You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘survival’ category.

Sitting with an accumulation a large number of people gathered for the holidays, and the feature is an  old Star Trek move… “The Wrath of “something or other….

Someone surprisingly about 25 years old piques up… “Oh look!  It’s that guy from .;… Priceline.!….”

Oh my….


Exclusive:  I accidentally clicked on a link and got sent down this path… It is unlikely you know anything about it.  You may remember that at sometime last year, in excavating for a parking garage some bodies were found in Britain.   Being a mass grave, the original contention was the corpses came from the time of the Black Plague...

Believe it or not, those bodies were exhumed, and in the tissue we found the organism responsible.   We ran its genetics.  The gene code casts serious doubts upon the rat /flee stories we’ve always been told.  And with what we know about disease today, it could not have spread as rapidly as it did, had it not been airborne…. it’s deadliness has been unsurpassed in recorded time.  Its kill rate was as high as 6 out of 10.  … it took Europe 150 more years to catch up again to where it had been when the Black Death arrived….

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Perhaps if health is a concern of yours  you may remember the Madagascar outbreak just at the end of 2013?… 60 people died of what they called the Bubonic Plague… It was.  There is almost a perfect match between the DNA of the Black Plague organism exhumed, and those found in Madagascar….

Today another plague with a different organism is brewing in Africa.  This one is more fearful than the Bubonic plague… The bubonic plague can be cured with antibiotics… For the E.bola outbreak there is not cure known to man…  If you breathe it, you die… Today, it was announced that the outbreak is out of control.  Beyond all hope of containment…  Today, if it were to spread as fast as the Black Plague did person to person, in days, embedded deep within alive, alert healthy people, it would start arriving upon our shores…. Am even greater fear is that someone brings it here on purpose to punish us, and scatters it through New York and Washington’s subways…

So, there is a good chance that this year, we could experience a pestilence that wipes out mankind.  We’ve had these scares before. And stories told afterward are that we came close to having a full epidemic, but were lucky in catching the carriers as we did….

So this of course is the year 2014…. The Black Plague begin to seriously infect Europe in 1348….. IF you don’t take this threat seriously, then do the math and figure out the span of time transpiring between the two….



(and Independents (including Libertarians))

There are hundreds of reasons.  The major one history…. This one is a small, insignificant one, but added to the heap of others it provides amazing clarity…

“Democrats are seen an more willing to work with the other party, by a margin of 52% to 27%.

Take ten random people and line them up….  5 of those now see Democrats as the more willing to work with the other party.  3 of those see Republicans as willing to work.  2 others are on the sidelines waiting to see what happens…..

Add those 2 to the Democrats 5, and you have a super majority that can pass legislation without worrying how it helps or hurts the other party.   But add those 2 to the Republican side, you at best, will get stalemate, at 5 vrs. 5…….

Meaning that there is only one way to go. Swear not to vote for a Republican, ever, and if you are a Conservative, go out and find a Conservative democrat.  Trust me, they are out there.  As one looks across the Democrat party today, one sees much complaining that Democrats from conservative districts, are too conservative….  

Voting for a Democrat will never hurt you or the nation.  Voting for a Republican does, every time they win an office….  Don’t feel sad; they brought it upon themselves…. 

(This is not some political spew; it is a thoughtful rendition of the reality faced by America today. If the roles were reversed, I’d be championing the other party.)

As the weeks sneak past, the cry of the unemployed becomes fainter and fainter.  It’s official. The Republicans won. They were right; we were wrong. For them, indeed, it was a good political move. They were right. Everyone cares about money saved; no one cares about people anymore, even those suddenly destitute, hit almost without warning.

I guess since there are no stories out there now of what it is like to have no money, the Republican got it right about our concern over the long term unemployed. Those unemployment checks were going to freeloaders and as soon as the money quit, they all got jobs.  At least that is what one would certainly think, from the silence, from the complete lack of stories, lack of diaries, or even lack of pleas to get something moving again on the assisting the unemployed.  It’s like the Republicans said “no”, and that was it… no more long term unemployment… Gravy train—> over… Back to work you scum….

Who would have expected it could have worked out this well?  Certainly no one I know.  We are all shell-shocked that any concern for these fellow citizens has just gone, evaporated. It appears that people are indeed, despite their lip-service, privately tired ot those lazy, cheapskates, mooching off the public dole, and that, though they say “tisk, tisk, you shouldn’t cut them”, there simply is no heart in them anymore to treat people more humanely than say, corporations….

Just out of curiosity over how this could be so, how we could have been so wrong, I wanted to crunch numbers for myself to see if it was true.

It is estimated that there are 4 million workers who are over 26 weeks unemployed. As of December 28th, there were 1.3 million who would lose benefits.   That would be week zero of the crises.  From December 29th through January 4th.  70,000 more were Immediately dropped high and dry. Then the following week, January 5th through the 11th,  another 70,000 tumbled off the roles.. The week following, January 12th through the 18th, 70,000 more…. Last Saturday, saw the grand total rise by another 70,000 people…. We have now gone a full month, at four times 70,000 and have added 280,000 more destitute families to our national roster….  1.58 million families are facing their own personal Grapes of Wrath… In the silence of public outcry, Republicans just laugh and laugh while they swim in the Congressional pool and wipe their clean butts now with clean towels, (now that the sequester and shutdowns are over)….

What’s the effect of all this?  I do Federal Budgets so these numbers are small to me… What’s a million?.  Chump change…  or  1 X 10^-12  or 0.000000000001 of my problems….It is so small it is very hard to visualize the human cost.  It is far easier to visualize the dollars saved.. The initial cut saved approximately . $ 397 million  ($306 listed as the average unemployment check amount)… Each subsequent week that total climbs as 70,000 X $306 or $21,420,000 gets added to the amount the Republicans are saving America….So as of last week, January 25th the chart of weekly savings looks like this….

  • $397 million  as of January 4th
  • $418 million as of January 11th
  • $440 million as of January 18th
  • $461 million as of January 25th.

Total saved America courtesy of the Republicans of the United States of America is… $1.76 billion dollars! Roughly one thousandth of our budget….

The total number of people claiming unemployment benefits in all programs for the week ending January 4 was 3,706,087, a decrease of 1,003,734 from the previous week. There were 5,659,482 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2013.

Hats off to them.  They saved money by taking care of a problem Democrats were too squeamish to handle.  Why have extended unemployment at all?  There was no where else that money could be saved, and it was time those lazy, useless freeloaders went back to work anyways.   There is no where else to make up that money.

For last month they already let tax breaks expire for college tuitions.  That’s been done; $4 billion saved.. Last month they let teachers writing-off their classroom expenses, expire.  That saved almost a billion.  No mortgage insurance premiums can be now be deducted. That saved over $5 billion dollars.  If you lived in a state with no sales tax, where you used to be able to deduct state and local sales taxes, .. you can’t now. Savings of $16 billion. The mortgage-modification tax break expired… meaning if your home was under water,  and you got relief from a bank, you get taxed on the amount of relief, thousands more than you can afford….  Got to love those Republicans, saving America money..

And of course no one can make changes to these tax breaks... The Cato Institute estimates that direct  federal subsidies to corporations costs taxpayers almost $100 billion every year. Furthermore, the tax code gives corporations special tax-breaks which reduced what is supposed to be a 35 percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually,,, Likewise, special tax breaks for hedge fund managers allowing them to pay only 15% rate?  (This is the break where the multimillionaire manager pays less of a percentage in taxes than her secretary). Estimates are that this costs taxpayers $83 billion annually and 68% of those who receive this special tax break earn far more than $462,500 per year (the top one percent of earners).

So Republicans are laughing all the way to the bank.  None of their money was touched, and $1.6 billion was saved on the backs of people who apparently live inside the cone of silence… I don’t hear outrage anymore, do you?

After all, what they did all those freeloaders, was apparently a favor. They finally got them off their ass and made them get a job. No lazy asses in a Republican-run world.. Bring on 2014…

They did all get a job, right? No one is saying anything to the contrary, so surely, they all got a job, right? All you have to do is walk up to a business and say, “I need a job” and they give it to you on the spot, right? Of course, right? Isn’t that how it’s done on TV sitcoms? If you need a job, you just go out and get one. Like Drake and Josh? So, everybody is now working, right, except those lazy butts whose long term still has not run out!

Let’s look. Here is the unemployment table for December 2013….

  • A)  According to the BLS 37.7% or over one third of all our unemployed are over 27 weeks…
  • B)  24.4% or one fourth land a job in 4 weeks and start in 5…
  • C)  Another quarter or 24.4% get a job their second month… that’s up to 8 weeks between jobs.
  • D)  The remaining 16% or one seventh of the unemployed, get their replacement job somewhere between the 3rd and 6th month….
  • It is the first third, or 37.7%,  who will lose benefits…. They are the losers….

“These had better get off their sasses, get over to Burger King, and start flipping (cooking) burgers.” (actual statement by Congressman on Budget Committee). So are they?

The advanced number for seasonally-adjusted insured-unemployment during the week ending January 11, was 3,056,000, an increase of 34,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,022,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,939,000, an increase of 31,000 from the preceding week’s revised average of 2,908,000.

What? Unemployment claims are rising? That can’t be. People should be going back to work, not more people getting laid off! How will those long-term people now with no income, courtesy of the laughing House Republicans, get all those jobs they were supposed to walk in, demand, and get? You say there are now even more unemployed?

December’s unemployment for the month, was at a 6.7 %… The last monthly rate below 6.7% occurred in October 2008... the month after Lehman collapsed. (Amazing this Obama)  Unemployment is almost at pre-recession levels. But wait! Something must be wrong… 1 million unemployment claims just disappeared overnight on December 28th… What jobs did they all get? Burger King?

January’s jobs data is embargoed until February 7th…. But based off of December’s estimates, here is what HAS to happen for Republican wet dreams to come true. Over the course of last year, across all of 2013, the ranks of the long-term unemployment declined by 897,000. For Republican dreams to materialize, this month of, January 2014, total employment must rise by 1.58 million workers or by a total equal to all those left unpaid by long term employment…. For the record, that would be a 60% increase in one single month, over the entire past year’s hirings decreasing the totals of the long-term unemployed….

It probably won’t happen.

Since the unemployed usually spend all their check each week, the economy for January just toof a hit of $1.67 billion dollars from the lack of money these unemployed would have spent.. Most of that was felt immediately in retail. Retail just hired 55,000 new hires in December. I hope most still have jobs.

One further factor which sort of smudges up the calculations, making things not so clear cut, … is the the huge number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) which has remained essentially unchanged at 7.8 million through December. These individuals who are working part time because their hours have been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work.

I expect this to probably be where most of the absorption of the ex-communicated long termed unemployed will be found…..

Now so far, all I’ve talked about is money. But being unemployed is much more. It is about people…Human beings less fortunate than you or I, but, at a moment’s notice, at the whim of a boss and having no protections, we know we could be there too.(let’s hope the swirling rumors over HSBC’s imminent Lehman-sized collapse, aren’t true.)

How does one possibly show the human cost that this Republican obstinance is doing to the optimism, and the pride of this nation, the United States of America? Many of you are too young to remember this image ingrained in us,  but try to imagine a map of the United States of America and that it is under attack by nuclear weapons… When a strike hits, a white circle flashes on the map showing each lost city….

December 28th 2013….. San Diego…… Gone…… 1.3 million people.
January 4th 2014….. Wilmington Delaware…. gone… 70,000 people
January 11th 2014….. Canton, Ohio…… gone…. 70,000 people.
January 18th 2014….. Rapid City SD … gone…. 70,000 people.
January 25th 2014….. Scranton PA…… gone…. 70,000 people.

If these were real nukes dropping on our fellow citizens, launched by a sub-class of our fellow citizens, would we still be as silent, afraid to step out of line and express concern over fear of how we’d look to our corporate bosses and the snitches we work beside, and just shrug off the laughing Boehner and Cantor as they dry off with clean white cotton towels in the U.S House of Representatives members-only pool? I’m worried the answer is yes.

Well, guess what? There is something you can do. Act. Stop waiting. Do something. Act. Phone. Email. Text… Just act and tell your friends to act too.

Addendum: I saw this afterwards… it’s so ironic. After snuggly bashing the Soviets for years (and I was good at it) as being softly inferior to us tough, old capitalists, I with pure admiration today see their progeny in the squares of Ukraine, who won’t accept injustice lying down, who won’t see their dreams arbitrarily squelched, who won’t let something just get taken away from them because that entity is so powerful and distant, it seems senseless to contest it… I see them, and I say… wow, we really suck as human beings.. What is wrong with us?

And then I again see by the pool, Boehner and Cantor, just gaffawing away at us timid Democrats… Oh well. I guess that is how it goes. Sigh.


state tax ratesCoefficient Index 2013
Courtesy of Tax Foundation and Philadelphia Federal Reserve

If you knew the Titanic woOr would you leave it alone? If you knew a carrier task force full of Japanese airplanes was launching into the wind 200 miles northwest of Oahu, would you radio someone?

Based on the enormous consequences, your choice if you were in those two situations would forever define who you were..

Today a bad bill goes before the House. It barely escaped out of committee, and leadership is trying to out-pace the opposition by having it sneaked in for a quick voice vote tomorrow.  “The ayes have it”..

The opposition to it,  is you and me and everyone else who has ever read or looked into the bill.  It is a race against time. One side wants to hide all information of what this bill entails; the other side wants everyone to know just how bad it is.

It is HB 165… In essence, the bill takes money from public schools which are doing well, and gives it to Charter Schools which are doing poorly. Based on test scores, per income level the charter schools teach worse than do public schools, when comparing apples to apples, and oranges to oranges.  Yet, this bill wants to take your money away from your districts feeder patterned public school, and put it into one of the Governor’s friends pockets as profit, who just happens to run a Charter.

It gets worse. Charter schools are profit cash cows. But investors think they aren’t getting rich fast enough. So this bill will use state funding to build their schools, run their schools, feed their children, while they get to skim not just part, but all the money off the top.

It is immoral and outrageous. There are only 9 more days in legislative session. This bill needs to die tomorrow afternoon, so the real business of running this state can be dealt with quickly.

Diane picked up that the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting Wall Street investors are getting a little shaky with UNO, a quasi-government-private partnership that was supposed to rapidly expand charter schools in and around Chicago.

An expansion that was to be partially funded by $37.5 million of Wall Street’s money.

A crack has just opened in the impenetrable fortress wall. A pinpoint of light is shining through.

The easiest way to stop the charter school process may not be through legislation, but by an actions far simpler to achieve: Make charter schools unprofitable… A philanthropist will invest in a charter if it earns no money. But Wall Street investor certainly will not.

That is the problem they have with Chicago.. Chicago points the way on how to organize and hit Wall Street where it hurts…

A. Picket Charter Schools as unfair to Labor. Who wants to sign their children up in a school with picket signs outside protesting the destruction of the middle class by Wall Street? What kind of status symbol would that be, to have to tell your boss where your kids go to school? An embarrassment, that’s what.

B. Call state legislators to complain about anything negative you can find out about the “new” charter school. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Truly, you are doing that lawmaker a favor; you are saving his butt from being blindsided by parents back home. All he hears from lobbyists in his office, is how great charter schools theoretically are. Reality is far different…

C. Threat of unionizing all Charter School Teachers… And why not? Why not enlist Charter School teachers and help them get organized to demand higher wages or strike? Aren’t they people too? Why should they work for a lot less than public school teachers, when they could easily be making the same salaries if they would just organize into a union, as do public teachers? What Charter School teacher would say no to higher wages? What Charter School Teacher could say no to higher wages… It is time to aggressively recruit.

D. Investigate all transactions to insure no embezzlement. Check over state funding to Charters which is published and look aggressively for corruption, nepotism, and anything to taint the charter school in bad light, thereby jeopardizing state funding…

Arne Duncun said… we would learn a lot from Chicago… and he was right.

In short, UNO obtained $98 million from the state legislature to build new charters. It turns out that $8.5 million of that money went to companies owned by two brothers of UNO’s number 2 official, Miguel d’Escoto. When the scandal broke, he stepped down from his $200,000 job, resulting in then Governor Pat Quinn to halt payment on the balance still owed to UNO…. Investors got worried and question UNO in a conference call, over the scandal, over the unionization of Charter teachers taking place, over the halt of construction on one of the new schools for failure to pay the bills, The governor has suspended payments of the remainder of state money until satisfied that the Charter is performing as promised. And this just in, UNO spokesperson confessed to the Chicago Sun-Times that “future funding may be at stake..”

The lesson here, is that getting a legislator to part with his campaign money coming in, is a lot harder than making Wall Street’s return on investment extremely risky. When Wall Street starts consistently losing money each time it invests in education, it will move on to something more prosperous.

We see what we have to do,…. Now, lets make it happen…

Union leaders. Start pressing charter schools to join.

Bloggers. Start pouring over the balance sheets on line of your nearest Charter School.

Parents. Write you legislator on how much Charter Schools have destroyed the educational experience for you child…

Yes we can do this… We can learn a lot from Chicago.

Whatever your opinion may be of charters, there’s no question that the District has failed to explain its inconsistent approach of allowing charter expansion without regard to expense or academic quality while insisting on draconian and widespread sacrifice among District schools. This despite the fact that many of the District schools targeted for closure outperform some of the charters that the SRC renewed and expanded last spring.

Is this a “Damn The Public” boondoggle in the making? Are we running roughshod over evidence, children, teachers, structures, reality, in order to promote Charter Schools?

When something like this usually happens, it is the result of someone being on the take.

The Charters countered with this…. “The closings are inevitable for a district that must manage within the framework of a harsh fiscal reality. Given this scenario, the good news is that not only are charters educating children at a fraction of the cost, but they in turn are able to channel more money to children remaining at district schools.”

A student who leaves Philly schools for charters takes $10,170, leaving $5,879 with the district.

Philadelphia charters have more than 40,000 students on waiting lists. It is tragic that only a very small percentage of families ultimately “win” a seat. It is especially disheartening to turn away thousands of children and families seeking a quality education.

Recently I documented a comparison between 2005 and now, and illustrated that now there were only 950 fewer students (both public and charter) in Philadelphia less than the public school’s seating capacity, and that half as many graduates today were as college prepared as were those back when public school supplied over 88% of Philadelphia’s educational needs.

If using the criteria of judging education by how well it educates students, the Charter experiment has failed in Philadelphia.

Today Governor Scott, Florida Tea Party who rode into the statehouse itself upon the promise he was going to abolish the abomination of Obamacare in the state of Florida.

He threw in the towel and now supports it.  His state is joining the Federal exchange.  His reason?  He saw with his mother that it was a really super great plan full or wonderfulness, and that not buying in, would be very bad for Florida.

Go figure.

Republican Governors have thrown in the towels one by one.  It is such a great plan, they can’t refuse…  Without it, balancing a state budget is impossible.   Ironically Republicans who supposedly hate bigger government, are all lining up for the Federal exchange.

It is the best and will be the closest best thing to single payer.

Furthermore, more great Obama care news.

Because of Obamacare, the Medicare expense projected for the rest of this decade, has just in this past year alone, fallen half a trillion dollars.  $511 billion dollars to be exact!  Obamacare is cutting the deficit right in the entitlement belt….

Half a trillion dollars.

This is not new news.  It was out there when the bill first got passed.  It has been out there ever since.  But for some reason the American media chose to focus on those who were against it, long before they understood it…  Once understanding, everybody is coming aboard.

Where was the communication breakdown?  Why wasn’t this positive news rolled out int he beginning?  Just think, it could have save a lot of drama had these facts been picked up and extolled by the media, and had the right wing been excoriated for their stupidity.

Good things win out in the end, and Obamacare, as one can see by the Republican Governors coming aboard one by one, is a good thing.

Just think how horrible it would have been if on day one, Romney had signed a bill to abolish Obamacare?

Fortunately for all of us, America always knows best.

I want some bread, man Can you give me some bread
Right click for full view.

In isolated argument the idea of school vouchers has appeal. If you can’t get the education you need, you go somewhere else to get it. The idea is that this forces those losing students to change in order to attract them back.

Everyone gets a better education.

There is a huge problem with that argument. I will use Hurricane Sandy to point it out.

Before Hurricane Sandy struck, everyone went shopping the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before. By Sunday night, there was no bread in New Castle County. In every store, the shelves were empty.

At first it was the cheap bread that went. The dollar loaves which are the first pick of most bread eaters. As those were gone, then the basic bread of private bakers went, the brand names. Soon all the white bread was gone, and the wheat began disappearing. After the wheat was gone, the gourmet breads began disappearing, the 5 grains, the 7 grains, the 12 grains, the hearty grains… Then went the ryes, the Jewish ryes, the pumpernickels. Many people who came for white bread, who’d never paid $4 dollars a short loaf before, were snapping it up. When all the bread was sold out, hamburger buns went, hot dog buns went, dinner rolls went, starting from cheap all the way up to Arnold’s and Pepperidge Farms… The last person coming in to pick up a loaf of bread, got gourmet pumpernickel hot dog buns with oatmeal sprinkled on top…

You walked in Sunday night, October 28th, 2012… the shelves were bare…. from one end to the other….

How does this correspond to vouchers?

If everyone has the option of taking a voucher to improve their child’s education, you’ve created a crises and a lack of supply.

The best schools are snapped up first, then the 2nd best, then the 3rd, the 4th, the 5th, and at last the inner city schools being the last to go… So those shopping first get the good deal. Those say out of town, arriving late and picking out a school before the deadline, are stuck… And some, because of a shortage of schools, go without.

There was bread on the shelves the next day. But a school system that mis-allocates a student deals with that problem for a full year, seriously setting back the development of that child and possibly the room he is in….

The problem with school vouchers, is as a system, it doesn’t work. Oh it works for one individual. But it only helps the first in line. After that, it is all downhill.

For if you gave every bread shopper a number based on whether their purchase matched their expectation, those getting the store brand for a dollar would rate a +1, then if one settled for their second choice they’d get -1. Third choice would equal -2. Fourth choice a -3 and so on down the line. The total of the negative numbers would quickly balance the positive ones, making the total value of all zero, and then continue bringing the entire total further into the negative with every new purchase…. In the same way, school vouchers after the good schools were full, would increase the negatives to a point so big, they would soon swallow up any positive advantage the voucher program had every given…..

So as we approach the teaching crises. we must ask ourselves how we wish to be judged. Do we want to mandate that we will always have bread on our shelves, with plenty of choices for all? Or do we want to let anarchy or random chance decided who gets ahead, and who gets left behind?

So, why has no one looked at voucher’s impact on an entire school system before?