As I’ve written recently, excessive unemployment benefits account for the current labor shortage, which in turn has fueled inflation. It seemed to hit the fast food industry first, as workers could make more money staying at home than returning to their reopening restaurants. As I detailed in “Fast Food Premium,” restaurants began offering higher pay, signing bonuses, and even cash for submitting an application. All of those costs get factored into the price of the final product, causing prices to increase.
“SimEarth” – I’ve been jonesing lately for four or five uninterrupted hours to sit down and play video games. I’m a grown man with many responsibilities, but every now and then I want to spend an afternoon playing Civilization VI, conquering the world via cultural influence as France. Las summer while recovering from a mystery illness I had the time to do some gaming, and dove back into the classic planet simulation SimEarth. This post details my pitiful attempts at playing God.
“SubscribeStar Saturday: Bric-a-Brac” (post on my SubscribeStar page) – The meat of this post is behind the paywall, so the preview just makes it sound like a self-indulgent essay on the toys on a windowsill in my kitchen. My point is deeper, though: little figurines, decorations, etc., aren’t merely pleasant trappings; they’re individual little touches that express our individuality, our creativity, and our liberty. Little touches give life and warmth to our homes.
Well, that’s it! Here’s hoping you enjoy this slightly-belated edition of Lazy Sunday.
There’s been a lot of discussion of UBI—Universal Basic Income—over the last few years, especially with the presidential primary run of Andrew Yang. The concept is seductive in its simplicity: gut the welfare state and its behemoth apparatus of bureaucratic pencil pushers and middlemen, and just cut every adult citizen a monthly check.
For fiscal conservatives, it’s a particularly toothsome Devil’s Bargain: streamline an inefficient and wasteful bureaucracy and simply direct deposit a grand every month into Americans’ checking accounts. Of course, it’s a siren song: we’d just get the payments and still suffer with an entrenched bureaucracy, claiming $1000 a month isn’t enough to meet the specialized needs of whatever community they pretend to support.
Even if the deal were struck and every redundant welfare program were eliminated, there UBI would still be a bad idea. Besides the absurdity of merely paying people to exist, it’s inherently inflationary: if you give everyone $1000 a month, prices are going to go up. Just as college tuition has soared because universities realized they could jack up the price and federal loans would expand to cover the costs, UBI would cause a similar rise in prices. Sure, it’d be great at first, but the inflationary effects would kick in quickly.
Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! Don’t try going out to eat tonight—it’s going to be a mad house. Sensible couples will probably wait and dine out on a less sexy night, like Tuesday, or pick up Taco Bell.
We’re in the midst of a glorious four-day “Winter Break.” The great thing about teaching is all the bogus holidays. Valentine’s Day and President’s Day just happen to bookend the weekend, so why not turn it into a slightly-extended holiday?
In the spirit of Jay Nordlinger, today’s post is going to be a series of barely-related reflections, as well as some links to the stuff you should read or watch. Speaking of Nordlinger, how do I land a gig getting paid to write about classical music in exotic parts of the world?
But I digress. Here are some reflections on this Day of Love:
“The Future of Barbecue” – The inspiration for this post was a piece at the Abbeville Institute, which detailed the deleterious effect of “mass,” or mass-market, barbecue chains on mom and pop barbecue joints, as well as the tradition of community barbecue. It’s one of the many interesting chapters in the negative consequences of unbridled economic growth and efficiency at the cost of tradition and community.
“Shrinkflation” – Another SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive, this piece examines the shrinking size of beloved foodstuffs. Did you know a two-liter Coke isn’t really two-liters anymore? Ever noticed how Twinkies don’t seem as big as they used to appear? Well, in an effort to cut cost (and, presumably, to bamboozle consumers), many food processors cut the sizes of their products in order to hide cost increases from customers. I’ve had the gnawing feeling lately that the future we live in is far less amazing than it’s supposed to be; here’s another example of reality disappointing us yet again.
“Bologna” – I was really stretching when I wrote this post (just this past Friday), but, well, I love bologna. In our current age of hyper-politicization, even the sandwich meat we consume says something about socio-economic status and our outlook on life. Bologna is the humble mystery meat of the workingman, and I cherish its delicious, cost-effective flavor.
That’s it! I’m looking forward to stuffing my face with gleeful abandon over the next few days (you know, to celebrate the Birth of Jesus). Then I’ve got to reverse course; my jeans are ever-snugger, and my double-chin has slowly made a comeback. Yikes!
It’s been an eventful week. As the House was fulminating about Trump’s alleged “crimes,” I was playing a gig with our community jazz band. I play second alto sax with the group, but I asked to sing a song on this concert.
It’s long been a dream of mine to sing with a full jazz swing band behind me, and that dream came true Wednesday evening. I sang Andy Williams’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and was a nervous wreck (if you’ve seen the lyrics to that tune, you’ll understand why—what a mouthful!). But I got through it admirably enough, even with a low-grade sinus infection.
The gig was during the dinner hour at a large church in town. The first alto player indicated how hungry he was, and wondered if he could get a plate. I told him (unhelpfully) that I’d eaten a bologna sandwich in my car before coming in (which sounds like a joke and/or the most mundane, pathetic detail in the world, but it was true). All the old guys in the band—it’s a swing band, so there are a lot of them—expressed their enthusiasm for bologna sandwiches, and asked how it was prepared: did I use mustard? “Nope, Duke’s mayonnaise, with cheese.” Murmurs of approval followed.
The vicious plague that has swept through my family—and to which I succumbed late Tuesday night—seems finally to have run its wicked course. After being unable to keep down even water, I am finally getting back to normal thanks to plenty of rest and ginger ale.
Being sick makes me appreciate my health even more. It also helps me realize how much abuse I put this portly frame through—the bad diet, the long hours, the endless sitting.
But I’m sure all of that hard-won wisdom will dissipate by the end of the weekend, and I’ll be back to eating Wendy’s 4 for $4 meals and staying up too late. Oh, well—at least today the blog reaches 300 days of posts!
This fall, I’ve been hitting up a number of small-town festivals in an attempt to get out more to see the forgotten by-ways of rural South Carolina. I work pretty hard during the week (indeed, most of today will dedicated to finalizing first quarter report grades), so I’m making a point of enjoying my weekends more.
“Aiken Amblings” – This piece detailed my trip to my hometown for Aiken’s Makin’, a sprawling, two-day crafts festival that brings vendors from all over the Southeast to ply their wares. I have fond memories of this festival from my childhood, and it’s still a major fall event.
“Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – This post is all about a long day trip to tiny Yemassee, South Carolina, for the Yemassee Shrimp Festival. The trip also included stops at the historic Old Sheldon Church ruins and St. James the Greater Catholic Church in Ritter, South Carolina.
“Candy Apples” – My paean to a typically autumnal fair food, the sticky, tart candy apple. We had some good ones last weekend.
In case you missed anything from #MAGAWeek2019, this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to catching you up on what you missed. But remember, you only get a teaser of each post; to read the full posts, you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1/month or more. That includes exclusive content every Saturday, too, like yesterday’s review of my trip to New Jersey and Coney Island, NYC, “Mid-Atlantic Musings.”
But enough sales pitches. Here were the highlights from #MAGAWeek2019:
“Alexander Hamilton” – Hamilton engenders a great deal of debate between decentralist Jeffersonians (such as myself) and centralists, but his influence on and importance to America’s early political and financial formation cannot be denied—indeed, it should be celebrated. Jefferson and Madison were probably correct, constitutionally, on the issue of the national bank—Congress had no explicit constitutional authority to create such an institution—but Hamilton’s financial reforms placed the nation on solid financial footing, ensuring the United States had the financial infrastructure in place for explosive growth and expansion.
“John Adams” – John Adams is an unappreciated Founder and Framer, though David McCullough’s magisterial biography of the second President of the United States has done much to lift Adams’s profile. Adams served the United States ably as our Commander in Chief during his single term, staving off a full-blown war with France while protecting American mercantile shipping on the high seas.
“President Trump’s Independence Day Speech” – On a particularly star-spangled Fourth of July, President Trump delivered a powerhouse of an Independence Day speech. Not only were the multiple flyovers of military aircraft impressive (ending, of course, with the Blue Angels soaring majestically over the National Mall), the speech itself was a masterclass in what I dub “old, patriotic American history.” It’s well worth watching—and reading my full analysis on my SubscribeStar page.