and the MAGA crowd are all actually fighting the same thing. An oppressive ruling class of elites who’s only goal is to enrich themselves and their donors. Regardless if you’re a minority in a poor neighborhood plagued by crime, failing schools, and zero job prospects, or a middle class blue collar worker struggling to make ends meet, it’s very hard to watch politicians pander and fawn over their political base with words and then go spend a trillion dollars on foreign aid and millions in handouts to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. But wait, you get $600! Don’t spend it all at once. While the anger from the left and right manifests itself differently, it’s fundamentally about the same thing. The system is rigged against me. The system is unfair. People don’t like when things don’t seem fair. Tucker Carlson said it best in his commentary on what happened yesterday. And this applies to this years BLM and Antifa riots as well as yesterdays ridiculousness. You can quell the riots. You can speak soft, soothing words about restoring the integrity of our democracy, bla, bla, bla. But if the ruling elites don’t start to address the underlying issues, this is going to happen again. And again. And at some point we’re not going to like the outcome. I think the ruling class underestimates the level of anger from both the left and right in this country right now.
- I cannot emphasis strongly enough how dangerous this is – what you are allowed to think and say right now is controlled by three companies. Twitter, Google, and Facebook. Twitter shut down the Presidents account last night. Facebook announced today they are shutting the Presidents account for the next thirteen days. YouTube removes or demonetizes any video that has content that doesn’t echo the left’s talking points. I don’t care if you don’t like what the President says. Millions upon millions of people do. And a few corporations are deciding what the President of the United States can and can not say. If you agree with what these companies did simply because you don’t like the President, you’re a naïve fool. Toe the company line or you’re out. Censoring speech and ideas because you don’t like them leads us down a dark path. The antidote to what’s happening in this country is the exact opposite – we need to shine the light on everything. If you don’t first pull the curtains back and expose the roaches, you’ll never get rid of them.
- The faux outrage and gnashing of teeth over yesterday’s events makes me want to vomit. Protests are cool as long you’re on the right side.
AOC – “The thing that critics of activists don’t get is that they tried playing the “polite language” policy game and all it did was make them easier to ignore”. Kamala – “Protesters should not let up”. Pelosi – “I just don’t know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. Maybe there will be”. Maxine Waters – “… you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere”. Ayanne Pressley – “there needs to be unrest in the streets”.
I don’t condone it on any side, but one thing is universally true. You squeeze people hard enough for long enough… and shit’s going to happen.
- As I sit here writing this, I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m saddened. I’m fed up with the outrage. Part of me just wants everything to go back to the status quo so my biggest worry is should I go downhill or cross-country skiing. I don’t know if I’m going to stop blogging, write less often, or simply focus on brilliant commentary about puppy dogs and rainbows. But the overwhelming negativity on social media is getting to me and I don’t see it getting better any time soon. We’ll see.
Song of the day (repeat): Rage Against The Machine – Killing In the Name (Official Music Video)