Monday, October 27, 2014

MN Politics: DFL Cause and Effect

Sorry for the slow rate of posts, however it is a BEAUTIFUL Fall and being on a PC seems somewhat like a waste of a blessing.  Though the lake water is very very cold...  We pulled the toys off the lake yesterday. (brrrr)

So the commenters at MinnPost are once again praising the marvelous economy and employment that the DFL and Dayton have given us.
MinnPost Big Business

Of course this puzzles me, so I left my usual response.  To which none of them apparently have a response.
""Now you do realize that the Democrats in MN did not do anything in MN until ~16 months ago, and many of the laws / taxes did not take hold until later.

My point that no one knows what the DFL changes will mean for MN. Our current success is still a result of fiscal restraint that occurred before..."

Since large companies take a long time to do anything, I assume the changes motivated by the DFL controlled Governor and Legislature are just coming to or soon will come to light.

My guess the GOP is responsible for the changes until this Spring, and the DFL motivated changes will begin soon. For better or worse.

I mean we have not even seen the impact of the minimum wage change, which is only partly implemented." G2A

CBS Dayton Hockey Ad Reality Check

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Robbinsdale 281 Referendum

RDale Referendum Information

My Views on Question 1
  • Voting YES is a no brainer, it just extends the existing locally supplied operating funds.
  • Without it, our district would need to make extremely painful cuts in 2 years.  This would be really bad for our community.
My Views on Question 2
  • Anyone who maintains their own home network and computers understands that it is not cheap or easy in this ever changing world.
  • In the old days, a school system did not need routers, servers, hubs, antennas, security, computers, etc to be a premier school.  It is not the old days...
  • If you want our community to compete with Wayzata, Minnetonka, Hopkins, etc for excellent citizens, and if you want them to be willing to pay good money for your home at some point, our schools need to be technologically equal or better than them.
  • So a YES vote is a vote to maintain your community and home value, a NO vote is vote to give up and let your neighborhood degrade and your home value drop.
  • I guess Voting YES is a no brainer in this case also.
The unfortunate reality is that much of the housing stock in our communities is not highly desireable in the eyes of modern higher income buyers.  However if we maintain excellent schools, we can attract young middle class families who don't want to spend money commuting in from St Michael, Elk River, Hanover, etc.  To do this we must invest in maintaining modern highly desireable schools and safe communities.

To say... "They are spending too much" is to deny the simple reality that this is a contest and the communities with the best schools / communities win.  Smart responsible parents/citizens simply will not move to and invest in a community where the current citizens are unwilling to do the same!!!  Would you?


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Earth Warming and Resistance Forces

Since I am back in the states, exhausted and the weather is beautiful.

I am going to be a lazy blogger.  Lance wrote this piece that the CAGW folks loved.  However I asked one question and did not get any answers.   MinnPost Earth Warming Faster  Thoughts?
"There is a form of insanity peculiar to humans that comes into play when politics and money are allowed to dominate in discussions in which they have no legitimate place, or only peripheral involvement at most. It is called "magical thinking".

People, most people, are so used to feeding every issue under the sun into the political meat grinder that they think they can do it with physics too, as if the basic laws by which the universe operates can be influenced by opinion polls, PAC money, votes (bought & sold), and postings on comment pages. I blame it on our abysmal educational effort in science and mathematics. People opt out of the "hard" classes, but then proceed to blather about the topics they didn't study.

MODELS: AGW denialists love to attack climate models as being inaccurate. You know what? They are. That's why they're just models, which are by definition imprecise approximations of the real world, using only a subset of all the myriad variables that go into the real world system. They are useful in testing which variables are the most important, thus improving our understanding of the natural system, and over time become more precise as they are adjusted based on new data. But this is all a red herring. We don't need models to know what happens when the Earth is out of energy balance, because we have ample record of what *has actually happened* in the Earth's past when energy imbalance has occurred due to nonhuman forcings. We also have the examples of Venus and Mars, which started out much like the early Earth, but went in radically different directions. The bottom line is that when more energy is coming into the system than is going back out, the world warms, and this has various consequences to the climate system and the biosphere. When warming is extreme or very rapid, the climate system is destabilized and species go extinct. It's all there in the paleo record, you only have to look.

PHYSICS: CO2, methane, and other gases are greenhouse gases. This means when they are present in an atmosphere, they retain heat by preventing it from radiating back into space. There's no good arguing about it, this is a physical fact. Add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and more energy is retained in the system. Period, end of story. As I and many others have noted, physics cannot be bargained with, wished away, or voted out of office. It just is, and it had better be accounted for when making decisions. Ask any engineer or astronaut about physics. Leave it out of your calculations and disaster results.

ENERGY: The various forcings impacting the Earth's energy balance can be measured with precision. Pre-industrial civilization, the Earth was more or less in energy balance. Natural forcings would sometimes push the climate toward cooling, and sometimes toward warming, but over time the system would re-balance. Human activity has now pushed the Earth out of energy balance. A NASA study ( of the Earth's energy balance during the period 2005-2010 - a period of unusually low solar activity - found that reduced solar radiance had a negative forcing of 0.25 watts per square meter of the Earth's surface. If the Earth were in energy balance, that would result in cooling. However, the carbon people are pumping into the atmosphere produces a positive (warming) forcing of 0.58 watts per square meter, more than twice the natural negative forcing (there will never be another ice age as long as humans maintain an industrial civilization). This energy is not being radiated back into space, it is staying in the system. 0.58 watts per square meter. Multiply that times the surface area of the Earth - that's a heck of a lot of energy. In order to restore energy balance, atmospheric CO2 would need to be reduced to no more than 350 ppm. We are now at 400 ppm, give or take a couple of ppm. The last time this happened, horses and camels lived in arctic. Given that we are doing nothing effective to reduce emissions, we will certainly reach 450 ppm. The last time that happened, there was no sheet ice anywhere on the planet, and that means dramatically higher sea levels.

TIPPING POINTS: The issue is not just the CO2 level, that isn't even the most important issue by itself. The real danger is crossing a tipping point after which warming accelerates dramatically and out of any hope of control. In the past, long periods of warming led eventually to the melting of methane hydrates, releasing vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere, which abruptly spiked the temperature. Methane lasts only a short time in the atmosphere, but is oxidized to CO2, which lasts a long time. Temperatures spike, and all the extra CO2 holds in the excess energy. Civilization would end, as quite likely would the human (and all or nearly all other) species. Depending on how things play out, the world could enter a Venus Syndrome phase of unrestrained warming. It's just nothing to play with. In recent years, elevated release of methane has been detected in the arctic. It seems the melting may have already started. We had better hope not, because if it has, we have no hope of stopping it no matter what we do.

BUT NO WARMING?: Nonsense. It just hasn't been where you expected. According to the same study, "the upper ocean has absorbed 71 percent of the excess energy and the Southern Ocean, where there are few Argo floats, has absorbed 12 percent. The abyssal zone of the ocean, between about 3,000 and 6,000 meters (9,800 and 20,000 feet) below the surface, absorbed five percent, while ice absorbed eight percent and land four percent." The energy is there, the ocean has absorbed most of it. The ocean may temporarily be keeping the Piper at bay, but the Piper will be paid in the end.

CONSEQUENCES: Greenhouse gases have risen this high and higher in the distant past, and the Earth has been far warmer than it is now. Life survived. Life did, but not most species. Once major difference between then and now is that pre-humans, these changes happened over periods of thousands and tens of thousands of years. Species had time to adapt if they could. They had time to migrate. Not so, now. We are accomplishing in a couple of centuries what took tens of thousands of years through natural means. The natural world has no time to adapt. We are already in the midst of a 6th Great Extinction, mostly due to human activity. We have also confiscated and farmed or developed vast areas of habitat, and imposed blockades on most migration routes. Adding human induced climate change to the pressures we have already put on the biosphere means that most species will not be able to adapt, with enormous risk of wholesale collapse. If that doesn't scare you, you're not thinking hard enough. That is the chief problem from my point of view, because as much as we might like to think we're separate from nature, or somehow above and in control of it, we are not. We cannot survive without the web of life that supports us, and it is in imminent peril. That doesn't even get to other consequences, such as agricultural disruption (7+ billion people well on our way to 10 billion, and they all want to be fed), sea level rise when the ice melts (how many trillion $ to move our seaports "inland", or try to shelter them with massive seawalls?), acidification of the oceans (attacks the food web from the bottom up), human migrations (if you think immigration is a problem now, wait until the heat is on), and the list goes on.

The part of all this that makes me angry is that the denialists are willing to subject their descendants to all of this, mainly because they don't want to spend any money now to change how we do business, or compromise their lifestyles in any way for the benefit of our posterity, or because they calculate they can cynically use the issue to win elections in the short term. The Koch brothers I understand - they're in it for the money and the power, and they won't be around for the consequences, so what the hell. But why their disciples, who are not rich and powerful and will be victimized by all of this, allow themselves to be used so cynically is something that escapes me. I don't understand how they can care so little for their grandkids and great-grandkids. I can only put it down to gaps in education.

I am reminded that Carl Sagan warned that advanced civilizations may be rare, because they may tend to snuff themselves. With regard to climate, he said "Our intelligence and our technology have given us the power to affect the climate. How will we use this power? Are we willing to tolerate ignorance and complacency in matters that affect the entire human family? Do we value short-term advantages above the welfare of the Earth? Or will we think on longer time scales, with concern for our children and our grandchildren, to understand and protect the complex life-support systems of our planet? The Earth is a tiny and fragile world. It needs to be cherished."

Carl was wise. And we can no longer tolerate ignorance and complacency in such matters." Lance

""Natural forcings would sometimes push the climate toward cooling, and sometimes toward warming, but over time the system would re-balance." So if humans are accelerating the balance in one direction, when and how will nature adjust to push it back? The CAGW folks seem to deny that Mother Nature has self corrected before and will again.

As for Venus and Mars, maybe they are just like the story of the 3 bears. Venus was too close to the sun, and Mars was too far from the sun, whereas Earth was just right..." G2A

Thursday, October 9, 2014

School Cliques: How to be Popular?

I tend to be a practical person who isn't in to style, fads, sports, arts, etc.  And I have never felt a desire to act differently or dress up to impress people.  Therefore I need your assistance.

I got these images from the RDale Demographics presentation.  They definitely show that the demographics of our student population with regard to affluence are changing very quickly.  Now that would not be a problem except that low income is the factor that almost always is directly correlated to poor academic performance, struggling schools, falling property values, higher crime, etc.

Now there are many factors that are driving this change. (housing stock, neighbors, businesses, stores, crime rate, schools, aging community, etc)  For this discussion, let's focus on schools since that is why I typically lose my younger neighbors when their oldest child is ready to go to kindergarten. Remember, I live near 494 & Rockford Rd, so we have newer houses, businesses, safe streets, etc. Yet still they run.

With this in mind, what can our community do to stop my young smart well to do neighbors from selling their homes and running when their children approach school age?  I understand Numbers Guy and R Five's views that the money needs to be spent wisely, however the reality is that we also need to be judged as modern, safe, effective, and have lots of offerings.  How do we become a "Popular District" again and therefore a "Popular Community"?  Are we willing to invest to attain that status?

Robbinsdale Vote YES Org
Robbinsdale Vote YES Facebook

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

District 281: Vote YES Info Mtg

I have been so busy with the work and the MinnPost topics that I have been neglecting my local duties.

District 281 Referendum Info Page
League of Women Voters Info Mtg: 8Oct14 at ESC at 7 PM
Robbinsdale Vote YES Org
Robbinsdale Vote YES Facebook
SUN Letter 1
SUN Letter 2
SUN Decrease in Levy

In case you are curious given my fiscal conservative leanings, I will be voting YES on both questions.  My logic is pretty simple, I believe in funding our communities at the lowest and most efficient level.  So as a resident of the Robbinsdale school district, I believe it is critical to make sure our schools are well funded by us.

And if you need a selfish reason for voting YES.  If our schools are not Good to Excellent, Good to Excellent families with financial means will leave our community.  Which will leave a void to be filled by others who are less particular, which makes it harder to maintain Good to Excellent schools, which degrades our community, which reduces your property value, which reduces your safety, etc.

So remember to Vote YES on both questions !!!  And if you want to make sure it passes for the good of the children, community or your property values.  START VOLUNTEERING NOW !!!  Only ~4 weeks until the vote.

As always, this a blog.
Anybody out there have a reason for voting NO that they want to raise?
Or kinder and less pragmatic/general reasons for voting YES?

As time permits, I will be digging into the details and discussing further.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Americans Want Everything

We were discussing "excessive executive compensation" and if government should interfere in some way.  This got me thinking about all the ways in which us Americans are goofy.  We want so much, and so much of it is not aligned:
  • We want good paying jobs with good benefits
  • We want good deals when shopping
  • We want the freedom to buy what we like.
  • We want investments that earn good returns
Of course this makes no sense, does it?  I mean:
  • if our retirement investments are not returning adequate growth and dividends, we change to a different investment where the returns are better.
  • if not ourselves, we delegate maximizing our gain to the pension managers, the mutual fund house, the financial planner. our company, etc.
  • to fulfill our demand and stay in business, companies need to make more profits than their competitors. (ie raise stock price and afford dividend payouts)
  • to maximize profits, companies need to aggressively control costs while attracting and retaining the best employees they can afford.
  • the vast majority of American customers are not going to pay more for a product or service just because the company chooses to pay their employees more than necessary.
  • the vast majority of American customers want to maximize the value of the transaction for themselves. (ie low cost, high quality, high features, etc)
  • the company is then highly incented to hire employees where their quality and effectiveness is high and cost is low.
  • the investors who are often employees and customers demand high profitability
  • the employees who are often customers and investors demand high wages and benefits
  • the customers who are often investors and employees demand high value and low cost
Let's use GE as an example, I would dare to say that everyone with stock or blended mutual funds in their 401K, IRA, Pension, etc own some of GE.  And we all are customers of GE, whether we know it or not.

With this in mind, are we okay if they start paying their employees more than the market requires?  Remembering that as their costs increase and profits decrease, the growth of our retirement fund slows.

Are we willing to buy their product just because they pay their employees more, even if it came at the expense of less R&D and their product does not keep up with the features, quality, effectiveness, value, etc of a competitor who paid their employees less?

And yes GE is paying their CEO a small fortune, however that is because the Board of Directors thinks that CEO is worth the expense...  I mean most of them are also GE stock holders who want to maximize the return on their investment by attracting and retaining the best employees they can afford.

That said, I do agree that there is too much mutual back scratching and collusion between Board members and Management now days.  Though I am not sure how to control this if the financial houses who own most of the stock in our names don't work to fix it.

So are you willing to buy low value product or accept lower returns on your investments if a companies decides to pay higher wages and benefits than their competitors?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Liberals are Never Happy

I am so tired of Liberals saying that the Conservatives are changing and becoming irrationally Conservative, when it is pretty obvious that it is the Liberals who are never satisfied in their effort to pull this country towards becoming a "Social Democracy" like the folks in Northern Europe.
~100 years ago people got to use 95% of the GDP as they wished, now people are down to having 62% of the GDP to use as they wish.  And if the Left has it's way that will be reduced even further.
So in reality, Conservatives have likely become more Liberal than their predecessors as they tried to "negotiate" with the Liberals and meet them half way.  However enough is never enough for the Social Democracy folks, so when them Conservatives finally say enough is enough...  The Liberals have the nerve to call the Conservatives Extremists who are unwilling to "negotiate". 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why So Few Active Voters?

These are pretty interesting articles and discussions.

MinnPost Why do so Few Participate?
MinnPost We Make It More Difficult

It is hard to understand how the voter participation rate can be so so low...