Thursday, October 09, 2003

No Lovable Losers

I was at Brad's Monday night for viewing of the Colts' miracle defeat of the Super Bowl champ Buccaneers with about 10 people present. As the Colts were getting their butts kicked in the first half of the game, we switched over to the baseball playoff Game Five between the Oakland A's and the Boston Red Sox. Therein, it was discovered that many of the folks there were pulling for the Sox, and dreaming of a Cubs-Red Sox World Series.

Excuse me while I retch in the sink. Unfortunately, this is a common view.

On what grounds does anyone root for the Red Sox or the Cubs? OK, maybe you are from Boston or Chicago, or surrounding areas. If you are a blind homer, fine. They can field any team, and you will root for the uniform. Wow, that's inspiring, rooting for the uniform.

Do you pull for the underdog, just because they are the underdog? If you did, you would vote exclusively Libertarian or Green- until they became the majority, and then you would begin to vote for the Consitutional Law and Socialist candidates until they in turn became a majority. But no, you don't do that. You think about the vote you will cast, making it reflect your values.

Why should rooting for sports teams be any different?

After a decade of pulling for the Indians because they were a constant threat to score eight runs in any game, I now pull for the Yankees. Yes, the dreaded, hated, envied Yankees. The Yankees are the standard of excellence. I enjoy pulling for continued excellence. I appreciate the difficulty in making it year after year. Look at last year's Series winner, the Anaheim Angels. They were virtually eliminated from the Playoffs in July. Look at the Marlins. After they won a Series over the Indians, the team was dispersed, with players scattering to new teams across the league with fat contracts.

The Cubs have been losers for six generation. The Red Sox have been losers for five. Is this what inspires you?

Face it- you hate the Yankees because their owner makes a lot of money, and spends a lot of money on talent. You aren't so much rooting for something as you are rooting against something. I fail to see the joy in that. The interesting thing is that the Red Sox are one of the league's free spenders. What you see here is that there is more to it than spending. There is talent, confidence, teamwork, and a host of other attributes that make a winner. Money may buy talent, but it doesn't buy cohesion, for example.

Root for the Cubs because you love Sammy Sosa's power and enthusiasm. Root for the Sox and Manny Ramirez for his power and occasional enthusiasm. But please be for something.
Radio Bummer

I had a full day of inspections planned, meaning that in between site visits, I could take in all the radio coverage of the California election on Tuesday. I was sadly disappointed at the quality of the procedings, although I must admit that the difference of two time zones greatly affected things.

I listened largely to WXNT-AM in indianapolis. My favorite syndicated talker, Neal Boortz, had little to say, as his program ended at 10am Pacific time. At that point, all he or the networks could say was that it looked like the turnout would be unusually high.

Glenn Beck followed Boortz, but his show is tape-delayed, and offered essentially the same in terms of 'news'. Beck annoyingly went on and on about how the most important thing in the election was 'character', not about 'it's the economy stupid' and how he had serious doubts about Arnold. Whether considering Bill Clinton, Gray Davis, or Arnold Schwartzneggar, it's clear that American voters do believe that 'it's the economy, stupid'. Sorry Glenn.

As Beck got under my skin, I alternately tuned to the NPR station. They aired their usual fare of ponderous human interest stories, and offered no word on the recall at any point at which I checked in.

Sean Hannity was the first to offer any definitive indication, describing the day as 'California's independence day' right from the top of the show. However, it struck me that for all of his exuberance, he was not offering numbers. There was no exit poll data, just Hannity's assurance that 'his people on the ground there' let him know that it was looking good for recall and for Arnold.

Then it hit me: I miss the old style of reporting that gives numbers and exit poll results. Thanks to the 2000 Presidential election, so-called news outlets are now gun shy about projecting a winner.

I miss the excitement of numbers pounded out every five minutes. I remember hanging on every premature result in 1992, the first time I paid attention to CNN's election coverage. It was thrilling! Now, we get nudge, nudge, wink, wink reporting, with insinuations offered for fear that the reports might influence or jeopardize the outcome. I'm not convinced of that the reporting does this, anyway. If the outcome is reported as a landslide, those who might have been voting for the loser could even be inspired to show up on the news, to try to make up some ground. In a close race, potential votes for all candidates might be similarly inspired.

So, we get to deal with this timidity, which makes for lame radio. Wither the First Amendment and free speech for news agencies? I don't buy the notion that there is free speech, but if you use it, you lose it. This timidity in journalism jeopardizes more freedoms than potential votes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


I'll be riveted to the AM talk radio tomorrow in the truck between inspections, listening for news on the California recall. Heck, I'm so eager to hear all I can, I'll probably even tune in to the NPR station.

I disagree quite a bit with Arnold Schwarzneggar's stated policies, ranging widely from some economic issues to some social issues. But I like this about him: he strikes me as a leader.

I have encountered precious few leaders in my life. Leaders will at the least inspire you to excell, and at best encourage and assist you while inspiring you.

I find it very refreshing to even have a leader available in a gubernatorial race. I have not had a chance to vote for a candidate I consider a leader in any election, for any office, in my entire life, so I am more than a little jealous that Californians have this opportunity which they seem to deserve so little. So many technocrats and authoritarians of so many stripes out there...

Monday, October 06, 2003

The Living Wage, Explained

Many who claim to have a desire to advance the cause of 'social justice' support the idea of the living wage. This policy goes beyond the standard of the minimum wage, which such people believe substandard no matter what work the wage comes in exchange for, and recommends an hourly figure that provides a better standard of living.

Setting aside whether or not more income means a better standard of living (it doesn't if one cannot manage money), let's look at the subject from the cause and effect.

Consider that the employer is a municipal government, such as the City of Indianapolis. Let's use round figures to make it easy to observe the dynamic... the current wage is $5/hour for City workers. It has been asserted that nobody can really live too well on $5/hr, so the proposal is to make the wage $10/hr.

The City currently employs 20 people at $5/hr, which means the City spends $100/hr on labor. The City accepts the idea of the living wage, and commits to $10/hr for each worker.

Problem is, the City only has $100/hr to spend on labor. If it keeps all 20 people employed, it must now spend $200/hr on labor, if it is to keep 20 people on the payroll. Where will the extra money come from? Keep in mind that these are the times of shrinking budgets, and nobody from Bart Peterson to Gray Davis to George Bush has been able to assure citizens that their policies will be bringing budgets up to 1990's level funding.

One of three things has to happen. If the City is to maintain its' current spending level, it must fire 10 workers. If the City is to maintain its' current staffing level at the living wage, it must cut spending on other City services. The City may also maintain its' current staffing level at the living wage if it engages in deficit spending.

If you are a proponent of social justice and a proponent of the living wage, will you be the one willing to break the news to those who lose their jobs so that others may enjoy a living wage? Or, will you be the one to notify those who lose other City services so that City workers may enjoy the living wage? Or, will you be the one to notify your children, who inherit your deficit, that the idea was yours? It would be real social justice if you were made to do so.

By the way, the reason private companies cut jobs and wages is that they face the same problem as cities... except they do the right thing. Companies add to their labor costs when the money is flowing in. When the money stops, companies correctly contract so that they may survive. No company that plans to survive would add to the costs of labor when the money was running out. Cities tend to ignore reality by not making appropriate cutbacks, and worse, consider adding to labor costs through policies such as the living wage.

Think of your own budget. Do you increase spending when you get bad news from the boss? Or do you suck it up and cut back on spending? Families cut back. Companies cut back. Why should cities be any different?

The living wage is not social justice. It's social suicide. Unfortunately, there are those who want this for Indianapolis. It's one thing to subsidize others yourself. It's another to impose your will upon others despite all common sense, which is when it becomes malice.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Back From the Adirondacks

Ame & I took Shasta for a fun trip to upstate New York. It was great despite a cold 14-hour rain that cut the trip short. We had one outstanding, beautiful day of hiking and camping, hanging out with friends (and Groomsmen!) Steve and Greg. We hiked in, set up camp, fetched spring water and firewood, and then enjoyed lounging around for dinner and a campfire. It was as perfect a day as we've ever had there!

Saturday was as lousy a day as we've ever had there, thanks to the rain. I came to the conclusion that with both of our tents wet inside, along with clothes and sleeping bags, and temperatures under 50 degrees, we'd never get dry, and only be the more miserable. We packed up and hiked out and looked for ways to extend the trip outside our original agenda. The drive away from the campsite, through the winding mountain roads, was very enjoyable as we took in misty hilltop views that were sprinkled of violent reds in some trees among the leafy trees that have not yet turned and the pines.

At the end of the day, it's like I told Greg's friend, Jon The Photographer- a bad day at the Pond beats a good day looking up sewer pipes.