Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life Expectancy and Social Security

So 4 things aligned perfectly to motivate me to write this post.  Big E at MPP posted that deficits and SS were not related.  My Father noted that the SS age needs to be raised.  Minnesota Liberal commented at MPP that "The discussion over Social Security (an earned annuity) is on the disbursement side, so the so-called payroll tax holiday is irrelevant". (see MPP link/comments for more detail) And I helped my daughter solve a math problem to determine how many percent the avg life expectancy has increased since 1940. 

This was my summary at MPP regarding the annuity comment.
"Now I agree that Social Security should be a self funded pension plan. However we know that it's balance + ongoing contributions are not adequate to pay its forecasted disbursements. Therefore we either need to raise it's contributions (higher payroll tax), make transfers from the general fund (wealth transfer) or cut it's disbursements. (lower payments or raise age)"

This seems pretty simple and straight forward to me.  And then after looking at links 2 - 4 below it becomes pretty self evident that what we payed for and what we are expecting to receive are out of whack and Father's correct.  The eligible age has to be increased greatly or we need to raise the payroll tax significantly.  Thoughts?

MPP Reagan's Advice on Social Security
Intellectual Takeout Life Expectency Change and SS Benefits
Carpe Diem Retirement Age vs Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy History chart

Monday, November 26, 2012

Government the Charity?

Give2Attain is conflicted !!! 

For years I have been striving to increase my charitable giving level.  I sucked at giving when I was in college.  Then I got better at it when I started working, I got up to the 3% level.  Then my income increased and I became a "responsible adult". ( though some may disagree) The giving kept increasing significantly with my dream of sometime getting to that elusive 10%.

However after learning more about how many of my tax dollars are being transferred to the "needy" and "not so needy" via my taxes, I am seriously considering cutting back significantly on my charitable giving.  I am happy giving unto Caesar what is Caesars, but giving to Bill, Tina, Dan, etc, etc, etc???

I mean if we the more successful will be forced to pay higher rates in the name of the "needy" and "not so needy", why should we keep giving to private charities?   Thoughts?

US Govt Spend Pie Chart
G2A Welfare is Not Charity
G2A God Works in Mysterious Ways
G2A Protector of the Small
G2A Romney / Obama Charity
G2A Entitlement or Gratitude
G2A Can Politicians be Efficacious
G2A Needs vs Wants
G2A Tax the Rich, Then What?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Can Unions Help the USA Compete?

As we have been discussing, there are different views regarding the Pros and Cons of Employee Unions in America.

G2A Power to the People?

For the most part, I see them as entities that promote waste and inefficiency, however I am willing to try and determine if they in some ways can help the USA to be more competitve.  Or if they can improve the standard of living for all Americans, not just the employees that are in the Union.

Here are some potential benefits:
  • A wage premium is additional money that can be spent in the community.  Poor folk don't buy many consumer goods and services.
  • Some Managers/Owners can be excessively short sighted and greedy, contracts may ensure they stop and think before acting.
  • Smart companies ensure profits are shared with their employees, however some encouragement may be helpful with those that are not too smart.
  • Others?
Veracity Stew Graphic
WP If America Loses Unions

Remember my favorite saying about Unions.  "If you have a Union, you or your predecessor probably did something to deserve it."


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

Due to a family member becoming ill, we are staying home for the first Thanksgiving ever !!!  (ie not driving to SW MN & SD)  The turkey is in the oven and we are just being big couch potatoes.  I'll miss seeing the extended family and taking part in the normal traditions, however this is kind of nice too.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving !!!

Comic 1   Comic 2   Comic 3   Comic 4   Comic 5

Comic 6   Comic 7   Comic 8   Comic 9   Comic 10

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Power to the Employees?

Since Summer school is apparently as popular with my commenters as with the students that need to attend it, we will move on.  The first topic of the evening is one of our favorites.  Who killed Hostess, greedy owners/mgrs, greedy employees or healthy Americans?

My gut feel is that the Baker's Union did, but I know little about this.  I just can't figure who throws a strike when the company is on the bankruptcy rocks.  Kind of like jumping on top of the goose (golden eggs) when it has pneumonia.

NY Post Hostess Out of Business
CNN Hostess Mediation Fails
ABC Talks Fail
CNN Bonuses Too Sweet

The second topic is, what do you think of the Walmart strike talk?

CNN Walmart workers to strike
WP Strike
MPP CNN Confronts Walmart

I guess I think that raising compensation at Walmart and raising the minimum wage have the same problem.  It would likely start a cycle of inflation, for better or worse.  Operating costs go up and then the prices start to go up.  I am not sure if the people who work these low education, low responsibility, low skill jobs would be better or worse off.  And I can guarantee those without jobs would be worse off.

I think the bigger question is how do we bring more low education, high skill, high responsibility jobs back?  That way we can pay more without over paying. (hint: Buy American)


Monday, November 19, 2012

Summer's Off are Hard on Learning

Alec at MPP posted an interesting link and comments in this post.  MPP Summer Learning Loss Accounts for 2/3 of the Achievement Gap  I posted some comments, please review the post and my comments.

Just a note, the Organization posting the research may have some bias. National Summer Learning Association: Research in Brief 

I agree that long Summers off are an issue.  I see this even in my kids where we prod them with various things during the Summer.  Not sure if I agree that it accounts for 2/3's of the gap by it's self though, given all the factors we identified previously.  G2A Factor List

Of course,  Alec sees this as a big problem and I agree/disagree.  The question is what should we do about it, who pays, who goes year round, what about Summer jobs, etc, etc etc.  Thoughts?

NYT This is your brain on Summer
JH Paper

Saturday, November 17, 2012

America Spend More and Pay Less?

Now I don't disagree with the simple statement.  "We tax those with money because that's who has the money."  It seems like pretty straight forward logic.

However I definitely see things differently than Hiram does.
"It's the president who proposed middle class tax cuts over the opposition of Republicans in Congress, and it's the president who is arguing now that they should be saved against the opposition of Republicans in Congress who are trying to hold those middle class tax cuts hostage in their effort to prevent tax increases on the wealthiest Americans."   --Hiram

I see Obama as holding the extension of our current low rates hostage because he wants to Tax the Rich at even a more Progressive rate than they are today.  To me this seems very unwise and I hope the House can stop the foolishness.

Here is my rationale: I want those that support big government and increased governmental spending to bear the burden of that choice.  Therefore if low and middle income people want government run and paid for schools, healthcare, social services, regulations, retirement, insurance, etc, it is critical that they also pay more to support these choices.  To vote for increased government and lower personal taxes is hypocritical, self serving and shows a lack of character that bodes poorly for our country's future.

At work, when we develop requirements for a new machine, it is critical that we do a cost trade off analysis for all options and features.  If instead we just asked customers what they want without explaining what it will cost them, they would almost always say yes. Then we end up with a machine that costs too much, and the Customers have a machine they can not justify paying for.  A lose/lose situation to say the least.

Just think of the monster we can create if the people that design our governement, features and options only receive the benefits and don't have to pay the costs !!!

So I hope the cuts stay in force for all of us or are allowed to elapse for all of us.  Relieving the folks that vote for big government from the natural consequences of their choices is a BAD idea.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GOP To Buy Votes?

With all the talk regarding Romney's comments about Obama's buying votes, I thought it would be interesting to see how the GOP could ever buy votes...  I mean Obama and crew have no problem doing it with tax payers money and granting amnesty, maybe the GOP could figure out a way.  Here are some random thoughts.
  • They already do it by offering the religious right new laws to limit the freedom of other Americans.
  • Of course they also offer the 1% lower taxes, but of course that is only 1% of the voters. (poor return on investment)
  • Standing up for the rights of the potential legal immigrants that are waiting in line, by demanding the illegals go to the back of the line sure didn't work out to well.
  • Supporting the needy, tortured and oppressed in Afganistan and Iran sure did not gain them any points with the supposed caring Liberal voters.  Seemingly those people dying and not getting to go to school isn't as important as American's without cell phones.
  • Well, it looks like it is going to be hard for the GOP to buy votes while maintaining their values of small government and individual responsibility.
I guess the only hope is that the majority figures out that they are paying for the gifts that Obama gave out over the past 1+ years. 

My company is doing the annual benefits enrollment, so I am painfully aware of how that free Obamacare is hitting my and their bottom line.  It reduced the max flex spending withholding from $5,000/yr to $2,500/yr, and increased my company's healthcare costs by ~$50,000,000/yr... I wonder where that money will come from and if that higher cost will encourage them to hire more employees in America?

MPP Long Knives Out for Romney
FOX News Buying Votes

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What a Conservative Wants?

Since I promised to take a shot at the other side also...

"Conservatives believe in a "fair" America. A place where people get to keep the money they have inherited or earned.  A place where government provides minimal services, collects minimal taxes and does almost no wealth transfer. (ie safety nets)  A place where citizens can choose to help those with similar beliefs, while letting strangers and those they disapprove of suffer. (ie selective charitable giving)  Or they can choose to help no one.

Since the Conservative was lucky to have been born in America, to have been raised well, to have been successful, etc, they really can see no reason why everyone can not attain success.  And if those people have not attained success, they are likely sinners, lazy or not too smart.

The government of the people should not transfer Private Property from the successful to the less successful, because they do it inefficiently, ineffectively  and distribute too much to the lazy, sinners and not too smart. (and the bureaucrats / public employees) "


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What A Liberal Wants?

In the last post I was told "You haven't a clue what liberals think."  And I agree whole heartedly that I have no idea what Liberals think.  So I asked for clarification
"Right now I am interested in how Liberals see this state run wealth distribution plan working. How will it promote hard work and efforts from us all to make America great for our children? One note: you cannot deny that free loaders exist. Anyone who has worked with a group of people knows that some people are industrious and self motivated, and others not so much so."
I received little input, so I took a shot at it.  And yes there are a couple of loaded words, but over all it seems like a nice idealistic place to live.  Kind of like Star Trek's Federation society.
"Liberals believe in a "fair" America. A place where there is no poverty and everyone has food, clothing, education, healthcare, phones, etc. Everyone is entitled to these things since they live on American soil.

Since these are due to all people living on American soil: work reqts, citizenship, effort, behaviors, beliefs, etc are immaterial in determining what they should have and how they should live.

The government of the people is best suited to ensure these entitlements are provided equitably, therefore it is "fair" and "right" that they forcefully transfer Private Property from the successful to the less successful"

"In this "fair" America, it seems unfair that poor and middle class people should lose assets, jobs, property, money, etc for any reason. Whether the person made good choices, did due diligence, paid for insurance, etc is immaterial. Therefore the government should take an active role in protecting people from most things and/or pay for the loss if it happens.

The government of the people is best suited to ensure the people are protected adequately, therefore it is "fair" and "right" that they forcefully transfer Private Property from the successful to fund the insurance programs and pay for the regulatory expenses..."
At which time Hiram gave what seems like a simple and practical dream.
"My dream is that things are rewarded according to their value. But it's just a dream."
And I asked some simple questions that seem to be the crux of the problem.
"Thoughts on how "Value" should be determined?   Or how "Rewards" are to be distributed?"
Better clarification?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No Personal Property or Responsibility?

After listening to folks comment in the last post that there are people that deserve the money more than the wealthy/successful folks, and implying that the government in its wisdom should make these adjustments in the wealth balance...  Then reading that the banks are responsible for making people buy more house than they could afford for little or nothing down... (ie no equity)

It has occurred to me that maybe Liberals do truly believe that all property belongs to the State, and that individual citizens really shouldn't be held responsible for their own choices...  This can not be a good thing.

I assume these are examples of where a Liberal would see things this way:
  • After years of working the same job and never making efforts to improve or modernize their skills, the worker becomes unemployed and can not find an equivalent job.  It must be the evil company's fault that the person isn't employable...  It can't be the employees fault can it?
  • A risk averse person sees the incredible returns in his friend's stock portfolio and decides to change everything over to it.  Then the market crashes, he gets scared, sells it all off and loses 20% of his savings.  It must be the markets fault, it couldn't have been the greed and foolishness of the investor...  Or could it?  
  • A union insists that compensation stays high, work rules stay rigid, ineffective employees keep their jobs, etc even though profits and market share are declining due to low margins and little money available for R&D.  The company goes bankrupt, it must be those greedy managers that killed the golden goose.  Right?
Thoughts? Any other examples?

Friday, November 9, 2012

What Should The GOP Learn?

Some extreme Conservatives are saying that Romney lost because he was not "Conservative" enough.  Personally I think these folks have been out smoking some of that POT they don't want to legalize...  It seems their rationale is that Conservative voters decided it wasn't worth going out to vote...  Which based on  C1 and C2's votes regarding the continuum, is absolutely silly.  Conservatives see Obama as Socialism incarnate and would therefore vote for anyone to keep him out of the office.

I keep saying that the GOP needs to focus more on being fiscal Conservatives and less on trying to legislate our country's and the world's morality per the fundamentalist Christians...  Being a modern day Crusader apparently is not too popular in this incredibly diverse country.

What do you think? How can the Republicans do better next time?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And Government will Grow

Apparently Minnesota will learn what happens when spending exceeds inflation and our "GDP" growth. (ie more of our economy)

Duluth News MN Legislature
US Spending History Chart

Thankfully the GOP still controls the House at the Federal level.  Maybe they can hold back the spending spree.

Thoughts on the results?  Or just need to vent or celebrate?  Both comments welcome.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Remember to Vote Today

Make sure to vote Tuesday, and here are some comics to help break the tension.

Comic 1   Comic 2     Comic 3    Comic 4

Comic 5   Comic 6     Comic 7    Comic 8

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Obama or Romney ?

After listening to all the discussion, it seems that Obama supports moving much closer to a Unitary governmental system.  (Feds in charge)  This means the government needs to collect a lot of money and create one size fits all policies. (ie education, healthcare, immigration, welfare, workers rights,etc)  Therefore removing this authority and responsibility from the local and state governments.  In essence saying that the Local folks are not to be trusted to take care of their own citizens.

Where as Romney wants to maintain our current Federalist governmental system and ensure the States keep their power and flexibility.  This means defunding many Federal government programs and empowering the States to tax and manage the programs if they choose to, and run it in the way the choose.

As I noted in the Hierarchy, doing detail things at that high level is just too ineffective and inefficient for my taste.  The States and individual citizens can do this much better.  Maybe I'll add these labels to the continuum, Unitary on the Left, Federalism at about 20% and Conferate at the far right.

Romney still has my vote even though I don't like Ryan's strong ProLife Anti-Gay views.

CNN If Romney is Elected
CNN If Obama is Elected
CNN Poll of Polls
FOX News Election Center
Fed, Confed & Unitary
Spark Govt Systems
G2A Responsibility Hierarchy
G2A Political Continuum

Of course here are some more reasons why folks are voting for Obama... (ie Obama bucks and phones) He has to cry when these people choose to support him on line or in front of a camera...  Please forgive the commentator for making Rush look like a moderate, I thought the clips were more interesting.
Info Wars Report - Phones Compilation

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bonoff vs Gaither

I am torn on this one, I really like Terri...  However they both spoke well and made sense at the forum.  Either I'll do some more research before Tuesday, or I'll bring a coin to flip...

In this case, Gaither's apparent support for the Marriage Amendment will likely have me voting for Bonoff.  Given 2 moderates, I'll pick the one that supports personal freedoms.

Terri Bonoff for Senate
David Gaither for Senate
True North Gaither to Challenge Bonoff
Mtka Patch Debate
Vote Smart Bonoff

Also, here was an interesting opinion piece on the effective politician.
NYT Rules for Craftsmen

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Britton vs Anderson

I had high hopes for Audrey when I went to the RAS candidate forum, unfortunately she disappointed me by seeming to be a traditional Liberal. She seemed happy to focus on "fully funding" the Education system while requiring no accountability from them.  I assume she would raise taxes to do that since it is unlikely she would want to cut the Human Services monster. Looks like Sarah will get my vote again.

Same old question...  How do Liberals think we can grow grow govt spending faster than the GDP and CPI year after year?  I will never understand.  Somehow they need to become more effective / efficient, or they need to cut something.

Imagine your household bills increased 2 to 4% faster than your income for 10, 20, or more years...  How would this work out?

Audrey Britton for House
Sarah Anderson for House
Vote Smart Sarah Anderson
Star Tribune New Faces
Plymouth Patch Debate

MN Catholics Getting Angry

A Catholic friend of mine was very frustrated last night on Facebook.  The Archdiocese apparently sent her a "thou shalt vote yes" on the marriage amendment note.  And her fellow Catholic friends were there cheering her on.  It seems they like their Church, but its intolerance for our fellow humans is starting to drive in a wedge.  You would think the Vatican should have learned something from the Reformation.

CNN MN Marriage Amendment
Catholics for Marriage Equality
HP Case for Marriage Equality
Star Trib Arch Bishop Statements
Wiki 95 Theses / Reformation

Also, I was having a discussion regarding this over on Speed's/R-Five's site.  You may find it interesting.
Speed Gibson Marriage Amendment