Saturday, September 29, 2012

Support Fix the Debt Org

Usually when I get a politically inclined email at work from the the management, they are encouraging us to contact our legislators to pass a free trade or a transportation funding bill.  I am happy to be a good employee and help lobby for the free trade bills, since I believe in them.  However I tend to ignore the Transportation funding emails since I think everyone begging for more is part of our problem right now.

The latest email is one that I can truly get behind.  Our CEO is asking us to support the Fix the Debt organization.  It looks like a wonderful group who will likely get my signature on their petition and likely a donation.  Though it looks like their debt clock hasn't been updated for awhile on a few of their web pages.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Obama: The Plan and Intent?

Oh let's get both the critiques out the way simultaneously. Here are some J's comments to start things off.  He also has the shaver ready to go...
"I scored Barack Obama as I have said before, based on his INTENTIONS, not on what he has been able to achieve, and not based upon what he intends the result to be but what the actual result will be. He obviously believes that redistribution is somehow compatible with free market capitalism and of course that is utter nonsense. His naïveté and insular ideology put him in a class by himself." J Ewing 
"You presume I have no evidence for what Obama's intentions are, but I have all the evidence I need. He has increased federal spending from 20 to 24% of GDP in just one term. He has taken over, or will eventually through Obama care, the healthcare sector, which is another 14% of the economy. He has taken over a portion of the auto industry, something like 3% of GDP. His EPA has effectively assumed control of the energy sector of the economy, and the bailouts and added "oversight" look like a takeover of the financial sector. Total regulatory burden of the federal government is now estimated at well north of $1.5 trillion, or 10% of GDP. Let's see… Carry the two…. I come up with about 51% right now." J Ewing
Obama Goals
Obama's 2013 Budget
CBO Healthcare Penalties
G2A Political Continuum

WSJ Bain 77 Analysis and Romney

Since Hiram loves to comment on the evils of Mitt and Bain over and over, this post is for him.  I am pretty sure Hiram would like to ask Romney to shave his head so he could look for the 666 tattoo. Hopefully a dedicated effort / post will help clear the air.  I thought of writing about cute little adoreable puppies to see if he can tie them to Romney's business practices, but I figured he could.

Here is a link to an analysis that the Wall Street Journal did back in January.  They say right up front that both sides will find it full of ammunition for their particular views. (ie paradigms)
WSJ Bain 77 Analysis

I am copying in some of Hiram's comments from our "Economic Theory" discussions to get us started.  Is Romney God, the Devil  or just another human with flaws and strengths?  Maybe we can do this about Obama next so my Conservative readers can expel some of their angst...  Have fun !!!!
"Mitt Romney made his fortune selling America short. In an economic environment where expansion was becoming more difficult, he focused his career on contraction. If you look at his tax returns, what you find is a lot of investments designed to insulate himself and his fortunes from the problems of America's economy. These strategies worked out well for him, and on a personal level, I don't have any problem with that. But those aren't strategies which contribute to growth or demonstrate any understanding at all of how America can grow. And the problem with Mitt is that is huge personal success has blinded him to the limitations of that success and how it was achieved. For one thing, as a guy who made a fortune laying people off, he views hiring someone, not as a contract engaged in for an unsentimental mutual benefit, but as an act of compassion as his recent tin-eared commercial demonstrates." Hiram

"By the way, this emphasis on predictability that was essential to the Romney way of doing business, is ironic. The key to the Romney way is to select businesses which are save. Office supplies, pizzas, gym shoes, these are all things that are relatively immune to innovation. The demand for them is relatively constant, there isn't much product differentiation, so the key to profitability in those businesses is to cut costs. Romney's access to capital which made it possible for the businesses he involved himself with gave him economies of scale which he could use to drive the local mom and pop stores that previously dominated those market sectors, out of business. What was hard to foresee then, but is very clear now is that those businesses aren't risk free at all, and that the risk doesn't come from product innovation, but from the internet. The business model of category killer retailers, so predictable in the past, is now under pressure from the internet. I noted in the Journal the other day that Staples, one of the Romney success stories, is now closing stores, laying off workers and refocusing on internet sales. It's strength has become it's weakness, since it's lack of product differentiation makes what it has to sell ideal for selling over the internet. That makes it no longer a Mitt Romney kind of business of which there are fewer all the time." Hiram
"There are a lot of objective truths around. Four years ago, the country was in disastrous shape for a variety of reasons. One of them is that we got lazy. We stopped making things. We confused the inflation of bubbles with the creation of value. We fooled ourselves into thinking that folks like Mitt Romney could create wealth by shuffling paper around, allowing our country to become a Ponzi Scheme. And as with all Ponzi Schemes, the delusion has continued long after the reality. We think if we try one more time, give the Mitt Romney's of the world one more chance, they will make it all right. It's not going to happen. The only way things get better is if we get back to work, start making things again, start dealing with the problems Republicans want to kick down the road in hopes that some confidence fairy will make things all better again."  Hiram

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eurozone Crisis

Maybe Mr Krugman was incorrect, or maybe this is what the USA will look like when we finally figure out we are spending too much. And are forced to do something about it.  Thoughts?

BBC Eurozone Crisis
SkyNews Painful Reforms Needed
SkyNews Greece

Krugman, Becker, Buchanan and Other Economists

Following from the last post...  If all these folks are so smart, why are they interpreting the facts so differently and promoting very very different recommendations?

The Economists for Romney definitely are not aligned with Obama's Plan or Paul Krugman's Views.  And William Anderson even set up a site called Krugman in Wonderland.

Here are some ideas:
  • They have completely different belief systems. (Classical, Marxist, Neoclassical, Keynesian, Chicago, Austrian, etc)  And these philosophies affect how they interpret everything. (Is the sun circling the earth or the earth circling the sun?)
  • There are so many factors in play that are varying over time that they have a very hard time assigning Causation.  How often do you think an Economist gets to repeat the identical "experiment" on a Global level? Never...
  • There crystal balls are very foggy. How well do you think they can predict what will happen regarding all those factors across the globe? Not...
  • They all have different concepts regarding what SUCCESS is? If 80% of the population does extremely well and the GDP is maximized, is that success?  Or is success when 100% do moderately well and GDP is half of it's maximum?  This will definitely drive different recommendations.
  • They are human, have access to different information, they like their paychecks, maybe like popularity, etc.
What have I missed?  What else should we understand about these interesting Weather control and prediction people.

Wiki Economics and Economic Theories
G2A Correlation Does NOT Imply Causation
TWM Austrian vs Keynesian
IL Differences

Monday, September 24, 2012

And The Economists Say

In the last post, I apparently inadvertently insulted one of Laurie's favorite Economists.  Here are some of our thrilling comments.
"Apparently this Liberal writer likes the term European Social Democracy and Laurie came up with it, so I am happy to stick with it. Krugman on ESD vs America"  John
"Are you intentionally annoying when you refer to a prominent, nobel prize winning economist as a liberal writer? 
"Because one wins an award does not indicate his bias or lack there of, typically I find Krugman referenced on Liberal websites, therefore I assume his views resonate with Liberal readers. There are plenty of award winning economists that show up mostly on Conservative sites. I kind of assume their views tend to resonate with Conservatives."  John 
"Lastly, returning to tax revenue equal to 20% of GDP without cutting defense, medicare or interest payments is not moderate, but you just go ahead and keep reading your nameless, award winning conservative economists, who advocate for policies that led us into the great recession." Laurie

"I prefer reality-based thinking and am quite capable of separating fact from opinion. Expert, evidence based opinion is not the same as bias." Laurie
Below I have given a number of links...  Apparently the Economic "Experts" have wide ranging opinions.  Now are they biased, are they seeing the evidence differently, are they only considering certain evidence, do they have political agendas, do they have personal agendas, etc?  Thoughts?

Ironically, you will note that Paul Krugman's article is called "Conscience of a Liberal". So is he a Liberal writer as well as an award winning Economist?  I guess that is a matter of perspective.

Economists for Romney
Bloomberg Economists Risk Labeling
Economist Obama's Blamelessness
NYT Conscience of a Liberal
Economists for Obama

On the lighter side...  Onion Economists Evacuate !!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Action Reqd: Political Continuum

Ok. To make this work, I need your participation.  I want you to reply with where each of these groups and individuals are on this continuum.  Just like this:
A = 2, B = 4, C=4, D = 4, E = 9, F = 4, G = 7

If you can help define Modern Liberal and Modern Conservative with regard to property rights, wealth transfer, safety nets, human basic needs, etc, you earn extra bonus points.

I frustrated Bill over at MPP by apparently defining Liberal incorrectly, so I want your help in better understanding where the modern Liberal lands on this continuum from your perspective.

Thanks for your help in this very important research project !!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mother Jones and Romney Speech

Here are the thoughts I posted on the MN Prog Proj site.

"I listened to the whole video and I must have missed the part where he insulted the worthless cretins... I heard him say that the 47% would not vote for him because they pay no federal income taxes while still getting benefits from the government, so lower taxes and fewer benefits will not entice these voters and therefore he will focus on the 53% who are paying the bill. (seems rational)

The 47% on the other hand will vote for the candidate that offers them something for nothing. Isn't that an accurate description of what you like about Obama and the Democrats? They are offering free food, housing, healthcare, college/tech education, etc.

Remember Ben Franklin's quote "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

By the way I wonder why they didn't post more of the video? Could Romney have explained how his policies would help the less fortunate and MJ chose not to share that?


I am sure I will probably just be called a brain washed Conservative that isn't worth talking to over there...  So any thoughts from this more diverse and open minded crowd?

MN Prog Proj Romney
Mother Jones Romney
FOX News Romney

Monday, September 17, 2012

THEY Want Students to Fail !!!

I suppose the corollary that follows the Teacher's Union's assertion that they are working to provide "Great Public Schools for Every Student" is that most politicians, school boards, superintendents, administrative staffs, principals, etc are not striving for "Great Public Schools for Every Student"...
I mean, repeatedly I hear that:
  • WE need tenure or THEY will fire the good teachers to save money.
  • WE need to strike or THEY will not pay enough to attract and retain good teachers.
  • WE need to overcome NCLB or ... (Oops, that is their stated goal)
 Wouldn't their needing to bravely fight for it, mean that these School Boards and Superintendents want something else? Maybe these educated minded people that run these Public schools actually want their districts to fail??? Since I have watched the RAS Supt and Board for a few years, I find this very had to believe.

And maybe the politicians are saying to themselves, I really want my State to be known for its poor education system. Hard to believe...


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Strikes: Free Speech or Extortion

I am still amazed at how the court systems work. After being in force for 15 months, a judge now rules against it.. Writing that it:

"In his 27-page ruling, the judge said sections of the law "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions."
Colas also said the law violates the equal protection clause by creating separate classes of workers who are treated differently and unequally."

What puzzles me is:

  • Apparently it is OK for Union membership to be mandatory?
  • For the Unions speak for it's members even when some of its individuals disagree?
  • These aspects of Unions seem to defy the rights of Free Speech and Association?
  • Mgrs from many companies aren't allowed to get together and "fix" wages. Isn't that a violation of their Rights of  Free Speech and Association?
  • Aren't Unions all about creating separate classes of workers who are treated differently and unequally?  

Well it will be interesting to see what the Wisconsin Supreme court has to say.  I am just frustrated that the Teacher's Unions are so focused on earning more than market wage and so little on teaching the kids.  Here is my rationale for that comment:

  • Assuming that Teacher's are paid 20% more than the market would bear without collective bargaining, strikes, unions, etc. That means we could have 20% more Teachers in the classroom.
  • Since income is based on seniority and not capability, we are highly likely not paying the the correct Individuals the correct compensation.  Which dissuades the most driven and successful folks from entering the field or staying there. And rewards the burnt out instead of motivating them to get re-energized.
  • And we can't forget "job security", the ability to do a bad job and keep your job. Now this can not be good for the kids. 

Ironically these are the things that the Teachers are fighting for in Wisconsin and Chicago.  And if they did accept the real market wage based on their skills and results, then job security wouldn't be an issue.  Right?

They could always move to another school and earn market wage, no worrying about seniority, tenure. etc.  However since many of them are paid more than market, that is why they are so worried about job security. Especially since those same tenure, seniority, etc (golden hand cuff) rules make it hard to find a job once they have lost one. What an interesting Catch 22...


G2A Golden Hand Cuffs
FOX News Chicago Teachers Strike
Huff Post Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law
CNN Wisc CB Law

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pre-Existing Condition Fraud

I empathize with those that find themselves with no insurance because of the dreaded "pre-existing condition" road block. I mean what to do if you learn you have a chronic expensive health problem and no buddy will let you swim into their healthcare insurance pool. I can't even imagine the fear, stress and hopelessness one would feel. Totally dependent on the charity of others and/or wiping out your life long savings.

On the other side, imagine yourself sitting in a nice clean swimming pool. The pool cleaning system has been optimally sized for the typical users who have been paying dues, and for people with a typical mix of hygiene habits that may want to join. (ie no extra cleaning capacity) How will you be feeling when a few people covered with mud ask to jump in, even though they had not been paying dues and the cleaning system is not adequate to handle this group of individuals. (ie atypical distribution)

With the above in mind:
  • Will ALL the pools need to invest in bigger cleaning systems and charge higher dues to be ready just in case these folks show up? (ie carry more cash in insurance pool due to higher risk)
  • How will we ensure that everyone is paying for the pool's cleaning system, even when they aren't using it?  (ie paying full premiums no matter their income)
  • How will we keep folks out if they haven't been paying dues consistently?
I am not sure how Obama's plan does this, however it seems the concept is causing Romney some issues... (see links below) Thoughts?

 I like the pool analogy because it hopefully removes the "excessive" profit concept from the argument.  The reality is that running a system like this will be prone to fraud (ie require fence and security guards) and will increase risk to the pools (ie more capability reqd).  Therefore most people will pay more to cover these extra costs.   On the upside, there maybe savings on the other side if it reduces bankruptcy proceedings, obtains some economies of scale, covers some of the healthcare system's buried costs, etc.

Bloomberg Romney on Healthcare
FOX News Romney on Healthcare
The American Pre-Existing
Thanks ObamaCare Pre-existing

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RAS Properties

I apparently was dazing off last February, when RAS sold the Cavanagh school site to the city of Crystal.  Congrats to the district for getting the first property sold.

The remaining properties that should be sold then are the Winnetka Learning Center, Pigrim Lane Elementary and maybe the Educational Service Center/Bus Garage. (if Staff could get by with less space (ie within schools?) and First Student had another garage site)

Remember that District 287 bought Hostermann, demolished it and built the North Education Center.  287 provides students from their member districts (including RAS) with special services.

This opened up the old Sandburg Middle school so that the Cavanagh and Winnetka Learning Center activities could be relocated either there or the old New Hope elementary.  So Winnetka & Pilgrim should both be pretty much empty now. 

Did I miss any other changes? Or make any errors in this brief summary?

RDale Minutes
Community Solutions Cavanagh
District 287 NEC
G2A Where are the For Sale signs?
G2A Divestiture Thoughts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

RDALE Transportation

As with any transition, it seems the move to First Student has encountered some bumps in the road.  The ones I have heard about include:

  • Sometimes the bus is running late to or from school. (this has happened "early on" in other years also)
  • Apparently they are running the buses so efficiently (ie full), that they have informed folks that no one can change buses. (ie ride home with a friend, take the bus to after school activities, etc)  We may have gotten a we bit too efficient (crowded) if occasionally little Jimmy can not ride home with little Billy for a play date.

I have not heard of any other issues.  How about you?

Then I just learned that RAS is still running "whole district" busing to bring kids to the Plymouth Middle School Spanish Immersion program.  Which is interesting enough.  Then I hear that only Spanish Immersion kids are allowed to ride those cross district buses....

Now this makes sense for RSIS (ie elementary) since it is a stand alone building with its own start time etc.  However, it seems a bit like favoritism to provide cross district busing for only the PMS kids that are in the Spanish Immersion program.

And apparently this special treatment will continue... See the bottom of the Phase Out doc for the following quote. "Note: Students enrolled in the Spanish Immersion Program at Plymouth Middle School are not affected by the Transfer Bus Phase-Out."  They must have had a more effective lobbyist than the AP / IB programs...

Does anyone know, did they find a way to run SEA and RSIS kids on the same cross district buses?  Or are they running the routes twice?

Transportation Eligibility
Transfer Bus Phase Out

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's Expeditures Not Revenue !!!

I have heard J say this so many times of late that I moved his comment to the front page.

"OK, since I'm always being challenged, I went to the IRS website and found the following actual numbers for 2009:
  • Total income taxes paid: $866 billion
  • Total paid by top 1%: $318 billion
  • Average tax rate of 1%: 24%
  • Share paid by 1%: 36.73%
  • Share of income of the 1%: 16.9%
 Conclusion: The 1% are paying TWICE what is "fair" and then some!
Now, let's say Obama succeeds in raising taxes on the rich (as he seems to be building his campaign around that idea) by 10% (his actual proposal). Let us further assume that the people smart enough to make these incomes (>384K/yr) are too dumb to figure out ways around this tax. They will then pay $350B, and total revenues increase to $897B. Total deficit reduction (unless Congress spends it) is... $31B against a deficit of 1200 B, or 2.5%!! Whoopee!! Practically a balanced budget, right?
Now, can we please talk about the REAL problem-- government spending that makes a drunken sailor look miserly?"   J. Ewing

Now my questions are:  What should we cut to reduce the budget by $1,000,000,000,000 in 2013?  Here is link to reference.
US Federal Budget

And what do you think of J's facts?

Chicago Teacher Strike

Here is one reason I never want to see Healthcare become socialized.  The Public Union's focus on seniority based compensation and job protection is perfectly opposed to offering excellence for a reasonable cost.  And then to have the nerve to Strike when the students should be in school. (amazing though not surprising)

We have discussed this many times at G2A.  Just search G2A by Union, Tenure, Wisconsin, etc if you want more background.

CNN Teacher Strike Issues
FOX News Teacher Strike
CNN More Strikes

If Obama is going to try to make Government more effective, I wonder how he intends to deal with the craziness of the Public Employee Unions?


Remember my simple questions: 
Will you personally pay someone you hire twice as much to do the exact same job just because they have been doing it for 20 yrs instead of 3 yrs? (ie same schedule, quality, etc)  This could be your piano teacher, mechanic, newspaper delivery person, landscaper, roofer, etc)  Would you accept being forced to hire your third or 100th choice because they have "seniority"? Even though it would double the dollars you would need to pull from your wallet, to get a job of equal or worse quality?

If not, why do you expect the Government to spend our tax dollars doing it?

See NumbersGuy's comment on this post.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What a Politician will Never Say

"If elected I will let the "Bush" Tax cuts all lapse and then pass the balanced budget amendment. With an additional requirement that we pay down the National debt to 30% of the avg of the last 5 yrs GDP within 10 yrs. Wiki Nat'l Debt

If that means we have to stop socialized medicine, keep our troops home, reduce social security payments, cut the public employee rolls, cut welfare payments, stop corporate welfare, stop the Mars rovers, etc, then let's do it. Let's live within our revenues !!!! Alleluia!!!!

If the tax rates were good enough for the Bush I and Clinton era, they should be good enough for the Democrats and Republicans. The Rich and Poor both sacrifice until we get this problem fixed."

I wonder if they would get many votes?  Thoughts?
G2A America Want Taxes and Cuts

By the way, here is a funny aside.  A wealthy acquaintance of mine looked me in the eye and said with all earnestness: "we all need to sacrifice until we get this National Debt under control"...  I then looked at him and asked "how will you sacrifice, by paying higher taxes?"  He responded, " I am already sacrificing by paying a huge tax bill".  

It seems the Rich and Poor have something in common, each thinks "they" should sacrifice more and "they" are the problem !!! 
G2A The Magic of THEY

Friday, September 7, 2012

Obama Promises To Spend More

I am not sure who I am more disappointed by...  Obama for promising everything + the kitchen sink.  Or the people who seemed excited by the promises, even though his track record has been questionable at best.  I would think one or both of them should have learned something about the importance of realistic goals. Youtube Obama Speech DNC 2012

I know the Republican plan is vague at best, and disastrous at worst.  But at least they say they will cut things.  Whereas Obama seems to be planning tax cuts for the 95% and tons of expensive programs aimed at securing the Public Employee, Socialist Leaning and Low Income vote.  Many of his ideas seem rational at the surface, however no where did he explain where all this cash is coming from.  Or how he is going to make Government more effective and efficient while the Public Employee Unions are still holding the reins?

These were some of his talking points.  Everyone should:

  • Have a fair shot
  • Pay their fair share
  • Play by the same rules

It reminded me very much so of the Bar Stool Economics post.  Fair is apparently a very relative term.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Castro, M Obama and Clinton

Castro and Clinton probably will keep the factchecker folks busy for a few days, however Michelle rocked.

I really appreciated the commentator that noted that both Mitt and Obama "married up" when they were lucky enough to marry these supportive, intelligent and capable wives.


DNC 2012 Julian Castro Speech
DNC2012 Michelle Obama Speech
DNC 2012 Bill Clinton Speech

Monday, September 3, 2012

Taibbi Seems Normal

I spent the weekend with some folks that are very very Conservative.  They were ripping Obama and quoting every negative thing that I have ever heard about the man. Of course being me, I tried to question some of the facts regarding these statements and was shot down as being difficult and argumentative.

Then we moved onto Romney, of course they only discussed the positives and I swear they think he could walk on water. Of course being me, I tried to question some of the facts regarding these statements and was shot down as being difficult and argumentative.

What I find interesting is that this seems to align with what I run into on Give2Attain and other blogs.  People are adamant that their candidate is excellence personified and that the opponent is the Devil come to earth.

Of course my view is that they are both humans, thus they have strengths, weakness, successes, failures, etc.

Obama is somewhat Socialistic and believes that the successful should pay for the unsuccessful's needs.  He has in the past transferred wealth to the unsuccessful in alignment with these beliefs.

Romney is somewhat Capitalistic and thinks that the successful should get to keep more of their gains, and that the unsuccessful had better work harder and get educated. His business dealings have been aligned with this.

So why do people find it so hard to support their candidate without trying to demonize the opponent?
So why do people feel the need to hero worship their candidate?

Good Lord people they are humans and candidates, not Angels and Demons !!!