Paul Ryan’s “New” Austerity Budget

Naked Capitalism has the article Paul Ryan’s “New” Austerity Budget by Jeffery Sommers a associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Not all economic crises are created equally. Some are mostly supply-side (not enough resources, e.g., oil), such as the 1970s. Meanwhile, others are primarily demand-side (insufficient wages to purchase what can be made), such as in the Great Depression of the 1930s and now. Ryan’s budget proposal tenders supply-side solutions (austerity) to deal with a mostly demand-side crisis

I don’t know how the economics could be explained any more clearly.  I don’t know how more simply the inflation of the 70s could be differentiated from the situation we face now.  How much more obvious could it be made that the Republican solutions are the wrong ones for what is happening now?

If facts mattered in this debate, the argument would be settled.

Sommers ends his article by showing the tricks Ryan is playing to make you believe his budget is something that it is not.

Worse yet is Ryan’s intellectual dishonesty. Ryan asserts his budget cuts are in fact small and don’t represent austerity at all. This slight of hand trick results from arguing the budget is only modestly cut, but this fails to mention that his cuts to health and research are massive. Thus, overall spending cuts are only smaller because of his massive proposed increase to military spending. Moreover, Ryan’s ‘orange-alert’ warnings about Medicare drowning in debt have to be re-thought in light of rapidly declining growth of healthcare costs. Indeed, the past five years have shown the slowest increase in health costs since records were kept.

Maybe it is silly to keep harping on this stuff.  For the idealogically committed facts don’t matter.  This is probably why the current crop of Republicans (unlike some of their better predecessors) have a disdain and a dislike for education and science.  Facts are just too bothersome when you already know the answers.

Something everyone should know on Tax Day

YouTube has the video Something everyone should know on Tax Day.

Robert Reich has a special Tax Day message, explaining why the wealthiest 1% pay a much lower tax rate than the rest of us–and what we can do about it. You can sign his petition here:

Alternet has a transcript of the video in the story Robert Reich: Happy Tax Day VIDEO—Why the 1% Pay a Much Lower Rate than You. I have lost my faith in Alternet, but the transcript seems pretty faithful.  Here is the last statement in the video.  I have a bone to pick with it.

When the rich are let off the hook in all these ways, the rest of America has to pay more in taxes to make up the difference – or have services cut because government doesn’t have the funds.

I wish that Reich wouldn’t reinforce the myth that on the federal level their is any concept such as “…  government doesn’t have the funds”.  The federal government creates the funds it spends.  Unless it runs out of computer bits there can never be a situation where the federal government does not have the funds.

Sturbridge Town Election Results

I finally found a news report on the Sturbridge Town Election Results.  The Wocrecester telegram and Gazette has the story Sturbridge votes 18-year-old onto Tantasqua board.

A recent Tantasqua Regional High School graduate is now the youngest member of the Tantasqua Regional District School Committee.
Mr. Ryan, who is a member of the Tantasqua Regional High School Class of 2013, received 461 votes, which was enough to beat incumbent Elizabeth Tichy, who received 397.

Patricia M. Barnicle, a former school committee member, was the top vote getter for two three-year seats, with 515.
In the only other race, Craig A. Moran was victorious over Donald B. Fairbrother, 409-389, for a one-year selectman’s seat made vacant by Thomas R. Creamer’s resignation.
Only 817 of the town’s 6,648 registered voters came out for Monday’s annual town election, according to Town Clerk Lorraine Murawski.

The vote is a turnout of about 12%.

The comments on the news story were not as bad as what I have come to expect from The Telegram.  These expectations were the reason for my cancelling my subscription and rarely referencing the Telegram on this blog anymore.  Many of the complaints blamed the lack of advertising of the election for the low turnout.

I added my own comment.

Word of the election was posted on many people’s facebook page and also on the Sturbridge Democratic Town Committee’s page

I urged all the people I knew who had Facebook pages to mention the election on their pages. Not that many people took my advice.

As for the Selectman’s race, the person who won had a propensity for wanting to study issues that he apparently was unaware that many studies had already been done and were posted on the Town’s web site. I’d expect someone who wants to run for office would be aware of what is going on in town, and not need to find out what is already known.

That is why Jacob Ryan’s win was a good one. I know that he is really involved in what is going on in the town and has well studied knowledge of the issues he will face.

At the time I wrote that comment it hadn’t even occurred to me a simpler question to ask the people who complained about lack of advertising about the election.  When all these people traveled around town and saw all the political signs of candidates for office for 6 weeks before the election, what did they think those signs were for?  If they couldn’t figure out that an election was coming up, maybe it is just as well that they didn’t vote.

What I learned about the winning selectman after the election was hair raising, and people who know me know that I don’t have that much hair to raise.  Of course this new information didn’t matter to me.  I voted for Don Fairbrother who is a known quantity to me. We’ll see how his one year term turns out, and then we will have a chance to reconsider the vote.

Wallowing In Misery

I don’t know if this is an American trait or if it is world-wide, but we sure do love to wallow in misery.

to indulge oneself in possessions, emotion, etc: to wallow in self-pity.

The Boston Globe is just one example that is pretty typical across all of our media.  Here is a sampling of headlines in today’s newspaper.

  1. Marathon victims’ families attend brief, quiet ceremony
  2. The resilience of optimism
  3. Emotional impact of attack runs deep, wide in Boston
  4. Year since bombings proved Boston was always strong
  5. Marathon bombing anxiety likely to return in children
  6. A year since Marathon attacks, many of wounded struggle
  7. Marathon victims’ families, survivors gather in Boston
  8. Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for Marathon bombing coverage
  9. Businesses on Boylston say it’s time to have fun again
  10. ‘Stronger’ by Jeff Bauman with Bret Witter
  11. Would better data have helped?

I haven’t actually read any of the stories above, but I feel safe in making comments about them.  The pattern is so familiar.

The pattern that takes the cake is the one presumably in item 5 Marathon bombing anxiety likely to return in children.  The Boston Globe reports to its complete amazement the lingering effects.  They no doubt have no self-awareness of the role that The Boston Globe itself plays in perpetuating the anxiety.

We just cannot seem to let this story go.  We want to hold onto the pain and misery as long as we possibly can.  We keep wanting to relive the victimhood that those awful people imposed on us.  It is almost – if we never forget it or even let it sink lower down in our memories, then we will be punishing the perpetrators.  We never seem to think that holding onto these memories and continually refreshing them is a way to elevate the perpetrators to mythical status.  Is there anything good that a person could do that would prolong their fame and glory as long as the memory of what an evildoer “accomplishes”?

What other disasters  do we seem to love to celebrate – Pearl Harbor, The Twin Towers attack, Oklahoma City bombing, Fort Hood Shooting, Columbine, Sandy Hook?

Perhaps this wallowing takes our minds off the real and solvable problems we face.  I am just grasping at straws for an explanation.  Perhaps you have a better one.

Monetizing Internet Content – Refresher Course

My previous post Monetizing Internet Content provided an explanation of how someone or some company or some organization providing content on the internet could get paid for their effort without resorting to an individual paid subscription model.  I further explained why the traditional subscription model just does not fit with what is possible or desirable with today’s internet technology.

As for the technology to implement my suggestion, I said:

Google already is able to collect this kind of information as a way of extracting payments for the ads that it places on web pages.  It also shares some of this revenue with web sites on which it has placed the ads. It does the collecting and distributing on a per click basis.  If nobody clicks on your ad, you don’t pay and the web site doesn’t get paid.

Somebody just needs to turn it around and use it as a way to distribute subscription income.  There is not a far distance from what Google is already doing and my new idea.

I probably was not explicit enough on just what Google technology I meant. I as talking about Google AdSense.

Google AdSense provides a free, flexible way to earn money from your websites, mobile sites, and site search results with relevant and engaging ads.

AdSense has helped over two million partners grow their businesses in the last 10 years. Have AdSense fund your content so you can focus on creating even more.

The only small twist that is needed in this technology is to get Google to pay you for your content directly rather than for the ads they place on your website.  What’s in it for Google?  They would charge a reasonable subscription fee to  your potential readers.  In return Google would provide access to the content provider’s website (that means your web site).  Google would take a small fraction of the money the subscriber paid to Google, and pay it to you for each piece of content the subscriber viewed.  The actual details of what a “piece of content” and a “viewer access” means will have to be worked out.  I hope you can make the leap in your own mind to understanding the general idea I am talking about.

The difference between this way of doing business and the traditional subscription model is that Google is not selling you a subscription to a single source.  Google is selling you, the subscriber, access to all the sources that have signed up with Google to receive micropayments from Google for each view of their content.

Rather than the subscriber paying a monthly subscription of even one dollar per month to the thousands of sites the subscriber could potentially want to access, the user would pay one lump sum of maybe even $10 per month that would be divided up among the sources the viewer actually accessed that month, not the ones the subscriber could have potentially accessed.  Given that there are only so many hours in a day, there is only so much content that a subscriber could possibly access per day.

The content provider would get a fairly small micropayment for each access.  However, with the amount of readership that one could get via the internet, this could amount to enough money to pay you for the effort you expended to create the content.  You also wouldn’t have to waste your time begging people to chip in a little for the content you are providing.  This web site you are currently reading has  been read 1,482,673 times from 89,619 internet addresses over the seven or so years I have had it online.

The purveyor of this subscription service would need a way to direct subscribers to the content providers.  I imagine it would look something like this page.

If you can make any significant money with the AdSense plan from Google which depends on the number of people who access your web site, then you ought to be able to make money without the ads, but just because of the content you provide under my suggested plan.

I am going to continue to discuss this plan from time to time on this blog, until I finally come up with a way to explain the idea to some enterprising person who can make it happen.  I am not even charging for the idea.  Such a deal.  How can everybody resist?  Keep in mind that Google is making billions of dollars per year with the schemes they are already using.  You can wait until Google finally wakes up to this additional way of making money, or you can try to make your own billions with it.

How Sesame Street Ruined The English Language

I am finally taking to my blog to write about How Sesame Street Ruined The English Language.

My comment on the above YouTube video was

Me is very upset at how Cookie Monster has ruined the English language. Me used to be able to say sentences like this, and people would instantly see what is wrong with using “me” as the subject. Sesame Street has trained several generations to lose their ear for proper English. Me going to write a blog post about this.

Sesame Street was on what we used to laughingly call educational television. They very effectively used repetition to teach children. What were they thinking when they used repetition from Cookie Monster to teach improper English?

I can’t remember now if the usage of “me and another person” as subject in a sentence was also started by Sesame Street. Beyond screwing up the English language they also ruined the etiquette of how you put yourself and another person into the subject of a sentence.

Rather than this being a one man crusade, can I enlist others of you to join me in helping to stamp out this usage?

Me could try to do this alone, but, together, me and you will be more effective. – translation “I could try to do this alone, but, together, you and I will be more effective.”

Was Sesame Street an ill conceived attempt to undo the implicit racism exemplified by The Lone Ranger?

The “me” as a subject of a sentence used to be a way of showing how native Americans had an inferior understanding of English compared to the “white” man. Was Sesame Street trying to show that it was OK to be ignorant of English? What a backhanded way to make up for The Lone Ranger. Maybe it was a Native American writer on Sesame Street who was just trying to get even with the way that Hollywood portrayed Native Americans. Teach the invaders’ children to talk pidgin English like the invaders pretended that the Natives spoke.

Silicon Valley Season 1: Episode 1 Full Episode (TVMA) (HBO)

Stumbled across this on RandyK’s Facebook page. Actually he had the review Beavis and Ballmer: Let me count all the ways I hate Silicon Valley. by David Auerbach.

Warning! This piece contains spoilers for Silicon Valley.

So watch this episode first. (It is TVMA – L.)

In my career, I missed three opportunities to work in Silicon Valley. Instead I had 13 years on Silicon Mountain better known as Digital Equipment Corp., Hudson, MA. (Not all 13 years in Hudson. The Hudson facility was built some years after I started at DEC.)

I did spend one year as a Visiting Industrial Fellow at University of California, Berkeley where I learned that Silicon Valley culture and I did not always get along well. I did eventually manage to work for two companies that were headquartered in Silicon Valley. That’s how I really learned about the culture clash.

Apparently I liked this show much more than David Auerbach did.

What we can Learn From FDR

Thanks to reader MardyS for posting a link to the article What we can Learn From FDR by Harvey J. Kaye.

This is a long  article which I hesitated to read.  When I finally did read it, I was extremely glad I did.  Kaye points out how much of our history we have forgotten around WWII that involved the politics of that time.  Kaye explains a lot of that history to justify his claim as excerpted below.

Consider that in their otherwise moving works, the Greatest Generation’s tribunes, Ambrose, Brokaw, Bradley, Spielberg and Burns, make no mention of FDR’s pronouncement of the Four Freedoms. They utterly ignore how a president and people articulated anew the nation’s historic promise in “Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear,” and went “All Out!” in their name not only to defend American democratic life, but also to enhance it. And they utterly ignore how a president and people not only saved the United States from economic destruction and political tyranny and proceeded to turn it into the strongest and most prosperous country on earth, but did so by harnessing the powers of democratic government and making America freer, more equal and more democratic than ever before in the process.

This is why we, in this generation, need to fight so hard to undo the erasure and distortion of our history.  The people who lived that history may remember the reasons they fought for what they did.  However, the people who were born decades after that history was over have no way of understanding it unless we keep on telling the story.  This is what Harvey Kaye and I believe is the great failing of the Liberals.

Some Liberals seem to act as if  everyone should just know why the Liberals fight for the things that they do fight for.  You can see that in Obama (no liberal himself) trying to fight an inside battle with Congress without realizing the importance of first reminding people why it is so important to fight for these things.  He negotiated with himself before confronting Congress, and completely forgot that carrying on the fight in public was more important than whatever minimal goals he could get Congress to agree to by bending over backwards to appease them.

It is not only about what you can achieve today, but it is also about setting the stage for what you hope to achieve tomorrow.  By that measure, President Obama has been a severe disappointment.  In my estimation, Hillary Clinton would be even a worse disaster.

The people who understand the need to fight very hard in public are Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to name two who might be on the next slate for President and Vice President.  It’s also not only that they fight publicly for these things, but I believe they really understand what the fight is about and they really mean what they say.  At the very least, they have not provided us with massive evidence that they really don’t have a clue.

Even as an inveterate skeptic, I’d rather vote for someone who might mean what they say than to vote for someone who has proven that they do not mean what they say.

Perhaps Obama and Clinton are so far to the right because their parents and grandparents did not realize at the time how important it was to pass on the history of what they had fought for.  Or perhaps it is a rebellion thing.  No generation can take at face value what the previous generation tells them.  This accounts for how easy it is to wipe history from our collective minds.  When we are more than two generations from that history, remembrance of it is completely gone.  With rebellion of one generation from the previous one, it is the grandparents who become responsible for passing the heritage on.  I cannot say I am doing a good job.


Right Wing Science

right wing science dude cartoon

Do you suppose this is the kind of science that figured out how to put gigabytes of memory on a very small piece of silicon?

Are such devices a malicious hoax or a pernicious lie? I certainly don’t have any such device in the computer on which I am typing this. There are at least 3 scientists that say you can’t get that many transistors in one place.

The News Media And The Smell Test

The Nation has the story Why Is a Florida Man Facing Life in Prison For Lending a Friend His Car and Going to Sleep? by Charles Grodin.

Ryan Holle, who has no prior record, is currently serving his eleventh year of a life sentence.

Several years ago I read a piece in The New York Times by Adam Liptak about Ryan Holle. Ryan, who had no prior record, is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole in Florida. He was convicted of pre-meditated murder, even though no one, including the prosecutor, disputes that Ryan was asleep in his bed at home at the time of the crime.

Why not give us a link to The New York Times article Serving Life for Providing Car to Killers?

Mr. Holle, who had given the police a series of statements in which he seemed to admit knowing about the burglary, was convicted of first-degree murder.

Not having heard what the jury in this case heard, I have no way to interpret what “seemed to admit” means.

Right from the start in reading Grodin’s article, I knew that he was not telling us the whole story.  Since he has no smell test for his own writing, it’s no wonder that he had no sense of smell when he read The New York Times story.

I do not know if the accused is guilty or not, but I  have a strong suspicion that the “news” media are leaving out a lot of things.  It is obvious what the media want us to believe, but they are going to have to work harder to get me to believe it.

The Nation story was reprinted on Alternet as How Lending A Friend Your Car, Then Going to Bed Can Land You a Life Prison Sentence.

How is this kind of reporting any better than what you might get on Faux Noise?  I want the media that I read to have a higher set of standards than the media I refuse to read because of its low standards. Why would a news outlet that had pretensions of standards want to publish dreck like this? Do they realize how badly this damages their reputations? Are we to think that the editors have no sense of smell?

April 12, 2014 – 8:15 PM

I must apologize to The New York Times. Apparently I did not read the whole story.

I wanted to respond to Roger’s comment that I did make my feelings known in a comment on Alternet.

I noticed that in a comment about my comment there were some words about the trial that I had not read. These words were from The New York Times story. This is about comments from the defendant.

“All he did was go say, ‘Use the car,’ ” Mr. Allen said of Mr. Holle in a pretrial deposition. “I mean, nobody really knew that girl was going to get killed. It was not in the plans to go kill somebody, you know.”

But Mr. Holle did testify that he had been told it might be necessary to “knock out” Jessica Snyder. Mr. Holle is 25 now, a tall, lean and lively man with a rueful sense of humor, alert brown eyes and an unusually deep voice. In a spare office at the prison here, he said that he had not taken the talk of a burglary seriously.

“I honestly thought they were going to get food,” he said of the men who used his car, all of whom had attended the nightlong party at Mr. Holle’s house, as had Jessica Snyder.

“When they actually mentioned what was going on, I thought it was a joke,” Mr. Holle added, referring to the plan to steal the Snyders’ safe. “I thought they were just playing around. I was just very naïve. Plus from being drinking that night, I just didn’t understand what was going on.”