Monday, December 30, 2013

Political Correctness Running Amok

The suspension of the "Duck Dynasty" star for discussing his religious beliefs to a GQ reporter was a despicable act of cowardice on the part of the A&E network. What made A&E's sin more egregious  than other comparable situations is that the whole character the guy portrays on "Duck Dynasty" is of a plain-speaking, Christian conservative redneck. His comments to GQ were simply an expression of his character which has made A&E ten of millions of dollars. A&E knows good and well what brand of Christianity this guy subscribes to, and then the network pretends to be outraged when he expresses his views!

The political correctness crowd needs to develop some sense of nuance about these things. When Michael Richards addresses two Black hecklers during a stand-up act by calling them the N-word seven times in two minutes, that is something that deserves to be a career-killer, because it reflects the racial hatred that is inside of him. When Mel Gibson goes on an anti-Semitic rant after being arrested, that is something that deserves attention, because it reflects the hate that lives inside of him. The political correctness crowd needs to be talking about these two instances, and others like them, rather than about the relatively innocuous comments of the "Duck Dynasty" star.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What is full employment?

When I took Economics 101, back in 1964, the prof said that economists considered 3% to be "full employment". This is because there is always a certain portion of the population in a state of flux, transitioning between jobs.

In this day and age, with all the changes that have taken place since 1964, what would full employment look like today? We have to consider that the population is much more mobile than 50 years ago. It is much more normal today to change jobs, even change careers, change places of residence, and not work for the same company one's whole  life, compared to 50 years ago. I say this would mean that the 3% then would be equivalent to about 5% today, at least.

Then there is the fact that the work place consists of a much greater portion of the adult population than 50 years ago. Most women did not have outside jobs then, but they do now. Many old people work instead of completely retiring. This would add at least another percent to the figure.

My conclusion, then, is that full employment would mean an unemployment rate in the neighborhood of 6-7%. Why this is significant is that we see graphs of unemployment comparing recent rates to years ago. This is as bogus as charts which compare financial figures from different eras in terms of actual dollars, instead of using real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

What this means is that the current unemployment rate of 7.0% is basically full employment, and is not likely to fall any further. Politicians should stop dwelling on this like it is some sort of national crisis, and deal with the real crises, which, unfortunately, are numerous.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Indian Diplomat Arrested

Just when we thought the U.S. could not be more arrogant and bully-like, it goes and pulls a damn fool stunt like arresting an Indian diplomat for not paying her nanny enough. This is beyond the pale, and wholly contradicts the way we expect our diplomats abroad to be treated.

Our supposed diplomats do things like gun down two Pakistanis on the street in cold blood, and get to come home unscathed. An Indian woman tries to rescue her nanny from a life of subjugation, which she would face in India, and gets arrested, handcuffed, and strip-searched! Absolutely ridiculous!

Many years ago I read a book called "The Ugly American". It looks like the status of the U.S. remains unchanged from that era.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Prospective MLB Rules Changes for 2014

Three areas seem ripe for offseason rules changes. Certainly expanded instant replay will be in effect. When this was proposed during the middle of last season, a Baseball Tonight panel discussed this. Manny Acta, in one of the most moronic things I've ever heard, kept saying "How will a manager know when to challenge", referring to the proposal that a manager have only one challenge during the first six innings.

Uh, Manny, isn't that a manger's job, to make judgment calls? When a manager makes out his lineup card, what is that but a series of judgment calls on who to start and what order to bat his starters in. When a manager takes out a starting pitcher, what is that but a judgment call? When a manager sends up a pinch-hitter, or puts on the hit-and-run, what are those but judgment calls? Making judgment calls is what a manager gets paid for.

Manny's fellow panelists tried to dissuade him from his idiocy, but he stuck to his guns and kept insisting it would be a bad rule. One can only hope this idiot will not be back on ESPN next year, and that no ballclub will be foolish enough to hire him for another managing stint.

The obstruction rule will be looked at, as promised after the odd play during this past postseason. What we kept hearing after that odd play was that there is no intent to obstruct the runner required on the part of the fielder, and that "a runner creates his own baseline". Here is where the puzzling part comes into play for me. In the play in question, the third baseman was lying on the ground between 3rd and 2nd, and the runner was going from 3rd to home on the overthrow. The runner tripped over the fielder only because the runner got up (after his slide into 3rd) on the 2nd-base side of 3rd. The fielder was not in any way in the baseline between 3rd and home. I don't know what new wording can be added, but I think the umps have to be given some latitude to use their judgment in oddball situations like this.

The collisions at home are the third thing to be considered. To me, these collisions have no part in the game of baseball. They belong in football, where a fullback can try to run over a linebacker if he wishes, but a runner should not be allowed to make like a fullback and try to run over a catcher. By the same token, a catcher should not be allowed to block the plate unless he has the ball. This has always been the written rule, but an unwritten rule among the umps has allowed this for many years. Hopefully a sensible rules change can be enacted and enforced.