New laws will kill my livelihood

(Published in New York Daily News)

Re “A tough ‘gig’ in Albany” (Jan. 28): Lost in your amplification of the talking points of the politicians and union leaders pushing this legislation are the voices of the people whose lives will actually be affected by it. I run two freelance businesses that have taken me 30 years to build successfully — one as a jazz bandleader, another as a freelance graphic designer.

As a bandleader, I am hired by ever-changing clients in many different contexts. It would not be practical or possible for any of them to hire me full-time. If this law passes, they will not hire me at all. And my sidemen are many and ever-changing. I cannot hire any of them full-time and if forced to do so, will not be able to employ them under any circumstances. As a freelance graphic designer, my clients are many and ever-changing. Not one of them would hire me full-time merely to design, say, a website or a PowerPoint presentation.

I am 60-years old, and so am unemployable full-time. Even if I was to give up my independent businesses (as I will be forced to do), there will be no alternative but to face permanent unemployment, or to leave the state. For independent contractors older than me, the consequences will be more dire.

Failing Freelancers (Published in New York Post)

California’s independent contractors’ legislation does not “protect gig-economy workers,” nor does it “guarantee rights to workers.” (“Freelancers law making waves in New York,” Dec. 20).

On the contrary, it violates the fundamental right of employers and employees to contract freely under whatever terms they mutually judge to reflect their self-interest. As a result, it restricts choices, destroys opportunities, increases costs, lowers the standard of living and will ultimately destroy lives and livelihoods as it inevitably spreads from car services to musicians, photographers, writers and all other independent contractors whose very fragile livelihoods depend entirely on the right to contract freely with their employers and clients. Keep this destructive legislation out of New York.

Debate: “Affirmative action is necessary to redress past racial injustices.”

Below are my opening and closing statements for a debate that was hosted by the NYC Political Forum, a Meetup group in New York City. The debate itself was Oxford-Style and featured two teams, each with two members. I was partnered with my friend Roberto Guzman. As is customary for our team debates, I opened with a statement that established the philosophic context for our position, and Rob provided economic and historical support for our view. We argued against the proposition and won the debate. (Reading time 8 minutes.)

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Debate: “It is the duty of government to educate its citizens.”

Below is the opening argument I made during an Oxford-style debate on public education, hosted by the New York Political Forum in New York City on February 22nd, 2017. My partner Roberto Guzman and I argued the dissenting view, with me focusing on the philosophic arguments and Rob focusing on the economic and statistical arguments. We managed to increase the number of audience members who also held the dissenting view from 2% before the start of the debate to 20% after its conclusion. (Reading time 5 minutes.)

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