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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, December 15, 2012

Vicksburg Battlefield Park ride

Rode the Battlefield National Park today.  Here are pics:
At the Visitor's Center
First Stop - Cannons pointed at the original Visitor's Center
In front of the USS Cairo - a steam powered "Ironsides" battleship

Closeup at the Cairo

Some may notice that I now have a tail bag.  That is a drink holder on the back (blue).
Overlooking tributaries of the Mississippi River - they are VERY low.
The Trip odometer - from my driveway and home again.

Lay my motorcycle down...

They said it was inevitable.  I didn't believe them.  It just happened.

I was pulling into my local country convenience store when the loose gravel and a careless lean or something caused a slide and down the bike went.

The first things through my mind were, "What the hell? What's going on?"

"Oh, shit!"  "Is the bike hurt? Did I scratch it up? Will it run?!?!"

"Roll with it.  I really need an armoured jacket.  Is the bike hurt?!?"

"What is that white thing sticking out of my jacket at the elbow?"  --  just kidding, elbow hurts, but only bruised.

"Oh, by the gods! Don't let the bike be hurt!  ... ow... good thing I had gloves on!"

Then there was lots of cursing and dread before picking the motorcycle up.  All 760.7 lbs.of her.  Which, was much easier than I had thought it would be... almost no effort at all.

The right side (brake) foot rest was bent up to where it was touching the brake pedal.  Heart sinking moment there.

Fortunately,  all I had to do was step on it and it sprung right back into place.  Its a fold-up apparently. Whew!!

Then starting the bike... it wouldn't start in gear, wanted to surge forward, even with the clutch fully pulled in.  I put it in neutral.  Started right up.  I pulled the clutch in and put it in 1st - killed.  I finally got it started in first.  Then I rode the few yards to park in front of the store, got my stuff and back out.

I started it up in first, kind of wanted to jump even with the clutch fully engaged, but settled down.  Then I rode it back home.

Other than a scuff on a cover, it appears all I did was have to readjust the mirror and flex the clutch a few times.

I am now washing it to apologize.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mod-bug

Okay, so I have the motorcycle.  I've joined a forum.  The mod-bug has hit.

Modifying your ride to be more like you (me...).

So, first one I am thinking of - after the sissy bar...

 Going from this :
To this:
 

I think I'd like it a lot...  I just did a quick and dirty GIMP'd up version, but the pipes would, I'd hope be the gloss black of the tank... or the black of the frame... ... tank?  frame?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Motorcycle

I recently acquired a new motorcycle on 11/24/2012.  It is a 2009 model Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Classic that had never been sold before.  Sweet!!

Even though the model didn't come with one, I got a Windshield free too.

This is a pic of the bike at the Overlook on the Natchez Trace around Jackson, MS.

I am over 500 miles of riding in just two weeks and a couple days.  To say "Loving It" is an understatement.  I will repeat what I said after getting the scooter - Any day on two wheels is just better.

I need some luggage - tank bag, tail bag at least.  Having to use a backpack to take my rain gear with me (just in case today).  Would love somewhere to stash a drink or snack for long Trace rides.  I don't want a bagger - just some carrying capacity.

Some more Pics :





I also couldn't help :

Friday, November 23, 2012

Doctor Who

Episode idea...

... okay, not a whole episode, but something cool to happen.  Maybe a mid-season thing...

Doctor drops off his companion to go on a mission, do something silly or some other reason...

Moments later, the TARDIS rematerializes and out steps someone completely different.  The Next Doctor!

Has to say something like "Well, I had to come now."  Companion says, "Why?"  Doctor says, "You told me that I did - its already happened.  But you can't tell me what happens next.  Spoilers."

They go on an adventure and he drops the companion back off at the same place, minutes later. 

Next episode, the current Doctor comes back and picks up the Companion.

Tough thing to do is make sure the "Next Doctor" plays the Next Doctor.

Also, while I'm on the Doctor... the Doctor's Daughter needs to show up again soon!  She went off planet-saving, so I want her to return to the show.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What is a Progressive?

screwliberalism 20 hours ago 
Why don't you define and outline just exactly what you mean when you use the term "progressive." I'm honestly interested. So far, I've not found one person who understands the term for THEMSELVES. Only that they can repeat someone else's rhetoric.
BobbyKearan 19 hours ago parent 
 
@screwliberalism: For me, a Progressive is someone who wants to move Forward with Improvements, Freedoms and Innovation, someone who wants to find Solutions that actually Work instead of insisting on staying in comfortable, but ineffectual frameworks.

For example, to anyone who actually studies the subject, "Trickle Down" economics, which is what we have been practicing since 1980, has been a miserable failure for 90% of our Citizens and our overall economy. We must change if we are to flourish. "Conservatives" seem to prefer to keep trying the same thing over and over and hope for different results.

"No man has a right to infringe upon the equal rights of another, and that is all from which the law should restrain him." - Thomas Jefferson.

Government exists to prevent the powerful from abusing the weak, prevent the majority from oppressing the minority and maintain Freedom, Liberty and Justice for All. Yes, business and corporations require regulation to keep them from becoming abusive. Yes, we need laws to prevent and punish violations of rights (such as murder, theft, rape, abuse, etc). No, government has no business defining what people do in their personal lives. People can worship who/what they want, love whom they want, marry whom they want, think what they want and do what they want - right up to the point where they start infringing upon or denying anyone else the same rights.

Taxes are the price we pay for Freedom, Convenience and Civilization. People and businesses must contribute their fair share to maintaining out great country. Those who want to avoid doing their part, I can not count as Patriots. People who benefit more should pay more, not less. Giving a hungry child a meal is a lot more important than giving a rich man another yacht.

Policy should, at all times, be guided by Reality, Honesty and Integrity.
Financial assistance should be tied to Financial Education. If you need assistance, we need to teach you how to get out of that situation and earn your own way. At the same time, realizing that some people just can't.

..... hope that is enough.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dealing and Coping with Noise

I am overly sensitive to noise and I find it hard or impossible to block it out.  It has been an issue for a very, very long time.  It is only now that I've been working in an office cubicle environment that I am having a lot of trouble dealing with it.  In the past I've been able to go off on my own and work in isolation pretty much.  I can't do that any more.

I've received "Extreme Isolation" noise blocking headphones, which by themselves don't do much to help my problem.  I am wearing silicone ear plugs with the headphones and the combination doesn't block out enough.  I swear its like I hear through my nose or something.  I have been playing popular music, but that is also distracting.  I've tried white noise and that is annoying.

Some days I don't have to use the noise blocking very much, if at all.  But some days, even the slightest thing sends me into a freak-out.  Like today.  Its not like a panic attack, I don't think.  Its just that the noise level and different conversations and sounds all crash in at once and create an overload I suppose.  Like kicking a nest of hornets in my head.  I can't concentrate, I can't think and all I want to do is yell, "Shut Up!" over and over and over again.  I don't... very often, but I want to really bad.  When I put on the headphones and play music and I can still hear people talking its like, "What the #&*@** are you doing? Why the &*#& do you have to talk that &@#&# loud?? I have on noise blocking headphones and loud music and I can STILL hear you! WTF!?!?"  Turns out, its just me.

I have found a couple solutions that I am enjoying.  What I am doing now is I have the silicone earplugs, the noise cancelling headphones and listening to some calming music from http://www.purple-planet.com/#/royalty-free-music-calm and listening to http://www.rainymood.com/ at the same time.  This is helping to drown out most conversation.... yes, still not all.  I am concerned that turning the music up any more will hurt my hearing, LOL!!

I am going to get evaluated on the 8th to find out WHY I am like this.  It think that I am about to be diagnosed with Asperger's or CAPD or something like that.  In fact, some people have told me that I have to be 'on the autism spectrum' somewhere - people who have autistic kids or siblings.

Update: I never did get tested.  Insurance doesn't cover the testing, so I am fairly screwed.  Dealing with whatever this is that makes me so different from most other people really, really sucks sometimes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scooter!

Riding my scooter to work and back.  Man, it is fun!

I am still wishing I had some more speed out of it.  I have found a good Forum to go to about scooter issues and there I found a great PDI (Post Delivery Inspection) Guide online.

My "parking space" at work
I have not done the whole PDI as of yet.  With all the reading I am doing, it looks like I will be doing the whole thing fairly soon.  New hoses, clamps and everything.  Maybe that will get me the extra speed!  UPDATE : Okay, DO NOT use any other size lines (fuel or vaccuum) than what is ON the scooter when you get it.  Don't use a larger fuel filter. Finally, do NOT crossthread your spark plug when putting it back in!!

Butterfly likes my scooter!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Verizon Ad rips off CSpire

Okay, so the big companies have been outright lying and dismissing CSpire (Cellular South) for a long time.  Their ads lie all the time - like "The only truly unlimited plan" was a lie.  Cellular South had unlimited before any of the major carriers.  Heck, they are the company that the big guys copy.  I've seen it dozens of times over the years.  Cellular South does some cool plan and the big guys all follow suit or try to.

Case in Point :
This Verizon Ad : Share Everything
bears an uncanny resemblance to the CSpire ads for Personalized Service.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Posting about Romney

I can't resist.  This man is a bold Liar.  I know its not just him, but his campaign, his advisers, his whole political party.  The GOP is just floating out in space devoid of reality, reason and facts.

Bain Capital - Romney 'left' in 1999, but signed papers and drew an executive salary until much later.  He claims he simply retired retroactively.  No, he was Owner, CEO, Chairman of the Board AND sole stockholder, but he didn't actually DO anything for that $100,000+ yearly salary.  Well, if paying someone to do nothing is his company's idea of good business, then I don't think he should be holding the purse strings for the nation - especially when he accepted a huge salary for doing nothing.

Someone releasing a video for him edited the ever lovin heck out of an Obama speech - kind of like Fox News does a lot - to make it seem bad.

What they show in the video :
"If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be ‘cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." - President Obama
What was actually said (left out parts in bold) :
"...if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own." - President Obama
The Rachel Maddow Show did a great segment on the above, which ran after I posted this.

There are dozens of 'astroturf,' dishonest, plain out lying crap the GOP is doing, has done and will do again if elected.  Please, please....

Save the United States - Don't Vote Republican!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scooter - from GreenEarthScooters.com

Looks like this turned into a "How-To" for after you get a Scooter from GreenEarthScooters.com, so I will go ahead and state that it was meant to be that all along.
I ordered a 2012 Edge 150 scooter from Green Earth Scooters.  When I paid off my layaway, I had the scooter at my door three days later.  Okay, so, I had to go pick it up at the freight depot, no biggie.  My Honda Civic has a tow hitch and I have a trailer.  Here is what it looked like when I got it home :

There was some box damage...
So I was a little worried about the condition of the scooter inside.  Until I got at least one side of the box opened up.  They ship it in a steel frame!

After the box is removed and before you start cutting plastic, they have one last warning for you :
And they mean it! Read your PDI Guide - it is in the confirmation email and it is in the documents in the trunk.  Follow the guide!  I have a warning for you as well - somewhere on my plastic was a razor blade.  It was good to have... but if I hadn't found it when I did it might have been a big OUCH!

There are three bolts on each side of the steel frame that you will need to remove.  The scooter is attached to the frame by the front "axle" - so be careful and don't lose the nut (not that you'll need it again, lol). 
Something that will help a great deal right now - before unbolting the front arms - is getting a ratchet set, attaching and securing the handle bars - make sure it is tight and secure! ( look in the under-seat trunk for the bolt - scroll down )
At Least two strong people should get the bike down on the ground and propped up on the stand so that the bike can be rocked back onto the back wheel.  At this point, you want to get a strong helper - at least two people are needed to get the scooter off the pallet. You are going to have to put the front wheel on.  Good luck. :) Before you go to put the wheel on :

STOP!!


Read the PDI guide.  Read the paperwork... yeah... it is in the trunk.  Under the seat... use the key... 

Along with the paperwork, manual, etc, there are tools and parts you are going to need.

Oh, and the rear-view mirrors are in there too. (You will have to torque them down real tight and use Loc-Tite!! - or some other thread locker.)  Oh! Get a ratchet set - much better than the wrenches!

There is a plug in the brake that you will need to remove :


It is a bit tricky to get the front tire on and takes some coordination and luck... and a big hammer.  Also something to note : the Nut that held the 'axle' on the shipping container is NOT the Nut to put on when the tire is attached.  To make sure you have the right nut, the same socket will fit both the bolt and the nut.

You will need to put on the front panel (after connecting the headlights), put acid in the battery, let that sit, seal the battery and charge it, put on the cargo rack, take the protective plastic off the lights, drain the oil, fill the oil, drain the gear-oil, fill the gear-oil, check the air in the tires, fill the tires to the specified psi, put on the rearview mirrors, put the charged battery in and you are ready to ride!  I'm not going to say any of that is just really easy, but follow the directions, read, follow, read... and you will be fine.

I found a great PDI (Post Delivery Inspection) Guide online.

I am 6'3" tall, 280lbs.

I got the battery upgrade and a trunk.  The second time I opened the trunk, a bent metal piece fell out.  I soon discovered that it was the latch.  I tried using Gorilla Glue and a clamp to reattach it to the metal bar and am hoping that works to fix the latch.  There was also one bolt missing that has to be used to attach the trunk to the cargo rack, so I am browsing Home Depot to find a replacement - and I will be using some thread locker on those bad boys!!



I have had to adjust the idle, but that was fairly simple to do.  Had to take the under-seat storage out to access the carb adjustment, but not too bad there.  The other thing is that on my first long ride, I accidentally topped out - which you are not supposed to do in the break in period - and found that I could only get about 50 mph on the speedometer.  Not sure if there is a 'real speed' vs. 'speedometer' difference, but from some google searches it appears that the speedometer runs 10 mph high?? I hope not.  I am communicating with GES parts folks to see if I can get some more speed out of the scooter so I can use it for commuting to and from work - which is what the long ride was.  Will update with news. :)

The Ride - So far, riding the scooter is pure awesome!

Update on Trunk:
I got a new bolt.  The Gorilla glue didn't work.  I tried some JB Weld Marine epoxy.  It seemed to work.  So, I attached the trunk.  One bit of advice here - despite what the pictures indicate, you have to take the plastic rack off.  There are six bolts holding it on.  You have to get down to the black metal base.  Attach the trunk to that - the bolts will reach then.  Anyway - I put the trunk on and closed it... broke the "L" latch off again :

I am at a loss on how to repair it, so asking GES for a replacement part.

Update 2:
Okay, I re-did the JB Weld a little bit more aggressively and it is holding.  I did move the top of the "L" down a wee bit on the bar.  That seems to allow it to close easier, maybe not as tight, but easier. GES Parts said they would send the top of a trunk (lid), including the latch as a replacement.  Hopefully I won't need it... but when the JB Weld breaks down, it will be nice to have a backup.  I am getting higher and higher speeds - almost up to a little over 55 a few times now.

Oh! I saw online where the speedometer is supposed to be off - like 10mph faster than actual.  I had my girlfriend tail me and verified my speedometer is fairly accurate.  I suppose those people just damaged the speed sensor while putting on their front wheel.

I've got 169 or so miles on the scooter.  I bought a cable lock that I am using to lock my helmet to the scooter.  Also bought some gloves (from Home Depot) to use.  I am going to need some easy-on easy-off riding boots that can take the pavement.

Update 3:
I'm noticing that the cooler the temperature, the faster I can go.  I'm hoping that when I follow the PDI suggestions on replacing the Fuel lines & filter, Vacuum lines and Air Intake that I will get a few extra MPH.  There is also a lot of suggestions for re-jetting the something and re-calibrating something else... but I am going to get a small engine guy to do that for me. :)  322 miles!!  End of the "Break in" period.  I need to change the oil asap.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Obamacare - Guest Post by Joe Collins

I loved this post on facebook so much, I got Joe to let me repost it here. My additions are in small font. So, After the Supreme Court ruled "Obamacare" - the Affordable Care Act - to be constitutional, there has been a '24 hour bile bath' of angry coverage from the media and right wing.

I hope we are over the anger. A lot of people act like this is some new tax. Some politicians want to call it that so they can stay on the dole themselves, or help make sure they stay elected.

What the ACA is is a way to pay for something that is already being spent. It's not Barack's spending, it is our spending when we go and get health care. Few politicians have the guts or the character to tell you that. They usually want to make you feel validated so you will vote for them, or say something high and mighty about socialism. Very few say -- "this act is meant to stop price rises by having people pay for something they are already getting without paying for it."

Most of what bad you hear about the ACA is BS that is said by people who think they have some important reason we don't have to pay for those things we are already purchasing. It is as simple as that. Politicians are worse about it, risk takers who go without insurance as long as they can are bad about it, and people who already pay insurance and don't want to change out of fear of higher rates are bad about it. Everybody has their reason not to want to pay.

Our health care system has us in the perfect storm and it is unsustainable. We in this country spend $7,500 per person per year on medical care -- that is a fact of statistics -- for every American. Are you paying your own bills? Probably not over your whole life. You might be OK for most of your young life, or most of your life. But most of us rack up some big bills sooner or later, and a lot of us don't pay them back. When someone doesn't pay the hospital that means everybody else's costs go up. When the government pays the bills that means taxes go up, or the deficit goes up. Remember the deficit? In health care, us people rack that deficit up. Then we blame someone else.

Mad people like the lady in Gulfport I heard complaining this morning on the radio -- the woman and her husband who could not afford to pay the penalty and acted like Obama was a communist -- the woman has her 3 children on Medicaid. She or her husband cannot afford to pay the $23 dollar a week penalty. She wants to get out of paying and keep Barack (the government) paying for her three kids. So she is mad at him. That woman is typical.

Another typical -- the insurance man I heard Greg Harper talking to on the phone last night -- he made a lot of money and employed a lot of people selling insurance and government co-op health care plans and feared for his income -- and so didn't want to change things so he could continue making money -- he wanted to keep up the system (and it's deficit spending and unpaid bills), so he could profit privately. Greg wanted to help him do that.

The guy I heard yesterday say Barack Obama's supporters are stupid. I asked him about his insurance and turns out he was on Medicaid himself and didn't even pay a monthly, but assumed he was on a private plan. He's received over a hundred thousand dollars of care for nothing and his idea is Barack Obama supporters are stupid.

I don't see much honesty in the debate over how we will pay our bills, but I do see a lot of people who won't face what Obama faced. We pay twice what the rest of the world does for health care but a lot of us have reasons they don't think they should have to pay for it. It looks like from the complaints most of the state of Mississippi wants us to get back 2+ dollars for every dollar we pay in, then on top of that, we want the feds to take up the costs of medicine without us even paying for what we consume. Barack Obama tries to explain that, make us pay a pittance or help us get our own insurance, and we call him a communist. 

I stay amazed at people...and I bet there are some really brilliant replies to what I just said, even though it is the gospel truth.

Here is a response (to a facebook comment that) explains how ACA actually works in deeper terms.

(Statements) about increased deficits, taxes and rates are common and based on misinformation about the ACA and pricing dynamic.

This is a really simple explanation but most people in our state (Mississippi) will not even try to understand what they are dealing with. Perhaps you will understand it, but this is how the ACA was formulated by people that know both the constitution and the health care system much better than us rednecks do.

We pay for defaults through increased medical care prices, and that is the main problem. They are killing us quicker than taxes or deficits, so if they show up as taxes or price hikes or deficits they still would be showing up. ACA costs are not like ordinary government spending in that respect. You are going to pay one way or the other. The folks that call this a big tax hike "forget" to remind you of the honest truth on that point. You're already being taxed by medical costs twice as high as they should be.

So the ACA seeks to do several things and one of them is to make sure the price hikes can be slowed, and that happens with the insurance requirement. Those bills get paid instead of making costs higher through defaults.

The insurance requirement also comes with a provision for more fair coverage, pre-existing conditions, and that also stops defaults -- patients without insurance -- going for major work and then defaulting. That is because when a patient is denied and just goes to the hospital and defaults or gets a super discount, you pay for that in price hikes. That is another way the insurance companies duck the liability and you get screwed with higher prices.

Insurance costs go up when the preconditions are part of the insurance system upon implementation of ACA -- but before, they showed up as price increases upon default, so that is a wash that also makes sure preventative care comes to those people, and that reduces cost.

There are no provisions to stop access to doctors, except that the people who would be avoiding it, getting really sick, then going and defaulting would be able to see doctors more easily for preventative care. If that creates a problem, the market will respond with more doctors. The market will not be dead.

Interstate competition in health care might lower prices marginally but it would require the creation of a new bureaucracy to manage the interstate and that would be federal. The reason it is handled now at the state level is because those state's rights nuts thought it could be better handled by state government, and that leads to what we have now. The idea that simply creating a different monolithic bureaucracy on the federal level does not offer the promise of significant savings. But the largest and most powerful national and international corporations favor this approach because it would stomp smaller companies. Truth is, local insurance agents at least make some money now and are underwritten by larger corporations anyway. A new interstate system would just mean your cousin Charlie lost his job in Jackson and would have to move in with you, and a phone bank in New Delhi would get a lot of Charlie's work.

Free enterprise sounds great but it is a baldfaced lie. The Founders allowed for the destruction of free enterprise with the patent system, whereby an idea can be claimed and the government makes sure nobody competes with you. There are about a thousand laws that do the same things, and when it comes down to it everybody gets their crony laws, but "free enterprise" means the common man does without this protection. That is the gospel truth -- to keep our markets alive we have to realize that and balance the protections.

Hope that helps. I have done my homework on this, but I know most folks here have not even looked over the law and (instead) let themselves be informed by politicians or talk radio idiots. That is a serious mistake.

Obamacare - I'm Lovin' it!

"Its a tax!" Only if you're a bum.

Let me explain how things work in the real world.

When you go to a doctor you shouldn't be able to miss a sign like this :

That means that when you are done, you owe the entire bill in full right then and there.  Why? They have to pay their employees and their doctors, their utility bills and so forth.  Okay, so you don't have the money, its not like they charge interest, right?  Yeah. Sure.  What do you think those rising costs are?  I'll tell you what they are : the doctor charging everyone more because YOU don't think you have to pay in full when services are rendered, like the sign says.

"I'll pay it off eventually."  Whoopteedoo! They can't tell the electric company they will pay the bill eventually.  Their employees won't work there for long if they will only get paid "eventually."  They can't buy all the white coats, tongue depressors, stethoscopes, blood pressure machines and all that with 'eventual' money.

When you don't pay at the time services are rendered and you don't have insurance, someone has got to take up your slack and get the business it's money so that it can pay it's bills.  Guess who gets to make up the difference?  Everyone, including you.  You and everyone else are charged more because of the risk of people not paying on time.  That is passed on to the insurance companies as the doctors demand higher and higher payment for services rendered.  That is passed on to people like me, who have insurance in the form of higher insurance premiums.  That usually means less people can afford insurance, meaning more people don't pay on time, meaning higher costs....  its a horrible, endless loop.

Okay, some of the problem stems from Medical Billing being a total mess in many places.  Insurance policies for timely filing go up against backlogs of bills and the insurance company processors stalling the paperwork as long as possible so they don't have to pay, etc.

I am being responsible, getting the coverage I need or will need at some point and I am paying more than my fair share.  Now, thanks to Obamacare, everyone will have to pay their fair share and I MIGHT get lower premiums.  It is even likely that I will get a rebate on my premiums because now they have to use 80 or 85% for actual medical expenses instead of using most of the premiums to pay fat bonuses for NOT paying doctors.

Check out the following for more information :
http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/healthcare-overview
http://www.whitehouse.gov/ health-care-checklist
How the Affordable Care Act affects you! (ABC)

I may add to this later.. but.. here ya go!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Selfish and Greedy

The question is, are people, generally speaking, selfish or selfless?

A one word answer was requested.  I had to answer "Neither."

The very question demands moral absolutism, which is absolutely crazy, In My Humble Opinion.  I don't think I can completely agree with moral relativism either.  For a good read on the two and the middle ground I am likely to stand on, read this blog post.

One thing from that blog post I'd like to comment on :
Immanuel Kant might seem to come close when he argues that you should be honest even when an enraged killer asks you where your dad is.
I believe in being honest at all times.  I think the above framed question claims a dual option - either you lie to the killer or you tell the killer where your dad is.  My response is neither.  "I'm not going to tell you," satisfies both protecting your dad and being honest.  "I don't want to tell you," may, in some cases, be more honest.  "I don't know," can be an honest answer even if you know he is upstairs - you don't know what room he is in, although you could probably guess.

I suppose what I am trying to impart is that Morality is like an Onion.
It stinks?
No!
Oh, it makes you cry!
No! 
Oh, you leave it out in the sun and it gets all brown, start sprouting little white hairs.

No! Layers! Onions have layers. Morality has layers! They both have layers!!!

Like morality, Selfishness or greed has layers too.  At the very core, most people have the selfishness of "I don't want to suffer."  However, there are people who will protest the bad treatment of others by setting themselves on fire. Some don't even move while burning.  You also have stories like
One example is Tom Hsieh, whose Bolder Giving story begins with disarming humility: “When I graduated from college, God pointed out to me: 1) He has a heart for the poor, and 2) I didn’t.” This revelation led Hsieh to work with an international missions and development group and to start the habit of giving away whatever money he didn’t need. Now in his mid-30s and an executive with a technology firm, Hsieh and his wife have committed to living at or below the national median income (which last year meant living on $38,000 and giving away the rest of his $200,000-plus salary). They live in the second-poorest neighborhood in Los Angeles County, a context that Hsieh notes makes giving easy, as the reality of the needs of the world are at their doorstep.
and records of when people realize that being selfish won't bring happiness.

Extreme? Maybe, but so is suggesting that all people are selfish (especially when your 'reasoning' is that the bible says so.)  

"Most People" are going to be somewhere in the middle. 45 to 55% "selfish" is likely to be the norm. "Most people" are not

Then again, maybe I am selfish.  Maybe I just want other people to have enough to eat, job training, financial training, a job to go to, a place to live and all that JUST so that I will feel better or I will have better opportunities or somehow will benefit from it.  Maybe it is just a matter of if everyone else does good, then I'll do even better.

Some consider taxes to be stealing.  I suppose they want to directly pay for roads to be built, medical research, educating their kids, technology research and to hire their own security guards and soldiers.  Call me selfish, but I'd rather pay a little taxes and not have to worry about all the details.  I don't want to have to pay if firefighters have to come save my house.  If taxes help some families stay fed and housed, then I am all for it and glad to do my fair share - without having to spend my time doing it.

I am willing to pay taxes to be able to have downtime and the convenience of roads, police, firefighters, teachers (even though I don't have kids) and all the government funded research into cool new things.  I wonder how many people would be more willing to pay taxes if they were suddenly unable to access all the things taxes pay for.  I'd love to see them move to a low-tax area like maybe Mexico.  Any good road is a toll road.

Of course, if you want to escape high taxes ... 
Surprise! Despite endless American complaints about over-taxation, the U.S. has one of the world's lowest marginal income tax rates, at 27%. Along with what, by comparison with the high rates cited above, seems a relatively low rate, the U.S. has the world's biggest economy, with a GDP of over $1,400 billion.
Talk about Dogma vs Reality!! Its kind of the same thing with our Corporate Tax Rate - the stated rate is really high - the rate they actually pay is very low.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Tradeoff - Response

My friend Justin Fisher wrote a piece on compensation entitled "The Tradeoff."  It is worth a read because he is one smart guy.  This is my response to the article.

I've been blogging about this for quite a while.  On this blog, from October 5th, 2010.  I also do a lot of research and usually provide links throughout my posts to allow readers to follow the research. So, when I read :
"the major reason incomes are unequal is that this system rewards its citizens based on their abilities."
I was shocked.  Assuming that "ability" is meant to imply aptitude and efficiency in one's chosen occupation, that statement is demonstrably untrue.  Maybe capitalism is meant to do so, but 'this system' simply does not.  Pay and promotions are largely based on opportunity, who you know, personality, length of employment, "education," and coming up last, ability.

"Our society rewards its citizens based on the satisfaction that buyers receive (economist call this “utility”) when they pay to enjoy our abilities."
That is true and opposite of the first quote, unless by "ability" you mean only the ability to create a feeling of satisfaction in 'the public' at large - or "ability to entertain."

"Peyton’s ability to make $23 million a year, doesn’t decrease Kelly’s opportunity to make that much. Wealth is not like a great big pie that, when divided, means that if you get a bigger slice, I, by definition, get a smaller one."
 Actually, yes, it does and yes, it is.  There is always at any point in time only 100 percent of money available. Perhaps in Theoretical Economics, that 'wealth creates wealth' works perfectly, but in the real world, wealth comes from somewhere.  Sam Walton created his wealth by selling cheap goods to poor people, making them less wealthy and himself more wealthy - but they got a lot of cheap plastic stuff! Did they become more wealthy? No. They just got more stuff.  Usually stuff that once they used it lost most of it's already low value.

Lets look at the pies!

http://www.businessinsider.com/15-charts-about-wealth-and-inequality-in-america-2010-4?op=1




See the last Pie chart? When the top 1% got almost 10% more, the bottom 4/5ths got 9% less.  Each % the top 1% gains is a % lost to the rest.  Can there be 110% of money? No. Of wealth? No.  In order for someone to gain, someone must lose (in pure money terms, though they may gain a material possession or a degree of satisfaction or entertainment).
(Found This to be interesting, though not necessarily on topic exactly.)

What has happened each and every time such income inequality has occurred? Depression or Recession. Why? Wealth flows Up, it does not trickle down.
"There is a negative unintended side affect to these practices is that it gives both groups less incentive to be productive. In fact, it gives both groups more incentive to be less productive; less efficient. As a rich person, why would you work hard to make more, if the reward would be that more would be taken? As a poor person, why would you work hard to make more, if the reward would be that less would be given?"
That is also demonstrably untrue.  While I am sure that you can find examples of people who have no desire to do anything more and want to continue taking handouts, I can find many more people who are not happy making less.  I would also challenge you to find a rich person that works as hard as a carpenter or plumber or factory floor worker.  Another challenge would be to find a rich person who doesn't want to make more - even venturing into a higher tax bracket to do so.  Sure, the "Theory" is sound, but in reality, it doesn't hold much water, if any at all.

As far as efficiency, workers have become lots more efficient - and their salaries have dropped.  So why become more efficient and more productive when, in reality, you get paid less?  The people who actually produce and create productivity are paid less than the people who stand around and observe them being productive.
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/05/01/474245/may-day-charts-we-dont-currently-reward-our-workers/

To insinuate that Income is a variable based on Effort and Ability is absolute bollocks! Oh, it is a great theory and a desirable goal, but it rarely actually happens.

Justin's fishing buddy (seriously, read his post!) may be just a lazy guy scamming the system.  It happens.  Then again, he may be a carpenter who went to fight for our country and came back with such severe PTSD that the banging of hammers on his job sends him into convulsions of fear or violent outbursts of 'self defense.'  When you have a skill set and suddenly, for some reason, you can't perform your job, you are disabled - no longer able to do your job that you have skills for.  He may have to spend days at a time in bed due to severe pain.  Who knows?

Justin, on the other hand, is a highly motivated, smart guy whose intellectual ability more than makes up for his physical challenges.  People like Justin seem to have a hard time understanding that most people are just not intellectually able to do the things they can. Some people are just not that smart and if they loose their physical ability, then they are just unable to find another occupation in which they can be productive.  For most, being unproductive leads to severe depression and anxiety.  In our society, being unproductive is not rewarding at all. "Learning a new skill" usually take opportunity and money - something that people who find themselves unable to do their job often don't have any more.

Economic Theory is all fine and good, but it doesn't match up with economic reality very much.

(another post on that topic - see also "Farming the Economy" and "Cartoon Economics" and "Rich get Richer" and Finally - "Ethical Capitalism" and "More on Ethical Capitalism")

Another great source for reality-based economics is the Angry Bear blog.

We have seen a pattern increasing income inequality, loose regulations, wall street gambling and other factors leading to an economic collapse. How many more times do we have to see and live through the same patter before we realize that income inequality, loose regulations and allowing wall street to gamble on everything are bad things for our overall economy?

... I rambled again... dang! ... so.. I'll add this very statistical analysis of what is going on : This. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On the Economy - Romney is Wrong!!!

I wanted to share this comment on an article about Romney dissing Obama.
(links are mine to prove his point and bold is to highlight important parts)

NDiesel81 3:54 PM

If Wisconsin has shown anything, it's that people are taking opinion more seriously than facts. Most people don't actually know any facts. They only know talking points, which are just that... talk.It's very scary when people actually believe Obama has increased spending programs during his term, when the facts state the exact opposite. The deficit has increased, but that is due to existing safety net programs being over burdened by high unemployment and retirement numbers, in addition to low revenue numbers also due to high unemployment numbers as well as tax breaks on those who don't need them. High unemployment is a double whammy. Spending increases employment, which increases job security, which increases consumer spending, which further increases employment. This isn't some overly complex equation. It isn't magic. It's cold hard logic that everyone seems to want to disbelieve. They believe opinions more than they believe the facts! It's very scary that people believe we can cut our way out of our deficit. Yes, this may lower the deficit in the short term, but it also increases unemployment. Unemployment, as I've stated before, puts a high burden on our social safety net programs. The Republican answer is to also cut the social safety net programs as well! Can someone please explain to me how cutting jobs during 8.2% unemployment adds jobs? Do people miraculously start spending money and buying products when unemployment rates are soaring? While they're fearing their job is next on the chopping block? It's very scary that people are taking opinion over cold hard facts, and it's happening everywhere. No one wants to spend the time to look at the real numbers or the real facts. That would be too much work! They're too lazy for that! Instead, they'll listen to people like Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, Beck... and they'll be told what's what even though they're being told fact-less falsehoods.. but at least it's easy and quick!

.... and why didn't anyone read THIS post?? Its important!

... another comment from the same article :


Brad Naksuthin 3:41 PM
When Obama took office the stock market stood a little above 8000, the country was shedding 200,000 jobs a month and everyone's investments were in the toilet. Osama Bin Ladin was still mocking Americans with his monthly audio-casts. We were fighting a war in Iraq and another one in Afghanistan. Since Obama took office there has been job growth in every month hes' been in office. The stock market stands at 12,500. People who watched their investments tank at the end of the Bush administration now are back on top. The war in Iraq has been won and is over. Osama Bin Ladin is dead and his top military generals are in hiding. I'd say Obama has done a pretty good job for being a first time President.

Thomas Jefferson Quote

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desireable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter.
Notes on the State of Virginia (1785) - a book written by Thomas Jefferson

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited by a thousand millions of people. That these profess probably a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but one of that thousand. That if there be but one right, and ours that one, we should wish to see the 999 wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free enquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves. But every state, says an inquisitor, has established some religion. No two, say I, have established the same. Is this a proof of the infallibility of establishments? Our sister states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long subsisted without any establishment at all. The experiment was new and doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond conception. They flourish infinitely. Religion is well supported; of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order: or if a sect arises, whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has fair play, and reasons and laughs it out of doors, without suffering the state to be troubled with it. They do not hang more malefactors than we do. They are not more disturbed with religious dissensions. On the contrary, their harmony is unparalleled, and can be ascribed to nothing but their unbounded tolerance, because there is no other circumstance in which they differ from every nation on earth. They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them. Let us too give this experiment fair play, and get rid, while we may, of those tyrannical laws. It is true, we are as yet secured against them by the spirit of the times. I doubt whether the people of this country would suffer an execution for heresy, or a three years imprisonment for not comprehending the mysteries of the Trinity. But is the spirit of the people an infallible, a permanent reliance? Is it government? Is this the kind of protection we receive in return for the rights we give up? Besides, the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.

Friday, June 1, 2012

GOP not Jobs Friendly

Willard "Mitt" Romney is insane - paranoid schizophrenic kind of crazy, but apparently the media doesn't care.

Okay, the topic of this post is how the GOP is anti-jobs.  If you can't tell by their insane economics policy statements, allow me to explain :

The GOP policy for getting the economy back on track is to give tax cuts to the already rich and powerful - giving them even more disproportionally large sums of money.  They claim this will increase employment when the recipients of all the benefits pour money back into the economy.  They continue to claim this even as history shows that it is not the case.

Okay, so the math-based article linked by "shows" above pretty much made the case I was set to make - but I will re-state it in my own weird way.

Rich people are rich because they have more money than they know what to do with.  They 'invest' because they already have all the food, entertainment, cars, boats, houses and what-not that they want.  Giving the already rich tax breaks only means that they can 'invest' more.  Investing doesn't create jobs.  Maybe a few will invest in start-ups or expansions, but most will invest in Mutual Funds or established company stocks or bonds, maybe even Annuities or Certificates of Deposit.  Very few jobs created.  Just look at the jobs numbers after the Bush tax cuts - the middle class even lost money.

The only reality-based way to create jobs and revitalize the economy is to put more money into the hands of middle class and poor people.  How to do that?  I don't really know.  How do you make greedy people give up their excess?  The only way I can see it happening is lowering CEO and Executive salaries and increasing worker salaries and wages. Perhaps, as some have suggested, we need a Maximum Wage?

The GOP is not 'business friendly' they are 'profits friendly' but not, in any way, 'jobs friendly.'

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Political Facts

The Republican party is nuts and anyone who would vote for them has got to be a little nuts as well.

Okay, this is one where you have to read the links too...  either than or accept that I have read the links and drawn the appropriate conclusions, but seriously, read stuff! I do.  Its why I will not vote for a republican.

History shows us that their "plan" for the economy doesn't work.  In fact, it shows us that their plan makes things a lot, lot worse very quickly.  Facts and Figures also show us that Republicans are in office when the debt really jumps up higher.  The Republicans controlled a majority of all branches of government for five and a half years of Bush II's reign and it led to an economic recession that had people making comparisons to the Great Depression.

Lets look at the real numbers, shall we?

From ThinkProgress article

Lets look at the Great Depression, shall we?

Five top causes of the depression are generally agreed upon.

1. 1929 Stock Market Crash. This can be attributed to rampant speculation, risky loans and the political environment around passing a trade tariff. Much the same way as rampant speculation and risky fiscal hijinks led to the recent recession.  The Republicans risked an even worse stock market collapse when they held the debt ceiling hostage, leading to a downgrade in the U.S. Credit ranking.  Now, they are threatening it again!

2. Bank Failures. The banks had loaned people money to buy stocks. When the stock market crashed, people lost their investments and couldn't repay the loans.  The Glass-Steagall Act was passed to make sure that nothing like the Great Depression happened again... but congress repealed it  and banks again did the risky things it had prohibited, leading right back down the same path with very similar consequences. (Republicans introduced the repeal bill, both chambers had a Republican majority, Senate was divided along party lines with only 1 Democrat voting for it, the House had a more bipartisan vote in favor of it and Democrat Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.)

3. Spending Stopped.  People feared losing money so they stopped spending, which caused job losses, which reduced spending, which caused more job losses.  Now, when we are still on the brink of recession, slowly pulling ourselves up, Republicans want to stop spending, which will cause job losses, which will reduce spending, which will plunge us into another depression.  Bad Idea.

4 and 5 are a tariff and a drought.  I don't think Republicans can get a drought going, but I'm sure they would try if they thought it would cause Obama's defeat.  They would blame it on Obama even though they brought it about.  Sadly, some people would believe them.

The European recession was battled with severe austerity measures - which only made things much, much worse for the people and the economy.  Realizing their mistake, they are now moving toward a more balanced approach modeled on what the U.S. has done under Obama.  Republicans still say austerity is the way to go... even after noted, public, historic failures of that method.
"FDR ran into trouble only when he moved away from fiscal expansion toward austerity in 1937."
If we look at history, the economy thrives under democratic presidents, but somehow people are still unhappy, so they wind up electing a republican and the economy tanks, debt piles up and we wind up back in recession.  Then people put democrats back in charge to fix things, but quickly forget the damage the last republican did... like they way they forget George W. Bush and the total republican control led to recession and debt.

Republican policies make things worse - and their plans are designed to make things worse for average Citizens!

They want debt paid down.  Which, yeah, its pretty high right now. However, some can argue that all depressions have been preceded by a large pay-down in national debt... because that is true.

There was a "take-down" on a chart that showed debt increases by president.  What politifact failed to realize is that a president doesn't control the purse strings on the day he is inaugurated.  The fiscal year is controlled by the past president's budget. The economic facts and figures hold true: Republicans cause debt increases and recessions.

There are just TOO MANY things the Republicans lie about to try and cover in one post... I really want to... but... its too much.

Like Education - the Republicans keep saying that cutting funding is okay, because two-parent households should be doing most of the educating.  So, children with only one parent don't deserve an education? What did the kid do to be so undeserving?  What about the fact that Republican policies have driven wages down over the past thirty years so that a family now pretty much MUST have both parents working just to get by?  Are they going to correct that?  Are they going to get us back to a point where a construction worker could provide for his stay-at-home wife and their two kids AND afford a car and food and clothing for them all?
 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More garden pics!


This is Bed #1 - Marigolds and Squash doing very well.  One Tomato growing great, the other three doing okay.  The flat plant in the cinder block on the top right is Pennyroyal.  Supposed to keep ants away.  Radishes and carrots are doing well too.

 
This is one of the Scallopini squash. It has two squash on one 'stalk' on a couple plants.  Not sure how that is going to grow well-formed squash.  I'm thinking they will crowd each other, but we'll see.

This is Summer Squash.  It has LOTS of flowers and some little squashlings.  The little thing at the very center is a squashling.


I wanted a better view of the Mammoth Melting Snow Peas, so I used a backdrop!  The vines are pretty thick!  The flowers are very white, but kind of unimpressive.  Not an ornamental variety, LOL!

This is Bed #2, looking at Punk and the end of Bed #3.  The Borage in the center is huge.  The Radish at bottom right is about ready.  The light green is Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce and doing pretty good.  The top right is the Dragon Tongue Beans and they are about ready to harvest the first few beans.  We had to prop them up using some of the old grids.

Willice got some of the 'outdoor living room' furniture set up.  We have a few more pieces to retrieve and we will be ready to entertain!  This fall, I am going to level the area so there is less chance of breaking an ankle trying to walk around.



The pond is coming along great!  We have a solar water pump that has a battery backup and an on-at-dusk LED light.  The 'waterfall' is pretty cool.  Now, we need some fish!  Okay... so, we need to finish setting up the bed around the pond with some ground cover kind of plants and some grasses.  I've got a lot of Pennyroyal to set out!!
The grass in the top right of the pond was 'rescued' from the Reservoir.  It brought some duckweed with it, but it has not taken over yet.