Consumer Extremism

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Absolutely disgusting: Wal-Mart worker dies after crowd rushes store.  Doesn’t this seem to happen every year now?

Whether from cameras, or credit card records, every single person who rushed that store should be charged with something along the lines of criminal indifference and any person who touched that slain worker should be charged for his death.

Why can’t we all just get along?

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Via MaderBlog here’s a nice comment from Dave Barry:

You know what I miss? I miss 1960. Not the part about my face turning overnight into the world’s most productive zit farm. What I miss is the way the grown-ups acted about the Kennedy-Nixon race. Like the McCain-Obama race, that was a big historic deal that aroused strong feelings in the voters. This included my parents and their friends, who were fairly evenly divided, and very passionate. They’d have these major honking arguments at their cocktail parties. But unlike today, when people wear out their upper lips sneering at those who disagree with them, the 1960s grown-ups of my memory, whoever they voted for, continued to respect each other and remain good friends.

What was their secret? Gin. On any given Saturday night they consumed enough martinis to fuel an assault helicopter. But also they were capable of understanding a concept that we seem to have lost, which is that people who disagree with you politically are not necessarily evil or stupid. My parents and their friends took it for granted that most people were fundamentally decent and wanted the best for the country. So they argued by sincerely (if loudly) trying to persuade each other. They did not argue by calling each other names, which is pointless and childish, and which constitutes I would estimate 97 percent of what passes for political debate today.

Also good: Whoever Wins, Chill A Bit

Right on.  While “the other guy is evil” line may prove to be effective political campaigning, it has unfortunately now made its way into normal political discourse in the US.  I think this is extremely destructive to a society as a whole.

I’m glad we haven’t yet reached that level up here in Canada, but it may not be far off.  I try to give Prime Minister Harper the benefit of the doubt, as tough as that may be sometimes.  However, I’ve never thought of my conservative friends as being bad people or adversaries because of their political views.  It’s actually surprising how much agreement there is when I sit down and talk with someone who is supposed to be on the opposite of the political spectrum from me.  We all want pretty much the same things and can learn from each others points of view.  Real people don’t need “wedge issues” and fake disagreements.

Resist the bailout urge!

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Notwithstanding the fact that he’s a giant douchebag, Mitt Romney is correct here: Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

I know it’s going to be extremely difficult for governments to resist the urge to bail them out, but they should.

Do not bail out the auto companies

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Canada and the US are talking about bailing out the North American auto companies: PM hints at auto bailout

This strikes me as wrong for several reasons:

  • Why should governments be bailing out companies that don’t have a sustainable business model?  They’re losing money for many reasons including a cyclical market and bad decisions in the past.
  • Propping up failing businesses is a drain on the economy and hurts productivity.  Further, it’s a disincentive for innovation because every car sold from an artificially propped-up company is a car not built by a new and innovative competitor.  (One example brought up on CBC: Canada has a very innovative car company called ZENN.  Guess where the car can’t be sold due to government regulation?  Canada)
  • I think the American car companies have consciously fought innovation for the last few decades, which is why I’ve never bought any of their products.  Now we’re proposing I pay them a few thousand dollars of my tax money as a reward?
  • If people are set on handing out $4 billion, as proposed in Ontario, maybe a better idea is to let the companies fend for themselves and give a share of that money to anyone who loses their job in the mix, to help the transition to a new job.  Let’s say 100,000 Ontarians lost their jobs, that would be $40,000 each, which would be a big help.

As much as I dislike the American car companies, the people that would really be hurt by their collapse would be the workers.  While I think everyone may be better off in the end, it would be a difficult time.  For this reason, the only kind of bailout I’d be willing to consider (like I had a say in the matter) would be to alleviate some of the car companies crippling pension liabilities, at least until the pension bubble bursts.  If the companies collapse, the governments will step in to take some of the pensions anyways, so it’s inevitable.  Further, the big 3 really are crippled compared to the competition due to the pensions because they suck up so much cash.  While this is their own fault, it’s a small set of bad decisions that have shaped their entire future.

However, after any kind of help like that, the companies would have to left to fend for themselves.  If they still failed there wouldn’t be any more excuses and they should be allowed to bankrupt.

Congrats

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The election that seemed like it would never end is finally over.

For the first time in a long time (ever?) I can say I’m excited for my friends, colleagues and neighbours to the south.  Who knows what the next 4 years with President Obama will bring, but at a minimum it will be immeasurably better than the last 8, and at best it could be a lot more.  Only time will tell.

Unfortunately it seems like Al Franken may have lost his bid for a Senate seat by the slimmest of margins.  I would have loved to see such an intelligent and outspoken person there.  Right now his race is showing too close to call, as the difference is only about 500 votes, but that doesn’t bode well.

Will it really be over soon?

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Gearing up for a long night of election results watching. This time will be interesting since we don’t have cable TV, so we’ll be using web-based tools and looking for live web video broadcasts. If you know of any let me know.

This looks like a good tool: http://scoreboard.dailykos.com/map/.

I’m actually kind of surprised the Republicans didn’t put up more of a fight at the end, assuming McCain loses. Over the last few days I was expecting a news story like “Documents (fake of course) prove Obama is a Muslim!”

Which brings up another topic, having watched some interviews at rural McCain rallies where people actually think Obama is a Muslim. How the hell does any person, in this day and age, believe something that’s so obviously false? Let’s think about this:

  1. It would be impossible for any Muslim to be elected leader of any western nation right now, that’s just reality (remember, it’s only 30 or 40 years ago that the first Catholic was elected President).  American Democrats would not support this (to any large extent), so why does a random person in a southern rural state think they have single-handedly found out something the news media missed in their last 4 years of vetting?
  2. Do these people literally only watch Fox news and read McCains mailers?
  3. More than likely it’s a mix of #2 and that the person just doesn’t want to vote for someone who isn’t white.  They are likely grasping for any other reason to not vote for them, and since it’s less politically incorrect to say you don’t like Muslims than it is to not like black people, they run with that.  But, you know, they couldn’t just say “I’d never vote for a democrat” or “I don’t like his policies” because that’s not what was in the propaganda they received.

Oh well.  Enjoy the results tonight!