Hidden Likes as a Way to Promote Creativity on Instagram

Hidden Likes Instagram

There’s an interesting story roiling the world of Social Media these days in that a photo posting website called Instagram is going to implement Hidden Likes in an attempt to encourage creativity, at least that is the thinking. Basically, in any Social Media platform people post something and other people Like it. With Hidden Likes, only the original poster will be able to see the number of Likes a particular missive gathers.

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, is implementing the Hidden Likes strategy for a number of reasons. One of those is the following thought: if people are not posting things in attempt to garner Likes they might post more creative and interesting ideas rather than going for the sensational.

The first thing we must dismiss is the idea that Likes do not have an influence on what is posted. If the Hidden Likes update goes into effect it will certainly change what people post to some degree. I post fairly regularly and can tell you, first hand, there is a pleasure in getting more Likes and knowing that others are aware of the popularity of my original post. I often attempt to word my blogs in a way to generate attention. Now, that being said, I generally write about ideas and events that impassion me.

The number of Likes a post generates certainly indicates its popularity in the same way the number of sales of a product shows if there is market for that item. If posts of a certain style generate likes and other people see those likes, then those individuals certainly start making posts in a similar vein.

When a network has opinion shows where in the hosts express outrage and populist ideas it gets far better rating than a pure news channel. That’s the reality of this world. We look for the approval of others and imitate those who are successful in getting such praise. Likes are essentially ratings for all to see.

While Hidden Likes make it more difficult to determine which post gets the most attention, people will find a way to circumvent the new system. The competition to get the most Likes will continue.

Now, all that being said, the CEO of Instagram can implement any policy he wants. It’s his business model and perhaps this update will generate more Likes for the company which is expressed in the number of users on the platform. Perhaps it will drive people over to a competitor’s social media site. Perhaps it will increase creativity, there is no way to know for certain.

My final conclusion? I don’t really have one. It’s an interesting look into the Social Media platform and the power of Likes. You might want to ridicule them but they have power, that much I know.

One thing is sure, it’s generating publicity for Instagram, as seen in my post here. Perhaps that was the plan all along.

Tom Liberman

Evander Kane Gambling Debt Illustrative

Evander Kane Gambling

A news story just broke about a hockey played named Evander Kane and the fact he apparently owes the Cosmopolitan casino in Las Vegas half a million dollars in unpaid markers. He reportedly ran up the debt when his team, the San Jose Sharks, were playing the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the NHL playoffs in April.

I’m sure there will be many people lamenting the fact that Las Vegas, a center for gambling, now has professional sports teams when for many years the various leagues actively prevented such from happening. They will talk about the situation Kane finds himself in as a dire warning as to why athletes should not be traveling to Las Vegas on a regular basis. We will soon have a Las Vegas NFL team and it’s likely an NBA team and MLB team will eventually join them.

The idea being that athletes who end up owing large amounts of money to gambling houses are potentially corruptible. Kane might be tempted to pay off the Cosmopolitan by playing a bad game on a night when the casino had a lot of money bet on his team to win.

To me, the situation quite starkly illustrates exactly the opposite. The difference is the Cosmopolitan has a legal recourse to get Kane to repay the money. That’s the entire point of the lawsuit they’ve filed. Illegal gambling operations have no such leverage and must look for other ways to get the money back. That’s essentially the entire argument against making things like gambling illegal in the first place.

Kane would have found an outlet to place his wagers even without being in Las Vegas. I readily admit being in the location makes it easier, but athletes have been going into gambling debt long before there was an NHL team based in Las Vegas. You can’t prevent someone from gambling, so the best way to stop an athlete from becoming beholden to criminal gambling enterprises is to allow them to gamble legally. Then the casino can sue her or him for the money rather than extort it some other way.

People certainly seem to think making immoral activities illegal is a good idea but generally such laws create a far worse situation than the actual unethical actions. People are going to gamble anyway, that’s reality. The fact Kane can legally be pursued for the money the casino claims he owes makes sports safer.

Tom Liberman

Arkham Horror Card Game Losing to Win

Losing to Win

I’ve been playing through the Arkham Horror Card Game and, along with my stalwart companion, reached the scenario called Undimensioned and Unseen. The game mechanics of that particular session contain a setup rule that gives me the opportunity to wax poetic about the concept of Losing to Win.

The premise of Losing to Win is if you do badly in a particular situation you are, to some degree, rewarded by getting a better chance to win in the future. We see this scenario most vividly in North American sport league’s drafts and I wrote extensively about my objection to them another time. The ideology is those who are not doing well need some extra help in order to succeed.

In this case, Undimensioned and Unseen is preceded by a scenario entitled Blood on the Altar. In that session you are tasked with saving various people from sacrifice to the Elder Gods. The number of victims who survive has a direct impact on the number of Brood of Yog-Sothoth that appear in the subsequent scenario.

Daisy Walker, played by Andrew, and Zoey Samaras, played by yours truly, had both skill and the luck of the dice on our side when we vanquished Blood on the Altar with only a single person sacrificed to the Elder Gods. Hooray, we thought. Then we read the setup scenario to Undimensioned and Unseen which told us the people saved in Blood on the Altar was inversely proportional to the number of Brood of Yog-Sothoth in play. We had to fight the greatest number of enemies, five, whereas teams that watched horrified as all the kidnap victims were killed only had to fight two of the enemies. Luck was not on our side this time and we were soundly crushed after killing three of the Brood.

Had we done nothing in the previous scenario, we would have easily won this scenario. Should we play again, we will undoubtedly pursue such a strategy, why wouldn’t we? That is the problem with rewarding failure and punishing success. You encourage Losing to Win.

The issue in real life is quite a bit more complex than a card game. If a person has terrible setbacks in life, do we reward her or him with food and shelter she or he would not otherwise be able to afford? Do we allow a company that utterly fails to declare bankruptcy and not pay their obligations? These are not easy questions to answer and I’m not going to attempt to do so today, but I am aware the issue is complicated and has many nuances.

Still, I think my basic premise is sound. We should reward success. We often need not punish failure as it is painful enough on its own. In this manner we avoid Losing to Win scenarios like Undimensioned and Unseen. And thus, the victims are not sacrificed, which, except for a few peckish Outer Gods, is a good thing!

Tom Liberman

Why did Katie Hill Resign?

Katie Hill

There’s been a fascinating story in the news about United States Representative Katie Hill who resigned from her position after having sexual relations with a campaign aide, having lurid photos of her published in various news outlets, and being accused of having relations with a member of her staff. Why did she resign? Why is this even a story? Who actually cares? These are the things I hope to examine today.

Of all the things that Hill did, or has been accused of doing, the only one that presents a legal problem is engaging in consensual sexual relations with a staffer. In 2018 Congress enacted rules against doing so, this largely in response to the #MeToo movement in which generally women were coerced into sexual relations with their, often male, elected officials or faced retribution for refusing to do so.

The second issue involved the fact that the male aide she had sex with was twenty-two years old. Some people have a problem with that. The final problem is the lurid pictures of Hill that appeared in various outlets, generally from those of an opposing political philosophy. Some think Hill showed bad judgement in taking the pictures.

As a Libertarian I don’t have a problem with anything Hill did and I have a problem with anyone who does, although that is certainly their right. If Hill wants to have sexual relations with a staffer then she should do so, as should anyone who works with anyone else. I understand that someone in a supervisory position can coerce an underling with various threats and I understand why members of Congress passed such rules. That being said, I think consenting adults should have as much sex in as many positions as possible. It’s no one else’s business.

If someone behaves in an illegal way; firing the underling for cutting off the relationship, blackmailing someone into having sex, that should be pursued with due diligence. The problem isn’t people having consensual sex, it’s that the legal establishment has long ignored those who were coerced or lost their jobs because they refused such advances. The rules preventing such behavior are clearly being selectively applied, every member of Congress, male and female, is aware of other members having consensual relationships with staffers and does nothing because everyone is happy as rabbits, as well they should be.

As for Hill having sex with a man ten years her junior. Good for both of them! I wrote an article about a woman having sex with an eighteen-year-old friend of her daughter some years back and my opinion has not changed. We have decided, for whatever reason, eighteen is the age of consent. Perhaps we find a fifty-year-old man dating an eighteen-year-old woman distasteful but that’s their business, not mine, and not yours.

Finally, as to the naked photos, I have a very strong opinion on that. If Hill or anyone else wants to take lurid pictures of themselves that is their business. The despicable people in this are those who chose to publish the pictures without Hill’s consent. Their behavior is both criminal and immoral from where I’m sitting. Posting lurid pictures of another person without getting permission first? Sick, disgusting. Doing so for political gain? I’d honestly like to put a bullet in the head of whoever made that decision but I’ll restrain myself because I know doing so is illegal.

Hill should not have resigned, she did, as far as I’m concerned, nothing wrong.

Tom Liberman

The Difficulty of Opioid Testing in Professional Sports

Opioid Testing

The recent death of Los Angeles Angles pitcher Tyler Skaggs from an overdose has led many people to call for Opioid Testing in Major League Baseball and professional sports in general. Most people seem to think Opioid Testing is a great idea. It’s my opinion those of such an opinion neglect to acknowledge the reality of professional sports and that’s what I’d like to discuss today.

The reason we sports fans get to marvel in the astounding performances of professional athletes across the athletic spectrum is because of pain management techniques including a large amount of opioid use. I well understand we’d like to believe athletes are able to put on these amazing shows night after night without the aid of pain management techniques but such is self-delusion. Top-level athletes push their bodies to the limit day after day and started doing so at a young age. They are beat up.

The way trainers get the athletes back on the field is through pain management and opioids are a big part of it. This is not something limited to professional athletes. I played baseball as a ten-year-old and I wasn’t given opioids but I got injured even then. By the time an athlete reaches high school their bodies have already been subject to enormous stresses. Team doctors give them opioids so they can get on the field and entertain us, me, the sports fan. That’s reality.

This being true, how exactly is a plan to implement opioid testing in professional sports ever going to work? If many, potentially the majority, of players are taking opioids then it becomes impossible to implement a program to test for them. There is no test that can tell the difference between heroin purchased illegally from Oxycodone prescribed by a team doctor.

It is entirely possible Skaggs got addicted to opioids because trainers started giving them to him when he first suffered significant pain from pitching and that might have been at a very young age. I have no knowledge of such a thing but it’s not difficult to imagine quite a number of professional athletes have been taking prescription opioids for a long time.

This is the price they pay to entertain us, me. So, before I get on my high horse and start calling for Opioid Testing, perhaps I should examine my role in all of this, my responsibility in their pain, addiction, and even death. Pain that will follow them throughout their lives.

I understand it is their choice to play sports, it is their choice to follow the advice of team physicians and take opioids to begin with, to potentially become addicted. I do not absolve them from responsibility but I refuse to shriek from a pretentious moral high ground.

Let’s be adults and face the reality of the situation.

Tom Liberman

Too Old to Trick or Treat Laws

Trick or Treat

There’s a viral story making the rounds about Chesapeake, Virginia and their ordinance against anyone over the age of 14 going out to Trick or Treat over Halloween. The city council passed the law which carries with it a fine of $250. People are outraged. I’ve written before how it’s within the purview of any local government to pass any law it wants. My problem with this law is that it creates criminals where there are none.

Most people think the government shouldn’t be out there checking on the age of children who are out on a Trick or Treat mission. I agree although, as I’ve written, it is certainly not a right granted by the Constitution of the United States and thus local municipalities can write laws banning the practice to people over a certain age.

The problem comes from why the law was written in the first place. In reading the article you find that way back in 1968 there were several Halloween pranks that went too far, including older children throwing firecrackers into the candy sacks of little Trick or Treaters. The ordinance was passed so that police could arrest those engaging in destructive behavior on Halloween.

The problem, for this Libertarian, is that engaging in mayhem is already against the law. Most municipalities have extensive rules and regulation on such things. If the law enforcement agents witnessed something like that happening, they already had plenty of legal backing for an arrest.

The good news is that the police in Chesapeake have engaged in incredible restraint in regards to this law. They have cited no one since it came into existence way back in 1970. I’m often critical of law enforcement officers here on this blog and I want to take time out to salute the fine women and men of Chesapeake who have shown wonderful judgement in refusing to enforce this stupid law. If only all police officers had such good sense.

The problem is the officers are allowing people to break the law every Halloween. I guarantee there are plenty of children over the legal age out there engaging in Trick or Treat candy collecting. This is where we get selective enforcement of the law and where police officers often run into charges of racism and other misbehavior.

The point is the law itself is stupid. It makes criminals of anyone over the age of 14 who wants to Trick or Treat. There are plenty of incredibly stupid laws on the books but, sadly, police don’t always ignore such ordinances.

If the city council of Chesapeake wants to prevent mayhem on Halloween, they need merely enforce existing laws preventing such. They do not need to create new laws and new criminals. This leads to far more trouble than the law was intended to stop.

Tom Liberman

Brexit Vote is the Origin of the Problem

Brexit Vote

The Brexit Vote is the main culprit in the convulsive process that has largely paralyzed the United Kingdom for the last three years. There are a lot of things that can be said about the issue but from this Libertarian’s perspective the entire problem comes down to a single cause. They let people vote.

It’s important to understand that we live in a Representative Democracy and not a Direct Democracy. We elect politicians who decide policy. After a period of time new elections take place and we can replace anyone whose decisions we don’t like. In a Direct Democracy the people vote for policy decisions much in the way they did with the Brexit Vote.

We only need to see the results of that Brexit Vote to understand why having the people make political decisions is a bad idea. Not that leaving the European Union was a bad idea or a good idea, but the politicians weren’t committed one way or the other. The vote lead to exactly where we are today.

Would you have the people vote for any decision in your life? Would you have the people vote for important moments in your life? The answer is obviously no. If we take a poll of people across your region, what restaurant would be deemed the best? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Cracker Barrel, it’s just not really all that good. If I’m taking a sexy, dark-haired girl with a wicked sense of humor, impressive intellect, disdainful attitude, and a barrel full of crazy to a nice dinner, well, Cracker Barrel isn’t going to be my choice. No offense.

This problem is not only associated with the Brexit Vote but with referendums across the United States and a general lack of will in politicians. It’s the impetus to the War Powers Act which I wrote about not long ago. It’s related to the Emergency Powers Act. Our politicians lack the will to make difficult decisions and therefore they pass the decision on either to the people or to the Executive. Both choices are bad. One gives the important decision-making power to the average person and the other invests one person with far too much power.

We elect people to make decisions; from local School Boards to the United States Congress and all the places in between. Those elected officials need to make decisions and then face the voters later based on their choices.

Anything else leads to a mess. The evidence of the Brexit Vote is clear.

Tom Liberman

The Real Value of Technology to Users

Real Value of Technology

I just followed what I imagined was a clickbait link and ended up on a fascinating article describing a difficult economic question about what is the real value of technology to its users. The problem is that nations around the world base their economic policy on things like Gross Domestic Product and Productivity Gains. Yet, we have no way to add things like using Social Media to the numbers.

The article describes recent techniques championed by MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson. Brynjolfsson is trying to quantify how much using search engines, social media, e-mail, GPS, and other technologies add in real value to not only your life but the economic health of the nation and world. These techniques are being used by the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome Powell, in an effort to more accurately determine the health of the economy and make better decision about its immediate and long-term future.

It’s my opinion these efforts are long overdue and need to be applied to any number of traditional economic indicators which are becoming less useful in the modern era. I wrote an article about the end of money and another about unemployment not long ago that consider this same idea. Things like inflation and unemployment have long been used to determine the health of the economy but I think the numbers generated by metrics today are slipping further and further from reality.

As our numbers begin to fail there rises the likelihood those determining economic decisions on a worldwide basis will be making bad choices based on poor data.

If you think there is no real value of technology then I quote the last lines of the article: How should we value the luxury of never needing to ask for directions or the peace and tranquility afforded by speedy resolution of those contentious arguments over the trivia of the moment?

I have no great insights today. I’m glad to see the people in charge are looking into such things and I’m hopeful they’ll make important gains in understanding the real value of technology.

Tom Liberman

Students on Phones are Bad or are they?

Students on Phones

Educational systems in the United States and all over the world are roiling with the constant reality of students on phones. From grammar school to college teachers, parents, administrators, and even law-makers are wrestling with the problem. It seems to me that the knee jerk reaction to students on phones is to take the phones away. I disagree.

The basic idea is students on phones are a distracting element taking away from the learning process and therefore the trend must be countered. Certainly, it can be argued cell phones are a useful tool in school for a number of reasons but the reality is students do get distracted while on their phone. It is within the purview of administrators and teachers to make rules about students on phone in their schools and classrooms. Being on a phone is not a constitutionally protected right so the state has the right to pass laws as well, that doesn’t mean it’s a proper thing for them to do.

It’s my opinion that each teacher should be allowed to make the rules in her or his classroom. Teachers are closest to the situation and can make the best determinations. Not to say all teachers are fair and equitable in their decision-making process. I’ve written about unfair teachers before so I’m under no illusion in that regard.

Now I’ll get to the point of this article. Were it my classroom, I would have no restrictions on students on phones. Believe me when I tell you I paid little or no attention to my teachers back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we didn’t have cell phones. You can’t make a student pay attention if she or he does not want to do so.

The final arbiter of learning is test results. Should we punish students who don’t seem to be paying attention but get high scores while rewarding students who seem to be listening to every word but get lower scores? That’s the fundamental question that goes far beyond the schoolyard and into our everyday life. We must value results more than perceived effort.

It’s true that students will be distracted by phones and miss out on lesson content but you cannot convince me the same student would have paid attention without a phone in her or his hand. That’s the reality of the world. The onus is on the teacher to make the lesson interesting and engaging for the student. I’m not living in a fantasy world in that regard either. I know some students won’t pay attention no matter how hard the teacher works.

We cannot control how people learn or even if they learn at all. We must trust the individual to do the most with their own life despite our inclination to the contrary.

Tom Liberman

Hidden Immorality of Medical Costs

Hidden Immorality

I just read an interesting article that illustrates the hidden immorality associated with medical costs in this country. In Alabama primarily but other states as well, the sheriff’s office is required to pay for medical expenses of inmates. The cost is so prohibitive the sheriffs simply release the inmates, often dragging the hand of an incoherent prisoner over a release form, before sending her or him off to the hospital.

Do the sheriffs in question know this is an immoral action? Of course they do, but what other choice is there? If an inmate suffers from a serious illness the cost of care could be more than the entire department’s yearly budget. That’s the reality of high medical costs in this country. The problem spreads its vile tentacles into so many aspects of our lives it’s difficult to truly comprehend the horror it creates, not only for patients, for their families, but also for the people who are trying to care for them, including the sheriffs.

I absolutely guarantee you sheriffs don’t want take prisoners who look like they are getting ill, drive them to the edge of town, and dump them on the street. The reality is painful but true. Why is this happening? Because so many poor people don’t have insurance. Why don’t people have insurance? Because medical care can be an enormous expense and insurance companies don’t want people who have illnesses on their plans.

The trickle up effect is that sheriffs, counties, states, and the federal government are stuck with enormous bills they cannot easily pay, just as are patients. The result is that people are not getting treatment because it costs too much and that creates vast suffering, a hidden immorality of high medical expenses.

Do you think a law enforcement officer goes home and tells her or his friends and family about how wonderful it was to help a nearly unconscious inmate scrawl their signature on a release form so the county could save money? I don’t. I think the officers hate themselves for having to do it because the act is unethical on its face. Yet it is happening over and over again. That’s the hidden immorality that our nation is facing.

I’ve written about the underlying problem, an aging and unhealthy population, before so I won’t go into details here. There are certainly no easy solutions but I think it’s important to understand how medical costs create a hidden immorality far beyond the people who get sick.

Tom Liberman

Colonial Injustice and the Border Wall

Colonial Injustice

I just read an interesting article about how President Trump is diverting a large amount of money from various military projects in Guam in order to build the Border Wall and how it illustrates Colonial Injustice.

In the article the spokesperson for Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian expresses the following sentiment: Our organization is conflicted about the means in which the pause was achieved because these are two instances of colonial injustice, one impacting the other. Let me explain.

The United States is in the process of moving about 5,000 Marines from the island of Okinawa in Japan to Guam. The reason they are doing this is because the Marines and everything required to support them is causing a great deal of congestion on the island. The cost of the move is over $8 billion dollars which includes building all sorts of support infrastructure on Guam including a well, a live-fire training range, and a munitions storage facility.

How is all of this related to Colonial Injustice? It’s a bit complex but basically there are people both in Japan and Guam who have no desire to host a large group of Marines along with their attendant requirements. Now, to be fair, there are also people from those nations who eagerly embrace the U.S. Military presence because of the tax dollars that come with it. That enormous amount of money buys us foreign support but also creates a great deal of resentment.

Imagine the government of France decided to put a huge military base in St. Louis, Missouri. There would be those who would welcome the influx of money but others who would not appreciate the presence of a foreign power’s military arm on their land. The soldiers so housed would certainly commit some crimes as has happened in Okinawa and Guam.

This is part and parcel of Colonial Injustice. We use our money to house our military in foreign lands against the will of some of the people of those nations. We essentially bribe our way into their country.

Some of the people in Guam, the group aforementioned specifically, is unhappy their nation is being further occupied by U.S. troops and their land is being taken for the facilities to house and train the Marines. Again, to be fair, the government of Guam is more than happy to take our money and not everyone is opposed to the expansion. Still, I think it’s reasonable to call how we base our soldiers all over the world against the wishes of at least some of the people of those nations Colonial Injustice.

Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian doesn’t want the United States in Guam and they are happy the money for the project is being diverted and delaying the move. They delay means the Marines will reside on Okinawa for longer than was planned. Thus, the conflict of emotions for the group because they empathize with the people of Japan who don’t want the Marines there anymore.

The United States has become a colonial power committing injustices in foreign lands on a scale almost beyond imagination. This engenders a great deal of resentment in the populations of those countries but serves us by extending our military capabilities.

I’m not saying there are easy answers here, but I absolutely think we have far too many foreign bases and, in the long run, the activities associated with being a colonial power do not serve our interests.

Tom Liberman

The Wealth Gap between Poor and Rich in Athletics

Wealth Gap High School Football

The wealth gap in our nation is something that a lot of people are interested in and a new dynamic, in the form of athletics, brings an interesting perspective to the debate. Essentially, wealthy schools are absolutely crushing poor schools in high school football across the country. I just read an interesting article illustrating how the various states are trying to handle the situation.

There are a number of factors driving the phenomenon including better coaching, better nutrition, better practice facilities, better weight rooms, and the fact sometimes the best athletes from poor districts have to hold down jobs rather than play sports. What cannot be argued is the math behind the wealth gap problem. Teams from poor districts lose consistently to teams from rich districts, so much so that Minnesota, Oregon, and Colorado have change the rules for scheduling matchups. More states are contemplating doing the same.

In the past it was relatively simple. The level of football was determined by the number of students in the high school. Schools with large student populations played against other schools with a similar number of students.

Here in my home town of St. Louis that plan was thoroughly upended by desegregation and private schools. The best athletes from poor districts were transferred to financially stable districts or given scholarships by private schools; destroying the balance that once existed. That’s not what’s going on here.

What’s happening is something that we should take note of as an overall trend. Kids from wealthy districts or kids with wealthy parents are gaining an advantage so steep it is becoming almost impossible to overcome. We’ve seen simple bribery in the College Admission Scandal which I wrote about before but this is something else again.

The reality of the problem is demonstrated in the final score of high school football game. It becomes impossible to deny this wealth gap issue when rich high schools absolutely crush poor high schools in a consistent and statistically irrefutable way. Count the wins. Look at the scores.

Solutions are difficult to say the least but it’s important to be willing to acknowledge the wealth gap in this country exists and is problematic. Just allowing the poor high schools to drop down in division, which is largely the various states’ solution, is not addressing the real problem. High school football is telling us something. Are we listening?

Tom Liberman

How to Stop the Miami Dolphins from Playing to Lose

Playing to Lose

The Miami Dolphins are playing to lose and a lot of people don’t like it. The Dolphins have all but tacitly admitted they can’t make the playoffs this season and traded away their best players hoping to finish in last place and get good draft choices. This is not the first time we’ve observed such behavior and its been at least somewhat successful in the past.

The Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia 76ers have all employed the playing to lose strategy with varying degrees of success over the last decade. Many argue there is little that can be done to stop such behavior despite the obvious negatives associated with it. Mainly the players lose years out of very short careers and the fans have to sit through seasons of inept play with the hopes of victory at some undefined future point which sometimes never comes.

The way to change this behavior is simply to understand why it is being implemented in the first place. Teams try to lose because they will get better draft choices. The way sports leagues work in Canada and United States, but nowhere else in the world, is through drafts in which players are enslaved, that is say drafted, by a single employer and cannot negotiate with any other team. The worst teams draft first and the best teams draft last. I wrote about why the system is a Libertarian Hell already, please take a look at that article to understand the immorality of the system. Today I’m going to talk about how abolishing it also eliminates playing to lose.

Well, honestly, I don’t really have to do much explaining. If all players joining the professional ranks for the first time are allowed to shop their services to whatever team is willing to meet their price, there is no playing to lose. With a salary cap imposed by the various leagues it is up to each team to give the best contract to the player who will help her or his team the most. It’s done this way in college and across the world, so don’t fill my comments with suggestions on how it won’t work.

The best running back would certainly be incentivized to sign with a team that is in need of a running back and vice versa. This is the way it works for every other person first entering the work force and for all other businesses in the world.

Don’t like teams playing to lose? The solution is simple and ethically right. Win and win.

Tom Liberman

Fair Pay to Play Exposes NCAA Hypocrisy

Fair Pay to Play

There is a fairly big news story involving the Fair Pay to Play bill just passed by the California Legislature. I think there’s a great deal of confusion about the bill which the NCAA and Tim Tebow so virulently oppose. Let me explain it in simple terms. The Fair Pay to Play bill does not force colleges to pay athletes, it simply allows said athletes to sell their autographs, images, and likenesses. That’s it. All the hubbub Tebow and the NCAA are wailing about is simply athletes being allowed to sell their autographs and images.

Let me be even more clear. Right now, those athletes are forbidden from selling their own autograph! They cannot sell a picture of themselves but the NCAA does it all the time. Autographed memorabilia are auctioned off by the schools and the NCAA all the time. The school administrators, coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, and everyone else associated with the games profit off the name, images, and likeness of the players. Everyone except the players themselves.

The NCAA disgusts me and long has done so. I’ve written about this before. Now I’ll add Tebow to the list of people who profit off college football while insisting the players get nothing. I’m not sure how much more hypocritical it can get. How people can justify not allowing anyone to sell their autograph and image is beyond my comprehension. Nothing is more personal. Nothing is a greater natural right. My image is mine to do with as I wish as is yours.

You don’t have to be a die-hard Libertarian like myself to respect the individual’s right to sell her or his own autograph. No one else is prohibited from doing so except so-called amateur athletes. Not only is the bill not unconstitutional, as the NCAA and Tebow claim, it is the rules that prohibit it that are unconstitutional. How the NCAA has gotten away with this for so long is an indictment of our judicial branch and an assault on freedom. How is it that a law needs to be passed to allow people to sell their own autograph? That’s the real question.

Unconstitutional? Unconstitutional? You’re unconstitutional! You’re unconstitutional. The whole trial is unconstitutional. That sick, crazy, and depraved NCAA is stealing from those athletes and they’d like to keep doing it!

Tom Liberman

Did the Cleveland Browns Ban the Wrong Fan?

Browns Ban

In the first weekend of the NFL season the Cleveland Browns were demolished by the Tennessee Titans by a score of 43-13 and a fan dumped beer on one of the Titans players during the blowout. They looked into the incident and the Browns ban was announced. Now it appears they may have identified the wrong person and are backtracking on the Browns ban. I find their most recent reply to be lacking in an interesting way. I’ll get into that in a moment but first the incident in question.

There are videos and images of the beer pour and the offending fan is being universally panned. From these pieces of evidence, the Browns thought they had identified the culprit. They called him and informed him that he was banned from the stadium. The fan who was called, Eric Smith, told a Browns executive that he was not at the game but was DJing a public event. The executive insisted they had matched a tattoo although in images of the incident the offending fan appears not to have a tattoo. Both men are bearded to the Brown’s credit.

Here’s where it gets fairly interesting for me. It’s quite possible that Smith owned a ticket in the vicinity of the alleged beer dumping and his beard and general appearance led the team to think they had the right person and implement the Browns ban. That’s all well and good although perhaps they should have been more careful before making the call to Smith. Mistakes do happen. It’s the latest reply from the Browns public relations staff that bothers me. I’ll include it here.

Our investigation of the fan incident on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium remains ongoing. While we are continuing to gather information and have been in contact with multiple people as part of that process, we have not explicitly identified the individual involved or taken any formal action of punishment at this time. We will have no further comment until the investigation is complete.

This is the sort of mealy-mouthed half-truth I abhor. Perhaps the Browns didn’t official name the fan nor officially implement the ban but the pragmatic reality is the fan has been identified and was told of the banning. Why couldn’t the Browns issue a simple explanation? We thought we had the right person but, in our haste, may have made a mistake. We are continuing the investigation. How difficult is that?

We all make mistakes but it is our reluctance to admit them that leads to far more problems than anything else. We need look no further than the current political climate where a simple mistake in regards to what state would be hit by a hurricane has led us down a path of lies, denials, half-truths, and partisan insanity.

Tom Liberman

Government Plans to Ban Vaping Flavors and People are Overjoyed

Vaping Flavors

The latest assault on freedom is the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to ban Vaping Flavors. That’s right, the government wants to tell adults they are not allowed to use flavored tobacco products. Everyone is overjoyed because it will save the children. Sigh, it’s hard to be a small government Libertarian in this day and age.

I mean, seriously. The federal government of the United States has grown so bloated, so enamored of its own vile power that officials think it’s perfectly acceptable to ban Vaping Flavors. Flavors! The people of this nation have become completely complicit in our own enslavement. We are so frightened, so unwilling to stand up for our rights that we willingly vote in totalitarian fascists who won’t let us smoke mint flavored tobacco, and pat themselves on the back for the wonderful good they are doing in saving us from ourselves.

The First Lady is horrified by teenage vaping and the administration wants to put an end to it. Let me quote President Trump: People are going to watch what we’re saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children. Parse that, if you dare. It’s important to understand that by teenage vaping they are talking about people eighteen and nineteen. They’ve already outlawed most tobacco products for people under eighteen.

What Trump is saying is that the Federal Government knows better what is right for your children, and for you, than you do yourself. That once the Federal Government leads the way in banning Vaping Flavors the people will immediately see the error of their ways and stop allowing their children to do it. This doesn’t even take into account that every adult who enjoys vaping mint flavored tobacco will instantly become a criminal.

If you want to vape a tasty flavor you will be a criminal. You will have to go to some black-market purveyor of Bubble Gum Flavored Tobacco Vape and, in a dark alley watching out for gun toting law enforcement officers, slip money to a shady operator who shipped in the dangerous product from the mint producing nations of the world where there is still some freedom.

I’m flat out disgusted by our politicians and by the voters who put them into office. I’m baffled as to how this is happening. We will soon no longer be free to enjoy flavored tobacco. How can the people of this country look themselves in the mirror? Have we no understanding of freedom left?

Tom Liberman

Sherry Tina Uwanawich and the Million Dollar Curse

Sherry Tina Uwanawich Curse

There’s an interesting story in the news about a woman named Sherry Tina Uwanawich because the courts ruled she defrauded a family of $1.6 million by claiming they were under a curse. Uwanawich was ordered by the court to repay the money and sentenced to more than three years in prison. The argument of the government is that there was no curse and the money was fraudulently obtained.

So, why am I writing about this incident? Uwanawich took advantage of a gullible family and stole their money, she deserves what she gets, right? Well, in the same way you think curses aren’t real, I think religious salvation isn’t real. How much money is given to churches for fake salvation? I’m sure many of my friends and readers are certain that religious salvation is real but so too the family Uwanawich exploited was certain curses were real.

There are many people across the globe who believe in curses. There are many people across the globe who think it’s not a globe at all and give money to Flat Earth organizations. There are many people across the globe who believe all sorts of nonsensical things. The point here is that if Uwanawich is guilty of fraud, so too are many other organizations.

Can we prove curses aren’t real? Can we prove god isn’t real? Can we prove there isn’t a teapot orbiting the sun midway between Mars and the Earth? Perhaps Uwanawich actually saved the family from a terrible curse and their $1.6 million was well spent. The amount certainly pales in comparison to the amount of money various churches collect from their devotees. People pay money to those who take advantage of their nonsensical beliefs all the time and yet, for the most part, we don’t find it criminal. What’s different about this case?

Don’t get me wrong, what Uwanawich did to that family was reprehensible, but do the family members not bear much of the responsibility? They certainly handed over the money eagerly and willingly and presumable avoided the dread consequences of the curse.

In that far distant future in which Atheists come to power should they have the ability to put your local religious leader in jail for defrauding you? It’s a question needing an answer and I’ll happily tell you what I think. No. Religious beliefs, whether curses or salvation, should be out of the purview of the courts. Believe what you want and suffer the consequences, financial or otherwise, that’s your business.

Tom Liberman

What to do about Useful Money from Bad People

Useful Money from Bad People

A rather despicable fellow named Jeffrey Epstein donated large amounts of useful money to any number of philanthropic causes and these gifts are now causing problems for those who received them. People are returning useful money and resigning from their positions, or being asked to do so. What I’d like to examine is the nature of philanthropic money in general.

Many of the people who donate to causes are not the greatest people in the world. Certainly, Epstein is viler than most but the question remains the same. As an example, let’s imagine you are the financial officer of a charitable organization and you have strong views on religion. Perhaps you are an Atheist or perhaps you are a Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, Jew, or Hindu. You are offered a large amount of useful money from someone who has a completely different belief system than you. Do you take that money knowing it will contribute to doing what you perceive to be good? What if the person has a criminal record? What if they are giving the money in order to improve their reputation because of some misdeeds in the past?

While my question is hypothetical the reality exists to the tune of billions of dollars in charitable donations. The events surrounding Epstein are forcing the financial operators of these organizations to ask themselves this very question. Should I refuse the donation because of the nature of the person who is giving it? Does the money, and the good that is done with it, override my concerns about the source? The money given by such a person intermingles with the money given by many better people and helps us fulfill our mission. Should I deny a child from Make a Wish their wish because I don’t like the person who is giving the money? Doesn’t that just hurt the child?

This is no idle question, if organizations turn down money from disreputable or unaligned donors, they will have less money to complete their mission. Those who would benefit instead go without. There are no easy answers here but I will not shirk from a conclusion simply because the question is complex and difficult.

I’ll happily tell you what I would do were I in charge of such a charity. Not that my decision is proper for anyone else, it is right for me and me alone.

I’d take the money from any source, even if Epstein were alive today in order to give it. I’d also be completely honest about my distaste for such a horrible person. I’d highlight the donation in my monthly and annual literature. I’d speak loudly to the stakeholders in the charity about why I took the money. About how the vile criminal Epstein was attempting to restore his reputation through the donation and that I wanted nothing to do with him other than cashing the check. I’d consider re-donating a goodly portion of it to help his many victims and organizations devoted to helping them and those like them.

Perhaps you disagree and I respect your right to do so. I can certainly understand why you would.

Tom Liberman

Forced Evacuations and Government Responsibility

Forced Evacuations Hurricane

With the tropical storm season underway and our first Forced Evacuations occurring in Florida, I thought it a good time to chime in on the subject. What responsibility does government; local, state, and federal, have in protecting us from dangerous natural disasters? Should they be able to take us from our homes in forced evacuations?

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue. The unpredictability of natural disasters like hurricanes and volcanic eruptions often mean that many people were forced to leave their homes when the calamity never arrived. This is essentially government protecting people who do not want or presumably need such shielding.

On the other hand, it is often the case that citizens refuse to evacuate a location and end up in a situation where government agents spend time and effort rescuing such people. This costs money and, of course, there are those who cannot be rescued and die. These people would all have been better off if they complied with the evacuation order. Thus, government officials feel justified in a forced evacuation. If you won’t leave on your own, you’ll leave at the barrel of a gun wielded by your friendly law enforcement officers. If you’re too stupid to save yourself, we’ll do it for you.

It’s obviously not just forced evacuations but all sorts of mandatory actions the government puts on its citizens in the face of potential emergency. Stores are closed, businesses lose revenue, people lose salary, and various other economic consequences occur when the government makes such decisions for us. Yet, the amount of money lost is miniscule compared to the dollars spent if the businesses remained open and occupied and the potential disaster came to fruition.

The answer for this Libertarian is not so simple and certainly painful. In today’s world there is no excuse not to know a dangerous situation is impending. The government has every right to warn citizens and make suggestions about their behavior. If people refuse, they should not expect the government to make any attempt to rescue them. It’s easy to say something like that but what if thousands of people are about to drown? Would I send in a rescue team? Of course, I would. Therein lies the problem.

Were I in charge in such a situation I would simply make that reality plain to all. There is the potential for a disaster. I recommend you leave. If you choose to stay you might not be rescued but I will do my best to rescue you in any case. It will cost money and that will be paid for out of taxes from all the people who did heed the warning, and everyone else in the region.

The other option is to force evacuations when most of the time they are unwarranted. This also costs money. Neither option is perfect, neither is life, or tracking the path of a hurricane.

Tom Liberman

Panera Employee Turnover Misleading Headline

Panera Misleading Headline

There’s an absolutely fascinating article about employee turnover at CNBC but it unfortunately has a completely misleading headline that is nothing more than clickbait. I highly recommend looking at the article despite the Panera Losing All Workers headline.

It is true that Panera loses 95% of their workforce each year but a perusal of the article indicates that is actually a good number in the fast food industry. Most such companies lose nearly 130% of their workforce each year. Panera is actually doing quite well in that regard.

The interesting information comes from the article itself which is lengthy and technical with a variety of useful metrics. Exactly the sort of thing I like to read but I suspect doesn’t get a lot of viewership without misleading headlines. Too bad.

I won’t bore you with the details of the article as this is more about the misleading headline than anything else. Suffice it to say, no one wants to work in the fast food industry and there is no package of salary, benefits, and training that makes sense from a corporate and profitability standpoint that attracts permanent employees to the business. People take the job until they get something better.

The key to staffing such stores is automation and the various companies are moving forward with plans to do so. I wrote about this sort of thing in other places so you can read that article if you desire.

In any case, it’s an excellent and well researched article, just a misleading headline.

Tom Liberman