Saturday, November 18, 2017

Guest Post: Why does the price of turkeys fall just before Thanksgiving?

Jay L. Zagorsky, The Ohio State University

Thanksgiving is a great U.S. holiday during which people consume huge quantities of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pie.

One of the stranger things about this holiday, however, is that a few days before everyone starts cooking, whole turkeys are suddenly discounted by supermarkets and grocery stores.

And this happens every holiday season: The price falls just before Thanksgiving and stays low until Christmas. For example, in the average year, November’s price per pound for turkey is about 10 percent lower than the price in September.

Why does the price come down at the one time of the year when demand for the product spikes the most – before a holiday that’s literally dubbed “Turkey Day”?

The turkey demand curve

Most people expect turkey prices to rise because many more people are buying the birds. My family is an example of this buying phenomenon, since we almost never eat turkey except at Thanksgiving.

In general, when there is a fixed quantity of something to sell and demand for the product spikes, prices rise. This is why a dozen long-stem red roses typically cost a lot more on Valentine’s Day than at other times of the year.

In more formal economic language, the demand curve for turkeys shifts outward at Thanksgiving, which means people at this time of year are interested in buying more of these birds regardless of the price. Even the most casual shopper in food stores this week can observe this increase or shift in demand as more people are buying turkeys to cook.

turkey economics demand supply price

This graph shows what economic theory on supply and demand says is supposed to happen, and what actually does when it comes to turkeys.
Jay Zagorsky, Author provided

However, each Thanksgiving the price of turkeys doesn’t rise. Instead, it falls during the holiday period as many stores advertise special low turkey prices, and over time turkey prices have generally fallen.

Not only do supermarkets that sell turkeys year-round make the bird a featured item, but some food stores and warehouse stores that don’t typically sell whole turkeys offer them for a limited period of time to customers. This means not only does demand for turkeys increase, but the supply of turkey increases too. This boost in supply drives prices downward.

Food stores are not upset that the price of turkey falls at this time of the year because they are interested in maximizing profits – not in maximizing the revenue they get from selling each bird.

Turkeys are not very profitable items, even at full price. The wholesale price of a whole frozen turkey in 2016 was US$1.17 per pound, while the average retail price was $1.55. This means at full price stores made less than 40 cents per pound. To give you a comparison, the USDA reports the difference between the wholesale and retail price in 2016 was $2.79 per pound for beef and $2.25 per pound for pork.

Stores, however, know that people coming in to buy turkeys are likely to purchase other items, too, such as seasonings, disposable roasting pans and soda. The other items are where stores make their money, since the profit margins on these items are much higher than on frozen turkeys.

Why does the turkey supply skyrocket?

Because of the desire to attract people to stores, the supply of turkeys needs to skyrocket just before the holiday so that freezer cases overflow with the birds.

How does this dramatic increase in supply happen? It occurs because turkeys are slaughtered continuously throughout the year and then put into cold storage.

The Department of Agriculture has tracked the amount of turkey in wholesale freezers for the past century. The past few years of data show turkey stocks slowly build up each year until they reach a peak in September, when the U.S. has over half a billion pounds on reserve. Between September and December, turkey stocks plummet as stores purchase over 300 million pounds’ worth and put them on sale. Then farmers, processors and wholesalers slowly rebuild their stocks for the next year’s holiday season.

The 500 to 600 million pounds of turkey in cold storage by the end of each summer means there are almost two pounds of turkey for every man, woman and child in the U.S. waiting to be released each holiday season. That figure doesn’t include live turkeys, which some people prefer, and also doesn’t take into account vegetarians (about 3 percent of the population), newborns who are not eating solid food (about 1 percent) and people like my brother-in-law and me who don’t like eating turkey at any time of the year.

Thanksgiving dinner turkey trimmings

This good-looking bird won’t be on the author’s end of the table.

What does this mean for the typical consumer?

The National Turkey Federation, the organization whose goal is to get the country to eat more turkey, estimates that 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey on Thanksgiving. If buying turkey is on your holiday or regular shopping list, then from now to Christmas it is the time to stock up, when prices are cheap. Otherwise, eating turkey at other times of the year means your wallet will get plucked for more money.

The ConversationFor those of you eating turkey during this holiday, enjoy. My brother-in-law and I will be happily ensconced at the end of the table feasting on lamb and, while not eating turkey, appreciating and giving thanks for a day to be with friends and family.

Jay L. Zagorsky, Economist and Research Scientist, The Ohio State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

'Charlottesville: Our Streets' Premieres as Work-in-Progress at Va. Film Festival

Virginia Film Festival 2017 Charlottesville Our Streets
Having its world premiere at the Virginia Film Festival exactly three months after the events of August 12 that it portrays, the Rashomon-like "Charlottesville: Our Streets" appears while psychic and physical wounds are still raw and the political repercussions -- especially for local government -- have not yet been fully played out.

The program notes provided by the Virginia Film Festival are deceptively understated:
A stark look at the devastating events that transpired in Charlottesville in August of this year, there will be much to discuss after this screening. A team of local filmmakers, photographers, and journalists has compiled footage and stills from over 30 cameras, with 20 interviews from first-person witnesses from the fateful Unite The Right rally of August 12th. The country watched as white supremacists’ demonstrations violently escalated, resulting in multiple injuries and the death of Heather Heyer. This feature documentary is an objective observation how the events unfolded, delivering a stark and sometimes brutal telling of individual truths from the perspectives of the people who were there.
Washington Post reporter Joe Heim listed the questions posed by "Charlottesville: Our Streets" in a front-page Metro section story in Sunday morning's editions. that August weekend in Charlottesville will be most remembered is now in the hands of many different storytellers who will shape a shared history. Will it be seen primarily as the place where an ascendant white power movement came out of online nooks and crannies and showed its face to the world? Will it be remembered for those who took to the streets to stand up to the marchers and keep their rally from taking place? Or will it be recalled as a failure of leaders and police to keep the two sides apart and prevent a deadly outcome?
On Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house at the Paramount Theater, the producers of "Charlottesville: Our Streets," Jackson Landers (who also wrote the script) and Brian Wimer (who also directed), participated in a post-screening panel discussion moderated by radio host Coy Barefoot, along with journalist colleague Natalie Jacobsen -- who helped collect and sort the hundred of hours of video clips so they could be reviewed and chosen through a systematic process -- and two interview subjects from the film.

The movie drew both applause and jeers as it featured comments from both the neo-Nazis and Confederate nostalgists who invaded Charlottesville for the so-called "Unite the Right" rally over the weekend of August 11-12, and various counterprotesters from the clergy, antifa, and regular folks opposed to racism and anti-Semitism.

Landers and Wimer endeavored to be as objective as possible, letting the interviews and images tell the story and putting the burden of drawing conclusions on the audience, whose members are intelligent enough to interpret what they see.

Using a combination of talking-head interviews and "found footage" from among hundreds of hours of video taken by dozens of amateur and professional photographers on the scene that day, "Charlottesville: Our Streets" shows the chaos and the violence in a nearly unfiltered manner. Much of the video has not been previously seen by anyone other than those who took it, and one takeaway is that what did make its way to television news programs pulled its punches.

Writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Monday, Tony Farrell described the film as
an astounding feat of bootstrapping journalism: a near-definitive visual chronicle of a day that spun slowly but wildly out of control, told through the mostly dispassionate points of view of countless cameras that captured all sides of the action.
He added:
Landers and Wimer also conducted 32 interviews with people who took part in or witnessed the violence that day — pastors, peace activists, Charlottesville residents and even members of the white supremacist groups that descended on the city for the long-planned Unite the Right rally to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in the center of town.

Landers and Wimer, longtime area residents unacquainted before Aug. 12 but both witnesses to the day’s brawling and mayhem, connected in the weeks after the violence and saw the value in documenting events they felt had been incorrectly reported or misrepresented through rumor-mongering and conspiracy theories.
In a report for public radio station WCVE, veteran Charlottesville journalist Hawes Spencer sampled the opinions of audience members at Sunday's screening. He found three widely different reactions:
Militia member Daniel Bollinger appears in “Our Streets” and attended its premiere. “It’s almost undescribable because it brings back so many memories from that day.”

Filmgoer Jim Hingeley says the picture succeeds. “It pulled it all together in a coherent way.”

However, transgender activist Emily Gorcenski finds the film unfair. “This drive towards objectivity is just enabling the side that wants to kill all Jewish people.”
Speaking of local journalists, a few of them are interviewed on screen.  Chris Suarez of the Daily Progress and Lisa Provence of C-VILLE Weekly both describe what they saw that Saturday morning.  (WCHV radio host Joe Thomas is seen arguing with a protester in a video clip.)

Charlottesville Our Streets Jackson Landers Brian Wimer
One thing I learned from the film was that the violence on August 12 was much worse than I had thought, based on the TV news reports I had seen; "Our Streets" shows clearly how the local and state police failed to intervene when the street fights began, standing at a distance and observing without taking action. As former Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris says in an interview in the film, anyone who asserts there was no "stand-down" order is being "deceitful."

I earlier referred to "Charlottesville: Our Streets" as Rashomon-like, and this is borne out by its multiple points of view. One of the things that struck me was how, in almost every shot, there were several other cameras making their own recordings of the same scene from different angles. What those photographers captured could well compose another movie from which entirely different conclusions could be drawn.

"Charlottesville: Our Streets" does not yet have a distributor, but the producers hope to take it to other film festivals and to college campuses around Virginia and beyond. A "pay-what-you-can" screening is tentatively planned for next month. The filmmakers' aim is to return Charlottesville's name to what it was before it became a hashtag.

Full disclosure: Jackson Landers and I, along with Shaun Kenney, are weekly guests on Coy Barefoot's radio program on 94.7 WPVC-FM in Charlottesville, where we discuss local, state, and national politics for an hour beginning at 5:00 o'clock each Monday afternoon. The events of August 12 have been a frequent topic of our conversation since even before they occurred.  On November 13, with Jeff Lenert substituting for Shaun Kenney, we spent more than an hour in a panel discussion about the panel discussion.  Listen to the podcast.


Note: This post is adapted and expanded from a previous article on Bearing Drift by the same author.

Guest Post: Anti-Racists Should Think Twice about Allying with Socialism

Modern racial justice movements like Black Lives Matter are embracing the historically false assumption that socialism is anti-racist.

by Marian L. Tupy

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times last August, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors, stated that BLM would not sit at the table with President Trump because he “is literally the epitome of evil, all the evils of this country – be it racism, capitalism, sexism, homophobia”.

Swastika hammer and sickle
Trump’s views and actions aside, calling capitalism evil and conflating it with racism is noteworthy. The same goes for the increasing tendency among racial justice advocates to embrace the left-wing economic agenda.

So much so that Ryan Cooper, a columnist for The Week, wrote a column titled, Is Black Lives Matter turning socialist? As Cooper approvingly noted, BLM has adopted a “hugely aggressive – and firmly leftist – economic program”.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Natalie Jeffers, who cofounded BLM in the United Kingdom, urged her followers to: “Fight racism with solidarity. Fight capitalism with socialism. We must organize – dedicate ourselves to revolutionary politic power.”

The Black Lives Matter Movement, a separate British organization, was founded by Gary McFarlane, a representative of the Socialist Workers Party, who writes for the Socialist Review and the Socialist Worker, and claims that, “Capitalism is racist from the top to the bottom”. His cofounders, including Kate Hurford, Harold Wilson, and Naima Omar, have also written for those two publications.

There is, in other words, a growing assumption among racial justice advocates that more socialism would result in less racism and, even, that socialism is, in itself, anti-racist. There is, in fact, no such necessary connection between socialism and anti-racism, as a closer look at early socialist writings amply shows.

Socialists Had a Lot to Say About Race
Marlborough Churchill familyTo start with, it is important to note that the meaning of the word “race” changed over time. Today, most people think of races in terms of color, as in “black” and “white.” Historically, however, race was also a synonym for a nation or, even, a family. In his 1933 book, Marlborough: His Life and Times, Winston Churchill noted: “Deep in the heart of the Prussian state and race lay the antagonism to France.” The English artist Mary Granville, in turn, referred to Churchill’s family as the “Marlborough race” in her 1861 book, Autobiography and Correspondence.

Race was always a part of socialist thought.

But race, whether narrowly (black and white) or broadly (skin color, nation, and family) understood, was always a part of socialist thought. In 1894, for example, Friedrich Engels wrote a letter to the German economist Walther Borgius. In it, Engels noted, “We regard economic conditions as that which ultimately determines historical development, but race is in itself an economic factor.”

In his 1877 Notes to Anti-Dühring, Engels elaborated on the subject of race, observing “that the inheritance of acquired characteristics extended … from the individual to the species.” He went on, “If, for instance, among us mathematical axioms seem self-evident to every eight-year-old child and in no need of proof from evidence that is solely the result of ‘accumulated inheritance.’ It would be difficult to teach them by proof to a bushman or to an Australian Negro.”

It is noteworthy that Engels wrote those words 16 years before Francis Galton, writing in Macmillan’s Magazine, urged humanity to take control of its own evolution by means of “good breeding” or eugenics. Speaking of which, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who were both socialists and eugenicists, bemoaned the falling birthrates among so-called higher races in the New Statesman in 1913. They warned that “a new social order [would be] developed by one or other of the colored races, the Negro, the Kaffir or the Chinese”.

Che Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary and friend of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, offered his views on race in his 1952 memoir The Motorcycle Diaries, writing, “The Negro is indolent and lazy and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.”

Karl Marx came close to advocating genocide.

Socialists Are Historically Pro-Genocide
In addition to racism, early socialist writings contained explicit calls for genocide of backward peoples. The toxic mix of those two illiberal ideas would result in at least 80 million deaths during the course of the 20th century.

In the New York Tribune in 1853, Karl Marx came close to advocating genocide, writing, “The classes and the races, too weak to master the new conditions of life, must give way.” His friend and collaborator, Engels, was more explicit.

In 1849, Engels published an article in Marx’s newspaper, Neue Rheinische Zeitung. In it, Engels condemned the rural populations of the Austrian Empire for failing enthusiastically to partake in the revolution of 1848. This was a seminal moment, the importance of which cannot be overstated.

“From Engels' article in 1849 down to the death of Hitler,” George Watson wrote in his 1998 book The Lost Literature of Socialism, “everyone who advocated genocide called himself a socialist.”
So, what did Engels write?
Among all the large and small nations of Austria, only three standard-bearers of progress took an active part in history, and still retain their vitality – the Germans, the Poles and the Magyars. Hence they are now revolutionary. All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary world storm. For that reason they are now counter-revolutionary.
“The Austrian Germans and Magyars will be set free and wreak a bloody revenge on the Slav barbarians,” he continued. “The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.”

Here Engels clearly foreshadows the genocides of the 20th-century totalitarianism in general and the Soviet regime in particular. In fact, Joseph Stalin loved Engels’ article and commended it to his followers in The Foundations of Leninism in 1924. He then proceeded to suppress Soviet ethnic minorities, including the Jews, Crimean Tatars, and Ukrainians.

It is unsurprising that Nazi Germany, with its concentration camps and omnipresent secret police, came so close to resembling the Soviet Union.

Adolf Hitler, who admired Stalin for his ruthlessness and called him a “genius,” was also heavily influenced by Marx. “I have learned a great deal from Marxism,” Hitler said, “as I do not hesitate to admit.” Throughout his youth, Hitler “never shunned the company of Marxists” and believed that while the “petit bourgeois Social Democrat … will never make a National Socialist … the Communist always will.”

Hitler’s “differences with the communists”, argued Watson, “were less ideological than tactical”. Hitler embraced German nationalism so as not to “compete with Marxism on its own ground,” but explicitly acknowledged that “‘the whole of national socialism’ was based on Marx.” It is, therefore, unsurprising that Nazi Germany, with its concentration camps and omnipresent secret police, came so close to resembling the Soviet Union.

How much did the Nazis learn from the Soviets?

Rudolf Hess Commandant of AuschwitzIn his 1947 memoir Commandant of Auschwitz: The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess, Hoess recalled that the Germans knew of the Soviet program of extermination of the enemies of the state through forced labor as early as 1939. “If, for example, in building a canal, the inmates of a [Soviet] camp were used up, thousands of fresh kulaks or other unreliable elements were called in who, in their turn, would be used up.” The Nazis would use the same tactic on the Jewish slave laborers in, for example, munition factories.

Following their invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, wrote Watson, the Germans collected information on the immense scale of the Soviet camp system and were impressed by the “Soviet readiness to destroy whole categories of people through forced labor.”

Communist terror continues to be shrouded in ontological fog.

After the war ended, Stalin was deeply worried about what the Germans knew with regard to the Soviet camp system and the crimes that the Soviets committed in the territories they conquered following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. He sent Andrey Vyshinsky, the mastermind of Stalin’s Great Purge (1936-1938), to Nuremberg to steer the war crimes tribunal away from inconvenient lines of inquiry.

Today we are familiar with the aggregate numbers of people who died as a result of the socialist experiment, but communist terror continues to be shrouded in ontological fog. As such, the Nazi extermination of the Jews is generally condemned as an example of race hatred. The Soviet extermination of specific groups of people, in contrast, is generally seen as part of a much less toxic “class struggle.”

The Strange Separation of "Race Hate" and "Class Struggle"
The Marxist theory of history focused on class struggle and posited that feudalism was destined to be superseded by capitalism. Capitalism, in turn, was destined to give way to communism. Marx saw himself chiefly as a scientist and thought that he had discovered an immutable law of evolution of human institutions, from barbarism at the one end to communism at the other end. (Hence the idea of “scientific socialism” that Engels promoted after Marx’s death.)

Peoples stuck in feudalism, like the Slavs, “as well as Basques, Bretons and Scottish Highlanders”, could not progress straight from feudalism to communism. They would have to be exterminated – so as not to keep everyone else back! Watson noted, “They were racial trash, as Engels called them, and fit only for the dung-heap of history.”

How, then, are we to think of socialism and race, and does the answer to that question have any bearing on the distinction that has been drawn between the Nazi and communist atrocities?

The best that can be said of the socialists is that their victims were more varied than those of Hitler. 

H.G. WellsIn his 1902 Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human life and Thought, H.G. Wells wrote, “There is a disposition in the world, which the French share, to grossly undervalue the prospects of all things French, derived, so far as I can gather, from the facts that the French were beaten by the Germans in 1870, and that they do not breed with the abandon of rabbits or negroes.”

“I must confess,” he continued, that “I do not see the Negro and the poor Irishman and all the emigrant sweepings of Europe, which constitute the bulk of the American Abyss, uniting to form that great Socialist party.”

Note the ease with which the socialist author of such best-sellers as The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds(1898), conflates backward whites and backward blacks.

To Wells, both were primitive and, consequently, unsuited to be the torchbearers of socialism. That’s perfectly consonant with Marx’s theory of history, which was, by definition, universal in applicability. Creation of a socialist utopia, therefore, depended on the extermination of all races, broadly understood, who stood in the way of socialist revolution. As such, it included black “Bushmen” and white Bretons.

In contrast to Marx, Hitler’s utopia was not universal. Hitler, the leader of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), wanted to create socialism in only one country, Germany. Hitler’s hatred of the Jews, for example, was partly rooted in his belief that capitalism and international Jewry were two sides of the same coin. As he once famously asked, “How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?”

The old distinction between the crimes of National Socialism and socialism proper seems to be untenable.

To achieve their socialist goals, wrote Götz Aly in his 2008 book Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, the Germans confiscated gold, food, clothing, and machinery throughout the territories they conquered. They also put the conquered peoples to work in German slave labor and extermination camps, and factories.

In conclusion, the old distinction between the crimes of National Socialism (as purely racist) and socialism proper (as lacking a racial component) seems to be untenable. Both the perpetrators of Nazi atrocities (ie, the Germans) and their victims, including the Jews and the Slavs, were white. As such, Nazi atrocities make little sense on the narrow definition of racism (i.e., black versus white). They do make sense in the broader context – the perceived necessity to exterminate all peoples who stood in the way of achieving Hitler’s utopian ideal.

But, the same can be said of communist atrocities. The early socialists certainly toyed with the idea of racial inferiority of the darker races (i.e., narrow definition of racism), but ultimately embraced a program of genocide that was more encompassing. The best that can be said of the socialists, therefore, is that their victims were, in accordance with the universal aspirations of Marxism, more varied than those of Hitler. Let us hope that’s not the sort of inclusivity that Black Lives Matter on both sides of the Atlantic strives for.

Reprinted from CapX

Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy is the editor of and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Anthony Michael Hall and James Hoare Discuss 'The Lears' at #VaFilmFest 2017

Last week, at the 30th annual Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville, one of the featured narrative films was The Lears.

University of Virginia English professor Mark Edmundson -- author of Why Teach?, Why Write?, and Why Read?, among other books -- led a panel discussion on the film, which is loosely based on William Shakespeare's King Lear.

The panel included the film's writer-director-cinematographer, Carl Bessai; its producer, Irwin Olian; and two of its cast members, Anthony Michael Hall ("Glenn Lear") and James Hoare ("Rory Lear").

Bessai has directed several previous films, including Emile (starring Ian McKellen), Sisters & Brothers, and  Fathers and Sons.  Irwin Olian also produced the 1999 film, Gut Feeling; he also has a cameo appearance in The Lears.  Although best known for 1980s films like The Breakfast Club, Hall has also spent a year in the cast of Saturday Night Live and has built a later career in as a character actor.  James Hoare is a newcomer -- The Lears is his first feature film -- but he has performed on stage and on television in his native Australia, where he will appear in the mini-series Picnic at Hanging Rock (based on the same novel as Peter Weir's 1975 film).

The film's cast also features Bruce Dern, Sean Astin, Aly Michalka, Victoria Smurfit, Nic Bishop, Stephen Ellis, and Ivy Matheson.

According to the Virginia Film Festival's program notes:

Mark Edmundson Anthony Michael Hall Carl Bessai
World-renowned architect Davenport Lear (Bruce Dern) summons his dysfunctional children to a weekend family retreat to test their love. Set in of one of Davenport’s signature architectural masterpieces, a quirky black comedy emerges in this modern-day reimagining of Shakespeare’s classic King Lear. Davenport announces he is to marry his younger personal assistant, setting off an explosive round of humorously devious behavior. Each of his children vies for his favor, consumed by self-interest, greed, and jealousy. The Lears raises fundamental questions about the nature of love, sexuality, family relationships, and honesty.

The video above was recorded at the Newcomb Hall Theatre on the grounds of the University of Virginia on Thursday evening, November 9, 2017.

Nick Robinson and William H. Macy Discuss 'Krystal' in Charlottesville

This past weekend, the Virginia Film Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary in Charlottesville, with several prestige-level feature films, including the coming-of-age drama Call Me by Your Name and the coming-of-age comedy Krystal.

Krystal was screened on Friday evening, followed by a panel discussion with actor-director William H. Macy, the film's lead actor Nick Robinson, and producer Rachel Winter.

Mitch Levine, founder and director of The Film Festival Group, moderated the panel.

According to the Virginia Film Festival's program notes,
Nick Robinson Krystal
Nick Robinson
Tyler Ogburn lives a sheltered life due to a heart condition that prevents him from going to college, playing sports, or pursuing love. That is until enticing ex-stripper and former heroin addict Krystal comes into his life, and he starts attending her Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in order to spend time with her. Also complicating Ogburn’s efforts to pursue Krystal is her son, Bobby, who is confined to a wheelchair and serves as the street-smart voice of reason for the dysfunctional family. This is the third feature from director-actor William H. Macy (Fargo, Shameless).

The cast of Krystal also includes Rosario Dawson, Kathy Bates, Grant Gustin, William Fichtner, and Felicity Huffman.

The video above was recorded at the Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday evening, November 10, 2017.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

LPVA Candidate Cliff Hyra Denounces Negative Campaigning

At a press conference on the state capitol grounds in Richmond on Thursday, November 2, Libertarian nominee for Governor of Virginia Cliff Hyra strongly criticized his opponents -- Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam -- for misleading and negative campaigning, designed more to frighten voters than to persuade them.

Here is a video recording of the complete news conference:

And here, courtesy of the Hyra campaign, is a transcript of his prepared remarks. (It does not include his answers to questions posed by members of the news media.)

"Thank you all for coming. When I first decided to run for Governor of Virginia, I chose to make respect a central tenet of my campaign. All Virginians deserve respect, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs- and regardless of their political opinions. I feel strongly that it is a mistake to demonize those who disagree with you. Our political opponents are not demons- they are our brothers and our sisters, and they bleed like we bleed, and they want, at a high level, most of the same things that we want.

"I wish that the other candidates felt the same way. I have watched with growing dismay over the last weeks as initial civility has given way to wild-eyed accusations and divisive rhetoric.

"What is politics coming to, what is our society coming to, when two candidates for state-wide office spend millions of dollars on ads accusing their opponent of sympathizing with violent street gangs, pedophiles, white nationalists and neo-Nazis, and of harboring supporters who want to run over our children with trucks. I cannot begin to describe my disappointment. I fear for the future of our Commonwealth and of our nation, when even the most staid candidates feel they have to descend to this level of discourse to win an election, and are willing to do so.

Cliff Hyra Libertarian candidate Virginia governor press conference civility
"My family was talking in general terms about the rhetoric we had been hearing, when my seven-year-old daughter asked me “Do grown-ups really fight like that?” and I said “Well, these two do” and she said “They’re acting like children!” and I said “You’re right.” It’s unbelievable to me that I have to be the grown-up in the room, because these 60-year old men, these establishment politicians, a sitting lieutenant governor and former chairman of the RNC, apparently think that the best strategy for getting elected to the highest office in the state is name-calling. I feel like telling them 'Don’t make me turn this car around!'

"Virginia’s voters want to make their decisions based on the issues. When I talk to Virginians all over the state, they are disgusted by the ads they see. What is important to them is the economy, education, healthcare, criminal justice. Not monuments. Not Enron.

"So with five days to go until election day, I ask all candidates to STOP the attack ads. From now until election day, please join me in refocusing the election on meaningful issues that have a real impact on the material well-being of Virginians. Let’s make sure voters have the information they need to make a reasoned decision. To that end, I have completed a series of seven issue papers, elaborating on my positions on seven of the most important issues to Virginians: jobs and growth, healthcare, business regulations, criminal justice reform, education, pipelines and environmental regulations, and taxation. I will be releasing these over the next few days, and hope that we can shift the debate back to critical topics such as these.

"And I ask the people of Virginia to look past the mud-slinging, compare the positions of all three candidates,and learn about my positive proposals to improve the lives of all Virginians. I am the only candidate who will fix our broken income tax code by exempting the first $60k of household income from the state income tax, the only candidate who will end the drug war and legalize marijuana so that we can give people struggling with substance abuse the help they need and redirect resources to other critical areas, the only candidate opposing the abuse of eminent domain, the only candidate not proposing billions of dollars in new government spending, the only candidate who would scrap SOL testing and replace it with something better, and the only candidate who emphasizes improving our tax and regulatory environment to support our small businesses and local entrepreneurs, instead of giving away millions of taxpayer dollars trying to lure in big corporations from out of state.

"I want all Virginians to know that there will be a third candidate on your ballot on November 7, a candidate with a positive vision for the future of Virginia who understands how important it is that Virginia be both innovative and inclusive, and who truly respects all Virginians. If all the negative ads have turned you off the election and you are thinking of staying at home on election day, please come out and vote NO to the negativity, and YES to civility and respect. Thank you."

Hyra's remarks have been reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch ("Calling himself the 'grown-up in the room,' Libertarian Cliff Hyra bashes Gillespie and Northam over harsh attack ads," by Graham Moomaw), Radio IQ/WVTF ("Libertarian to Other Candidates for Governor: Grow Up," by Mallory Noe-Payne), Augusta Free Press, The Washington Post ("Libertarian for Va. governor calls on rivals to drop the ‘wild-eyed accusations’," by Laura Vozzella), WVEC-TV in Norfolk ("Polling at distant third, Libertarian Cliff Hyra leans on independents in governor's race," by Janet Roach), RVA Mag ("Libertarian Candidate Cliff Hyra Holds Press Conference, Calls for Civility in Election," by Caitlin Barbieri), Community Idea Stations ("Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Calls For An End To Attack Ads," by Saraya Wintersmith), Bacon's Rebellion ("Take Back the Discourse — Fight for Civility!," by James Bacon), the Free Lance-Star, the Daily Progress, and the Roanoke Times.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Guest Post: Free Speech Leads to Tolerance and Prosperity

by James Devereaux

J.S. Mill was an early advocate for our current view of free speech. He wrote, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

Such a rule is likely rhetorically supported in many liberal democracies, and beyond as Greg Lukianoff from FIRE notes, however there exist variations to the rule. European countries permit more restriction on speech and have adopted, by convention or individually, some form of prohibition on hate speech, no longer allowing it, unlike the American system. Hate speech as a category has always been difficult to define and is hued in ambiguity, but generally, it limits speech aimed at people based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. The United States has advocates intent on including this as a form of unprotected speech, a category which has been previously unrecognized.

Additionally, information from Pew shows a stronger culture of free speech in the United States when compared to other regions, reflecting the few narrow exceptions to free speech legally permitted now.

free speech press freedom internet

Not only is the United States an exception in terms of legal protections for free speech, a product of the First Amendment, but it embraces concepts of free speech to a greater degree than most of the rest of the world. This indicates a culture of free speech which is partially rooted in the legal protections but not solely.

To further illustrate the point that the U.S. is quite exceptional in regards to free speech, consider this survey which found the U.S. at the top of 38 nations.

free expression survey
What we see in the United States is not only a strong legal presumption in favor of speech but strong cultural and political acceptance of free speech as well.

The Consequences Thereof
I suspect John Stuart Mills got it right, or his version is close enough, as a matter of what speech policy yields the best outcomes. Consider this 2016 Pew Survey from their Global Attitudes Survey.

diversity Global Attitudes Survey

Among the polled countries, the U.S. didn’t just come out ahead, it came out far ahead with only seven percent saying that growing diversity makes the U.S. a worse place to live. This is not reported enough, in my opinion, despite the limited use.

At the very least one should be dubious, in light of this contrast, when claims are made that the U.S., unique in its level of speech protection and tolerance, should adopt the European model of speech laws.

The contrast in attitudes regarding tolerance is so stark that even the least tolerant in the United States appears to match more closely with the most tolerant in other countries. Consider the ideological analysis below parsing out how diversity is viewed within similar groups.

ideological right diversity

Though much in society, both the good and bad, is multi-factorial and difficult to parse, it appears that broad protection of free speech either does not impact tolerance or it does not increase intolerance, at least when compared to other regimes (this comparison is limited, and temporal comparisons would help draw a more certain conclusion). This may appear counter-intuitive, but I suspect two things occur that help increase tolerance as people are exposed to various types of speech, including offensive speech. First, they see the consequences of offensive or inappropriate speech and adjust their behavior accordingly. Second, they are exposed to various views and are better able to compare them against the alternatives.

The benefits of speech also extend to economic activity and human welfare. Many have extolled the value of speech in economic growth and human flourishing. From science to the exchange of ideas, to the changing view that commerce should be pursued rather than shunned- as it, as well as finance, were once viewed as second-rate economic activity, the ability to converse has been central to human progress.

Deidre McCloskey argues that rhetoric and dignity help explain the Great Enrichment, the period wherein real income, per head “increased, in the face of a rise in the number of heads, by a factor of seven — by anything from 2,500 to 5,000 percent.” No such event in history compares in terms of human flourishing. That this coincided with a rise of traditional liberal values, free speech included, appears to be more than coincidence.

Here the Great Enrichment is graphically represented from Tyler Cowen and Alex Taborrock’s Principles of Economics.

economic growth GDP per capita

This should amaze you.

That speech is tied to economic development has an intuitive appeal when considering that much of wealth creation is done via communication. From prices to ideas, economic activity is often tied to speech, not only to find benefits but to avoid costs. Whether to find wares, move resources, or spur innovation, speech is crucial to economic growth and prosperity.

Sliding Away From Free Speech
There is a serious concern regarding the future of free speech in the United States. College campuses have become the battlegrounds for much of this cultural battle over how much speech should be permitted. Students and activists on the left and right use the Heckler’s Veto to shut down speech with which they disagree, creating an illiberal turn in our free speech culture.

This attitude appears to be spreading beyond a few activist groups. A 2015 survey found that 40% of Millennials would support bans on certain types of offensive (but currently protected) speech. This in contrast to the, somewhat ironically, low levels of support from the Silent generation, which suggests that about 12% of those polled would support bans on offensive speech.

millennials hate speech

I do want to be careful to not overstep here in concluding too much from this data. First, I think that since the concerns of the time, the so-called topic du jour, changes from one generation to another it seems likely that what once was considered a speech taboo is no longer relevant and no new taboo arose to replace the outdated one for older generations. Combined with other variables such as the perspective of having seen the positive benefits of speech, such as the end to the draft, perhaps attitudes drift towards more speech tolerance as time goes on.

Nonetheless, these illiberal anti-speech attitudes have been confirmed more recently by Brookings, where free speech was shown again to have unusually low support from college-age adults, not only endorsing bans on speech but demonstrating support for heckling and interrupting a speaker with whom you disagree.

Which again turns us to the culture of free speech. Free speech is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is a legal guarantee. Make no mistake, I believe the fact that the United States is foremost in speech protection and tolerance is closely related, a reflecting glass of sorts, where our moments of speech antagony are met with the protections of the First Amendment allowing us to culturally realign with the underlying message and expand tolerance towards each other and diverse, even wrong, ideas.

However, an illiberal cultural development is possible. We have seen it time again with free trade. Despite the overall benefits, we continue to find anti-trade attitudes bubbling up into our politics and policy, pushing away long-term economic development to alleviate the fears that a few may lose employment. Same is true for the Luddites among us who insist that efficiency and prosperity is a poor trade-off for a static employment regime and scarcity, and wage war against automation.

It is to our benefit to remember that speech brings varied, hard-to-replicate benefits to ourselves and society. Recently, the great American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird was banned in a Mississippi school district as the racially tinged language “[made] people uncomfortable.” It is hard to argue this book has not brought net benefits to many, including myself, despite the fact that it may induce discomfort. So it is with speech. Indeed there are downsides, but they are far outweighed by the benefits, which stretch unseen into our relatively prosperous lives.

Reprinted from Medium

James Devereaux is an attorney.  All views are his own and not representative of employers or affiliations.

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