Writing The Pine: Kaepernick Seeks Book Deal

According to Fox News, erstwhile NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is meeting with publishers in New York, seeking a book deal.  This comes just a week after filing a grievance against the NFL owners, alleging a collusion conspiracy not to sign him, in the wake of his national anthem protests.

If Kaepernick’s twitter feed is any indication, a forthcoming book will likely shed light on the former 49ers quarterback’s extremism.   Sympathic media and fellow players often work to sanitize his extremism.  Recall that his initial protest wasn’t kneeling during the anthem, but sitting on the bench, pouting  It was fellow players who encouraged him to change his protest to the (slightly) more palatable kneeling.

A book deal might shed more light on Kaepernick’s views, like these:

Kaepernick deserves credit for sparking a protest that gathered lots of attention.  But by opting for a divisive protest against a symbol of national unity, he created a no win situation, where Americans who might have some sympathy to his cause, were forced to stand against their country, their soldiers and veterans, to support him.  Sometimes the choice that gets the most attention isn’t ultimately the most effective.   Ultimately, he handed Donald Trump a political layup and an easy distraction.

It will be interesting to see if his book embraces the nihilistic radicalism he showed when the protests began, or if there will be some more productive solutions offered.

Worried About The Environment? Eat Beans Instead Of Steak

The left, always looking for new, and novel ways to alienate the electorate, is now after those delicious steaks and burgers on your grill.

  • “Environmental Nutrition” researcher Helen Harwatt and her colleagues have determined that if we all stopped eating beef, and started eating beans instead, we could ‘almost’ meet our CO2 emissions goals, under the Paris accords.

Now, there is a lot of stupid here to unpack, so lets take things one at a time.

First, the Atlantic article notes that the study is rooted in “eco-anxiety” -a new pseudo condition, described as follows:

…watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for oneself, children, and later generations.

Let me humbly suggest that if this condition affects you, the problem is your belief system, not your diet, or your neighbors’ diets.  In fact, you may already be following this dietary plan too well.   One of things beef gives us, that plant based proteins, like beans cannot, is Vitamin B12.   Here’s  partial list of symptoms of B12 deficiency…does it remind you of any leftists, coping with the results of the last election?

  • difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
  • paranoia or hallucinations
  • weakness
  • fatigue

The study argues that too much of the worlds land is used for producing cattle feed and for cattle grazing.   I grew up on a farm in northern Colorado, and my Dad still raises corn, largely for cattle feed, and occasionally, pinto beans.   Now, here’s the rub.  Not every acre that produces corn will grow pinto beans.  The author conveniently omits if this seismic shift in American diets would be to soybeans (tofu), or pinto beans (Taco Bell), but lets assume pinto beans for now.   Pinto beans are fragile…Too high a PH in the soil, they die.   Untimely hailstorm?  They die.  Too wet?  They die.   Corn, by contrast, will grow in fields where we would never attempt pinto beans due to adverse soil and water conditions.   Corn will endure more moisture variance, more pH variance, and even weather hailstorms (depending on the severity).    Corn yields have exploded in the past 30 years, with extremely good fields capable of producing 300 bushels per acre of corn.  Beans, by contrast could give you 50-60 bushels per acre, in optimal circumstances.

Next, lets take grazing lands.  I’m really not sure what good it does to stop cattle from grazing.    Cattle graze on some pretty rough terrain. (Follow this link to see what real ranches in Wyoming look like.)  They are not going to transition into a rain forest, or a field of avocado trees, no matter how long you keep the cattle off, or what the demand for avocado toast is.   What will happen, is that the grasses will grow unchecked, and become a fire hazard.

As President Eisenhower wisely said:

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

Harwatt and her merry band need to put their pencils down and get a little closer to a field.   I’ll bet one of these farmers in flyover country would happily grill them up a nice steak to help with their eco-anxiety.

The Cruel Hopelessness Of “Single Payer”

In the current debate over the Affordable Care Act, we really are in the midst of a great proxy war over single payer health care.   Sure, its not on the table with this Congress, and Obamacare, while a bureaucratic monstrosity, isn’t single payer.   But the debate surrounding GOP efforts to repeal, or at least reform the law is really a precursor to a national debate over single payer.

Regardless of the fate of the GOP pseudo-repeal bill, we are at a crossroads.  Obamacare is collapsing.   It was never intended to be permanent.  It was always a compromise, a bridge to complete, government sponsored, single payer health care.  We will soon have to decide if we want a market oriented health care system, or a government dominated system.

Every left-wing opinion piece on health care starts with the premise that medicine shouldn’t cost anything, and anytime it does, it’s a evidence of a failed system.  They point to Canada, the UK, and European states where the socialist dreams of medicine are, we are told, coming true.  Obamacare’s failures, they say, should drive us closer to “single payer”, not farther away.

As Christians, we believe that ever since Adam and Eve trusted the serpent instead of their Creator, we live in a fallen, imperfect world, where we can never “make it perfect”, and our best efforts can only succeed in “making it better”.  Socialized medicine, and market oriented medicine each present us with hard cases, so why do we recoil at government health care?  I think the answer comes down to one word that Obamacare’s namesake might be familiar with…hope.

Let’s look at two hypothetical examples, one, representing a worst-case scenario for free market health care, and one, representing a worst-case scenario for socialized medicine.

Meet the Jones family.  They have one child, 2 years old, who was diagnosed with a severe illness.   Experimental treatments are available, but prohibitively expensive.   The Jones family, while not living in poverty, cannot possibly afford the treatment, and they no longer have insurance, because of a recent job change.    This is the left’s fear (and to be fair, any American who has had lapsed health insurance knows this fear).   But while the situation is bleak, it is not hopeless.   The family sets up a GoFundMe page.  They tell their story in the local paper.   Community fundraisers are held.   They work with the local hospital.  Doctors and nurses agree to help this family at a reduced rate.  Local businesses contribute to the cause.    Is this a Polly-Anna resolution to this crisis?  Sure.  But it is possible, and it happens regularly in America.   Sometimes, it doesn’t work.   They can’t raise enough money.  The help comes, but too late.    But quite often, it does work.   And all the while, there is hope.  There is an opportunity for this family to make life better for their child.

Now, consider another family.  The Smith family also has one child, diagnosed with an equally severe illness.   The Smith family lives in a country with socialized medicine.  So the treatment won’t cost them a dime.   But  the treatment doesn’t exist.   Because there was no profit to be made in addressing this illness, pharmaceutical companies never invested in research to cure it.    Or maybe the treatment exists, but the local hospital, the only one the Smith’s are permitted to use, doesn’t have any beds available for 6 months.  When health care is “free”, the only ways to limit its consumption are lines and rationing.   Not only must the Smith’s wait, they must be “approved” to receive the treatment.    But the health service can’t do everything for everyone, and the Smith child’s 25% chance of survival doesn’t look good on paper, not compared with another patient with a 65% chance of survival.   The board denies the Smith’s request.   The Smith’s never worry about the money, but through their entire saga, there is no hope.   There is no hope when the treatment doesn’t exist.  There is no hope when the government, the final arbiter of your health care, says no to your child.  There is no alternate path, besides emigration.  Oh, and if you want to raise the money, and pay for the procedure yourself, that’s also a no.  See, single payer isn’t really single payer, if you let some people can pay for their own care.  Then you have a two-tiered health care system, one for the rich, and one for the poor, and that would be unfair.  Nothing can be done.  There is no hope.

The Smith’s story isn’t really a hypothetical.  The Gard family in the UK is living this hopeless nightmare.   They had a terrible prognosis for their son, Charlie.   But they wanted to keep fighting.   The couldn’t get treatment in their country, with its socialized health system.   But a new treatment was available in America.  They launched a GoFundMe page, and raised enough for the treatment, over $1.4 million.   But the doctors at the national health service said no.   The family sued to save their child.  But the courts said no.  The child must stay in the UK, have life support removed, and die.   No hope.  No chance to fight for your child, even if the odds are slim.

No system will be perfect.  Health care is vitally important to each of us, therefore it will be expensive; it is the definition of inelastic demand.    We don’t all have the financial ability to pay for what we might need, be it through insurance, or our own money.    But if faced with the choice of two terrible scenarios, – the Smith family’s hopeless “free” health care, the Gard family’s real life nightmare, or the Jones family’s expensive, but attainable care, wouldn’t you rather be the Jones family?   At least they can fight.  At least they can try.  At least there is hope.

Conservatives don’t oppose single payer because we are heartless.   This fight isn’t mainly about tax rates, or deficits, though single payer is catastrophic for both.   It’s about having not the cheapest health care, but the best.    So that when you need a hospital bed, the market makes sure you don’t have to wait until it’s too late.  So that when you have a rare disease, there is hope that the market found it worthwhile to develop a treatment.   That might mean that when you have medical issues, money is a worry.   You get scary bills.   But you have hope.   If the treatment is available, but the money is not, that can be fixed.   If the health care is free, but the government doesn’t permit you to receive it…well, that’s a cruelty we don’t want to see replicated in the United States.

Law of Supply and Demand Upheld in Seattle Minimum Wage Case

It turns out that not every law liberals don’t like can be overturned by the Supreme Court.

In 2014, Seattle, following the instructions of liberal activists, agreed to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour.   It turns out this is doing exactly what every conservative, free market economist expected it would:  Reduce jobs and work hours for those making at or near the minimum wage.

A University of Washington study has found that the new law has resulted in an average net LOSS of $125 per month for low wage workers.

The lost income associated with the hours reductions exceeds the gain [in hourly rates],” the report says. “The average low-wage employee was paid $1,897 per month. The reduction in hours would cost the average employee $179 per month, while the wage increase would recoup only $54 of this loss, leaving a net loss of $125 per month (6.6%), which is sizable for a low-wage worker.

The economics aren’t complicated.   The real minimum wage is always zero.  Employers can always opt to hire less employees, have them work less hours, or use more automation, rather than paying entry level workers more than their labor is worth.  In Seattle, they are doing just that.

The only time a minimum wage law is harmless, is when its low enough that the “real” market minimum wage is higher than the law mandates.  In my rural Colorado town, in the midst of a fracking boom, fast food restaurants routinely advertise entry level positions a couple of dollars over the minimum wave.   We have an organic minimum wage that works considerably better than the state mandated one.

It doesn’t matter how many #FightFor15 hashtags you tweet, or how many rallies you hold.  Adam Smith still wins.   And sadly, in Seattle, low wage workers are losing.

Early Festivus: Iowa GOP Chair Airs Grievances With Sasse

Festivus has come early in Iowa, at least the “airing of grievances” portion, with state GOP chairman Jeff Kauffman unleashing an odd rant against Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, before a Trump rally in Cedar Rapids.

According to Politico, a “a visibly chafed Kaufmann announced that he needed to get some things off his chest and proceeded to spend most of his time berating the president’s critics in the media and on the left.”

Then, he went after Sasse:

We had Sen. Ben Sasse from Nebraska, he crosses the Missouri River, and in that sanctimonious tone talks about what he doesn’t like about Donald Trump,” Kaufmann said. “You know what, Sen. Sasse? I really don’t care what you like. We love Donald Trump. And if you don’t love him, I suggest you stay on your side of the Missouri River.

What prompted the tirade?  After Trump’s speech, Kaufman admitted to an interviewer that “his anger with Sasse had been bottled up since the pre-caucus period last year and said the senator had done nothing specific recently to aggravate him.”

The Sasse hatred among Trump loyalists is bizarre.   Some #NeverTrump advocates like Evan McMullin have opted to be permanently anti-Trump, but Sasse isn’t in that camp.   While Sasse was an open critic of Trump during the primaries and the general election, he has been eager to stand with the President and support him when they are in agreement, (see Gorsuch, Neil).   But for some Trump loyalists, any disagreement with the President, during the primary, or in the present day, constitutes political treason.   It is a standard conservatives have never had for other Presidents.  Reagan, and both Bush’s were routinely criticized by the right, when there was a policy or tactical disagreement.  But Trump, whose personal character and conservative credentials are dubious at best, must not be questioned.

Senator Sasse hasn’t responded to Kauffman’s tirade yet, though there are rumors of a Sasse sponsored Nickelback concert in Kauffman’s home town, as retribution.

Sanders: Senate Health Care Bill “Most Harmful” In His Lifetime

A little over a week after one of his supporters attempted to assassinate GOP members of Congress,  Senator Bernie Sanders, who apparently read a 142 page bill in less than 5 minutes, greeted the release of the Senate GOP’s health care bill with some ridiculously over-heated tweets.

First, its a minor surprise that Sanders, an avowed socialist, went with the 2017 senate draft of the AHCA over the “Communist Control Act of 1954” as the most harmful bill in his lifetime.   But Sanders twitter feed lives in the moment, I guess.

Of course the Senator isn’t endorsing violence, (Sanders was quick to condemn the shooter) but one would think that in the wake of the Scalise shooting, he might be more guarded in his language.

As Erick tweeted earlier today:


Some of you may think its unfair, holding Sanders accountable for this.  Well, here is an excerpt from a fundraising email the Vermont Senator sent in the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting:

In light of all of this violence – both actual and threatened – is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process? Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions? My colleague, Senator John McCain, issued a very strong statement after the shooting in which he condemned the perpetrator of the attack. I commend him for that. But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more. As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.

As it turned out, the Giffords shooting was not politically motivated,  but the act of a lunatic who believed that grammar is a government conspiracy.  Meanwhile, back in 2017,  does Senator Sanders follow his own advice?  Does claiming your opponent’s health care bill is literally the most harmful legislation in your lifetime, and that your opponents WANT to throw millions off of insurance to give tax cuts to the rich, fall in line with Sanders’ call to Senator McCain to denounce violent rhetoric, and create a more civil political environment?

We need more civil political discussions, on both sides.  We need to be able to critique policies and results without assuming our opponents have malevolent intentions.  But for Bernie Sanders, at  least so far, he isn’t heeding his own advice.



Un-Settled Science

The “settled” science of climate change continued to have a bad week, in the aftermath of the United States’ departure from the Paris accords.

NASA revealed a new study showing that an Antarctic Glacier isn’t shrinking as fast as previously thought.   Scientists believe the Thwaites Glacier’s melt is responsible for 1% of the projected global sea level rise.   According to the new study, earlier studies overestimated the glacier’s ice loss by 7% over the next half century.    While there are still some significant modeling difficulties, Helene Seroussi, the lead researcher on the project noted that

Our results shift the estimates for sea level rise to smaller numbers regardless of the scenario.

Good for NASA, funding and publishing research that reaches conclusions contrary to the climate alarm-ism that seems to be trending.   The study, and the existence of others like it are a clear demonstration that “climate science” isn’t settled.  Science, by its very nature, isn’t ever supposed to be “settled.”  We should always be testing, and refining.   Science is only settled until the next, better hypothesis comes along.

Not to be outdone by the more charismatic glacier, former Vice President (and election-result denier) Al Gore appeared yesterday on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.  Wallace challenged Gore on his record of false alarms on the climate.  Gore claimed in his documentary that unless the world “took drastic measures, the world would reach a point of no return in 10 years.”  That was in 2007.   Either we have blown past that point of no return, in which case Paris doesn’t matter, or Gore was provably wrong in his prediction.  Wallace’s brilliantly succinct question:   “Weren’t you wrong?”

You can see the interview here:

Gore’s defense: “we have seen a decline in emissions on a global basis.”   A cursory read of the climate change discourse rulebook makes it clear that you cannot cite evidence of improvement in any climate metric.  However, if it gets Gore off the hook for false alarms, its apparently fair game to say things are getting better.  Second, he trotted out an old, and at least partially debunked Obama line about seeing fish swimming in the Miami streets.

I went down to Miami and saw fish from the ocean swimming in the streets on a sunny day.

Maybe he was just watching this Miami Marlins game, and got confused:

At some point, Gore needs to get his story straight.  Either his years of alarm-ism have been successful, and the prophesies he foretold about climate doom have been averted, or we are still in a state of perpetual crisis and street fish invasions.  It can’t be both.

It would be nice if activists like Gore took a page out of NASA’s study, and were honest about the variability and uncertainty in their field, and quit dismissing anyone who dares to question any aspect of their evolving models as “anti-science.”

Want To Fix The Environment? Less Marching, More Working

A few weeks ago, my wife and I happened to be in downtown Denver the same day as the “March For Science.”   It was an odd thing to observe.   It was strikingly unsacrificial.  If you’re familiar with Denver, its not exactly a herculean effort to draw young, wealthy liberals downtown on a Saturday.  Sure, they had repurposed their knitted hats from the Women’s march into “brain” hats, and had to defer their venture to the bookstore until after the rally, but it was a notably ordinary activity for most.   The tone of helplessness and passivity was disheartening. (yes, passivity, – I’m reading Ben Sasse’s book, and that word is sticking with me.)  Here were a bunch of ostensibly smart professionals, working in the sciences, helplessly demanding that the government force them to do something about the climate.

In the wake of the withdrawal from the Paris accords (don’t you dare call it a treaty, because that would require an actual vote.), we are seeing more of this angry passivity from those who are passionate about the issue.

If the issue is real, and serious, why aren’t these people, you know, working on it?    If we need to power our lives in a way that emits less carbon dioxide, then that sounds like a science problem, not a political one.  Large corporations like Apple and Google, with billions in research and development capital, are lamenting the American departure from the agreement.   Wouldn’t it be better to work on the solution, and possibly profit from it, than complain about a government policy for 4-8 years?

Many alarmist climate predictions have been wildly off base, but there were predictions in the 20th century that might have been right, if not for one man, Norman Borlaug.   The scientific community saw rising populations, and our limited food production capacity as a recipe for disaster.  There simply wasn’t enough food, or  even the key ingredients to produce it (nitrogen) to feed a growing world population.     The political solutions were draconian.  China’s “one child” policy is an outgrowth of this Malthusian fear.   But the real solution didn’t involve politics, it was agronomy.

Instead of marching for population control measures, or policies limiting food consumption, Borlaug took his Iowa farm background, Christian faith, and his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics, and went to work.  Borlaug worked in Mexico, and later in India, pioneering new breeding techniques, and developing genetic traits in wheat that led to higher yields, better disease resistance, and ultimately, a 600% increase in wheat yields.    This is what we love about science!  The ability for humans to use their God given intellect to make things better.

This is why the protest culture surrounding climate science is so frustrating.   There are limitless opportunities to develop technologies to make energy cheaper, cleaner, and more accessible.     Instead of standing in a wheat field in Mexico (metaphorically) to develop a solution, we are culturally stuck, waiting for politicians to fix the problem for us, or more accurately, we are asking them to force us to fix the problem.  The political solutions will be economic and humanitarian disasters, especially for the third world, where they desperately need more, not less, energy.   The Borlaug-ian solutions are out there, if we would stop marching, and start working.