Tag Archives: Florida

The Florida Verdict

Easily the story of the week and month.  In the running for the story of the year.

The nation has been gripped, though less so until the trial started, by the Zimmerman Martin narrative.  The reason for the hype and national attention?


The story has been constructed as a defining bias in America.  A young black man unfairly treated by a white man in “authority” and then mistreated by a racist justice system.

My take of the verdict was one of inevitability.  In my mind, from the very beginning, there was little, or even any, doubt that Treyvon assaulted George and that, acting in self defense, George shot Treyvon.

With that said, I have felt a profound sense of loss for the family of Treyvon.  They have lost a son who set out to buy an evening snack of Skittles and tea.  On his way home, an encounter with a neighborhood watch member went wrong, horribly wrong, with the result that a young man lost his life.

I get the tragedy.  I get the feeling that must be racing through the family’s veins.  I get the idea that something is wrong.

But I don’t agree that those feelings change the fact that George Zimmerman acted in self defense.

It’s going to take a long time to figure this one out and come to some form of peace.  For the nation, the families and even for me.  What was it that caused Zimmerman to suspect a young Treyvon?  What was it that caused this young man to lash out and feel that his only recourse was to beat Zimmerman?  Is it race?  Is it natural suspicion?  Is it biases?  And if so, are those biases justified or are they horrible examples or residual bigotry?

All these feelings, investigating these feelings and questioning all of it is natural.

Time will tell.

Florida: Drug Testing Welfare

Drug Test Welfare

Much ado has been made of Florida’s attempt to drug test welfare applicants.  Florida’s idea is that if an individual has enough discretionary income to afford drugs, that person has enough income to be disqualified from a need based program.

Lately, the left has been trying to make the case that conservatives should be against the initiative based on fiscal calculations:

From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.

Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.

So, I did my own math.  And what I found was interesting.

The Times article above uses the number of failures at 2.6%, however, other sources I’ve read use a number more like 2%.  Because that number helps the liberal cause, I’ll use 2%.  Because Florida has a 6.7% drug use rate, the 2% failure rate is indicative  of a self-selecting population.  That is, drug users are not applying for benefits knowing they will fail, and have to p ay for, a test.

Further, once an individual fails a test, he is ineligible for benefits for 12 months.  A savings not taken into account.  With all of that said, here is my data:

Drug Test Welfare data

Assuming a constant rate of applications and a conservative 2% failure rate the data shows that 25 people fail each month.  Because Florida hums along at a 6.7% drug use rate, I calculated that a certain number of people would simply not even try to test.  Again, to be conservative, I used a 6% rate and found that 50 people each month did not apply.  Finally, I begin to sum the failure and count the benefits that they WOULD have been given as savings.  I do this on a rolling 12 month period.  Additionally, I assume that this month’s drug users will not be using next month and only count 50 Missing Failure each month; I don’t sum them.

To be fair, the short term cost to the state is negative.  For the first 8 months of this system, the state loses money.  However, by September of the of the first year, or month 9, the state begins to realize savings and finally is in the black12 months after that.

The numbers would be even great if we used a normal 6.7% drug use on the welfare population and didn’t make the assumption that this months drug users will not continue to use next month.

As much as I like it when people use numbers and data to make their point, it’s important that such numbers reflect reality.

The State of States

If only federal republicans could govern in the way and manner of state republicans:

Thanks to a Republican governor committed to developing its natural resources, not punishing entrepreneurs who do, Texas legislators are facing an $8.8 billion surplus over the next two years. To the east, Republican governors Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Rick Scott of Florida have also turned recession deficits into budget surpluses. Moving north, Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder, Iowa’s Gov. Terry Brandstad, and Indiana’s out-going-Gov. Mitch Daniels, also can now all boast surpluses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. All of these governors managed to turn their state’s fiscal situation around through spending cuts, not tax hikes. Now their budgets are in the black and their economies are growing.

I think it’s important to focus on the second to last sentence in that quote:

All of these governors managed to turn their state’s fiscal situation around through spending cuts, not tax hikes.

And lest we think that this is just a series of circumstances related to an overall nation economic rebound:

Things do not look as good in Democrat-controlled states. Illinois, who massively raised taxes on the rich, still has a $5.9 billion stack of unpaid bills. California, who also raised taxes on the rich, was supposed to post a small surplus this year. But tax collections are coming in at 10.8 percent below budget projections. As a result, the state is now projected to be $1.9 billion in the red by the end of this fiscal year.

Now, if that same fiscal responsibility could translate to the national level.

Minimum Wage

Got a bunch of baseball cards in the attic?  Beanie Babies maybe?  How about some old CD’s?

Now, say ya wanna sell ’em.  Everyone knows that if you start the bidding to high you won’t get any takers.  Bring the price down and you can sell almost anything.

Simple:  More expensive, fewer people buy.  Less expensive, more people buy.

Which makes this so mind boggling:

Eight states will ring in the New Year with a higher minimum wage, under state laws that require wage floors to keep apace with inflation. San Francisco, one of the few cities that sets its own minimum wage above the federal level, is also raising wages for the lowest-paid workers in the new year. It will become the first big city in the country to require companies to pay their workers more than $10 an hour.

The minimum wage increases in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington will be 28 cents to 37 cents an hour, according to the National Employment Law Project. That is an extra $582 to $770 a year for a full-time minimum wage worker, and resets these states’ minimum wages to $7.64 to $9.04 an hour.

At that higher end is Washington State, which will become the first state in the nation to set its minimum wage above $9 an hour. For reference, the federal wage floor for most workers is $7.25 an hour.

I get it, I do.  No one’s time should be worth so little.  However, by forcing businesses to pay more for labor than they otherwise should, they will buy less labor.  And lastly, should an individual be free to bargain for the value of his time?


I Expect Employment Numbers To Improve

I stumbled upon a recent report, Hat Tip Calculated Risk, that is saying a number of states are changing their unemployment eligibility standards.  Apparently the number of weeks that a person is eligible for unemployment has been a standard 26 weeks:

…the maximum number of weeks that jobless workers can receive unemployment insurance to less than 26 weeks—a threshold that had served as a standard for all 50 states for more than half a century…

So, for 50 years we have been following a standard without question.  It turns out that at least 6 states in the good ol’ US of A actually DO read TarHeel Red.

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While Madison Rages On….

The rest of the nation is moving on the public sector unions.  The inertia is clearly in favor of those who wanna reign in the influence of those unions.

However, that doesn’t mean the fight is over; far from it.  For example, recent developments in Wisconsin show how delicate the balance really is:

MADISON, Wis. – The monthlong saga over Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to drastically curb collective bargaining rights for public workers in Wisconsin took a turn Friday that could force a dramatic rebooting of the entire legislative process.

A judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect, raising the possibility that the Legislature may have to vote again to pass the bill…

It isn’t over folks.

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