Monday, May 22, 2017

Making The Numbers Match

While writing my last post I felt compelled to back up some of my numbers by looking at the state budget.  Looking at the budget document online prompted me to look at K-12 spending in particular.  I admit that I'm flummoxed, what am I missing here?

Here's the State budget for 2017-18:

Click on (and thus open the pdf's for) both Summary Charts and K-12 Education.

For summary charts, scroll down to Figure SUM-03, which shows a $183 billion state budget.  Note that the general fund portion of K-12 education is a little under $54 billion.  It also shows another $770 million in special and bond fund expenditures for a grand total of $54.3 billion.

Now open the K-12 pdf.  The 2nd paragraph on the 1st page says:
The May Revision includes total funding of $92.3 billion ($54.2 billion General Fund and $38.1 billion other funds) for all K‑12 education programs.
How, exactly, do you make the numbers on those two documents match?  Where is that $38 billion coming from?  Could it possibly come from the feds?  Wherever it comes from, it amounts to about a thousand dollars per person for everyone in California. That's a lot of money.

Single-Payer Health Care in California

The major Sacramento newspaper, never known for having a conservative bent, publishes this story about a proposed single-payer health care system in California:
The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag...

The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending (budget is here, click on Summary Charts, then scroll to Figure SUM-03 --Darren) for the budget year beginning July 1.

Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.
This is California.  We don’t let little things like reality stop us from doing what we know is right.

Read that last paragraph again; "could be available", when translated from California liberal to normal person language, means "huge extra tax on businesses", which is just what we need to make California businesses more competitive with the rest of the world, and to stop businesses from leaving the state.

Socialism is expensive.  How much are you willing to pay for "free" health care?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The 3 M's

I'd like to learn some more math, so I started looking at course offerings at a nearby community college, as well as at Sacramento State, to see if they offer Game Theory.  That search led me to the web site of Sac State's College of Continuing Education, where I find the Community College Faculty Preparation Certificate ProgramThis could be interesting!

One of the links at the CCFP site was to a 2014 online handbook called Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges.  It makes sense to see if I meet the qualifications for teaching at a community college before enrolling in a community college faculty preparation program, no?

So I started thumbing through the handbook, and it turns out I'm now qualified to teach 3 different subjects; here they are, along with the requirements I meet:
Manufacturing Technology (quality control, process control): any bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience
Mathematics:  bachelor's in mathematics or applied mathematics and a master's in statistics, physics, or math education
Military Studies:  any bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience (in the pay grade of E-7 or above)
It's nice to know I have some options.

By the way, I did find a game theory class--in the economics program at Sac State.  Haven't yet found whether it's offered at night or online.

Update, 5/22/17:  Turns out those three subjects align quite nicely with the 3 career fields in which I've worked.  I've been an army officer, a manufacturing manager, and a math teacher.  Funny, that.

So Crazy It Just Might Work!

Instead of spending so much teachers' (and prospective teachers') time on diversity and equity and hate whitey and "unconscious bias" and God knows what else, what say we focus on curriculum?
Slowly, slowly, a small but persuasive body of work is emerging which raises curriculum to an object of pressing concern for educators, and expresses long overdue appreciation for the idea that the instructional materials we put in front of children actually matter to student outcomes. A welcome addition to this emerging corpus is a new Aspen Institute paper by Ross Wiener and Susan Pimentel, which makes a compelling case—equally overdue—that professional development and teacher training ought to be connected to curriculum. A primary role of school systems, states, districts, and charter-management organizations, the pair write, “is to create the conditions in schools through which teachers can become experts at teaching the curriculum they are using and adapting instruction to the needs of their particular students"...

Practice What You Teach begins with a discussion of research demonstrating the frustrating state of teacher “PD,” which, like the sitcom Seinfeld, is a show about nothing. Next, they discuss curriculum materials, which “have a profound effect on what happens in classrooms and on how much students learn.” When average teachers use excellent materials, Weiner and Pimental note, “student learning results improve significantly.” The general disregard for curriculum as a means to improve teacher effectiveness and student outcomes is reflected in the observation that “many teachers do not have access to strong, standards-aligned curriculum; in fact, most teachers spend hours every week searching for materials that haven’t been vetted and aren’t connected to ongoing, professional learning activities in their schools.”
Honest teachers will tell you this is true:
...Ashley Berner of Johns Hopkins described how schools of education “turned from academic subject mastery to developmental psychology as the foundational resource for teacher preparation” a century ago. This relegated curriculum to a thing not just beneath the notice of teachers, but beneath their dignity. We are encouraged to “teach the child, not the lesson” and other empty platitudes: Education is not the filling of a pail, it’s the lighting of a fire. Students won’t care what you know until they know that you care. Ad infinitum.
I get so tired of educational platitudes.  Don't forget, "I don't teach content, I teach students!"  Sheesh.

And I like this line of reasoning:
It does not diminish our appreciation of the actor’s talent that he performs Hamlet but didn’t write it. No one expects their doctor to repair to the lab every night to prepare pharmaceutical compounds on the theory that she alone knows what her patients need. The master carpenter begins his day in the lumber yard, not in the forest.

We flatter teachers’ professionalism by telling them they alone can best determine what will engage and enlighten the children before them, but the price of that flattery is that we make their jobs impossible to do effectively, forcing them to spend fruitless hours on Google and Pinterest hoping to find materials that a well-run and coherent system would provide to them—along with training on how to implement it effectively.
True enough.

So yes, let's insist that teachers focus on their subject matter and curriculum, not on social engineering--which might be more fun and less work, but it's not what we're paid to do.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Typical Teachers Union Position

In theory, I'm not against unions.  Synergy, and all.  I am, however, against unions when they advocate for insanity, as in this case:
The bill for city teachers no principal wants will hit $34 million next year and has become a sticking point in deadlocked contract talks as fiscal watchdogs warn that cash-strapped Hub taxpayers can’t keep carrying the dead weight.

As of yesterday, 47 tenured teachers earning an average of $91,000 a year are without formal classroom positions in the so-called “excess pool,” school officials told the Herald...

The teachers’ union is digging in its heels and insists that unwanted teachers get placed in classrooms...

The teachers lose their positions because of poor performance, or no principal wants to hire them, or because they have failed to obtain proper licenses. Other times, they lose their positions due to school closures or budget cuts.
I really honestly truly would love someone to comment on why the teachers union's position is the correct one.  Be civil, be intelligent, and be clear. 

I Wonder If A *Two*-Party System Might Help

Maybe not, but the one-party system isn't doing any good, either:
But income tax revenue from the wealthy tends to be volatile and unreliable—in Connecticut’s case, as the WSJ notes, the hedge fund industry’s decline has led to lower-than-expected tax receipts (states like California have run into similar problems when taxing their own economic elite). Moreover, financiers are mobile, and can move to other states if rates get too high.

It’s tempting for blue model partisans to see the state and local pension crisis as a temporary problem that can be papered over with high-end tax hikes. And while the rich may well need to pay more to address the problem, it won’t be enough. The forces that have brought about the blue model crisis are structural: Overly-powerful public sector unions, dishonest accounting practices, chronic political can-kicking, and a defined-benefit pension model that doesn’t work in the 21st century. These are deep-rooted problems that will require major reforms in the way government runs and the way the civil service is organized. As Connecticut Democrats are realizing, the Bernie Sanders approach to government deficits—tax the millionaires and billionaires, then tax them some more—is simply not adequate to the scope of the crisis.

Lucid Dreaming?

Last night I collapsed on top of my bed around 8--and woke up around midnight, with the audiobook still playing.  Shut that off and went right back to sleep.

Strange dreams.  The one I remember the best was going to some friends' house, and then noticing I was naked.  I knew I couldn't have gotten all the way to their house while naked but I couldn't explain what had happened, so I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my waist.  Moments later I looked down and, on my legs sticking out from under the towel, were jeans.  Apparently I was now wearing jeans under the towel.   Puzzled I said, "Is this a dream?"

And I immediately woke up.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cool Coin

As I type this (in December!), this bimetallic beauty from Mexico, denominated 10 pesos, is worth about 50 US cents.
click images to enlarge

Thursday, May 18, 2017

College Accreditation

This article identifies many problems in the current accreditation system, but this one is pretty telling:
Note what’s missing from this list: improving quality in the classroom. No institution seeks accreditation to improve the education it provides. If any improvement results, it’s a byproduct, not a goal. (Talk about an elephant in the lecture hall!)
As someone who used to *volunteer* at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and worked on ensuring state universities met CDE’s standards for teacher credentialing programs (it’s a type of accreditation), I can state categorically that form over function was the rule of the day.

Who's Surprised? Not Me....

Dallas County Whistleblower Tapes Democrat Campaign Worker Describing Voter Fraud Schemes

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Some Dem Actually Tweeted This

Michael Savage is right, liberalism is a mental disorder.  Some lib actually tweeted this, after another Dem suggested President Trump be removed and replaced by Vice President Pence:
Dems now hoping the guy responsible for an HIV outbreak in Indiana takes control#TheResistance is trash
That's right, VP Pence is now apparently responsible for an HIV outbreak in Indiana.

Too Much Potential To Go To Jail

People screamed and yelled--and justifiably so--when Stanford swimmer Brock Turner got off light for rape.  Rich white male privilege doesn’t explain this one; why were people so riled up about Turner's case but have nary a peep to say about this one?
Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover in a drink and drug fuelled row could be spared jail by a judge because she's 'extraordinary' and it would damage her surgeon career
Don't you see yet?  It's not about sex, it's about class.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When The Truth Is Too Uncomfortable

You can read the entire story about a school/district in which too many students--mostly of a specific race--are out of control. Students don't feel safe, adults don't feel safe. What the heck? The conclusion really hit it out of the park for me:
Between public racial sensitivities, current federal regulations, and (it’s a good bet) their own reluctance, the administrators’ hands are more or less tied. In 2013, the Obama administration’s Department of Education Civil Rights Division warned school districts that schools violate Federal law when they “evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race” (author’s emphasis). Cheltenham’s ruffians will be safe from discipline and stigma, though not, of course, from each other.

The bitter irony of the widespread evasion about racial discrepancies in “externalizing” behavior is that it harms Cheltenham’s blacks above all. The large majority of kids who are well prepared to walk the halls and talk to teachers with a modicum of civility are forced to cede their educations and safety to the uncivilized few. Cheltenham has a committed (for now) cadre of white parents dedicated to diversity, but the township’s population is considerably whiter than its schools; a sizable number of whites have clearly already fled the local schools or decided not to move there in the first place. They’re not alone. Several disgusted black parents said that they had pulled their children out of the local schools despite paying “astronomical” taxes in order to live in the reputedly excellent district.

Now this lovely suburb with once-envied schools is facing black as well as white flight. (boldface mine--Darren)  Let’s see how the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division deals with that.
To paraphrase an old saying: you may not be interested in the reality, but the reality is interested in you.

You can pretend all you want, but the reality still reigns.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


If you scroll down through posts from the past week you'll see that I updated a few of them today.  Scroll down and take a read!

I Like Camille Paglia's Version of Feminism

I'm all for equality and empowerment:
Rather tragically, feminism is now fully synonymous with the most absurd and regressive of far-left neuroses.

Whether we’re talking about the disproportionate outrage that is Slut Walk, turning a blind eye to sex crimes in migrant and Muslim communities or the fabrication of numerous “rape culture” incidents, today’s incarnation of feminism is increasingly disconnected from reality.

Rebel feminist icon Camille Paglia will have none of it, though. The author and Philadelphia-based professor has always kept her feet firmly grounded in the real world, backed up by history.

Her new book Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism makes this much clear. And for this fresh dose of sanity we must give thanks...

Another thing that still riles the feminist establishment is that the Bernie Sanders-supporting lesbian never bought into victimhood.

Paglia’s always been an empowerment feminist, actually wanting women to succeed instead of finding meaning through wallowing in victimhood.
This same philosophy applies to race, too.

It May Not Be Official Yet, But...

I received an email from my instructor today, confirming that I did well on the last test and congratulating me on completing my degree :-)  He also said that it was the grade on one homework assignment that kept me from scoring 90% in the class, so he dropped that grade and gave me an A in the course.  I'll take it!

When Truth Brings Trouble

When you can get in trouble for saying what is obvious, things aren't good:
Almost anyone who has been forced to sit through diversity training has probably thought, "What a complete waste of time." No slideshow presentation is going to undermine one's beliefs, so any real bigots taking such training won't be swayed, for one thing. For another, it takes time out of doing actual work in a pathetic attempt at indoctrination.

When Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology at Duke University, said what most of us happen to think about so-called diversity training, however, he stirred up a whole storm of social justice viciousness...

Now he’s the subject of two disciplinary proceedings – one for “unprofessional conduct” and one for “harassment” – and he is reportedly resigning after the 2017-2018 academic year.
I wonder what would happen if conservatives behaved this way.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Another Nail in the Obamacare Coffin

Congress shouldn’t do anything. Let this 100% Democrat-approved disaster die the death it deserves. Let everyone see the strength and wisdom of Democrat ideas:
Health insurance giant Aetna said Wednesday that it will not be participating in any Obamacare exchanges in 2018.

"Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership," T.J. Crawford, Aetna spokesman, said in an email.

The reason for the losses, he said, came from structural issues within the exchanges "that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration." He did not cite uncertainty over the future of Obamacare, as the company had done when it announced last week that it would be exiting the exchange in Virginia.

Aetna also announced in early April that it would be pulling out of the exchange in Iowa, and the latest announcement adds Delaware and Nebraska to that list, both on and off the exchange.
Aetna is only the most recent company to pull out of Obamacare exchanges.

Update, 5/14/17:  Where's that $2500/family savings?
Early moves by insurers suggest that another round of price hikes and limited choices will greet insurance shoppers around the country when they start searching for next year’s coverage on the public markets established by the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance companies are still making decisions about whether to offer coverage for individuals next year on these markets, and price increase requests are only just starting to be revealed by state regulators. But in recent weeks, big insurers like Aetna and Humana have been dropping out of markets or saying that they aren’t ready to commit. And regulators in Virginia and Maryland have reported early price hike requests ranging from just under 10 percent to more than 50 percent.
Note that this story is from the Associated Press, which is not known for a conservative bias.

Unicorn Farts Are Expensive

I wonder how much further California will go before even lefties will ask what the heck we're doing.  There is a cornucopia of Crazy California stories today.  Margaret Thatcher told us decades ago that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money, and nowhere is that more true in the US than in California:
California Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday revised his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, raising total spending by 2.2 percent and increasing funding for schools and transportation, even as he warned that the state's economy likely cannot sustain the growth of recent years...

Still, Brown said the budget was considerably more constrained than in any year since 2012, when California struggled through years of deficits. California faces a $3.3 billion revenue shortfall, down from a $5.8 billion shortfall in January.
It's not bad enough that we're overtaxed, we're overregulated, too--and we're going to lead the world to a brighter tomorrow even if it bankrupts us:
When Stanford University energy economist Danny Cullenward looks at California’s policies on climate change, he sees a potential time bomb.

The state wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions so deeply in the coming years that oil refineries and other industries could face skyrocketing costs to comply with regulations, driving up gasoline prices until the system loses political support. If that happens, an effort touted as an international model for fighting global warming could collapse...

Although it’s not yet clear how the rebates would function, the proposal is an acknowledgement that costs for gasoline and electricity are likely to rise, and lawmakers want to help insulate voters from the effects. The state’s transition toward low-emission technology could prove expensive over time, requiring the purchase of millions of electric vehicles and shuttering natural gas operations in favor of new solar plants.
How, exactly, do we "insulate voters from the effects" of higher gas and electricity prices?  So much of California lawmaking seems to operate along the same lines as the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes.

So California is, yet again, in an economic hurt box.  How to raise money?  The Colorado way--the most cowardly way possible, and on the backs of the people least likely to be able to afford it:
Pressed to come up with the money to stave off its public employee pension time bomb, the state of California is jacking up the cost of traffic tickets...

This is a variation of what we call the “blue civil war”—the way the tightening fiscal vise around state and local governments end up pitting Democratic constituencies against one another. In this case, poor and minority Californians, who tend to need to drive further to work, are paying the brunt of the increased traffic fines—which are going to cover the retirement hole for unionized public employees.
California's one-party government is a debacle.

Update, 5/14/17:  Clearly we have solved every other imaginable problem in California, if this is what the legislature is working on:
Acting on purported consumer protection concerns, the legislature recently expanded its autograph law (which formerly only applied to sports memorabilia) to include any signed item worth over $5—including books.  Under that law, sellers must produce a certificate of authenticity and maintain detailed records of every sale for seven years.  Sellers must, among other things:
  1. Note the purchase price and date of sale,
  2. specify whether the item is part of a limited edition,
  3. note the size of the edition, anticipate any future editions,
  4. disclose whether the seller is bonded,
  5. divulge any previous owner’s name and address,
  6. if the book was signed in the presence of the seller, specify the date and location of the signing, and identify a witness to the autograph.
Failure to disclose any of the required details, or to keep the certificate for the full seven years, results in outrageous penalties. Even an inadvertent omission can subject a seller to actual damages, plus a civil penalty of up to 10 times the damages, plus court costs, plus reasonable attorney’s fees, plus expert witness fees, plus interest. Professional plaintiff’s lawyers must be chomping at the bit. If Bill sold just 100 signed copies of a $30 book, but six years later, couldn’t locate the records noting the size of the edition, he’d be liable for (at minimum) $30,000. Bill sells tens of thousands of signed books each year.
Do you wonder why it's so expensive to do business in California?  This is why it's so expensive to do business in California.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Free At Last!

My original plan was to take the last test of my master's program after school tomorrow.  Tomorrow turns out to be a bad day for test-taking, though, and since I figured "there's no time like the present", I arranged to take the test during my prep period this morning.  So that's how I occupied myself from about 8 to 9 this morning.

Unless I missed something horrific, the test was relatively straightforward.  There was nothing unexpected on it, and my answers to the problems seemed reasonable.  I'm predicting a very good grade on this test.

That was the last test of the last class of my master's program.  It's all done except the paperwork-filing.  I dug out the papers from 5-1/2 years ago in which district mucky-mucks approved my participation in this program--as soon as I can get a transcript I'll take all this paperwork to the district office and ensure I get that pay raise I've worked 5 long years for!

And now that I have my afternoons free--no more studying!--I think I'll go take a walk :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Lavish Expenditures of Taxpayer Money

This comes from the San Francisco Chronicle, hardly a conservative mouthpiece:
University of California President Janet Napolitano’s office spent more than $4,000 on one employee’s retirement party and thousands more on other going-away, staff-appreciation and holiday parties, perks that are not typically seen in the public sector and that raise questions about lavish spending practices as the university increases tuition and fees on students.

The new details come after state auditors found $175 million in secret reserves in the office of the president, money that lawmakers said should have been disclosed to the public and the Board of Regents, which oversees the 10-campus university system. 
Financial misconduct at the highest levels of academia--in California, no less?  I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

Remember this story the next time you hear someone talk about "free" college.

The Non-Existent Pervasive Rape Culture

Got this from Instapundit today:
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS: Fake Statistics Created ‘Rape Anxiety’ Among Female Students.

Keep them scared and they’ll demand protection, instead of maturing into strong, responsible, and independent young women.
If anyone truly believed that 20% of women will experience rape or sexual assault in college, no one would let their daughters go to college. No one. Common sense dictates that.

But then, how would liberals rile people up if they couldn't lie?

Update, 5/14/17:  Yes, this article focuses momentarily on the fact that not all rapes are reported,  but if you want to play that game, I ask how many of the reported "rapes" were just morning-after regrets?
Most U.S. colleges — 89% — reported zero incidents of rape in 2015, according to American Association of University Women (AAUW) analysis of data provided by schools to the U.S. Department of Education.

Monday, May 08, 2017

In Deep Blue California

Maybe the reason liberals think everyone is a racist is because they themselves are racists:
Sacramento County lawyers who were found last week to have improperly excluded African American jurors from a trial over a lawsuit brought by a black former inmate at the downtown jail agreed Monday to settle the case for $2.5 million.

The trial was supposed to start last week but was halted after one day of jury selection when U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez sided with attorneys for James Joshua Mayfield, finding that the county was striking blacks from sitting on the jury “because of the color of their skin.”

On top of the $2.5 million settlement, the judge charged the county for an extra $13,640 in costs "with respect to the jury selection issue."

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Is The Definition of Misogynist "Someone Who Didn't Vote For Hillary Clinton"?

If so, would that make all the 2008 Barack Obama voters misogynists?

Doesn't look like she won, but I'd have worn an "I'm With Her" shirt for Marine Le Pen's run in today's French election :-)

Name-calling is the one thing lefties are good at, whether the names make any sense or not.  And bummer for them, no one's even paying attention to their pejoratives anymore. 

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Riddle Me This, Socialized Medicine Advocates

My grandfather died from ALS.  I have skin in this game:
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it had approved the first new drug in 20 years to treat the paralyzing disease ALS.

The drug is not a cure but can slow down the inexorable worsening of the disease, which gradually paralyzes patients completely. It's always fatal and there is no cure...

It's in fact the first new drug approved for ALs since 1995, when riluzole, sold under the brand name Rilutek, was approved.

Radicava is given in the form of an intravenous infusion, with two weeks of daily treatments followed by a two week break...

It comes at a price. Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America says the drug will cost more than $1,000 per infusion.

"If taken annually for 12 months or 13 cycles, according to the dosing and administration in the label, the cost before government discounts, will be $145,524," the company said.
So you want single-payer health care.  You want insurance companies to go out of business, and you trust the government (currently run by Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress) to pay for your health care.  How much should government spend?  When is an amount too much?  Uncle Sugar has big pockets, are you OK with the cost above--for all 20,000-30,000 people in the US with ALS?

You can't just go on emotion, you have to think as well.  Can we afford this?  What are the costs--not just dollar costs, but costs to freedom and privacy--in having the government this involved in your private life?

More of My Money Down The Craphole

It's bad enough that I have to pay for public transit--to "save the planet" and to help the poor--but now I'm providing actual cars to the poor:
Residents at three public housing areas now have a mini-fleet of free Zipcars to make their way around Sacramento.

On Friday, Sacramento launched a pilot program that put eight shared electric Kia Souls at public housing sites. Up to 300 residents can apply for on-demand access to the vehicles, with no charge for maintenance, insurance or juicing up the battery.

The program is funded through a $1.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board using cap-and-trade funds that businesses pay to offset their carbon emissions. 

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, May 05, 2017

Cool Coin

Tell me you're not impressed with the symbolism--and dare I say it, power--portrayed by this coin from Nazi Germany.  Simple, but evocative.

click images to enlarge

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Socialism Is Expensive

If you've traveled to Europe you know that it can be a very expensive place to visit.  As far as I'm concerned, the reason for that is socialism is expensive.  Then we learn this:
The Pew Research Center recently released an ambitious study tracking the changing fortunes of the middle class in Western Europe and the United States from 1991 to 2010. Among the findings: the American middle class is smaller than Europe’s (and declining), but it nonetheless remains substantially richer than almost any other European country’s...

 In 2010, for instance, the median household income in Mississippi (in 2011 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $37,838; the equivalent in Maryland was $70,976. By comparison, the average Italian household took home $35,608 that year, while a middle-income Norwegian household earned a median income of $56,960. Put another way: average households in states like Maryland, Connecticut, or Massachusetts are richer than those in Norway, Denmark, or the Netherlands, while residents of Mississippi or West Virginia are better off than the Spaniards and Italians.
Europe's a nice place to visit, and I might even want to live there awhile--but let's not pretend that it's some economic paradise.

Irony Alert! Irony Alert!

"I'm not going there for politics, I'm going there for money."

--said by a self-identified communist who will be working in (politically conservative) Alaska this summer.  This student made this comment to me in class today.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

End of an Era

Last night I submitted what should be the last homework assignment of my master's degree program (assuming I pass next week's test).  I don't need this "spot" anymore:

For years now, this is where I've done my homework.  Turns out it's right under a hanging lamp as well as the heater/air conditioner vent, so it's the perfect spot.  And since I sit so much during the day, I'd rather not sit when doing homework--I stretch out on the floor.

I looked down at this spot and realized I don't need it anymore.  With the shallow evening sun streaming through the front window, I'll take a study vacation tonight and clean this little area up.  I don't mind having to do it at all!!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Quick! Someone Tell Jerry Brown!

Income tax revenue collapses; Malloy says taxing the rich doesn’t work
Connecticut’s state budget woes are compounding with collections from the state income tax collapsing, despite two high-end tax hikes in the past six years.
It means the current budget year, which ends in just two months, is now seriously in the red and next year’s deficit has ballooned to $2.2 billion.    

It’s happening because the state of Connecticut depends too much on its wealthy residents, and wealthy residents are leaving, and the ones that are staying are making less, or are not taking their profits from the stock market until they see what happens in Washington.
As high as taxes are in California, you might not believe that we, too, depend too heavily on income taxes on the rich, but we do.  Is Connecticut a cautionary tale for California?  No, we're special.

97 Degrees

While there's a slight breeze out there, it's a warm one.  The thermometer on my car showed 97 degrees on the way home today.

Time to finish up some homework for my master's class--with the air conditioning on.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Brand New Corporal Stripes

There are a few pay grades in the army for which there are a couple of different ranks--E-4 can be a Specialist or a Corporal, E-8 can be a Master Sergeant or a 1st Sergeant, and E-9 can be a Sergeant Major, a Command Sergeant Major, or the Command Sergeant Major of the Army.  There must be a good, legitimate reason to move laterally from one rank to another within a pay grade.

Although the orders came in last week dated and April 1st, today my son pinned on the rank and became the army's newest corporal.  The difference between a specialist and a corporal is significant--a specialist is a "lower enlisted rank", whereas a corporal is a non-commissioned officer.  This lateral move involves no pay raise but does come with the prestige of being an NCO at age 20. 

There are a few reasons he was advanced to this rank.  First, he's done extremely well in the army, better than even I thought he would.  Second, he's a team leader, which means he's the direct supervisor of another soldier.  And third, he's already passed the promotion board for sergeant, so all he needs now is to earn enough "promotion points" (which he's working on!) and then he'll be promoted to E-5/sergeant.  His current rank is thus CPL (P), for promotable.

I'm very proud of the army's newest NCO.