Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gerrymandering Conressional Districts

Why is it that the Democrats / Liberals / Progressives always express a fear that the Republicans will behave the way they do?

With the Gubernatorial seats gained by the Republicans, the Democrats were expressing a fear and concern that the new redistricting that will occur will be "gerrymandered".  How about we take a look at how the districts are set up in a state whose governorship is traditionally Republican vs one that is traditionally Democrat and see if and where gerrymandering occurs.

Texas Congressional districts are all pretty much in block format.  The state divided into districts by population without reference to the prevailing political affiliation of the populace.

Massachusetts Congressional districts on the other hand, are a bit more artistically drawn.  This one looks a lot like somebody through paint balloons at a wall. The 4th Congressional district is particularly interesting.

Less there remain any doubt as to where gerrymandering of congressional districts occurs, just look at CA 38th Congressional district.  If you believe there was no gerrymandering in the setup of that district I have some carbon credits to sell you.

Whenever the Democrats have an outcry about what the Republicans might do, you can usually be sure that the Democrats have already done it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deregulation Explained Through Wal-Mart and Target

I haven't written a blog in many months but the Regulation Vs Deregulation debate has inspired me once more.  There is much debate going on in sound bites from both sides of the political aisle, but this is not really an issue that can be fully comprehended in snippits of 15 seconds or less.

Pretend for a moment that this debate was not going on in Washington but in the board room of Wal-Mart and that Target was the government of another country.  Also pretend that you (the customer) are a business.

You need to go shopping and both Wal-Mart and Target carry what you need.  The price is nearly identical but you go to Wal-Mart for the sake of convenience.  You arrive and get your cart but to your surprise you are handed a survey to fill out as you shop.  You are also informed that this is not optional but a requirement to complete checkout.  You comply but find that check-out takes much longer.  The next time you go you find that in order to control traffic in the aisles, arrows have been painted on the floor.  Following them is not optional.  You follow the arrows, filling out the survey as you go, walking much farther than you intended and find that the lines are backed up so far that you can't even see the register.  Frustrated you wait because guards are there to hand out tickets should you abandon your cart and shop elsewhere.  When you finally arrive at the register you discover that the cost of everything has risen to cover the cost of enforcing the new rules so that Wal-Mart is now much more expensive than Target. 

On your next shopping trip where do you go?

In the Wal-Mart executive offices, the board scrambles to find a way to get back their market share.  Their brilliant idea is to lay down more rules for their shoppers.  They also wage a marketing campaign stating that they are for order and protection of their customers through these new rules -- because the shoppers havent been behaving right you know -- while Target offers no protection and just wants a free for all with shoppers brawling in the aisles.

Would you continue to shop at Wal-Mart?  If not, how can you not expect a business to seek other alternatives?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona's Request For Documentation

The new law in Arizona which so many are afraid will lead to a police state, simply gives the police the freedom to ask for legal status when a person is stopped for investigation for another crime or violation.  This has people outraged, but why?

Their fear that legal immigrants will be harrassed or thrown in jail for the failure to show their documentation is unfounded.  At least if the legal immigrants are following the requirements of their residency.  This is because it is a requirement of all those immigrants granted legal residence to carry their residency card with them AT ALL TIMES.  They must do so until they are granted citizenship.  Therefore, if they are fulfilling that requirement and are asked for proof of their legal residence, they'll have it to show and then be on their merry way.

I don't understand how identifying and deporting those people who should not be here is a bad thing.  I really don't.  I have to prove I have a lisence to drive if a traffic cop stops me, so how is this any different?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Real Reform Bill

In honor of the tax day tea parties and Bob Beckel's statement that he has not heard a single tea party person indicate how spending would be cut or the deficit reduced (I guess Bob's gone deaf) I am reposting this blog from December.

While on vacation I was discussing politics with my father, which I always do, and we came up with a Congressional reform bill. This bill was written by two process improvement specialists but we would love your input on it. If you like what we have come up with, please pass it along. If you have any suggestions on anything that needs to be added or changed, please leave a comment to that effect. I will be sending this bill to my Congressmen and encourage you to do the same.

To the purpose of Congressional reform, reduction of federal debt and elimination of wasteful, and unnecessary, spending the following provisions must be implemented.

Section 1: The Allocation of Dollars for the Federal Budget.

There will be no automatic budget increases for any department. All departments, excepting the department of defense, will initially receive a 20% budget reduction from their previous year’s allowance. There will be an additional 5% decrease each year for the next 5 years.

Any department or area under the Executive Branch which performs a function designated to the Legislative Branch by the Constitution will be immediately defunded.

The White House budget is included in the above reductions. All Czarships will be immediately terminated and any federal dollars allocated to those Czarships will be returned to the treasurey to reduce the debt.

No money designated for one purpose may be directed to another.

No funding request may be added to a bill less than 4 business days prior to the vote. Also, all funding requests must be directly related to the primary objective of the bill.

Any funding bill, or any line added to a funding bill, must be for the benefit all of citizens. Any item within a bill which directs federal funds to a single state or a pair of states is prohibited in all cases except for national disaster relief. However, the theory of man-made global warming does not now, nor will it ever, fall under the category of natural disaster. Any funding to address damage resulting from an act of war or a terrorist attack is to be considered for the benefit of all citizenry even if the damage is limited to a single state.

To enforce the aforementioned stipulations, there must be executive authority for a line item veto.

Section 2: The Reduction of the Size of the Federal Government

All government agencies created in the last 3 years will be immediately eliminated. There will be an additional reduction of 2 agencies per year for the next 20 years.

One agency may be combined with another agency to meet this reduction. However, in the event of combined agencies, their budget becomes 75% of the combined dollars.

No new government agency may be created without a two-thirds positive majority vote in both houses. The creation of the agency can only be raised for a vote when the first 5 years of funding has been appropriated and the method by which it will be funded must be included in the bill for the agency’s creation.

Section 3: Compensation for Federal Employees Including Congress and the White House

Congress may not exempt themselves from any law, mandate, regulation or legislation of any kind which they impose on the general citizenry.

Travel will be paid out of federal funds only when it directly relates to the people’s business. Family members may join Congress, the vice president or the president upon a business excursion, but no public funds may used for the expenses of the family members. Any exception to this policy must receive a unanimous vote from the Senate appropriations committee.

Congress will no longer be able to vote themselves a pay raise or an increase in their discretionary spending allotment. Their pay and discretionary spending allowance will be directly tied to the GDP of the nation. Their pay will be based on their performance and the growth of the organization they lead just as it is done in the private sector. Each year their pay will be evaluated against the GDP. If the GDP increased, their pay will raise at half the rate of increase. Should the GDP decrease, their pay will be reduced by twice the rate of decrease. For example, if GDP raises 6%, then Congress will receive a 3% increase in pay and their discretionary spending allowance; if GDP drops by 6% then Congress will receive a 12% reduction in pay and discretionary spending.

The pay received by federal employees may not exceed the comparable pay in the private sector by more than 10%.

All federal employees will be held to an increase of the lesser of 2% or the cost of living increase until the federal debt is paid. This excludes those whose current pay exceeds 10% of the comparable pay in the private sector as they will receive no pay raise until the private sector rises to their level.

Section 4: Elimination of the Federal Debt

All excess revenue either not designated to a department or not utilized by a department will be applied directly to the federal debt. The utilization of these funds for any other purpose will require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.

Section 5: Taxation Protection

No individual making an income may be exempted from paying income taxes.  The tax rate will be immediately reduced to 11% across the board for all individuals and 12% for corporations.  This has been shown to generate the same revenue as the current method.

Section 6: Term Limits

A Constitutional amendment will be ratified which limits the Congressional terms to 3 in the House of Representatives and 2 in the Senate. Additionally, after meeting the limit in one house, they may not run for another position for at least 2 years.

I believe that these provisions would force our government to become more efficient and effective. Please let me know your thoughts and ideas.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Cost of Public Education

As many states face serious budget deficits and teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, the funding of public education has come under scrutiny.  While some cry foul and list education as a sacred cow, I'm all for looking at how this service can be delivered better, cheaper and more efficiently.

Recent statistics list the US as the third highest in spending for education with $7,764 per secondary school student.  However, in Math and Science the US student perform far below other countries that spend less.  We are 10th in those categories and a distant 10th at that.

I've been hearing a lot about paying teachers more and even had a conversation with a woman currently in school to become a teacher who was excited about Obama paying off her student loan.  When confronted with my objection to paying the balance of a loan she chose to take out, she replied that it was the least we could do for our children's education.  Poppycock!  The least we can do is give them a quality education which is currently not happening.

Let's do something unthinkable for a moment and really do the math on this.  If we're spending $7,764 per student and we have a classroom size of 30 students then we are spending $271,740 per classroom.  The teachers make about $30K per year but we can double that to include benefits and salaries for bureaucrats.  So that would leave us $211,740 per classroom.  We have the books that must be supplied but many of these are re-used.  Calculating a text book cost of $50 would still only be $1,500.  Then there are maintenance costs and the bus drivers and such but does that make up the remaining $210K per classroom?

Even for a moderately sized school of 250 students per grade, this would equate to $7 MILLION dollars for 4 years of students.  That is $7 Million spent on something other than the books and the teachers.  This means that only 22% of the money allocated to education is actually being spent on educating.  What in the world is the other 78% of the money being spent on?

The main focus of improving education and controlling spending should be around that 78% of the dollars.  Where's the money going, how is it being spent, is it adding to the quality of the education of the students, etc.  With the current situation we could throw more and more money at the problem and never have any of it trickle down into the actual classroom. 

We keep hearing that with budget cuts the government will have to cut teachers.  Really?  Why?  Especially considering that the teachers are only 22% of the budget.  Whey don't we do some serious cutting in the remaining 78%?  Why is it that when it comes to educating our children, the last consideration given is the actual process of educating them?  I'm all for paying great teachers more money, but that doesn't mean we should have to pay more in taxes.  It appears that there are TONS of places that the education budget can be slashed. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poster Child For Obama's Injustice

In order to make his political points, Obama has trotted out one sob story after another, many of which turned out to be untrue.  He talks about redistribution and more justice in the tax code but I have a poster child of my own to display.  This is a person who represents everything that this country is supposed to be about and I ask you to make your own determination of whether Obama's policies are fair to her.

Let's call her Jane.

Jane is 29 years old and has worked hard her entire life.  She recently completed 2 different masters degrees at 2 different colleges in 2 different states simultaneously.  She did all this while holding down a job AND serving in the National Guard.  Nobody handed her the education, she worked her butt off for it for years after making the decision to improve her life.  Compare her to John who partied all the way through high school, has no ambition beyond his minimum wage job at which he does just enough to get by.  Instead of working to improve his situation he spends his free time out partying with friends or playing Nintendo.

Each of these two made their own decisions about what their life would be as each was free to do.  Now I ask you this, is it fair for Jane to have to pay taxes while John does not?  Is it fair that Jane now has to subsidize John's medical insurance?  Is it fair that Jane has to subsideze John's grocery bill through food stamps?  Is it fair that Jane's hard work will now fund John's apathy?

Is this really what we call justice in this country?

And yes, Jane actually exists.

Is It Possible For A Supreme Court Justice To Be Too Conservative?

With justice Stephens retiring there is a lot of talk about who will replace him and whether or not they'll be too liberal (high probability), but with this discussion came talk of the Democrats in the Senate objecting to nominees who were too conservative.  I had to ask myself if it's even possible to be too conservative in that position.

What is considered conservative in the Supreme Court?  That would be a strict adherence to the writings and intent of the Constitution and all it's amendments.  If that's the definition then how can they be too conservative?  If they read the Constitution so strictly that they interpret it to mean something it doesn't, then they're no longer conservative but liberal again. 

What I don't understand, and probably never will, is how appointing somebody who believes in the original intent of the Constitution to a job whose sole role is to interpret the original intent of the Constitution and determine whether a law falls within those guidelines or not can be a bad thing.  How is there any justification for a stance of hiring somebody for that job who DOESN'T hold to the original intent of the Constitution?  What's the point of having a Constitution if we can stray from it as long as the court says it's ok?

I admit that I'm a Constitutionalist and I believe the country would be in much better shape if the entire Supreme Court was now and always had been made up of justices that bordered on being too conservative.