Mike Kueber's Blog

October 23, 2014

“Yes Means Yes” – social engineering in its purest form

Filed under: Culture,Education,Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 2:36 am
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The state of California last month enacted a controversial law, SB 967,  called “Yes Means Yes.” The law attempts to deal with the growing problem of sexual assault on the state’s college campuses. According to a survey, one in five college women will be sexually assaulted during their time as students. Of course, sexual assault is already illegal, but the lawmakers apparently concluded that (a) often sexual assault results from a misunderstanding between the sexes regarding whether there is mutual consent to have sex and (b) this misunderstanding needs to be clarified. Which is social engineering in its purest form.

Several years ago, I blogged about social engineering and relied on the following Wikipedia description:

  • An attempt to influence popular attitudes and social behaviors on a large scale. Usually the term refers to government action, but it can apply as well to private groups. Social engineering is not inherently negative, but because of its usage in the political arena, it has come to have a negative connotation. Technically, all government laws – such as prohibitions against murder, DUI, theft, and littering – are social engineering. Governments also engage routinely in social engineering through incentives and disincentives built into economic policy and tax policy. Conservatives and libertarians often claim that their opponents (the liberals) are engaged in social engineering, and that makes sense because liberals prefer a muscular government while conservatives and libertarians prefer a muscular private society. But even liberals complain of social engineering when it comes to prayer in school, abstinence-only sex education, and the English-only movement.

The social behavior the “Yes Means Yes” law is attempting to influence is that most men believe they are permitted to pursue a female sexually until she says, “no.” “No means no” fits that standard. By contrast, some females believe that a man should not initiate sex with a woman unless she gives “affirmative consent.” Yes means yes.

The key language in the new law reads as follows:

  • (1) An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.
  • (2) A policy that,in the evaluation of complaints in any disciplinary process, it shall not be a valid excuse to alleged lack of affirmative consent that the accused believed that the complainant consented to the sexual activity under either of the following circumstances:
    • (A) The accused’s belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.
    • (B) The accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain whether the complainant affirmatively consented.
  • (3) A policy that the standard used in determining whether the elements of the complaint against the accused have been demonstrated is the preponderance of the evidence.
  • (4) A policy that,in the evaluation of complaints in the disciplinary process, it shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances:
    • (A) The complainant was asleep or unconscious.
    • (B) The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.
    • (C) The complainant was unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.

According to an article in the NY Times, there are major concerns about potential ambiguity in the affirmative consent – “But most male students expressed some nervousness about accidentally running afoul of consent rules, especially because drinking usually precedes a casual hookup…. Affirmative-consent policies try to address this by recognizing body language as a form of consent.”  But I was unable to find any discussion of the sort of body language that would be recognized as consent.

A fascinating column by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine titled, “California’s Radical College-Sex-Law Experiment,” points out additional concerns about the law:

  • It surely is possible to imagine that sex that comports with these new guidelines is sexy, or even more sexy than the kind most people have now. Yet one might find these ideas about reimagining sex attractive, as I do, while still having deep reservations about codifying them into law. The fact that we need to change cultural attitudes about sex itself underscores the fact that cultural attitudes about sex lie well outside the contours established by the state of California. What percentage of the last decade worth of Hollywood sex scenes, if acted out between college students in California, would technically constitute rape? A majority? Ninety percent?
  • Deprogramming and reorienting societal ideas about sex is an evolutionary process. California isn’t merely attempting to set out to nudge the culture in this direction. It is reclassifying all sex that falls outside those still-novel ideas as rape. A law premised on this sort of sweeping, wholesale change is likely to fail.

I agree with Chait’s criticism of the law, but I am not confident that the law will fail. Because the law is limited to college students, and because its penalties are limited to administrative sanctions by the college (up to expulsion), most people are insulated from its effects. Sort of like preventing adults under the age of 21 from drinking. Divide and conquer.

But I would be shocked “Yes Means Yes” becomes the law of the land for non-students.

October 21, 2014

Columbus Day

Filed under: History — Mike Kueber @ 9:30 pm
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Columbus Day came and went last week without much fanfare. Except on Facebook. Several of my friends posted posters attacking the guy. Apparently, he was a racist, a bigot, and a rapist who treated the indigenous people as sub-human. But I’m not sure how many white people back in those days showed adequate respect to blacks, homosexuals, women, or indigenous people. Further, America is not honoring Columbus for his political or social values; rather, we are honoring him for being a courageous explorer who went were no man had gone before (except for the Vikings or the indigenous people).

I commented to one Facebook friend that after these critics get done crucifying Columbus, I suppose they will want to scrutinize our Alamo heroes, too. She warned me not to get her started on the racist, bigoted rapists at the Alamo.

October 19, 2014

Sexual warfare

Filed under: Issues,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:33 pm
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This Sunday’s New York Times contained an op-ed piece with a title that was bound to catch my eye. “Are Women Better Decision Makers?” The column was written by a woman about a study conducted by two female neuroscientists. The lead paragraph to the column quoted Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York for the proposition that Congress needed more female members because women are “more focused on finding common ground and collaborating.”

Do you wonder whether the female neuroscientists found women to be better decision makers?

Before dissecting the study and its findings, my major takeaway from the op-ed piece is the liberal bias in the willingness of the Times to publish it. Can you imagine any kind of scientific or political argument in the Times that men are better decision makers than women, or that whites are better decision makers than Hispanics?  I remember Education Secretary Bill Bennett once refusing to discuss the merits of scientific studies comparing the IQs of blacks and whites. He said that regardless of whether the studies were accurate, the result was irrelevant and politically toxic. I agreed with that statement, and this op-ed piece reveals that the Times is willing to fan the flames for more man-woman political warfare.

Regarding the study, the essential finding was that men and women are equally adept at making decisions under normal conditions, with proper consideration to costs and benefits and risks. But under stressful situations (i.e., hands placed in painfully cold water), men apparently resorted to riskier, high-reward solutions, while women were better able to hold their course.

The scientific cause for men taking the riskier course of action is apparently cortisol, a steroid hormone created by the brain under stress. For some unknown reason, the man’s brain creates more cortisol when stressed than does the woman’s brain. Indeed, the modest additional amount of cortisol created by women “seemed actually to improve decision-making performance.”

Obviously, the study raises questions that can be researched further. For example, I read another study on the National Institute of Health website that concludes leaders, because of their enhanced control of most situations, surprisingly had cortisol levels much less than non-leaders.  This suggests that increased cortisol in leaders, men or women, is not a problem that needs to be fixed.

More importantly, do we really want science like this to be a fact in selecting leaders?

October 18, 2014

Kahlil Gibran

Filed under: Book reviews,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 1:28 am
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A couple of years ago, I blogged about 16 insights from Kahlil Gibran’s book, The Prophet.  A couple of days ago, a Facebook friend posted a poster from EarthWeAreOne.com with “25 Lessons from Khalil Gibran.”  (New spelling, same guy.)

Because I was pretty sure that I had distilled the essence of Gibran in my blog posting, I was interested in reading what someone else thought.  And I was pleasantly surprised to read that many of the key insights that I had gleaned from The Prophet (love, marriage, kids, prayer) found their way onto the poster from Earth We Are One.  I was a bit disappointed, however, that the poster didn’t have anything on my favorite insight:

  • Friendship:  “When you part from your friend, you grieve not;  For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.  And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.  For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its mystery is not love but a net cast forth; and only the unprofitable is caught.”  The essence of Gibran’s philosophy.

My earlier posting on The Prophet concluded with the following paragraph:

  • My ex-girlfriend who gave me The Prophet was especially moved by one of its 26 poetic essays.  Unfortunately, I failed to mark that essay, and despite reading twice this slim volume (96 pages), I have been unable identify the essay.  (I’m leaning toward the essay on Friendship.)  Maybe someday I will have an epiphany.

Well, I’ve had a quasi-epiphany, and I’m confident that Friendship was my ex-girlfriend’s farewell gift.

Asian privilege

Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 12:25 am
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My previous post concluded that Jon Stewart was correct in finding the existence of white privilege in America.  As I was cycling today, however, it occurred to me that in some sense Bill O’Reilly was also correct in saying that, if there is white privilege in America, there is also Asian privilege.  In fact, I have noticed that in my kids when in high school commenting that Asian kids were generally smarter and harder-working than non-Asians.  And I’ve heard anecdotal stories about white kids being disrespected because of their color when trying to play competitive basketball or football.

These are examples of past successes from your racial/ethnic predecessors that enure to the benefits of those who come later.  Likewise, past failures of your predecessors will hold you back.  Most people would be willing to accept this concept.  It’s just that when it is phrased as “white privilege,” a conservative opponent of affirmative action will feel an urge to resist.

October 17, 2014

White privilege

Filed under: Culture — Mike Kueber @ 3:26 am
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Last night, Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart got into a heated discussion over the existence of white privilege in America. I’m guessing the heat was generated for the purpose of entertaining the viewers because any rational discussion of the subject would have started with a definition of the term.

Instead of starting with a definition, O’Reilly immediately responded to Stewart’s allegation by asserting that if there is white privilege in America, then there must be even more Asian privilege because, according to a variety of measures (income, education), Asians are more successful than whites. Stewart responded with a non sequitur that the recent Asian immigration experience was irrelevant because it was completely different than the historical black immigration experience.

So off they went, with each throwing out a series of talking points instead of actually responding to each other’s points. In the end, Jon asked Bill to concede that the black historical experience (slavery, Jim Crow laws) was a “factor” (pun intended) in the current sad status of blacks in general and inner-city blacks in particular. Bill conceded that point, and Jon thanked him for showing a humility that reminded him of the new pope.

If Bill or Jon had been interested in a definition as a starting point, they might have checked with the Urban Dictionary:

  • White privilege is the racist idea that simply being white benefits people in some unexplainable way, and that discriminating against white people is not only okay, but enlightened and necessary. The excuse some extremists use to justify pretty much any level of racism, as long as it is coming from people of color.

The Urban Dictionary definition, however, seems to have been written by a white guy, so I found another definition by someone more like Jon Stewart. According to the White Privilege Conference:

  • White Privilege is the other side of racism…. Privilege exists when one group has something of value thatis denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to,rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do. Access to privilege doesn’t determine one’s outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them. Examples of Privilege – being able to:
    • assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender, or sexual orientation as you are;
    • assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race, or your gender;
    • assume that if you work hard and follow the rules, you will get what you deserve;
    • succeed without other people being surprised; and without being held to a higher standard;
    • go out in public without fear of being harassed or constantly worried about physical safety; or
    • not have to think about your race, or your gender, or your sexual orientation, or disabilities, on a daily basis…

Based on the preceding definition of white privilege, even Bill O’Reilly would concede there is white privilege in America.

The final arbiter of the disputed definition needs to be Wikipedia:

  • White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people in the same social, political, or economic circumstances. The term denotes both obvious and less obvious unspoken advantages that white persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play, and speak freely.

The Free Dictionary definition of privilege is, “a special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste.”

Based on these definitions, I believe Jon Stewart is correct. Black individuals in America suffer from, and are forced to overcome negative generalizations and stereotypes, whereas white individuals probably benefit from positive generalizations and stereotypes. This type of privilege exists even in the absence of racism.

October 16, 2014

The role of personal responsibility in America’s unequal distribution of wealth

In response a Facebook friend endorsing Bernie Sander’s attack on the Walton wealth (Walmart) and the resulting poverty at the bottom, I suggested as follows:

  • And the bottom 25% of American families have a negative net worth. I agree that something has to be done to keep all wealth from going to the top 10% (an annual wealth tax to supplement or replace the estate tax), but the bottom 25% need to be more personally responsible.

Not surprisingly, my response generated some emotional stories about personal hard luck, to which I responded:

  • Some of life is a crapshoot; some of it is bad decisions. I’m all for creating more opportunity for those who are so motivated, but for 75 million Americans to save nothing sounds like a lot of bad decisions.

Surprisingly, one commenter seemed to think I should propose a solution, as though personal responsibility was not one:

  • Mike, for you to make the statement, “…but the bottom 25% need to be more personally responsible”, baffles me! What kind of propositions, that those 25%, do you suppose would work? Enlighten me please!

When I didn’t immediately respond to the request (I had gone to the gym), my Facebook host jumped in:

  • I think he baled (sic) once we got by his stereotypes and anecdotal examples and asked for empirical evidence to support his generalizations.

And one of his partners-in-crime seconded the motion:

  • They usually do!

When I returned from the gym, I reentered the fray:

  • Excuse me, Terry, I didn’t bail and I’m not the one who gave anecdotal examples of victims who have not been able to save any money. My point is that 75 million people have been living beyond their means. The savings rate in America at one point dropped to zero, and I believe many people in tough times stubbornly refused to reduce their standard of living and instead chose to maintain their standard of living by going into debt. I believe the majority of that 25% could have saved something if they had the willpower to defer gratification and control their impulses. Re: empirical evidence – I don’t know what would confirm or refute that.

After a few more comments, my Facebook friend tried to put a wrap on this discussion:

  • You truly do need to walk a mile in another man’s shoes. I have seen many a middle class principled conservative change their tune when they suffer sudden job loss or catastrophic illness. You act as if austerity and poverty are choices. Any social study will tell you that geographical location and parental status are the true determinants of what a person’s economic status. For example, the starting point for Mitt Romney’s children economically is a lot smoother and shorter than that of a child born to a black single mother in Detroit. Poverty is a very complex issue that is deep rooted and not conducive to stereotypes and generalizations. It’s funny that conservatives try to blame social ills on those who have the least and are defenseless against. Marie Antoinette failed to realize that until it got to the boiling point. Even companies are now realizing the economic perils of wage stagnation and wealth inequality, which is not because of a lack of labor but by corporate exploitation. I know that you won’t but I suggest that you read The American Way of Poverty by Sasha Abramsky. It will both shock but educate you on the morass that is poverty.

I tried to put a wrap on it, too:

  • OK, I accepted your challenge by putting a hold on the Abramsky book in my branch of the SA library. Based on some of the comments to your posting, it appears your use of the word anecdotal escaped understanding by some people. Obviously, there are thousands of “anecdotal” situations where a person couldn’t qualify for health insurance and then had a medical catastrophe that bankrupted them. But there are thousands of other situations where a person choses a big car payment instead of buying health insurance or refuses to downsize from their 3000-sq.ft. house after losing their job. Bottom line – (1) structural problems should be addressed by raising taxes on the wealthy and affluent, but don’t demonize them just because they are economically successful in the system that our democracy has established, and (2) personal responsibility (i.e., looking to improve yourself instead of blaming others for your problem) needs to be encouraged and perhaps the Abramsky book will provide some suggestions because the current war on poverty since LBJ has been an abysmal failure.

Although I disagree with most of the comments, I do look forward to reading the Abramsky book. It is a bit glib on my part to argue in favor of personal responsibility without thinking through the means to achieve that. Government austerity alone will perhaps not suffice. Indeed, increased taxes on wealth and affluence and increased spending on opportunity (pre-K and college) might increase morale and lead to more personal responsibility.

 

 

 

October 15, 2014

Sunday Book Review #147 – Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

Filed under: Book reviews,Economics — Mike Kueber @ 6:23 pm
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My first exposure to Capital in the Twenty-First Century by French economist Thomas Piketty was a few months ago in a Time magazine book review. The review suggested three main points:

  1. Based on Piketty’s review of historical records going back hundreds of years in 30 countries, he has concluded that income inequality almost always gets worse because, “Since the rate of return on capital is naturally greater than the rate of growth in the economy as a whole, people who get most of their wealth from investments inevitably grow richer compared with those who get their money from economy and wages.” The only exceptions are war or direct governmental intervention. That makes sense.
  2. Reform in the tax code must do more than tinker with progressivity; rather, it must consider wealth as a whole, such as real property and intangible assets. Warren Buffet’s tax rate should not be less than his secretary’s. That makes sense.
  3. Other measures to reduce inequality include boosting access to education, increasing capital-gains taxes, and closing corporate tax loopholes. That makes sense.

I recently skimmed the 577-page book and noted the following additional insights:

  1. Progressive taxation. There are four principal types of taxes – taxes on income, capital, and consumption, plus a relatively new tax for social-insurance programs, like social security and unemployment compensation. Surprisingly, these taxes, when combined, are not progressive or even proportional in most countries. In fact, they are regressive.
  2. Obscene executive compensation. Studies show that obscene executive compensation results not from value-added performance, but rather from low tax rates on high salaries – i.e., because executives in low-rate countries get to keep so much of their high salary, they are motivated to negotiate hard for a higher salary. By contrast, if their marginal tax rate was set in the area of 80%, they would continue to work as hard, but wouldn’t care so much about being paid more money. Instead this money would go toward the salaries of their underlings. Piketty specifically rejects my pet theory: “Similarly, the idea that skyrocketing executive pay is due to lack of competition, and that more competitive markets and better corporate governance and control would put an end to it, seems unrealistic. Our findings suggest that only dissuasive taxation of the sort applied in the US and Britain before 1980 can do the job.
  3. Growth of government. Before 1920, most first-world governments taxed about 10% of their national income and provided only “regalian” services – i.e., police, national security, and courts – plus schools and infrastructure. Between 1920 and 1980, government services expanded greatly into social services like health and income replacement (pensions, unemployment, and welfare) and their taxes increased to 30% in US, 40% in England, and 45%-55% in Europe. Since 1980, taxes have plateaued at those rates. Future expansion of government will depend on (a) whether the world economy can resume the robust growth it experienced between 1940 and 1980, and (b) whether governments can prove they can effectively manage their current role in the economy.
  4. Income redistribution. In modern society, income is not redistributed in a direct way, but rather indirectly by government providing baseline services to everyone – e.g., pensions, public schools, and access to medical care. Means-testing these services would threaten their public support.
  5. Education and social mobility. No government has solved the problem of unequal/unfair access to educational opportunities. Some even argue that a meritocracy is inherently unfair because it will continue to reward the upper class and “preserve their hegemony.” Now, that sounds like a bomb-thrower.
  6. Pay-as-you-go pensions (PAYGO). PAYGOs are plagued by low economic growth and plateaued populations. Individuals would be much better off if they had been able to invest their retirement savings because capital grows at a much faster rate than economies or population. But we are where we are, and reforms will need to increase the taxes or decrease the payouts. “One often hears that a public pension is the patrimony of those without patrimony. This is true, but it does not mean that it would not be wise to encourage people of more modest means to accumulate nest eggs of their own.”
  7. Public debt. “There are two main ways for a government to finance its expenses: taxes and debt. In general, taxation is by far preferable to debt in terms of justice and efficiency. The problem with debt is that it usually has to be repaid, so that debt financing is in the interest of those who have the means to lend to the government. From the standpoint of the general interest, it is normally preferable to tax the wealthy rather than borrow from them.” Although Piketty doesn’t specifically describe the “justice” issue, I suspect one major component of injustice would be the disconnect between one generation benefiting from the assumption of debt and a later generation having to repay the debt. Paradoxically, rich nations have more public debt (about 90% of GDP) than poor nations (around 30%).
  8. Paying down public debt. Realistically, public debt can be reduced by (a) a special tax, (b) inflation, and (c) austerity. Unrealistically, public debt can be repudiated. And because public assets are approximately equal to public debt, hypothetically governments could pay off the public debt by selling off the public assets, but that is not realistic. According to Piketty, a special, progressive tax is preferable to the other realistic options in terms of justice and efficiency, but for political reasons, nations often resort to inflation to solve their debt problems. A major problem with inflation is that it is hard to control. An advantage is that it falls primarily on those holding idle money. By far the worst option is austerity, although that is what Europe is currently employing. Fascinating facts – national wealth in Europe is about six times more than national income; private wealth is about 50% real estate and 50% financial assets; Europeans own approximately the same amount of the rest of the world as the rest of the world owns of Europe.
  9. What is the ideal level of national capital? “The maximum level of capital is attained when so much has been accumulated that the return on capital, r, supposed to be equal to its marginal productivity, falls to be equal to the growth rate, g.” This brings us full circle back to Piketty’s initial point that income inequality will become more severe because the return on capital (4-5%) currently far exceeds long-term growth (1.5%). Currently, the most capital-intensive countries have capital that is about six to seven times greater than income. Piketty guesses that capital would need to be 15-30 times income before return on capital would sink to the level of the economic growth rate.

Piketty’s book has caught the attention of the world. As an article in the NY Times reflects, Piketty has become a bit of a rock star (see Bill Gate’s favorable book review), but most economists are skeptical, especially about his signal formula, r>g. I am hopeful, however, that his other insights will result in a more just and efficient world economy.

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2014

Distribution of wealth in America

Filed under: Economics,Facebook,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 10:04 pm
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The Walton family is being excoriated by socialist Senator Bernie Sanders in a popular Facebook poster because the Walton family apparently has more wealth (about $140 billion) than the bottom 40% of Americans combined. My initial reaction to this charge is there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics” (i.e., a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments). After all, most political/economist types know that they individually probably have more wealth than the bottom 20% of Americans combined because those “no-accounts” don’t “have a pot to piss in.”

It was not easy to confirm my suspicion because most studies on the distribution of wealth focus on the top 10%. For example, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (2013), the top 10% of Americans have more of our nation’s wealth (75%) than any of the other 19 leading developed nations, with the others ranging from 44.9% in Finland to 72.2 in Denmark.

After a lengthy search, however, I found a chart on Wikipedia that shows the bottom 25% of American families have a negative net worth of about $2,000.

The conservative in me thinks that, instead of looking enviously at the wealth of the top 10%, America should be thinking about how to inculcate personal responsibility in the bottom 25% who save nothing despite living in our land of plenty. But the me who have been reading Piketty’s book on Capital thinks that these matters are interrelated. So I had the following exchange with my friend who posted the Bernie Sanders poster:

  • Friend – You are under the misunderstanding that these people, the bottom 20%, have some disposable income other than debts. These are people that live below the poverty line. Forty-five million Americans live below the poverty line which is a disgrace for the richest country in the world. And of course we also have the largest income inequality in the world, thanks to companies like Wal-Mart and fast food restaurants including social programs as part of their costs mitigation strategy.
  • Me – And the bottom 25% of American families have a negative net worth. I agree that something has to be done to keep all wealth from going to the top 10% (an annual wealth tax to supplement or replace the estate tax), but the bottom 25% need to be more personally responsible.

I will blog in a few days about the epiphany that Thomas Piketty’s Capital is triggering in me.

October 12, 2014

Walden Shelton – Bexar County judge

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:50 am
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I met Walden Shelton several years ago on the campaign hustings. Although I was running for the high office of congressman and he was running merely for a local judgeship, he was obviously a much more seasoned, traditional politician who freely gave me advice on the campaign importance of meet-and-greets and yard signs. By contrast, I was relying on brochures and block-walking.

Walden seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and I don’t know if he won that election, but he is currently running for re-election and recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

  • I attend anywhere from 2 to 4 events a night campaigning, to meet as many potential voters as possible. That’s my job as a candidate. I may not agree 100% with all of the views of the folks that I meet, nor do I expect anyone to agree with me 100% of the time–we are different in our own way. I talk to folks about my experience; how I treat everyone with dignity and respect no matter what their background; that I have been a leader in DWI cases; that I have saved taxpayers over $100k per year in operating expenses; reduced the backlog by over 550 cases; and that I follow the law and continue to do so. This is why I have been endorsed by the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Police Officers Association, Bexar County Adult Probations Officers Association, San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, Defense Council of San Antonio, and others. Early voting starts October 20, with the general election on Nov.4. I respectively request your vote. If you would like to volunteer to work the polls, please let me know.

Walden’s claim to 2 to 4 events a night is stupefying. When I ran for City Council in 2012, there were about 15-20 candidate forums over the course of the entire campaign, and I thought that was an impressive number. Going to multiple events every night would be incredibly draining. And for what purpose?

According to the title of Rick Casey’s column in the SA Express-News today, “Judicial elections are a lottery.”  Casey points out that, because Bexar County has 47 judicial elections on its ballot, its voters are wholly unable to make intelligent selections and instead make their decisions based on party affiliation. Some years a team of Republicans sweep into office and other years the Democrats do, but rarely is there any ticket splitting.

So my question is – why the hell is Walden working so hard?

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