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Ether Mind

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"Garfunkel busted for marijuana"

That's an actual CNN headline. What's next? Will police begin to suspect Ringo Starr? They might also want to investigate JFK for nepotism.

I mean, I can understand arresting an old man for a minor violation of a meaningless law designed to indirectly protect young people from themselves, despite the near-universal contravention of the law with no ill effects.

Did I mention I am in favor of legalising some drugs immediately and others on a timetable?

But I hardly think "Garfunkel busted for marijuana" is news.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Everypub - In which we find our protagonist at breakfast

This may or may not become a series... Why it is written as a medieval morality tale is arcane, as there are no morals in politics. Nevertheless, in a world of Everymen and talking equilateral triangles, we find the one nut that doesn't quite fit - Everypublican!

Everypub stood in the poorly described shaft of light, regarding a minor plot device that sat in his garden. It was a strangely metallic box, echoing with snarls and screeching scratches.
"Curious!" said Everypub. "Why is that poorly planned plot device in my posies?" (A Pause.) "Dear Homeowner: Due to concerns over the possibility of a plague obliterating all human life, a bobcat has been installed in your garden. Please feed Muffy 42726 according to the following instructions."
Everypub grew angry. Muffy grew angrier.
"I will not let you out! Quiet, cat!" Everypub decided to call City Hall.
"Hello. This is Jenna."
"Is this City Hall?"
"This is the front desk."
"Of City Hall?"
"Very well. May I speak to someone about the bobcat that's been put in my garden?"
"Who do you need to speak to?"
"Whoever put a caged bobcat in my yard."
"I can't help you if you don't calm down!!!"
(A Pause.)
"May I speak to the animal control department?"
"It's called the Department of Animal Control."
(A Pause.)
"May I speak to them?"
"Just a minute."
(A Pause.)
"Is this animal control?"
"Did you put a bobcat in my yard?"
"What is your name and address?"
"Everypublican Smithe, 422 Cavanaugh Dr."
"We show a different name at that address."
"What name?"
"That's private information."
"Well, did you put a bobcat in that yard?"
"We can only speak to the owner about that."
"I am the owner."
"Not according to our records."
"Your records are wrong."
"Are you sure you gave us the right name?"
"Everypublican Smithe, 422 Cavanaugh Dr."

And Everypub spent the next two hours on the phone. At 11:00, the animal control chief went on lunch break and did not return. Everypub briefly contemplated suicide, but was distracted by yowling from the garden.
"Rex! get out of there!" But Everypub was afraid to reach into the box. At that moment an incompetent lackey arrived in an animal control vehicle.
"Miss Ishippie, I'm here to discuss your request for more bobcats."
"I am Everypub Smithe, not Miss Ishippie. I am a man. She doesn't live here anymore. And I do not want more cats!"
"Then why are you letting your cat do that to Muffy?"
"Oh Jes- I'm afraid to reach in the box, let alone right now."
"You didn't need to call me out here to handle this-"
"I said don't come, and you insist-"
"But I'll separate your cat from Muffy." The incompetent lackey reached into the plot device. The incompetent lackey screamed. The incompetent lackey clutched his severed artery. "Ahhh! Ahhhh!" he screamed. "Ahhhhh!"
"Why did you do that?! Here, let me get a towel-" (A Pause.) "911? Well, is it or not? Everypublican Smithe, 422 Cavanaugh Dr. There's a man bleeding, a lot!" (A Pause.) "Well, your records are wrong! Please, this man needs an ambulance right away!"

The following morning, Everypub walked outside to fetch the local paper. A friendly-looking man in a suit handed him an envelope. "What is this?" asked Everypub.
"You're being sued for the wrongful death of a city employee." With that, the lawyer laughed and vanished into a column of oily smoke.

To Be Continued?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Last time I pounded the pavement my foot bled.

I don't quote many people. The reason for that is that we are all merely nodes in a vast informational network. If someone has a good point or witty turn of phrase, then there are at least 700 -800 other people with the same clever idea. And, while all these talking points and logical arguments are usually specific in nature, I prefer to deal with generalizations first. Then I apply the results to real situations. Quoting someone rarely serves a good purpose for me.

That said, I am going to be waving the flag for Condi 2008, and here's a supportive comment I found on Patrick Ruffini's latest straw poll:

"#60 brandon davis writes:

Nice to know I'm an ultraconservative moonbat because I don't like Giuliani, McCain or Frist (overlooking the political liabilities of each, of course), and because I do like Condi Rice.

The GWOT is going to be a multi-generational effort; I'd rather skip one now, before it gets real, real serious (and give the Dem's a last opportunity to show the depths of their ineptitude to the younger set) and we lose 30,000 in some inner city WMD terrorist strike, than cast a party vote for a candidate that I wouldn't trust and who's record seems to me to indicate a political "business as usual" indifference to the gritty realities of the post 9/11 world ...and perhaps by doing so, send a relevant message to the Party that - as seems apparent to me - it is straying far from the conservative ideological base: some things aren't negotiable issues.

Give me a candidate I like ...or I sit it out. Because I sure as hell don't see the point of supporting the kind of Beltway pork that's appears predicated on The Win without remembering that the reason you win is Doing The Important Stuff ...because otherwise power becomes just an end into itself, and look what a successful strategy that's been for the Democrat Party of the last 40 years (granted that their other problem is a sclerotic inability to see that all their "solutions" turned out to be simply incorrect, and the lack of transformational ideology that isn't based upon some kind of suicidal Nietzcheanism).

And ...screw you too if you don't - or can't - understand the difference between a rational and reasoned difference of opinion and the purely emotional fervor that "moonbats" typically exhibit. That attitude ain't gonna win ya' no converts, buddy.

And "Debate on 'delivering the black vote'"? - Oh really? You seriously think that the black community would vote for Hillary against Rice? That as a historic heretofor monolithic voting bloc they're going to ignore the opportunity - hell with that: the certainty - of putting the first black, let alone the first black AND the first woman into office? Are you being sarcastic? Or ironic, or something?

Because I can't believe that someone is seriously trying to put forth the political smokescreen that running Condi Rice is going to result in the continued dearth of support in the greater black community that the GOP is almost certainly going to continue to "enjoy" as per historical trends, and that the aforementioned black community is actually going to be predisposed to reject the opportunity to elect THE FRICKIN' FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (let alone the fact that she's also a woman). And in favor of another white guy, fat-cat Republican Party faithful campaigner (from their perspective)?

Brilliant strategizing, dude. Are you moonlighting for Howie Dean? Or what?

Condi runs, Condi wins. And the Republican Party shatters the Dem lock on their largest most consistent inner city voting block. The Dems can kiss their largest core consituency bye-bye with Rice as head of the ticket. And every other minority group on the planet sits up an takes notice of a shift in the political paradigm of the Right (let alone how it will shatter the affirmative action diversionary pontifications of the apartheid aristocratic Left).

Do some really, really "Clintonian triangulating" (or simply "Rovian", if you prefer) and team her with Zell Miller as VP, and the remaining Reagan Democrats (and any FDR Dem's that are still able to shuffle their walkers to the voting booth) willingly desert the wacko Lefties at the booth, and it's not even a race.

Why Condi? Because I prefer to win with someone I like and admire, and who'd be good for the country; totally erasing some wounds in the polity that go deep into the history of who we are as a people. And coincidentally, someone I could actually enthusiastically support.

So ...er, yeah. I guess that does make me a an "ultraconservative" moonbat-wingnut."

This guy seems pretty moderate to me, but then I'm a radical libertarian wingnut. You may also want to go to the poll and vote.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

For the record, Chavez is not a nice guy

but that preacher dude is the political tabloid story of the week- ultimately meaningless. I would like to reexamine the case of political assassinations.

First, is it morally wrong to give Fidel a poisonous cigar? I think that the Torah is pretty clear. Once a dictator kills one person unnecessarily, the "eye for an eye" rule kicks in for the next 3 downs. It could possibly be argued that the act of being a dictator is enough to earn the guillotine, but if a despot isn't even committing serial murder, then he's too minor to worry about. For you kooky Muslims, most dictators are infidels and may be slaughtered at convenience. And I'm not sure why secular humanists are reading this paragraph- morality as such doesn't really pertain to you.

The ethical question can almost be answered along the same lines as the moral question. A dictator is pretty clearly violating the rights of others and therefore forfeits his own. If you're a pinko, you don't believe in rights as such and you may skip to the next paragraph. Oops, this one's over anyway. Haha, stupid commies.

Killing a world leader must be considered very carefully. Although the Bush Doctrine rejects stability as an excuse for totalitarianism, removing a regime must be carefully considered. Simply because we can feel morally superior while doing something doesn't mean that we should do it. If Evel Knievel jumped off a bridge, would you? Overreaching our military resources or risking a bloodbath would be foolish, and the negative fallout will make the commies sad.

Sad commies are incapable of humor; (see moveon.org). Don't depress the commies.

Killing a world leader other than a dictator or highly ranked apparatchik is more questionable. During a war, assuming that the war is justified, everyone is fair game. Thus a liberal democracy that invades us for oil would be subject to assassinations and terrorism. However, surgically removing a loser from office for the sake of a trade agreement would be 1) immoral 2) unethical 3) bad PR.

Public image must also be considered when killing a foreign leader, but since most people hate politicians I doubt an individual act would be poorly received. The overall policy of assassination would be less favorably viewed by the rest of the world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You can take man out of nature but you cannot take nature out of man.

I am somewhat known for my even temper (read: I don't really care about anything), but yesterday I spontaneously began cursing the radio. I make it a point to listen to local talk radio when I travel, if there are no good rock stations.

I was in central California.

Apparently there is a group called YouthAIDS whose purpose is to slow the spread of HIV among young people. This is particularly a problem in Africa, where the pandemic is well on its way to eliminating all lifeforms above the gazelle. Poverty => ignorance => unprotected sex with carriers. Poverty => prostitution => uswc. Waves of death and dependence on expensive vaccines => economic stagnation => poverty.

Of course, the solution is to eliminate foreign aid, thus toppling the kleptocratic regimes and eventually resulting in greedy capitalist regimes, which produce peaceful growth and educated populations. But solving the world's problems isn't really my concern.

One of the announcers said something along the lines of "I- I hesitate even to say anything because I don't want to offend anyone. But I have to wonder whether people would be so complacent if these were poor white people."

She earned a point for addressing race on the air. She lost 50 points for being ignorant of the 100 MILLION WHITES STALIN KILLED AND THE CONTINUING SLAVE TRADE IN EASTERN EUROPE AND THE GENOCIDE OF THE SERBS AND THE CONTINUED SUICIDE BOMBINGS IN ISRAEL AND THE WHITES KILLED IN SOUTH AFRICA. That last may be some basis for comparison, eh? Yes, we would be complacent. We don't care who dies or how so long as it doesn't threaten our prosperity.

I used somewhat more colorful language. I was also hit by a tumbleweed the size and color of a white-tailed fawn. But I digress.

Well, I don't like the fact that prepubescent African girls are whored out and infected with a dehabilitating auto-immune disorder either. I guarantee that if we tried to invade and solve the problem the same people would complain. They are welcome to keep distributing pamphlets and condoms if they so desire- I doubt that it will have permanent effect.

Incidentally, providing free drugs to extend the lifespan of disease carriers is among the worst ideas of the global era. But I digress.

Listening to the radio around the country has also made it clear that neither side has any idea of what the other is saying, thinking, or doing. Occasionally I will comprehend the puny mind of a liberal long enough to realise that they are operating with truly alien beliefs, even aside from the competing ethical systems. For example, in Texas, it is accepted that you can say whatever you please so long as no one there will be offended. Case in point:

Two men were walking down the beach holding hands when one of them tripped over a lamp. He picked it up and said, "Robbie, look at this!" He was starting to wipe the sand off when a genie appeared. The genie said, "You boys can have three wishes, but you have to share them." That was fine with the gay dudes, so they wished for a big beach house and matching BMWs. They decided to save the third wish. Later that night, they were in bed together when suddenly a group of men in white hoods rushed in, tied them up, and dragged them outside. Robbie said, "Oh my God, Joey, we better use that third wish now!" Joey said, "I already used it! I wished we were both hung like niggers!"

Okay, that was gratuitous. However, I would not hesitate to tell it around my black or gay friends. They would laugh. There isn't even anything disparaging to either group in the joke. However, it is well known that there is a large group who will tolerate any slur against whites, but nothing positive can be said about whites unless it is coupled with some story about raping the buffalo and killing all the Indians.

Yet, here is an announcer in Cali who is apparently under the impression that it's not okay to slur white people. She believed the negative stereotypes- white men want to rule the world and kill everyone in gruesome ways- but she believes that we are so intolerant that we can't hear a little constructive criticism. I thought it was easy to get away with dissing whitey- but she did not.

By the way, the reason Oakland rappers sing about killing the police is because the police are jerks. But I digress.

I think therefore I am-
The ManiaC

Friday, August 12, 2005

Laura Bush is Hot

Ann Coulter is not, I repeat, not attractive. I've never seen Peggy Noonan, but she reminds me of a smarter pre-2000 Maureen Dowd. And I actively despise Greta Van CNN Lady.

The point is, I don't really like many commentators.

Really Good Political Guys
James Taranto
P.J. O'Rourke
Scott Ott
John Locke

Oh, I need to see if Locke's writings are still on display in L.A. I had a slight car problem, which ended with me drenched in transmission fluid. So I might have a few spare days of homelessness on the west coast.

what was the point of this. Oh, I just wanted to complain about Noonan. Mission Accomplished.

[Update: And I really don't like the Powerline guys. Thanks to my insomnia, I was one of the first people to dissect the Schiavo Memo, and I concluded that it was a Florida Republican, not a fake. And.. nevermind. But I got hosed.]

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Extremist is such a loaded word. It is more of a social position than an ideological one, as we are not sure of absolute truth yet. An extremist may just as well have divine revelation as a centrist.

Generally, those who start with a basic set of assumptions and work their way to 'logical' conclusions tend to be extremists. The centrists are composed of those with no underlying assumptions, who merely listen to the extremists and then take the 'logical' conclusions and their own personal feelings into consideration.

The key to successful extremism is to move toward the center and then pull toward your extreme. Over time, illogic and societal momentum may lead the vast herds of humanity to your position, although they will not necessarily comprehend it.


I always have trouble convincing people that what is wrong need not be illegal, and what is legal isn't necessarily right. Abortion? Morally wrong, according to my religion, although the way in which it is wrong has not been exactly determined. It is not necessarily unethical, and to illegalise something requires a rather high standard.

Oh, sure, it's illegal to drive without a seatbelt. People speak of the trade-off between personal liberties and the public good, but there can be no balance. They are different things. What these people really mean is that they enjoy civil liberties, and society enjoys productive workers, and the enjoyment is balanced. This is an application of utilitarian ethics.

Utilitarian ethics are wrong. My value system is better than your value system.

In the real world, we rights ethicists cannot balance liberty against safety because liberty is an absolute moral law, whereas safety is merely a nice warm feeling that we pursue within the bounds of others' rights.

Despite the potential for addictive drugs to destroy Western Civilization, they should not be illegal. For practical purposes, I would accept some restrictions. I'm all in favor of anti-drug propaganda. However, for practical purposes, many should be legalised.

Very few people abstain from drugs because of legality. Corporations and the IRS, however, must stay away. If all drugs were legalised tomorrow, Pfizer would start producing crack so efficiently that crackheads would no longer need to steal to support their habit; they would overdose before spending that much money. We would lower crime, increase tax receipts, and kill crackheads at an unprecedented pace.

I would also suggest that natural selection would favor those with self control, a positive direction for the future of our species.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sounds Like A Good Cereal

I left Seattle yesterday, but let's hear a hilarious bit from Andrew Sullivan's guest blogger, "Dan":

"Who recruits? Not the gays. It’s always Witnesses and Mormons at my door. It’s never the gays. When I walk through downtown Seattle I’m accosted by Scientologists, not lesbians.

It’s the fundies, many of them, who want to lock up gay people, not the other way around. For the record: I don’t want to lock up anybody."

You know, I somehow don't think that sending thousands of gay men to prison would have the desired effect.

Monday, August 08, 2005


It's not that I'm tired of blogging. It's just that I've been out of range of internet access quite a bit recently. I should be resuming full music-stealing, anarchist-literature-disseminating, 65-decibel-laptop-fan operations by this weekend. If I can come up with a new Johnny American that's actually, uh, funny, then I'll post it. The next one has sort of a mission impossible them, but I've been putting off writing it for a quarter.

And it's the slowest political season of the whole 4-year cycle.

I get it now

Among the many adulations sung by Firefox users is the glory that is tabbed browsing. Hooray! Yippee! The Rapture Has Come!

It finally occurred to me today that many of these people must not have their task bars locked and their minibars unstacked. I've effectively had tabbed browsing since 1998.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I Miss Daschle- At Least He Wasn't Incompetent

Yall like the USA, right? Great country. Lots of potential. Lots of decadence. We're not in a downward spiral yet, but there are some severe problems.

Most of our productive output is consumed by buying iPods, PSPs, basketball jerseys, and fast food. Look around at the vast number of people who do relatively useless jobs. Look at the vast sums of money spent pandering to minor whims. Most people could lead a perfectly happy life with a mere 200$ worth of ice cream per month, or perhaps less. Instead, they spend 200$ buying dog toys, treats, shampoos, and day camps. Yes, day camps for dogs. Not in the confederacy, nay, but in some areas. Tens of thousands on custom cars. etc. etc. Today's America is a sybaritic paradise.

Even so, we're investing for the future and stimulating the economy to periodic climaxes of IPOs and insider deals. It's not all bad.

And then there's the education system. (I'm getting to the main point, here.) Most people agree (See that throw-away rhetorical device? the hallmark of a small mind) I say, most people agree that the education system needs to be reformed. Most people have no idea of the scope of that change.

I think I have solutions, but so do a million other hucksters. Whether I or they are more correct is not urgent. Examination of the current system makes it painfully, achingly clear that the current system is fifty to a hundred years out of date.

That is not verbal excess. The schools in this country are a relic of the industrial age. We have already passed the Indian Space Age (it came briefly, but will probably be back to stay). We are elbows-deep in the Information Age, and the Age of Robotics or the Biotech Age may soon be upon us.

Let me show you how you too can see what's wrong. Stand up on that chair and look over the wall. See that kid? He was sorted outat an early age and put into class. He's been sent from class to class for 10 years, now, each one pumping him up with another required piece of education. Eventually, he'll step off the assembly line (unless he fails the TAAS or TAKS or TEAKS or TADAS) and go to work.

This particular assembly line is unionized. It can't get enough workers, or enough equipment, and no one wants to work in the factory because it's run by commies who will never promote or recognise hard work. Teaching methods are hopelessly muddled and out-of-date. (The Phoenicians mastered Phonics, and became rich and swarthy. What's so hard to understand about phonics?) Students face soft discipline, and the system trains even the best and brightest to be lazy and errant. All of these are crippling problems, but they are not the main problem.

The problem is that this assembly line is obsolete. Today, quality assurance checks every part. An uptick in sales at the retail counter causes and increase in production, and the Doodad Brand Fasteners are at the dock by the next morning. Factories are constantly retooled, the product is constantly updated, and customers are studied with everything from surveys to EEGs. Tell me that the educational system matches this efficiency. And that's just in the mass-manufacturing sector. The network-centric model in IT, air traffic, sales, services, and even cutting-edge manufacturing has trumped the assembly line.

People (educators) complain that educators are paid a starvation wage for their nine months of air-conditioned work. (They make more than my parents did, and more than many of the parents of their students.) Still, their solution is more teachers. The solution of every politician is more teachers. When we can't find enough qualified as it is, we should hire more people- whether they're qualified or not. We can't afford to pay the ones we have- so we must hire more. They can't teach, so we should hire more.

Athletes, on the other hand (and this is the constant comparison) make millions. Their job isn't as important as teaching! No, but they entertain millions of viewers at once. The ones we call teachers fail to teach 30 students at once. It's the economy of scale, among other things.

I know personally that a child can learn many times faster from a computer than from a worksheet, or even from many teachers. A computer can correct errors and give feedback instantly; it can repeat instructions indefinitely; it can create new problems and stick to a subject until the student gets it; it is entertaining, continuous, nearly infallible. A computer can't replace a teacher, yet, but for economies of scale, for effect it is unmatched.

Whatever. Computers are merely a topical cream on the arterial wound that is the Department of Education. The system is antiquated and ineffective because it is socialized. (Although Stalin could probably run it with better results.) The system subsidizes everything but success, and that is what it reaps.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Union Pacific

Not so subtle as usual, I suppose.

It occurs to me that one area where I have an extreme minority viewpoint is in the field of organised labor. Why would anyone care to read my predictable chorus of the partisan platform on the various nominations and daily developements that make up the mess we call politics, when the meritorious Michelle Malkin may do such so much more vehemently and with superior personal hygene?

There are a few standard views on organised labor, as it is not a hot enough political issue to merit its own either/or false dualities along party lines. Here they are:

*Unions keep the rich white capitalists from working their employees to death in sweat shops.

* Unions were useful in their time, but are relics of the gilded age and have little relevance in their current form.

* Unions serve only to extort more money from corporations to benefit the union stewards, and incidentally to overpay underworked dropouts.

* Unions perpetuate the capitalist/proletariat system and will be unnecessay when the workers of the world unite. Which will be soon. Maybe.

* Union power balances out corporate power. It's not like the government is potent enough to do that.

We don't hear much violent debate because there are few political initiatives dealing with labor, other than minimum wage and right-to-work laws. There's no issue that really inflames the passions of the vast mudsill of labor, like Roe v. Hoffa or somesuch.

I don't think that I am competent to judge the capitalist system or the place unions hold, in some respects. That's the beauty of the market- it can judge accurately, whereas we sit around and conjecture idly. That said, the whole popular view of labor is sadly wrong.

A business exchanges goods or services for money. A Union exchanges services for money. That's not logically airtight, but nonetheless unions are equivalent to businesses. They must be analysed from two perspectives.

One, the union itself makes its money by negotiating with management, in exchange for union dues. This is essentially a monopoly, since employees do not have a choice of unions. In principle, the current system could be scrapped, and an individual employee or group of employees could retain a company to do their negotiating. This would end the monopoly and give labor better deals. It would be a sort of apocalypse for the current bosses.

The second perspective lies in viewing the labor bloc represented by the union. This bloc exchanges labor for money. This is standard business behavior, yet labor collectives are not regulated the same way other businesses are. They are allowed legal monopolies in some states, but are also reliant totally on one customer- the company the union is located at. This is a rather stifling state of affairs. The labor collectives could, if they wished, unshackle themselves from this bilateral relationship and supply labor to the highest bidder, much like a temp agency. This would mimic the market condition that non-union employees work in, but it would increase flexibility for the employer and increase stability for the employee. Health insurance and retirement packages would be handled by the collective.

The idea of labor collectives replacing permanent employees may have its benefits. However, the workers would be de facto working for a new company, one that supplied their labor to other companies. They would have to negotiate pay themselves, form a union, hire a union (see perspective one), or rely on talent agents. Currently, most workers are unequipped to do either of the last two. Commodotizing labor should in theory remove negotiating skill as a factor in pay, but in reality that seems unlikely.

In the immediate future, none of these drastic changes are plausible. However, there is no barrier to holding unions to the same standards as business. They should have to abide by anti-trust legislation, for example, as exemplified by right-to-work laws, which allow employees to abstain from unions.

A moment ago, I referred to "commodotizing labor." Hasn't that already happened? If not, how could it? I don't know. Upper management certainly seems to be a noncommodity product. Whatever. Unskilled labor is almost a commodity, and that's where American History 102 gets it wrong. There is a common perception that the good old days of low wages and worker exploitation were a result of nonregulation and nonunionization. Perhaps that is true to some degree. I doubt it is a large factor. Unions only get their bargaining power from the scarcity of labor. Government regulations tend to fade away when faced with profit margins.

The reality is that in the 1800s there was some movement from farms into cities, in areas where there was no available frontier. This population pressure is what caused the exodus westward, and the pressure bore equally on the cities. Moreover, hordes of immigrants came fleeing starvation and various genocides. This resulted in a glut in the labor market, driving prices down. The result was starvation wages. Now, we have a growing economy with a stable population base. We have to go to other countries to find workers. The result is high wages, even for non-union employees. The effect of unions can be measured by comparing the salaries of union workers and equivalent non-union workers. The difference is real, but I don't notice any workers falling into sauage grinders or losing their homes to company creditors.