This just in:  Like the rest of us, I’m subject to confirmation bias.  I read articles that support my position and avoid those that don’t.  I tend to think things like Hillary running a pedophial ring out of a pizza parlor are Fake News.  I’m well aware that people think that is real, mostly because they want to believe it.  In other words, we all have a confirmation bias.

To me “confirmation bias” is a puppet master; we being the puppets.  It tells us what to believe and what to shrug off.  It is the master; not us.

Today, I thought I would lay out a few things I have actually changed my mind about over the years.  These changes have come from data.  I see enough of something that I don’t want to believe until eventually, I start to think “maybe there is something here.”  This opens a new door.  Now I can investigate and take a new position on something if the data points a certain way.  It’s a form of shrugging off the chains of confirmation bias.

Minimum Wage:  I came fresh out of my MBA program about 20 years ago.  There was a ton of economics in this course.  One thing we looked at early on was the Supply-Demand relationship.   This basically says if labor is scarce, then wages would naturally go up to attract labor.  This make sense.  Low unemployment is said to make laborers the “price makers”.  They are scarce and can therefore sell their services to the highest bidder; thus raising wages.  However, this does not seem to be the case.  Companies are struggling to find workers but they are slow to raise wages.  Instead they choose to automate or move to another country.

I now favor a $15 (at least) minimum wage.  I think this is important if we are to avoid the Prisoner’s Dilemma.  If  competing companies both raise wages, they will see costs go up but they will not lose market share when they raise prices to compensate.  The reason for this is that both companies are raising prices.  Both companies will benefit as their employees now have more income and will become better consumers which benefits companies.  However, if only one company raises wages, the other company will benefit.  The company that kept its wages low will have a larger profit margin than the other company while both will benefit from the employees that are making more money and thus are better consumers.

Data shows that neither company will raise wages because they fear losing market share.  In fact, raising wages is the absolute last step they will take to retain employees.

In short, we need a high minimum wage so that all companies contribute and benefit equally.

Green Energy:  I used to see this as an unfair burden on American companies.  We have to do all sorts of expensive things to make our air cleaner thus giving an advantage to companies in other countries that don’t care about such things.  This made us less competitive and thus, cost a lot of jobs.

Three things have changed my mind on this.  First, the rest of the world is now joining together to fight global warming   Ironically, the United States is now seeking to take advantage of lower costs because they are now allowed to pollute under the current Republican Congress and Trump.  Secondly, there are potentially millions of new, well paying jobs in the Green Energy sector.  When coal gains 1,000 jobs, Solar Power gains 250,000 jobs.  If we really want to create more jobs, we will embrace Green Energy.  And finally, we cannot allow ourselves to sit on the sidelines and let the rest of the world take the lead in this sector.  The world runs on energy.  We need to be at the forefront of its development.

Voter Suppression:  I was originally in favor of voter I.D.’s.  Who wouldn’t want to stop voter fraud?  What was so hard about getting a photo I.D.?  Turns out that getting an I.D. is hard for some people.  Suppose it costs only $5 to get an I.D.  To a poor person, that could mean a choice between eating that day or getting an I.D. card.  An elderly person may have to hire a taxi to get them to the DMV; money they can’t afford.  Fewer polling hours means that someone may have to miss work to vote.  There is a cost associated with that.  Add to this that there are numerous video and audio recordings of the Republican Party touting the success of their voter suppression efforts.

To be clear – Voter I.D. laws are there for one purpose: to make it hard for people to vote that will not vote Republican.

I was a Republican:  Now I consider myself a Progressive.  I’m a registered Democrat but vote across party lines to get to the best candidate.  I once thought the Republican Party was the party of big business.  I thought they did things to make us economically strong.  Now I think the Republican Party is led by people that are there for the money and the power.  Their actions have little to do with what is best for their constituents and their country.  This is due, in large part, to the fact that they get they vast amount of their money from special interests.  These are interests that like burning coal and oi.  These are interests that want tax cuts for the risk and care little about healthcare for the masses.

I think the Democrats have little to offer other than they are not Republicans.  Granted, the is enough to get my vote.  I will vote for a Storm Trooper before I vote for Darth Vader.  However, the Dems are starting to embrace platforms that I like; things like universal healthcare and a $15 minimum wage.  I’m still waiting for them to embrace campaign finance reform and free college education.

Regulations:  I was anti-regulation for the same reason I was anti-Green Energy.  Regulations impose costs which slow economic growth.  I know of regulations that a just their to cater to a political position.  For example, California has labor laws drawn up in such a way that they keep non-union people from doing things they want while allowing unions to get away with it.  When I confronted my congressman with this, he agreed but said to change the law would be to lose the union vote.  So, not all regulations are good for all people.

Still, “Don’t dump your toxic waste in the town’s water supply” seems like a good regulation.  Most of them are like that.  Notice when people want to get rid of regulations; they never name one.  They just like the way it sounds.  It sounds like “getting rid of wasteful spending” when it really means, “We don’t care if your water is clean.”

Free Market:  This takes us back to the basic idea that the Market is always right.  Same old supply and demand stuff.  However, there are innumerable situations where the Free Market, lett to its own devices, will become perverse.  Healthcare is a perfect example.  If a hospital is in business, then its purpose is to maximize profits.  This doesn’t make it evil.  It makes it a business.  If we say, “You can’t charge that much” or “you must treat everyone that comes to the ER.” then we have interfered with the Free Market and rightfully so.  If I break my leg, I’m not going to go to EBay and find the best price – even though, that is exactly what the Free Market says I should do.  In 2015, the Nobel Prize in Economics was given to a man that studied how governments must step in from time to time and that the Free Market does not work in all realms.  I agree with this.

Honesty in Government:  I once believed that everything our elected officials said was true.  Sure, there could be a bad apple here or there but nearly all were to be trusted.  They were all working for the best in America.  Then came W. Bush.  This guy lied about the Iraqi war right to our faces.  This was stunning to me.

I started paying attention.  Who lied deliberately and who lied by accident?  What were the motives?  Obama said some things that were not true.  For example, “everyone can keep their same doctor” under Obamacare.  I’m not sure if he did this on purpose or misunderstood an outcome of his program.

Now we have Trump AND the Republican Party.  Trump gets credit for lying the most but I think that is because he’s more visible.  I see very little truth coming out of Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell or Hillary Clinton for that matter.  In my view, so long as there is money in politics, there will be those willing to do what they need to do to get that money; and then lie to the rest of us to justify their actions.  I point to healthcare and the Republican Party as an example.

The Supreme Court:  I once thought “Truth is Truth”.  It was universal and that is what the Supreme court would work towards.  Now I see it as a partisan extension of congress. I don’t think this is something new.  It’s just something I’ve come to realize over the last few years.

That’s probably enough out of me for now.  Time to save the world and to fight off public enemy #1 – Confirmation Bias.

Up, up and away…

J

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Debra L Gillanders

    I always enjoy your commentary

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