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".

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.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Your father smelt of Elderberries!

While the Monty Python line was an insult from a Frenchman, the Elderberry is a very good berry!

From Elderberry wine to immune boosting syrups, the little black berry has been used for just about everything.

I just recently came back across the Elderberry information and am trying to get me a bottle of the juice, the syrup and some cuttings of the plants so I can grow some!

I found Elderberry Life, where you can get bare root plants or cuttings.  I'll try the cuttings first.  I am also going to get some of their juice!

One of the things that I am going to try with the Elderberries that I grow, is to make some Elderberry Mead.  I think that will be a one-gallon brew for the first try-out.  :)  I may even use some of the juice from Elderberry Life to make a trial run.

I will try to remember not to eat too many raw berries or the leaves and other parts of the plant (tree?) - that could be bad.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oracle has made Java Enterprise Friendly!

I can securely manage multiple Java versions across an entire enterprise with minimal initial 'pain points.'


Finally!!

From Java 7 Update 10 forward, Oracle has instituted some intense security.  This has totally screwed with enterprise java deployments.  Many organizations have not bothered to update to Java 7 at all.  Which is a problem, because in April, 2013, Oracle stopped issuing updates for version 6, leaving open vulnerabilities to be exploited.

Oracle introduced the Security Baseline JRE version.  Before running any app, java will attempt to verify that the version of java on the computer is at or above the baseline version.  If it is not, security dialogs will pop up and the app may be blocked!

From Java 7 Update 10 forward, every version has a hard-coded expiration date.  When that date passes and Java has not been updated, Pop-ups attack!!

The default security level is “High”:
·         Very High - Only apps signed with a valid certificate are allowed to run. Everything is prompted to approve.  If java is outdated, you can’t run any app.
·         High - Signed apps can be run, self-signed can be run in the sandbox as long as the JRE is up to date.  Unsigned are allowed in the sandbox with multiple verification prompts.
·         Medium - Allows running of apps even if JRE is out of date, but has prompts to inform and verify.

Oracle has finally given some relief to Enterprises as of Java 7 Update 40 - and I just found out about it!

“A new feature in Java 7 Update 40 is aimed at ameliorating this predicament. It's a change to the local security policy that allows large customers to specify a limited number of apps that will run on older versions of Java. Now known as a deployment rule set, the new instructions use a digitally signed certificate to whitelist specific apps, often referred to as JARs or java archive files. Those not on the list will be dropped, or possibly run on the latest Java version.”

To take advantage of the Deployment Rule Set, We need to know every website or java applet that we need to Whitelist for our end users in order to create the ruleset.xml, a Java Developer’s Kit installed, a Code Signing Certificate and to distribute the “DeploymentRuleSet.Jar” file to all endpoints. 

The initial pain comes from doing a blanket block of all unknown java applets and vetting the ones that users call in to request access to.  Of course, you want to find out as many of the internal URLs that run java apps and as many of the business-need URLs that users have to have as possible, but you will miss some.  Users will call in, the .xml will have to be updated and the .jar will have to be rebuilt and re-sent.
 
Within the ruleset.xml, we can whitelist a java applet to run without prompts (unless the certificate has been revoked), block it or just use the default settings.  We can also set which version of the JRE to use, so we can identify apps that require older versions and set those to use those versions.  This means that we do not need to uninstall older versions – we can force any unlisted app to use JRE 7 or simply be blocked, while sending only those applications that require older versions to their specific version.

I find this very exciting!
Online Documentation Resources:

Friday, October 25, 2013

You can't have Obamacare

This is another futile effort to make people less stupid.

"Obamacare" is a set of Policies, Requirements and Regulations affecting the Health Insurance industry.  It is impossible to enroll in Obamacare.  It is impossible to not be affected by Obamacare.  It is impossible to "Opt Out" of Obamacare - you can't "Opt In" either.

You can't "have Obamacare."

You can have Health Insurance as provided by a variety of Private Insurance companies - as you always have.  Those insurance companies now have to adhere to a new set of regulations that do a better job of protecting YOUR interests.

  1. You can't be dropped from coverage when you get sick 
  2. You can't be dropped from coverage if you made an honest mistake on your application. 
  3. You also can't be denied coverage or treatment for being sick
  4. You can't be charged more for getting sick. 
  5. You can't be charged more for just being a woman.
  6. Most insurers must spend at least 80 percent (85 percent for insurers covering large employers) of the premiums you pay on medical care and quality improvements. If insurers spend too much on overhead, such as salaries, bonuses, or administrative costs, as opposed to health care, they must issue premium rebates to you each summer.
There are pros and cons as with any policy adjustment.

Most of the conversations I hear about Obamacare are full of misinformation and outright lies.

You can use a Health Insurance Exchange that was set up by the policies of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - also known as "Obamacare" or the ACA.  If you don't have insurance provided by your employer or you are not happy with that insurance, you can go to a State HIE or the Federal HIE if your state is too stupid to have one set up (like Mississippi, even though we spent the money to set one up, the Guv blocked it being implemented).  This allows you to shop around for all the Private Insurance offered through the exchange.  It is like if you were employed by a mega corporation who offered various insurance plans through various insurance companies.  The effect this has is to lower overall insurance premiums by spreading the risk pool - just like what large companies offer.  The reason single or single family plans are so expensive is that there is no risk pool, its just that one, small group. 

You can opt to not get health insurance and be charged a tax penalty instead of get health insurance for yourself.  Not the most shining example of "Personal Responsibility," but you could choose to do that.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sharing the Sacrifice Act



Sharing the Sacrifice Act

To repeal the provision of law that provides automatic pay adjustments for Members of Congress, tie congressional compensation to Median Income and make adjustments for smaller government.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. ELIMINATION OF AUTOMATIC PAY ADJUSTMENTS FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS.

(a)          In General- Paragraph (2) of section 601(a) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (2 U.S.C. 31) is repealed.
(b)          Technical and Conforming Amendments- Section 601(a)(1) of such Act is amended—
(1)          by striking `(a)(1)' and inserting `(a)';
(2)          by redesignating subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) as paragraphs (1), (2), and (3), respectively; and
(3)          by striking `as adjusted by paragraph (2) of this subsection' and inserting `adjusted as provided by law'.
(c)           Effective Date – This section shall take effect 30 days after the Act is signed into law.


SECTION 2. TYING COMPENSATION TO MEDIAN INCOME.

(a)                   Median Income shall be as calculated by the Congressional Budget Office on a yearly basis.
(b)                   The compensation for all members of Congress shall be tied to the Median Personal Income of the state they represent.
(c)                   Compensation shall be set at 2.5 times the Median Personal Income of the state.
(d)                   Compensation shall be limited to 3 times the National Median Household Income.
(e)                   Effective Date – This Section shall take effect the next fiscal year after the Act is signed into law.

SECTION 3. STAFFING AND STAFF SALARY ADJUSTMENTS.

(a)                   Staff shall be limited to 9 staff members per Representative in the House.
(b)                   Compensation for each staff member of a Representative shall be limited to 1.5 times the Median Personal Income of the state of the Representative.
(c)                   Compensation for each staff member of a Senator shall be limited to 1.5 times the Median Personal Income of the state of the Senator.
(d)                   Total Compensation for a Senator’s staff shall not exceed 15 times the Median Personal Income of the state of the Senator.
(e)                   Effective Date – This Section shall take effect the next fiscal year after the Act is signed into law.

SECTION 4. LEADERSHIP SALARY ADJUSTMENTS.

(a)          Majority and Minority Leaders in the House will be paid 1.15 times the Median salary of all other Representatives – leaving out the other Majority or Minority Leader and the Speaker of the House.
(b)          Majority and Minority Leaders in the Senate will be paid 1.15 times the Median salary of all other Senators – leaving out the other Majority or Minority Leader.
(c)           The Speaker of the House will be paid 1.25 times the Median salary of all other Representatives – leaving out the salaries of Majority and Minority Leaders.
(d)          Effective Date – This Section shall take effect the next fiscal year after the Act is signed into law.