Stupid things

Universal Basic Income is a bad idea

As the 2020 election approaches, we’ll probably hear more about the idea of “universal basic income” from politicians. And it can sound tempting for two main reasons. Reason 1: Free money! Yay! Reason 2: Technological innovations will put people out of their jobs, whatever will we do?! (Answer: Free money! Yay!) (And perhaps Reason 3: I can show compassion towards the less fortunate without having to do anything but vote! Wow, that feels good!)

But it won’t work.

Why not?

My viewpoint is this: What is money? What does it mean, what does it represent? Ultimately it represents a person’s labor1, another person’s value of that labor. (A product you buy or don’t buy is the product of people’s labor. Even if it was made in a factory. Even if that labor was in the past. That’s really what you’re paying for.) Its value is not arbitrary. It is completely psychological, and collectively psychological at that. It is determined by the countless economic exchanges people make everyday. What is a dollar worth? It’s worth whatever the holder of that dollar is willing to exchange it for, and what someone else is willing to trade to get it.

In other words: THE VALUE OF MONEY IS DEPENDENT ON ITS DISTRIBUTION. Its value cannot be dictated by some authority other than the countless economic exchange decisions people make, because the worth of a man’s labor cannot be dictated by some authority. You can’t just redistribute it with no associated exchange of labor (abstract as that may be) and expect it to retain its value.

This is the biggest and most dangerous flaw of logic so many people seem to make, thinking that money could forcibly (that is, through governmental force rather than organic economic incentive) be exchanged and retain its value. Why / how would it retain its value?!

So when money is exchanged without any associated exchange of labor, as would be the case with universal basic income, you break the game. You devalue money. It logically doesn’t work because the money no longer represents an exchange of labor (or anything at all for that matter). This means the money won’t be spent as though it is. This means the “worth” of whatever the person buys with their “free money” is warped for everyone. Ultimately you just get a rampant cycle of inflation along with the devaluation of needed labor.

This is also why minimum wage sets “by force” (law) doesn’t work2, at least not long term; because wages are not then economically organic, and you actively incentivize businesses to innovate and replace the now costly employees or go out of business. The idea that the wealthy CEOs at the top will just shrug and swallow the loss and devalue their own work is ludicrous. The idea that shareholders of profitable companies will just snap their fingers and say “ah, shucky darns!” and devalue their own investments is ludicrous.

Also note that this has nothing to do with tax (“we can tax production instead of income!”) or issues of “so where does all this free money from?!”3 It doesn’t matter. It’s the act itself that’s the problem, the act of giving people money for nothing. The exchange is meaningless and so the money is meaningless, and so every economic exchange that ripples from the spending of that free money is devalued.

Granted, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to measure this devaluation, as it’s purely psychological4. But that shouldn’t be controversial, because the value of money itself is purely psychological to begin with.

I also thought the video below was an interesting perspective. Jordan Peterson comes at it from a more personal psychological point of view. He says that the idea of “universal basic income” tries to rectify the wrong problem. The problem is not that people lack money, he says, but that they lack purpose. A person without concrete purpose will waste their money, essentially, so it doesn’t solve their problem. “Provision of money without purpose is not helpful.” Money without meaning will do more to hurt an individual than help. “You don’t want no responsibility,” he says.

Makes sense. And so I think he sees the other side of the same coin. Money is psychological. Unearned money is not spent like earned money. This creates both personal and economic problems.

Of course, economic problems already exist. Social security, welfare, government bail-outs, spending waste, national debt, forced insurance (healthcare!). They devalue money (or labor) in one sense or another. But the system doesn’t bear these “cheats” because they somehow actually work, the system works despite them. It can be like saying, well, the camel is still standing, what’s another little piece of straw? Aside from already not moving as fast as he could, the camel is doomed to collapse if you keep adding weight to his back; that he hasn’t collapsed yet is not somehow evidence that he will never do so, especially when history is full of the graves of crushed camels (that is, socialist nations). And universal basic income would not be another little piece of straw, it would be boulder.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

What does your favorite genre of music say about you?

I wanted to try my hand at writing a nonsense click-bait article with little to no value whatsoever. I hope I did a good job! If this goes well, I might have a whole new career on my hands, so please email this to all your loved ones, and hated ones too.

So what does your favorite genre of music say about you? Find out below!

Bluegrass music: It means you like bluegrass music.

Broadway music: It means you like Broadway music.

Classical music: It means you like classical music.

Country music: It means you like country music.

Dance music: It means you like dance music.

Electronic music: It means you like electronic music.

New Age music: It means you like new age music.

Opera music: It means you like opera music.

Pop music: It means you like pop music.

R&B / Soul music: It means you like R&B / soul music.

Reggae music: It means you like reggae music.

Rock and roll music: It means you like rock and roll music.

Other music: It means you like that other sort of music.

Rap music: You are stupid.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Frequently asked questions about the cookie-based diet

cookies

This holiday season, I’ve been trying out a new diet that I call the cookie-based diet. It involves eating cookies all the time. Here I try to answer some questions and concerns people may have about this diet.

Q: Is it unhealthy?

A: When people hear about the cookie-based diet, they immediately assume that it’s unhealthy. After all, cookies are full of sugar and lack vitamins and nutrients. As it turns out, these concerns are well-founded. The cookie-based diet is extremely unhealthy. Risks include everything from diabetes and cavaties to an early death. But this concern also completely misses the point of the cookie-based diet, which is to throw health concerns to the wind and eat more cookies.

Q: When will I know when to stop the cookie-based diet?

A: Never.

Q: Should children try the cookie-based diet?

A: No one at all should try the cookie-based diet, but this isn’t about shoulds and shouldn’ts. This is about cookies.

Q: Should the cookie-based diet be government funded?

A: Yes. Everyone has a fundamental God-given right to cookies, therefore the government should help provide cookies to those who cannot bake cookies themselves or buy them at the store. Please write to your congressmen and elected officials, telling them how important cookies are to you. Bribe them with cookies, of course.

Q: Should I eat cookies that fall on the floor?

A: Eat all cookies.

Q: What should I do if someone else wants to eat my cookies?

A: Eat more cookies.

Q: I am concerned about cookie riots and cookie wars.

A: You are afraid of these things because you have not eaten enough cookies. Cookies will give you peace of mind.

Q: At what point does the cookie-based diet become cookie idolatry? Isn’t it immoral?

A: The All Great and Powerful Cookie doesn’t think so.

Q: Don’t they call cookies “bisquits” or something in the UK?

A: A cookie by any other name, blah blah blah.

Q: Are your answers becoming more and more insane?

A: Cookies.

Q: Are you OK?

A: Coooookies.

Q: What happens if–

A: COOOOKEIS

Q; W;’a

COOOKEIS

MSUT HAVE COOKEI

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Son of a bleep…

I’ve heard it asserted that the phrase “son of a *bleep*” is sexist against women because it points the insult not at the male, but at the female. I suppose the interpretation is that the man doesn’t deserve to be insulted and so the insult has to go to someone more worthy of it? But that doesn’t make sense; the insult is clearly directed at the man, and mothers are rarely even present. It’s insulting to the man because he naturally venerates his mother. So, if anything, it points to women, mothers more specifically, being venerated above men. The man knows he’s a dirty stinking rat, so the insult is directed instead at a person the man honors more than himself. That’s what makes it hurtful. (It’s like when villains take hostages in movies. If you want to threaten a man, you could point a gun to his head, but he may be more than willing to die for his cause. Instead, point a gun to the head of his loved ones. Is he willing to sacrifice someone else’s life for his cause?)

But then, does it really make sense to be offended about a manner of insulting at all? Shouldn’t the moral condemnation be directed at the intent to insult in the first place?

It’s like when people get upset about the word “retarded” being used as an insult. Shouldn’t you be upset that someone’s insulting someone else in the first place? Is there a proper way to insult people? Insults are meant to offend people; do you really think the insult-giver cares about offending a non-present third party when he’s, you know, trying to offend someone? Aren’t all insults bad? Moral priorities, please!

Speaking of moral priorities, a video was recently released revealing that Planned Parenthood sells body parts of aborted children, to which I’ve seen comments such as: “I’m pro-choice, but this is sickening.” Really? Killing an unborn child is OK, but what’s done with the body is crossing the line? If you had any respect for the child, you wouldn’t defend his or her being killed in the first place. If a conscience allows for the murder, what difference does it make what’s done with the body?

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Fake geeks

On tumblr, author Neil Gaiman was asked: What’s your opinion on there being “fake” and “real” fans/nerds?

Neil Gaiman goes on to not really answer the question. He says, “I think all people, not to mention fans, nerds, geeks and suchlike are real.” OK… but that wasn’t the question. The question was about fake fans/nerds. Not fake people. He goes on to say that he tells people at his book signings that he’s glad they read his book, no matter their self-proclaimed level of fandom. I think any author with any business sense would do the same. But, again, that really wasn’t the question.

So I think the Internet needs my opinion on the subject, because I am a blogger, and this is what bloggers do: write opinions nobody asked for.

(On a side note, if you Google the term fake geek, you seem to get a lot of stuff about a meme called Fake Geek Girls. I had never heard of that, and don’t really know what it is. This post is only about the idea of “fake geeks” in general, or “wannabes nerds.” As franchises long considered geeky have become mainstream in the last ten or fifteen years or so, and as media companies cash in on the popularity shift, there seems to be a bit of a culture war regarding who’s turf these geeky franchises belong to. This post doesn’t really address that either, though certainly this shift has given rise to a modern epidemic of “fake geeks.”)

Yes, there are “fake geeks.” These are people who claim to love something, but really only want other people to think they love it. It’s nothing new; vanity of this sort has existed since the first caveman lied about how many wooly mammoths he’d slain. (He was a fake wooly mammoth geek.)

The true geek is like Donkey from Shrek; he might be really annoying, but he’s happy with himself. The fake geek is like Shrek, at least the Shrek at the beginning of the first Shrek movie. He puts on a tough-guy act, pretending he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him, but he’s actually very insecure. (That is why a “fake geek” cares about the label at all.)

Fake geeks care too much about their reputation. You can spot these sorts of people because they care more about showing other people how geeky they are than actually geeking out on the subjects they claim to geek about.

For example, you cannot claim to be a chess geek if you don’t know what en passant is. If you truly love chess as much as you claim, you’d know the rules. That said, it’s OK to be a chess beginner. As Gaiman says, everybody starts somewhere. It’s not snobbery that’s keeping chess geeks from accepting anyone among their chess geek ranks. But the geekdom has to be earned; you don’t get to bestow it on yourself after your third chess game.

And, again, that’s OK. True geeks are out there and ready to help you rise to true geekdom. True geeks love being paid their geeky dues. But you have humble yourself before your geeky interest, and you have to be honest about wanting that true geekdom, because you’re going to have to work for it. If you want to be a chess geek, but don’t actually want to put in the long hours staring at a chess board, reviewing Bobby Fischer’s games, and reading Vladimir Vukovic, no geekdom for you.

If you truly love it, that shouldn’t be hard. True love leads to true geekdom.

But if you’re just in it for the perceived social glory, forget it. You are a fake geek.

“Fake geeks” can be a problem for real geeks because fake geeks are incapable of geeking out about their supposed topic of geekery. When you claim to be a geek just to impress people, but then can’t engage in a geeky conversation with a true geek, you’ve just wasted that geek’s time. That true geek spent a lot of time earning his geekdom, and he’s starving for some deep geek conversations and geeky social bonding. When you claim to be a geek but then can’t actually geek out, it’s tantamount to slapping that geek in the face! How could you be so mean to a geek?

A “geek” is like a “genius”; it’s a subjective label we give to others based on our own impressions of them. Sorry, but you can’t come up to me, proclaim to be a genius, and expect me to be instantly impressed (even if you truly are a genius, which you’re probably not if you feel the need to tell me about it). Similarly, if I am not impressed by your apparent shallow knowledge of a subject, I’m not going to consider you a geek. You don’t get to decide for me how impressed I’m supposed to be by your fandom. But, as I said, it’s subjective. If you claim to be a quilting geek, I’ll probably take your word for it, as I know very little about quilting. But if you claim to be a SpongeBob geek and can’t recite the FUN song, I’m seriously going to doubt that you truly love SpongeBob.

(Even worse is when people claim to be geeks about what you love, but then claim to be offended about what they don’t like about it, as though you too are obligated to be offended with them by virtue of your shared interest. True geeks know what I’m talking about.)

As I’ve said before on this blog, when you truly love something, you don’t care about what other people think anyway. So anyone who’s truly concerned about being labeled a “fake geek” is most likely that very thing.

Now, all that said, this isn’t the perspective from which Neil Gaiman is speaking about the topic. If you’re selling something, the last thing you’re going to care about is a customer’s level of geekery. A dollar is worth the same amount from anyone. Probably 95% to 99% of his sales come from non-Gaiman-geeks, including myself, and he’s savvy enough to not upset us. I’m not saying his views aren’t genuine. I’m saying they come from the perspective of someone who’s selling a product, not a true geek who’s been blatantly lied to by a fake geek.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

On flame wars

Just a short post here, but I was recently reading about a little controversy that’s going on in the sci-fi blogging world. I won’t go into the specifics, because it’s not really that interesting, but there are all these flame wars appearing on a bunch of blogs about it. (And of course, I don’t want my blog to be one of them!)

I just have to say: If you’re offended by something you read on the Internet, you’re an idiot. Don’t engage in flame wars. I know I never would, that’s for sure.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Philosophy

It’s so hard to be us

A famous man says, “There are very few African-American men in this country [the USA] who have not had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. That includes me. There are probably very few African-American men who have not had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me – at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who have not had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off. That happens often.”

What’s his point? What is he trying to say?

There are different experiences between all sorts of people. Men and women, rich men and poor men, black men and white men, old men and young men, men of this religion and that religion, men of this ancestry and that ancestry, men of this country and that country, men with medical conditions and men without, men who had this sort of childhood and that sort, etc.

But of what value is it to define yourself by those differences? Of what value is it to set yourself apart from others? Of what value is it to say only certain people can relate to your experiences or your suffering? Do you think they entitle you to something special?

We cannot end racism, sexism, classism, ageism, whatever, by looking for the differences we experience and clinging to them as if they define us and set us apart from others. This will only divide us and perpetuate the problems. (This is the problem with things like affirmative action and feminism and dedicating months to celebrating the history of some special group. They perpetuate the divisions they claim to want to close by putting differences on a pedestal as if they’re something to be celebrated for their own sake.)

This isn’t to say that differences don’t exist, that we don’t experience difference sorts of hardships. Of course we do. But these differences are completely meaningless. (For that matter, it is self-righteous snobbery, and self-torture, to believe it’s any easier to be someone else.)

We all love, we all laugh, we all cry, blah blah blah, cue heartfelt piano music. When you truly care about your neighbor, you don’t look for your differences.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Fake news

Boycott The Hobbit films!

The second Hobbit film will be coming out soon, but you can count me out! Why? Well, it’s come to my attention that Mr. Tolkien, author of the book on which the film is based, is an evil bigot! Why? Well, just read what he wrote about sex!

This is a fallen world. The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall. The world has been ‘going to the bad’ all down the ages. The various social forms shift, and each new mode has its special dangers: but the ‘hard spirit of concupiscence’ has walked down every street, and sat leering in every house, since Adam fell. We will leave aside the ‘immoral’ results. These you desire not to be dragged into.

Clearly any person who still holds this ancient and unpopular view is a hateful bigot who just doesn’t want certain people to be happy by doing whatever they sexually please. So intolerant! These people must be punished with boycotting. We all know that it has recently been discovered that the only way to happiness for the human race is if we all embrace and celebrate sexual indulgence in all its beautiful forms. If you see The Hobbit film, you’re giving money to the estate of Tolkien, which might go to some people who believe what he believed! How awful is that?!

What you can do instead:

* Start a pledge and sign it and keep your hard earned dollars away from Tolkien’s estate and people who believe in certain sexual morals.

* Tell all your friends what Tolkien really believed. The ultimate plan is that people who believe in these sexual morals will run out of money and starve or will switch their opinion to celebrate our sexual choices.

* On whatever day the movie comes out, instead of going to the theater, attend a Skip Hobbit event with your wise and tolerant friends. We’ll be hosting events all over the place, because nothing says “tolerance!” like pre-organized events dedicated to keeping money away from one specific person who is famous and thinks we’re doing something that’s not good for us, like acting on our sexual desires, whatever they may be.

* Donate money or volunteer your time to organizations that support the celebration of sexual indulgence!

* If you have any control in the media, report this boycott! Pretend you’re being unbiased, of course, and are just reporting the news.

By doing this, we’ll send an ominous message to all those who do not bow to our sexual indulgences that they will be publically singled out, shamed, and financially punished for being honest about their evil beliefs.

We’re going to nobly and heroically change the world by singling out one oppressive bigot at a time! If sexual indulgence itself was enough to make us happy, we wouldn’t need everyone’s approval. But of course everyone’s approval is actually a big factor to our happiness, so we really need to fight for it! Equality!

———-

In the interest of letting all sides of this controversial issue express their views, here’s a letter from a reader:

Dear New Blather,

I agree that Tolkien is an evil bigot, but I sure don’t think a boycott is the way to go! Think of all the other people who worked on the movie! I mean, art and artists are two separate things. But, I must be clear, I agree with you about all the sexual indulgence stuff. I mean, Tolkien is just so bigoted in that area. I can’t argue with that. I want everyone to like me, so I really want to be clear about that. But, yeah, a boycott is going a little too far. I really want to see the movie, after all. So I think my opinion is a bit more mainstream than yours. But, again, I do agree that Tolkien sure is evil what with his religious views and all. I mean, we should be able to have some sexual indulgence without other people saying it’s wrong. To say it’s wrong is just evil. And to have what we think is wrong reflected in law is evil because separation of church and state and stuff and imposing religion is wrong. But a boycott? No.

———-

Finally, the movie studio has released a statement:

We here at the Hobbit movie studio just want to make it clear that Tolkien is dead and we really don’t care about his beliefs. We just want your money, so whatever your beliefs are, we think they’re OK. If you feel like you’re part of some sort of community, we just want you to know that we support you. We only made the movie based on Tolkien’s work because his book was popular, not because we agree with any of his old stupid sexual beliefs. Sex for everyone, that’s what we say!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Got my twitter back

Looks like a got my twitter back! Didn’t get an email or anything from twitter support, but suspended notices aren’t popping up anymore and everything looks back to normal. It looks like my account had been compromised somehow. I’ll be searching around for how that could have happened. But the link to my website had been changed to something spammy, which I’m betting is why my account was suspended. Glad I got it back, but it looks like I lost all my followers and everyone I was following, so that will take some time to rebuild. Hope it won’t happen again.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Twitter suspended me

I just tried tweeting something, and couldn’t. My twitter account has been suspended! (Don’t have schadenfreude!) I’m guessing they have some automated algorithmic process for suspending accounts and mine came up as a false-positive. (Too many links, maybe? I do post links a bit, but they’re never misleading or repetitive or spammy.) Either that or this is the work of my arch-nemesis, Finneas Blinn, who is envious of my intellect and success and seeks to ruin me in every way.

Fortunately, Twitter allows you to submit a ticket asking them to review and restore your account, which I of course immediately did.

We’ll see how long it takes. Googling around, seems false-positives are not uncommon, and restoration can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks. So it’s like querying agents!

Anyway, I’m not too worried. I only follow around 40 people and only have around 240 followers. I don’t have a business that relies on tweeting people or something, so waiting won’t bother me. Besides, there’s always you, WordPress, my ever faithful friend and ally.

Oh, and here’s the tweet I was trying to tweet when my account suddenly became suspended: “almost done plotting my next novel… have a summary of all the scenes, but still need to work out the specifics of connecting some of them”

By S P Hannifin, ago