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Is YouTube Homophobic and Sexist?

The below video went viral.  It depicts a scantily-clad man (he appears to be over 18, and I'm willing to wager he's gay) dancing to a recent Beyonce hit: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." 

You may watch most YouTube videos without having to log into YouTube.  Some videos that depict excessive sex or violence require you to log in, since such materials "may not be suitable for minors."

After watching the video, and the original Beyonce video (also embedded, below), tell me: What's the difference? 

Scantily-clad women (my preference, not that it should matter) are suitable for minors; but scantily-clad, gay men men are not?  Sounds like blatant sexism and homophobia to me.

Unfortunately, YouTube makes it easy to flag videos. There is no way for me to unflag videos. Maybe someone from YouTube (you may Digg this post) will see this post and start treating people equally. Censor Beyonce and the boi; or censor neither of them.

Obama: Selfishness a Virture (Sometimes)

Barack Obama, taking heat for his "spread the wealth around" comment, had this this say:

"The point is, though, that -- and it’s not just charity, it’s not just that I want to help the middle class and working people who are trying to get in the middle class -- it’s that when we actually make sure that everybody’s got a shot – when young people can all go to college, when everybody’s got decent health care, when everybody’s got a little more money at the end of the month

"John McCain and Sarah Palin they call this socialistic," Obama continued. "You know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness."

Well, first of all, all young people can go to college.  They can join the Army or National Guard.  Many states will give free in-state tuition to veterans or current members of the Reserves.  Or you can work really hard to get scholarships.  Or you can take out student loans.  It truly is the case that where there is a will, there is a way. 

The "poor college student" is mostly a myth.  I knew a lot of them.  I was not one of them, since I worked 20 hours a week waiting tables in addition to military duties.  When I'd tell these "broke students" about job openings, they didn't seem interesting.  Plus, even broke college students found a way to buy beer, pot, and video games.  Not a bad life, being "broke."

There are a lot of ways to pay for college.  Yes, they require some sacrifice.  You might need to work outside of class rather than get drunk, get high, or get organized.  But isn't sacrifice a virtue? 

Why is it OK for some, but not others, to be selfish?  Those who want to attend college for free are being selfish.  Why not work?  And if they're too stupid to get a scholarship, should they even be in college? 

And why does anyone deserve free health insurance?  Isn't that selfish of them?  Of course it is.  They want something for themselves.  What's worse: They don't want to pay for it.  They want it for free.  Making someone else buy you something seems as selfish to me as it gets. 

Now, of course, I understand the flip side.  Why should children who did nothing other than be born into a rich family get to attend college for free?  (Yes, it's free to them, since their parents pay for it.)  In some cosmic sense, that isn't fair.  Which is why, even as a libertarian, I am sympathetic to fairness arguments.  (Yes, rich parents should have the right to spend their money on their children any way they want.  So don't pull my l-card just yet.)

But it is tiresome to hear that people who want to keep their money are selfish, but that the people who want to take it from them are somehow unselfish.  Both groups are selfish. 

Bailout Money Going to Wall Street Bonuses

You know the $125 billion that our leaders gave Wall Street to unfreeze credit markets?  $108 billion of that is being held for employee bonuses.  Really

Now, not everyone on Wall Street caused the meltdown.  It was a few high-placed executives (people like our current Treasury Secretary).  Investment banks employee a lot of staff and other "non-Wall Street" types. 

But those people, frankly, are lucky to still have jobs.  A bonus is just that - something extra that depends on the profitability of your employer.  When your employer is bailed out rather than allowed to go out of business, you shouldn't expect a bonus.  You should just be happy to have a job.

Still, if bonuses were only going to people who just did their jobs rather than the actual captains of the Titanic, there'd be less cause for outrage.  But giving bonuses to the people who made the reckless decisions?  That's beyond the pale.

Congress' Pension Plan

Some members of Congress (mostly Democrats) have decided that I shouldn't have a 401(k), but instead should rely on Social Security and an new "guaranteed" retirement account.  Should we take them seriously in light of their benefits package?  Or should we resist the scoundrels' efforts to ruin our retirements?  It is increasing becoming a contest of us against them.  It will only get worse over the next four years.

Democrats Coming After Your Retirement Accounts

I realize that Social Security isn't going to be there for me when I retire; and that my Social Security payments are nothing but an additional income tax.  I realize that there is literally no money in the Social Security Trust.  Literally.  Fine. 

While the Social Security scheme is crooked and corrupt, I have been able to tolerate it for one reason - my 401(k).

With my 401(k), I'm able to contribute pre-tax dollars to a retirement account that will actually be there when I retire.  Or if it's not there, it will be gone due to my choices rather than the choices of my morally-bankrupt leaders in Congress. 

I'm not alone: 33% of people in my "irresponsible, slacker" generation (21-to-30 year olds) contribute money to a 401(k).  As people get older, a greater proportion of them contribute to their 401(k)s.  Who, after all, really believes that Social Security will provide them a decent standard of living?

But having people accept personal responsibility for their own retirement has outraged liberals

Powerful House Democrats are eyeing proposals to overhaul the nation’s $3 trillion 401(k) system, including the elimination of most of the $80 billion in annual tax breaks that 401(k) investors receive.

Their plan for you and me?

Under Ghilarducci’s plan, all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest 5 percent of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay 3 percent a year, adjusted for inflation.

Yes, the same government who (mis)managed the Social Security Trust worse than anyone on Wall Street could, wants to establish another trust - with tax increases to boot.  The same government that has proven itself a horrible steward of my money wants even more of it.  And they are literally trying to make me dependent on the government.

The Democrats angle is that my 401(k) contributions are tax-subsidized: 

“I want to stop the federal subsidy of 401(k)s,” [Teresa] Ghilarducci said in an interview. “401(k)s can continue to exist, but they won’t have the benefit of the subsidy of the tax break.”


While [House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George] Miller stopped short of calling for Ghilarducci’s plan at the hearing last week, he was clearly against continuing tax breaks as they currently exist.

That's ignorant, completely moronic, and so beyond-the-pale wrong (or so beyond-the-pale dishonest, in Ghilarducci's case, since she is an economist!) that anyone who says it should not be allowed to discuss financial issues - let alone create national policy. 

First, they are lying about "federal subsidies."  Do these scoundrels have no concept of "the future"?  My 401(k) will get taxed.  When I retire and start taking distributions, I'll pay taxes on those distributions.  (Chances are, I'll be taxed at a much higher marginal tax rate than I'm taxed at today.)

Second, taxpayers, far from giving me a break, will reap greater rewards when I retire.  Why?  Simple.  Because I'll have more money to initially invest due to today's tax avoidance, I'll be able to take larger future returns than I would otherwise been able to take.  Which means more tax dollars to the government.  But, yes, the government will need to wait to get its money.

Again, this is so basic that I feel like I'm insulting you by even stating it.  Do I really need to say that, in twenty years, a dollar invested today will be worth more than seven-five cents invested today?  Of course not.

But our leaders do not understand basic economics.  They do not that a larger principal today means a a much larger future balance, due to the "magic" of compounding interest.  

That, or they are lying.  Their real end-game is to tax 401(k) contributions, and then tax 401(k) distributions.  Taxing people at both ends of the transaction, in addition to leaving them with less after-tax money to invest, will disincentivize people from having their own retirement accounts.  In fact, for lower-wager works, it will be impossible to pay Social Security taxes, the additional 5% tax, and then have money left over for a retirement fund that is something more than an I.O.U.  Which is the Democrat's real goal. 

The government does not want any of us to have retirement funds.  They want us completely and totally dependent on the Leviathan. 

Wealth provides independence. Independent people make bad subjects.  And so, Democrats will do everything within their power to disempower us.

The attack on our 401(k)s is but one arrow shot at individual liberty, personal responsibilty, and personal freedom.  With Obama in office, the sky will be filled with arrows.  It will be interesting to see who survives.

The Ominous Parallels

Today the Dow was up 10%.  Brokers and bankers and government officials have been telling us that now is the time to buy.  What were people saying about the market in 1929?

Wave of Buying Sweeps Over Market as Stocks Swing Upward

Radio Flashes High; General Motors and Steels Soar
By Laurence Stern

The atmosphere of doubt and caution which Wall Street in recent weeks has come to regard almost as habitual on Thursdays was swept away yesterday in a rush of buying...

Perhaps the market's own strength weighed as heavily with speculative minds as the logic of the situation, since the tape is the one institution Wall Street does not argue with. At any rate, the market appeared entirely confident from the opening gong. It was a firm, almost buoyant, opening, many initial transactions involving large blocks at sizable price advances...

The advance was one of the most vigorous of the year, amounting to a net gain of 6.97 points in the Dow Jones "average" of thirty representative industrial issues...

-- The World, March 15, 1929


Brokers Believe Worst Is Over and Recommend Buying of Real Bargains

Wall Street in looking over the wreckage of the week, has come generally to the opinion that high grade investment issues can be bought now, without fear of a drastic decline. There is some difference of opinion as to whether not the correction must go further, but everyone realizes that the worst is over, and that there are bargains for those who are willing to buy conservatively and live through the immediate irregularity.

-- New York Herald Tribune, October 27, 1929

Those who do not learn from history...

Is Legal Writing Getting Worse?

For as long as I can remember, people have talked about how bad legal writing is.  People are now saying that it's getting worse.  (More.)  But when was it ever good?

Every law student is forced to read old judicial opinions.  Those are terrible cases to read.  Recently I had to read some cases from 1950.  Awful stuff.  The facts weren't clearly stated.  The issues weren't clearly stated.  Older cases are generally unclear.  They are poorly written.

Good writing is clear writing.  Take an opinion from 1950.  Then take an opinion dealing with a similar issue - but from 2005.  Which one would take you longer to wade through?  With few exceptions, the modern opinion would be much easier to read and understand. 

Some might say judges are becoming better writers.  But it's an open secret that law clerks write large parts of most opinions.  It's thus the recent graduates who are elevating the discussion.

Those law clerks (at least at the federal level) tend to come from Ivy-league schools.  Most modern federal opinions are pretty clear.  They often miss issues that a specialist would see; but the writing is usually pretty good.  Somewhere, then, law students are learning how to write.

Judging based on judicial opinions, legal writing has improved.  Has written legal advocacy improved?

Are other lawyers writing better or worse than their predecessors?  I've read a few old briefs, and plenty of new ones.  With both sets, I've see some really bad ones.  Most are mediocre.  Some are good.  A few are excellent.

And why should we expect the distribution to be otherwise?

How many fiction writers are there?  How many are worth reading?  How many of those worth reading are exceptional?  We remember great authors for a reason: There aren't very many of them.

We can't expect everyone to be an Oliver Wendell Holmes.  As in every profession, competence is common; exceptionalism is rare.  Yet if you took a poll, you'd hear the converse.

Almost every lawyer considers himself an exceptional legal writer.  A few  (especially good trial lawyers) consider being a poor legal writer a point of honor.  They will tell you, "I can't write," and laugh.  Outside of them, most lawyers would say they are just fantastic writers. "And yes, I would love to red-line the brief you wrote.  And, no, you can't start a sentence with 'and' because that's how I was taught and that's the end of the discussion.  I'm an excellent writer, after all, and thus you should listen to me."  Given that excellence is an exception, a lot of people are tricking themselves