Friday, December 04, 2015

Gun Violence is Gun Violence No Matter How You Define the Word 'Mass!'

The Patriot Post
Now keep in mind the difference in population between the countries listed.
A comparison between sources with different definitions of what is considered a mass shooting. Finally, without directly mentioning a correllation, the article alludes to economic conditions as a major driver of violence.

Washington Examiner
Same Talking Points as

NBC News
The Washington Examiner claims the press is citing but NBC is citing the F.B.I.

Gun Violence Archive
While the Right and the Left Quibble over the definition of 'mass shooting' and blame each-other for distorting facts, it just doesn't matter because gun violence is still gun violence.

Live Science
The CDC and NIH are banned from conducting research into gun violence.
The Left and the Right are accusing each-other of distorting the facts when it comes to mass shootings or mass murder, but it's still gun violence, so stop deliberately distracting us.

Mass shootings can be divided into five basic classes; foreign political agents, naturalized citizen sympathizers of foreign causes, religious zealots, revolutionaries and the mentally ill, I don't know where Ted Nugent fits in, but it's definitely one or both of the last two categories.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Why I'm Incredulous of Polls and Union Endorsements

Article cites Bloomberg politics polls, not the rate of campaign cash donations.

Los Angeles Timmes
Union leaders seem to be ignoring their members cries for supporting Bernie Sanders

In These Times
Examples of grass-roots union support for Bernie Sanders

U.S. News
A Union President chose Hillary over Bernie because "we need to win."

Small donors are far from reaching their contribution limits, and they can donate again.

Open Secrets
Look how much cash Bernie Sanders has raised so far.
When I saw the headline at Fortune, I had to do some digging and sure enough, the media is relying on polling data, because after all, polls can tell you what you want to hear if you know who to ask.

Other media outlets are glomming onto the the counter-intuitive union endorsement of Hillary Clinton, who hasn't really been fighting for labor as much as Bernie Sanders.

One union leader said he personally loved Bernie but endorsed Hillary because he thought she had a better chance of winning, but the media and the union leadership cannot see the groundswell of support for Bernie coming from the rank-and-file.

It appears the media are presupposing a Clinton advantage based on the assumption that union leaders held a vote among the members. I couldn't find the rules for endorsing candidates, but The Daily Caller reported that Bernie and Hillary met with union leaders in a private meeting. which suggests that the rank-and-file union members don't have much of a voice in the matter.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Raising the Minimum Wage

I recently started a poll at Google+ asking "what if every minimum wage worker had an extra $7 per hour to spend?" It sparked a discussion about costs of doing business, inflation and potential reduction in employment.

I decided to collect some articles about it and I was not really surprised where the line was drawn on opinions and research "findings."

If you ever wanted to know which media source was liberal or conservative, looking up their opinions about raising the minimum wage is a glaring test.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


According to many of the stories collected here, things aren't selling so well. I finally had to stop collecting. There were even layoffs in Canada.

Many of the stories list "market conditions" as the primary reason for their cutbacks.

Newspapers are facing a more permanent evolution as they lose their readers to death by natural causes from old age, and migration to the Internet.

The price of cut lumber is dropping due to a surplus of construction materials. This indicates a potential slow-down in construction.

Even QVC is cutting workers at a distribution center in Pennsylvania, which may be an economic indicator of what's going in within the distribution range of that center.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Strange Business Logic

When manufacturing was moved to far away lands out-of-sight and out-of-mind of American business owners and consumers, it eased their consciences.

American didn't have to confront the worker abuse, safety hazards, and child-labor issues common overseas. Now they discovered a way to isolate the abuse closer to home.

When retail operations arrived on the Internet, customers and even some retail stores that ordered their supplies online no longer crossed paths with disgruntled employees.

Distribution centers are typically located in rural areas at major intersections of interstate highways, railroads, or by airports. With great distances and long hours, there's not much chance that a warehouse worker will have the energy or time to complain,

Friday, August 07, 2015

What Does The GOP Want With Your Money?

They keep saying they want to cut taxes, and when they can, they do, for millionaires and billionaires. They keep saying they want to end "Entitlements" or "Welfare." What do they really mean?

If they privatized Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, where would that money go? Just answer this question: Where do the fees charged to your 401(k) go? Where do the fees charged to your investment accounts go? When the Stock Market crashes, and it will, what happens to all of the privatized, invested money formerly known as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

Probably exactly where the fund managers want it to go. Then they throw up their arms and say, "that's the stock market," then later they pay themselves massive bonuses.

At the debate on Fox News August 6, 2015, throughout the entire debate, the word "healthcare" was mentioned once, followed by the word "system" only seven times. The transcript at the CBS website had within it
"10:06 p.m.: Huckabee and Christie had a back and forth on whether the government should alter entitlement programs like Social Security. Huckabee has pledged not to, while Christie argues for reforms like raising the retirement age."
A Generalized description such as this does not a legitimate transcript make. According to this document there was no mention of any kind about privatizing Social Security. However, Jeb Bush previously stated that the next president should privatize Social Security.

Fortune reported that Fox News was technically unable to continue their online livestream video of the debate, but they also cut off YouTube and Sky News which were actually working. Since the transcript from CBS is not Verbatim, and any video recording on the Internet is incomplete, who knows if we we ever see what really happened, unless of course you still have cable television.

This may or may not have been by accident, but these candidates will do much better in the polls with less rather than more exposure.

As the discussion about "Entitlements" gets quietly swept under the rug due to the growing popularity of Bernie Sanders, I still have the urge to understand why the GOP wants to stop the flow of money into the local economy.

Who cares if welfare recipients are lazy? Who cares if the minimum wage goes up to $15 per hour? That money is going to be spent at your business if you own one. That money is going to be taxes for improvements in the infrastructure you use as part of your local business.

Why would entrepreneurs be so opposed to raising the minimum wage? That would raise the tide of income for everyone evenly. The Trickle-Downers love to say "A rising tide lifts all boats." but over the last thirty or forty years it never happened. It has to start from the bottom-up.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Economics of Prison Labor: A Dirty Little Secret Legacy from the Left

I follow Robert Reich on Facebook, This morning I saw this article posted by him from the New Orleans Times Picayune: Bernie Pitches Louisiana Dems on His Presidential Bid (with audio).

Of course Robert Reich does not control the content of the Times Picayune. But the events that follow not only raised more questions, but raised the hair on the back of my neck.

The Time Picayune article covered Bernie Sanders's speech and covered some of his positions, But the obvious omission from the article was Bernie's statements about Sandra Bland and the unemployment rate and economy of African Americans,

I was compelled to post a comment because of the omission. My question was simple and not rhetorical: "What is the economic impact of prison slave labor?"

Immediately, within minutes I got two "likes" and the response comment "Good question, Fred."

Later, I saw the red notification dot and checked the responses There were some from another comment, on a different post, but the notifications about my question completely vanished. That never happened to me before.

I went to my activity log and looked for a record of my posting the comment, and that too was erased from my activity log. I went to Robert Reich's Facebook page to find the article again so I could see if my comment-question was there, and it was gone as if it never happened, along with the responses to my comment from the other users.

Clearly something was up. The deletion of my comment and my activity on Facebook suggests that someone reported my question as offensive or spam. It could be anyone. On some of my comments on past posts, some people have misconstrued in their responses to my comments that what I was writing was racist, but that didn't result in my comment and activity being deleted

What Happened to my comment on Robert Reich's post was extraordinary. So I looked into my own question. "What is the economic impact of prison slave labor?" Here is a list of some enlightening Google search results?

Oh, I can't leave out one dissenting opinion about this which was picked up by CounterPunch: The Myth of US Slave Labor Camps in the US. I have CounterPunch on my list of sources, but I question whether or not to keep it.

Anyway, did something catch your eye? Something in the second article listed? The link to Global Research? An obscure reference to a law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996?

Solitary Watch: Two Clinton Era Laws That Allow Cruel and Unusual Punishment (redux).

Who was Bill Clinton's Economic Adviser at the time? Robert Reich.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bernout: The logic of Barney Frank about Bernie Sanders

Former Congressman Barney Frank posted an Op Ed at titled "Why Progressives Shouldn't Support Bernie Sanders." His opening salvo was to paint a picture of Right Wing Pundit William Kristol grinning at him when he mentioned Bernie Sanders, from across the table at Morning Joe on MSNBC.

Here is the analysis of the Op Ed from Mediaite;
Truthdig also has a review of the article:
Secular Talk on YouTube suggests "Barney Frank Tries To Kneecap Bernie Sanders Momentum"

The subtitle of Barney Frank's article is "Wishful thinking won't win the White House." However, "Hope" won twice.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Latest Lie about Bernie Sanders

Because so many young voters are unfamiliar with Bernie Sanders, the powers that be are scrambling to make him out to be racist because he's focused on economic inequality, which by the way has everything to do with racism.

VOX recently posted an article titled 'Why Bernie Sanders Doesn't Talk About Race' and falsely claimed that Bernie Sanders is ignoring race. In fact he had been fighting for civil rights his entire adult life. Al Sharpton's interview of Bernie which is posted on Bernie's Senate website was overlooked apparently because VOX researched the campaign site instead.

Bernie has a consistent record on civil rights, so much so that the NAACP rated him at 97%

Somehow, media outlets are attempting to bifurcate economics from race just to attack Bernie Sanders. Apparently that's all they've got. Senator Sanders, unlike most politicians, does not fly like a flag in the winds of political polls. He has been steadfast in his message despite its unpopularity among the corporate-owned media outlets.

At the recent Netroots Nation gathering, protesters continuously interrupted Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders so much so that the intent seemed to be to not get a response from the candidates at all, but to simply put them off-balance, and that's exactly what Time Magazine glommed onto. Instead of placing criticism on the disruption, Time saw fit to render O'Malley and Sanders impotent on the stage.

This is the kind of protest behavior agent provocateurs who are paid by an opponent would do. If these same protesters show up at Bernie's next gathering we may safely assume they are plants by opponents seeking to undermine Bernie's reputation.

The difference is that Bernie Sanders has been consistent on his ideals throughout his entire career, and anyone who puts a modicum of effort into the research will know that Senator Sanders is a juggernaut 50 years in the making. #FeelTheBern

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The inverse logic of vaccination fear

When a person is vaccinated, he or she will build up an immunity to various forms of infection, meaning the immune system will be prepared for battle more readily than for people who are not vaccinated.

This does not mean the person who is vaccinated does not have the virus. The person may very well have the virus in large quantities on areas on the body where the immune system cannot reach it, or where it cannot cause symptoms, such as on the surface of the skin, hair, clothes, cell phone, keys, water bottle, credit cards, money, any surface on which a virus may survive.

The danger isn't to those who were vaccinated, but to those who are not vaccinated; those whose immune systems are not prepared to fight off the infection, not the reverse where everyone seems to fear getting infections from non-vaccinated people. They will show symptoms much faster and most likely be isolated sooner than people who are vaccinated, still have the virus on them, but show no symptoms.

The phenomenon of inverse logic was prevalent during the 1980's AIDS crisis. The lack of public information about HIV/AIDS created a legacy of rumors and misconceptions which often become conceptual templates for other forms of infection.

The fear of people who are not vaccinated should in reality be a fear for people who are not vaccinated. Parents who don't want to vaccinate their children, but still send them to public schools should be aware that their own child will suffer more than the students who are vaccinated.

The mandatory vaccination law signed by the California governor had nothing to do with public health, but all to do with profits for the providers of the vaccines.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Sign of Things to Come

When I look at economic news, many sources in the main-stream are are ambiguous to my frustration. I want to point at a news report and say "See, this is why the minimum wage should rise to meet inflation!"

Just take a look at today's Reuters ( 06/16/2015 ), for example:
It seems like things are doing about average, doesn't it? The Pope is talking climate change, Greek default fears are affecting Asia, Hillary is getting tough on trade, oh, and Gap is closing 175 stores. Well, that happens from time to time. It must be a problem at Gap, right? Nope.

If the market took to heart the idea that consumers must earn more money to spend more money, and the market kept wages pegged to inflation, it wouldn't be too late now.

There is no longer a margin that will allow for the delay between a wage increase and a following increase of consumer spending.

Austerity as a solution is a complete failure. Closing stores, laying off employees, cutting government spending, all have one result: Less consumer spending.

If the minimum wage were to increase to the inflation adjusted $22 per hour, consumers are so conditioned by the way the market treated them as employees that their first instinct will be to sock away their money in their savings and checking accounts.

Consumers  have been so conditioned to be miserly after 30 years of Reaganomics, the flow of cash will bottleneck in consumers wallets, banks, and debt relief, before finally reaching any discretionary outlays,

See for yourself what Reaganomics has wrought:

Weak Consumer Spending: The Canary In The Bear Market Coal Mine

Will Weak Consumer Spending Deflate Stock Markets?

When will the consumer spending surge finally happen?

Gap is closing 175 stores and firing a bunch of people

Sears Extends Losses as Sales Declines Accelerate

Kmart's sales have fallen off a gigantic cliff

Canada’s factory sales drop four times more than expected

Hyundai, Kia cut output in South Korea after sales decline

Existing-Home Sales Decline 3.3% in April

Audi China car sales drop for first time in over two years in May

McDonald's Sees Global May Sales Decline, One Region Shines

Arrium flags asset sales, declining earnings

Single-family home sales down in May
1st dip for metro Toledo since 2014

Tata Motors Hits 52-Week Low as JLR May Sales Decline

J. Crew to lay off 10% of headquarters after horrific sales decline

Kors Shares Plunge 19% On Weak Outlook And Same-Store Sales Decline

First time in 20 Years, Indian mobile phone sales drop

Jaguar Land Rover Profit Falls Most in Two Years on China

Staples reports 39% decline in profit as sales dip

Ford F-150 Sales Tank in May

PC sales in Middle East, Africa region dropped 9.6%

U.S. Industrial Production Falls on Weak Demand, Strong Dollar--Update

Factories Meet New Hurdle in U.S. Consumer Spending Slowdown

At this point I just gave up and posted the Google Search links.

---- Google Search Link: "consumer spending weak"

---- Google Search Link: "sales decline"

---- Google Search Link: "stores closing"

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Convenient Politically Fuzzy Economics of Government Agencies

Data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that the legal definition of full-time appears to have been surreptitiously reduced to 35 hours for the benefit of making economic statistics conveniently, politically appealing. By lowering the bar of what is considered "full-time" to 35 hours, the BLS could easily report a higher percentage of alleged "full-time" employment.
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey page:

According to Wikipedia, "the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment," However, according to People's World: "On October 24, 1940, the 40 hour work week went into effect under the FLSA. The new law had been signed by President Roosevelt in 1938."

My generation grew up with the assumption that full-time was 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. At least until 1979 when the war on Unions and deregulation gained momentum. See these articles:

The Number of Salaried Workers Guaranteed Overtime Pay Has Plummeted Since 1979

The expanding role of temporary help services from 1990 to 2008, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Tian Luo, Amar Mann, and Richard Holden; August 2010

There Are A Lot Of Part-Time Workers In Post-Financial Crisis America, Business Insider, Doug Shourt, Advisor Perspectives; November 10, 2014 --

Why The 40-Hour Workweek Is Dying, Forbes, Jayson DeMers; May 15, 2015 --

The Full-Time Job Is Dead, BackChannel, Kevin Maney; June 4, 2015 --

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Cardinal Rules of Microsoft Access and Excel

Originally posted elsewhere on January 22, 2009, this post was inspired by my temporary assignment to Horace Mann Insurance in Springfield, Illinois. They encourage a cutthroat competitive culture and we temps had two managers. Can you guess where this is going?

The lead manager assigned me and another temp to retrieve service numbers from all the old PCs, so the data could be transferred to brand new PCs. Instead of backing up the data, replacing the old PC and then installing the old data on the new PC on an individual basis, they decided to retrieve everyone's data first, bulk load the data on new PCs in another part of the building, then at night bring carts loaded with PCs up to the offices and replace them.

The trick is knowing exactly which PC goes to which employee's desk. Knowing the exact location of a specific employee's old PC hinged on a Microsoft Excel database held on a Dell laptop with a bar code scanner. We had to scan hundreds of PCs service tags, and getting to those service tags often required climbing under desks or shutting down and undocking laptops.

Scanning issues:

We did the scanning during the day when employees were present, yet we replaced the PCs at night. We had to verify the employees information for the database. Some moved to different areas within the building, others were out for the day or left the company.

Then one day the lead manager decided to take two weeks off. The second manager decided he wanted me and my associate to do other things for him instead of completing the scanning, so we kept getting pulled away from our primary task.

I finally insisted that I needed to complete my primary task, but because I defied him in favor of the lead manager's instructions (while the lead manager was away on his vacation) Express Temporary Professionals called me one morning and told me that they were told I was a bad worker and didn't want me back.

In the beginning of the assignment, the lead manager led me to an unoccupied desk in a storage area where I was to lock away the laptop while it wasn't in use. The key was kept somewhere else at the office so other employees could gain access to it. I later got a call from Express asking if I had stolen the laptop. I had to explain where it was so they could find it. I don't know what happened to my associate who knew where the laptop was located.

Now, finally, the original post that dealt with the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet we used:

The Cardinal Rules of Microsoft Access and Excel
January 22, 2009 at 12:59pm

I had a temp job once going around taking inventory. I was given a laptop with Microsoft Excel on it with an inventory list. I was to enter the numbers in the cells. I had a difficult time with it because the person who made up the spreadsheet broke every single one of the following Cardinal Rules.

I. If it can be subdivided it must be subdivided.
a. The more you subdivide information into separate columns, the more
versatile your database will be in the future when you want to develop
charts for presentations, interactive maps, and other codependent
documents like mail merge or XML.

II. Be specific when using column headers.
a. Make sure you can wake up the next morning and know exactly what
should go in a column by its header description. If need be, you can use
the “Insert Comment” to further describe the content requirements.

III. Never a full name in one cell.
a. A first middle and last name are three different things. Use three different

IV. Never first names first.
a. Why always start with last names first? I’m not sure. The reasoning might
be cultural in origin, but it is the official standard of phone books,
libraries, and the government.

V. If you must use nicknames, give them a separate column.
a. If you substitute someone’s formal first name with a nickname, later you
will never find Rick no matter how hard you search for Richard or Dick.

VI. Dividing punctuation requires dividing columns.
a. If you have a comma or semicolon in several cells, you’re in trouble. If
you know you will need three or more items as part of a record, for
example, the identity of multiple printers a person must access, then set a
limit of five and create five columns.

VII. Special requirements need special paperwork.
a. Create an external document reference column.

VIII. Three dimensions require three columns.

IX. Pick one way to describe something and stick with it.

X. Pick one column order and stick with it.

XI. Keep comments to the far right.
a. Columns labeled “Comments,” or “Reason,” are regularly ignored.

XII. Use complete dates.
a. Be sure to include the year, month, and day every time you use a date.

XIII. Keep time out of the date column.
a. The time and date format in Excel is too long to effectively sort and will
cause problems down the road.

XIV. Get all the names before you start.
a. Make sure you know exactly what you need before you start. If rows need
to be added in the process of data collection, you will add hours to the
process of reconciling the remote database with the central database.

XV. Keep a column for sequential record numbers
a. If you want to import your Excel spreadsheet into an Access database, you
will need a “Key” field. Each record should have a record number field
because you won’t be able to import the row number from Excel as your
key field in Access.

XVI. There will always be more rules, write them down as you discover them.

Sunday, February 08, 2015


Why do we need to fight for fair wages, safe working conditions and the right tools we need for the job? The people are getting sick and tired of the greed, contempt and neglect. The people should not suffer. Here are some strikes the main-stream press is not covering.

Oil Workers

Longshoremans of the West Coast ports. Handling our imports and exports.

After a six-day strike, Unite Here Local 5 Kaiser Permanente employees say: mission accomplished.

Potential strike at USC

Aramark workers call for equal treatment

We desperately need to rebuild our unions.