Monthly Archives: September 2011

Public School Teachers: Compensation

Can you imagine working in an environment that doesn’t reward merit?

In that vein, here are some complains I have regarding public education:

  1. Compensation takes many forms.  Days off, training, health care and what not.  One form of compensation is that of being safe from firing for poor performance.  This pushes down the salaries of teachers.
    1. Competent highly motivated people willingly trade such safety nets for higher salaries.  They have no fear of being perceived as incompetent.  Find a teacher unwilling to fire poor performs, rest assured that you are speaking to a poor performer.
  2. Highly motivated proficient teachers have no hope of earning more than older incompetent teachers.  This applies downward pressure on innovation and motivation.
  3. Teachers complain that salaries can not be merit based because there is no good method to measure merit.  Teachers fight tests and test scores in the same way a vampire fights garlic and mirrors.

Much of the reason teachers feel underpaid is due directly to how the system is set up.

Life Expectancy

It may be true that America has already outlived her expected lifespan.  Most societies don’t make it much past 200 odd years.

It saddens me that we are showing symptoms of aging:

Redistribution of wealth rather than emphasis on its creation is surely a symptom of aging societies. Whether at Byzantium during the Nika Riots or in bread and circuses Rome, when the public expects government to provide security rather than the individual to become autonomous through a growing economy, then there grows a collective lethargy. I think that is the message of Juvenal’s savage satires about both mobs and the idle rich. Fourth-century Athenian literature is characterized by forensic law suits, as citizens sought to sue each other, or to sue the state for sustenance, or to fight over inheritances.

Queue Sean’s very sad Hobbit singing clip.

Impact of Minimum Wage on Employment

Some time ago the boys over at Poison Your Mind commented on the fact that Obama nominated Alan Krueger for Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.  When Obama made the nomination I didn’t think much of it, but then as I read the commentary I noticed that Krueger is the gentleman that has provided me some small amount of consternation.  See, it turns out that Krueger is none other than the author of the report that showed a rise in the minimum wage did not negatively impact employment.  He did this by studying the impact of a rising minimum wage in New Jersey compared to a static minimum wage in Pennsylvania.  Specifically he focused on fast food restaurants.

See, I’ve long been a proponent of abolishing the minimum wage in order to give people the opportunity to work.  The idea being that the minimum wage unfairly discriminates against low skilled and low educated individuals.  When the price of labor rises, some labor will be idled.  It has long been a thorn in my side that this study showed a rise in the minim wage did not cause labor markets to react as I thought they would.

Poison Your Mind’s post gave me reason to study.

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I think the reason we find our government in such a position of stalemate is because we no longer agree on what taxes are meant to be.

I think that a long time ago we all mostly agreed that taxes were something that we all, in some way, paid to run the Federal government.

I think that today more and more of us feel that taxes are a means of redistributing wealth.

I don’t think we will see much in the way of compromise until that conflict has played out.

Social Security and The Ponz[i]

Rick Perry made waves; lot’s of waves.  He compared Social Security to a Ponzi Scheme.  And in so doing, open a massive wave of defense for the gentle program.  I suspect that more people have issue with the implicit, or explicit, slight on Social Security than they do with the actual definitions of the scheme itself.

In other words, I firmly believe that people are afraid to admit that their faith in the program called Social Security is more based on emotion than on actual facts.  This can be demonstrated whenever you enter into a conversation with anyone on the topic of Social Security reform.

Anyway.  I was willing to let sleeping dogs lie, but then I found these two gems, back to back, in the Letters to the Editor page of my local newspaper.


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Morality: Open Question

Very simple question.

Is the morality of the individual the same as the morality of the State?

Light Bulb Technology: Update II

Awhile ago I mentioned that I was starting an experiment on different types of light bulbs.  I think that there are three commercially available bulbs on the market.

  1. Incandescent
  2. CFL
  3. LED

I have purchased a bulb of each kind and am conducting an experiment with each of the three.  As part of the experiment, I need to account for:

  1. Quality of light
  2. Cost of bulb
  3. Heat of bulb
  4. Cost of electricity
  5. Cost of replacement

I just finished my evaluation of the CFL and I must admit, it stands the test of the test.

I find the light to be nearly equal to the light given off by the incandescent.  Which to me, in certain conditions, is a deal breaker.  Further, the heat given off by the CFL is manageable.  While I am unable to unscrew a traditional light bulb while burning, I was able to unscrew a CFL while burning.

So, the financials:

Bulb Cost per Bulb Cost per KWH Cost per hour Lifespan 50,000 Hour Cost
Incandescent $1.00 $0.1701 $0.0070 2,000 $375.00
CFL $1.00 $0.1701 $0.0017 10,000 $88.00

Not even close.  Over the course of 50,000 hours the savings is about 400% over the incandescent bulb.,  And if you demonstrate the savings in terms of 10,000 hours:

Bulb Cost per Bulb Cost per KWH Cost per hour Lifespan 50,000 Hour Cost 10,000 Hour Cost
Incandescent $1.00 $0.1701 $0.0070 2,000 $375.00 $75.00
CFL $1.00 $0.1701 $0.0017 10,000 $88.00 $17.60

Again, not even close.  However, the difference in 10,000 hours vs, 50,000 hours is that 10,000 hours is very close to a year.  Just be switching to a CFL bulb you can save about 60 bucks a year.

Per lamp.


The light is a little bit more raw, but, if you are like me, you will have a shade over the bulb.  And that shade blunts the glare of the CFL to the point that you can’t tell.

At this point, the CFL wins hands down!

Has Paul Krugman Outlived His Usefulness?

I noticed this past week that for quite some time now, any blogger, right or left, libertarian, democrat or republican, that leads his or her story with:

Paul Krugman writes…

Get’s skipped and the story gets ignored.  To waste electrons on what an ex-economist has to say seems worse than sleeping with the lights on.

Global Warming Exaggerations

The problem with the global warming debate and our hopes of arriving at anything resembling a cohesive policy is the fact that the whole issue is being framed by the far-left ideologues.  And that frame is a binary one.  On one hand, you can either be a complete denier.  No warming of the temperature anywhere due to human causes what-so-ever.  The other end of the spectrum; complete global warming alarmist.  The world is going to be massively impacted due to the massive warming caused by human activity.  And not only will this impact to our mother earth be massive, but it will be catastrophic to the human race.

There can be no middle ground.  There is no room for a moderating voice.  Only hot or cold.

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Ayn Rand and Selfishness

Ayn Rand is a lightning rod.  A lightning rod for many many different reasons.  But I wanna discuss a single one tonight.  That is, that Ayn Rand promotes a certain degree of selfishness.

I’m not necessarily a Rand fan-boy.  I do think that her book Atlas Shrugged, the only Rand book that I’ve read, is an epic tale of government encroachment.  However, her views on virtually anything beyond what she spoke to in that novel is new to me.  With the exception of one concept, that of her aforementioned concept of selfishness.

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