Friday, September 08, 2006

1 Year of Drivel

Today, Sept 8, 2006 marks the 1 year anniversary of Pure Drivel. I'd like to do a little reflection of how it went.

September 2005 marked the introduction of Pure Drivel. In my first post, I state my intentions.

"This is not to say that this will be a total politically-oriented site. I'm not really that into politics. I usually try not to think about how people I select in November are abusing my rights and my hard-earned money. So I'll write about sports, science, technology, or whatever I happen to feel like mentioning on a particular day."

I think I have stayed true to this purpose in not making this blog too focused on any particular topic.

However, I did emphasize some of my political views last September with Presidential Power, A New Kind of Liberal, and Where Do We Go From Here? I am a political conservative and I show some of that here. The latter was first of a two-parter where I state my strong belief in having a space program.

October 2005 had more variety. I wrap up the space program entry with The Solution and I expose another blogger's utter lack of logic in Facts. After one year, I have more reservations than ever about calling something a "fact". It's a dangerous word to use and one can only be proved wrong in using it. I got into baseball and hockey this month as well.

November 2005 is where I got into the liberal media. This is a common complaint amongst us conservatives where mainstream media takes liberal views and paints them as "normal" while conservatives are always "extremists" or "out of touch". Instead of pointing out what is considered traditional media such as TV news or newspapers, I point out how the liberal media has insidiously infected the movies we watch.

December 2005 was a month I had looked forward to for some time. I had my first vacation in years and I really enjoyed going back east and visiting relatives I had not seen in 33 years. I managed to sneak in two blogs. One, The Arctic Issue Continues concerns the now old argument of whether or not to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Unfortunately, this debate has not settled and I still feel we would be better off investigating in wind and solar research, as opposed to perpetuating our dependence on oil. Speaking of long debates, The DVD Situation is about a battle between two hi-definition DVD standards that is still unresolved. HD-DVD looked like it was in the lead about a year ago but suddenly, the slightly more technically advanced Blue-Ray has made strides and titles are starting to trickle in. I, personally don't know anybody who is using either technology at this point, though. It's still too early to tell.

January 2006 featured a favorite topic of mine, cars. I go to the L.A. Auto Show almost every year. This year, I noted how much horsepower that even, the most modest of cars has today in Cars, Cars, Everywhere but Not a Road to Drive. I had already decided that 2006 was going to be the year I bought a new car so the Auto Show had more than normal appeal to me. On a similar note, I got into how we got into the urban sprawl, driving mess that is the Los Angeles area, where I live. The Freeway Factor was where I graphically point out how the best intentions to make commuting fast and easy actually lead to the opposite effect.

February 2006 featured my bad prediction of the Superbowl outcome. I also wrote a piece on an argument I had had with my father-in-law during my Christmas vacation. In End of Faith, I was dismayed at how my father-in-law had lost his faith and was now blaming religion for all the problems in the world. My father-in-law is a devoted liberal and I now find it funny and ironic how he'd be a perfect poster boy for Ann Coulter's Godless book.

I also changed the appearance of the blog to the form that it is currently in today.

March 2006 started out with my "AutoQuest" series where I had the misadventures of buying a new car. All I can say about that is watch out for those scheming auto salespeople. They have no scruples. Later on in the month, I dive into the controversy that is illegal immigration with the somewhat satirical Welcome! In the past, people jumping the border looking for a better life in America never really bothered me. It always seemed unfair to me to think that I deserve to live in this country more than someone else. That's not fair, is it? However, in light of terrorism and our need to try to keep our nation safe, I am now forced to agree that something needs to be done concerning the ease of coming into America from Mexico or Canada.

April 2006 did not feature a lot from me. I probably did not have much to say that month. I did get into baseball's free agency issue where I lament that I hardly seem to know who is playing for the Dodgers anymore. I also bid Luc Robitaille farewell.

May 2006 was a more interesting month. I start off with The Threat where I express my concerns over Iran. Boy was I dead on right with that one! Iran is a scary nation right now. Kudos was my thank you to my fellow employees for showing up to work on a day that people of their nationality were encouraging them to take off and protest the very people who were providing them jobs. I can't help but notice that this past labor day was supposed to feature large rallies around the United States to protest our anti-illegal alien policies. Apparently very few showed up at these rallys. These protesters don't seem to have a problem leaving work or school to protest, but they must have a problem using a day off for such activities.

I got into the liberal media again with my It's About Time post. I sarcastically point out how some in the mainstream media are finally bothering to point out the U.S. has seen unprecedented economic growth in virtually all phases. The economy is usually at the forefront of news but amidst the stories of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, 911, and Brittany Spears, this little tidbit of news was seemingly forgotten. Of course, this wouldn't have anything to do with the media not wanting to cause Americans to think that maybe Bush's tax cuts weren't such a bad idea after all.

Da Vinci points to another film with a liberal agenda.

June 2006 did not see too many posts by me. I had a busy time at work. I posted my review of Cars, a film that I felt didn't have a liberal bias, by the way. June 2006 was when I posted my most notorious entry The Godless Religion. I call it notorious because of the response I got from it and not just from the usual suspect. It was another post about the liberal media. This time they targeted someone who could really fight back, that being Ann Coulter. While I can't quite agree with Coulter's style or the assertions she makes, I do admire how she faces her enemies and holds nothing back.

July 2006 featured a return to two favorite subjects of mine, cars and energy. In The 2.78% Solution, I point out the misleading promises of switching from gasoline to ethanol to power our vehicles. In What is an American Car?, I list what cars are actually made in America for those who think this is of importance.

Then the whole falling out with Erik occurred. I won't re-open that wound.

August 2006 started off with a topical discussion of the Mel Gibson drunk-driving occurrence. In Drunk Driving is Okay - Just Don't be an Anti-Semite, I point out how the media picks on Mel Gibson's anti-semitism, yet almost ignores his drunk driving, which, in my opinion, was much more potentially harmful.

I then revisit issues in baseball with This is Why They Fail. I predicted the Izturis for Maddux trade by the Dodgers would hurt the team in the long run. The Dodgers have done quite well since I posted that and actually might make the postseason. I personally don't attribute that to acquiring Maddux but I'm sure there are those who will disagree with me on that.

I do have a hidden counter going that doesn't click when I visit so it's pretty accurate (Thanks to As of right now, I've had 913 non-me hits. July was by far, the biggest month with 181 hits. That was, not so coincidentally, the month of the Ann Coulter post and the crap about Erik.

It's now September of 2006 and I'll trudge onward. I've learned a lot in the past year and fully intend on spewing out my pure drivel. For anyone who reads me, I thank you for putting up with me.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Power Rankings - 2006

I always enjoy Fox Sports' and ESPN's NFL power rankings. It's so hard to predict how a new season will end, but I'll try anyways. I'm throwing in my own personal power rankings.

1. Steelers
2. Giants
3. Seahawks
4. Patriots
5. Colts
6. Panthers
7. Bengals
8. Cowboys
9. Broncos
10. Eagles
11. Dolphins
12. Bears
13. Jaguars
14. Buccaneers
15. Cardinals
16. Redskins
17. Rams
18. Chargers
19. Falcons
20. Ravens
21. Vikings
22. Lions
23. Chiefs
24. Titans
25. Bills
26. Texans
27. Jets
28. Raiders
29. Saints
30. Browns
31. 49'ers
32. Packers

My pick for the Superbowl is Steelers over Giants. Anybody else want to throw in their predictions?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Minimizing Choices

When dealing with complex issues, paradoxes become commonplace. In 1931, the federal government of the United States decided that minority construction companies were taking jobs away from white construction companies. The reason was that the minorities were willing to perform the work for less pay. The government's solution was to create legislation called the Davis-Bacon Act. It's purpose was to require the government to allow construction bids to contractors who pay "union wages". This allowed the white-run companies to reclaim many of the jobs they were losing. It didn't end there. The Davis-Bacon Act was successful at pricing minorities out of jobs, but it applied only to government contracts. Companies not under government contracts wanted in on this idea as well. They got there way and the minimum wage laws were enacted.

So, here's our paradox. We are always hearing arguments favoring hiking up minimum wage, whether it's on a national or state basis. The arguments always take the stand that raising minimum wage will aid low-end workers and minorities. Politicians, who want to be seen as the type who "looks out for the little guy" use minimum wage to perpetuate that persona. Yet, minimum wage was never there to help these low-end workers. Not only that, study after study has shown the following. This is from the Joint Economic Committee:

The minimum wage reduces employment.
Currie and Fallick (1993), Gallasch (1975), Gardner (1981), Peterson (1957), Peterson and Stewart (1969).

The minimum wage reduces employment more among teenagers than adults.
Adie (1973); Brown, Gilroy and Kohen (1981a, 1981b); Fleisher (1981); Hammermesh (1982); Meyer and Wise (1981, 1983a); Minimum Wage Study Commission (1981); Neumark and Wascher (1992); Ragan (1977); Vandenbrink (1987); Welch (1974, 1978); Welch and Cunningham (1978).

The minimum wage reduces employment most among black teenage males.
Al-Salam, Quester, and Welch (1981), Iden (1980), Mincer (1976), Moore (1971), Ragan (1977), Williams (1977a, 1977b).

The minimum wage helped South African whites at the expense of blacks.
Bauer (1959).

The minimum wage hurts blacks generally.
Behrman, Sickles and Taubman (1983); Linneman (1982).

The minimum wage hurts the unskilled.
Krumm (1981).

The minimum wage hurts low wage workers.
Brozen (1962), Cox and Oaxaca (1986), Gordon (1981).

The minimum wage hurts low wage workers particularly during cyclical downturns.
Kosters and Welch (1972), Welch (1974).

The minimum wage increases job turnover.
Hall (1982).

The minimum wage reduces average earnings of young workers.
Meyer and Wise (1983b).

The minimum wage drives workers into uncovered jobs, thus lowering wages in those sectors.
Brozen (1962), Tauchen (1981), Welch (1974).

The minimum wage reduces employment in low-wage industries, such as retailing.
Cotterman (1981), Douty (1960), Fleisher (1981), Hammermesh (1981), Peterson (1981).

The minimum wage hurts small businesses generally.
Kaun (1965).

The minimum wage causes employers to cut back on training.
Hashimoto (1981, 1982), Leighton and Mincer (1981), Ragan (1981).

The minimum wage has long-term effects on skills and lifetime earnings.
Brozen (1969), Feldstein (1973).

The minimum wage leads employers to cut back on fringe benefits.
McKenzie (1980), Wessels (1980).

The minimum wage encourages employers to install labor-saving devices.
Trapani and Moroney (1981).

The minimum wage hurts low-wage regions, such as the South and rural areas.
Colberg (1960, 1981), Krumm (1981).

The minimum wage increases the number of people on welfare.
Brandon (1995), Leffler (1978).

The minimum wage hurts the poor generally.
Stigler (1946).

The minimum wage does little to reduce poverty.
Bonilla (1992), Brown (1988), Johnson and Browning (1983), Kohen and Gilroy (1981), Parsons (1980), Smith and Vavrichek (1987).

The minimum wage helps upper income families.
Bell (1981), Datcher and Loury (1981), Johnson and Browning (1981), Kohen and Gilroy (1981).

The minimum wage helps unions.
Linneman (1982), Cox and Oaxaca (1982).

The minimum wage lowers the capital stock.
McCulloch (1981).

The minimum wage increases inflationary pressure.
Adams (1987), Brozen (1966), Gramlich (1976), Grossman (1983).

The minimum wage increases teenage crime rates.
Hashimoto (1987), Phillips (1981).

The minimum wage encourages employers to hire illegal aliens.
Beranek (1982).

Few workers are permanently stuck at the minimum wage.
Brozen (1969), Smith and Vavrichek (1992).

The minimum wage has had a massive impact on unemployment in Puerto Rico.
Freeman and Freeman (1991), Rottenberg (1981b).

The minimum wage has reduced employment in foreign countries.
Canada: Forrest (1982); Chile: Corbo (1981); Costa Rica: Gregory (1981); France: Rosa (1981).

Even the New York Times published an article in 1987 called “The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00” Whenever minimum wage rises, employers are forced to evaluate the situation and make some hard decisions about cutting hours, cutting benefits, or just cutting out the workers altogether. In many low-wage situations, there are automation alternatives (i.e. computers or robotics) that are available. There is a threshold to the employer as to when it's time to replace humans with machines and that threshold is often dependent on the minimum wage.

Most politicians are aware of many of these studies, yet they continue to jabber on about how necessary the minimum wage is. Why would they do this? They are pandering to an American public they feel is too dumb to figure this stuff out. Paradoxes can be difficult to explain so they don't want to bother because they can appease more people quickly by just raising the minimum wage. This is similar to the way politicians deride "taxes for the rich". These taxes have helped our economy immensely but left-wing politicians refuse to accept that. It's another paradox that's easy to believe in the wrong choice.

Think of it this way. If you are making minimum wage, then your employer is only paying you what he is forced by the government to pay you. Therefore, you are overpaid.


As college football season begins this week, I can't help but be stunned that the USC Trojans are ranked number 6 in the nation. This is a team that has lost a Heismann-winning quarterback and running back. Also, they lost one of the best power-running backs in the country. Last year, I felt coach Pete Carroll was the greatest coach in college football. He led a team that had lost virtually, an entire defense from the previous year including all-americans such as Tatupu, Patterson, Cody, and Udeze (who now all happen to be budding NFL stars). Despite these significant losses, USC almost won a third consecutive national title. If this Trojan team finishes in the top 10 this year, Carroll will have to be considered one of the greatest coaches in NCAA history.

Personally, I believe this is going to be somewhat of a down year and they'll finish around 8-4.