Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Love PBS. Please Stop Trying to Kill It.

I love PBS.  Please stop trying to kill it. PBS never hurt anybody. I don't know if I can call it essential to the country or an institution that must be protected at all costs, but it's always been there when I needed it, from my days as a tot to when I had to cram in high school, and  in college, to now when I just want some news that helps me think or when I'm just trying to chill out or listen to some music.

I'm going to try to make the case but honestly. I just really really really like PBS. I talk about how The Mouse got to me as a kid. The Mouse ain't got nothing on PBS. The Mouse waxed and waned. but PBS was always there just waiting for me.

Sooo. Let's use PBS.

So the general argument for why the government should stay out of the economy, apart from arguments about government involvement in anything is because government involvement tends to screw up supply and demand curves, market equilibrium, and price signals. It's harder to tell whether or not people want a good, how much of it, and what it should cost, both to produce and purchase. It makes for inefficient markets.

In short companies need information to determine if a business venture is potentially profitable and government involvement obscures that information.


There are some goods, services and regulations that we've all just kind of agreed are useful but at the same time are unprofitable. There is just some stuff companies should do but won't because there is no money in it.


So the question is do I feel PBS is important enough to demand everybody kick in for it?

Well to answer that let's broaden the question.  Are the country's cultural and educational institutions in general important to demand everybody kick in. The National Endowment for the Arts, Corporatation For Public Broadcasting, Department of Education, as well as various grants ensure that everyday Americans have access to information, culture and education and that is something I think is a common good.

We all benefit when the American populous is educated and well informed. But the benefits of that education and sponsorship of the arts and culture are not always in terms of dollars and cents.

Folks, unless we start to value media, journalism, and the arts we are heading towards a crash where the people who make the things we love can not afford to do so anymore or have to make something so broad that it can not speak with any sort of real voice. I am wary of government involvement in those things but there needs to be a place for high-minded art and television programming to exist. The market will always push for broadness and I have a lack of faith in the American people's intellectual curiosity right now.

I'm worried about propaganda but still, we need to do everything we can to make America smarter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Original Sin

The dream, the promise that is America, the singular thought that guides our founding documents, freedom, the idea that one is and should be able to express their will and act in their own interest without fear is a lie.

But it is a sweet and beautiful lie. A lie that I wish with all of my being were the truth. For far too long that freedom was only granted to the few the ability to craft your own destiny was denied to whomever the state deemed unworthy of that dream.

The state decided who's freedom it would respect and guarantee, whose interests it would protect and whose it would ignore.  and in the wake of all those decisions lies the country as we now have it. We can not change the past nor can we ignore it but we must reckon with the fact that it is a sin to simply ignore people only asking to defend their interests especially when those interests have been consistently ignored for the vast history of this country.

That is what slavery is to me.

The theft of the ability to act in one's own interest and express one's will without fear. That is the crime behind all the other crimes.  It goes further. Freedom is the ability to craft the future.  Slavery robbed my ancestors of the ability to craft the future for their posterity. It was and continues to be a crime not just against those who lived through it but those who came and will come after.

I don't blame the living for slavery. But I still acknowledge that it was a crime committed not just against my ancestors against me and my descendants.

I can not undo that crime. I can not remake history to my will. Moreover, I am not sure I would even want to. My mind has been twisted to this modern world of wires and wheels.

I am not African.

I do not know that land neither as it existed nor as it exists presently. I would like to pretend I would understand those who were sold and taken from their homes but I don't and can't. How they saw the new world is lost to me.

Slavery was a crime committed against me.

And yet the man I am is built on top of it. The wealth and prosperity of my country was built on top of the forced labor, rape, mutilation and bondage of my ancestors.

I am American.

I sing the songs of the new world. Trade in its currency and live by its laws.

I am American.


The lie. The lie. The damned lie.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 14, 2017 Southfield Board of Education Meeting

The Vice of Civility (I Aim to Misbehave)

This isn't about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The reason why I just mentioned her name in the first sentence is because she is someone I have the utmost respect and admiration for and I want to make clear that when I have the following discussion it doesn't mean I hate people, or think they are racists, or bad or evil or any of that jazz.

In short I AM NOT CALLING ANYBODY A RACIST (Miles what happened to you.). I am just describing what I consider a common difference in outlook based upon racial experience.

With that out of the way...

It kind of drives me nuts when white people want to divorce politics from regular life. The impetus for this go round was Mitch Albom's article about The Pats skipping out on the traditional Superbowl White House visit.

Again this is not about Mitch Albom. I like Mitch Albom. Five People You Meet in Heaven helped get me out of a funk a while back, (The movie. I haven't read the book, and dear god, I need to get to work on building that library.)

But he did the thing. He called it rude.

Yes, yes it is.

But is the thing. In this country who gets to be rude and who doesn't is often about who has the power in any given situation and you bet your ass race  (and gender) has hell of a lot to do with that. Often the mere act of being polite carries with it tacit approval of the status qou in power dynamics in interpersonal relationships.

And that's kind of bullshit.

Like I said MY racial experience has been that it's hard as hell to separate politics from my everyday life. Insisting people are polite often means insisting they shut up about both their politics and how their politics affect their lives. Why am I always of afraid of showing it when I'm put out?

And no I am not doing the traditional Black History Month thing because I can't just be Black for one month.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


George Will and Hugh Hewitt let's rap.

First off, I know I've said some not so pleasant things in the past and while I don't think I was completely wrong this election has proven there is a whole lot of nuts out there I didn't account for.

You came out against Trump at a time when a lot of the conservative press was capitulating to him. You have spine.  And if nothing else I admire that.

I am a liberal (left-leaning libertarian). There are a variety of factors involved in that but I am long past the point where I am going to pretend otherwise. But I like to imagine I at least have an open ear to conservatives. You know... that I'm fair.

And so I'll admit that sometimes you have a point. The media particularly print does tend to skew left. The government does work by coercion and that kind of sucks. The government should be held accountable for how it spends taxpayer money and there are a lot of institutions that provide needed stability to the social order.


You guys take a reasonable argument and push it a step too far especially in consideration to that argument's criticisms.

I've felt this way for a long time and that has caused me to dismiss a lot of what you and those representing conservative ideology have to say.

But you came out against Trump so you have an open ear.

...And you're losing it.

That said you aren't on my list anymore. So let's talk as if I take you seriously.

I would like to say I first read your columns in The National Review or the Washington Post, but my introduction to your minds was PregerU. I hate PregerU with the passion of ten thousand suns for the reasons I already said.

When you guys are on YOU ARE SMARTER THAN THAT. You want to defend capitalism. I love capitalism. It's kind of kicking my ass right now. But I want the stuff and capitalism is the best hope of me getting the stuff. Avarice is one of my vices.

Speaking of which. Don't call the Virginia Company socialist. Just don't.

But I digress.

I fundamentally agree that capitalism, the free exchange of currency, goods and services is overall a positive innovation in getting people the stuff they need and want.

Heck one of my beefs with Trump is just that.

But saying the government should have no role in the economy whatsoever goes a bit too far. Is Janet Yellen red because she was appointed by Obama? Don't answer that.

Still government shouldn't be involved in the economy?! No contracts. No taxes, no fed, AND NO MINIMUM WAGE!

Will your latest editorial in the Post rubbed me wrong.

Here is the fundamental problem. Wages are notoriously sticky.

People need need goods and services to live and that need puts them in an automatically weaker negotiating position. It's HARD to turn down a job because the pay is too low if you're struggling.

When wages don't rise well with inflation which they haven't it becomes harder for people on the bottom to afford basic stuff they need. But even without that Labor is basically the business everybody is in trading thier labor for currency and when the labor market is messed up the economy is messed up.

People spend what they get from wages and fuel the rest of the economy.

Now being a broke black guy in his 20's I can talk to you about inequality all day long but again I agree on the fundamental point that it sucks to get your stuff taken. I support "entitlement programs" and the stuff taxes fund but I admit seeing the numbers on your paystub go down for programs that are so obfuscated you can't tell who they help and how can suck.

And I can even admit that since it takes a crap ton of capital to invest in certain industries SOME of the wealth needs to stay concentrated for stability.


Asking for a higher minimum wage is not the same as asking for the downfall of civilization. It's asking to be able to pay your heating bill in winter or buy your kids nicer Christmas presents.

And I definitely don't like how asking for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work is seen as equivalent stealing from someone's pocket.

Note: When I wrote this I didn't realize that Hewitt flip flopped on Trump. 

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