parenting is hard and that’s OK

I read this parenting article All parenting is hard. Don’t compare yourself with others. and it made me feel better.

I’ve always hated the idea that “someone has it worse than you so you’re not allowed to complain about anything”, but I’ve really fallen into this when it comes to parenting. We are incredibly lucky – we do parenting things pretty equally, we can afford good daycare, our kids are pretty well-behaved and have no major health issues – but some days are just so hard. Getting the kids off to daycare and then back home and in bed feels like a major accomplishment.

There is no perfect Presidential candidate (but who I’m leaning towards)

It’s very early in the presidential primary cycle but I’ve started taking a look at the many, many candidates for president.

Since there are so many candidates this time around, it’s easy to get in a mode where you look at a candidate, see one bad thing about her, and get disillusioned and move on. It’s important to realize that no one (especially politicians!) are perfect, and looking for the one “true” candidate is going to lead to disappointment, especially because with this many candidates even if you choose the frontrunner you’re at least 70% likely he won’t win.

Also worth remembering is that basically all of the candidates are better than the current president 🙂

Anyway, having said that I thought I’d list my current thoughts on the candidates. One thing worth mentioning is the “14-Year Rule” – no one who has been in major public office (governor or US senator or something) for more than 14 years has won the presidency. Obviously it’s not hard and fast, but I think there is something to the fact that the longer you’ve been in the public eye the more likely you’ve done things that will make some people unhappy. Is it fair? Probably not, but no one deserves to be a presidential nominee, and I’m much more concerned with the Democrat winning than getting the candidate that aligns most closely with my values.

Top tier:

  • Senator Kamala Harris – I generally like her positions, she seems fairly charismatic. There’s been some negative buzz among progressives about her positions when she was a prosecutor, but I haven’t heard about anything I’d consider major given the office she held. Need to learn more about her.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg – Not a ton of experience, but I like his positions and he’s smart and is having a bit of a media moment right now. (although it’s so early, it’s entirely possible his campaign will flame out) And yeah, he’s gay and that’s neat to see. Since he hasn’t run a major campaign before, he probably hasn’t been well-vetted, which is a little scary. Need to learn more about him.

Second tier:

  • Beto O’Rourke – Obviously he’s kind of a celebrity right now, and it’s a good sign if the media likes him. A little light on policy but not as light as everyone seems to think.

Third tier:

  • Senator Cory Booker – Young, charismatic. Has some ties to the pharmaceutical and financial industry, which is somewhat to be expected since he’s a senator from New Jersey but may be a problem. Barely passes the “14-year rule” (he was mayor of Newark starting in 2006)
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar – From the midwest (a good thing given how close Wisconsin and Michigan were in 2016), and has done better than you’d expect in Minnesota so she’s probably “electable”. The stories about her abusing staffers are not great, though. Barely passes the “14-year rule” (became a Senator in 2006)
  • Andrew Yang – He has some momentum and a truly impressive list of policies, and his signature issue is Universal Basic Income which I’ve long had a fascination with. Never run a major campaign before, though, and I’m skeptical the Democrats will want to nominate a businessman with no electoral experience given the current president.

Meh:

  • Senator Bernie Sanders – I kinda like his policies but I don’t like that they seem more aspirational than things that can actually get done. Also, he’s quite old and fails the “14-year rule”. I fear that he is too liberal to get elected.
  • Joe Biden – He’s the living embodiment of why the “14-year rule” is a thing – he’s been around for long enough that he’s done some unpopular things. (the Clinton-era crime bill, handling of Anita Hill at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing) Also very old and apparently has some #MeToo problems. Yes, he’s doing well in the polls now, but it’s easy to do well in the polls when you’re not running yet!
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren – This saddens me, because I think I like her policies the best of everyone. (“capitalism, but fixed” is a good summary) But I think she’s too old.

(I don’t really have an opinion on the rest of the candidates)

Trying to encouraging competition by avoiding Amazon, Google, AT&T

One of the problems with big American businesses is that there’s very little antitrust enforcement, so we have a lot of industries where two or three companies dominate the market. (this is an issue that Elizabeth Warren is passionate about) I’m trying to change my habits to try to avoid patronizing the biggest of the big companies when I can.

This is more of a way for me to feel better about where my money is going than a way to actually change things – I want the government to step in to break up/prevent monopolies and oligopolies! But it’s better than doing nothing…

Amazon -> Target – Especially now that we have two young kids, we’ve starting ordering more and more household-type items online. We’ve mostly bought from Amazon for these things, but it turns out Target has a lot of the stuff we need. Target is, you know, also a giant company, but I still feel like it’s a little better to buy from them when we can?

Amazon -> Barnes & Noble – David and I read a ton of e-books, and while I wasn’t super-early on the Kindle train, but *looks back at Amazon history* I’ve had one since 2010. For a while I was sad about being locked in to the Kindle ecosystem, but it took me a while to realize – I never use my Kindle hardware anymore, I just read on my phone! So I’ve started to buy Nook books instead. Again, Barnes & Noble is also pretty big, but I’m sure they’re smaller than Amazon in the e-book market so that’s something. (are there smaller e-book companies that are viable?)

Google -> Bing – This one was easy – I use Bing for my default searches now. You may laugh at me, but honestly it’s only one out of every 10 or 15 searches I have to try Google as well. (usually programming-type searches) I’m a Microsoft fanboy so I’ve been doing this for a while now. I still do use Gmail, though.

AT&T -> T-Mobile – This is a little tricker, especially now that T-Mobile is trying to merge with Sprint. But even if they do merge they would still be clearly in third place behind AT&T and Verizon, and the AT&T and Time Warner merger will create a monstrosity. I’m not thrilled about T-Mobile spending a bunch of money at the Trump hotel to try to curry favor with the government, but I do like their whole Un-carrier campaign. (especially since now they include taxes and fees in their plan prices!) We do still have AT&T internet service at home because we have fiber to the home and it is much faster than the competition.