2/24/2017

Betting the Short Hand

 All Rights Reserved © 2017 Thomas W. Day

In the 50’s and early 60’s, a man (not a woman) had a fairly good chance—at least 1 in 10—of picking a job, learning the necessary skills, and hanging on to that job—or something very close to it—for his working lifetime. In the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s, the Vietnam War and other military distractions wasted the nation’s resources and squandered its commercial energy so that other countries caught up to us and passed us in many industries. By then, even skilled laborers discovered their talents and knowledge didn’t guarantee them a lifetime job and income: engineers became obsolete, mechanics lost their jobs because their electronic skills were insufficient, technicians became irrelevant in the throw-away society, and manual labor began to be replaced with machines. That was just the beginning of a “new economy” and a renewal of old feudal society rules that value investment and property more than people. In their usual half-witted way, the voters most effected by this cultural shift voted to speed up their demise.

Hillary and Democrats only offered 1 in 100 odds that if a worker decided to join the lifetime education system that worker could remain employed reasonably consistently and probably cling to a middle class lifestyle to retirement. That would require living modestly as individuals and a nation, investing in local communities, spending less time cheering for sports teams and more time cracking the books and learning new skills, and being a parent would be dramatically more demanding since the next generation will have to be even more invested in constant education and skill development. Even with all of that effort, the chances are good that a computer/robot will takeover any career you pick in the next 50 years and you’ll be back in the unemployment line. The odds weren’t great and the effort required would be constant and demanding.

Trump presented an alternative, an incredibly unlikely alternative but at least the kind of alternative that people who “invest” in lottery tickets could understand. With odds that probably don’t get better than 1 in 1,000,000,000 Trump said “I will give you everything” and guaranteed that he’d create “25 million jobs” and promised to make “every dream you ever dreamed for your country” come true if he were elected. The odds that a man whose career is checkered with bankruptcy, incompetence, corruption, and outright stupidity would even bother with fulfilling those promises is astronomical, but still in the realm of “barely possible.”

You’d think that any reasonably intelligent adult should know none of that is possible for a guy with no leadership experience and whose ability to mange his own businesses included six bankruptcies and one amazingly miserable failed attempt to take his “empire” public. (Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (DJT) went from an IPO of $140M in public investment money to booking $647M in losses between 1995 and 2004 before that pie-in-the-sky public company filed for Chapter 11.) Donald, of course, paid himself handsomely all the way to the moment the bankers took over his mess, but the suckers/gamblers who invested in his “business” got back less than a buck for every 10 they gambled, if they got out in time. Fact: if you had bought $10,000 in DJT stock in 1995, you’d have about $650 when the dust settled. If you had shorted DJT stock, you’d have turned your margin account investment into a gold mine.

stupid-trump-quote-76-sorry-losers-and-haters-but-iq-one-the-politics-1457151051You could argue that DJT was a solid investment. After all, who loses money owning casinos? History shows that not only did Trump lose close to a billion dollars, but the cities unlucky enough to be part of his scam were even more decimated by his attention. Taxpayers carried Trump’s load for almost 20 years because of the way he scammed our tax code (and bribed a few congresscritters to defund the IRS so that enforcement group wouldn’t have the resources to prosecute him). History is always a good clue about the future and Trump’s long list of business failures should have been enough evidence for DJT’s IPO to be one of the great jokes of the DOT.COM years. Americans, in general, are not good at history or any other academic activity.

It turns out that it is human nature to choose a 1:1,000,000,000 bet on “every dream you ever dreamed” over a 1:100 investment in education and hard work for a middle class life for the majority of citizens. Humans are not a rational animal. We’re 99.99…% emotional and whatever is left is mildly logical. We don’t make choices based on our best return. We’ll go for pie-in-the-sky over a regular meal almost every time. At some point, the people who make society, technology, science, and the economy work are going to grow tired of the irrational behavior of the majority of human population. Their hard work is regularly overturned by uneducated, emotional, superstitious idiots; who represent the steaming mass of humanity’s turd pile. You’d think it wouldn’t be all that hard for a few genetic engineers, some weapons designers, and serious hacking of our political system to turn the tables on the marching morons and solve all of the world’s problems in a single generation.

2/08/2017

Who’s Not Paying Their Way?

Trump seems to believe that some of the NATO nations aren’t paying their way. His solution is to pull out of NATO and abandon the alliances that have provided whatever sembalance of stability the western world has enjoyed since the end of WWII. If he’s willing to crack that many eggs and roll the dice on the world, how about applying the same rules to the states in the USA? Obviously, Trump won’t bite the hand that elected him, but the red states are typically takers not givers and the states that did not go for Trump are paying the way for the majority of the people who claim they are independent “freedom lovers.” The Southeast, in particular, is a stagnant pool of economic inactivity. Here, for instance, is a list of the top ten US deadbeat states:

  1. Mississippi,  42.9% federal aid as percentage of general revenue
  2. Louisiana,  41.9%
  3. Tennessee, 39.5%
  4. South Dakota, 39.0%
  5. Missouri,  38.2%
  6. Montana, 37.4%
  7. Georgia, 37.3%
  8. New Mexico, 36.6%
  9. Alabama, 36.1%
  10. Maine, 35.3%

dollarEvery one of these states votes red and receives massive amounts of federal welfare as a reward. Another way to look at state dependence on federal welfare is by examining the states’ ROI for tax dollars paid into the federal goverenment. Obviously, the deadbeats in Mississippi are getting a killer deal with $4.70 returned from D.C. for every $1 of federal taxes paid. 42% of that cesspool’s general fund comes from federal welfare. You’d think that state would be desperately Democratic, if the usual Republican bullshit about personal responsibility and independence from federal handouts meant anything, but you’d be wrong. Mississippi turned red in 1964 and other than going for hometown southern boy Jimmy Carter in 1976 Mississippi has been a red state for 50 years.

At the bottom of the above chart are the 11 states who pay their own way (and every other states’ way): Deleware, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersy, Conneticut, Illinois, Ohio, Massachucets, New York, Rhode Island, and North Dakota (However, ND became a welfare state in 2016 when the massive oil substidies for fracking weren’t able to overcome the low price of oil.). The data determing who needs what from the rest of us can be confusing, though. For instance, North Dakota’s state government was the least dependent while the state’s residents were the most dependent. No, I don’t know what the fuck that means. WalletHub.com provides a terrific amount of information on all of the available data on this subject at: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/. You can even play with some of the numbers and see how your home state stacks up. It’s interesting to see that the states constantly vieying for the worst education system ranking, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico, are consistently among the most dependent on the federal government for both personal and their state governments’ income.

You’d think Trump would be applying some of the same logic, if he applied logic, to states that he’s using on NATO countries. If a state isn’t paying its own way, it should lose representation in Congress, for example. Screw population, let’s make states earn their electoral votes. For instance, California’s Gross Domestic Product is $2.448 trillion dollars and receives $343 billion back (14%) from the feds while Mississippi “contributes” a paultry $88.55 billion and rakes in $34.308 billion (38%) in federal spending. Minnesota contributes a $255B GDP for a $44.3B federal investment (17%) vs. Arkansas’ dismal $95B GDP and $28.5B federal contribution (30%). With that sort of discrepancy in output vs. investment, you’d think California and Minnesota would have at least 50 times the representation in Washington as an on-federal-life-support state like Mississippi. You’d be disappointed, if you were expecting logic and fairness from the same standards Trump is applying to NATO.

Socialism is, apparently, acceptible for states that are willing to give up their civil rights and become corporate welfare states.

2/06/2017

Meth Grandma?

methgrannyI learned about a new class of sub-human last night at a party in Truth or Consequences, NM: meth grandmas. Apparently, there are “meth clans” that are managed by the grandmothers. Meth is just a part of life in New Mexico, even the cops agree that “Breaking Bad” wasn’t far from a true story. All of this weird information came out in a discussion of the neighborhoods in the tiny town of TorC. The northeast end of town, a pretty obviously decrepit area but not one I’d suspected was particularly dangerous. I guess it is, at night. Even when the “rich” and “poor” neighborhoods are only a 1/2 mile apart in a 6,000 person town and “rich” barely qualifies as lower middle class and “poor” is as destitute as Americans get, most of the crime is isolated to the tiny poor end of town. Poor-on-poor crime seems to be a feature of the meth world. In fact, the stories I heard last night were mostly about family-on-family-member crimes. Drug abuse and New Mexico appear to go together like Trump and ignorance.

  • Son-in-law fails to score the week’s dope supply and grandma stabs him in the gut with a screwdriver
  • Grandkid gets into grandma’s stash and OD’s while playing with the crystals, grandma tosses the kid into the backyard as a punishment
  • Baby OD’s after grandma uses the kid’s diapers as a meth processing filter and puts them back on the kid without even washing them

And so it goes.

yuma4n-5-webSome of the folks at the party were sympathetic and some weren’t. All of them were part of the tiny crowd of Democrats in a mixed mostly-conservative state in a solidly red county (58% voted for Trump, which is consistent with the state’s overall results: the poorest, least educated counties were consistently Republican and the few educated, relatively wealthy, and more populated counties were strongly Democratic.) with some twists (2 Democratic US Representatives vs. 1 Republican and a new Democratic majority in the state House and Senate.).

The diversity of opinion and perspective reminded me of Will Roger’s political statement, “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” Sometimes I think Democrats think too much. To overwhelm the emotional and irrational Republican fascist movement in the US, it will probably take the same kind of mindless fire Republicans exhibit. Fighting fire with fire just creates more fire, so I have to wonder if it’s worth the sacrifice?

 

2/04/2017

Is the Gap too Far?

Not long after the “election,” I brought a Xmas pie to our young neighbors. I’ve talked about “Dan” before, when I discussed his argument (“I don’t believe that.”) against the evidence that market forces, congressional lawmakers’ opening the world market to our ammunition manufacturers, and gun hoarders like him who have driven the price of ammo up. Dan doesn’t vote, so nothing that happens “is my fault.” His wife, someone who works for the Veterans’ Administration and holds a BS in microbiology, like her family voted for Trump. She earned that degree at the University of Michigan, where she claimed “the professors were terrible.” I don’t know who’s who in microbiology, but I do have to wonder what someone with a science education is doing voting for Trump. Maybe her education really was terrible.

TrumpJesusALoserWhen we talked about her reasons for voting Trump, she said “there are books” written about Hillary Clinton’s corruption; which is true. A few of them are written by reasonably credible writers, but most are financed by the Koch idiots and the right wing propaganda machine. However, her family is all Republicans and Fox News fans and her propaganda saturation was complete. She said she even cried as she left the voting booth, but she was convinced that “Hillary lied” and she followed that statement with “but I believe in Jesus Christ.” I do not get the connection. I don’t get how people who imagine themselves to be any kind of Christian could find a way to voting for Trump. While there appears to be no evidence that Christians feel any obligation to behave decently it always seemed to me that the point in being Christian should be to do at least a few of the things that make the Jesus character appealing.

mP72JZApparently, Christians (especially the televangelist millionaires) are really on board with anything that ensures their “churches” never have to pay taxes or behave in any fashion resembling “Christian”: as in putting those millions to use doing anything other than packing their pockets, buying mansions and airplanes for their personal use, and fleecing the gullible. That is the religion I’ve always known and been disgusted by. One of the hallmarks of this brand of Christianity is a desperate desire to instigate “Armageddon.” Not because they really believe they are going to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, but because it absolves them of any responsibility for future generations so they can carry on with their perversions and avarice without guilt. Again, what would be the motivation for an intelligent person to follow that sort of philosophy?

hillary-gunz-misspelledOf course, Dan’s only response was, “Hillary wants to take my guns.” He and I have had the conversation about how Reagan and Bush I were the only presidents to do squat to his gun rights with the Brady Bill. He’s still terrified that Democrats and 63% of his fellow Americans want some sort of gun control to slow up the decline of the country into gun nut chaos. Dan, of course, is afraid to travel anywhere, even in Goodhue County, MN without a weapon in case he gets his chance to be a “good guy with a gun.” Didn’t we used to be “the land of the free, home of the brave?” We also used to be a world leader in science and technology and we made stuff the rest of the world wanted to buy. That was then and this is the country that deserves Trump and has earned the ridicule of intelligent people worldwide.

neanderthalI have to wonder if reasonably intelligent Americans, some with moderately decent educations, can be so easily fooled by low-rent propaganda and idiotic arguments, is there any hope for the country? The gap between the Tea Party know-nothings and people who actually make the country run, do science, make products and invent things, and demonstrate some level of creativity is growing so large it seems like humans are splitting into two incompatible species. That’s probably not a bad thing, since the left-behind species is superstitious, uneducable, and dangerous to the planet’s survival. The problem is that they are the overwhelming majority in the world and, especially, the majority in the USA.