Thursday, December 22, 2011

Medicinal Fried Chicken

I have a mother. She's awesome. She taught me right, and that I should eat healthy and not stuff my face with candy and deep-fried everything. I don't need a second mother in the national government. But once again, through manipulation of school lunches by the USDA, the nanny state is here once again to tell kids, parents, and schools what is good for them. This time, in the form of health food requirements for schools.  I noticed a headline on, referencing this article by the L.A. Times, showing that because of the health food craze, a BLACK MARKET for junk foods has sprung up in schools, showing a dramatic failure of the attempted "EAT YOUR PEAS THEY'RE GOOD FOR YOU" micromanagement by the Obama administration. People will do as they please...just let them make decisions for themselves, and as long as they don't hurt anyone else, who cares what they eat?

Oh, and South Park had an episode 2 seasons ago (Medicinal Fried Chicken) about THIS VERY TOPIC of a black market for fried chicken forming after laws banned it. The difference is, South Park is a cartoon comedy making fun of stupid policies. Now it's happening in real life.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Milton Monday #2: Monopolies

Another common myth is that government needs to step in to break up monopolies, but often times government is the cause of monopolies. Either they, by law, are the sole provider of a good or service (public education or first class mail for example) or they put in place regulations that stifle competition.
Video here.

What's interesting, is that he may have been wrong about De Beers as well, as their diamond monopoly seems to not be as effective as it once was. They are a rare exception, in that most diamonds are found only within a small, geographic location, known in ecnonomics as a "geographical monopoly". For example, if the only oil well in the world were found in my backyard, then I would have a monopoly on oil.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Milton Monday #1: Greed

I'm going to start a new feature on my blog I'm going to call "Milton Mondays". Milton Friedman was one of the most influential and articulate free market, capitalalist thinkers of our time. He was an economics professor at the University of Chicago and an advisor to President Reagan. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2006. Amongst other things, he had a knack for debunking some of mythical flaws many people point out in a free market system. In other words, he demonstrates how most of the time, government is the problem, not the solution. There are many video clips of Dr. Friedman out there that I'd like to share, and this one is one of my favorites:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Top 10 Things You'll Never See at a Tea Party Rally

Occupy Wall Street is just another example of who the real extremists are. If you can find any examples of these things at a "extremist" Tea Party rally, I'll give you $20 bucks. I'd offer more, but unlike the protesters, I'm not complaining and instead working my butt off to get rid of my student loans and trying to become one of the wealthiest 1% of Americans.

10) Protesters wanting to steal more from the wealthy while stealing from each other. (Occupy Wall Street).
9) Heroin sales (Occupy Boston).
8) Sexual assaults (Occupy Cleavland) (Occupy Dallas)
7) Arrests (Occupy Oakland)
6) Riot Gear (Occupy San Diego)
5) Ummm?

4) Pepper Spray (Occupy Wall Street)
3) Blaming Jews for the country's problems

2) Support from former KKK leaders.
1) Losing your public protest permit because of allegations of public masterbation (Occupy Madison).

I think this guy satirically makes my point. None of the above things happen at Tea Party events because it is a peaceful protest of disgust with too much government as opposed to chaotic begging for more free stuff from government.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

TEA is Temperate

I think it's laughable each time Tea Party people are classified as racist/haters/extremists. Here's a video clip of some hippies that showed up to crash and protest a Tea Party event.
Listen to the "divisive" and "hateful" speech at the rally........but notice who the foul language is coming from. Not the Tea Party people. If chants of "one term president, one term president" and "vote him out, vote him out" are racist, hateful, and extreme comments, well I guess I'm a bad person. And "F#*k, all y'all" must be an inclusive, bipartisan chant that brings Americans closer together.

My point is that the Tea Party has this false stigma attached to it. I challenge any of my hippie friends to attend a Tea Party event. It's a far cry from a violent, hateful protest. I've been to several, and a little granny with a "Taxed Enough Already" sign is hardly violent, threatening, or divisive. I'll reciprocate and even go with you to some left-wing protest or union rally. I just hope I don't get beat up or shot or something. (I have a friend who got chased by some union guys). Here's a montage:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Just Puked A Little

Want to see where we could start with entitlement reform? Here's a guy rapping about his "EBT" card. EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer, which is the card you get as part of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) if you qualify for low-income food assistance. You know, because "food stamps" was too hurtful of a term. They had to rename it so it sounded better. In other words, the program becomes harder to change/reform when you put fancy words like "supplemental" and "assistance" in the title of the program.

So this guy has enough money for a camera and sound-mixing equipment, but the rest of us have to buy his food for him? And he's CELEBRATING that? Enjoy your "free" chips, jerkwad.

Earmuffs for the kids.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Education Doesn't Make You Successful

The Wall Street Journal has some great Op Eds this week...I think I'm going to sue for plagiarism on this article...I've been saying this for years!

How to Get a Real Education

I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That's like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship?

I speak from experience because I majored in entrepreneurship at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. Technically, my major was economics. But the unsung advantage of attending a small college is that you can mold your experience any way you want.

There was a small business on our campus called The Coffee House. It served beer and snacks, and featured live entertainment. It was managed by students, and it was a money-losing mess, subsidized by the college. I thought I could make a difference, so I applied for an opening as the so-called Minister of Finance. I landed the job, thanks to my impressive interviewing skills, my can-do attitude and the fact that everyone else in the solar system had more interesting plans.

The drinking age in those days was 18, and the entire compensation package for the managers of The Coffee House was free beer. That goes a long way toward explaining why the accounting system consisted of seven students trying to remember where all the money went. I thought we could do better. So I proposed to my accounting professor that for three course credits I would build and operate a proper accounting system for the business. And so I did. It was a great experience. Meanwhile, some of my peers were taking courses in art history so they'd be prepared to remember what art looked like just in case anyone asked.

One day the managers of The Coffee House had a meeting to discuss two topics. First, our Minister of Employment was recommending that we fire a bartender, who happened to be one of my best friends. Second, we needed to choose a leader for our group. On the first question, there was a general consensus that my friend lacked both the will and the potential to master the bartending arts. I reluctantly voted with the majority to fire him.

But when it came to discussing who should be our new leader, I pointed out that my friend—the soon-to-be-fired bartender—was tall, good-looking and so gifted at b.s. that he'd be the perfect leader. By the end of the meeting I had persuaded the group to fire the worst bartender that any of us had ever seen…and ask him if he would consider being our leader. My friend nailed the interview and became our Commissioner. He went on to do a terrific job. That was the year I learned everything I know about management.

At about the same time, this same friend, along with my roommate and me, hatched a plan to become the student managers of our dormitory and to get paid to do it. The idea involved replacing all of the professional staff, including the resident assistant, security guard and even the cleaning crew, with students who would be paid to do the work. We imagined forming a dorm government to manage elections for various jobs, set out penalties for misbehavior and generally take care of business. And we imagined that the three of us, being the visionaries for this scheme, would run the show.

We pitched our entrepreneurial idea to the dean and his staff. To our surprise, the dean said that if we could get a majority of next year's dorm residents to agree to our scheme, the college would back it.

It was a high hurdle, but a loophole made it easier to clear. We only needed a majority of students who said they planned to live in the dorm next year. And we had plenty of friends who were happy to plan just about anything so long as they could later change their minds. That's the year I learned that if there's a loophole, someone's going to drive a truck through it, and the people in the truck will get paid better than the people under it.

The dean required that our first order of business in the fall would be creating a dorm constitution and getting it ratified. That sounded like a nightmare to organize. To save time, I wrote the constitution over the summer and didn't mention it when classes resumed. We held a constitutional convention to collect everyone's input, and I listened to two hours of diverse opinions. At the end of the meeting I volunteered to take on the daunting task of crafting a document that reflected all of the varied and sometimes conflicting opinions that had been aired. I waited a week, made copies of the document that I had written over the summer, presented it to the dorm as their own ideas and watched it get approved in a landslide vote. That was the year I learned everything I know about getting buy-in.

Why do we make B students sit through the same classes as their brainy peers? That's like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it make sense to teach them something useful instead?
For the next two years my friends and I each had a private room at no cost, a base salary and the experience of managing the dorm. On some nights I also got paid to do overnight security, while also getting paid to clean the laundry room. At the end of my security shift I would go to The Coffee House and balance the books.

My college days were full of entrepreneurial stories of this sort. When my friends and I couldn't get the gym to give us space for our informal games of indoor soccer, we considered our options. The gym's rule was that only organized groups could reserve time. A few days later we took another run at it, but this time we were an organized soccer club, and I was the president. My executive duties included filling out a form to register the club and remembering to bring the ball.

By the time I graduated, I had mastered the strange art of transforming nothing into something. Every good thing that has happened to me as an adult can be traced back to that training. Several years later, I finished my MBA at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. That was the fine-tuning I needed to see the world through an entrepreneur's eyes.

If you're having a hard time imagining what an education in entrepreneurship should include, allow me to prime the pump with some lessons I've learned along the way.

Combine Skills. The first thing you should learn in a course on entrepreneurship is how to make yourself valuable. It's unlikely that any average student can develop a world-class skill in one particular area. But it's easy to learn how to do several different things fairly well. I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The "Dilbert" comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That's how value is created.

Fail Forward. If you're taking risks, and you probably should, you can find yourself failing 90% of the time. The trick is to get paid while you're doing the failing and to use the experience to gain skills that will be useful later. I failed at my first career in banking. I failed at my second career with the phone company. But you'd be surprised at how many of the skills I learned in those careers can be applied to almost any field, including cartooning. Students should be taught that failure is a process, not an obstacle.

Find the Action. In my senior year of college I asked my adviser how I should pursue my goal of being a banker. He told me to figure out where the most innovation in banking was happening and to move there. And so I did. Banking didn't work out for me, but the advice still holds: Move to where the action is. Distance is your enemy.

Attract Luck. You can't manage luck directly, but you can manage your career in a way that makes it easier for luck to find you. To succeed, first you must do something. And if that doesn't work, which can be 90% of the time, do something else. Luck finds the doers. Readers of the Journal will find this point obvious. It's not obvious to a teenager.

Conquer Fear. I took classes in public speaking in college and a few more during my corporate days. That training was marginally useful for learning how to mask nervousness in public. Then I took the Dale Carnegie course. It was life-changing. The Dale Carnegie method ignores speaking technique entirely and trains you instead to enjoy the experience of speaking to a crowd. Once you become relaxed in front of people, technique comes automatically. Over the years, I've given speeches to hundreds of audiences and enjoyed every minute on stage. But this isn't a plug for Dale Carnegie. The point is that people can be trained to replace fear and shyness with enthusiasm. Every entrepreneur can use that skill.

Write Simply. I took a two-day class in business writing that taught me how to write direct sentences and to avoid extra words. Simplicity makes ideas powerful. Want examples? Read anything by Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett.

Learn Persuasion. Students of entrepreneurship should learn the art of persuasion in all its forms, including psychology, sales, marketing, negotiating, statistics and even design. Usually those skills are sprinkled across several disciplines. For entrepreneurs, it makes sense to teach them as a package.

That's my starter list for the sort of classes that would serve B students well. The list is not meant to be complete. Obviously an entrepreneur would benefit from classes in finance, management and more.

Remember, children are our future, and the majority of them are B students. If that doesn't scare you, it probably should.

—Mr. Adams is the creator of "Dilbert."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is There A Wage Gap?

An interesting article from the Wall Street Journal:

There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day—so dubbed by the National Committee for Pay Equity, which represents feminist groups including the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, the National Council of Women's Organizations and others. The day falls on April 12 because, according to feminist logic, women have to work that far into a calendar year before they earn what men already earned the year before. In years past, feminist leaders marked the occasion by rallying outside the U.S. Capitol to decry the pernicious wage gap and call for government action to address systematic discrimination against women. This year will be relatively quiet. Perhaps feminists feel awkward protesting a liberal-dominated government—or perhaps they know that the recent economic downturn has exposed as ridiculous their claims that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy. The unemployment rate is consistently higher among men than among women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 9.3% of men over the age of 16 are currently out of work. The figure for women is 8.3%. Unemployment fell for both sexes over the past year, but labor force participation (the percentage of working age people employed) also dropped. The participation rate fell more among men (to 70.4% today from 71.4% in March 2010) than women (to 58.3% from 58.8%). That means much of the improvement in unemployment numbers comes from discouraged workers—particularly male ones—giving up their job searches entirely. Men have been hit harder by this recession because they tend to work in fields like construction, manufacturing and trucking, which are disproportionately affected by bad economic conditions. Women cluster in more insulated occupations, such as teaching, health care and service industries. Yet if you can accept that the job choices of men and women lead to different unemployment rates, then you shouldn't be surprised by other differences—like differences in average pay. Feminist hand-wringing about the wage gap relies on the assumption that the differences in average earnings stem from discrimination. Thus the mantra that women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work. But even a cursory review of the data proves this assumption false. The Department of Labor's Time Use survey shows that full-time working women spend an average of 8.01 hours per day on the job, compared to 8.75 hours for full-time working men. One would expect that someone who works 9% more would also earn more. This one fact alone accounts for more than a third of the wage gap. Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics. Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more. Recent studies have shown that the wage gap shrinks—or even reverses—when relevant factors are taken into account and comparisons are made between men and women in similar circumstances. In a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30, the research firm Reach Advisors found that women earned an average of 8% more than their male counterparts. Given that women are outpacing men in educational attainment, and that our economy is increasingly geared toward knowledge-based jobs, it makes sense that women's earnings are going up compared to men's. Should we celebrate the closing of the wage gap? Certainly it's good news that women are increasingly productive workers, but women whose husbands and sons are out of work or under-employed are likely to have a different perspective. After all, many American women wish they could work less, and that they weren't the primary earners for their families. Few Americans see the economy as a battle between the sexes. They want opportunity to abound so that men and women can find satisfying work situations that meet their unique needs. That—not a day dedicated to manufactured feminist grievances—would be something to celebrate.

Ms. Lukas is executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

If They Only Knew...

I think this story puts it mildly. The same could be said at the high school level, at least from what I can remember.

From the New York Times:

College the Easy Way

The cost of college has skyrocketed and a four-year degree has become an ever more essential cornerstone to a middle-class standard of living. But what are America’s kids actually learning in college?

For an awful lot of students, the answer appears to be not much.

A provocative new book, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” makes a strong case that for a large portion of the nation’s seemingly successful undergraduates the years in college barely improve their skills in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing.

Intellectual effort and academic rigor, in the minds of many of the nation’s college students, is becoming increasingly less important. According to the authors, Professors Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia: “Many students come to college not only poorly prepared by prior schooling for highly demanding academic tasks that ideally lie in front of them, but — more troubling still — they enter college with attitudes, norms, values, and behaviors that are often at odds with academic commitment.”

Students are hitting the books less and partying more. Easier courses and easier majors have become more and more popular. Perhaps more now than ever, the point of the college experience is to have a good time and walk away with a valuable credential after putting in the least effort possible.

What many of those students are not walking away with is something that has long been recognized as invaluable — higher order thinking and reasoning skills. They can get their degrees without putting in more of an effort because in far too many instances the colleges and universities are not demanding more of them.

The authors cite empirical work showing that the average amount of time spent studying by college students has dropped by more than 50 percent since the early 1960s. But a lack of academic focus has not had much of an effect on grade point averages or the ability of the undergraduates to obtain their degrees.

Thirty-six percent of the students said they studied alone less than five hours a week. Nevertheless, their transcripts showed a collective grade point average of 3.16. “Their G.P.A.’s are between a B and a B-plus,” said Professor Arum, “which says to me that it’s not the students, really — they share some of the blame — but the colleges and universities have set up a system so that there are ways to navigate through it without taking difficult courses and still get the credential.”

The book is based on a study, led by Professor Arum, that followed more than 2,300 students at a broad range of schools from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009. The study (available at showed that in their first two years of college, 45 percent of the students made no significant improvement in skills related to critical thinking, complex reasoning and communication. After the full four years, 36 percent still had not substantially improved those skills.

The development of such skills is generally thought to be the core function of a college education. The students who don’t develop them may leave college with a degree and an expanded circle of friends, but little more. Many of these young men and women are unable to communicate effectively, solve simple intellectual tasks (such as distinguishing fact from opinion), or engage in effective problem-solving.

“This is a terrible disservice, not only to those students, but also to the larger society,” said Professor Arum. “I really think it’s important to get the word out about the lack of academic rigor and intellectual engagement that’s occurring at colleges and universities today.”

While there are certainly plenty of students doing very well and learning a great deal in college, this large increase in the number of students just skating by should be of enormous concern in an era in which a college education plays such a crucial role in the lifetime potential of America’s young people. It can leave the U.S. at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. But, more important, the students are cheating themselves — and being cheated — of the richer, more satisfying lives that should be the real payoff of a four-year college experience.

“You have to ask what this means for a democratic society,” said Professor Arum. “This is the portion of the population that you would expect to demonstrate civic leadership in the future, civic engagement. They are the ones we would expect to be struggling to understand the world, to think critically about the rhetoric out there, and to make informed, reasoned decisions.

“If they’re not developing their higher order skills, it means they’re not developing the attitudes and dispositions that are needed to even understand that that’s important.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Your Life in 4:17

Pretty much sums it up. So are you going to keep voting the same way or finally throw the micromanagers out of office?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Daugaard Catches A Little National Spotlight

John Stossel mentioned newly inaugurated Governor Dennis Daugaard on his blog, citing some of great points Dennis made regarding self-reliance.

When I glanced at my annoying morning paper today, I thought I had woken up in an alternate universe. There on the front page of the New York Times, of all places, was a news story that said governors from both parties have moved toward a consensus for the future [1]:

The prescription? Slash spending. Avoid tax increases. Tear up regulations that might drive away business and jobs. Shrink government, even if that means tackling the thorny issues of public employees and their pensions.

What? I know that’s absolutely true, and probably fair reporting on what most governors had said. But I never expected to see such fair coverage in the New York Times. I don’t know the writer, Monica Davey. Maybe she’s just an unusual Times reporter.

Or maybe -- this is my hope -- the need for smaller and simpler government has become so obvious that even the clueless liberals are starting to get it. Wouldn’t that be great?

The Times even chose to quote, without the usual sneer, the new Republican governor of South Dakota saying this about his predecessors and politicians in nearby states:

“They have promised their citizens something for nothing,” Mr. Daugaard said of other states during his inauguration in Pierre this month, “and created a society where everyone wants to be carried and no one wants to pull their own weight.”