Monday, January 21, 2013

Enough to make a Conservative blogger's heart thaw


I still have little use for his policies, I still find him diametrically opposed to my view of America, but I must admit, as I was when he won the election in 2008, I do find myself occasionally moved by some of the symbolism of Barack Obama's presidency.  In 2008, it was simply the act of a black man being elected president, even though he has by no means led the life of a typical African American, nor do I feel has he particularly improved race relations in our country nor made the quality of life for minorities in America tangibly better.  But by simply being there, a black president, standing before the world as America's leader atop fractured race relations reaching back to before our founding, something is innately cool about that, good for our country, good for our society.

Today, the moment (admittedly seen on Special Report, not live, sorry I got a job!) came when Barack Obama, the reelected black President of the United States of America, repeated the oath of office with his hand on Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.'s bible and Abraham Lincoln's bible....on Martin Luther King Day.  Those two books carry with them an American symbolism that is eminently potent, a potency derived - in my mind - more from their earthly owners than any ecclesiastical lineage.  Its during moments like this - with President Obama with his hand upon those tomes - that I can't help but feel the personal affinity for him that so consumes his supporters, as well as a deep national pride for the American ideal(derived from a patriotism which is actually far different from the jingoist hard right nationalism or the communal, social naivete of the far left).  Rare moments like this are the ones when Obama shines, when the iconic significance of a moment reaches up to embrace the elevated rhetoric and often illusory iconic shell of the man, and America is better for it.

All political value aside for the president, historic moments like this are good for the country, even if so many of the policies that will emanate from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over the next four years will not be.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oh What a Tangled, Regulated Economy we Weave

The dizzying meddling with the American economy continues, with a bizarre ruling here in Massachusetts.  As the Boston Globe reports,  the collectivist state of Massachusetts is demanding Starbucks pay out a settlement of $14 million for barring shift supervisors from sharing in tips.

Full disclosure, I love Starbucks - I mean loooove Starbucks - and seldom pass one on the road without stopping in for a refill.  And, I also self-consciously tip pretty much every time I do, self-consciously, because it feels a little silly tipping someone for simply filling a cup and giving it to you to add sugar and milk yourself.  I mean, at Dunkin' Donuts - or "slummingwhenIcan'tfindaStarbucks" - the 'barrista' puts a completed coffee in your hand, not a caffeinated do-it-yourself project, and in most DDs, you can't tip.   But, still I tip at Starbucks, there is something proletariat about tipping the actual working class. I've always been a generous tipper, ironically unlike my Democrat friends that talk about helping the working class and spreading the wealth, all while tossing their own nickels around like hubcaps.

So, I am a bit concerned with this ruling, as I am that The IWW Starbucks Workers Union said Friday it sent a petition to the Seattle-based coffee chain signed by more than 300 local Starbucks employees and supporters asking the company to compensate the shift supervisors for a “de facto pay cut.”

A few random musings on this ruling;  are tips now an entitlement, yet another addition to the growing pile of abstract cash piles in our culture that are compulsory for certain subsets of American citizens, redistributable in a suitable manner as adjudicated by our political class?  The term "tip"is believed to stem from an abbreviation for “to insure promptitude” from servers, it is not an automatic part of a purchase, and no third party - beyond the server and the party rendered service - should have any claim to it when it is given voluntarily.  Where do members of management come into this equation, employees paid a larger wage than wait staff in the modern era where tips factor into the latter's pay?  Further, why is a labor union representing said members of management, are management and the workers to all collectively bargain for their interests against the interests of business owners? If so, this is a massive paradigm shift in American labor relations, one that does not favor business owners(small or otherwise), consumers, or ultimately workers.

I'll stay tuned to this issue and the long-term outcome will likely affect my tipping practices, potentially to the financial detriment of the working class,  a commonality derived from most modern left-wing economic policies.  While I will concede that the management/wait-staff circumstances at Starbucks may be unique from the commonplace arrangements, such as when I was both a shift-supervisor and waiter at restaurants(wherein my pay-scales varied depending upon which role I filled any given shift), on its face this looks like yet more economic creativity on the part of left-wing politicians who think they understand economics but clearly do not.