Wednesday, April 30, 2014

FDR and the Four Freedoms

Laurie brought these 4 Freedoms up a few weeks ago in G2A Guaranteed Income. Now Eric Black has brought them up in this MinnPost article.  And the comments have gone pretty far ranging as usual.

My questions are as follows:
"I don't think anyone is against the above. The question is how it is accomplished and who pays?

Also, what is the responsibility that comes with this freedom? The USA provides free K-12 education and yet many people are failing to pass even the basic academic standards. How much does society owe someone who isn't actively participating in their own development and growth?" G2A
 Thoughts regarding my question or regarding anything from the article/comments?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Relation Between Crime and Abortion

Jerry and I started this discussion at G2A MN / Fed Tax Games.  I thought it deserves its own post.

"...blacks are arrested and sentenced at higher rates than whites because they are policed more heavily." G2A

"That statement requires that someone has tried policing white neighborhoods more heavily and found similar rates of crime. Obviously that has either not been done, or it has been tried and found not to be true. Therefore police are doing what they should be doing, working the areas with the highest rates of crime in an attempt to bring those rates down.

Now, it is unfortunate that pot possession was the subject of this study, because arguably it is a low-level crime (I will argue against its legalization, and will also argue that simply legalizing a crime is NOT the best way to reduce crime). But low-level crimes left unpunished can and do engender a disrespect for the law which leads to more crime. I am reminded of the great success Rudy Giuliani had as mayor of NYC with a very similar strategy. Overall, crime went down." Jerry

"Thank abortion, not Giuliani..." G2A

OK, then we are back to the hypothesis that blacks create most of the crime, since most of the abortions are to black women. Is that really what you want to prove?"  Jerry

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gay Marriage, Bias and Poll Results

The Reverend Dog Gone is at it again.  She is trying to explain something to the religious right.

The only thing I found interesting in the little bit I read was this.  " A recent poll by KSTP,  arguably of a too few people to be very representative shows a majority of Minnesotans are pro-same-sex marriage, with a significant minority of those polled opposing."

Whenever I read a poll interpretation by a far right or left individual, I love to see how they are spinning it.  Now I am not sure where Dog went to school, but I am now concerned that math and statistics were not adequately taught.

Here is the actual text from the link.

"Last year the State of Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage. Do you approve or disapprove of that change in state law? Asked of 600 Minnesotans. Of the group 543 are registered voters.
47%     Approve
45%    Disapprove
7%      Not Sure
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 4.3%"

Now I was taught that nothing can be determined when the numbers are 47%, 45% and +/-4. That is because the first number actually lies somewhere between 43% and 51%, and the second number actually lies somewhere between 41% and 49%.  Therefore the actual number of the disapproves could be smaller, bigger or the same as the approves.

Then you throw in the not sure answers and all bets are off.  So do you think this an honest mistake, a wishful thinking blind spot or something else?  Thoughts?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Profiling: Good or Bad

Sean, Jerry and I have been disagreeing regarding how prevalent racism is in MN.   G2A MN Fed Tax Games

Then I found this interesting document.  MN2020 Pot Paper  It raises some questions worth discussing.  It says that black men are busted for POT in MN more often than they should be based on normal factors.  It pretty much states that police engage in racial profiling and that it is systemic.

I have found the concept of profiling fascinating ever since my 70 year old mother had her cuticle scissors removed at the airport a few years back.  I thought of all those hours and resources that were wasted checking people who almost certainly pose no risk to our safety...
  • What are your thoughts? 
  • Is fair more important than the effective use of our limited resources?
  • Is it fair to search little old ladies in the name of treating everyone equal?
  • Should we add more police in Plymouth and patrol as strenuously as in North Minneapolis in the name of equality?  Even though the crime stats are very different.
  • Should we reduce our vigilance within groups of people that are at higher risk?

Sam Harris In Defense of Profiling
ACLU Pro Con Racial Profiling
Debate org Pro Con
To Catch a Criminal

Sunday, April 20, 2014

MN / Fed Tax Games

MinnPost Estate Tax Cuts Not Enough  The article was noting that apparently the MN tax change didn't align with the Federal Tax laws regarding inheritance.  Then it expresses a concern that more wealthy folks will continue to leave MN, especially after the DFL chose to raise their tax rate last year. This article triggered some very disturbing and foolish comments of the "cut off my nose to spite my face" category.  Here is just one of them.
"Good Riddance. Yeah, we don't need anyone here who has benefited so much from our state's infrastructure and well-educated population but who is willing to relocate to avoid a small nick in the sum they pass on to their kids. And we don't need their stupid bluffs either. If they want to live in the utopia that is Florida, nobody is stopping them." Jeff
TC Busn MN is Losing It's Wealth
Sun Sailor Tax Bill was Mixed Bag
Tax Foundation Tax Alignment
MPR Delay Marriage Penalty Reduction

It is really hard for me to understand the way these folks think... I mean it is the well to do that pay a huge amount of the state's revenues, it isn't like that $20,000/yr individual is paying to build and maintain the infrastructure.  After the EITC, Tanf, Snap, MN Care, heating assistance, etc it is more likely they have a negative net tax rate... (ie get more than they pay)

I agree with Hiram that the well to do will end paying the bills since they have the money.  But to treat them with such contempt is beyond me...  Thoughts?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Guarantee All Americans an Income?

Okay...  Having Laurie bring this up recently and then seeing both these articles at lunch was enough to make it a topic...

MinnPost Headed Toward Social Democracy
CNN Guarantee All Americans an Income

Doing some simple math...
319,000,000 citizens x $10,000/yr = $3,190,000,000,000/yr
Just a bit less than our current Federal budget...
Do you think everyone would get this base salary?
Or just those that were unwilling or unable to earn it?

I thought that it was funny that Alaska and Norway were mentioned as examples.  Lots of oil and few people... Does this seem like America to you?

These folks would like to jump from our current 38% of GDP up to ~57%...  See below for perspective.


Wages, Markets, Efficiency and Family

The Boys and I are discussing the above at MinnPost GOP to Stall Minimimum Wage.  See the comments for all the topics, however here are the ones that I am interested in getting your thoughts on.

Matt and Jonathan are explaining how limited finances prevent people from having children:
"That they're making the responsible choice NOT to have kids they cannot afford, you know, the choice those on the right claim they won't make because all the poor are interested in is reaping "free stuff" from the government. Frankly I think its just a cultural shift, at least for a lot of younger folks. We didn't have our first until we were in our 30's, we simply coukd not afford child care until then. Anectdotally, I am only aware of 2 couples in our "group" who had children in their 20's, I find it interesting they are quite socially conservative, far more so than the rest of our friends." Matt
"Your idea that someone can just 'start a daycare' is pretty absurd, as it ignores all sorts of real-life scenarios; for example, a licensed, in-home daycare provider may be cheaper than a daycare center, but if the daycare provider is sick, then you have no option BUT to stay home with your child, and then you miss work, and don't get paid your wage for the day. Starting a new business in an already saturated market, when you are already dealing with young children or infants and don't have any capital to draw upon is also a steep hurdle to overcome.

I say this as someone who has a child, in daycare, and who has worked on average 40-50+ hours per week since graduating college, and who is married to someone with a masters degree and who is also gainfully employed, that we are choosing, at least currently, to not have a second child, as we cannot afford it and maintain the quality of life that we want to give to our children. I think this all has more to do with massive wage stagnation over the past 30 years than anything else." Jonathan
My response hasn't gotten past that moderator:
"I have been indirectly on the childcare provider side of the equation for 2+ decades, and have 3 children. There are few barriers to entry and many Parents are fine working around their provider's closed days. I have been amazed by what parents will do to keep their kids with a provider that they are comfortable with, especially when they are 0 to 3 yrs old.

Of course the challenge is that one of the Parents has to be willing to put the kids before their career. And both Parents have to make financial sacrifices. As for the kids life, they really don't need much money as long as they are loved and cared for. (at least for awhile, teenagers are different)"

I knew a woman who insisted that her child's nursery had to have beautiful expensive furniture, her poor husband ended up with 2 jobs to pay for it. Our poor children were raised in the cheapest (yet safe) cribs we could find. So far both sets of kids seem to be doing fine, however that couple is divorced." G2A

And Matt is explaining how customers have little power:
"That in a world where no one knows the true value of any product or service that its in any companies interest to provide anything close to equity in value for the value received from the customer. You talk about competition, from the consumer end all that is known is the value received relative to the competition, not the value received relative to the actual cost to the provider for the good or service. Its the libertarian myth of perfect information, that the consumer has any real influence on pricing across an industry through choice. Deciding to consume based on competive value assessments at best provides you the opportunity to take advantage of the least onerous of many bad offers.
The same applies to the employment market, there's a reason conservatives fight so hard against wage transparency. They know that if wage earners realize that despite the clarion call of "competition" most businesses across an industry pay basically the same wage, that the fix is really and truly in, that they might wake up and understand what really is in their best interest." Matt
Matt also questions:
"The being the search for "value" by companies is just a pleasant sounding cover for the efficiency worshipping race to the bottom that would leave workers as unpaid serfs if allowed to run to its natural conclusion (see the Guilded Age, Victorian England, et al) A question in return, is efficiency always a good thing? If so why?"
 My thoughts and questions are:
  • I know great parents with very low incomes and poor parents with big incomes.  I think the kid's appreciate the great parents more than "more/nicer stuff".
  • Do Social Conservatives have more children? Do they have them earlier? Why is it this way?
  • Since no one forces a customer to buy anything, the customer sets the value/price.  If the price is high and the cost is low (ie high margin), more competitors will enter the market and price drops. (ie 50 flat screen TV's)
  • Employees earn similar amounts in similar industries because that market requires employees with similar qualifications...  No conspiracy here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Should Obama Slow Deportations?

Though it will likely be considered insensitive, for what possible reason should we reduce the deportation rate?

CNN Should Obama use the power of his pen to turn the tide on immigration reform?

These people violated the American borders without the proper documentation or over stayed their documentation.  It is good if they are working, responsible and law abiding, however it is somewhat immaterial.  They are either taking jobs that American citizens or legal immigrants could be doing and/or they are enabling lower wages...

Then there is that little detail...  A polite rule abiding "non-line budging" legal immigrant is likely being delayed entry because of our large illegal population.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Scientists Find Gay Gene?

RB gave me the source shown below recently, however it was buried in my MinnPost venting.  Since it didn't get any comments there, I thought I would make it a stand alone.
"That was a very interesting article and I hope the scientists continue the good work. It looks like they are getting close regarding identifying who is likely to be gay. Though it seems they are still in the dark regarding lesbians. Telegraph: Being Homosexual is Only Partly due to a Gay Gene, Research Shows

It will be interesting if they get to the point when they can reliably determine the sexual orientation of the fetus. That could leave some on the far religious right with some conflicting alternatives."

From my simplistic perspective:
  • Currently many people see being LGBT as a belief or behavior system. (ie similar to a religion, life of crime, etc)  And who is to fault that view when there is no physical test or observation that clearly defines a measurable difference.
  • Whereas if science can determine sexual attraction preferences through a repeatable test, everyone would be more likely to accept that sexual preference is physical / physiological state of being.  Just like being a man or a woman.
  • If this becomes clearly identifiable via a test, just like blood type, then parents on the religious right will need to decide how to handle the reality of their child's physiology.
  • And we may want to reconsider how many shower rooms we need in our schools, etc???
  • One more silly thought. Since they haven't found a gene, is it possible that women could choose "lesbian" relationships just because men can be so frustrating and crass?  And the physical aspects just aren't that important to them?  I only say this because I heard a Lesbian on the radio say something like this... "Men, You like to envision Lesbian women locked in passionate love making. Men, It just isn't true, imagine the likelihood of having 2 women working through their physical and emotional issues, and being in the mood at the same time..."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Political Self Awareness

Where do you see yourself on the following graphics?

G2A Right, Left, Up or Down
G2A More Nolan Diagrams
Nathan Kleffman: Source of following graphic:
My beliefs land somewhere between Classical Liberalism and Modern Conservatism
based on the Nolan tests and the theater questions (see below)

G2A Perspective and Relativity - Source of following graphic
One way to determine where you are sitting is to consider the following:
  • How many people are to the Right of me? (ie more Conservative)
  • How many are to the Left of me? (ie more Liberal)
  • Do you see Mother Jones as an "unbiased news source" and do you rarely argue with someone for being "too Liberal or Socialistic", you are likely seated in the Liberal seats.
  • Do you see Rush Limbaugh as an "unbiased news source" and do you rarely argue with someone for being "too Conservative or Capitalistic", you are likely seated in the Conservative seats.
Knowing one's seat location is important if you truly want to be Politically Self Aware.  The seat location influences what you see and do not see.  Also, please note that people sitting on the far right and left can be watching the same play and see very different things.  So beliefs and statements may vary considerably from your own, while being very honest and forthright.

G2A Political Continuum - Source of following graphic
Note: Current US Total Government spend has climb to ~38% of GDP.  Most of the growth being in the area of entitlements.
If you want the government controlled spend to hit 45+% of our GDP, you are likely a Liberal.  If you think it should be cut back to 25%, you are very likely a Conservative.  I would like to get the spend back to about 33%, that would leave 2/3rds for people to use as they wish.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Bullies and Comment Moderation

The MinnPost comment moderation folks are causing me fits again, so here we go again.

MinnPost GOP Legislators Cite Objection regard Anti-Bully Bill

Jonathan...  My line is here...
Heterosexual Relationships
Homosexual Relationships
Swinger/Open Relationships
Polygamy Relationships
Polyandry Relationships
Incest Relationships

Karen,  I am 100% indifferent to religious or sexual orientation views and actions being discussed in our schools.  I have no "dog in this fight".  I just find it ironic that the conservative Christians and the Gay rights folk both seem to want to impose their belief systems on others.
G2A MN Legislative Session - Safe Schools Discussion

Why wasn't Jonathan's comment regarding my supposed employer not blocked.
MinnPost Comment Guidelines
Seems like an attack that has nothing to do with the topic to me.  Besides I like to keep life and work separate, and I have no idea what he is talking about.

Jason,  Please provide a source regarding your accusation... "doesn't extend to granting the same understanding to all of those lazy, minimum wage workers that you love to disparage here on a daily basis. Yup...they can all be painted with the same stereotypical broad stroke."

I do often ask what are the characteristics of adults (ie 21+) who are still only getting paid minimum wage?  That means I am trying to understand reality, not propagate a stereotype. I truly do not know...

Whereas I believe that you do want to propagate a stereotype that "ALL" minimum wage workers work hard, are capable, are responsible, etc and that it is the businesses that are treating them unfairly.  I personally think it is much more gray than that.

No I do not believe that "So your kid can't rub shoulders with a kid that's gay in some sort of school situation? "  However the question of how many shower rooms should be provided has been discussed here before. G2A How Many Shower Rooms

That was a very interesting article and I hope the scientists continue the good work. It looks like they are getting close regarding identifying who is likely to be gay. Though it seems they are still in the dark regarding lesbians. Telegraph: Being Homosexual is Only Partly due to a Gay Gene, Research Shows

It will be interesting if they get to the point when they can reliably determine the sexual orientation of the fetus. That could leave some on the far religious right with some conflicting alternatives.
I'll need to share it with my Conservatives on G2A and see what they think.

I have no idea why these seemingly polite and proper responses are being blocked. MinnPost Comment Guidelines I have probably had it with that comment string since I am not able to reply... 

Thanks for the discussions and I hope you will treat the folks on the Religious Right with the politeness and respect that you would like them to show you and your beliefs..


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

MN DFL Catering to the Base

To me it looks like the DFL is working real hard to buy votes and spend money in this election year.  Maybe they are concerned they won't have a chance next year.

MinnPost Minimum Wage Deal
MinnPost Senate Office Building
MinnPost Bonding Proposal
MinnPost Tax Cut 2
MinnPost Tax Cut 1

To me it seems that their tax cuts have been aimed exclusively at their base.  I definitely didn't see any change in my tax bill after the rerunning them after 3Apr14...  I mean the DFL "supposedly" worked hard to align the MN taxes with the Federal taxes...  Except when it came to addressing the marriage penalty.  Apparently they are ok with penalizing couples for getting married.

I am most interested to see how these choices work out in the Fall:
  • Will the folks who pay the taxes appreciate the additional spending and gifts to the "poor"/Unions?
  • Will the country folks remember that the DFL passed marriage equity against their wishes?
It is definitely shaping up to be an interesting election season...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

MN Teacher Performance

Beth Hawkins over at MinnPost has been posting some interesting articles.

MinnPost MN Teacher Evaluations to Proceed
MinnPost MN Teacher Evaluations may be Delayed

This one ruffled some feathers as you will see in the comments.
MinnPost Are Teacher Prep Programs Leaving Teachers Unprepared?

So what do you think, will the Teacher evaluations be a step in the right direction or a witch hunt?

Are the Teacher entry tests too hard, or are some of the Teacher candidates just not at an adequate academic capability level?

Other thoughts?

Friday, April 4, 2014

CEO to Worker Pay Ratio

 If you are keeping up, Laurie and I got a bit side tracked on G2A ACA Signups.
"This is just an extension of our long standing discussion. How much government spending is enough?  The Liberals keep pulling to Left while saying it is the Conservatives that are trying to change things... How far to the Left is far enough?
G2A Continuum Currently we are approximately dead center at ~38% of the country's GDP being "distributed" by local, state and the federal governments... Personally I think that is great plenty... Now how do we get them to spend it more wisely... Whatever that means... G2A 
"I think at the most basic level our disagreement about "wealth transfer" is my belief that our form of capitalism has major flaws in how earnings and wealth are distributed, whereas you see no problem in CEO's earning 273 times the pay of their median-paid employee. Why is it that you have so little concern about the wealth transfer from middle class people to the 1%?" Laurie

"No one is forced to give their money to the 1%... The 1% will be thrown in jail if they don't pay their taxes..." G2A
EPI CEO to Worker Compensation Results
EPI CEO to Worker Compensation Methodology
Bloomberg SEC to Shame CEO
Forbes How Wide is Wage Gap?
SEC Executive Compensation Context
Yahoo Finance CEO vs Avg Worker Pay: A Dumb Metric
Politfact CEO Worker Pay Ratio

After trying to do some research, it looks like the EPI data is somewhat consistent, if a bit funny.  The reason I say this is because it seems EPI:
  • does not compare the CEO pay to workers within that company
  • does compare the CEO pay to typical workers in "industry"
  • doesn't include any Supervisors or Managers in their "worker data".
  • does only include the largest 350 companies in the USA
So it does seem give a good historical comparison of the CEO pay for the largest revenue companies relative to the average "worker" within that industry.  Of course I don't have the energy to even guess how they handle companies like General Electric, Emerson, Tyco or other large conglomerates that own companies in dozens of different industries in many different countries.

Also, only including the top 350 and implying that this is typical of reality seems a bit strange. Since it seems most Americans are not employed by these companies...  Then there is that ignoring Supervisor and Manager incomes, I keep thinking they are "workers" also.

I do like the idea of having the companies report that ratio, since I am an investor. Though the Yahoo link indicates that it may create problems.

All that said...  Should the CEO of McDonald's makes 1,196 times what their typical restaurant worker makes?  It does seem high, however apparently he ultimately is responsible for keeping 1,8000,000 employees working, 35,000+ restaurants open and even more stock holders making money...  What is the value of the employee who says "do you want fries with that hamburger" compared to person steering that monster sized company?  I am certain I don't the government trying to make that decision.  And I sure don't want that CEO job...


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ACA Sign Ups: 7.1 Million ?

I can't wait until a fact checker site goes through this.

CNN ACA Hits 7.1 Million Sigh-Ups
Fox News WH Runs Victory Lap
Politifact 20Feb14

It seems there are tons of opportunities for spin in these numbers.

How many:
  • Total
  • Because ACA cost them their insurance.
  • Medicaid adds
  • Other
  • Real ACA add
  • How many are paying their premiums?
  • How many are us tax payers paying for?
Personally, adding insured at the cost of tax payers isn't much of a step forward.