Thursday, July 7, 2016

What's Wrong with the "Minimum Wage Challenge"

In support of raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, politicians have been asked to take the #MinimumWageChallenge - to live for a few days on the amount of money a minimum-wage person has.  See more at

The idea is that after housing you get $17/day to live - food, transportation, medical, miscellaneous.

A $15/hour minimum wage is a good idea, but the #MinimumWageChallenge shows up some flaws in both the assumptions, and with our underlying social system.

1) A lot of people put most of their emphasis on the challenge of affording food on a minimum wage job. Actually, this is the easiest part - IF one can get to and from a discount grocery store. High quality very lean pork loin is $1.98/lb. Diced tomatoes are $2.19 for a 6lb-6oz can - $0.12 for a large serving. Dried beans are $14.49 for 20 lbs - enough for 240 servings, or $0.06 per serving. [Sam's Club prices]

2) Transportation is a huge problem on a low wage, but it's mostly not about the cost. For those who can't afford a car, the cost of bus fare is not the major problem. The problem is where you can and can't get via public transportation. From where I live, it's a 5 mile walk or bike to the nearest public transportation - and half of American homes are even further from affordable transportation. Also, many jobs are essentially unreachable via public transportation. Same with discount superstore groceries. Raising the minimum wage a few dollars won't fix this problem. America need to do much more work on public transportation and on urban planning that addresses the needs of low-wage workers for accessible housing, jobs, and shopping.

3) Medical costs are a huge variable for any family. Some people are young and healthy. Others have substantial medical needs. I have Medicare, yet my average medical out-of-pocket expenses (just for myself, not counting my family) exceeds the $17/day that a minimum wage person has available for ALL non-housing expenses of a whole family. Clearly, medical expenses cannot be addressed by any practical minimum wage proposal. America needs to provide medical care for all with NO (or nearly no) out-of-pocket expense to the patient.

Bottom line: The #MinimumWageChallenge shines even more light on America's urban planning and afordable medical care challenges than it does on the minimum wage issue.  Do take a look at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

An Open Letter to Senator Bernie Sanders

Dear Senator Bernie Sanders,

I have supported your run for President. A have contributed several times. I have cajoled others to vote for you. I am still very sure that you would make the best President - by a wide margin.

Nonetheless, now is the time to wind down your campaign. Now is the time to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton is going to be our candidate. Whatever questions there might be about election irregularities or "superdelegates," Hillary is winning even without superdelegates, and by a much wider margin than any adjustment for voting irregularities might reverse.

Now is the time to unify the Democratic party, and to focus on the crucial challenge of winning in November.

On the very most important issues of our time: minority rights, women's rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, health care for all, lifting all out of poverty, and ensuring a progressive majority on the Supreme Court, you and Hillary and I agree on the fundamentals, if not the details.

I ask you to endorse Hillary Clinton, to prepare a rousing nominating speech for the DNC convention, and to work with great intensity for the election of all Democrats in the November election. America cannot afford the possibility of a racist misogynist President reversing our last 50 years of progress.

Thank You,
 Jonathan Huie

Friday, April 1, 2016

Let's Thank Donald Trump for Calling Out the GOP's Hypocrisy on Abortion

On March 30, Donald Trump called for abortion to be criminalized (standard GOP line), and also for women who undergo illegal abortions to be "punished" by the legal system - without being specific as to the severity of that punishment.

A few hours later, Trump walked-back his comments after abortion foes (as well as pro-choice advocates) denounced Trump's statement.

While almost everyone from all sides of the political spectrum seems to think that what Trump said was awful, I think it was both logical, and wonderfully insightful of the hypocritical "standard" GOP position on abortion.

IF abortion were considered to be the "murder" of a small "human," (and I am certainly not someone who views it that way) then the punishment of all complicit in the "crime" would logically be severe. Murder and being an "accessory to murder" draw massive sentences - even death. If abortion were murder, why lesser sentences? or no sentence for the woman choosing the "murder?"

As an example, when police intercept a drug transaction, the drug dealer is given a harsher sentence than the drug buyer, but the drug buyer is also punished - often years of incarceration. [The "war on drugs" is an abomination - but that is another story.]

Donald Trump's momentary deviation from the "standard" Republican view on abortion shines a spotlight on the hypocrisy of its "standard" position that...

1) Abortion is Murder, BUT...
2) Abortion is not a crime if rape or incest caused the pregnancy (for most in GOP)
3) The woman is a "victim" rather than an "accessory to murder" - unless she got the abortifacient pills herself without a doctor - in which case she's a murderer.

The "standard" GOP position on abortion holds neither logic nor morality! Rather it is expedient pandering to a range of belief in its political base.

In a system that was truly designed to protect the interests of the fetus, rape would have no bearing. How can anyone take a moral position that a child conceived in rape is a less important person than a child conceived in wedlock?

A large majority of Americans believe that abortion is a choice to be made by the woman, rather than to be criminalized by the legal system. A few Americans, however, strongly believe that abortion is murder and must be criminalized as such. The hypocritical "standard" GOP position on abortion tracks neither of these, but rather is a political expediency designed to win votes.

A further note... If abortion were criminalized, and all facilities performing legal abortions eliminated, I predict that at least as many women would opt for illegal abortifacient pills, or coat-hangers, or other home remedies, as would find illegal abortion doctors. Thus, the issue of sending women to prison for aborting themselves would become widespread.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Dear President Obama: Turkey is No Ally!

Dear President Obama:

Turkey just nationalized its largest newspaper - ending what remained of press freedom in Turkey. Turkey also murders our friends the Kurds, and supplies our mortal enemy ISIS. It is no longer appropriate for us to consider Turkey an "ally," or to provide Turkey with military aid, or to allow Turkey to remain a member of NATO!

On a related subject, I thank you for our two new airbases in Kurdish Syria. Hopefully these will allow you to eliminate the use of Turkish airfields to fight ISIS.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Why Trump Might Not be a Bad President (written while holding my nose)

Here are some reasons why Donald Trump might not be as bad a President as Progressives fear (and certainly nowhere near as horrific as Cruz or Rubio)...

1) Trump is not beholden to any billionaires other than himself, and is not beholden to any corporations. (Of course Bernie Sanders is beholden to no billionaires or corporations at all, and would be a better President than Trump in a zillion ways.)

2) Trump is flexible (that is to say that he is not committed to any fixed principles). Is Trump pro-fetus, or pro-choice? Probably neither. It may be that he held one view and then changed to the other, but it is much more likely that he has never had a strong position either way - it always was, and always will be, that his expressed views match the expediency of the moment.

3) Trump is a master manipulator. Not being attached to any fixed principles (other than Trump winning), he can make deals in which he grants his followers (or adversaries) what they are most emotionally attached to, without giving up anything of real value. Trump really is the master of the DEAL and a true Machiavellian (as Shakespeare portrayed Machiavelli, and much more sinister than the real Niccolò Machiavelli).

4) Trump is a master of human psychology - especially group psychology. Right now, Trump is appealing to his followers' fear of Arabs, Mexicans, Women, and maybe Blacks and Jews. However Trump also recognizes that his followers like social security, medicare, and some form of free comprehensive health care for themselves and their families, if not for Mexican-Americans, Black-Americans, or Arab-Americans. Trump doesn't appear to hate minorities personally, so he would probably find ways to oppress them as little as possible, while still satisfying the blood-lust of his rabid followers.

5) Trump's positions are almost certain to change during the general election, and even more so if elected President. As a person without his own principles, Trump will shrewdly assess the pulse of the average American, and follow that lead. A President Trump (or general election candidate Trump) would feel no loyalty to those who voted to nominate him.

6) Trump would find a way out of the foolish promises he is making to his rabid primary base. Trump's quote on banning Muslims is, “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.” Trump could, and probably would, say on inauguration day that he has "figured out what is going on" and that the ban is no longer needed. I have no idea how he would backpedal on the silly idea of forcing Mexico to pay for a giant border wall, but Trump is very smart, very creative, and totally lacking in ethics, so I trust he would find a way out - and manage to look good while doing it.

Let's hope we never have to find out what kind of President Donald Trump would be, but it might be somewhat of a pleasant surprise. In contrast, it appears that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio truly are committed to the horrifically repressive domestic policies and extremely dangerous warmongering foreign policies that they advocate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cars and Guns

Cars and Guns are both useful and enjoyable.

Cars and Guns are both dangerous when misused.

Cars and Guns can both be made safer through mandatory user training.

Cars and Guns should both require registration and licensed users.

Cars and Guns can both be made safer through manufacturing improvements - like mandatory locks.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

President Obama Cheers and Boos


Affordable Care Act

Nuclear Deal with Iran

Prisoner Exchange with Iran

Executive Action on Immigration

Executive Action on Guns

Economic Recovery

Job Growth

Deal with Syria to Remove Chemical Weapons

Federal Support for Stem-Cell and Biomedical Research

Protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

Protecting Women's Health and Women's Rights

Protecting Planned Parenthood

Preventing KeystoneXL Pipeline

Trying to Close Guantanamo


TPP (harms environment, consumer protection, health, rule-of-law; a gift to greedy multinational corporations)


Failure to provide Kurds with heavy weapons, and failure to support an independent Kurdistan

Support of ISIS-enabling Kurd-Hating Turkey

Military Aid to Theocratic Dictatorship in Saudi Arabia which Beheads Political and Religious Dissidents and Bombs Civilians in Yemen using US Weapons

Failure to Force Israel to End Illegal and Immoral Occupation of Palestine, and Continued Military Aid to Israel

Failure to Stand Up to Big Banks

Proposing to Attack Syria's Government ("Red Line" Fiasco)

President Obama has also done much that doesn't clearly rate either a cheer or a boo...

Tactics of fighting ISIS


Syria (other than "Red Line" boo, and Chemical Weapons cheer)



Interactions with Putin

Drone controversy (especially targeting US citizens)