Category Archives: Rocket Surgery

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.

Shaking My Head At The Data

I was over at Coyote Blog the other day when I saw a discussion surrounding this chart:

Coyote was taking Kevin Drum to task for his analysis of the data described by this chart.  Specifically:

Republicans like to say we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem, but the evidence doesn’t back that up. Total government spending didn’t go up much during the Clinton era, and it’s actually declined during the Obama era. In the last two decades, it’s only gone up significantly during the Bush era, the same era in which taxes were cut dramatically.

What we have isn’t a spending problem. That’s under control. What we have is a problem with Republicans not wanting to pay the bills they themselves were largely responsible for running up.

I looked at the chart and had to go, “Huh, he might have a point.”  Then I read Coyote’s complaint:

This is the total of all government spending at all levels, not just Federal.  In fact, had he shown Federal spending (likely more appropriate given he is trying to draw conclusions about Presidents), the numbers would have continued up over the last few years.

How can Drum really make an argument dealing specifically with federal implications and use data that includes state and local spending?  If he wants to discuss federal expenditures he should use data that describes ONLY federal expenditures.  Not data that gives Obama credit for local fiscal restraint.

Lefty Has A Friend

More on California taxes.

I posted on Monday that Phil Mickelson has had enough of the confiscatory powers of the state:

 And now California is about to.  When you tax the living snot out of people they are going to react.  They’ll either move or quit.

And that results in $0.00 tax revenue.

It’s really not rocket surgery.

Perhaps the only thing more frustrating than a government that confiscates so much wealth is the fact that it is so predictable:

…but when pressed during his interview Tuesday, here’s how Woods responded:

“I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason. I enjoy Florida but it was also…I understand what he was I think trying to say. I think he’ll probably explain it better in a little bit more detail.”

When California takes 13.3% and Florida takes zilch the calculus is pretty simple.

The Decline of the Union Worker

If the decline of the union means that American companies begin hiring more people, I’m all for the decline of the American union:

Last July was a good month for factory workers in Anderson, Ind., where a Honda parts supplier announced plans to build a new plant and create up to 325 jobs. But it was a grim month in the Cleveland suburbs, where an industrial plastics firm told the state of Ohio it was closing a plant and laying off 150 people.

Nearly all of the Ohio workers belonged to a labor union. Workers at the Indiana plant don’t. Their fates fit a post-recession pattern: American factories are hiring again, but they’re not hiring union members.

But nationally, is there a trend that would suggest that union shops are doing better than or worse than non-union shops?

U.S. manufacturers have added a half-million new workers since the end of 2009, making the sector one of the few bright spots in an otherwise weak recovery. And yet there were 4 percent fewer union factory workers in 2012 than there were in 2010, according to federal survey data. On balance, all of the job gains in manufacturing have been non-union.

This isn’t rocket surgery.  It’s been a fact for a long time now that unions are nothing more than modern day racketeer outfits.  While they may provide better compensation for their members, they restrict the number of jobs that otherwise might have been available.  Further, and perhaps more insidious, is the fact that the monies generated from their members goes straight into the hands of politicians.

Good riddance.

Why I Don’t Trust Politicians – Bustin’ Republican’s Chops

One of the reasons I have so much scorn for democrats is that they embrace the big government statism power that I despise.  Republicans at least SAY* they’re against it but then eventually break my heart by giving in to the temptation that is “power.”

To be sure, the devastation that is “Sandy” is, in some areas, complete.  Any human with a drip of a spirit and decency would weep at the scene.  But the reason we elect people is that we expect leadership.

And courage.

And with one stroke of a pen, Christie failed BIG time:

Trenton, NJ – Taking action to save homeowners money following Hurricane Sandy, Governor Chris Christie signed Executive Order 107, prohibiting insurance companies from imposing costly hurricane deductibles on New Jersey homeowners. An important part of the recovery of New Jersey will be the influx of funds that occurs when insurers settle claims by New Jersey homeowners. This action will increase the total size of the payments made by the insurance industry, helping residents rebuild their homes and speed New Jersey’s path to recovery.

“We need to ensure that homeowners are not forced to pay higher out of pocket costs than required as they begin the rebuilding and repair process,” said Governor Christie. “While Hurricane Sandy was a devastating storm, it did not meet the regulatory threshold to trigger the application of hurricane deductibles by insurance companies in New Jersey. This executive order makes it clear that consumers do not have to pay these unusually large and often unexpected amounts.”

Now, did the storm meet the threshold to trigger deductible?  Maybe, maybe not.  But THAT isn’t up to the governor of a state.  That’s to be determined by the normal and regular and well understood relationship between the private entities that entered into a legally binding contract.

Governor Christie would be wise to remember that if he legislates away the right to collect deductibles, if indeed they are entitles, he may very well find out that the polices issued to his residents are dramatically more expensive if offered at all.

* Except, of course, things like gay marriage and extreme abortion views.  THOSE state powers they are just fine with.

Grocery Barons: If Medical Care Delivery Were Like Food Care Delivery

Just got back from the grocery store.  It was 11:10 PM here in North Carolina.  I just finished working out at the YMCA.  I stopped to have a bite to eat and a beer at the local tap room and then decided I needed to pick up some things from the food store.

It was open.  Would be until tomorrow; they sell food 7×24.

The place was well lit, air conditioned and pleasant.  Music even.

Imagine, a warehouse that sells virtually anything you could wanna eat.  7×24.  On your way home.

Then I saw this:

Biscuits and eggs.  Taters and juice.  This would last my family of 4 two whole breakfasts.  That means for $6.99 I feed 4 people twice.  Or, if you carry the 1, eight people for seven bucks.

That’s less than $1 a meal.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we could sell medical care like we sell food?

An Open Letter To Occupy Raleigh

I want to be very clear; I openly mock the Occupy movement.

There isn’t one single characteristic about #OWS that distinguishes it from any other leftist movement.  Listening to the rhetoric coming from Occupy you would not be able to identify whether or not your are listening to:

  1. A Greenpeace protest to save seals in Greenland.
  2. A university protest to bring attention to the wages of house keepers on campus.
  3. NAACP protests concerned about the treatment of an individual.
  4. A communist party meeting discussing the evils of profits.

There is nothing that distinguishes you from anything that we’ve already seen.

It’s anger unleashed on the world with no discernible focus.  There is no clear indication that you have a point.

You are open to mockery.

Continue reading

Higher Taxes: Less Revenue


In the latest example of the Laffer Curve we see that 0% of $60 billion is less than [some number > 0]% of $60 billion.

See, Apple doesn’t think that having to pay the world’s highest corporate income tax is in the best interests of the company.  Or the shareholders.  So it’s not going to pay the tax.

Continue reading

Value Added Teachers

We love our teachers.  Most people when asked to name the most influential people in their life outside their parents name teachers.  And more than loving our teachers, we CHERISH our best teachers.  These are the blessed souls that “save us”.  These are the folks who make the difference.  Sometimes it’s literal; a teacher reaches out and is the difference between a kid failing out or graduating.  Other times it’s just to magnify the focus; a good student becomes great.

These are the teachers we mean when we say teachers don’t make enough.  These are the ones, the special ones.

But how do we find ’em, pay ’em and keep ’em?

There may be a way.

Continue reading

The Liberal Lie: Buffet’s Secretary And Her Tax Rate

President Obama has enjoyed making a point the rich, the very rich, are making more out very well under the current tax code while the rest of us suffer.  His favorite example is his friend Warren Buffet.  In fact, Obama even mentioned it during his State of the Union Address:

When it comes to the deficit, we’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings.  But we need to do more, and that means making choices.  Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.  Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

I’ve been working this for a long time.  I’ve tried making the point that Buffet pays that SAME income tax rate as his secretary; tax on salary is straight forward and everyone uses the same schedule.  I’ve also tried to point out that Buffet pays much MUCH more in taxes than his secretary; he makes very much more.

All of this is ignored as only so much right-wing buffoonery.

So, let’s look, what does Warren Buffet’s secretary – Debbie Bosanek – pay?  Well, it’s reported that she pays a rate of 35.8%.  And Buffet?  What does he pay?  The same report says he pays 17.4%.

Buffett’s secretary since 1993, Debbie Bosanek, sat next to her boss just hours after being invited by the president to the State of the Union address, where the president made her the face of tax inequality in America.

Bosanek pays a tax rate of 35.8 percent of income, while Buffett pays a rate at 17.4 percent.

“I just feel like an average citizen. I represent the average citizen who needs a voice,” said Bosanek. “Everybody in our office is paying a higher tax rate than Warren.”

Interesting.  Interesting indeed.  The first thing I considered when reading this is why Buffet doesn’t compensate his staff in the same way he compensates himself; namely through assets that yield capital gains.  The second question I asked was, “Wait a moment, what IS the marginal rates exactly?”

Let’s again, go look:

According to the above table, Ms. Bosanek can’t earn enough  income to set her tax rate at 35.8%.  In fact, the highest that any American can pay is 35%.  And even if Ms. Bosanek made $1,000,000 her rate would be 32.73%.  No where near the 35.8% the liberals report she pays.

This should not be surprising; liberals suffer from a degree of lack of understanding when comes to things economic:

It’s not even close.  The conservatives did better, MUCH better, than the Leftists.  And it tracks exactly with political affiliation.

So the next time that you are confronted with the argument that Mr. Buffet’s secretary pays more in taxes than her boss, challenge them.  Ask them questions.  Ask them if they mean total dollars or tax rate.  Then ask them to explain their answer.

They can’t.