All posts by Aaron Benedict

UBI, Healthcare, and the states

A few weeks ago the news broke that Hawaii was starting to look at having a state wide Universal Basic Income (UBI). I became aware of the UBI last year when Charles Murray did several short Youtube videos about how UBI would help in the U.S.

I don’t know any more of they details for the Hawaii plan but I think this is going the right way and it’s why Federalism can work if we just give it a chance. Think of it this way, if Hawaii is successful another state can take the idea and modify it to what works for them. If Hawaii’s plan isn’t successful there will be lessons that other states can learn from and possibly go ahead with a different plan from the lessons learned. If a subset of states are successful it can me a model for a federal plan.

It’s the same idea for the single payer health care. I am not the biggest fan of the of the single payer system but I do think that if a state wants to try a single payer system they should be able give it a try if they would like. (Of course the fact three states have wanted to try but couldn’t figure out how to keep their budgets balanced says something)

That states can try these things is the great thing about our federalist system and the exact thing that the Founders wanted them to try. Now that both political parties understand the need to the states to be somewhat independent from the federal government let’s see what the states can come up with.

Mars Edit’s New Public Beta

I’ve been a user of Red Sweater Software’s Mars Edit for quite a while now (at least seven years). It was to much joy that I saw the announcement of the public beta for the new version of the blogging software. It looks good so far and one of the features I am really excited for is the ability to preview your post with the theme of your blog. I am sure this was one of the more requested features to add.

What to do about the high school admission problem?

I’m in the final days of the school year and I’m filling out the report cards for my eighth graders. Teaching the subjects that I teach (ELA and American History) to 8th graders is difficult one the first term is done. This is mainly because they have already applied and been accepted to high schools by the end of the term. Once the second trimester starts they don’t care about my classes because they know there will be no consequences for doing poorly. They have already been accepted into high school. Of course if they don’t care about the grades then you can imagine what their behavior is like. In fact, I asked one elementary school principal what he does with his eighth grade classes and he gave me the following reply:

“Well, we don’t ask them to do much”

This is not very inspiring and believe me I don’t ask my eighth grade students to do much either1. However, there needs to be a better way aside from just asking them not to do much. I think the beginning of the solution can be found in Lakewood, NJ2. At least one year they tried to make the registration later to solve this problem. I am not sure if this worked or not but at least it is a good start3.

I understand and respect the need for high schools to know how many students they have coming in for the next school year. They have budgets to make and they need to know how much of a short fall they will have in their budgets4. On the flip side of that is the need for the teachers to have some kind of knowledge that the students will behave and learn somewhat. Moving the application and acceptance dates would help solve this problem.


  1. Even though I don’t ask much from them it doesn’t make me happy. I would much rather be teaching them a regular instead of dumbing down the lessons starting at the middle of the school year. 
  2. This was told to me by a rebbe who lives in Lakewood. 
  3. Yes, I am actually giving credit to Lakewood for something. I am as shocked as you are. 
  4. Most schools are in the red on tuition alone. They need to find other funds to break even or get into the black. 

Hate crime stats and what they say about NYC

Today there was a tweet about some hate crime stats in NYC:

There are several things that jumped out at me about these numbers:

  • Why are they comparing this year’s numbers to the attacked from 2015? It seems to me that the only reason they are doing that is because they can then show the much larger differences1.
  • The sample size of these numbers is very small. I don’t think you can make any points based on these numbers.
  • In what may be a surprise to some people anti- semitic crime is seeing the biggest increase. Again, these are small samples so your milage may vary.
  • These are only crimes the police classified as “hate crimes”2. How many more crimes were there when it was a question if it was a “hate crime” or not? I’d be interested in seeing those numbers as well.
  • Finally the total number of hate crimes in NYC is shockingly low considering the population of the city. This is a good thing and shows most people are tolerant of others. Of course the fact it is increasing is not good at all.

  1. I assume the they in this case is the NYPD, but no context was given in the tweet. 
  2. Yes the term is in quotes because almost all crimes of violence are hate crimes. No, I don’t like violence against anyone and I’d like to think I respect everyone’s beliefs. 

And Yet, They Keep Winning

They are ranked 41st in the world1. They are undefeated and have beat the number 3, 4, 5 and 9 teams in the world. Of course I am talking about the baseball team representing Israel in the World Baseball Classic for 2017.

The story is nothing short of amazing. Baseball is at best the 4th most popular sport in the country, with soccer and basketball running neck and neck for the top spot. There is no professional baseball league2 in Israel so there is no development of players in the country. The team consists of a few former players who have played Major League Baseball (like Ike Davis) but the majority of players are still playing in the Minor League system mostly at the A or AA levels.

And yet, they keep winning.

In the second round they have already beaten Cuba (ranked 5th) and will play Japan (1st) and the Netherlands (9th – that will be a rematch). If by some miracle they are one of the top 2 teams in their pool they will make it to the semi-finals in Los Angeles.

People have compared this to the famed Jamaican Bobsleigh Team from 1988. I don’t think the comparison holds up because the the JBST didn’t officially finish in Calgary3. This is more akin to Hoosiers as other people have correctly IMO) pointed out.

There are plenty of things not to like about the WBC but watching a team like Israel come out of nowhere and continue to win is one of the things the WBC has gotten right for the 2017 edition.


  1. As ranked by the World Baseball Softball Confederation 
  2. There was one for one season in 2007 and then it folded 
  3. There is also the irony of a country like Jamaica competing in the Winter Olympics 

Good Bye Amazon Associate

You may have noticed that I no longer have a link on the left-hand side to Amazon. That is because I was informed yesterday that Amazon cancelled my Associate account because of being in violation of the Operating Agreement. The reason they gave was very vague and I’m sure exactly what happened. I asked for clarification and said what that gave me the first time was enough of an explanation. I also asked for an appeal and it was denied.

By the terms of the agreement they are in the letter of the law. They are also the 800 lb. gorilla and can do what they how. However I do feel this a bad-faith judgment on their part. I was an Associate for many years and I’ve not once tried to game the system in any way.

I used to praise Amazon for their customer service but I will do so no-more. I may even drop my Prime account when the time comes.

STEM Camp for Girls

This morning my daughter alerted me to something a friend of her’s sent her:

She was completely excited about attending the camp because it is right up her alley, the girl does love her science. I sent an email requesting information about the camp and I got a reply. It turns out that one of the people trying to get the camp off the ground is someone who has expressed interest in attending the seminary I am involved with.  It’s a small world.

I am very impressed that two high school seniors are trying to get this summer camp started. I don’t usually make appeals but I think visiting their Gofundme page and donating a little something is a good thing. If you can it would be great to help them get started.

Holocaust and Immigrants

It is amazing how a few days change things. As I mentioned in a previous post I didn’t vote for our current president, but I didn’t think his election was illegitimate either. As with every president I hoped that he would do a good job running the country but was expecting to be let down. I didn’t think it would happen so fast.
Let’s take a look at a few things that have gone on this past week. Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Dayand as a matter of course most governments issue a statement about the day mentioning how the Jewish people were singled out for genocide by the Nazi. However the current administration didn’t see fit to mention the Jews in the entire statement1. Here is the full text of the statement and some emphasis added by me:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.
“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.
“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

There were a lot of innocent who were murdered during the Holocaust, around 11,000,000. However, there was only one group that was above 50% and who were singled out as being a problem requiring a “final solution”.

The administration defended their statement by saying there were more than Jews killed during that time. This is a very stupid defense and is taken apart by John Podhoretz at Commentary Magazine his main takeaway is chilling:

It is, rather, the culmination of something—the culmination of decades of ill feeling that seems to center on the idea that the Jews have somehow made unfair “use” of the Holocaust and it should not “belong” to them. Someone in that nascent White House thought it was time to reflect that view through the omission of the specifically Jewish quality of the Holocaust.
Now the question is: Who was it?

Who was it is indeed the question.

Shabbos afternoon I mentioned to my daughter what a gift Shabbos was because we are off the grid and don’t have to deal with what craziness the President has done now. I didn’t know how true those words were. Once Shabbos was over and I got onto to Twitter I saw what the president had done via Executive Order2. This ban on immigrants who are holders of legal visas and green cards is wrong. It is exactly this kind of attitude that didn’t allow Jews into the country who were trying to escape the clutches of the Nazi government3. There is a lot of hyperbole and hysteria going on about it (this is a good article with facts and a right-of-center view and another article which destroys the EO.) but way the administration handled this from the beginning was ham-fisted and wrong. Just the fact they didn’t allow the DHS (I think that is who was supposed to review it) to review and suggest things is the worst kind of management possible. Moreover when the DOJ suggested changing things they were overruled by the Whitehouse. It’s a classic example of an over-reach.

The upshot is that this administration is poorly run and has no idea what it is doing. The opposition is screaming about everything the government does which makes the signal to noise ratio very high. If everything is horrible then nothing is horrible. We need to pick and choose the battles to fight (like this one) otherwise there will be no strength to fight the important battles.


  1. For comparison, here are the statements from President Bush and President Obama
  2. I am not a fan of the Executive Order. Our past two presidents made use of them and we now reap what we have sown. 
  3. Here is just one story.