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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Of Mandatory Sentencing and Minimum Intelligence

Posted by Anthony on April 25, 2017

Something about those who do not remember the past…

One has to give credit where credit is due: despite some flip-flops in certain areas, those whom the Trump Administration has chosen to spearhead its efforts in many other departments have shown themselves enthusiastic scions of the MAGA culture. Rex Tillerson, at a horribly depleted State, has shown he is quite incapable of conducting any foreign policy (all the better to leave it to Mr.Trump), Betsy DeVos can’t even get them to spell “education” correctly on the department’s Snapchat, and Jeff Sessions has come out with a determined effort towards changing the way business as usual is conducted at Justice. At least as far as drugs go; when it comes to violence against minorities, that’s just fine.

What we are talking about here of course is the recent espousal by the Sessions lead Justice Department of minimum sentencing laws and the re-ramping up of the “War on Drugs”. There are so many things wrong with this effort that it would easily take the better part of a weekend to write out the flaws, but since brevity is the soul of wit we shall endeavor to do so in as minimal a space as might be possible.

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On the Subject of Craft Beer

Posted by Anthony on September 7, 2015

Quite possibly the best way to start your day

The absolute best way to start your day

The word legacy is often tossed about with impunity since those opining on any particular legacy are usually in a position to observe without being observed on their marking; what we mean here is that the people who decide on an individual’s legacy are often doing it from afar both spatially and chronologically. So it is with President Jimmy Carter, of late, sadly, admitting to being afflicted by that most odious of maladies: cancer.

Those looking over President Carter’s legacy as a political leader tend to render their verdict based upon the subsequent eight years of President Ronald Reagan. They point to the malaise that existed during the Carter years, the long gas lines due to shortages, indeed even the Iran hostage crisis falls clumsily at his feet. Compared to the “feel good” 1980s, with Reagan staring down the Soviet Union, bombing Libya, and creating a general attitude of positive Americanism, what lasting contribution could Carter have to offer this esteemed country?

The answer lies in H.R. 1337, a bill signed into law in 1978 by President Carter which essentially allowed for home-brewing beer with an alcohol content higher than 0.5%. In other words, President Carter opened the taps (if you will) to what would become a flourishing industry in the United States and one that would have a positive impact culturally and economically up to the present day. Before the home-brew revolution, American beer had never really recovered from the post-Prohibition days of bland, macro beers using inexpensive adjuncts and selling because there was quite literally nothing else with which to compete.

What the home-brew bill did was enable innovative entrepreneurs to experiment and learn brewing from the ground up. Companies like Sierra Nevada which began in 1979 by two home-brewers now produce almost a million barrels of beer a year and employs around 450 people. Even bigger is the Boston Beer Company whose founder, Jim Koch, famously brewed his first batch of beer in his own kitchen in 1984. His company now produces over 2.5 million barrels of beer a year and employs 1,300 people. The numbers are astounding: in 1979, there were 89 breweries in the United States; in 2013, there were 2413. In an almost unbelievable side note, and just to show you how much the macro-breweries are pumping out, these breweries which produce 480,000,000 (four-hundred and eighty million) gallons of beer per year represents 7.8% of the total market by volume. Do the math.

Today one can find a craft-brewery in almost every major town (or right outside of it) in the United States. These places often have strong local ties and, because they are producing maybe a few hundred gallons at a time (or less), can be much more experimental with their beers than those companies that need to produce 100x that amount every day. Unlike Germany, with its Reinheitsgebot , American brewers are free to dabble with various grains, fruits, and more exotic additions (cinnamon, peanut-butter, chocolate) in an attempt to create a beer that really speaks about the ambitions of the brewer and his/ her craft.

In conclusion, while he may be pilloried for his political accomplishments, President Carter should always be remembered as the man who made this brewing revolution possible. So the next time you travel down to Dover, Delaware, and visit our friends at Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company, or Athens, Georgia, and taste the offerings at the Terrapin Beer Company, or even find yourself in Northern Alabama (Madison to be exact) and partake of what’s on tap at the Blue Pants Brewery raise your first glass to President Carter; if you enjoy craft beer, you owe him at least that.

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The Moral Imperative to Destroy ISIS

Posted by Anthony on July 20, 2015

This is an article which I had been planning, and wanting, to write for some time. The issue isn’t what to write about or how to present the facts; rather, my concern here was that I would not be able to restrain myself from lashing out in an overly emotional morality infused rage before I even got to the mid-point of the writing. Surely, if anyone can bring that out in abundance it is ISIS.

Comparing ISIS to other historical organizations is not entirely fair. For example, to bring up the Nazi regime is to insult the memory of the tens-of-millions of deaths that abomination was responsible for both directly (through their racial policies and the Holocaust) and, well, directly by starting the Second World War. In this regard, ISIS is, as President Obama referred to them, “the JV team”. Their death toll pales in comparison to regimes such as that which existed under Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao in China (who may well hold the record for deaths), the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia under Pol Pot which, although much lower on the scale for total deaths must be recognized for the absolute barbarity of the regime, or even any of the more localized genocides such as the Hutu extermination of Tutsis in Rwanda. Read the rest of this entry »

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As You Sow…

Posted by Anthony on July 16, 2015

In a conversation with a moderate Republican the other day (yes, they still do exist though they are certainly on the endangered species list), I was asked with all sincerity what is to be done about Trump and his recent poll surges. Certainly, this individual asked with palpable concern, there was no way that he could win the nomination much less a national election, was there? After all, his rhetoric was bordering on the ludicrous; his message was appalling to the vast majority of Americans, or at least one should hope it was. My answer was somewhat less comforting than the individual would have liked it to be.

I explained with all sincerity that Republicans have nobody but themselves to blame for this latest catastrophe. For the last twenty or so years, FOX News and various right wing personalities have been spewing forth a litany of condescension and moral outrage about perceived slights to America committed by “those people” as well as stoking anger, fear, and resentment in mainly white America. Now this creation of theirs has taken shape, embodying all of the ills they have built into it and, much like the titular character in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, they find themselves unable to control it. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Wealth is Enough?

Posted by Anthony on January 19, 2015

Anti-Poverty charity Oxfam released a report the other day wherein their studies show that by 2016 the wealthiest 1% of the global population will own more than 50% of the wealth. By 2020, that percentage is due to rise to 54%. Whereas the elites have been getting wealthier, the poor of the world have seen a marked drop in the amount of wealth they posses: the same report explains that the bottom 50% has seen their wealth drop by $750 billion in the last four years. This bring us to some interesting observations… Read the rest of this entry »

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