Monday, July 30, 2018

School Updates by Erin

Redefining Capital Gains?

From Sean:
"Oh, hi, it's just the Trump Administration mulling over executive action to give wealthy folks another $100B tax cut.  NYT: Trump Administration Mulls a Unilateral Tax Cut for the Wealthy"

Get in Line with the Program

I found these comments by Bannon humorous.
NW Bannon Tell Koch's to Get with the Program

I mean the Koch brothers are wealthy, old, popular, smart and real Republicans. (ie free trade, pro-business, lower government cost, etc)  Why would they care what Bannon thinks...
Axios Charles Koch Criticizes Trade Actions
Yahoo Koch Network Pushes Back

I mean the mess is of Trump's making, the GOP will need to deal with the potential consequences in Nov.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Should Trump be Impeached?

Sean was not very interested in discussing Trump's Good Day, so here is what he would like to discuss.
"Everything I have said in this thread has been *if* what Cohen is saying is true. You yourself said you think Trump knew about the meeting. 
So what's the threshold that has to met for you? Why are you so reluctant to talk about it or offer any sort of opinion about this? You ran multiple threads on the merits of impeaching Obama where you opined freely on the pros/cons. (Oops, your bias is showing again!)" Sean
Now just for the record...
"Please remember that I was actually against the silly Conservatives who thought impeaching Obama made sense
"J, Maybe you can enlighten me and save me some research. With some Conservatives openly dreaming of impeaching Obama, could you tell me what grounds they are imagining using? I may not always agree with the President, however this seems a bit out there. Thoughts?" G2A 
"I don't think I ever said I supported impeaching him. Or encouraged anyone to do so. Please note the question mark in the post's title. Hiram and yourself said it would be a big deal if it happened and that the GOP and/or country would be damaged if they took that action. I said that ~50% of the population would support or not be against it. As for grounds, here is what one group thinks... It does seem they would need a better smoking gun to sway that middle 20%." G2A 
I am happy to discuss the pros / cons here however I think you want to just "get out the rope"... Kind of like Jerry wanted to do when Obama was President. In both cases I recommend letting the process work." G2A
Since I was not for impeaching Bush or Obama, I will need to do some research on what offenses are cause for impeachment.
Heritage Stds for Impeachment

The VOX piece was pretty fascinating, and based on it I don't think Trump is going anywhere anytime soon.  At least as long as the GOP holds a majority in the House of Representatives.

Now for the question...  Should he be impeached?  At this time and based on what has been proven, I would say no.

If Michael Cohen can prove that Trump knew about the meeting with the Russians before it occurred.  And Trump has been lying to us citizens for 1+ years about the topic, then I think he should be impeached.  Not necessarily because he knew about the meeting, but because he LIED about this very serious topic.

Also, he should be impeached if it is proven that he turned into such a panzy in front of Putin because he is compromised.

Economics and Weather Forecasting

I have never been a fan of Krugman so I do find this one somewhat humorous... :-)

NYT Krugman Forecast On Election Night 2016

FOX Economy Opinion Piece

How Long Can China Keep a Lid On It?

Now I love travelling China because the cities are relatively clean, the taxi drivers are pretty honest, no tipping is expected and the people are great.  However this in part is due to China's incredible"Big Brother" monitoring and intervention.

CNN China Crimes Against Humanity
VOX Me Too in China
DB China Try to Scrub LGBT Content
CBS China's Behavior Monitoring
Honest Shanghai
Guardian China's Great Firewall

I mean if you don't quite fit in, follow the rules or disagree...  They may pick you up and deposit you into a "re-education center" for an extended stay.

All this leads me to wonder how well it is going to work for China to have a thriving middle class while stifling their freedom of Religion, Sexuality, Political Values and Human Expression in General.  As I said, overall I love travelling China, however physical security forces / cameras are everywhere and the internet is almost not functional at times due to the Great Firewall.

Overall I would say that my friends over there are ambivalent about the whole thing.

  • They feel their lives are pretty good overall
  • They conform to the norms, so no problem
  • There is nothing they can do, so focus on making money and enjoying live / family
So if the Chinese government keeps folks fed, housed and safe, it seems to me that their control will be tolerated and even supported indefinitely.  Even against the forces of religion and political correctness. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing...

One force that may challenge their old boy network is if this "Me Too" movement really does take hold...  I would assume some of the Communist Party power brokers have been aggressive with women before, now are they any women who will be willing to call them out?

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Good Day for Trump

Since I often pick on Trump's character flaws, it is only fair that I report on positive results.

NYT Remains Start Trip Home
CNN Economy is Doing Great
CNN Trump Owed Some Credit
CNN Economy in 4 Charts

Of course I do need to remind folks that our current economic success is largely because we are stealing money from our kids...  It is easy to feel wealthy when one is spending with someone else's credit card.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Big Bosses and Divorce

CNN Money CEOs and Marriage gave me the idea for this post. They say that Big Bosses are more likely to get divorced because they work too much and are highly stressed.

I have a different opinion, since I am a self professed cynic regarding the character of people who strive to attain upper management levels...  I mean I am to the point where I almost cringe whenever an upper Manager starts speaking... :-) I often consider them as more annoying and misleading than Used Car Salesmen and Politicians.

The root cause of my frustration is that I am a big believer of the concept of Servant Leadership. (ie Support in Diagram Below)  My goal at home and work is to develop, support, give guidance, etc to people so that they and the organization can be more effective, engaged and happy.

Where as most of the people I know who have pursued "power positions" are somewhat narcissistic, showy, self centered, egotistical, money centered and like to control things. (ie Directive in Diagram Above)  Pretty much every characteristic that one does not want in a healthy collaborative nurturing marriage.  So I am not surprised at all by a higher number of divorces in that population of people. :-)

Now I usually try to avoid stealing posting Dilbert comics, but this one was in my daily calendar for tomorrow and it was just too perfect to resist.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I Am Willing To Invest in People?

Moose made an interesting comment DEMs Heroes GOPers Villains. He wrote:
"I am more than happy to invest in the citizens of this country through my taxes, because it benefits the entire country. I’m sorry that you can’t see beyond the end of your nose. We are all poorer for the policies of Republicans."
That came in response to my question(s).
"What recommendation do you have for encouraging every citizen to:
  • Learn, Improve and Work
  • Save and Invest for Their Future
  • Make Good Life and Health Choices"
So after reading Moose's response I had the following thoughts:
  • What is the return Moose seeks?
  • How will he determine if he made a "good" investment?
  • If there is no improvement, is it really an investment?
  • If a friend or family member asked Moose for thousands of dollars per year, would he give it to them?
  • If the friend or family member did not work full time, did not work to improve their situation or made bad / wasteful decisions, would Moose keep writing them checks year after year?
  • If the friend or family member has a child and is barely able to stay financially above water, and they get pregnant again... Will Moose increase his yearly "investment"?
  • to commit (money) in order to earn a financial return
  • to make use of for future benefits or advantages
  • to involve or engage especially emotionally
Now I am over joyed to have public and charity dollars invested in helping unsuccessful costly citizens become successful responsible citizens. However investment implies some kind of improvement or payback, and it certainly is not just taking money from Peter and giving it to Paul with no expectationss for Paul. That is not an Investment, that is a Gift.

I also asked the following in the previous post comments.
"Do we as a society see unsuccessful people as:
  1. needy dependent creatures to be fed and cared for?
  2. capable humans who can succeed given the correct tough love incentives and expectations?
I believe in #2, where as often Liberals fight something as logical as work and training requirements."

Monday, July 23, 2018

DEMs Heroes GOPers Villains?

Laurie wrote the following and I thought it deserved a post of it's own.
"The difference is the DEM's want to do things to improve people's lives. If the far left can get the moderate left to support their agenda halfway, the far left will vote to get half of what they want.

The far right supports very little in terms of policy for improving peoples lives. They just vote no for everything other than tax cuts and very little gets done."
Personally I was shocked by this "WE GOOD, THEY BAD" tribal nonsense from Laurie. Where do these Liberals get the hubris to believe:
  • the DEMs are the party of "helping people"
  • the GOP's are the party of "hurting people"
Is it too much to ask that people understand that:
  • there is more than way to solve a problem
  • people from both parties want the best for our country
  • people from both parties care about others
The biggest difference from my perspective is that:
  • Liberals think of poor people as helpless bunny rabbits who need their food, housing and healthcare provided indefinitely because the Liberals do not think the bunnies are capable of learning, improving, making good choices and becoming self sufficient.
  • Conservatives believe that the poor people are humans who need a short term safety net occasionally because the Conservatives think  the humans are capable of learning, working, improving, making good choices and becoming self sufficient.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Why 2 Senators per State?

Eric does a good job of teaching in MinnPost The House, the Senate and the historical reasons for (un)equal representation

Of course I support the 2 Senators per state rule, so good thing it is pretty well set in stone.

How Far Left will They Go?

NYT There Is a Revolution on the Left. Democrats Are Bracing.
AP Democratic socialism surging in the age of Trump

Just as the Far Right voters keep tugging the GOP to the Right, it appears the Far Left voters are trying to tug the DEMs to the Left. No wonder our politics are becoming so divisive and dysfunctional.

Personally I think is bad news for the DEMs, however I never thought the GOP would be where they are now...  So only time will tell.

Remember those polarization charts, it seems we are not going to come together as a country anytime soon. :-(

Somewhat related Fox News In apparent gaffe, Ocasio-Cortez calls for Democrats to 'flip this seat red'

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Correct Answer

From Jerry
"Thus, I must strongly disagree when you say there are multiple "correct" answers to any given problem. There is always one good solution, a consensus solution, but these days the problem-solving gets eliminated in favor of poisonous partisan posturing. I don't remember a specific example recently, but I remember being struck by the realization that this completely commonsense and simple solution, proposed by a Republican, was instantly decried and dismissed by every Democrat within a mile of a microphone, when only a short time previous the same idea, proposed by a Democrat, was widely hailed."
So we agreed that Jerry would propose a problem and a "correct" answer to see if we all could support it.
"Problem, people are breaking the law and crossing over the Southern border, at other than the legal checkpoints. 
Solution: Put up some sort of wall to prevent them from doing so."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Where Did the Money Go?

From Sean...  See Left Right for the background.

"Of course. But if we look at the first 30 years of the post-WW2 period, a rising tide really did lift all boats. For the last 40 years, that hasn't been true. In a time of "record low unemployment", wage growth for production and non-supervisory employees adjusted for inflation is negative over the last 12 months. "

As economist Jared Bernstein points out, at the last time we were at a similar place in the business cycle and unemployment rate (1999), labor's share of national income was 3.1% higher than it is today. If labor's share of income was where it was back then, the average worker would have $3,400 more income. Where did that money go? Corporate profits -- which have increased their share by 3.5% over that time.

Policy choices -- as Bernstein points out -- are a significant factor here:

NYT: Bernstein on Wage Stagnation

"More than ever, the dynamics of this old-fashioned power struggle between labor and capital strongly favor corporations, employers and those whose income derives from stock portfolios rather than paychecks.

This is evident in the large, permanent corporate tax cuts versus the small, temporary middle-class cuts that were passed at the end of last year. It’s evident in the recent Supreme Court case that threatens the survival of the one unionized segment of labor — public workers — that still has some real clout.

It’s evident in the increased concentration of companies and their unchecked ability to collude against workers, through anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements that preclude worker-based class actions. And it’s evident in a federal government that refuses to consider improved labor standards like higher minimum wages and updated overtime rules.

Even if workers’ real wages do pick up, their gains may be too short-lived to make a lasting difference. The next recession is lurking out there, and when it hits, whatever gains American workers were able to wring out of the economic expansion will be lost to the long-term weakness of their bargaining clout. Workers’ paychecks reflect workers’ power, and they are both much too weak."

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

MN Teacher Union Fee Choice

Erin wrote a very interesting piece. MinnPost In wake of Supreme Court ruling on union fees, Minnesota teachers decide whether to opt out or go all in. 

Since I think that Teacher pay, placement and job security should be based on job challenge, performance and capabilities, not age and degrees...  I am always happy when the union loses some of it's power over the educational system.

And the idea that people were required by law to pay dues to a party that did not speak for them seemed ever so wrong. I mean:
  • Imagine a young teacher having to pay for their union to keep their pay low so old teachers could make twice as much?
  • Or a teacher watching their class size rise because the union fought cost cutting measures or the firing of poor teachers?
  • Or an experienced teacher fighting for unlucky kids in a challenged school as many of the other experienced high paid teachers flee for a simpler school / classroom and keeping the same pay? 
By the way, I think Educational Administration positions should also be paid on multiple measures.  Including are their teachers happy and do they feel supported?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Left vs Right Distribution

From Chimpanzee
"Laurie, I do agree that Trump is worse than Obama ever was. However as for Tribe Liberal and Tribe Conservative... I see pretty much no difference in their wall building and feces throwing. That is why the bi-modal humps are pretty much equal and opposite." G2A
"I would say left and right are not the same. The left is maybe split 50-50 between far left (Bernie supporters) and moderate left (Hillary supporters) If there was a lefty president as bad as Trump most of the left would not support that person.
I think the far right makes up 90% of GOP voters and those are the people who continue to support Trump. The moderate right is only about 10% of GOP voters. I would put John in this group in spite of some of his extreme views.
I would assign the percentages I mentioned to dem and GOP leaders as well.
  • far left 50% of DEMs in congress
  • far right 90% of GOP in congress
I am very disgusted with GOP leaders who continue to support Trump" Laurie
Now let's look at some graphs of actual distribution data...

Trump Putin's Unhealthy Bromance

From Sean... And I agree with him that something is truly wrong with Trump when it comes to Russia...
"I love how we just glided past the fact that Friday's indictments added a ton of useful data points regarding potential Trump collusion with the Russians.
The timing on the actions taken by the Russians is remarkable. Three of the main events chronicled in the indictment line up with these three events:
  • Paul Manafort taking over the reins of the Trump campaign in March-April
  • The Don Jr. Trump Tower meeting in June
  • Trump's July call for Russia to locate Hillary's so-called "missing e-mails".
Good Lord, just watch that Trump-Putin press conference. Something is seriously amiss.  Putin couldn't even give a denial when asked if the Russians had compromising material on Trump. Trump couldn't even muster up any sort of condemnation for anything Russia had done. Not Crimea. Not shooting down the Malaysian plane. Not election interference. Not bombing Syrian civilians. Not killing people in Britain with nerve agents. Not even a general complaint about Russian civil rights abuses. "
WAPO Coverage
The Hill Coverage
Daily News Coverage
CNN Brennan Response
Reuters Graham Response
CNN Trumps Worst Tweet
Fox News Blames US

I have to wonder what Putin has on our lead Chimpanzee or if Trump is truly reacting to Putin "alpha male" signals...  May be Trump will stand trail for treason rather than collusion?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Is Trump The Head Chimpanzee?

Eric Black at MinnPost may have explained the Trump and Trump True Believer phenomenon...
Instead, Edsall, who loves to turn to scholars for understanding, asked a psychology professor, Northwestern University's Dan McAdams, for help in understanding this big gap:

Trump personifies an approach to leadership that many men find deeply appealing. It is a primal appeal to social dominance. Everybody — men and women — knows that social status can be seized through physical power and threat; the strongest, biggest, and boldest may lord it over the rest of us. But boys and men have more direct experiences of this kind of thing growing up — on the playground, for example, in gym class, in the military, and in various other socialization venues wherein male strength and bravura are praised and deeply prized, even as they also evoke fear and submission.” 
McAdams cited the comments of the primatologist Jane Goodall, who compared Trump’s behavior to that of a chimpanzee. 
“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Goodall told James Fallows, a writer for The Atlantic in 2016.  “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

Are Americans Happy?

Over at How Gullible are Trump True Believers, Sean and Hiram noted many of Trump's ethical, moral, behavioral, and other failings. Which I for the most part agree with.

However I made the point that most Americans will not care as long as Trump gets result and keeps them happy.  Which I think he is so far, to which Sean asked for a source.

Here are a couple good indicators.

Gallup Satisfaction with the USA

Thursday, July 12, 2018

How Gullible are Trump True Believers?

Now Trump has a habit of:
  • Claiming that things are TERRIBLE
  • Then claiming that HE FIXED IT
And I am really curious if the Trump True Believers swallow this manipulation hook, line and sinker?

I mean he escalated the conflict with North Korea and then claimed that he fixed it...  And now North Korea is blowing us off and is critical of US demands.

He insists that the NATO Nations were free loaders...  And then insists he fixed it, while everyone else denies any change.

And the list goes on and on...

I have to believe that his blatant method works though...  I often ask Trump True Believers about what Trump has accomplished and they start almost glowing with joy at "all he has accomplished". And they get angry when I ask then to list some of the real changes / improvements.

Please remember that I do believe he is accomplishing some good and bad things. I am just amazed at the cult of personality thing.

Monday, July 9, 2018

What to Pay / Accept?

Moose and I started to discuss how a person's compensation and benefits should be determined. I of course argue that "the market" is the only real way to determine the value of anything. Since "value" varies depending on what the "buyer" thinks the person, item, service is worth. Where as Moose seems to think...
"It's interesting that you agree with the idea that you don't deserve time off because you're a person, but because it may be good for the company's bottom line.

Yes, it's the contract. But let's not pretend that the people who pay you have based this benefit on some sort of objective morality." Moose
Now as I noted in the previous comments, I am a big fan of Employment at Will. Which simply means that the employer and employee enter into a relationship that is mutually beneficial to each of them. And when either party gets a better offer, they can sever the relationship to pursue the new course.

I personally am not even sure what an "objective morality" is? Though through our government our society does set social norms via employment law. Of course these are very subjective in nature, since "the people" in essence vote for or against them. Here are some questions I posed that Moose neglected to try to answer.
"If you could get the same apartment / home for half the price... Would you take it? 

American consumers who insist that American Unions / Workers should be supported and paid well choose to buy high foreign content products and services daily, thereby weakening domestic unions, reducing the number of US jobs and lowering wages. 
Are these customers just focused on their bottom line?

Or is it just how markets work?

Who is willing to pay more than they need to for a product or service? What is their rationale?" G2A

Thai Cave Rescue

CNN Thai Cave Rescue

Now I am happy that the boys are being rescued...  However enough with the non-stop news coverage... :-)  What is it with a "rescue story" that draws audiences?

There are efforts going on around the world to save many more lives that will never make the evening news, and yet this story is on non-stop whereas we will never hear about the others.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What is Diversity?

The SCOTUS Dues Post took a turn. Sean and I started discussing what is diversity.
"Not just those in very homogeneous high population density communities." G2A
"You're suggesting that urban areas are, on the whole, less diverse? Source, please." Sean
"I'll have to do some looking... In this case I am thinking "diversity of political philosophy, not race"... Now I know you are obsessed with race and sexual orientation, however that really does not matter to me. I am more interested in where people fit on the personal / financial freedom spectrum??? " G2A
"You're the one who keep bringing up LGBT issues, not me. Race may not matter to you, but it does for the people who vote with you. There's a reason this administration treats white nationalists the way it does.
Democrats do well in areas with high levels of socioeconomic and demographic diversity. Republicans tend to do well in places that are predominantly white. " Sean
Diversity per Merriam Webster:
  1. the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : variety;  especially : the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization programs intended to promote diversity in schools
  2. an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities : an instance of being diverse , a diversity of opinion
 My responses:
  1. I pretty much only bring up topics that are in the news.  LGBT topics still seem to make headlines.  And I don't really care about the LGBT issue as much the balancing of LGBT and Religious rights.
  2. The minorities leaning DEM may simply be an issue of conditioning, not race. I mean the DEMs have spent 60+ years telling these folks that they are victims who need DEM / Government help, of course that kind of brain washing with a huge infusion of  "free money and services" has to have consequences. :-(
  3. As for socio economic diversity, I would argue that the GOP supporters vary just as much.  And their political philosophies vary greatly on social issues and government involvement.
  4. Whereas the DEMs seem to value more government in most cases. (ie regs, taxes, programs, etc)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Should DEMs ignore Rural MN?

Greta at MinnPost posed and interesting question. "In a statewide election, do candidates really need to bother with Greater Minnesota?" We have been discussing it in G2A Tribes have Misconceptions, but I thought it deserved a post of it's own. Here are a couple of comments from the MP site.
"The problem is that if in statewide races we ignore out state races, we can win the governorship but at the very substantial risk of losing the legislature, which is in fact the situation we are in now. For me, the point of the whole thing isn't to win elections, it's to create a status quo in which my guys can govern effectively. That's why my assessment of the last four years has been that we have failed even though we hold every statewide office." Hiram

"This is why the electoral system and districts are so important for the good of our country. Without them the urban areas could "rule the country" which could lead to some serious and maybe violent conflicts. I prefer a stable peaceful democracy (ie region / state weighted) over a perfect democracy. (ie all votes carry equal weight)" G2A 
"Why is that? Why would the conflicts turn violent? Would there be "serious and maybe violent" conflicts if rural areas "ruled the country?" Why or why not?" RB 
"Rationale: I assume it could go either way. Look at the various riots and protests turned disruptive over the past ~60 years when a sizable minority feels disenfranchised and powerless. That has caused a significant number of deaths and destruction.
Now imagine if the fairly homogeneous high density population centers could force their will across the outer suburbs and rural heartland with no checks / balances. I just could not see it ending well. 
The founding Fathers were smart to ensure everyone had to collaborate and that the high population areas could not just ignore the low population regions. 
Please remember that Germany is one of the larger European countries and it is only about the physical size of MN and WI and has ~8 times the population. A "pure democracy" may work in that small of a space, but across a nation as large and diverse as America. I don't think so." G2A
The question I have been asking is why the DEMs are so focused on things that alienate rural voters. I mean the DEMs seem obsessed with:
  • Increasing welfare and medicare, and fighting against work requirements.
  • Fighting against border security and deporting illegal workers
  • Enabling the death of 2 parent families and marriage
  • Forcing religious business owners to associate closely with LGBT citizens
  • Enabling abortions at any time during the pregnancy
I mean DEMs could get a lot more votes if they would drop some of these extreme positions...  But they are unwilling to do so and may keep losing in rural areas because of it.  And instead of coming back towards the center it seems they may be head further Left.