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hfojvt

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: South - Carolina and Dakota
Home country: Oz
Current location: Kansas
Member since: Mon Nov 15, 2004, 03:30 AM
Number of posts: 35,262

Journal Archives

about poverty - how poor have you been, as an adult?

Just for fun, I calculated my own wages compared to the poverty line over the years. I graduated from college in 1985 and got a job that November, working for Uncle Sam at the USAF. So, starting in 1986.

1986 - 299%
1987 - 0% (quit the last job in November (after getting promoted) and didn't have a paying job. Bought a trailer and some land for $4,500 in July and lived there for a year before going to graduate school (saved about $3,000 in rent expenses and much later sold the land for $22,000)
1988 - 96% (based on the school year rather than the calendar year, I know I made $5900 for my first year as a graduate assistant and $6100 for my second year)
1989 - 95%
1990 - 40%
1991 - 76%
1992 - 0% (started my own store in June 1991, made no money, but lived in the store and covered some living expenses that way. So my real income was somewhat higher through 1998, but I wasn't really living well in a basement for a year with no hot water, but considering the upstairs was practically a library, that's living well for me)
1993 - 124% (in Feb, got a job at a satellite dish factory)
1994 - 160%
1995 - 39% (sorta quit and then got laid off from the factory in March, made some money shovelling snow the next winter which does not show on my FICA earnings report)
1996 - 69% (first got a job at another satellite dish factory, then a part-time job at the bar down the street from my store)
1997 - 123%
1998 - 129% (in June sold the building and moved, mostly working temp jobs for three years in Iowa also made some money as a landlord from the building I bought, but that was negated, and then some, when I later sold the building for a huge loss)
1999 - 168%
2000 - 180%
2001 - 190% (in those two years I ALMOST made it out of the bottom quintile if I hadn't gotten fired in March 2002 ...)
2002 - 113% (not including some $4,000 I made from unemployment, got a part-time janitor job in August)
2003 - 145%
2004 - 201% (full time janitor in May)
2005 - 237%
2006 - 219% (went back to part-time in October, as I called it "semi-retired", partly was afraid Bush would wreck the banking system. No point working full time and saving if the banking system collapses and wipes it all out, and besides, my house was paid for by then)
2007 - 104%
2008 - 113%
2009 - 130%
2010 - 116%

25 year average 126.64%. 22 of 25 years in the bottom quintile, and no health insurance until May 2004.

Anyway, perhaps TMI, but that is my experience with poverty and near-poverty. I'd like to hear your stories.

One person can make a difference - Happy Earth Day

Just got back from another after-prom party. As usual, nobody was recycling. This time instead of constantly picking cans out of the trash, I decided to try something different. I took an empty trash can and put a hand-made sign that said "recycle" on it. In that manner I managed to recycle 96 cans and 26 plastic bottles. Still ended up with a fair number of cans in the trash. I doubt if more than 70% were recycled.

And, of course, 96 cans is only 2.5 or 3 pounds, which hardly makes any kind of dent in the 1.34 billion pounds that get thrown away every year http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/171 Still, it is better than nothing. Those 1.34 billion pounds generally get thrown away one can at a time. Hopefully I also helped to remind fifty or sixty young people that recycling is a good thing, that they can get in the habit of recycling.

At another job, I was moving some bottles from the trash to the recycling, and one of the bartenders sarcastically asked if I was going to "save the earth". Obviously, I am not. I am not an Atlas who can pick up the world on my massive shoulders. But I can do something, and I think that every little bit helps. I recycle more than my share of the total 2.73 billion pounds used each year, even though I cannot personally reduce the amount discarded even from 1.3400 to 1.3399 billion pounds on my own.

But I can do a part. If the earth doesn't get saved, it won't be because I didn't do my part. Like John Lennon, I am sure I am not the only one, and hope that others someday will join us.

You can't? Seriously?

Go back to the very beggining.

First, these people (ALEC) are not stupid. They are not insane. They also do not give a rat's a$$ about any social issue. They don't care about birth control. They don't care about gay marriage, or gay abortion, or gay military service. They don't care about prayer in the schools. They care about one thing. And only one thing. Okay, maybe not only one. Really billions of things, that are all the same thing - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

Dollar frigging bills.

See, they might yell about, say, the Death Penalty. But they only do so, because they are like the pick pockets who can make more money when their victims are all concentrating on the spectacle of an execution.

The death penalty is not a real concern though. It is just a squirrel that is supposed to distract us dogs.

The robber baron Jay Gould famously boasted that he could "hire half of the working class to kill the other half."

Not that "the 99" was ever really united. But issues like birth control and abortion are there to keep us divided. Suddenly we are not talking about, or thinking about economic issues. Nope, it is now all birth control and all Limbaugh all the time.

Here's the thing. Both major parties really SHOULD represent the 99%, or even the 80%. That is clearly a vast majority. And yet neither party does. Why not? Because of all the discussion about abortion. There's a pro-abortion party that doesn't represent the working class and an anti-abortion party that doesn't represent the working class.

Yet, books are written asking "gee, why doesn't the working class vote for us"? Maybe because it is pretty obvious that we are not the party of the working class. We put abortion and birth control and minorities and a million other issues ahead of the working class, which is expected to sit at the back of the bus and be insulted. "Vote for us, ya racist, sexist, homophobic morons, we care about you!"

But that is the obvious reason - to put working class issues behind the issue of birth control. Now the parties can be different on the issue of birth control. That keeps both of them from having to represent the bottom 80%. Because here is what the bottom 80% should be demanding. First, we - SQUIRREL!!!

by which you mean deep SOUTH

the ten reddest states by victory margin in the 2008 election

Wy - 32.24
Ok - 31.29
Ut - 28.02
Id - 25.30
Al - 21.58
Ak - 21.54
Ark - 19.85
La - 18.63
Ky - 16.22
Tn - 15.06
Ne - 14.93
Ks - 14.92

Okay, that is 12, but notice that 3 of the 4 deepest red states are not on the list of 10 worst states for kids. Arizona's victory margin for McCain was only 8.48, and neighboring New Mexico and Nevada both went for Obama by over 10%. Yes, the worst state for kids is a blue state. Arkansas by the way only went for Bush by 9.76 in 2004. It became deep red in 2008 because of what Obama did to Hillary, their native daughter, as it were, in the primary.

The deepest red states in 2004

Utah - 45.54
Wy - 39.79
Id - 38.12
Ne - 33.22
Ok - 31.14
ND - 27.36
Al - 25.62
Ak - 25.55
Ks - 25.38
Tx - 22.86
SD - 21.47
Mt - 20.50
Ky - 19.86
Ms - 19.69

Again, the four deepest red states are not on the list of ten worst for kids. I would also note that the West is deeper red than the south. Some of that may come from the triage. Kerry, having limited resources in a close race, did not bother to campaign in places like ND or Ne or Ks or Ok or SD. The Obama campaign, having more copious resources in 2008, put some effort into those states. It did not really pay off, except in lowering the margin of victory, but Obama won a number of traditionally red states like Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana. In a perhaps closer race, it may once again make sense to write off ND and Ks instead of wasting limited resources chasing after 9 electoral votes you are not gonna win anyway.

ah, but haters always think the person they hate deserves to be hated

What if the facts are that somebody blew up my house when my wife and baby daughter were in it? Could I hate then?

By which I mean, SHOULD I hate then?

Martin did not think so. On January 30th, 1956 Martin Luther King was at a meeting for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. As he relates is starting on page 135 of Stride Toward Freedom, he was told by Ralph Abernathy.

"'Your house has been bombed.'

I asked if my wife and baby were all right.

They said, 'We are checking on that now.'"

He continues on page 139

"I could feel the anger rising when I realized that my wife and baby could have been killed. I thought about the city commissioners and all the statements that they had made about me and the Negro generally. I was once more on the verge of corroding hatred. And once more I caught myself and said: 'You must not allow yourself to become bitter.'"


Of course, now we on the left, some of us, perhaps most of us, honor MLK with our lips, but are ignorant of his teachings, or flat out reject them. Martin writes on page 103

"A fifth point concerning nonviolent resistance is that it avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. THe nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent be he also refuses to hate him. At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives."

About Brownback's tax "reform"

Governor Brownback stated that the Kansas tax system should be made fairer. I agree with that. Currently the poorest quintile (20% of the population) pays an average rate of 9.2% in all state taxes. The middle quintile pay 9%, and the top 1% (those making over $424,000 a year) pay only 5.9%. (According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy)

Yet Brownback's idea of making this fairer is to give a 1.55% tax cut to those at the top and a .4% tax increase to those at the bottom.

Instead of allowing the temporary sales tax increase to expire as promised, Brownback would extend it. Probably the other 1% sales tax increase will not be allowed to expire either.

Brownback promises that this will bring prosperity. It might. A future prediction is hard to refute. There is no doubt at all, that it will be a tax break that favors the rich.

As far as prosperity, from 1980 to 2010, per capita income in Texas only grew 318%. That's barely different from Kansas growth rate of 302%. South Dakota, (my home state which also has no state income taxes) only grew by 334%. That's slightly better than Kansas, but SD still only has a per capita income of $33,865 compared to $39,737 in Kansas.

Other higher tax states like Massachusetts grew by 410% and New Jersey grew by 363%, and some states like Alaska and Nevada, which have no state income taxes, only grew by 240%. Nevada currently has 13% unemployment.

During his campaign, Brownback often stated that Kansas should be more like Texas. Yet when I looked it up, Kansas was already better than Texas in almost every category. Kansas has a lower crime rate, a lower poverty rate, a higher graduation rate, and a lower unemployment rate. The poverty rate in Texas is 16.2%, compared to Kansas at 12.5%. The unemployment rate in Texas is 8.1%, compared to Kansas at 6.5%.

If Brownback loves Texas so much, he could always move there instead of trying to drag Kansas down to Texas's level. For myself, Kansas is my home now, and in the words of a fictional Kansan "There's no place like home."

"and all because a few starry eyed dreamers like Peter Bailey"

"stir them up and fill their heads with a lot of impossible ideas ..."




George Bailey: "Most people say you stole all the rest ..."

Mr. Potter: "the envious ones say that, George, the suckers"


Yes, why how dare anyone notice that Mr. Potter's got control of the bank, he's got the buslines, he's got the department stores and now he's after us and he wants to keep you living in his slums and paying the kind of rent that he decides. No George, hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry ...

The Republican recession vs. the Democratic recovery (updated)

Some people may still not like the word 'recovery' with the labor force participation rate still down at 64% and unemployment still over 8% (to say nothing of U6).

However, I still think it is important to point out that the economy took a wrong turn when Bush was President, when Republican policies were steering the ship, and that although Bush trashed the economy when he left the White House, that things have been improving under Democratic policies, particularly the stimulus bill of 2009.

So I show job gains or losses by quarter of a year, as I did last June http://journals.democraticunderground.com/hfojvt/155

2008
1st (93,000)
2nd (573,000)
3rd (1,002,000)
4th (1,895,000)
total (with Bush as President) (3,563,000)

2009
1st (2,258,000) note - Obama was sworn in as President and the stimulus passed in the middle of this quarter
2nd (1,433,000)
total (in Obama's first five months in office (3,691,000)

3rd (780,000)
4th (310,000)
total of the last half year (1,090,000)

That the economy was no longer losing 1,000,000+ jobs every quarter is a very positive thing. The economy was in free fall and the stimulus was like a parachute. When you open a parachute, you keep falling, but at a much slower rate so that the landing does not kill you.

2010
1st +118,000
2nd +543,000
3rd (137,000)
4th +385,000
total 2010 + 909,000

2011
1st + 497,000
2nd + 290,000
3rd + 441,000
4th + 412,000
total 2011 + 1,640,000


As these Republican Presidential candidates run around promoting a return to Reagan/Bush policies as a cure for what ails the economy, they should constantly be reminded of 2008, that the economy went down on Bush's watch. That it was Bush's leadership and Republican pokicies that created the mess we are still digging out of.

How does building a surplus make him less of a DINO?

DINOs are all about "fiscal conservatism".

The poverty rate in Montana for families in 2009 was 9.93%.

Perhaps some of that surplus should be spent to help the poor.

In 2002, a family of three got $494 a month in TANF in Montana, this fell to $405 in 2005 and rose to $472 in 2008. Still puts Montana behind neighboring SD which pays $539 and ND which pays $477 and Wyoming which pays $506. But way ahead of Idaho which only pays $309. http://www.cbpp.org/pdf/11-24-08tanf.pdf

This note does not sit well with me "Made its personal income tax rate structure less progressive by reducing the number of brackets
and lowering income tax rates"

http://www.itepnet.org/wp2009/mt_whopays_factsheet.pdf

Schweitzer has been Governor since 2005.

In typical DINO fashion, Schweitzer claims he will create jobs by "cutting taxes for businesses".

"Tax cuts for businesses: Schweitzer called for eliminating the property tax on business equipment over three years for companies with up to $1 million worth of equipment. When fully implemented, that would exempt 98.6 percent of Montana businesses - all but the largest 425 companies in the state - from paying the tax.

The amount of equipment exempt from taxation, now $20,000 per business, would rise to $200,000 in 2012, $500,000 in 2013 and $1 million by 2014. The governor's budget allocates $22 million over the next two years to pay for the reduction."

Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_885c48f0-f853-11df-9595-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1iKaknE15

Certainly sounds like a Republican on economic and tax policy.

ALEC claims that low tax states grow faster

http://blogs.kansas.com/gov/2012/02/07/experts-and-advocates-diverge-on-tax-policy/

Not sure what metric they are using - perhaps total state GDP, but a bigger GDP does not help if it does not outpace population growth.

So I looked at per capita GDP over the last 30 years. There are nine states with no income tax, the ones that ALEC just loves - Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Washington, and Wyoming. This site has per capita income from 1980 to 2010 by state.
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104652.html

For comparison, I used Kansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska (which Brownback claims has the highest taxes in the region), Missouri, Massachusetts, Vermont, and three states with the most progressive taxes, according to ITEP - Delaware, DC, NY

Ranked by growth rate over the last 30 years.

DC - 479.9%
Mass - 410.26
Vermont - 406.3
Conn - 385.6
NH - 381.8
NY - 379.6
TN - 357.9
Nebraska - 344.7
Wy - 334.3
SD - 334.2
Wash - 324.8
Fl - 324.8
Mo - 319.6
Tex - 318.4
Iowa - 314.9
Kansas - 302.2
Del - 297.3
Nev - 241.1
Alaska - 239.6

Note that Taxachusetts is near the top and Vermont out-prformed its lower tax neighbor. Nebraska, with the highest taxes in the region, out-performed all of the tax free states except two. Higher tax states like Connecticut and New York significantly out-performed lower tax states like Texas, to say nothing of the dismal performances of Nevada and Alaska.

If you just look at the last decade, Alaska fares better, but then, so does Kansas.

DC - 82.9%
Wy - 74.8
Vt - 50.0
Alaska - 49.0
Kansas - 45.2
Iowa - 44.8
Ne - 43.2
Tex - 42.3
Fl - 41.5
NY - 40.7
Wa - 39.5
Mass - 38.9
Conn - 37.6
Tenn - 36.1
Mo - 35.9
NH - 32.9
SD - 30.5
Del - 28.9
Nev - 25.4

Again, some lower tax states are near the bottom, and some higher tax states, including Kansas and Nebraska and Iowa grew faster than Texas, Florida and Tennessee.

Looking at some other metrics, like poverty rates, since a higher per capita income may not be shared with the poor in some places like Washington DC, which has a shameful poverty rate of 21.3% in spite of having a per capita income of $71,044, far more than the next nearest state, Connecticut at $56,001, buit a 9.3% poverty rate. Kansas' poverty rate is not good, being higher than all of the tax free states except Texas and Tennessee. Still, Texas is the state Brownback wants to emulate, with a 16.2% poverty rate to 12.5% for Kansas.

Nebraska's high taxes apparently help to alleviate poverty since their 9.5 poverty rate is better than all of the tax free states except New Hampshire which has an amazing 5.6% poverty rate.

Texas has, of course, experienced massive population growth, over 110% between 1960 and 2000 while Kansas only grew by 23% over the same four decades, but having more people does not necessarily improve the quality of life. Texas population growth probably has more to do with its proximity to the Mexican border than it does to its tax policies. Its tax policies are similar to South Dakota, my home state that I had to leave to find work. Wiki writes of SD

"South Dakota, in common with other Great Plains states, has been experiencing a falling population in many rural areas over the last several decades, a phenomenon known as "rural flight" as family farming has decreased. This trend has continued in recent years, with 30 of South Dakota's counties losing population between the 1990 and the 2000 census. During that time, nine counties experienced a population loss of greater than 10%, with Harding County, in the northwest corner of the state, losing nearly 19% of its population. Low birth rates and a lack of younger immigration has caused the median age of many of these counties to increase. In 24 counties, at least 20% of the population is over the age of 65, compared with a national rate of 12.8%.

The effect of rural flight has not been spread evenly through South Dakota, however. Although most rural counties and small towns have lost population, the Sioux Falls area, the larger counties along Interstate 29, the Black Hills, and many Indian reservations have all gained population. Lincoln County near Sioux Falls is the ninth-fastest growing county (by percentage) in the United States. The growth in these areas has compensated for losses in the rest of the state, and South Dakota's total population continues to increase steadily, albeit at a slower rate than the national average."

Wiki also says "As of 2005, South Dakota has the lowest per capita total state tax rate in the United States". And yet their growth rate for the last 30 years is still slower than Nebraska and their per capita income is about $6,000 (about 17%) less than Kansas.

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