Monday, October 13, 2014

What's In A Name? It Could Matter If You're Writing To Your Lawmaker : Code Switch : NPR

What's In A Name? It Could Matter If You're Writing To Your Lawmaker : Code Switch : NPR

I was going to comment on this story, but comments are closed. With no comments showing. Wonder if things got too hot for NPR?

On a personal note [and this is not the result of a scientific study, just personal experience] I have sent the same message to my two state senators and representative. The rep will usually send a written response, that actually manages to cover the topic I asked about. The Democratic senator will usually reply, but via email. I have yet to hear from my Republican senator, on any topic, no matter how banal. For some reason, this leaves me feeling as if he really isn't very much concerned with my welfare.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades | Pew Research Center

For most workers, real wages have barely budged for decades | Pew Research Center

Once again, more proof that the right-wing's trickle down theory is a complete and utter fallacy.

 For most U.S. workers, real wages — that is, after inflation is taken
into account — have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of
whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs.

We grow more productive, we work as hard as we can, and what's our reward?

But after adjusting for inflation, today’s average hourly wage has just
about the same purchasing power as it did in 1979, following a long
slide in the 1980s and early 1990s and bumpy, inconsistent growth since
then. In fact, in real terms the average wage peaked more than 40 years
ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same
purchasing power as $22.41 would today.

Of course, some people are coming out a bit better:

 What gains have been made, have gone to the upper income brackets. Since
2000, usual weekly wages have fallen 3.7% (in real terms) among workers
in the lowest tenth of the earnings distribution, and 3% among the
lowest quarter. But among people near the top of the distribution, real
wages have risen 9.7%.

The rich get richer, the rest of us lose ground.  And yet so many of 'the rest of us' keep voting the hot button issues, the ones that don't really impact their every day lives, but make really cutting ad copy.

Wake up!

Artists target rogue dealers who refuse to pay resale royalties | Art and design | The Observer

Artists target rogue dealers who refuse to pay resale royalties | Art and design | The Observer

 The Artist’s Resale Right entitles artists to up to 4% of the proceeds
when their work is resold for at least €1,000 by an auctioneer or
dealer. In 2012 it was extended to works of deceased artists still in
copyright, 70 years after their death. Royalties are capped at €12,500,
modest for works that are sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Hambling, who will be exhibiting her new paintings at the National
Gallery next month, said: “If a piece of my work sold in the 1970s for
£500, and it now changes hands at £2,000, of course I feel that I should
see a bit of that.”

Well of course she may feel like that.  But does it make it right, her feeling like that?

Once a person has sold something, whether it be art or other merchandise, sold it without reservation or stipulation, how can they be entitled to a portion of the proceeds of any future sale?

Let's take another situation. I build a home.  I pay for the plans, the construction materials and costs, and the interior design. It is my home. I sell that home to someone else, and might make a profit on that sale. That is my reward. Now just imagine the furor if I was to claim a right to a portion of the sale proceeds for every future sale of that home, for my entire life and 70 years beyond.

And, as someone in the comments mentioned: what of the power of inflation and comparative purchasing powers. If I bought it 30 years ago for x dollars, and sell it on today for x*4 dollars, is it really that much more in relative terms? And what of my costs of maintaining that bit of art for those 30 years? Keeping it insured, housed safely.

No. Once a thing is sold, it is sold.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Prices soar for some generic drugs - SFGate

Prices soar for some generic drugs - SFGate

And another article on price fluctuations in generic drugs. 

Generic-Drug Prices Spike in Pharmaceutical Market Surprise - Businessweek

Generic-Drug Prices Spike in Pharmaceutical Market Surprise - Businessweek

More on rising generic drug prices.

Big surprise: as the more successful drug companies snap up the competition,  they're free to raise prices as high as the market can bear. And the consumer, who in most cases is living on an income that hasn't risen at all, or has in real terms actually decreased, has to make even more drastic choices.

Buy the medicine, or pay the rent. Buy the medicine or put food on the table.

Don't buy they medicine, and then end up in hospital.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Supreme Court To Weigh Facebook Threats, Religious Freedom, Discrimination : NPR

Supreme Court To Weigh Facebook Threats, Religious Freedom, Discrimination : NPR:

But once again the court, responding to challenges brought by conservatives, has chosen to delve into some elections issues that had been thought long settled. In a case from Arizona, the court could prevent the increasing use of citizen commissions to draw congressional district lines. Arizona, California and some other states have, in one way or another, used these commissions to take the redistricting issue out of the hands of self-interested state legislatures. But in Arizona, where the independent commission was enacted by referendum, the Republican-controlled Legislature is now challenging the practice as unconstitutional.

This is fascinating and terrifying. The courts are supposed to be there to protect the people, aren't they? To serve the course of justice, not of self-serving politicians. Oh silly me, thinking such a thing.  The people of Arizona made their wishes known. They voted in an independent commission to set congressional district lines.  And the party in power doesn't like that. Because they want to set the district lines to protect their power,  to hell with the best interests of the people.

Wealthy Americans Are Giving Less Of Their Incomes To Charity, While Poor Are Donating More

Wealthy Americans Are Giving Less Of Their Incomes To Charity, While Poor Are Donating More

So basically, as the 1% consolidate their hold on most of the wealth of the world, they are less inclined to donate any of that income to charity.  The more they get, the more they want to keep it.

Meanwhile the poor, struggling to get by, are giving more to help their fellow 99%.

Fair disclosure: the wealthy are giving more total dollars, it's the percentage of their giving compared to total wealth that is decreasing. 

You can see how your state compares here.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Congress Investigating Why Generic Drug Prices Are Skyrocketing - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Congress Investigating Why Generic Drug Prices Are Skyrocketing - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

Interesting question. Especially for generic drugs, which are supposed to be the low cost alternative, aren't they?

BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 2 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) today launched an investigation into
soaring generic drug prices.

“We are conducting an investigation into the recent staggering price
increases for generic drugs used to treat everything from common medical
conditions to life-threatening illnesses,” Sanders, chairman of a
Senate health care subcommittee, and Cummings, ranking member of the
House oversight committee, wrote in letters to 14 pharmaceutical

They pointed, for example, to the price hike for Albuterol Sulfate
used to treat asthma and other lung conditions. The average cost for a
bottle of 100 pills was $11 last October. The average charge by this
April had shot up to $434. An antibiotic, Doxycycline Hyclate, cost $20
last October for a bottle of 500 tablets. By April, the price was

From $11 to $434? That seems impossible. 

Let's hope Bernie gets some answers.

From Bernie Sanders

America has more low-paying jobs than any other developed country

The OECD defines "low-paying" as jobs that earn less than two-thirds of a country's median income. On average, around 16 percent of jobs in OECD countries are considered low-paying. In the U.S., over 25 percent of all jobs qualify as such.

No big surprise there. As more and more of the wealth in the US gets sucked up by the 1% and the 0.1%, the rest of us struggle to make ends meet.  The rest of us take jobs that don't pay the rent, that don't allow us to build any savings. So many of us end up taking more than one job, or working a collection of part time jobs to try and get ahead. Which means no over-time money. And probably no benefits. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project

The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project

Such a sad picture. Charter schools taking money from public schools, and not producing their promised results.  And look at just how much money they waste on failure:

The public school gets $1280.16 per student, and spends 92.3% of that in the classroom.

The charter schools get  an average of $5225 more per student: 5 times the money the public school gets, to produce lower grades.

And these are virtual schools. No need for desks, chairs, blackboards, chalk, pencils and pens. So what exactly are they spending all the money on?

What this report doesn't reveal, and I really wish they could, is how much of this extra money is going into the pockets of the owners of these charter schools. Because that's the part that really burns me. That our political leaders are so frakking unbelievable that they thought it was a good idea to take money from schools to put in the pockets of their campaign supporters. Call me a skeptic [yes please do], but I don't think for one minute that the leaders of the charge towards charter schools were thinking of anything but this: public school funding is a vast untapped source of funds that we need to, that we deserve to get a piece of because we're not rich enough yet.

UPDATE: local NPR station had a response today, from a charter school organization in Ohio. They complained that the site I went to was not 'telling the whole story' with regards to school comparisons.  They suggested checking other sites, including this one:
So I did. has a whole lot of advertising on it's pages. Mostly homes for sale in the neighborhood. Maybe that's why they didn't pick up any of the virtual charter schools in the area? The ones that are sucking the most money from public schools?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change | Environment |

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change | Environment |

Lovely, lovely lovely. Right wing truthieness in action. If you don't like the facts, then re-write them! Ignore the truth in favor agenda driven lies. And then put it in school books to raise the children in the 'correct' path. And since Texas is the largest school book consumer, what they buy tends to find it's way into other states schools.

We are so screwed as a species. 

Getting Out the Vote | herlander-walking

Getting Out the Vote | herlander-walking

good post, with some good graphics.

for the record: I too am bitter at the current state of US politics. But not a bitter Democrat anymore. I've decided to give my votes to the Green Party from now on.  Because the Democrats aren't doing much better then Republicans in my state.

The fucking stupid powers-that-be in the Dem party have put up for governor a person  who didn't bother to get a driver's license for 10 years. 

WTF is this stuff happening?

Ex-Con, Future Congressman? Former Gov. Edwin Edwards Campaigns Again : NPR

I don't care about him running for office again. If the people want an ex-felon to represent them,  it won't be the first time it's happened, probably won't be the last time. What really flips my brain is the 30 year wife of this 87 year old man,  and their 1 year old son.

Just because  you can do something doesn't mean you should. And an 87 year old has no business being a father.  Because he's guaranteeing that this child will spend most of his life without a father.

Yea, I know, there are plenty of one-parent families out there. Because some times things don't work out. But there is, or should be a difference between, the possibility of things not working out, and the highly likely certainty that an 87 year old will not live long enough to see his child through high-school.