Vote for Jon Wyss

Jon Wyss is now endorsed by Linda Evans Parlette. She has never endorsed a candidate before but she firmly believes Wyss has the legislative leadershp quailities we need in this region. She’s knows who we need. Follow hjer lead. Vote for Wyss.

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Clutter Steals Time, Money, Health and Service

I had a simple task: find the small razor brush that I use to sweep beard dust from my electric razor. I looked in my bathroom drawer where I also keep my nail clippers, emery boards, combs, straight razors, extra toothbrushes, hair dryer, lens wipes. plastic toothpicks and lately, Karen’s bandage wraps. My search took longer than it should have, just like recent searches for the other items in the drawer, so blessed with Saturday morning free time I resolved to clean out my drawer and track down my razor brush. I emptied everything onto the counter top.  And the bedspread.  And my dresser.

There was a lot more of everything than I thought. I wasted money and time.

With everything out of the drawer I noticed three storage trays in the bottom that were filled with dirt, dust and bits of beard. I soaked them in soap and water.  Now the clutter disgusted me. That’s my drawer for hygiene supplies.

My different nail clippers for big toes and small toes were neatly sealed in a sandwich bag, but the three multicolored emery boards and the surprising supply of small nail files were lying in the dust bins. That meant I could ignore the nagging intent to buy more emery boards because I couldn’t find any.

Five combs in packages I bought last week were there because I was Irritated at being unable to find combs in my dresser or back pockets. I bought five for $5 at a bargain price.  Those five were stacked along with, and I am not exaggerating, 12 unpackaged combs.

Those 12 were so dirty I soaked them in the sink and dried them on the countertop. The cleaned combs are now in my dresser packaged in a large food bag except for the two long ones that won’t fit.

Karen saw the combs and asked embarrassing questions.  I could have avoided those if I cleaned them when I was alone. I might be able to leave one in every pair of pants, if I could trust myself to take them out before I put them in the clothes basket.

My razor supply is always a problem because I use straight razors in the shower whenever we travel, but I frequently leave them there. I buy them in packages when I’m traveling to ensure I have a supply.  There were, and I’m not exaggerating, 12 unopened and ten opened straight razors. Karen didn’t see those.

I had five unopened toothbrushes, one a two-pack so I’d have a backup.

Finally, I found my bristle brush plus two brushes from my last two razors.

I put the trays in the bottom of the drawer filled with toothbrushes, razors, emery boards and lens wipes. A basket holds nail clippers. Combs and toothpicks are  in my dresser.

I put the bandage wraps back in the drawer, ignoring Karen’s comment that they belonged under my sink along with the first aids kits.  I left them in the drawer because it’s crowded under my sink and it was time for lunch.

My life can get just as cluttered. I have added three essential tasks in the last six months that are forcing me to pare down my commitments. Unfortunately, I believe one of the commitments I must drop is meeting the weekly deadline for my Clear Skies column. I hope I have time to express intermittent inspirations that drive me to write, but this will be the last regular one for a while.

Thanks for your comments that keep me going. I hope to be back in a year or so.

Posted in Humor, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Clinton and Trump’s Chances of Winning

My wife is frequently the only person who hears my outbursts when I read or see the rampant irrelevant, or inaccurate and or incomplete news reports about who is likely to win the presidential election in November.

I hope to point people toward the gold standard of statisticians reporting on the candidates chances of winning in November. As of Saturday, August 6 Clinton’s chances of winning are at least 81.5 percent based on polls predicting the November 8 election. Donald Trump’s chance of winning is 18.5 percent. This forecast is volatile: on Friday, July 29 Clinton’s chance of winning was 53.3 percent and Trump’s chance of winning was 46.7 percent.

My source is statistician Nate Silver and his election forecast website FiveThirtyEight (http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/). The name represents the number of Electoral College votes available in the nation’s voting districts.  Silver’s 538 forecast both President Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012, missing one in 2008 getting each state correct in 2012.

Fivethirtyeight aggregates results from polls forecast for election day by HuffPost Pollster, RealClearPolitics, polling firms and news reports.

Silver also uses two other forecast versions.

His “polls plus forecast” is based on the polls forecast plus what the economy and historical data tell about the chances of winning on November 8. On August 6 Clinton’s chance of winning was 74.9 percent and Trump’s chance of winning was 25.1 percent.  Again forecasts are volatile: Clinton’s chance of winning on that model was 61.7 percent on July 29 and Trump’s chance of winning was 38.2 percent

Silver’s “now-cast” model says who would win an election on August 6. Clinton’s chance of winning was 91.5 percent and Trump’s was 8.5 percent. On July 29, Clinton’s chance of winning was 48.4 percent, coming in second to Trump at 51.6 percent.

He plans to revise his forecasts and plans to publish them every time new data is available. Through November 8.

The models also built in procedures to handle third-party candidates, such as Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The website explains the forecast models in great detail, the electoral college map of the country, the closeness of the race in each state, the predicted results for each state and more. I think it’s a wonderful model for education and following results daily. I highly recommend it as an anecdote to the daily publications of one poll by one organization.  Ignore those and the announcers who report them

For example, when Silver forecast Obama’s chance of winning close to 95 percent on election day in 2012, I watched in amazement as columnist George Will erroneously predicted Romney would win, even win an upset in Minnesota. Another columnist on the panel predicted the exact result Silver had made. It’s troubling to see such ignorance on display and it’s encouraging to see at least analysts have good sources.

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Newhouse and Reichert Bipartisan Leaders in Global Health Initiatives

Douglas County’s citizens should be proud to know both congressional representatives from Douglas County — Rep. Dan Newhouse and Rep. Dave Reichert — are on the forefront of compassionate conservatism in several bipartisan bills, some of which passed Congress and were signed by President Obama.

All 12 members of Washington state’s congressional delegation signed a letter to President Obama on July 15 urging him to support appropriations for the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This comes as Obama prepares to attend September’s Fifth Voluntary Replenishment Conference in Montreal.

The letter stated that over 168 global health organizations are based in Washington and “have an enormous impact in our state, providing more than 12,620 jobs.” They also “have 5,100 projects in 151 countries, a truly remarkable reach. Many of the Washington state-based global health institutions are proud partners of the Global Fund.”

The Global Fund (theglobalfund.org) was founded in 2002 to reduce devastation from inadequate health care and since then has saved 17 million lives by financing and disbursing grants to health organizations.

On Sept. 10, 2015, senior columnist Jay Evensen in Deseret News called the reality of those 17 million lives “the greatest success story of our times.” He said the success “involves to a large extent, the U.S. government.”

Fighting disease at the source saves Washington state voters because we reduce costs to fight the spread of diseases that come in through our airports, shipping ports and highways. Using Ebola as an example, Washington spent millions of dollars to protect against possible contamination, which we could have avoided if world health organizations had eradicated it at the source, Dr. Scott Lindquist, Master of Public Health and state epidemiologist for communicable diseases and deputy health officer, told Wenatchee Rotary in June. “Do you know how many cases of Ebola we had in Washington,” he asked? “Zero.”

Gathering signatures for the 10 representatives and two senators from the state’s congressional delegation urging Obama to increase Global Fund appropriations was organized by Derek Kilmer, a Democrat from Washington’s 6th District. But it was Reichert, a Republican and co-sponsor of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015, who recruited bipartisan support for the bill from the Washington delegation.

The bill formulates a strategy to reduce mortality of mothers and children under age 5 by delivering proven low-cost care in desperate regions. Unbelievably in this era, the program didn’t cost any money because it refocused existing staff in aid programs.

Those programs earn bipartisan support by promising payback for everyone — sometimes spectacularly — as reported by a commission from Lancet, a media group covering global health and medicine (thelancet.com). Lancet’s report indicated “that for every $1 invested, there is a return of $9 to $20 in growing the gross domestic product of the country receiving the investment.”

When Rep. Newhouse’s office was contacted on April 7 about the specifics in the bill, Newhouse reviewed it and signed on as a co-sponsor on April 11, according to an email sent to me by Will Boyington, Newhouse’s Washington, D.C., communications director.

Despite the bipartisan support, the bill is still in committee with only a 5 percent chance of passing, according to GovTrack (govtrack.us) as of July 19.

Perhaps the odds are better than that. Bipartisan support, including Newhouse and Reichert, passed the Global Food Security Act on July 7. (More information on the Global Food Security Act’s passage is available through a July 6 whitehouse.gov blog post by Ambassador Susan Rice at tinyurl.com/hubhrwd.)

It bolsters efforts by the U.S. to eliminate hunger and malnutrition globally by providing backing to existing programs, including the Obama administration’s Feed the Future program, according to the online news site Humanosphere (humanosphere.org).

And as I reported earlier this year, both Reichert and Newhouse supported the Electrify Africa Act (H.R. 2548) signed by President Obama. That bill increased U.S. participation in programs to extend reliable electricity to residents and businesses in sub-Saharan African nations to provide better medical facilities, agricultural production and business development.

We should thank Newhouse and Reichert for their guidance, as part of Washington state’s delegation, to provide U.S. bipartisan leadership for compassionate conservatism in fighting poverty as one of the root causes of instability in our world.

Posted in Doing Justice and Having Compassion, Economics, Justice, Profiles | Leave a comment

Clinton’s Lead in Electoral College is Falling

Clinton’s chances of winning are 58.5% as of July 22 according to Nate Silver’s blog 538 ( http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/) . 538 forecasted the 2012 results in every state, and only missed one state in 2008.

Clinton’s percentage has dropped steadily from the first predictions a few weeks ago when Clinton had over an 80% chance of winning. Since then Clinton was hammered by the critique ofthe FBI Director for her carelessness of handling emails with classified docuements and attacks from the Republican National Convention.

According to a recent issue in The Atlantic Monthly, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/how-american-politics-went-insane/485570/  on how American politics went insane, the profiles of the people who are backing Trump indicate they want to destroy Washington as it is and believe he can do it. He’s made money as a businessamn and is successful. According to the same article those same people also do not know how the political system works, but they know it’s rigged and it’s not rigged in favor of them. They angry and they’re out to destroy what’s there. They’ll take their chances on what Trump can build despite his history of lies and scandals.

Trump’s supporters believe they are his first priority.

Incredibly they are believers in light of his record that he has put himself first ahead of his partners, his students at Trump University, his stockholders, his eimployees and his bankers.

They believe him because he knows how angry they are and articulates their feelings well.  They see no other option.

It makes no sense to attack Trump.  His supporters have to hear and learn he has abandoned people in the past and is very likely to do it again in favor or himself. Their chance of doing well after the wreckage are very small based on his past performances.

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Rafe Esquith Has a Lot to Teach Us

Rafe Esquith is a fifth grade teacher who’s spoken to 100,000 teachers in China, and on May 15 was keynote speaker for over 500 Rotarians and guests at the Rotary District Conference in Yakima.

According to what he said in Yakima and what appears in his biography on the American Program Bureau website (apbspeakers.com), he’s had results teaching at a public school in Los Angeles from 1984 to 2015 in a crime plagued neighborhood where 80 percent of the students are Hispanic, 18 percent Asian and 2 percent African-American. Few speak English as their native language.

While he’s received numerous national awards and been featured in the PBS documentary film “The Hobart Shakespeareans” (pbs.org/pov/hobart/), the most impressive claim I heard him say and I confirmed in his biography, is his “students consistently score in the top 5 to 10 percent on standardized tests and most go on to attend the most prestigious colleges and universities.”

He told us he succeeds because he teaches difficult reading and historical literature combined with his artistic passions, Shakespeare and classical music. There’s more to it than that, so I read more to understand more.

He excels with at least six methods, most of which we could incorporate into our roles with children. 

* First, he convinces them they will be  better people for doing everything he has them do, never telling them, “Because it’s required.” I’ve violated that rule.

* He reads difficult classics out loud with emphasis, interpretations and explanations and has his students do the same. He believes reading instruction must continue past pronunciation and comprehension to include imagination and emotion. He’s inspired me to read to my lunch buddy even though he knows how to read.

* Esquith invigorates his immigrant students to understand U.S. history through trips to Washington D.C. every year, visiting such places as the Tomb of the Unknowns. He showed a video of a fifth-grader reading the memorable letter from Civil War Major Sullivan Ballou to his “very dear Sarah” before marching off to battle where he died a week later. A Congressional panel listened to the student display the feelings of love, patriotism and fear throughout the poignant love letter. (To read the letter go to tinyurl.com/nbz4n37.)

* He’s created the Esquith classroom economy module described in his book “There Are No Shortcuts.” He told us he uses it to teach economics and build incentives for students to earn classroom dollars for extra benefits. For example, he rents each student a seat for $2,000 per month and if they show up and perform they earn $1,800. In order to earn more money, they arrive early, do extra homework, clean up the classroom, take attendance, etc. You can read a discussion among teachers who are using his system at tinyurl.com/h456k2d.

* Students arrive at 6:30 a.m. and work until 5:30 to 6 p.m. Students benefit from increased “time-on-task,” a consistent predictor of better student performance. His student helpers allow him to spend more time teaching students, supporting them, correcting them and inspiring them.

* Finally, students spend the year practicing as Hobart Shakespearians to put on a fundraising production with their own classical musicians. They perform with a depth of meaning, attracting professional Shakespearian actors to support the play.

Despite his excellent credentials, Esquith got in trouble for alleged misconduct in the classroom and was terminated in October of 2015. He later sued the Los Angeles Unified School District for $1 billion in a class-action suit. He claims the board is on a “witch-hunt” to rid the school of higher-cost teachers with seniority. Esquith has not been charged with any crime, according to an online story from “Education Week,” published Dec. 10. His case and lawsuit are pending and both sides are not commenting.

The Rotary district governor and the chair of the District Assembly interviewed Esquith two weeks before the conference. Duane Monick of Yakima, who is the chair, told me Esquith said no student or parent has ever filed a complaint against him and every student in this year’s class has followed him to a local private school. 

Esquith has a lot to teach all of us.

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Why Middle Income Families Have Lost Wealth to Upper Income Families

From 1949 to 1979 the employers shared gains in productivity with all workers until 1980 (see the chart below from Atif Mian and Amir Sufi  at the House of Debt http://houseofdebt.org/2014/03/18/the-most-important-economic-chart.html.Productivity Sharing Since 1980 the wealth from productivity increases are going to higher income families while median family incomes have remained flat.

The dreams of economic success for middle-class to lower income families have been savaged since 1980. There are five reasons according to a book by Hedrick Smith titled Who Stole the American Dream?  Smith has won the Pulitzer Prize twice and Emmy awards for producing prime time TV specials.. He wondered why Americans were losing their dreams and he found out why. This article is a summary of his book and I hope to add more details in the coming weeks.

Business Lobbying Resources reduced equitable sharing. In the ‘60s Congress passed pro-consumer legislation, prompting businesses to expand lobbying offices in Washington DC from 175 in 1971 to 2,445 by 1981. In 1977-78 business lobbyists blocked consumer legislation and a plan to close tax loopholes. Instead Congress lowered the corporate tax rate from 49 percent to 28 percent. By 2010 business interests spent $2.3 billion on political elections while unions spent $89 million, $1 for every $25 spent by business.

Large businesses cut American jobs. Job Losses from multinational firms and visa programs cost workers high paying jobs. In 2009 after bank bailouts, Smith said, “3.9 million jobs in finance, IT, human resources, and back office functions have been lost in North America and Europe.”  From 2000 to 2009 U.S. multinationals hired 2.4 million people overseas and laid off 2.9 million American workers.

Tax cuts for the wealthy. In 1981 Reagan delivered tax cuts that favored the wealthy, adding $1 trillion dollars for the top 1 percent during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In 2001-2003 the Bush tax cuts benefitted upper income families because lobbyists claimed tax cuts would spur job growth. Instead, between 2000-2009 the U.S. had the slowest economic growth since WWII.

Stock options for CEO pay reduced family median pay. Businesses began to reduce sharing wealth from increased productivity by awarding stock options to CEOs in 1976. Stock options were not considered expenses that reduced profits according to SEC and accounting regulations. Switching corporate pay to stock options cut corporate expense and increased profits. All cuts in jobs and employee pay increased stock profits and prices. Workers weren’t receiving stocks and their flat incomes restricted stock purchases so weren’t sharing in the wealth. CEOs became so wealthy, Hedrick said, “In 1994 corporate executives overtook the inherited rich as the biggest portion of the nation’s richest 1 percent.”

401(k) Funds Cut Corporate Pension Costs. In 1978 Congress created 401(k) savings plans for supplemental executive compensation. Soon businesses used them to cut pension costs and increase stock prices. Businesses matched deductions from workers not receiving stock options. Employees went from paying 11 percent of their retirement costs in 1980 to 51 percent in 2006. In 2010 workers in their 60s had an average 401(k) worth $84,469. Half of baby boomers faced retirement without funds to cover their basic needs.

Banking deregulation transferred trillions of dollars to banks. In 1980 Regan promoted banking deregulation allowing credit cards to avoid state usury limits on interest rates. Consumers who didn’t pay off their monthly credit card debt began paying much higher interest expense. To make it worse, Reagan’s bill authorized banks to offer minimal payments on credit cards that didn’t cover the cost of the interest. Consumers were not warned that minimum payments increased balances on the credit card, increasing the interest owed the next month.

Regan’s legislation also approved risky mortgage lending options that were used in the subprime lending crisis. Tragically regulators didn’t intervene, because from 2005-06 more than 50 percent of the people who were sold expensive sub-prime loans were qualified for lower cost, less risky prime loans. Homeowner failures, costs of borrowing and fees transferred $6 trillion in value from homeowners to banks.

 

Posted in Community Building, Economics, Justice, Politics | 3 Comments