Yaëlsplaining: Social Housing

http://podcast.yael.at/702439/2002384-1-social-housing

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Should the U.S. have a Parliamentary System?

Parliament

There have been some important debates and actions in various parliamentary democracies lately.

Canada held its 43rd general election on Monday, Austria’s legislative elections were three weeks ago, and the UK Parliament is in the midst of the Brexit deal debate.

With its first-past-the-post parliamentary system, Canada’s election won current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a minority government, as his party won the most number of total seats (157 out of 338) though they only won 33% of the national vote total (what we’d call the popular vote), the lowest level for a government in Canadian history.

Austria, where I live, has a party-list proportional system, and last election saw the triumph of the Austrian People’s Party led by Sebastian Kurz, which won 32% of the vote but with 71 seats in the 183 Nationalat, or National Council. He’s still currently involved in coalition negotiations to form government, with either the Green Party of the Freedom Party of Austria lining up to be the prettiest princesses at the ball. The Social Democrats, which the People’s Party partnered with for basically all of Austria’s history, are a non-starter for the young conservative. Unfortunately, the liberal party, NEOS, doesn’t have enough seats to make an impact.

Trudeau, because he won enough seats to govern without a coalition partner, has a minority government. If the remaining 4 political parties with Members of Parliament join forces, they could technically bring down the government. But considering the other parties (Conservative, New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois, and Greens) have relatively little in common, that’s pretty unlikely. You’d need the equivalent of five Blackface scandals to turn everyone against the Boy Wonder Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, in Great Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s last-ditch efforts to cobble together a Brexit deal have found even members of his own party voting against him. The UK Parliament at least voted in favor of the Withdrawal Agreement, but it seems the deadline will move from Halloween to January 31. Oy vey.

All this is interesting in the context of the ongoing 2020 Presidential Election in the United States.

Unlike the countries mentioned, the U.S. has a presidential republican system, in which a Congress is elected to write and pass bills much like in a parliament, but only the President, elected themselves and head of the Executive Branch, can sign them into law. Whereas parliamentary systems combine the executive and legislative branches, the American system leaves them separate.

Added to that, each of the above countries has a bicameral legislature, with an Upper and Lower chamber, but only the U.S. Senate directly elects its members. Austria’s Upper Chamber, the Bundesrat, or Federal Council, appoints its members according to the proportional vote totals in the state parliaments. This is similar to how the U.S. ran the show until it adopted the Seventh Amendment in 1913 (that’s a whole other debate).

As a thought experiment, what would happen if the U.S. had a parliamentary system?

PARTIES

In a sense, one could foresee a situation where Congress would be made up of many more parties. Whichever party would command a majority would be able to head up the government’s legislative and executive functions. Likely the Republicans and Democrats would get battered by competition – one can hope! You could even see the rise of regional parties again, something like the California Party (god forbid) or the Southern Party. Maybe even a Mormon Party with a huge base in Utah, Idaho, and all those other states I’ve never visited, or a much more robust Green Party based in Vermont or Massachusetts. Maybe even the Libertarian Party could elevate some of its sane members to representative positions.

And that would also trickle down to the states, which have mini versions of the presidential (gubernatorial) republican systems. At the moment, there are only 69 independent or third-party state legislators out of over 7,000! It’s rather insane that state legislatures elect only Democrats or Republicans when states are so diverse and culturally different. A parliamentary system down at the state level as well would certainly boost more diverse parties that would better represent citizens. Unless you thank the Ds and the Rs are doing such a great job!

WEAK OR STRONG HEAD OF GOVERNMENT

Because the head of government in this imaginary U.S. parliamentary system would be a prime minister or first citizen (or a much cooler name), they would elected as any other member of Congress. They would have a home constituency, and would need to win their riding or district with every election. The cabinet would be made up of fellow congresspeople rather than buddies, pals, or so-called experts

In a way, this could either dilute or boost the power of the head of government. Because they would be the leader of the party, be elected as a congress person themselves, and sit in the same legislative building, they would be seen as a “first among equals”. That  would make passing laws much easier, but would also come at the expense of presidential independence and autonomy (just think of President Kirkman in Designated Survivor). Indeed, a president today has control over the entire Executive branch, something like 4 million employees who are responsible for allocating nearly $4 trillion of the federal budget.

A president today can directly claim authority by the millions of Americans who specifically vote for them, something prime ministers in other countries cannot claim. That strengthens the president’s hand and makes certain that their agenda is top of mind for the hundreds of elected congressmen. At the same time, it means congressmen can hoot and holler on the floor of Congress and rage against an entire different branch of government

A parliamentary system would much more easily get rid of a figure like Donald Trump, probably in a confidence vote, but that would mean that we’d have to have many more elections or leadership changes within a single mandate, like in the UK. That wouldn’t be good for stability and it certainly a trade-off.

At the same time, Congress wouldn’t be so keen to entertain bombastic speeches and pointless hearings based on the virtue signal of the day.

MORE POWER TO THE STATES

With a federal parliamentary system, one could foresee the situation when many of the functions allocated to the federal government in the Constitution would be limited to just that. There wouldn’t need to be a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or Department of Education, because these are functions of state governments. That’s likely wishful thinking, but perhaps those departments would just be much smaller, like in Canada.

Oddly enough, even though Canada was initially set up as a strong central government in reaction to the U.S. Civil War and the fractions that led up to that, Canada’s modern system is much more decentralized than the U.S.

Provinces have much more authority than U.S. states, even though the Constitution mandates the opposite. That’s more a philosophical discussion for another time.

But with a parliamentary system, we could once again see state legislatures become actual negotiating powers with the federal government, rather than just testing grounds for ambitious politicians who want to get into Congress.

MONEY

Let’s be frank, there would be a lot of cost savings. With a single legislative and executive branch, we wouldn’t need the bloated federal bureaucracy that exists today. Unelected department heads who run personal fiefdoms would be history, as each of these individuals would be themselves elected congresspeople with more defined and limited mandates. Career bureaucrats would still exist, but there wouldn’t be such a permanent class of civil servants who retire with outrageous pensions.

The presidency is very expensive to maintain, and it seems like there’s a lot that could be trimmed there. We don’t have a Queen, so that’d at least be a major plus.

NO MORE LAWYERS

At last, a parliamentary system would perhaps rid us of the absolute majority of legislators who are lawyers. We’d have more diverse representatives from different educational and occupational backgrounds who have better understandings of the fields of regulation that Congress considers. No doubt, lawyers still reign supreme in Canada and the UK, but with more parties and fewer barriers to entry, a parliamentary system in the U.S. could make it easier for the non-Harvard Law graduates to actually serve and represent their districts. But maybe that’s wishful thinking.

A U.S. PARLIAMENT?

Overall, I don’t see the path to a parliamentary system in the United States. The history and convention are too ingrained in the minds of average voters and politicians who want to keep greasing the wheels in their favor. But we should remind ourselves that the American Revolution wasn’t fought over independence from a parliament, per se, but the King and the Parliament over there.

I’m sure much more intelligent thinkers and writers will have thoughts on this. But I think it’s at least worth it to think about it. The purpose of government is to defend our liberty, our rights, and our property, not to uphold the status quo. We should always be thinking about what we should do better.

If we wanted to update Government to Version 2.0, maybe a parliamentary system would be worth a crack.

Departing Vienna's Seventh District

I've had a fair share of apartments.

Whether in Montréal, Philadelphia, St. Petersburg, Prague, or Vienna, I was always quite used to keeping it light knowing I'd be departing sometime soon.

That changed in 2014, when we found a great apartment in Vienna's Neubau district. Known as the "7th" – denoting its district number and distance from the city center – the area had everything young people would want. Bars, restaurants, great cafes, museums, and plenty of pizzarias. Winning!

This is where culture thrives in Vienna, where the artists and creatives live, entrepreneurs experiment with new businesses, and every left-wing demonstration ever must at least touch the pavement in one area of the district. I'm told there are even "Instagram celebrities" who live and (don't) work here.

Every time I wanted to meet a friend, it was never a stretch to meet just across the street at the local pub or cafe, or on the corner for a great schnitzel. People always want an excuse to come here, and they were more than happy to do so. And getting to a grocery store, hardware store, florist, photo studio, cafe with WiFi, wine shop, bus stop, or tram stop was never more than a few seconds away. More than that, I could always hop on an e-scooter, my bike, or rent a car by the minute (DriveNow) to get anywhere in the city within 20 minutes or less.

I imagine it's the same as living in New York without the problematic aspect of living in New York (come on bro, this is Europe).

Now, five years later, the calculus has changed a bit. With a child, priorities become different. You think less about being close to the bar, and more about the big, green park where you can go on long walks, and the prospect of an outside space you can call your own. Not to mention good schools, and adequate space to park your larger-than-life SUV.

At last, we decided to make the switch. We're moving to Döbling, Vienna's 19th District. It's a much larger district just outside the city center that hosts many embassies, international schools, and some of the best parks in the city. Added to that, it's much greener, residential, and not far from Vienna's own woods. But oddly enough, did I mention it also hosts the Karl Marx-Hof, the largest public housing facility in Europe? One dedicated to the homeboy of socialism?

Naturally, this will take some getting used to. Because I thought I was moving away from the socialists!

Though we're further out, we can still access an U-Bahn or tram within 10 minutes. That's prime. I can still use my car sharing services, but it seems e-scooters are just outside the range here. Well damn.

But I'm happy with the change. It's an upgrade. I've got an outside space where you might see me cutting wood or practicing martial arts. Okay, maybe not, but it's theoretically possible. That's what's great about having a bigger space. You can do whatever you wish, all the while knowing there's something you're forgetting to do because you have such a big damn space to maintain.

The duality of Micro.blog's publishing is actually amazing

Rss

I noticed this today. I have one separate RSS feed and website for my official blog posts that are on blog.yael.at.

Then, only for those who specifically seek out my Micro.blog site, there is a separate feed (a JSON feed). Not only do my quick replies on Micro.blog’s site go to this feed, but also any and all RSS feeds that I want to loop in. I also include the RSS feed I build using Dave Jone’s Freedom Controller which are mostly news articles I also cross-post to Twitter or Mastodon.

The former is for broad consumption, the latter is only for users of Micro.blog.

Why is this important?

It’s not about silos, as one may imagine, but about universality. RSS is still very much a universal format understood and published by virtually every content producer on the Internet.

That said, the community of Micro.blog is interesting. They are very much independent thinkers and early adopters. And I get a lot of good tidbits from them. Added to that, it’s a real community that takes feedback, implements quick changes, and seeks to create a better product.

Just outstanding.

Democratic Presidential Debate: How did consumer choice fare?

With the 2020 presidential race running on full steam, 12 Democratic candidates for president participated in yet another televised debate last night in Ohio.

Considering consumers will be directly impacted by many of the policies mentioned, here’s a breakdown by categories mentioned by the candidates and our own spin on how it relates to consumer choice.

HEALTHCARE

Mayor Pete Buttigieg makes some good points on keeping competition for healthcare insurance, blasting Sen. Elizabeth Warren for not being straight on whether taxes will go up with her Medicare For All plan.

Buttigieg: “No plan has been laid to explain how a multi-trillion-dollar hole in this Medicare For All plan that Sen. Warren is putting forward is supposed to get filled in.”

He prefers “Medicare For All Who Want It,” continuing to allow private healthcare insurance and a public option for those who want it. As we’ve written before, more choice in healthcare is what should be championed.

And Buttigieg had another great line:

“I don’t think the American people are wrong when they say that what they want is a choice…I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage to everybody is to obliterate private plans, kicking 150 million Americans off their insurance in four short years.”

Warren, on the other hand, calls her plan the “gold standard,” again stating that while taxes on the wealthy will go up, costs for middle-class families will go down. Here, she’s taking an objective view of the total costs to families, mixing taxes and healthcare expenses. Of course, that’s very convoluted, and doesn’t leave much clarity to consumers.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is more honest: “I do think it’s appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up…but the tax increase they pay will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “We owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice…we need to have a public option.” She calls Medicare For All a “pipe dream,” calling for an expansion of Obamacare.

Former Vice President Joe Biden: “The [Medicare For All] plan is going cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years.” He similarly wants to just expand Obamacare.

Overall, it seems there is still a lot of support for competition in healthcare, and that is to be celebrated. Medicare For All, which would remove all aspects of competition and free choice, only got moderate support by all except Sanders and Warren.

CANNABIS LEGALIZATION

The idea of a smart cannabis policy was quite absent from the debate. That’s quite a mishap, considering the ongoing issue of federal cannabis prohibition while select states continue with their own version of legalization.

The only two mentions came in the context of the opioid crisis, by Sen. Cory Booker and Andrew Yang. They only mentioned that cannabis could be used as an alternative for those addicted to opioids.

What about the very real fight to have smart cannabis policy implemented at the federal level? We hope this is covered more in future debates.

AUTOMATION

The idea of a federal job guarantee was fresh on the lips of Bernie Sanders, but that was shot down by most people on the stage.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang hit it out of the park with this one:

“Most Americans do not want to work for the federal government. And saying that is the vision of the economy of the 21st Century is, to me, is not a vision that most Americans would not embrace.”

He promotes his Freedom Dividend, offering $1,000 a month to every American as a replacement for welfare, as a way to boost consumer spending, and help workers who lose their jobs due to automation.

There is much that could be written about whether or not this universal basic income would be good for consumers, but it is at least a different policy debated by mainstream presidential candidates on a national state.

TECH REGULATION

There was much room for beating up tech companies that offer great services for ordinary consumers. That includes services like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. We’ve written about the trust-busters and their desire to usurp consumer choice before.

Warren led the salvo, using a quip about separating the umpire and the baseball team as some kind of strange metaphor about Amazon selling its own products on its website. Enter her zinger: “We need to enforce our anti-trust laws, break up these giant companies that are dominating big tech, big pharma, all of them.” Pretty clear there.

Yang: “Using a 20th-century anti-trust framework will not work. We need new solutions and a new toolkit…the best way to fight back against tech companies is to say that our data is our property. Our data is worth more than oil.” He made the case for his Value Added Tax on digital services as well, which we’ll examine below.

Sen. Kamala Harris pleaded her fellow candidates to support her call to get Twitter to ban President Donald Trump from Twitter but got no love.

The person who made the most consumer-friendly response about tech regulation was, surprisingly, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

“Treat them as the publishers as we are. But I don’t think it’s the role of the president to specify which companies will be broken. That’s something Donald Trump has done…we need tough rules of the road, protect your personal information, privacy, and data, and be fearless in the face of these tech giants.”

He was one of the only people in the debate to mention consumer privacy and pushed back against trust-busting, and should hence get a pat on the back.

TRADE

No Democrat mentioned the trade wars, the harmful impacts of tariffs, and the promise of free trade. Rather, trade got mostly slammed.

Elizabeth Warren: “The principal reason [for losing jobs] is trade. Giant multinational companies have been calling the shots on trade…they are loyal only to their bottom line. I have a plan to fix that: accountable capitalism.”

Warren’s version of accountable capitalism:

  • 40% of corporate boards should be elected by the employees
  • We should give unions more power when they negotiate

Again, no mention of the USMCA free trade agreement, no talk of free trade with the European Union or any other countries.

Sen. Cory Booker agrees that unions should be empowering to offer Americans a “living wage.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says universal basic income is a “good idea to help provide that security so that people can have the freedom to make the kinds of choices that they want to see.” It’s not a total endorsement for freedom of choice for consumers, but at least invokes a good notion of free choice. Not sure her take on global free trade.

TAXES

Though the candidates mentioned many new taxes they’d endorse, the one that concerns consumers the most would be the idea of a VAT – Value Added Tax.

Andrew Yang mentioned that instead of Warren’s wealth tax, he’d pass a VAT of 10%, like in European countries to help fund his Freedom Dividend. That would be akin to a national sales tax, but allowing the opportunity for businesses to claim this amount back if it’s a legitimate business expense, and the same for tourists visiting on vacation.

On its face, an American VAT would raise costs for ordinary consumers and be regressive. As the Tax Policy Foundation notes, this tax would have a disproportionate impact on lower-income households, as they tend to spend more of their income on consumption. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich made the same point while watching the debate:

Many states and municipalities have their own sales taxes or none at all, and that does impact consumers who spend more. But a move to a national VAT would mean higher prices for ordinary goods and services for all consumers.

PROTECTING CONSUMERS

Really the only direct mention came when Warren tooted her own horn on her consumer protection agency.

“Following the Financial Crash of 2008, I had an idea for a consumer agency (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) that would keep giant banks from cheating people. And all of the Washington insiders and strategic geniuses said “don’t even try” because you won’t get it passed…it has now forced big banks to return more than $12 billion directly to the people they cheated.”

The Trump Administration has taken the CFPB to court over whether or not it is constitutional, and Republicans have consistently attacked the organization since its founding during the Obama Administration.

“Make no mistake, it does little to protect consumers and was created during the Obama administration to enforce burdensome regulations which have stunted economic growth and negatively impacted small businesses and consumers,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, who has introduced legislation to abolish the agency.

“America has three branches of government – not four,” said Senator Sasse, who has also co-sponsored the bill. “Protecting consumers is good, but consolidating power in the hands of Washington elites is harmful. This powerful and unaccountable bureau is an affront to the principle that the folks who write laws must be accountable to the people.”

CONCLUSION

There wasn’t much mention of the impact the debated policies would have on consumers, and unfortunately no mention of free trade and lifestyle freedom.

Regardless, on healthcare and tech regulation, there were good debates and some good principles that should be championed, but still, more could have been mentioned on ways to promote innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice.

Originally posted at the Consumer Choice Center.

The Media and Government Are Misleading Consumers on Vaping

The media and government are misleading consumers on vaping. The real issues of concern are bootleg, illicit products that are putting people in the hospital. Let's call a spade and spade and actually reflect the science on harm reduction and vaping.

Yaël Ossowski interviewed by Joe Catenacci on The Big Talker 106.7FM.

There's something interesting about Tulsi Gabbard

She’s a refreshing political personality with her own ideas, a strong philosophical background, and the chops to back it up.

I’m not one to vote in Democratic presidential primaries, indeed I rarely vote for any major party, but Tulsi Gabbard is among a few interesting candidates who’ve made an entance on the national stage in the last few months (another in Andrew Yang).

Most interesting?

She’s anti-intervention, pro-market, not so keen on further government centralization (except a few categories), very knowledgable about traditional roles of government, anti-Deep State, pro-outright legalization of cannabis, and much more.

Her top issue, though, is anti-interventionism. She calls it a “Foreign Policy of Peace Through Prosperity”.

"End the regime-change wars"
"We must end wasteful wars"

As such, that means she’ll get attacked by the Establishment.

She was recently slandered in a New York Times article as a lackey for the alt-right, Russia, Assad, and Anyother-He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

All for being willing to say that the status quo cannot stand, and that we shouldn’t continue to fight in foreign wars without clear objectives.

That takes guts. And considering her own military career, which she still maintains as a member of the Army Reserve, that’s something that’s not really examined enough. That gives her additional standing to question our constant overseas entanglements.

When it comes to minimum wage laws and Medicare For All, naturally I disagree, but she at least would allow some measure of competition.

Check out this great interview she conducted with John Stossel:

Content is King, And Why I'm Switching to Micro.blog

I began writing online as a hobby about 15 years ago. Throughout high school, I was a proud Xanga-addict. We had a great blog ring set up with friends and colleagues from our theatre troupe and beyond. I've since backed up that archive once the site shut down, but there's no way I'll link it here :)

I probably switched a few more times to Blogger and then back to Tumblr, but the launch of Facebook began taking over peoples' personal weblogs.

Then, once I started having more concerte political ideas, I moved to Tumblr, which was a very good platform for micro-blogging.

I kept at that at the beginning of university, but once I started my own college radio show, I saw the need to pivot to Wordpress, allowing me to embed audio and host my longer form articles.

Sometime after a short stint in TV, I got my first writing gig at the newspaper outside of my hometown, the Gaston Gazette. There, my articles were being published on the front page and subsequent pages in print, and also online. I made sure to replicate these articles on my personal website, which I still use.

My next job, as state-based reporter for a national news website, meant that my writing was being published almost exlusively online. Unfortuantely, that operation has since changed servers and all my links were broken. But I saved all articles in HTML and PDF format on my own server.

Some years later, I'm still writing professionally in my capacity as a consumer advocate and editor of Devolution Review, which isn't as active as I'd like. As such, my articles are now being published internationally, mostly online, but I'm still archiving to my website.

While my personal Wordpress-powered website is great for catalouging my articles, it's not necessarily the best vehicle for my shorter thoughts and musings. Mostly, these have transitioned to Twitter or, in some capacity, to Facebook. But I'd rather completely own my data, as the examples above justify.

I was driven to this mostly by the Freedom Controller, an all-around great service created by Dave Jones and promoted by the No Agenda podcast producers and hosts. It's an RSS reader, publisher, and content management service that runs on my personal server. The RSS feed for that content is here. It's perfect for following the news of the day, providing snipe commentary, and easy posting to my social media channels. It took some work to implement, uploading on an Ubuntu server I run via Digital Ocean, but now it's in full working order.

Freedom Controller's core code, though whipped together by Dave Jones, comes from podcasting co-founder and Internet guru Dave Winer, who has created dozens and dozens of programs for the open web. I was an early adherent of his River and Radio programs, and recently tried out 1999.io for microblogging purposes.

The flow, ease of reading, and editable posts make 1999.io a wonderful tool, but it took a lot of server know-how to get it running. I'm no sysadmin and more of a kiddle coder, so copying and pasting, and hours of troubleshooting finally got everything working. But it still requires logging in each time, starting the server, and only servering the website via a port, not to mention intraicate working of the config.json file that is just a tad above my comfort level. That means it will be hard for friends and family to read it.

Though I'd still like to get 1999.io in full working order (accessbile via an easy website like yaeloss.com), it seems micro.blog is able to produce a very similar product without the need for excessive coding and server management. That makes it easy to just write, link my other pages, and produce content.

That's the main reason why I'm using micro.blog, which you're reading at this moment.

It's easy to input, the output is clean and accessible on blog.yael.at, and it doesn't take any mantainence on the backend.

Of course, I can still be convinced to use 1999.io, and I hope I can use that produce considering its look and ease of editing. Even here, I have to input every link using HTML code.

So that's a little storytelling of my journey to using this service. Let's see how long it lasts.

National Rent Control: The latest bad idea that'll harm more than help

I was invited on Joe Catenacci’s radio show to discuss the plans for national rent control to cap the prices of rents across the country. What would this mean for ordinary renters? Why has rent control failed so spectacularly in places like California and New York? Here’s why I believe national rent control would harm more than help every American.

States Are Suing Everyone

It is insane how active state attorneys general are today on trying to launch lawsuit against tech companies.

Researching Transhumanism

I’m doing some research on Transhumanism. It seems to be a vastly rich subject field, but considering I’ve grown more “tech-pessimist” in the last few years, I’m interested in seeing how my mind could change.

So far, I’ve been recommended to read more Ray Kurzweil. I read his 2012 book How to Create a Mind and it was fascinating. Interested in seeing what more I can learn.

Meatless Revolution

I have seen the future, and it’s a meatless Whopper.

I’m a big fan of the trend of meat alternatives.

I first had an Impossible Burger in Charlotte sometime last year, and have since tried the Beyond Meat burgers and sausages you can buy at Whole Foods.

Each one tastes like meat, bleeds like meat (in the case of Impossible), and I could imagine a future where I would eat it all the time.

Why I think these alternatives are so great: Face it, there are plenty of people who love eating meat, but probably want to eat less of it, for health reasons, environmental, or lifestyle.

As such, these new innovations, created by companies, provide the perfect avenue for that.

It’s another reminder that we need more innovations from companies, not imposed and regulated solutions provided by government. Final point.

Podcasts Are More Often Short-Lived. And That's a Shame.

Podcasts are short lived. That’s mostly a fact.

I’ve read that the average life span of a podcast is six episodes. Likely, it’s shorter.

But there are many that have a longer run, and then suddenly stop posting altogether.

A good example is Matt Taibbi’s “Tarfu Report,” which was a perfect extension of his iconoclast, gonzo-style reporting. Though it carried on for a while, it abruptly stopped for personal reasons (apparently Taibbi didn’t want to infect his co-host with allegations against him from his time in Russia).

Luckily, he has a new podcast with fellow Rolling Stone writer Katie Halper called “Useful Idiots”. It’s good so far. Here’s the RSS feed.

There are dozens more I have saved on my RSS reader over the years (via the Freedom Controller) that have disappeared, and I think that’s a shame.

Of course, I’m not immune. Beginning in 2010, I started a podcast feed for the weekly radio show I was hosting at my college radio station: CJLO 1690AM in Montréal, Québec. It was called “Liberty In Exile,” my own version of a media analysis show from a French-Canadian/American immigrant point of view with guests and commentaries.

Once I left the radio station and moved to Vienna and then Florida, I kept it going as a podcast for a good three years. I used Jellycast as my podcast host service, following the example of the Ricky Gervais Show, which at the time, was the most popular podcast out there.

But then, life got in the way. I got a job where I was paid to write, do video, and sometimes podcast, and that took precedence. But I was still always interested in continuing.

Then, in June of 2016, I started a new podcast with my good friend Todor Papic called “The Innocents Abroad,” a podcast on life and society abroad. We had a good run, and we’ve so far published about 27 episodes and always get very good feedback. But we fall behind all the time.

Traveling takes a toll, family, work, and everything else. That’s a shame. I’m thinking of still continuing it as an interview show with people I find interesting, but I think that will take some time to commit to. I’m not sure.

In a sense, perhaps this post is a method by which to inspire me to continue. Because I believe in podcasting, in RSS, and in all the great entertainment and informational value it’s provided me over the years.

Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

No Agenda

The Fifth Column

2 Drink Minimum

The Brendan O’Neill Show

Cato Daily Podcast

Coffee with Scott Adams

Consumer Choice Center Cast

The Daily

The Dale Jr. Download

The Federalist adio Hour

Gold Newsletter Podcast

The Innocents Abroad (duh)

Le retour d’Éric Duhaime

Making Sense with Sam Haris

Mike Ward Sous Écoute

Monocle 24: The Globalist

National Review’s Radio Free California Podcast

The Portal

Reply All

Southern Friend Philosophy

Useful Idiots

With Adam Curry

Unreasonable Speed Limits on E-Scooters Make Them Useless

I’m a big fan of e-scooters.

I use them where I live (Vienna, Austria), and I try to use them wherever I travel for work. I’ve probably ridden every company available in at least 5 U.S. states and 5 countries. And I’ve written about what the best regulations should be.

I prefer using a scooter to using ridesharing services in some cities to cut my commute and usually beat traffic when the rides are less than 20 minutes.

Since I’m in Washington, D.C. this week, of course I set sail using the scooters around town.

But I’ve been totally surprised by how SLOW they are. You can barely get up to speed and you miss every single green light. This actually makes the commute longer. It seems the scooters have an imposed speed limit of 10MPH. That’s ridiculous.

I’ve used these e-scooters in dozens of jurisdictions, some with speed limits, and none are as slow as 10MPH.

The speed governor imposed makes these scooters less efficient, less fun, and actually dangerous. You can practically walk faster. Whoever made these regulations should be ashamed. I will definitely be making public comments to the city council.