Monthly Archives: March 2014

538 Reason The Left Is Going To Explode

538As I mature in my political dialogs, I’m really trying to control the partisan in me and rely more and more on data.

It’s hard to dispute the success of Nate Silver inn 2012.

But THIS is going to make democrats and the left in general go crazy:

Our new forecast goes a half-step further: We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions.


Silver gave Republicans a 60 percent chance of wresting the Senate out of Harry Reid’s hands—a big blow to the final two years of the Obama presidency.


How Liberty – Democracy – Is Lost

West WIng

I’m watching the West Wing on Netflix.  Awesome clip from Season One Episode 7.  A democrat no less:

Teacher Pay In North Carolina

Corporate Competition

I need to stipulate three things: 1.  I used to be a senior high math teacher 2.  I work in corporate America in a highly competitive environment 3.  I am payed more than both the national average and mean Okay, teacher pay, here in NC it’s pretty bad:

Under the current state base pay scale, a teacher who started in the system with no experience would take 16 years to reach a $40,000 salary. North Carolina school teachers have only seen one one raise since 2008, which was 1.2 percent.

Like I said, pretty bad.  And we need to improve it. But let’s think about why.  Do we wanna pay teachers more because we only love them and think they deserve more pay?  No, at least not me.  I wanna pay teachers more because by creating the incentive to be a teacher, you attract better teachers. And why do we want better teachers?

The work of Bill Sanders, formerly at the University of Tennessee’s Value-Added Research and Assessment Center, has been pivotal in reasserting the importance of the individual teacher on student learning.4  One aspect of his research has been the additive or cumulative effect of teacher effectiveness on student achievement. Over a multi-year period, Sanders focused on what happened to students whose teachers produced high achievement versus those whose teachers produced low achievement results. He discovered that when children, beginning in 3rd grade, were placed with three high-performing teachers in a row, they scored on average at the 96th percentile on Tennessee’s statewide mathematics assessment at the end of 5th grade. When children with comparable achievement histories starting in 3rd grade were placed with three low-performing teachers in a row, their average score on the same mathematics assessment was at the 44th percentile,5  an enormous 52-percentile point difference for children who presumably had comparable abilities and skills.

And how good are we at measuring teacher effectiveness?  Well, consider this:

The vast majority of school districts in the U.S. presently use teacher evaluation systems that result in nearly all teachers receiving uniformly high ratings.  For instance, a recent study by The New Teacher Project of twelve districts in four states revealed that more than 99 percent of teachers in districts using binary ratings were rated satisfactory whereas 94 percent received one of the top two ratings in districts using a broader range of ratings.[i]  As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put it, “Today in our country, 99 percent of our teachers are above average.”


We have no useful or meaningful way of evaluating a teacher’s effectiveness.  And that has to change.  We not only need to identify the best teachers and reward them appropriately, we need to identify poor teachers and remove them from our schools. And we have to go further. We need to pay more for the teachers teaching subjects we value more.  For instance – there is no reason that an elementary music teacher or a physical education teacher.

Further, raises and bonuses need to be assigned proportionately – the better the teacher the higher the raise.  And bonus. Some say that this will create a corrosive culture and pit teacher against teacher.  I dispute this theory and point to corporate America as my example. As I mentioned above, I live in corporate America and am compensated relatively well.

I earn more than some of my peers and less than others.  I achieve stronger raises than some and less than others; bonuses in the same manner.  And I ave yet to feel a level of resentment that leads to less collaboration or cooperation. In fact, the reverse is true – I see that it increases such traits as fellow co-workers seek to emulate the stronger employee. The pay of our teachers is a disgrace.  But the method by which we determine pay is a direct result of the teacher’s unions and needs to be scrapped for a merit system without tenure.

Five Thirty Eight And Understatement


So first, Five Thirty Eight is live!

That is great news.  And my excitement is only heightened by reading Silver’s manifesto, specifically relating to journalism vs math:

Conventional news organizations on the whole are lacking in data journalism skills, in my view. Some of this is a matter of self-selection. Students who enter college with the intent to major in journalism or communications have above-average test scores in reading and writing, but below-average scores in mathematics. Furthermore, young people with strong math skills will normally have more alternatives to journalism when they embark upon their careers and may enter other fields.

Ya think?  As if the dig on conventional journalism wasn’t bad enough, he goes further and dings journalists in general.

I like this guy.

The Impact Of Obama’s Policies On Job Creation

Wanna see how politics in DC can impact job creation?

From IBD via Care Diem:

Proponents of a large minimum-wage hike have ignored its potential interaction with ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which the CBO suggested may result in a bigger near-term job loss than a wage hike by itself.

Firms that do offer coverage, even of the skimpy variety, would face a fine of $3,000 per full-time worker who receives exchange subsidies. This penalty is nondeductible, so for profitable retailers facing a 39.2% federal and state tax rate the fine would equate to $4,930 in wages. That comes to $2.37 an hour for a 40-hour-per-week, year-round worker.

Coming on top of a federal minimum-wage hike of $2.85 an hour, ObamaCare fines could mean a 70% increase in compensation costs for a low-wage worker.

Obama’s message to his base:  “Were here to help you find a job by making you 70% more expensive to hire.”

This is the devastating impact of populism vs. reality.  The brutal reality is that Obama’s base doesn’t understand the basic economics of his policies.

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

North Carolina Unemployment – January 2014

North Carolina continues to see positive movement in unemployment numbers:

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s unemployment rate continued improving in January to near the national average, falling to 6.7 percent, the state Commerce Department reported Monday.

The report was the latest to contain mixed messages about how well the state’s economy was shaping up for workers and why. While the report found the number of people employed increased by 17,407 between December and January, another survey found nonfarm payrolls recorded 7,200 fewer jobs.

While like to see the unemployment rate go down, we need to acknowledge that we are fighting serious headwinds as related to that number going down due to discouraged workers leaving the job market.  But there might be reason for a positive outlook there too:

The release of the January data was delayed by about a month as researchers revised and updated previous information, an annual process. The results of the revision indicate that the steady drop in North Carolina’s unemployment rate had less to do than previously thought with discouraged workers quitting their struggle to find jobs and no longer being counted, Brod said.

Our Response To Crimea

Here is what John Kerry said we’d do:

Mr. Kerry repeated his warning to Moscow in remarks to a congressional panel on Thursday.

“There will be a response of some kind [to] the referendum itself, and in addition, if there is no sign of any capacity to be able to move forward and resolve this issue, there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday in Europe and here,” Mr. Kerry told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

And here’s what we did:

…the Obama administration froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea’s vote to secede from Ukraine, while similar sanctions were imposed on four Ukrainian officials for instigating Sunday’s Crimean referendum.

That is very scary AND serious sanctions indeed!

All this still confuses me.

We support Ukrainians desire to force an elected President out of power – replacing him with one they find more acceptable.  But then we fail to recognize Ukrainians desire to separate from the country to join with Russia.

Pino’s Take On Ukraine

I admit to being ignorant on the history of the Ukraine and have absolutely no understanding of the history of the region or the nation.

However, I have done some investigation.

In recent history Crimea was part of the Soviet Union and was given to Ukraine in 1954 – some say as a gesture of goodwill.  With most of the population of the peninsula considering themselves Russian – it is very reasonable that there is significant desire on the part of the people to want to become part of Russia again.

Recent events in the Ukrainian capital forced the sitting President to flee the country and take up shelter in Russia.  The pro-Russian government has been replaced with a pro-Western government.  There is little doubt that Yanukovitch was corrupt and needed too be out of office.  Less clear to me is that a reasonable course of action given that state of affairs is to protest and forcibly remove a sitting elected official.  Elections, they say, have consequences and the method that a reasonable citizenry use to affect leadership is done at the ballot box.

Add this up and the events begin to make more sense.

Russia sees an ally thrown out by a coup and replaced with a government much less friendly.  They, Russia, feels that their strategic interests are at risk specifically in Crimea.  In an effort to solidify those interests, including the port of the Black Sea fleet, Putin moved into Crimea claiming he was acting in the defense of Russian citizens.

While Putin’s claims of caring for the citizenry of Crimea rings somewhat false given no threatened violence combined with Putin’s clear disregard for human rights, there is a valid point – that the region is historically Russian.

Added to this reality is the fact that I resonate with the argument that the revolt in Kiev was not the best response to a desire to change leadership.

What does this mean for the US?  Well, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone – there is little we can do to influence Putin as it pertains to the peninsula; we most likely have to live with the fact that Crimea will eventually become part of Russia – but given the make-up of the people living there, this is a relatively painless eventuality.

What we need to do is identify where we and the rest of the EU will draw its line as it pertains the rest of Ukraine at large.  And then send troops – to guard that line and train the Ukrainian army.  Additionally, it is time to address the President’s decision to abandon the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Clearly The Bear is stirring and if we want to be taken seriously we need to act in a manner commensurate with a growing Russian threat.

Gender Bias: Joe Biden

Gender BiasI’m continued to be surprised that the Democrats push this meme that not having to work, and therefor live off the labors of someone else, is a good and noble thing.   Perhaps the notion forwarded by Republicans that at the base of liberal policy is the idea that we need to create more Democrat voters.

Anyway, Joe Biden was at it again:

“How many of you are single women with children, in a dead-end job? You’re there because of your health insurance,” Biden said. “You would rather have the opportunity to spend the next couple of years with your child until they get — if that was your choice — until they get into primary school.”

Biden said because of Obamacare that women will now be able to make an “independent choice.”

“You’re now trapped in that job because if you leave, you lose your health insurance. Now you’ll be able to … make an independent choice,” Biden told “The View.” “Do you want to stay in that job and still have health insurance, or do you want to … stay in that job, even though you can get health insurance absent that job? And it gives women a great deal more freedom.”

Forget the fact that he’s advocating the idea that working is somehow a state of “lesser freedom”, a notion that is reprehensible.  But how does Biden get away with the gender bias implicit in his logic?  Why is it that only a woman would feel trapped by a job and wanna stay at home with the kids?

Why wouldn’t a man in similar circumstances want the same freedom?  Or, for that matter, why restrict to single moms?  Why not allow for the fact that anyone would wanna quit his job in order to live off the fruit of someone else’s labor?


Water Crisis In California


Recent rains in California may not really be helping the dry conditions very much – in some cases the flooding may be causing more harm than good.

Anyway, reading some of the coverage, I’m struck by:

The harm caused by the severe drought in California [“California’s lasting drought threatens family farmers,” news, Feb. 10] has been exacerbated by bad policy. For decades, the federal government has heavily subsidized water in the state, particularly for crop irrigation. Artificially low water prices have encouraged overconsumption and planting in dry areas where farming is inefficient and environmentally unsound.

Federal farm subsidies have made these problems worse by boosting demand for irrigation water and encouraging farmers to bring marginal lands into production.

I know that I have a tendency to over simplify complex issues, but … It’s really hard to imagine that making water cheap will lead to over demand of water.

For example, what if this:

Ending farm subsidies while moving toward market pricing of water would help solve recurring water shortages in California and elsewhere in the West.

Would lead to this:

The drought, combined with continued protections for endangered species, has forced farmers to find alternatives. Most farmers have already switched to drip irrigation, which is much more efficient than the flood irrigation technique used when water was plentiful.

More expensive water, forcing farmers to conserve water, wouldn’t solve a drought, to be sure.  But it certainly would allow the existing water to stretch further than it otherwise would.