Category Archives: Sociology

Voting I: Ranked choice voting is the real thing

As published in Grinnell Herald Register on July 9, 2018

The Washington Post recently published an article entitled Give ranked choice voting a shot.  Believe me if we do we’ll never go back.  Ranked choice voting (RCV) is better by orders of magnitude.  The idea of ranking your choices in order of preference is really not that hard for voters to understand.

As a matter of clarification RCV is not the same thing as instant run-off voting (IRV) as implied in the article.  RCV is simply the format of the ballot allowing us to rank our choices whereas IRV is the algorithm most commonly used for sorting out the winner. Continue reading

The Cult That Created Trump

Senator Bob Corker says there is a cult-like situation as it relates to the President while carefully avoiding the question we don’t dare to ask. You see —

Think about it: the Trump campaign was all about throwing stuff against the wall to see what stuck.  “Build the wall” stuck so it became a foundation stone.  “Mexico will pay for it” stuck making it the next brick.  The architect of the Trump platform has been the base, “his base” approving every step of the construction along the way.  Like so many cults we have seen in the past, Evangelicals wrap themselves in religion and cherry pick biblical verses that fit their own particular dogma.  Now Trump does not share their religious convictions nor for that matter, any convictions.  Haven’t we all seen his Presidential theme?

Trump just gives the cult a voice in exchange for the admiration he so desperately needs.  The cult doesn’t care that he doesn’t care as long as he is willing to say the things they’re embarrassed to say out loud. Continue reading

Atheists and Liars

I recognize but two religions, Atheists and Liars and I prefer the company of Liars, for it is they who weave the fabric that binds us all together. The time has come for Liars to step up.

Set aside those beliefs that would tear us farther apart and build on those that will make us whole again. You know the difference so stand up, join together and make your voices heard.

I can’t hear you!!!

Why Whites Can’t be Hate Crime Victims

Wow!  I didn’t expect anyone to actually come right out and say it.  It’s something that’s bothered me for a long time.  But during the July 13th broadcast of “CNN Newsroom,” Ebony Magazine Senior Editor Jamilah Lemieux stated that she disagreed with (President Obama’s) characterizing the shooting of Dallas police officers as a hate crime and using that term for “a group of people that have a history with African-Americans that have been abusive, and we can apply that to either police officers or to Caucasians, I think, gets into very tricky territory.”

Of course that isn’t what the law says.  But the tricky territory she’s talking about is how we all perceive the law.  For most of us we may say Civil Rights but we hear Black Rights.  Despite the awkward euphemisms her message is clear, “Whites can’t be the victims of a hate crime because they are the bad guys.”  She sees the law as a kind of declaration dividing Americans into two classifications, “the haters” and “the hated.”  What bothers me is I see the law that way too.  Now if an old white guy like me and a young black activist woman share the same perception of the law, perhaps everyone in between does too.

That would go a long way in explaining why we can’t heal old wounds.

Can’t we all just get along?

I’ve been attending an interesting “Bucket Course” with this title at Grinnell’s Drake Library given by Dr. J.R. Paulson. This quote by Rodney King, actually, “Can we all get along?” poses some challenging questions about human behavior. One of Dr. Paulson’s main themes is,

“Belief comes first, explanations for beliefs follow.”

The only problem I have with this is it demonstrates what Dr. Paulson calls the “framing bias.” The word “Belief” implies we are talking about something the individual believes to be true. I doubt that I am only speaking for myself when I say my beliefs are hardly ever grounded in truth and almost always represent a concession I have made “just to get along” in society. This makes Mr. King’s statement more an enigma than a question. Continue reading

When LaPierre says gun owners will not accept responsibility, he’s got it wrong.

Actually what National Rifle As­sociation CEO Wayne LaPierre said was, “Gun owners will not accept blame for acts of criminals.” It may seem like I’m parsing words here but the only difference between the two words is that “blame” implies we have no control over the situation and that simply isn’t true. And either way, he’s got it wrong, because the gun owners I know want to take responsibility and they only need a little help from lawmakers who just don’t seem to get it. Continue reading

The Deposit Advance Loan — How Wells Fargo and the FDIC both got it wrong

cakeYou might well imagine that when I proposed to my colleagues in the banking industry that 100% of the fees collected for deposit advance loans should be given back to the customers as dedicated long term savings funds, it was met with skepticism.  But I’m not so easily deterred.  I will admit it is a bizarre notion Continue reading

Bernie Sanders has earned the support of this long-time Republican

Bernie Sanders has earned the support of this long-time (50 year) Republican, by simply taking on the biggest issue facing the American people and the biggest threat to the American economy, income disparity. Raising the minimum wage is probably the only “quick fix” available to us now. In the long run I believe minimum wage has done more harm than good to the American worker and in fact it has created the need for a quick fix. Continue reading