Thursday, July 31, 2014

MN GOP Governor Candidates

I know almost nothing about the candidates, and I have little interest until there is only 1.  However I am interested to hear your thoughts.

MinnPost Style Wars
WIKI MN Gov Race
Politics in MN
Huff Post GOP Candidates
MinnPost Strengths and Weaknesses
MPR GOP Contenders

Of course they will likely have a hard time beating a sitting DFL Governor in Minnesota, but where there is life there is hope.  It will be interesting to see what the deciding issues will be.  The other question will be is there a third party candidate who takes enough votes to sway the decision?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pro Life Politcs in Mississippi

Just a reminder: I am against abortions and for giving the mother (parents) the right to choose one if they feel strongly that it is the correct choice.  (at least through the first trimester)

So I am actually happy to see that the courts have stymied the Pro Life community's efforts to skirt Roe v Wade.  US Appeals Court Blocks Mississippi  Abortion Law


G2A Abortion and Conservatives
G2A Abortion and Fascism
G2A Crime and Abortion
G2A Abortion vs Neglect
G2A Pro Choice Rationale or Rationalization

Family Money and Values Matter

I posted a couple comments at MinnPost McFadden On Raising Age for Medicare Benefits and they led to some interesting responses.  Then the usual happened...  My response was moderated... So here we go again.

So is this group advocating that we replace social security and medicare with welfare for the elderly?

I have seen multiple comments that recommend we maintain or cut benefits for the well to do and increase the amount they pay for these benefits.

Why don't we totally eliminate payroll taxes altogether, eliminate medicare, eliminate social security and care for our elderly via Medicaid and welfare?

It would eliminate similar agencies and ensure that the savers/investors pay and the unfortunate/unwise receive." G2A

A couple of people mentioned that we should encourage earlier enrollment to take advantage of receiving premiums from younger/healthier people. I think most of the premiums are paid via the payroll tax. If this is the case, the earlier people "retire" the earlier they stop paying premiums (ie FICA) and start taking money out of the trust fund." G2A

"Your ignorance of how Medicare works (and I presume your ignorance also of how Social Security works) is appalling.

Medicare beneficiaries pay monthly premiums. In addition to all the Medicare tax they paid during their active working years.

Medicare is partially means-based: If you have a healthy, beyond-Social Security retirement income, your Medicare premium goes up. It doesn't take much income for that to happen. The whole system is geared to providing all retirees with basic health care, and with a basic income

That income is also means-based: Higher-wage workers receive higher Social Security benefits per month and per year. However, if you have any retirement income beyond Social Security, which most higher-wage workers do, you pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, with those taxes going right back into the SS trust fund.

To advocate eliminating carefully-drawn plans like Medicare and Social Security in favor of charity-based insecurity in retirement is to deny social safety nets as a concept. I can think of nothing more selfish." Connie

"Hi Connie,
So apparently you support the current use of means based testing to reduce the benefits received and increase the taxes paid for those who paid the most into the programs?

Do you also support removing the cap like the rest of these commenters seem to? Thereby increasing the amount paid by those who pay the most already?

By the way, I never said "charity based"...

Now think of the benefits:
- Low income people wouldn't have to pay those high tax rates. (ie payroll taxes)
- It would be perfectly means based, no one with significant savings would get a penny from the system.
- People would need to spend their wealth before receiving benefits. Less need to worry about that pesky inheritance tax." G2A

"Ah, yes, the 'pesky inheritance tax.'  The estate tax only applies to deceased individuals with an estate of 5.3 million, or couples with an estate of over 10 million in worth. 99.8 percent of American households don't pay any estate tax. The estate tax is supposed to exist so that America isn't saddled with a worthless caste of landed aristocrats." Jonathan

Do you support people spending their money waste fully?
Or do you support people saving and investing?

Why would people save invest and create jobs just to give it to the government at their end of days? Would the death tax encourage you to work hard, save, invest, etc.

Just curious." G2A

" Why would they care what happened to their money after they're dead? It's not as if their heirs will be sleeping under bridges with an estate of "only" $4 million.

By the way, very few people with that kind of wealth got it merely by "working hard." If hard work were the only road to wealth, then hotel maids and migrant farm workers would be the richest people in America. Some won the parental lottery--the Waltons and the Kochs and Mitt Romney, for example--while others just happened to get support from the right people at the right time or started out merely affluent and clawed their way to the top through cheating, bribery, treating their employees like slaves, driving all their competitors out of business, etc." Karen
"I support the Estate tax.

Q: "Do you support people spending their money waste fully?
Or do you support people saving and investing?"

A: I support the estate tax. People can choose to spend or save the rest of their money as they see fit.

Q: "Why would people save invest and create jobs just to give it to the government at their end of days?"

You seem to be operating under the incorrect assumption that there is some magical machine that you put money in the top of, and out of the bottom come jobs. The idea that you just' invest money and make jobs' is provably false. I guess by that logic, Stuart Mills is a great job creator, But to answer your loaded question, I would imagine that people invest and save in order to spend money on things they need and want... like most humans do. When they die, they don't really need it anymore. I guess that if you are motivated to not work hard because you won't get to keep your money when you are dead, then you have some other issues you need to work through.

Again, 99.8 percent of American households pay no estate tax... I number I quoted because you labeled the estate tax as 'pesky,' when it only affects .02 percent of the population. Something that only affects super-rich dead people doesn't qualify as pesky in my book.

Long story short, the estate tax would have zero effect on my fiscal and work habits were my wife and I worth over 10 million bucks.

Or do you believe that "he who dies with the most toys wins?" Just curious." Jonathan
 Now my response should be familiar to my readers.  And I sure don't think it is any worse than Karen's comment that says people with money "started out merely affluent and clawed their way to the top through cheating, bribery, treating their employees like slaves, driving all their competitors out of business, etc"  Yet the Moderator chose differently.

So my comment went something like this...

Family money and values matter, it is the way in which I have been taught to show my respect for my ancestors who worked hard, saved hard and invested wisely.  For generations the parents in my extended family have helped their kids get a start, and have worked to grow the family's wealth.  During which they modeled learning, continuous improvement, working, saving, charity and investing.  Personally I think these are good values that more American citizens should adopt.

Now my Parents have been married for 51 years, they don't smoke, don't take glamorous vacations, don't gamble much, only had 3 children, they saved, they invested and consistently gave to charities.  Yet for some reason Jonathan and Karen seem to think our family's wealth should be forfeit upon their passing.

This I will never understand. Do we want to encourage the making of poor financial decisions by taking from the savers / investors and giving to those who enjoyed/ spent?  I mean it is hard to get ahead when you are dragging some of these anchors: divorced, single head of household, low education, unambitious, gambling, smoking, drinking, drugs, lavish travel, new cars often, etc.

Now I understand that some folks truly have bad luck, and we need to help them out.  Unfortunately I think some Liberals want to help out everyone who is poor whether it was bad luck, poor decisions or laziness.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chick-a-Fil: Hiring the Christian Way

A reader emailed me this link and it is rather fascinating.  It describes the Chick-fil-A hiring process for franchisee operators. No wonder they have been sued multiple times.

LinkedIn: How Chick-fil-A Hires

It seems they have very discriminating tastes.
"Cathy told the magazine he is looking for married candidates (he believes they are more industrious) who are loyal, wholesome and treat their families well."
“If a man can’t manage his own life, he can’t manage a business,” Cathy said, according to Forbes. 
They make a lot of sense to me.  Thoughts?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Liberals Want Education to Fail?

I tried to reply at MinnPost, however I apparently ran afoul of the mediator again...  My comment went something  like the statements that follow these interesting perspectives from Paul and Matt.
Now you are in my world of expertise. Natural variability and surprises occur in all aspects of design, manufacture and test. The most successful companies and employees are those that manage it most effectively. I am amused by the idea that Apple controls Google Motorola and Samsung. If they do, they are doing a poor job.

As for indifference, it seems to me that many of the commenters here want to double down on a system that has left millions and millions of children behind.

Many Superintendents, Administrators and Teachers get buy outs to make them go away. The current system has delivered millions of adults who are not academically capable enough to get a good paying job. I think a change is worth the risk.

Nobody demands that the education system "teach to the test", but the students had better be able to answer the questions on the test if they want to go to college, a good technical college or get a high paying job." G2A

"You need to decouple your mind from the notion that the only purpose of education is to A. Provide the business community with skilled labor and B. Provide the means for individuals to accumulate wealth. Now to be clear, those are both ancillary effects of a strong education system,
but they cannot be its focus. Education is what provides us civilization itself. It is a base level necessity lest we descend into dystopian savagery. You see into quantify, to commoditze knowledge and wisdom to parcel it out in the smallest, cheapest possible form necessary to satisfy your narrow needs. In so doing you by necessity homogenize and standardize as much as you can, as is dictated by the god of efficiency so many of you technocratic conservatives worship. Unfortunately, that isn't how learning works, it requires many differing approaches across the wide spectrum of students, from a wide spectrum of educators. In practical terms this means expense, more teachers, more materials, more schools to achieve smaller classrooms, more individualized learning, more technology, more everything. To which, the answer from your side has always been, and will always be, NO! Far from indifferent, I am simply actively opposed to all the solutions you propose, as I see no good faith from your side that your end goals are anything but self serving. You want my solution? Compulsory, taxpayer funded education pre-k through a bachelor's or technical equivalent (with those equivalents requiring a certain proportion of non-technical for lack of a better term "liberal arts" based coursework, the civilization stuff J mentioned earlier) Come up with the money however you like. Make a degree or equivalent or progress toward one a feature of every prison sentence handed out. Make business pay for the retraining of every employee they lay off without cause. In short, make a good education the baseline expectation for every citizen and put forth the resources to do so. You can quibble all you like about the price, tell me how throwing money at the problem won't work, what have you. The biggest portion of the change I seek is the transition of thought from believing education is a NICs thing to have if you can afford it, to thinking orbit as a baseline necessity, like air, food, water, shelter, and treating it accordingly. From asking "why should we spend so much money on educating our kids?" to "how could we ever think to spend LESS to educate our kids?" Matt
 "I am not sure what is self serving about demanding that every child has the knowledge and capabilities to earn a middle class or better living in our modern competitive world. I am thinking reading, writing, math and basic science capabilities would be an acceptable minimum standard. The challenge is that we spend a great deal of money on education in the US and have many many students who can not even meet this minimal threshold.

How would you know the education system was successful in your version?

Or does society just give unlimited funds to the system and trust them when they say it is excellent?

Remember that we have done that for decades and the academic achivement gap still is huge." G2A

"I don't care if ones education leads to employment, middle class or otherwise. As eleoquently stated by Mr. Udstrand below, education is not a commodity to be sold for a return. My standard for success would be functioning citizens, capable of engaging in the day to day business of society, capable of playing an active role in their own governance, capable of resisting persuasion from any number of interests whose goals do not align with their own. The ends you strive for, a skilled workforce for the minimum input cost possible, addresses none of this. Malleable corporate drones might make for a useful business investment, but also a disastrous society." Matt

"A lot of conservatives really don't understand the fundamental purpose of education, and that's why it was a huge mistake to consider their agenda. First we abandoned innovation in the public schools because conservatives demanded that we get "back to basics". Then we developed amnesia regarding the aforementioned innovations and decided that entrepreneurs were the only people on the planet who could possible save our educational system.... with charter schools and vouchers. Standardized tests are the legacy of the back to basics movement, and most people now agree that No Child Left Behind program that made those tests a central feature is a dud. The result is that we've made almost no progress and in many ways rolled backwards over the last three decades. It shouldn't surprise anyone because on a very basic level a lot of powerful conservatives never really believed in public education in the first place. Historically they've been fighting it one way or another since the time of Thomas Jefferson.

What many conservatives don't get, is that education is about developing good intellects, teaching people how to think, not WHAT to think. A good education system trains people how to think, not what to believe. You pick up diplomas and degrees along the way, and you can specialize in later stages of education, but the degree is product of intellect, not merely ticket to affluence.

The problem is we've moved away from a model of an education system that produces good intellects into a market based education system that sees degrees as tickets to affluence. We have a degree "market" that sells education. The result is that we graduate more and more people who have degrees... and poor intellects. I had a friend who used to say we were becoming a nation of people who were increasingly "degreed" but not educated. You can see that in the recent polls that have found that Americans who are ignorant about a variety of issues are NOT uneducated in the sense that they've graduated high school and gotten more advanced degrees. They've gotten the degrees they need to enter the job market, but they don't have the intellect to sort out or recognize reliable information and evidence.

And of course the chamber of commerce always supports the wrong approach to education :)" Paul

"So your answer is send the education system more money and trust that they will take care of things.

And send more checks to the adults who are unable to get jobs, because the education system failed them.

Interesting concept... Now I understand why the war on poverty is failing." G2A
Based on Matt and Paul's comments, I am beginning to believe that Liberals truly aren't interested in helping all children escape poverty by ensuring that they learn skills and knowledge that will help them attain a middle class or better life. Maybe the Conservatives are correct that Liberals truly want to keep them poor and voting Democrat.

I certainly hope not.  Thoughts?

Ps. As you know, I enjoy philosophy, psychology, critical thinking, creative thinking, team work, communication and many other areas as much as most other people.  However these need to be in addition to a basic knowledge of math, english and science, not instead of them...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Myths About Charter Schools

Short on time, but we are back at it regarding Charter schools.
MinnPost 7 myths regarding charter schools

This Ember Reichgott Junge pretty much nails it.

Here is one of my comments:
"Since I am more concerned with the well being of the students and less worried about the well being of the Teacher's Union, I actually enjoyed the article.

The citizens of Minnesota actually raise the money and fund K-12 education for the good of the students/society, not for the good of the districts, teachers, bureaucrats or unions.

Though I do understand the frustration that governmental and union personnel feel when the parents and children are given a competitive choice. I mean it reduces their power, compensation, etc.

That would be hard to swallow."
And strangely enough this one also morphed to discussing education in MN.

MinnPost Peril of dismissing cost of doing business in MN

Here is one of my comments:
"2 vs 20 
2 classrooms located next to each other.
Both have 25 students of equal demographics.

Room 1 has a gifted energetic organized teacher with 2 years of experience who is payed $38,000/yr. Students are engaged and excelling.

Room 2 has an ok teacher with 20 years of experience who is paid $58,000/yr. Students do okay but the class is somewhat disruptive and homework is lost sometimes.

Does this make sense to you? Rationale?

Worse yet. Budget cuts occur because this a shrinking school district. The gifted 2 year teacher is let go and the ok teacher is kept.

Does this really seem good for the students? Rationale?"


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Consequences of Ignoring MN Costs

This was a fairly interesting post that of course the Liberal commenters quickly worked to "dismiss".
MinnPost Dismissing the cost of doing business in Minnesota will be at our peril

I thought that was funny given the title of the post...  And some of the comments of course praised the DFL/Dayton tax and spend policies of last year for our great economy.  Here are some related posts.

MinnPost MN adds 8,500 Jobs in June (3900 were gov't jobs)
MinnPost Franken Defends DFL Policies (doing better than Wisc)

Of course I posted my usual view.
"Please note that the recovery started long before Dayton and the DFL's recent tax and spend work. The reality is that we don't know the impact of last years changes yet. The good times we are experiencing now came from the GOP's fiscal restraint.

Time will tell the impact of these higher taxes and additional spending."

McFadden Football Team Commercial

The regular MinnPost commenters are throwing stones at the McFadden TV commercial.  Which of course I thought was fun and caring rather than the typical political TV Ad cesspool.

MinnPost  McFadden Commercial

Here was how I commented:
"Truth In Advertising...

If this is the team, then he just showed the truth. If he had shown his work with minorities or charity, folks here would question his sincerity.

The reality is that none of the Liberal commenters here could be swayed by anything he showed, said or did. And the good thing is that you are not the people being targeted.

Moderates are the target and I think it will play well with them. Definitely better than Franken's let government save you message."
Of course that triggered a variety of the typical Left leaning responses.  See link for more detail.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

MN Gay Marriage Backlash

Sorry for the delay, I am in the lovely Greensville/Spartansburg SC area visiting a customer.  And I have been busy stirring the pot over at MinnPost.  Briana is reporting on the apparent lack of back lash against politicians who voted for LGBT marriage against the will of their constituents.  I of course think it is a bit early to be counting those chickens.

Also, I am having trouble getting a response posted to these:
"Can you choose to be gay, John? I couldn't. Just like my gay and lesbian friends can't choose to be straight. Does it matter why they are wired that way? Do we need to find the gene for why you are straight?" Dan

"Why is it any of the government's concern that a person is gay or straight? Why, especially, would it matter to anyone who would espouse a "small government ideology?"

Falling back on the old "will of the people" meme isn't going to work here." RB

"Your insistence and/or acceptance of a genetic disposition is irrelevant and unnecessary. What needs improvement is the ability of some people to keep their nose out of others personal lives." Jason
 My response goes something like this:
The reality is that people have no "right" to marry.  It is a privelage granted by the society in which one lives.  This dependent on the beliefs of the society in which you live.  So this topic will likely be alive and well 100 years from now as societies values vascillate. 
As for Conservatives being bigots because they believe LGBT marriage is an unacceptable behavior that should not be recognized and rewarded by the government and our society.  Are Liberals who are against Polyandry, Polygamy, Incestual, etc marriages bigots because these relationships offend their values.  I mean those people are likely as in love as Bill and Tim, and Jane and Joan.  How dare you enforce your values on their need to be rewarded and recognized?


One more thought.
I am less interested in LGBT marriage and more interested in the concept of representative government. What should citizens do when their politician votes against their will.
This is an excellent case study. These folks voted to make something illegal forever. Then their politician voted immediately to make it legal.
Very interesting...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rich People Are Robbers, Cheats and Sociopaths?

Jon had some pretty strong opinions to express as a comment on.  MinnPost Franken Defends Democrat Policies  As is often the case, his Liberal attacking comments were posted and my simple rebuttal was blocked. So here we go again:
"I am always fascinated with the concept of their "fair share".

Someone making $15,000 gets to use the schools, roads, bridges, libraries, services and pays almost no taxes after you figure in the cash benefits they receive like food stamps, medicaid, earned income tax credit, heating assistance, housing assistance, etc.

Apparently according to the link, someone making $1,000,000 pays ~$400,0000 in taxes and gets none of the cash benefits listed above. Yet apparently you don't think they are paying their fair share.

It is very interesting." G2A

"A billionaire has the same advantages as every other American? That's laughable. A billionaire gets what a billionaire wants and that's more money, more houses, more cars, more boats, just more of anything they want. Including welfare. True it's more than what we normally think of when we think of welfare but it's still welfare. There is no way a person on the bottom will ever achieve that kind of wealth and privilege by legal means. In fact most of the Robber barons of the 1800's were exactly that, robbers, cheats, and at best just sociopaths.

There comes a point where a person no longer cares about anyone but themselves. Even among other sociopaths any chance they get they'll cut each other loose if they figure it's advantageous to themselves, if and when they can. To the majority of the citizens of the US, the TP'ers are nothing if not hazardous to their lives. While not all are sociopaths, the TP'ers that aren't follow them blindly towards a cliff of their own making. They are listening to the crying of the wealthy TP'ers claims that they are being put upon by the poor. Good grief." Jon

My unacceptable response went something like this...
"So do you really believe that all these American Billionaires are Robbers, Cheats and Sociopaths?  I guess I disagree...
I just can not determine why some of these comments are blocked...

What do you think, are rich people robbers, cheats and sociopaths that need to be relieved of their ill gotten wealth?

Do the wealthy get something extra for their taxes that us normal tax payers don't? If so, what?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wealth Fluctuations

From   G2A Americans Still Living Large
"There's not much evidence, in fact, that the wealthy took a huge hit. Their incomes continue to grow, while the bottom 90% or so have stagnated or declined since 2008." Sean
I find this an interesting comment, I mean those with wealth (ie stocks, real estate, etc) should have taken a beating in 2008 when the stock and real estate markets crashed.  Pew Research: Recovery Facts

And yes I understand that those who lost their jobs and didn't have the skills to find new ones had it worse. Please remember that I lost mine in Dec2012 in part due to the slow recovery, and in part due to a really aggressively reckless company President.  On the upside he was shown the door about 1 year later, which is good for my friends who still work there.

Now I appreciate that I was fortunate since I have invested aggressively since I was 25 years old, both in stock/bonds/home and in my continuous improvement. (ie job skills/qualifications and connections)  Also, I am a buy and hold individual, Sean is correct that I saw a huge decrease in my net worth in 2008.  I mean between stocks going down by 40+% and my home value going down by 20% it was devastating to watch...  However since I held firm, didn't sell, kept buying, etc I am doing very well today.

So I can relate to both sides of this topic.  Sean do you have any sources to back up your statement?  Here is a link with lots of graphs. Global Economic Intersection

One last thought on this...  Remember that if I own Subaru or Hyundai stock, I make money when American citizens buy these low domestic content vehicles...  However the American workers only make money if you buy the one with the most domestic content....   Just a reminder that your savings or joy likely means lower employment levels and wages in the USA.  I saw the folks in China making good use of the trillions of dollars we have willingly sent them. (ie high speed railways, incredible housing projects, wind powered generators, etc)

More Links:
PEW Research: How It Has Changed America
FOX News: Impact On Boomers
EPI The Shadow

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Clinton and Dayton: Really...

I thought these topics and surreal comments were interesting.

CNN Clinton on Hobby Lobby Ruling
MPR Dayton on IL Union Ruling

It seems that Clinton believes government should be able to force people/businesses to pay for what they believe is murder, and Dayton believes that government should be able to force private daycare providers to pay Union fees.

I will never understand these big government folks.  I mean if a person wants an IUD or morning after pill, work for a company that finds these acceptable or pay for them yourself.  And the idea that government can pressure people to pay Union fees seems oh so wrong to me. The Union should attract members by adding value, just like other businesses and groups do.


G2A Is Pregnancy a Disease?
G2A Childcare Union Dues