Thursday, January 30, 2014

Open Minds?

The MinnPost Minimum Wage Pt 1 discussion continues to provide some very interesting topics for further review.
Belief vs Reality   
"You responded with:

"I guess I would say that these statements indicate a belief that citizens are intentionally working to oppress others. I disagree with this belief system. "

to these statements:

"intentional disinvestment in American society by the moneyed class"
"assault on public education by those who would see it abolished"
"discrimination toward their skin color, ethnicity, or socioeconomic position"

Can you actually refute these three points, without resorting to discussion of 'belief?' Whether or not you believe a fact exists, does not stop that fact from existing.

We know that the Koch brothers spent heavily in many states and help fund ALEC, and are in no small part responsible for the election of Scott Walker in WI, and the subsequent assault on public unions, teachers, reproductive rights, environmental regulations and public education funding in that state. We know that many GOP members willfully intended to shut down the US government and have slashed funding for valuable public research.

We know that there are concerted efforts to disenfranchise whole swaths of the population among the states, and those efforts are explicitly stated as such by the GOP party members who pushed and advanced them.

These are all verifiable events. Belief is not relevant in this discussion.

And yes, perspective IS an interesting thing... but only when you can actually CHANGE your perspective, which I don't believe you are actually doing, at least not enough to fathom the reality of existence of those who are different from you or your immediate peer network." Jonathan

2 Sides to Every Topic
Now the question is can you see both sides?

Assault on public unions vs Allowing market to set correct compensation, thereby saving money for the tax payers.

Assault on Teachers vs Helping the Students learn by ensuring only the most effective Educators are in their classrooms and the expectations are clearly defined.

Assault on reproductive rights vs Preventing the stilling of a human heart for someone's convenience.

Assaulting environmental regulations vs Promoting a balanced cost effective approach to ensure the regulations do not cost our society more than they are worth.

Assault public education funding vs ensuring that the tax payer's money is used effectively so people can keep more of their paycheck.

I look at both sides all the time. That's the point of G2A, I like to challenge my beliefs and those of others. Now can you truly believe that those you call oppressors could actually be the freedom fighters? Or at least that they truly believe they are... Just as you truly believe you are on the side of "good"." G2A


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Obama 2014 State of the Union

I actually passed on watching it.  What did I miss?

About: 2014 SOU
CBS: 2014 SOU Transcript

More Mininum Wage Updates

No time to write.  Thoughts?

MinnPost How MN Fell Behind Wisconsin
CNN Obama Raises Min Wage for Fed Contractors
MinnPost Ellison Praises Obama Min Wage Action
CNN Obama Boehner and a Brick Wall

Frustrated Democrats Look Beyond Obama

American Victimology 101

My discussion with Matt to a strange turn yesterday that I thought may be interesting to discuss. Another John had raised a valid issue regarding how were people to live on minimum wage.

MinnPost Minimum Wages

"Back when I was a college student I seemed to have a fair amount of money, however my choices were severly limited.

I ended up living with multiple room mates in a cheap apartment or home.
My car was a piece of junk and I carried minimal insurance.
I ate a lot of carbs and watched for bargains.
I got real good at maintaining and/or fixing my property.
And I was really motivated to learn, improve, work and escape that reality.

What life do you expect for these low skill, low academics, low effort, very safe positions/personnel?

Do you want them to be able to rent their own apartment, buy nicer stuff, own homes, etc? If they could, wouldn't this reduce the extrinsic motivators to work hard and improve themselves. And with the earned income credit and other programs in place, I am not sure what you want.  (Taxation Family Graphs) " G2A

"It would give them the freedom to pursue those things as opposed to every minute of every day being filled with basic survival techniques. You struggled in college by choice, you could have easily postponed your studies, or attended a lower cost institution. You had an option. The people we are talking about aren't students slumming until they land that first real job, they are the product of years of grinding poverty, brought about by the intentional disinvestment in American society by the moneyed class. They are the product if a decades long assault on public education by those who would see it abolished, they are in many cases the product of discrimination toward their skin color, ethnicity, or socioeconomic position. While the old myth of "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps" makes for great rhetorical theater, it still (as its always been) isn't based on reality" Matt

"You would turn all of those people into helpless victims. That is sad.

A good friend of mine who came here from Ethiopia, who is very black, and came here at age 19 would find your perceptions disturbing and disrespectful. He had little money, didn't speak English and yet he worked hard, took advantage of every program we American's provide to minorities, attended Normandale community college until he could get into the U of MN's engineering school. He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer and makes a whole lot more than minimum wage as one of my co-workers.

He had fellow black people trying to hold him back and fellow white people who were frustrated that he qualified for so many more programs than they could. Yet he persisted and succeeded.

I hope some day you can help to cheer and motivate these folks rather than keep demeaning them." G2A


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Everything Important By 3 Yrs Old

After a month of topics that did not interest me, MinnPost is on quite the roll of late.  Thoughts?

MinnPost Only way to Close the Achievement Gap

MinnPost High Quality Preschool for Kids Under 3 yrs Old

Here are 2 comments to start our discussion here. Rick here is stressing the importance "preschool".
"Our youngest son started kindergarten last fall at a public school in south Minneapolis, and it was a stark reminder that the so-called "achievement gap" is already firmly in place by that point. It seems like this is the single most important thing to realize when trying to address the problem. By age five, it's simply too late. The gap is already big enough that it cannot be overcome, and it only gets bigger as time passes.

Both of our sons started preschool at 18 months. We intentionally picked a "preschool" over a "day care" and it is essential to recognize that, while there is overlap in their functions, the two types of institutions have significant differences (including, of course, cost). Thus, our sons arrived at kindergarten prepared to learn by virtue of already having had THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS of actual classroom experience. Most of their peers arrived with exactly ZERO such experience.

As parents, we contributed to their readiness, of course, by reading and singing to them, teaching pre-reading skills, encouraging curiosity, etc. But there is no question that they had a gigantic advantage over their peers at least in part because we could afford actual education (instead of simple babysitting) on a daily basis starting very early in their lives.

There is no doubt that providing such educational opportunities for all children would be expensive, but if we really care about reducing the gap (which, societally-speaking, I sometimes doubt), then the expense should not be a consideration. If that's the way to solve the problem, and we want the problem solved, then the expense is not optional." Rick P.
 Now I agree that preschool is important, however to say it is required for success in life.  That seems like a stretch, so I replied.
"Though I agree with much of what is being said here and am a big fan of he Harlem children zone pipeline, expense is always an issue. Unless you are offering to fund it all personally.

Who are you thinking should pay for this?
Why shouldn't we be holding parents accountable for training their toddlers?

Toddlers don't need school to be successful, they need rules, consistency, play dates, love, someone to talk or read to them, experiences, etc.

Next you will be telling me that all poor kids are doomed to academic failure. Which we know isn't true." G2A

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Free Trade Agreements

Dan Burns at MPP appears to be against Free Trade Agreements.

Since 70% of the revenues for my current and previous American owned employers come from selling product overseas, I guess I have to disagree.  What do you think?

Since I am much closer to the actual transactions in this job, I am actually taking classes on import/export laws, rules and processes.  And every day I leave class thanking God that interacting with that bureacracy is not my primary function.

NAFTA Costs / Benefits
EPI High Cost of NAFTA
About: NAFTA Benefits
NCPA Benefits to USA and Mexico

I found it interesting that the EPI link says that it caused America to lose jobs, whereas Dan's stuff says that it didn't incerease employment in Mexico.

I agree that it moved some jobs from America to Mexico. Which is actually a good thing because otherwise those jobs would have gone to Malaysia, China, Vietnam, etc.  I keep hoping that Mexico could find a way to deal with their corruption issues so they could become more successful.

Remember that while I was touring the Mayan ruins, I asked the guide which souveniers were made in Mexico so I could support their manufacturing businesses or artisans.  He said not many...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shrinking Labor Force Reality?

Dan Burns over at MPP posted Wrong about the Shrinking Labor Force. It referenced Barataria: A Persistent Lie

First, I know nothing about this topic so I figured I would let you inform me why this matters? And what the "real truth" is....

Second, he linked to a term I had not heard before. Motivated Reasoning  I was very interested in this since I find paradigms, perspective, blind spots, self deception, self awareness, bias, etc fascinating. G2A Snopes and Relativity

Thirdly, there are no comments I thought is was an interesting post that deserved some.  However since I can't do it there, we will do it here...

By the way, I'll have to start checking in at Barataria occasionally.  They seem to have a very different view of reality than I do.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Parents United Class Size Matters?

Parents United has some interesting links regarding class size research on their home page right now. 

TC Daily Planet: Push for smaller class sizes
Class Size Matters
WP Wonkblog: Size doesn't matter
PU Class Size archive

My view is that class size does matter.  The first question is when, where and how much compared to the other factors?  The second question is it better to spend money on this or something else.


RDale gives an excellent demographics and class size presentation if you want to use it for discussion / examples.  As many of my long time readers know, I actually started blogging in order to support an RDale school referendum back in ~2009.  Over the years we have thought of moving to a school district with fewer challenges. (ie wealthier with less diversity)  Yet my girls love their schools, friends, and I believe a community only succeeds if some us "very lucky" people stay and support it. (ie not selfishly fleeing to Wayzata, Edina, Orono, etc...)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Congressional Millionaires

I found it interesting that people seem surprised by the results noted in the links below.  I mean:
  • how many poor folk have the communication skills, education, finances and connections to get elected to the US Congress?
  • I kind of think most people in Congress are middle aged or older.  Which to me means they should have a significant net worth. (ie approaching retirement)
  • Then there is the fact that inflation over decades makes more millionaires as time passes.
It was also interesting that the Democrats were wealthier than the Republicans....

MSN Congress is Majority Millionaire
Open Secrets: Millionaires Club


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

USA Recent Spend History

Here is a graphic to ensure we all understand how national spending has increased.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Keep The Unemployment Benefit Trough Open?

Should Tax Payers continue to subsidize the Unemployment Insurance system?

Why or why not?  If yes, for how long?

Personally I think it should not be extended...  Let's have these folks move over to the welfare system if they are out of savings, and still being particular regarding their next job. 

CNN Politics at Play
FOX News Bill Clears Senate
PBS Should Benefits be Extended?
WP GOP Reframing Fight
TownHall Dishonesty of DFL
MinnPost Senate Pass Plan

Monday, January 6, 2014

Save Society, Legalize Drugs?

A guest Post from Laurie.  Enjoy.

Which is more harmful to society, drug use or the war on drug use? Many people on the left (including me) would argue the latter.

Here is a link to an article written last Aug with information that I found shocking:

TAKEN Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?

If there is interest in this topic I think I could easily find links re the number of drug offenders filling up our prisons, ruining their lives and costing society a bundle.

Should other states follow Colorado's lead and legalize pot or would it be better to just give a very light sentence/fine to people caught using?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Why is Violent Crime Rate Falling?

Though I have reported Freakonomics linking the reduction of crime directly to the passing of Roe V Wade before.  Which makes lots of sense to me since unwanted and therefore likely neglected or abused kids are never born, and potential Mother / Fathers may avoid the poverty and/or  stress caused by those expensive little darlings who take a lot of work.

This article identifies some other possible causal factors.
NBC Is X Box keeping you safer?

  • Xbox effect: People staying home.
  • Housing projects: Destruction of old tenements.
  • Cocaine market cracked: Less use / Mature Distribution
  • Lead footprint: Fewer people impacted by lead.
  • Roe v. Wade: Fewer unwanted kids born.
  • Home bodies: Unemployed folks / Neighborhood watch
  • Immigration: Better immigrants?

  • I love the idea that those "violent video games" may actually be lowering the crime rate.  It is so ironic.

    Another possible "cause" of the lower crime rate that occurs to me may be the increase in the welfare state.  I mean why go rob someone when the government will do it for you...

    One last thought I had was that maybe the decline of the 2 Parent family has also helped.  Our culture has become much more accepting of:
    • failed marriages
    • just walking away if you are unhappy
    • men & women both working
    • single parent households
    • other
    My point is that previously there was a lot of pressure on spouses / couples to "make it work".  Which I think would likely lead to more disagreements, stress and potentially violence.  Where as today people seem to have no problem with walking away from situations that are not ideal.  Why get stressed???  Just leave and start with someone new...


    Freakonomics Quorom Why is Crime Rate still Falling?

    Saturday, January 4, 2014

    Some Christians are Crazy?

    A good family friend passed this link on to my Mother, and she thought I may find it interesting.  Bon's Blog is apparently written by a woman that is hearing the voice of God.  Apparently she is getting some inside scoop on the end of the world, and apparently I had better be taking more vacations soon.

    Now I understand that there are some crazy folks out there that hear voices, what surprises me is that this very rational seeming family friend house wife would have given enough credence to pass out their literature.

    So is the end / beginning coming soon?  Have you ever heard voices?  And what do you think of the bumper stickers below?

    Bumper Sticker 1  Bumper Sticker 2  Bumper Sticker 3
    Bumper Sticker 4  Bumper Sticker 5  Bumper Sticker 6
    Bumper Sticker 7  Bumper Sticker 8