blueollie

A very common type of Trump supporter…

I know it is common to mock Trump supporters as being very wealthy people (e. g. CEOs) interested in getting their “low tax and deregulation” wish list fulfilled or as very dumb, poor people voting against their own interests. I’ve written about those two types of supporters.

But there is another large class of Trump supporters: people who, while not unusually educated, are not poor either. One might think of a factory foreman or perhaps a senior enlisted person in the military.

They are somewhat wealthier than the average American and, realistically, a bit above average in IQ. I was reminded of this type of Trump supporter when I read a comment on a physics professor’s Facebook page:

Rory, I’m a graduate Engineer. I was an Electronic Technician for years before I became an Engineer. I encountered this academic blindness on my first day of “Theory of Electrical Design.” My University professor began the class teaching that Electricity flowed from Positive to Negative because all things must flow “downhill.” I laughed. I had learned that electrons are responsible for electricity and, being negatively charged, they always flow from Negative to Positive AND I had built and repaired many a radio, radar and computer SUCCESSFULLY using this methodology. However, my Professor could/would not accept that fact! He had only heard his theoretical approach (I call it the “hole” theory) and I had to accept his POV in order to pass his class. He had never operated on any electronic devices and did not CARE how things worked in the real world (where I earned my living). It was difficult for him to see anything except theory and he was blind to any other POV. I, on the other hand, once I saw that if I reversed all my polarity signs, I could make the Math work for the sake of a passing the exam. I have other examples of Academic blindness insisting that Reality must change for the sake of their personally proven theory.

This is where you and I are. I have outer world experience in what works. You are an academic professional. You’ve lived inside this academic ‘bubble’ so long, you think I’M mad. The others following your page who delight in slander, emotional name calling, and illogical phraseology because they do not understand me, are different than you or I. There is no hope for them. But I extend this essay in the hope you might see some possibility of value to another view of reality. You see, from where I sit, it is not my view that contradicts the way Reality works, it is yours. And what, may I point out, is one definition of “Mental Illness” but a mental attitude that shuts out reality? With hopes we can exchange some meaningful dialogue, I offer you my Best wishes, Jon

Now, the person who wrote this probably has a somewhat above average IQ, though well below that of the physics professor he was addressing (who is a national class level researcher).

Now here is what is going on: when one teaches, say, circuit analysis to those who do not have a college mathematics and physics background, one must simplify. And at least in the Navy (and perhaps in other places), they are taught an “electron current” theory of electricity. This is more intuitive for them; they can visualize (so they think) little electrons (thought of as, well, small particles) flowing from one place to another.

Because using this convention and simplification allowed for this person to do electronic work, well, that must be “real world”.

In fact, current was defined before electrons were, and the standard electrodynamic theory has current “flowing” in the other direction. That is the universal definition among scientists and engineers and, at the university level and above, that is what *should* be taught.

But oh no…this individual, while not dumb, was terribly ignorant of “what was out there” and not curious enough to learn.

And what of the basic science behind the electronic components that he was able to tinker with during his “technician” days? Did that just appear from a burning bush? Nah, to this obstinate fool, well, that is some “no common sense professor” with his nose too deeply in the book to appreciate REAL WORLD stuff.

Anyhow, there are a lot of Trump supporters like this one. The conclusions that they have reached in their respective limited spheres and limited experiences override expert opinion, especially if that expert opinion is counter-intuitive to them.

Workout notes: 58:36 for a 5 mile walk on the treadmill; it felt fine.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, walking | 2 Comments

I am almost sorry I didn’t vote for Trump

Ok, yes, I still consider Donald Trump to be an unqualified amateur who lacks the necessary deportment and humility to be President of the United States.
I fear that his recklessness will get us into a shooting war; that his ham-handedness will wreck our economy and heaven forbid what will happen when we get our first genuine crisis.

But, well, look at what is happening:

1. A Trump supporter in Chicago is whining about being…bullied? Uh, Trump is the quintessential bully. Oh, let me make it clear: I do NOT approve of threats and the like; if I saw someone vandalize their business, I’d report it to the police right away.

And for what it worth, I do business with companies that are run by Republicans all of the time; I go by things like customer service, how I am treated, how they treat their workers, etc.

But if others want to make choices with their dollars or to denounce their choice, well, that is just “freedom”, no? And remember that Trump bullies people all of the time.

2. Many Trump voters are…worried about losing their Obamacare and/or Medicaid. Seriously? Hey, Trump made much of his money via cons and stiffing contractors. And you thought that he’d tell the truth to you? OMG…I am dying with laughter:

An aim of Republican legislation is to reduce private premiums, but Ms. Sines’s son, who along with her other two grown children signed up for Medicaid under the expansion, has been warning that their coverage could be “in trouble,” she said. She cannot believe Mr. Trump would allow that to happen.

“I can’t imagine them not keeping it like it is now,” said Ms. Sines, who runs a group home for the elderly.

Mr. Waltimire said he hoped to return to the police force, and the health benefits it provides, this year. But with no guarantee of good health — he was injured in a fall in 2009 and has had circulatory problems ever since — he also hopes other options remain available.

“It’s kind of hard for me,” he said of having free government coverage. “I’ve always worked all my life. But like my counselor said, sometimes you just have to say thank you and move forward.”

3. And those who live in impoverished areas just KNOW that good jobs are coming back:

“I voted for Trump 100%,” says Barbara Puckett, a 55-year-old mom, who lives in the small and friendly town of Beattyville. “It’s the most hopeful I’ve been in a long time now that he’s in there.”
Trump won 81% of the vote in Beattyville. People here love that Trump doesn’t “sugarcoat” anything. They feel he understands them, even though he’s a billionaire.
“Donald Trump’s got all the money he’ll ever need,” says Steve Mays, judge-executive for the county and life-long Beattyville resident. The 49-year-old says he’s never been more excited about a president than he is now. “Trump will be a president for the common man.” [..]

“If you got a job here in Beattyville, you’re lucky,” says Amber Hayes, a bubbly 25-year-old mom of two, who also voted for Trump. She works at the county courthouse, but is paid by the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP), a form of welfare.
Coal, oil and tobacco made Beattyville a boom town in the 1800s and much of the 1900s. Locals like to bring up the fact that Lee County — where Beattyville is located — was the No. 1 oil-producing county east of the Mississippi at one time.
“Growing up in the ’70s? Yeah, this was the place to be,” says Chuck Caudhill, the general manager of the local paper, The Beattyville Enterprise. He calls the town the “gem of eastern Kentucky.”
Today, the town is a ghost of its former self. The vast majority of Beattyville residents get some form of government aid — 57% of households receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from Social Security.
“I hope [Trump] don’t take the benefits away, but at the same time, I think that once more jobs come in a lot of people won’t need the benefits,” says Hayes, who currently receives about $500 a month from government assistance. She’s also on Obamacare.

Uh huh. I am sure that businesses are itching to set something up in this town. ROTFLMAO.

Hey if you vote for a known con artist, you are voting to get conned.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | economy, politics, politics/social, poverty, social/political | | 2 Comments

Thinking about poverty…

This was a 2014 Alternet article about poverty. That, plus reading some of the status updates of some of my friends helps me have a better understanding.

This is why: yes, there were times when I was short on money. But these were usually “between guaranteed jobs” times or “graduate student” times; one still had health insurance and still knew that a job was on the way. That makes a difference.

And of the poor people I actually know: well, many families have that “one or two” deadbeats that just mooches off of everyone else. They had the same parents, often had the same opportunities (and even got degrees in some cases) and even got the same inheritances …and blew it. Some sat by you in school. Others even had parents who made six figure incomes. And yet they failed and continue to fail, no matter how many times they are bailed out.

But this is the hazard of extrapolating from what one knows; it just doesn’t work that way for many of the working poor.

Workout notes: easy 5 mile walk at my “quick pace” outside. I felt yesterday’s leg workout.

March 19, 2017 Posted by | political/social, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Understanding different types of Trump supporters

Yes, I admit that there are some Trump supporters that do fall into the “basket of deplorables”; there is no denying that. No, it isn’t half of them but it is certainly some of them.

I’ll focus on the more mainstream ones.

One group includes the poorly educated, “lower middle class to poor” Trump supporters. Yes, Trumpcare and many of Trump’s proposed economic policies will hurt them more than most. So what is going on? This appears to be the best explanation I’ve read.

This is my summary of the article: yes, the repeal of Obamacare and the cutting of safety-nets (including Medicaid) hurts them. Cutting “Meals on Wheels” hurts the elderly in the region as well.

But: what these people really want is for the long lost jobs to return; jobs with health insurance and retirement plans (both indirectly subsidized by the government in terms of tax breaks). Government run safety nets…those are yucky programs that “other people” rely on:

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy. […]

ike most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.

My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.

The article also describes the tax breaks we get for our pension plans.

When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.

And so, Bernie like populism will flop with that group.

The business CEOs
I remember my days in the submarine Navy. Both the officers and the enlisted men came from the top of their respective groups, at least in terms of intelligence. As far as the officers I worked with: typically A engineering students in college who has done well in Nuclear Power school They were very hard workers (16-18 hours a day at sea, 12 or more in port) were typical, and they knew the technology (e. g. nuclear power plant) inside and out.

But with those hours and that focus…let’s just say there wasn’t time to focus on the finer points of social policy or macro economics; whatever matched their intuition sounded good.

Business CEOs are probably similar: very smart people who know their business and their industry inside and out…but probably not that interested in this that don’t directly relate to their business in the short term. Hence, to them, Trump indicates and end to the “class warfare” that Obama waged..finally…lower taxes and fewer regulations! So attitudes like this are probably common.

Oh, there are long term problems. For example, if income inequality gets to be so great that few people have disposable income left, who is going to buy their stuff? If regulations made businesses so unprofitable, why did CEO pay rise so steeply? What will happen if/when Trump either gets us in a war or a trade war?

But lots of 14-18 hour days doesn’t give one a lot of time to ponder things beyond their own narrow interest.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | political/social, politics, republicans, social/political | , | 1 Comment

And I waste my spring break….

I am just having too much fun on the internet.

Now THAT is my kind of toaster! (this is what this is making fun of: Kellyanne Conway, of couch kneeling fame, claimed that some microwaves have spy cameras)

Cheetocare My “friend” Carmen Johnson and my twitter buddy Diana Archer dubbed this health care train wreck “Cheetocare”. Roughly, it cuts taxes on the upper 2 percent in return for underfunding the Medicare trust fund and not expanding Medicaid …and ..in effect, kicking older people off of Obamacare by allowing the insurance companies to increase the multiplier from 3 times to 5 times (how much more an older person must pay for insurance). Here are some sources: New York Times, Vox, Vox on Medicaid.

If there is a silver lining, it is that poor, red, southern states will be hit the hardest with a “per-capita” Medicaid rating.

But, it is my guess that this bill will either crash and burn in the house or be DOA in the Senate. Even conservative outlets such as Newsmax and Breitbart are denouncing it as Ryan’s plan. In fact, Newsmax is actually proposing “Medicaid for all”; weaker than “Medicare for all” to be sure, but..well…when Newsmax moves somewhat close to what I can live with…these are strange times.

As far as the rest of the Trump agenda: well, lots of CEOs seem to like what they see. I get it: they spend a LOT of time on their own businesses and are pretty good on managing things on a short term basis. Of course if things get so bad that few have money to patronize their businesses…well, I suppose in their eyes, that is some theoretical construct that they don’t have time for now. Micro is their thing, not macro.

Upshot: don’t expect them to move away from Trump for all of Trump’s shortcomings.

Basketball notes: Fun NIT game in Champaign last night; another one in Normal tonight. I’ll write a complete report tomorrow.

Workout notes:
Treadmill run: 10 minute warm up (every 2 minutes), then 10 x 2:30 at 6.7, 2:30 at 5.3 recoveries. I had an extra break when the fire alarm went off (false alarm) so I did one 3 minute interval with a 2 minute rest to make up somewhat. 1:00:44 for 6 miles, 1:02:52 for 10K.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | health care, politics, politics/social, running, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Pitts: What if we just don’t like each other…

Today’s article by Leonard Pitts starts off as follows:

So this driver is stopped at an intersection. A pedestrian is dawdling in the crosswalk. Driver leans out the window and yells, “Get out of the street, you damned liberal!”

It’s been years since I read that in a magazine. I can’t remember if it was a true story, though I think it was. But even if only apocryphal, the picture it paints of American acrimony in the post-millennial years is true beyond mere facts.

As such, it leaves me questioning the likely impact of two recent well-intentioned pleas for ideological outreach. Joan Blades, co-founder of the liberal activist group Moveon.org, wrote an essay for The Christian Science Monitor, asking progressives to stretch beyond their left-wing comfort zones and “love thy neighbor.” And New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof warned the left against a tendency to “otherize” Donald Trump voters.

I’ve got no real argument with Kristof or Blades. It’s a noble gesture they’re making. It occurs to me, though, that none of this addresses a question that has come to seem obvious:

What if the problem is simply that we just don’t like each other?

As I’ve said often, our acrimony is not political. It’s not about tax rates, government regulation or even abortion rights. No, this is elemental. This is about the city versus the country, higher education versus a mistrust thereof, Christian fundamentalism versus secular humanism. And it is about social change versus status quo.

I recommend reading the rest.

That got me to thinking about some things I’ve seen and read.

1. Some time ago, a friend (fellow liberal) posted a photo of an old-to-middle-aged white guy with a restored antique 3-wheel vehicle …and talked about him being “a douche” though her only contact with him was, well that photo. Later I asked my wife if she had seen the photo….and she replied “of the creepy guy”?

2. I thought about my own reaction when I saw some elderly (ok, not THAT much older than I) men with a Trump hat or a Trump shirt. Yes, I felt a snarling contempt. I noted that I was in much, much better condition than they were…then I recalled I know some Trump voters who are my age (or slightly older) who can run and walk circles around me; in one case, his 100 mile walk pace would be a decent marathon walk pace for me.

But, yeah, I am as tribal as anyone else, though my “tribe” really isn’t purely political.

I have Republican friends, and by that I mean there are Republicans that I happily socialize with; one is a frequent, welcome dinner companion. I look forward to spending time with her.

BUT: she is secular, pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-science and very knowledgeable. She believes in public investment and knows that there is a time for a government to spend and at time for austerity (“basic macro”, she says). We have some disagreements on the degree to which businesses should be regulated and taxed. But we agree on quite a bit, especially on social values. Ok, ok, we disagree on some things too. 🙂

Then I think: what about the baseball and football games I attend? Almost every single time, I end up in a conversation with a fan about the game; I always enjoy these. And I can assure you, statistically speaking, at least some (most?) of those said fans vote differently than I do. But for the purposes of the game, we are in the same “tribe” (football or baseball fans)

I don’t know; maybe public events are a good way to bring different kinds of people together? After all, there really isn’t a black/white/conservative/liberal way to discuss the action in a football game.

Same thing with running races: I KNOW that many of my running/walking friends have different politics than I do. But our experiences..our way of encouraging each other to bring out the best in each other really isn’t partisan.

Workout notes
weights then a 4 mile walk (28:00 first 2, 26:41 second 2: 54:41 for 4).

Weights: rotator cuff
pull ups: 5 sets of 10…very careful in the “recovery” motion to protect my arm.
bench press: 10 x 135, 5 x 185, 8 x 170 (very conservative)
incline press: 10 x 135
military presses: standing, 10 x 50 dumbbell, 6 x 50 standing dumbbell, 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 machine
squats: lots of free squats, then 3 x 5 with 45, 2 x 50 goblet, 2 x 60 goblet
leg presses: 10 x 250
abs: 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts
headstand: ok, but was distracted getting into it.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | Friends, political/social, social/political, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

The unpopularity of the Democratic Party

Yes, President Trump has historically low approval ratings (for it being this early in his administration).

That is undeniable. (this graph is via Gallup).

But ..the Democratic party...rates even LOWER

Of course, the Bernie Bros are claiming “see, you need to become more like Bernie” and they cite articles like this one:

But what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit and tie, lobbyist-driven agenda of the establishment. But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, lines were wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together.

This is a breath-taking amount of ignorance. Yes, “activists” really love those things and have energy. But a tiny percentage of people can be a lot of people in a country of 320 million. That, by no stretch of the imagination, translates into something the electorate will rally around.

Riddle me this: how did left wingers do in the past election? Example: Russ Feingold lost by a larger margin than Hillary Clinton did in Wisconsin.

While left wing populism might be very inspirational to a small percentage of the population, it really isn’t a winning political coalition:

On November 20, less than two weeks after Donald Trump’s upset win, Bernie Sanders strode onto a stage at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center to give the sold-out audience his thoughts on what had gone so disastrously wrong for the Democratic Party.

Sanders had a simple answer. Democrats, he said, needed to field candidates who would unapologetically promise that they would be willing “to stand up with the working class of this country and … take on big-money interests.”

Democrats, in other words, would only be able to defeat Trump and others like him if they adopted an anti-corporate, unabashedly left-wing policy agenda. The answer to Trump’s right-wing populism, Sanders argued, was for the left to develop a populism of its own.

That’s a belief widely shared among progressives around the world. A legion of commentators and politicians, most prominently in the United States but also in Europe, have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Supporters of these leaders, they argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

“[It’s] a kind of liberal myth,” Pippa Norris, a Harvard political scientist who studies populism in the United States and Europe, says of the Sanders analysis. “[Liberals] want to have a reason why people are supporting populist parties when their values are so clearly against progressive values in terms of misogyny, sexism, racism.”

The problem is that a lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration — or, more precisely, it doesn’t do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it’s in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

Yeah, left wing populism and a focus on the poor and economic injustice may have worked…in 1932 when unemployment was at 25 percent!

But the reality is:

1. Most do not care all that much about the Dakota Access Pipeline
2. Most have little in common with those who are at risk of losing their Obamacare insurance (and many of these ignorant jackasses voted for Trump)
3. Most of us earn well above the minimum wage
4. Most are not Muslim and most do not have Muslim friends
5. Most of us do not care whether someone is offended by someone else using the “wrong” pronoun.
6. Most of us did not go out and have a bunch of kids that we could not afford to raise.

In fact, much of left wing populism appears to be a transfer of money from those who have achieved to “the unworthy”.

Oh, there are many good reasons for those programs; I happen to believe that wealth trickles up through the economy and NOT down; when the bottom of the economic ladder is better off, the rest of us are are better off. Personally, I want more people to be able to afford to send their kids to my university and to patronize the neighborhood businesses. There is evidence that poor kids that get SNAP do better than those who don’t.

But that is a difficult sell, especially to people like me, who have been raised on The Ant and the Grasshopper.

But there is more from the Vox article quoted above:

When Corbyn took control of Labour leadership last September, UKIP — Britain’s far-right, anti-EU party — had been in decline, netting around 10 percent in the Britain Elects poll aggregator. By the June 2016 Brexit vote over whether to leave the EU, UKIP’s numbers had risen to a little over 15 percent.

Corbyn and Labour publicly supported staying in the EU, but didn’t campaign for it particularly hard. It may not have mattered: Eric Kaufmann, a professor at the University of London who studies populism, looked at what Brexit voters said were the “most important” issues facing the UK. More than 40 percent said immigration; a scant 5 percent said “poverty and inequality.”

According to Kaufmann, this reflects an uncomfortable truth: The kind of voter who’s attracted to the far right just doesn’t care a whole lot about inequality and redistribution, Corbyn’s signature issues. Tacking left to win them over, as Corbyn has, is “a bad idea,” he told me in a phone conversation.

Yes, this is the United States, not the UK. But:

This, they hypothesized, was not an accident. People are only willing to support redistribution if they believe their tax dollars are going to people they can sympathize with. White voters, in other words, don’t want to spend their tax dollars on programs that they think will benefit black or Hispanic people.

The United States is marked by far more racial division than its European peers. Poverty, in the minds of many white Americans, is associated with blackness. Redistribution is seen through a racial lens as a result. The debate over welfare and taxes isn’t just about money, for these voters, but rather whether white money should be spent on nonwhites. “Hostility between races limits support for welfare,” Alesina, Glaeser, and Sacerdote conclude flatly in the paper.

Now, it’s been a decade and a half since this paper was published, so it’s possible the evidence has shifted. I called up Sacerdote to ask him whether any subsequent research has caused him to change his mind. His answer was firmly negative. “It’s almost sad that it’s held up so well,” he told me.

And I see it as being grimmer than this.

Take public education. One would expect teachers to have to have a basic standard of literacy, right? Well, in New York, the public education establishment is about to do away with a literacy test for teachers because…too many minorities are not passing the test!

New York state is poised to scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected to adopt the recommendation of a task force to eliminate the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Critics of the exam said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms.

Just 46 percent of Hispanic and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The test was among four assessments for prospective teachers introduced in the 2013-2014 school year.

(note to conservatives who might be laughing: I hope you are equally outraged at attempts to give creationism “equal time” in science curricula).

And so it goes. It is bad enough that we have racism in our population, but then we go and lead with our chin with stupid stuff like this. Guess whose kids those illiterate teachers will be teaching?

Workout notes: home treadmill (snow outside): 10 minute jog, then 50 minutes of “quick walking”; 5 miles in just about 1 hour (maybe 1:00:20 or so).

March 13, 2017 Posted by | 2016, Democrats, political/social, politics, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

Annoying terminology: “war on the poor”

I sometimes cringe when some subjects are brought up. Poverty is one of them.

I often hear “war on the poor”. I’d like to know what is meant by that.

IF one is talking about things like, say, a dearth of good, affordable food options (food deserts) or businesses that prey on the poor (e. g. payday loan places), ok, I agree that these things are bad. The former is a consequence of being too reliant on the capitalist model for everything (food stores in such areas are often not good investments) and the latter is, well, greed.

BUT if one is saying “we want to lower taxes and make safety net programs less generous”, I don’t see how that can be called a “war on the poor”. I don’t think that there is an obligation of someone, no matter how rich, to pay for someone else’s living expenses.

So, becoming less generous really isn’t a “war”.

Now, I am for these safety net programs for a variety of reasons; I think that it is a good thing to do with tax money, and I’d much rather do that than some of the other stupid stuff we do. It think that being a bit more generous (as a society) is a good thing and I support politicians that support that.

But to NOT do that hardly constitutes a “war”.

Workout notes: easy 4 mile walk outdoors in Bradley Park. The weather was brisk. My walk wasn’t.

March 10, 2017 Posted by | poor, poverty, social/political, walking | Leave a comment

The shallow level of discussion about poverty in the US

Articles like this one drive me nuts. Yes, it is statistically accurate in that if someone is born into grinding poverty, they are likely to stay there, even if they behave reasonably.

What it overlooks is that many do NOT behave reasonably, as this liberal friendly article admits:

Edin sees in these obstacles to full-time fatherhood a partial explanation for what’s known as “multiple-partner fertility.” Among low-income, unwed parents, having children with more than one partner is now the norm. One long-running study found that in nearly 60 percent of the unwed couples who had a baby, at least one parent already had a child with another partner.

That is pathological and irresponsible, no matter how one spins it. But try getting a liberal to admit that…OMG.

Now, of course, there are also these aspects:

1. Which came first: pathological behavior or poverty; which caused which? There is strong evidence that poverty is the CAUSE of such behavior and not really the result of it. (slso here)

2. While I agree that poor people can make themselves even poorer via poor choices, it does not follow that good choices will lead one OUT of poverty.

I’ll use a sports analogy. Those in my age group who run the fastest times and win the most awards train more than I do. And were I to quit lifting weights so much and to run more, I might improve…but only so much. I might, might, get into the 24s..maybe 23’s with super training. But I can forget getting anywhere the winner’s circle in my age group; guys who do that were generally “college track team” quality in their youth (or the equivalent).

So good behavior will only move the needle so much; only rarely is it enough for someone to escape.

But yet discussion of these issues often causes he heartburn.

Here is what I think is going on: I have people who went to the same schools as I did and had parents who were of the same economic class as my parents. They had the opportunity to apply to the same colleges as I did. I had no special influence as to getting into my undergraduate college, and no “pull” in getting into graduate school. Then years down the line…guess who is said to have been “lucky”???

While one can make statistical inferences about how a general population will do, there is variation between individuals of the same group. Yes, my parents did right by me…more so ..and I was lucky enough to avoid horrible things (abuse, diseases, accidents, etc.) None of that was due to any merit on my part; I admit that.

Anyhow, I DO see quite a bit of “excuse making” by people that I know made bad choices that hindered them down the road. But …that is at the individual level..not a statistical average.

Still, I struggle to accept a life experience that was so different than my own..especially when initial circumstances seem to be so similar.

I suppose that some truths are simply counter intuitive to me.

Workout notes: weights plus my 2 mile treadmill run: 5.2-5.6 for the first 10 minutes, then 6.7-7.0 (every 2:30, 1 minute at 7.1). 11 minutes for mile 1, 19:40 for mile 2.
Weights: rotator cuff, pull ups (5 sets of 10: decent), incline press: 10 x 135, 5 x 150, 10 x 135 (strict, planted those hips), military (dumbbell), 10 x 50, 2 sets of 10 x 45, rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110. abs: 2 sets of 10 yoga leg lifts, 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, head stand…not that bad this time.

March 10, 2017 Posted by | poverty, running, social/political, weight training | Leave a comment

And I lose my civility…and why it is hard for me to be civil to them.

I had a terse exchange on Facebook; evidently …somehow, I became FB friends with one of “them”.

The person tried to engage in a conversation, and no, he didn’t call me names, didn’t call us “snowflakes” or “libtards” and even admitted that President Obama did some things correctly.

He wasn’t the best informed (didn’t know that the jobs added were private sector jobs…(albeit lower paying that those that were previously lost at the end of the Bush administration)). But he attempted to admonish me to “give Trump a chance” when, in fact, it is Trump’s behavior (tweets, incivility toward political opponents, failure to get facts straight, outright lies that go well beyond political spin) that gives me such contempt for him.

I do not take kindly to being “told what to do” by people who aren’t close friends (at least). And so I was uncivil: “if you don’t like it, stay off of my wall”.

And there, I think, lies much of our political divide.

I have Republican friends that I discuss things with, but we tend to be from the “same tribe”: for us, there is a big difference between saying “you should” vs. “I see it this way…”. We have a set way of communicating. And we have a similar set of facts and a similar way to fact checking. I can say: “it is scientific consensus that…” and point to say, something in the Field Museum. Or they could do the same. We give similar answers to “Why should I believe that…”

And I have little to no patience with people who, say, see a Limbaugh or Breitbart article on the same level, or higher level, than Scientific American.

And I bristle when someone who doesn’t know that they are talking about attempts to “splain” it all to me…especially when they are unaware that they don’t know what they are talking about.

March 7, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political | Leave a comment