Featured Quote

In 1913, Henry Ford wrote the following as the directors had been reaping the rewards of profits - "The wages we pay are too small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise our minimum pay rate".

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On Poverty

WARNING: Very disjointed post.  Inspired by a meme featuring a quote from Bernie Sanders about poverty and comments from facebook.

One reply to this was : "Three solutions. Finish school. Wait until you're married to have kids. Get a job, any job. Problem solved."

Of course, many people don't have access to the education they need to realize that there are options other than the living situation in which they are growing up. With conservatives refusing sex education, the 'wait till married' is not working out. And 'get a job' is not as easy as it sounds, even with school. 'Any job' will also not solve the problem of child poverty and hunger.

I firmly believe we need to invest in education - especially in lower-income, poverty-ridden areas - and have classes dedicated to teaching kids how to be productive members of society. If you think those are things to learn from the parents, then you are a very privileged. Those are things that privileged kids learn from their parents and are things that many kids never have access to. From getting and keeping a job to how to manage finances, credit, etc. That there are options to working at wal-mart or getting a job at the factory and living in a trailer for the rest of your life. How can a parent teach things the parent does not know?

I know it is hard for the privileged to realize that not everyone has the opportunity and education they did. That 'motivated and willing' are not always enough to overcome a bad situation. For many, many people growing up in generations of poverty, we are going to have to teach them that there is another way of life that they can have access to, because otherwise, they will always think that the way they are living is 'just the way things are.'

I have began to see that many people have little to no will (not sure if that is the proper term) of their own. They go wherever they feel expected to go, do whatever they are expected to do or told to do. That is the norm. That is why occupation names became surnames. The baker's kids became bakers, so the family became The Bakers. Taylor, Shoemaker, LeForge, Parker, Cook, Smith, Farmer - just a few more examples of Family Occupation surnames.
That is why the children of poor people tend to remain poor. The information and knowledge that there is another option is not often made available. Even when it is, the confidence and drive is often overwhelmed by their situation long before it can be utilized. Add to that the weight of hunger, hopelessness and desperation, most people are crushed before they have a chance to achieve more. Upward mobility is harder that ever. The poor parents don't have the contacts to get their kids special treatment that more connected parents often do. Many don't even know what opportunities exist nor how to get access to them. If they parents don't know, how can the kids ever know?

Another problem comes in when bad people learned to take advantage of people's lack of self awareness and willpower. Advertising. You see something enough times, some people are convinced despite all evidence to the contrary. (see the effects of Fox News)

The best thing we can do to help people not be dependent on welfare is to provide adequate Education, Food, Housing, Transportation and Training - and awareness that options are available. In conjunction with reigning in rampant profiteering, wage inequality and corporate malfeasance (like not paying living wages, overcompensating executives, tax evasion, etc.), we could have a very healthy economy.

Extreme Conservatives want to throw everyone to the wolves and create some Beyond Thunderdome world where the rich and powerful rule by force. Conservatives refuse to educate anyone whose family doesn't already have a lot of money. Extreme Liberals want to give handouts to everyone who shows a need. Republicans want to shred the constitution and create an Theocratic Oligarchy in it's place, Democrats seem to want to be Republican Lite.

I just want Freedom and Justice for All. A big part of that is Freedom of Information - which to me means education, awareness of options and opportunity.

We should require money management courses for all those on welfare, those who file bankruptcy and those on unemployment. If you get state-funded support, you get the training to help you not need it. For those on welfare, they should also get life lesson courses - rich dad, poor dad kind of things and basic life skills - how to get along in the workplace, how to find a job, how to find training, how to get access to training, how to make contacts and nurture business relationships. Many people never get that kind of information.

I wish I had the money and contacts to start a training program....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Freedom of Speech - You apparently don't understand it.

The First Amendment is often cited.  Most often, it is used improperly.  I am going to make an effort to explain what the First Amendment means when it talks about Free Speech.

First off, the "Freedom of Speech" is not absolute.  It does not give you the right to say anything you want, any time you want, any where you want.  It does not protect you from the non-governmental consequences of your speech.

The right of Free Speech does not mean that you can say "Bless You" in the middle of class during school hours.  It surely does not mean that you can then proceed to start an argument with your teacher in the middle of class and suffer no repercussions.

The only thing that the right to free speech affords you is that the government can not arrest you for simply saying something.  Teachers can tell you not to talk in class unless called upon - including not saying "Bless You" when someone sneezes.  Rules of the class.  Police can open an investigation on you for saying something like "I want to kill the president" or "My heroin supplier was late, so I shot him and took all his stash."  You can be arrested for shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater or bar - if anyone hears you and a stamped occurs because you scared everyone - and fined for damages.

People are completely free to stop buying your products or shopping at your store because of anything you said that they didn't like.  Your employer may fire you for saying bad things about the company.

Your right to free speech has other limits as well. You can't claim free speech when standing outside a classroom yelling the script to Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.  You are free to speak that somewhere else, like a public park.  However, if you start doing that in a grocery store, they are totally free to kick you out.

Your right to Speak Freely is only protected from excessive suppression and obstruction by the Government.  Freedom of Speech does not protect you from the social and civil consequences of what you have said.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Visual Studio Project Disappeared!

I worked on a Visual Studio 2012 project pretty much all day yesterday.  It was a Visual Basic .Net project.
I saved frequently.  I debugged.  I ran the project.

Overnight, windows updates (I am assuming) rebooted the system and, this morning - no more project. Gone.  Nowhere (normal) to be seen.  Apparently, I did not "save all" or save the project itself.  So all that work and testing disappeared.

I googled.  Nothing I found turned out to be helpful or if it seemed helpful, turned out to be untrue.  I panicked!  All that work gone - I saved!!!  What the Funk!?!?!

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/zainnab/archive/2010/06/30/autorecover-vstipenv0019.aspx <-- No help.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh848072(v=vs.85).aspx <-- No help.
https://www.piriform.com/recuva/download <-- No help.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/saraford/archive/2008/02/14/did-you-know-where-visual-studio-saves-auto-recovered-files-in-the-case-of-an-unexpected-shutdown-151.aspx <-- No help!!

"C:\Users\MyUserID\Documents\Visual Studio 2012\Backup Files"  had MyProject folder.  It was empty.

I cursed and searched, and cursed and searched... and then I found it:

"\\localhost\c$\Users\MyUserID\AppData\Local\Temporary Projects\MyProject" - it was all there!

I copied the folder to my documents.  Then I copied the folder to my visual basic projects folder and opened the solution file.  It is all there!  Whew!

Why the \\localhost\c$ ?  Well, I am on windows 8.1 and the "Previous Versions" tab is gone from File Explorer, but you can get to it using UNC to your own machine.  Silly, I know.

I hope this helps someone else find their hard work that a stupid thing from Microsoft caused them to loose.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Religious Freedom, Not the Christian Religion

Its been said, many times, many ways, but again...

"Under God" was added to the Pledge in 1954, some sixty two years after it was written.  God in Government was not part of our Nation when it was founded - quite the opposite.  The Founders set our government up as being only about civil and common issues, leaving religion up to the individual.

It took the Civil War to allow the theocrats to insert "In God We Trust" onto coins, breaking a barrier our constitution had set up.  Note that it was 88 years after the war for independence from a country who had the Church of England as it's official religion.  How quick oppression was forgotten.  But 88 years and "God" was no part of our federal government.

In 1956, during the paranoia of the Cold War, was when they changed our nation's motto from "E Pluribis Unum" ( Out of Many, One ) to "In God We Trust" - ideologically tossing roughly half our citizens out of the government and breaking our Unity.  That was 180 years of Unity, broken by one vote in a paranoid congress.

If you are urging "God" and YOUR religion to be inserted into OUR government, then you do not respect our Country nor our Constitution.

I have no problem with you having your religion, practising your religion, going to your church, advertising your religion (despite your book's admonishments) or teaching your religion.  The problem starts when you try to enforce your religion on others.  It is especially problematic when you try to get our government to force your religion on me.

In the United States of America we share a common core, a belief in Freedom.  We can, and should, rally around the core of Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Realizing and Embracing the notion that our Liberty ends when another person's begins and extending to all people each and every right we want for ourselves.  This forms out of many people of different backgrounds, religions, races, orientations and persuasions, One Nation, Indivisible, with True Liberty, Justice and Equality for All.

Sources (this time) :
http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm
http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx
http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7500.html

Excerpts from the sources:

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
In its original form it read:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. ....
The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin

The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America
Frank Lambert

1639...Those Puritan Fathers exemplify two of the most enduring views of colonial America: America as a haven of religious freedom, and America as a Christian Nation. First, the Puritan settlers had fled England, where Archbishop William Laud had persecuted them because they refused to subscribe to religious beliefs and practices that they deemed to be unscriptural. Now in the American wilderness, they were free to worship according to the dictates of their consciences, governed only by the rule of God's word. And, second, those Puritan Fathers organized a Christian State. They established their Congregational churches as the official religion of Connecticut, supported by tax revenues and defended by the coercive arm of government.
 ...
One hundred and fifty years later... (in 1787, after such horrors as the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 - BK)
... unlike the work of the Puritan Fathers, the federal constitution made no reference whatever to God or divine providence, citing as its sole authority "the people of the United States." Further, its stated purposes were secular, political ends: "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty." Instead of building a "Christian Commonwealth," the supreme law of the land established a secular state. The opening clause of its first amendment introduced the radical notion that the state had no voice concerning matters of conscience: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
In debating the language of that amendment, the first House of Representatives rejected a Senate proposal that would have made possible the establishment of the Christian religion or of some aspect of Christian orthodoxy. There would be no Church of the United States. Nor would America represent itself to the world as a Christian Republic. 

Their bequests were the ideas of separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion extended to people of all faiths or no faith. Their achievement can be understood only against the backdrop of the American Revolution. Clearly, they were architects of a political revolution, throwing off constitutional monarchy for a democratic republic. But they were also framers of a religious revolution, rejecting the idea of an established or official religion, which was the organizing principle informing church-state relations in the vast majority of countries, as indeed it had been in most of the American colonies. Never before had there been such a total separation of religious and political institutions. But the ban on establishment was not the Founders' only legacy in church-state matters. Regarding religion as a natural right that the governed never surrendered to government, they prohibited any interference in citizens' rights to the free exercise of religion.

Influenced by the Enlightenment, they had great confidence in the individual's ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason. To them, true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in the Bible but rather was to be found through free rational inquiry. Drawing on radical Whig ideology, a body of thought whose principal concern was expanded liberties, the framers sought to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms

BT is Safe!

There, I said it first.  Sure, Bacillus Thuringiensis is safe and effective when sprayed on even organic crops.  The problem comes from inserting genes into embryos (seed) to cause the plant to produce it's own crystal protein toxins.  While Corn is safe to eat, BT Corn is no longer Corn.  It is an untested genetic experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting public - and it is proving to be bad.

Now, don't think I'm picking on corn.  BT modification was first done on Potatoes. Peanuts also have been BT modified. And don't think that I'm picking on BT modification - any direct genetic manipulation that introduces a foreign gene into a food crop is ... simply wrong.  Especially if it is not tested properly, which none of them have been.

Any product that the manufacturer fights against testing or labelling, should raise alarm bells for anyone of sound mind.  Scientists are attacked for revealing any study that proves GMOs to be dangerous.

The process of gene splicing is just plain reckless.  Basically, they break open a cell of the organism that has the desired trait, break it's genes apart and hope they suck up the right piece with a needle.  Then they inject the genes into a developing seed or egg of the target organism - hoping that it will incorporate the desired gene into it's own genes.  What other genes they are creating, they don't care.  Antibiotic resistance, increased toxicity, decreased nutritional availability, increased allergens are all concerning possibilities.

Some claim that the GMO products will reduce the use of pesticide, which may be true.  The insects eat the plant and the toxins paralyse their digestive system causing them to not eat and therefore starve to death.  Those same toxins are found in the blood of people who consume GMO products - and their unborn babies.

But for Roundup-Ready varieties, they increase the use of herbicide.  Farmers increase the use of Roundup and when the weeds become resistant, they up it again. Yet it still fails to increase the crop's yields.

So, while spraying live BT bacteria on crop plants - which can later be washed off - may be safe, creating a plant that produces the insecticide of that BT by itself - which can never be washed off - is not in any way the same thing and, by far, not at all safe.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Minimum Wage doesn't Raise Prices

Wages have been either stagnant or declining for the past 30 years.  That is a Fact, indisputable and supported by vast research.

Study Shows...
Real Wages...
Wages in America...

That last one has some fairly good statistics.

"The minimum wage is 21.4% less [in 2004] than it was in 1979"

"As one source has put it, "in 2000 a CEO earned more in one workday (there are 260 in a year) than what the average worker earned in 52 weeks. In 1965, by contrast, it took a CEO two weeks to earn a worker's annual pay". "

"With 1992 as base year, productivity was at 82.2 in 1979. It grew to 94.2 by 1989 and 116.6 by the year 2000. In [2003], moreover, it has exploded, putting it over 120. That's a nearly 40% increase"

 "The overall picture is abundantly clear: real average hourly ages of more than 100 million of American workers' are less today than 25 years ago; real wages of college educated workers have risen only modestly in the late 1990s and fallen since under Bush II; and real wages of the 10 million lowest paid workers have declined more than 21%."

With all that in mind,  Corporate profits over the same time period have soared!

Profits skyrocket...
After Tax profits...
Rise in Profits...

"The U.S. Department of Commerce recently reported that corporate profits (which includes both domestic and foreign profits) now make up the largest percentage of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) since the 1950s. This ratio currently stands at just under 13 percent of GDP, amounting to a total of US $1.9 trillion (see Figure 1). However, wage and salary disbursements have been slowly trending downward from 47 percent of GDP in 1985 to 44.4 percent in the second quarter of 2011 (see Figure 2). These trends seem to point to increased inequality between workers and managers, driven to some extent by the outsourcing of lower-skilled jobs to Asia."
 Income Inequality...

"the Top 1% has more than triple its income with fairly steady growth since 1980. The middle and lower classes have seen only about a 15% increase in real income with all of those gains coming after the early 90s."
 Looking at all this data from the perspective of a rising minimum wage - we can tell that there has been no such thing in the past 30 years, yet prices have still gone up.  What has gone up along with prices?  Executive compensation and Corporate profits.

The only thing that goes up with minimum wage increases is the health of the economy as a whole.

Study on Minimum Wage... (pdf)
Job Loss Myth...
Impact of minimum wage...

  • No evidence exists that teenagers or less-than-high-school-educated adults lost work as a result of the 1996-97 minimum wage increases.
  • Historically, analyses of the minimum wage’s impact on young workers have never shown the predicted large job-loss effects.

  • The small negative employment effects found in past analyses diminish over time and are no longer statistically significant.

  • Minimum wage increases are well targeted in the sense that 63% of the gains from a dollar increase in the minimum wage would be expected to accrue to working households in the bottom 40% of the income distribution.

  • Of the 8.4 million workers (age 18 to 64) whose wages and incomes would increase with a one-dollar raise in the minimum wage, 2.7 million (32%) are the parents of 4.7 million children. Of the 2.7 million parents who earned at or near the current minimum wage in 1999, 63% had family incomes below $25,000.

  • Most minimum wage workers are adults (71%), age 20 and up.[2] Women and minority workers are over-represented among the minimum wage workforce. Slightly less than half (48%) of the minimum wage workforce are full-time workers.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Defenitive Guide to Why Government Builds the Roads

So, I was reading Facebook posts and wound up at the Libertarian theory that if government didn't build roads, we wouldn't need roads.  No, seriously - they think this!  I will be using The Definitive Guide to Who Will Build the Roads as reference, since it prompted this post.

 Roads have been around for well over Three Thousand years.  Long before cars, there were roads.  They have, since their invention, been made and maintained by large merchant organizations (Trade Associations) or a government for the purposes of trade or war.  Some roads were made by people travelling from one location to another, but they usually linked up to a government built and maintained road.
"Where was Jesus going on the Road to Damascus?"
 The private roads have already been tried, both in England and the United States.
Private individuals built roads themselves and then charged for their use, usually blocking passage by setting a long pole (pike) across the road. Once the toll had been paid, the pole would be swung (turned) out of the way, allowing the travellers access to the road (turnpike). By 1829, 3,783 different turnpike companies operated 20,000 miles of highway throughout England.
 The People (bicyclists and farmers mostly) are responsible for the government taking on road building.
The first definite success of the fledgling Good Roads Movement was achieved in 1891, when New Jersey became the first state to take responsibility at the state level for improving roads and formed a State Highway Department.
 On to their Guide:
"If the government didn’t build the roads for cars, would people still be driving cars.
They could be driving off road vehicles that don’t need roads to be build. If no one ever built the roads then car companies might have developed the technology to hover above the ground instead of needing roads. Naturally, this is all silly speculation but there is one untouchable point.
We cannot predict whether we would need roads if government didn’t build them." (spelling errors left intact)
For one, the invention of cars prompted the building of better paved roads, not the other way around.  Henry Ford built vehicles, people bought them, people demanded better roads, government responded with better roads.  For another, hovercraft require flat surfaces without obstacles - also known as roads.  As for needing roads if government didn't build them, that is kind of a moot point, really, because we have built and used roads of some type for thousands of years.

The author then goes on to equate good roads with slavery.
Asking, who will build the roads without government, is like asking, who will pick the cotton when we free the slaves.
I'm not going to respond to that, just pointed it out.
 Why are roads the worlds go to source of transportation? Why aren’t we carrying things on planes or trains? Why haven’t we invented hovercrafts yet?
 Why are roads the world's go-to source of transportation?  The Free Market.  It is the way we, as a people, have chosen to do transportation.  We all walked the same path, wore it down into a trail, widened it into a road for wagons, paved it for ease and comfort of travel.

Why aren't we carrying things on planes or trains?  We do.  There is still a need to get people and goods from their point of origin to the airport or train station.  Planes and Trains still need roads.

Why haven't we invented hovercrafts?  We have.  They have lots of issues.  Also, they have not caught on with consumers.  Feel free to buy one.

If there were no roads then car companies would have two choices. There first option is build better off road cars. There other option is to build the roads. (Again, bad grammar left intact.  I'm sure the author intended "Their first option")
Car companies would build the roads?  First of all, either the price of a car would go up dramatically or the car companies would have huge tolls on their roads.  If you have travelled on a toll road or turnpike - imagine every inch of every road being a toll road!

You might be wondering how they could profit off building roads. That’s a fair question. How does government profit off roads? Tolls are one option. (No, if people had to make a profit off every road they wouldn’t have toll booths. They could easily get car companies to put chips in cars that count road usage.) The people that use the roads would pay for the roads instead of the 300+ million people the United States government currently charges
 Government doesn't profit from roads, thereby keeping the taxpayer cost down.  The author obviously has never been to a large city or been on a toll road.  There are still toll booths, but you can buy an EZ-Pass for most turnpike systems.  Imagine travelling from one side of the city to another.  How many bills for road use would you get?  How about travelling across a state or through several states?  How many times would you have to stop and pay tolls if every road was a toll road and the company that owned that road changed every so many miles?  Either you would have a massive corporation in control of all roads or lots of different bills from "your travel authority" for each stretch.

All these tolls to just use the road would be an extra burden on the already poor, who would likely be unable to use the road to even get to work.
The funny thing is, private road building companies could profit without even charging people that drive on the road.
How does the author imagine that to be the case?  Sell advertising space on the road?  Would that cover it?  How much would that make prices go up?
Road front property is more valuable than non-road front property. Many landowners would be begging for roads to be built on their property. That’s because their property value would increase exponentially with a road built through it.
Okay, so either property owners would have to charge more rent and be responsible for road maintenance or businesses along the roadway would chip in for road maintenance?  Again, rising prices on everything.

You know what? The bottom line is that We, The People, have decided that we don't want to be controlled by large corporations.  We want real freedom of travel.  We have determined that we will all contribute to maintaining our roads.  If you don't like it, you are free to chose to leave.
Government is non-voluntary. I can’t choose not to be a citizen of America. I need permission to leave. I was born here. I did not agree to that. I’m stuck here, following the rules until government approves of my departure (I even have to pay to eliminate my citizenship. That’s not voluntary.).
So, you'd like to leave - but you want someone else to pay for your passage out of here? You blame the government for not paying for your travel?  Yet, you want to pay corporations just to be able to use the roads?  From what I understand, you don't need a passport to go to Mexico or Canada - but you still have to pay your own way there.

It seems to me that you don't want freedom, what you really want is to be able to do anything you want without any consequences.  That will never happen.  Suck it up, buttercup.  Actions have consequences no matter where you are.