Saturday, July 04, 2015

No Podcast Today ...

If there HAD been one, it would have been brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

But a confluence of circumstances came about which resulted in me not doing one, including but not limited to:

  • It's a holiday -- I spent about seven hours smoking ribs, and then there were evening fireworks to mess with; and
  • In between all that, I was mowing; and
  • In between all that, I was feeling pretty crappy (my left "frozen shoulder" is almost but not quite gone; on the right, it seems to be at its worst point, even though I started the exercises I learned in physical therapy for the left one as soon as the right one started revealing itself); and
  • As you may recall, even though I generally do a podcast every week, I'm only committed to one per month, so I didn't feel too bad about taking this week off; and
  • Finally, I'm working on getting into the right headspace for tomorrow night's concert: Supposedly the last concert the Grateful Dead will ever perform. A pay-per-view purchase of that is Tamara's "gettin' over the cancer" present to herself. Of course, she's been to real live Grateful Dead shows before. I never have. This is the closest I'll ever get to seeing one live.
I just might rear back and pass a mid-week bonus podcast. If not, this week's "Thanks For Asking!" stuff will be answered on next week's podcast.

Hope you're all having a great weekend. Of course, I'm not big on celebrating the US government these days, but I do like fireworks and barbecue, regardless of the excuses for either.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Whatever Happened To ...

... "Full service" gas stations?

Yes, I know, "self service" became all the rage in the 1980s. Circa 1984-85, as a high school student, I worked at a station that offered both options. Full service cost a penny or two more than self service.

Full service: Bell rings when a car pulls in (running over an air hose that pings the bell). Attendant runs out, takes the gas order ("fill'er up, regular;" "five bucks, unleaded"), washes the windshield, offers to check the oil, checks tire pressure if the customer asks for it.

Self service: Car pulls up, customer pumps gas (and washes his own windshield/checks his own oil if he wants).

Now here's the thing:

In the 1980s, when most gas stations were still JUST gas stations (and maybe a car repair shop attached), "self service" made a lot of sense for the owner. He didn't have to pay as many people to handle customers buying gas.

But these days, most gas stations are also convenience stores. When you have a customer pull up, pay at the pump by swiping a debit card, pump his own gas and then drive away without ever entering the store, you're losing those addition "impulse sales."

I'm also betting that you could do a pretty good full service business charging 5-10 cents more per gallon for that extra service. Supposing the average is 10 gallons per customer, that's an extra 50 cents to a dollar per car. At 10-20 cars per hour, the pump jockey would pretty much pay for himself even before the customer decides to wander in and buy a soda, candy bar, pack of smokes, etc. while his gas is being pumped.

I'm not rich, but I think I might pay 50 cents to a buck extra per fill-up for full service, at least occasionally (for example, when I'm dressed up for church or some fancy occasion and would rather not risk getting splashed with gasoline).

I see drivers pumping their own gas into $60,000 cars over on the nice side of town. Those are people I'd expect to happily pop an extra buck for a windshield wash and the convenience of having someone else do some minor dirty work for them.

I hear a couple of states (New Jersey and maybe Oregon?) prohibit self service by law, which of course I don't support.

What am I missing that makes full service a market niche nobody's interested in filling?

Thursday, July 02, 2015

You Keep Using That Word, "Federalism." I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

I keep seeing objections -- allegedly libertarian in character -- to the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that rely on an appeal to "federalism." Here's one that throws the error of those objection into such stark relief that I'm going to use it as my example. It's from a piece by Gary Kittilsen at Voices of Liberty:

The word marriage is never mentioned in the Constitution, not one time. I put the entire Constitution in an Excel sheet and did a lookup for the word marriage, and it's not in there, which according to the 10th Amendment makes this a states issues. This is why you get a state issued marriage license.

The problem with jackleg "federalism" reduced to the pernicious doctrine of "states rights" is that it leaves a couple of things out. Here's the part of the 10th Amendment that Kittilsen notices:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively ...

And here's the part he leaves out:

... or to the people.

He also leaves out the entire 9th Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Federalism is not a uni-directional doctrine with two parties. It is a multi-directional doctrine with three parties (United States, states, people). And when any one of those parties steps on the toes of one of the other parties' prerogatives, the offended party is fully justified in kicking the offending party right in the shins, and invoking the third party's assistance in doing so.

The right to marry is clearly an unenumerated right "retained by the people." Marriage -- including same-sex marriage -- has been around since long before state "licensing," long before the Constitution, long before the state as we know it.

In the United States circa 1790, if you wanted to get married, you might go about it in several ways ranging from formal (consulting your church to get its blessing and have your marriage entered in its records) to casual (moving in together, commingling your property, and "holding yourself out as married" to the community around you). Asking for the government's permission was not one of those ways, and suggesting that it should be would likely have involved you in tar, feathers and so forth.

It wasn't until the 1830s that the states began unconstitutionally seizing the power to "license" marriages -- initially to stop whites and blacks from marrying each other, but incidentally embedding the dominant religious doctrine of the time (heterosexual marriage only) in its licensing schemes as well. That nonsense has been going on for 180-odd years now. It was wrong when it started and it's never stopped being wrong. It's just that one bad bit of it has only just now finally worked its way through the courts.

The proper SCOTUS ruling would have been to void all state "marriage license" schemes, as they are clear violations of federalism insofar as they unconstitutionally seize on behalf of one party (the state) as a power something which belongs to another (the people) as a right.

Barring doing the right thing, it wasn't that unreasonable for SCOTUS to at least rein in the states' illegitimate seizure of power and tell them that they don't get to wield their ill-gotten power prejudicially against one particular segment of the people (same-sex couples).

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