Pragmatism

You probably have a better idea about how to do something. But will it work? You’ll never know until you try. When you do give it a go, you may find that getting there requires a lot of compromises along the way before your dream is realized. Or, perhaps, you’ll simply give up – blaming your own inability to make it happen or blaming the world for being so darned unfair.

Both experiences are simply part of human nature meeting reality. We’re all idealists at heart, at least in a certain sense. Only a few people have the skills necessary to make those dreams a reality and much of the time they have to keep their eyes on the prize. A dream is one thing, but getting there requires wide-awake attention.

That is why an open, democratic political system can’t live by rigid ideology alone.

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MN Minimum: Half a Cent per Buck

Raising the minimum wage has become a progressive rallying cry.  While President Obama’s call to raise it to $10.10 per hour throughout the US is a longshot, given the Republican House, many states have either raised their wage or are considering it.  Minnesota is contemplating raising our minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2016, possibly indexed to inflation afterwards, and it is likely to pass.

What is the net effect on the economy?  An analysis of the net effects was prepared in December and with a little more math it boils down to something no worse than 0.5% of the total economy of the state.  It’s a way of looking at the proposal that makes the case against raising the wage much more difficult, although the effects are not felt uniformly throughout Minnesota.

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US, Get Over Yourselves!

Imagine you are a young woman walking down a street in the US when a group of young men starts hooting and whistling at you.  It’s probably annoying, even infuriating, but you keep walking and ignore them.  Now imagine the same thing happening on a street in Kiev or Odessa.  You should probably run for your life because you may have just become a target to be kidnapped and sold as a sex slave in a distant land.

That is the reality faced every day in Ukraine, where a repudiation of the descent into a mafia state is likely the main issue at the heart of the recent rebellion and interference by neighboring Russia.  But you’d never know that reading the mainstream media here in the US.  This important story has been largely ignored because everything, everywhere in the world is reported as if it is about the US somehow – no matter how ridiculous this perspective is.

Our inability to simply get over ourselves is the main reason our press is so terrible, not some liberal/conservative bias.  It is well demonstrated by the complete miss on this important story shaping the world today.

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How to Fight a War

This was the week that World War III was supposed to erupt across Europe if you listened to the most alarmist reaction to the Russian occupation of Crimea.  Ukraine mobilized their reserves and prepared for the worst while the whole world held its breath.  So far, however, nothing has happened.

That is, the missiles aren’t flying and the troops aren’t advancing.  There has been action, which is to say a lot more than a visit to Kiev by Secretary of State Kerry and some sternly worded European Union (EU) missives.  The money has clearly been bet that there won’t be a war and even more money has been put down on making sure it doesn’t happen.

Think of it like the currency war that is going around the globe right now.  This is the primary way that wars are fought now – with money.

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A Not So Bold Plan

President Obama came to St Paul to propose an aggressive new investment in transportation infrastructure, $300B over 4 years.  It was a good show that messed up traffic throughout the city, which was only fitting.  That increase of $75B per year comes on top of the current $48B per year, or a 150% increase.  It’s needed, and as we’ve noted before investments in infrastructure have a great payback for the economy.

But what’s new about this is that the money to pay for it is to come from an overhaul of the corporate tax system, which is also badly needed.  The details have yet to be announced, but the overall hike is $150B per year, with half going to infrastructure and the rest to deficit reduction.   So what’s not to like about this plan?

It’s a half-step at best, and in so many ways.

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