Thursday, February 10, 2005

Privatizing Social Security

I was doing some cleanup to my various websites and fixing some of the RSS feeds (all very technical) when I came across this gem from the South End. As most people know I'm not on campus that often (being a graduate student and working F/T and all) so I hardly ever read The South End, but now I'm reading it on-line.

Nevertheless, the writer of this story just doesn't have any of the facts straight. Allow me to correct some of his inaccuracies: Social Security will no longer exist if something isn't done (the warning comes from both sides of the aisle as well as independents); the stock market can be quite volatile at times, however, there are safe places to invest your money, including mutual funds, government bonds, and so on; nobody said there wasn't risk involved, life is a risk; I fail to see how social security is the Democratic Party's greatest achievement; when we pay into social security we are paying in for ourselves not other people (at least that was the plan); Al Gore couldn't find a nickel in the U.S. Mint let alone a lock box, as senator he approved for funds to be removed just as everyone else did; one Republican? that's it?; no one said it was foolproof; finally, maybe he should actually read the proposal and history of social security.

CNN (gasp) has a good sum up of Bush's plan so far.

Facts, not muckracking... now that's good journalism.

Prop. 2.... going to court.

While scanning The Michigan Review I found a post about this article: "Same Sex Benefits In Court"

Many people said before they voted on Nov. 2, that as soon as it passes, it will be in court. They were pretty much right. It will be interesting to see how this goes, considering the challenge is to the interpretation of the reach of the law, and not directly to the core of Prop. 2.

This affects Wayne State, in that, WSU has a policy of giving "domestic partnership" benefits to same sex couples who are employees. Wayne State has also filed an amicus brief along with other Universities due to their coverage statements. This could serve to be an interesting little case.

This is Wayne States statement of coverage:
Same Sex Domestic Partner Benefits

Employees represented by the AAUP-AFT, Staff Association and Professional & Administrative unions; the Graduate Employees Organizing Committee and all non-represented employees may add their same-sex domestic partner to their medical and dental plans. Eligible employees may also take advantage of the reduced tuition benefit for your partner.


The link for that is: http://www.hr.wayne.edu/ben/basum.htm


Wayne State's Domestic Partnership Definition

Definition of Domestic Partner

Domestic partners are defined as two individuals of the same gender:

* who are both 18 years or older and,
* who are not related by blood and,
* who have resided together continuously for at least six months and,
* who have agreed to be jointly responsible for each other's welfare
.

The link: http://www.hr.wayne.edu/ben/badompol.htm




The Towers... Which ones?

Alexandra Cervenak makes some really good points in Thursdays edition of The South End. Her Op-Ed: OPINION : No kitchens in new dorms is a deal-breaker is a good critique of the new dorm building, the TOWERS. I would agree with her critique of the facilities.

There are a lot of problems with this new facility, Ms. Cervenak lists a few of them, and isn't simply being picky. For the most part, Wayne has done a good job recently of trying to create a modern and traditional campus, yet with the Towers project, they seem to forget where they were going.

More Below...


Lets take the name. Alexandra says:

Before I continue, I need to clear something up. Of all the names in the world, Wayne State University decided to name its new development the Towers, which is of course horribly similar to the already existing apartment building University Towers.

She is right, there isn't much more to say. I mean, couldn't Wayne State have found SOME Alum. or donor to name the building after? Or maybe (Insert Conspiracy Music Here) they named it sooooo horribly as to prompt someone to donate a bunch of money to change it?

Next, the fitness facilities on every other floor. Ok I haven't measured the distance from the doors of the new TOWERS building to the Student center, which you can walk through, and then to the Rec. & Fitness center... but we are talking what, a mile, at most two from door to door? (Note to non-WSU people: the distance from the new dorm to the state of the art Rec. & Fitness center is negligible. We are talking a 30 sec. walk if that.) WHAT IS THE POINT OF FACILITIES ON EVERY OTHER FLOOR? Seriously? Like Alexandra said, why not laundry or kitchen, or even pool tables and ping-pong tables... something anything, but not facilities the students already have EASY EASY access to!

I just feel that Wayne missed on this one. They are wasting time and money on things that they THINK will draw people in, but in actuality, won't. If you want students to stay on campus and relate to one another, make campus a place that they can call home...


"So which towers do you live in again? 'Cuz I went to Room 345 in the Towers.. and it wasn't you? ... Oh not UT, but just T? Why didn't you say that!"

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Geekable.com: How about if I talk real slow

(***Update: I forgot to link to Mr. Czerniak's website. This post below is responding to this post, and Mr.Czerniak responded here.)

Did I say Mr. Czerniak indicated the speech was bad? I don't recall. The point of making that statement was to show Mr. Czerniak that the contradiction he thinks he has found is an illusion. More below.


Why is this so? Because in his post Joe never said why President Bush's approval ratings went up. This is what Joe said:

Bush has an approval rating of 57%. Not bad... but I thought after that "horrible?" State of the Union speech he gave. Heh, maybe people do want to control their own lives and money... whoda thunk it?

Now Mr. Czerniak may draw whatever subtexts he wants from the text cited above, but he's drunk on scotch if he thinks this implies a contradiction held on Joe's part.

Now Mr. Czerniak has pointed to the last sentence and drawn an inference as to its meaning and then from that meaning juxtapose it to to this sentence in the paragraph Joe cited:

The [approval rating] increase appears to be related to the Iraqi elections...

Where is this contradiction Mr. Czerniak is harping upon? In some fantasy-land?

Perhaps what Joe meant was that President Bush's approval rating did not decline, therefore people were not displeased with the message of his State of the Union address. As a matter of fact, that seems the more plausible inference.

Mr. Czerniak has drawn his inferences from air and mist. Perhaps he should read Copi more closely.


Q.E.D.



Geekable.com: You're kidding, right?

My last two posts somehow vanished while I tinkered with them, so I'm just going to repost it all under one larger article, since Joe has begun posting again.

With that said, let's get down to this business with Jeffrey Czerniak at Geekable.com. He attacked Joe's recent post. But was this attack unfounded? You better believe it, read on.


In his recent post, Mr. Czerniak thinks that he has found a contradiction in Joe's latest post. I think not, let's examine the context.

If Joe was to contradict himself, then he'd have to claim both A and not-A. Mr. Czerniak thinks that he has done this by the appended statement:

"...Heh, maybe people do want to control their own lives and money... whoda thunk it?"

The implication or suppressed reference, whichever you like, drawn by Mr. Czerniak is that Joe is refering to Social security and other domestic programs. But the article appears to contradict Joe's claim, the article states:

"The poll shows little change in Bush's job approval rating on the economy or on Social Security."

Of course Mr. Czerniak leaves out the fact that Joe referenced this statement to the recent State of the Union address, Joe writes:

"Not bad... but I thought after that "horrible?" State of the Union speech he gave."

If the State of the Union address was apparently so bad then why has his approval rating gone up? Well the rating did not go up because of President Bush's proposals in the State of the Union address, but notice, they did not go down. As a matter of fact, they stayed the same:

"The poll shows little change in Bush's job approval rating on the economy or on Social Security."

So apparently President Bush didn't say anything that intersting, but nothing so bad that people disapprove.

Nice try, Mr. Czerniak, but try again.

Q.E.D.

My blog The Hardline (mcbarsenas.blogspot.com)












W - 57%

Was reading around the iNet today....and found the most recent Gallup poll.

Bush has an approval rating of 57%. Not bad... but I thought after that "horrible?" State of the Union speech he gave, Heh, maybe people do want to control their own lives and money... whoda thunk it?

A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey shows that President George W. Bush's approval rating has increased to 57%, up from 51% three weeks ago. The increase appears to be related to the Iraqi elections, which the poll shows went better than most Americans expected. In general, the public is more positive now than it was before the elections about the way Bush has handled the situation in Iraq, as well as how the war is faring for the United States. The poll shows little change in Bush's job approval rating on the economy or on Social Security.



**UPDATE**

Clarification:

My point is this: If Bush gave a SOTU that was "horrible," as claimed by the left due to its content, then why would the Iraqi elections be enough to boost his numbers? If you have a positive event, the Iraqi Elections, and a negative event, the SOTU, you would have a wash, and therefore the poll numbers would stay the same. Since the Iraqi elections pushed the number up first, and the SOTU had such bold new ideas in it, regardless of your view on them, the speech would have to have some impact on them. Clearly, this shows the bias of Gallup, it is easy for them to make such bold statements without backing them up. Therefore, it is just as fair for me to say, Gallup is wrong and biased, the SOTU did help and the Iraqi elections were only part of the upward push.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Race against time.

A few blogs have been posting this quote by columnist Mark Steyn:
If I had six or seven centuries to work on things, I wouldn't do it this way in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the "war on terror" is more accurately a race against time - to unwreck the Middle East before its toxins wreck South Asia, West Africa, and eventually Europe.


I saw it at Powerline - "A Race Against Time"

I think that what we fail to forget not only in Iraq, but the Middle East in its entirety is that we, the U.S. and its Allies, are trying to un-do 50, 100, 1000 you pick, years of gridlock, infighting, splits, and religious bastardization.

The Full Steyn Column is here: "I hate to rain on Europe's parade but.."
If you care... there is more below.

A lot of people on the left are calling out with a new cry since the success of the Iraqi elections. "Bush didn't even want them." "It was all Sistani." Wait, someone in IRAQ spoke up and demanded freedom? That is bad? We want to mock it?
Now of course if we look deeper at "WHO" Sistani is... we see maybe why Bush and the US Admin. was worried over a declaration of action from a man like Sistani. He is someone who is not a hardline Iranian style Theocratic ruler, but he is the highest ranking Shia religious figure.

This BBC article outlines his role since the fall of Saddam: "Ayatollah Sistani"

The point is that the US is trying to remove decades of religious pressure, fighting, and deals. What is a good time table for that? I'm sure someone like Sen. Kennedy would say 1 year, but maybe a few years is more likely, and maybe we wont see full democratization for a decade. Even here in America, it took from 1776 to 1787 (1789) to really actualize our full version of a Republic. It's easy to sit back and criticize how Iraq isn't enough like the US yet, but that really isn't the intention of this War.

Steyn said it right:
The obsession of the anti-Americans misses the point: it's not about America. Surely even Fisk and the other "experts" aren't so obtuse that they can't see that the one undeniable fact of the election is that there are millions of Iraqis who want change. That doesn't mean they want to turn Basra and Kirkuk into Cleveland and Buffalo, only that they want something other than the opposing cul-de-sacs of secular pan-Arabist dictatorship and death-cult Islamism, which dead-end alternatives are all the region's had to offer for decades.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Enviro-MENTAL?

"Global Warming is...GOOD!?" One scientist, who in the past has been admonished by the "Enviro-munity" has written another book: "Global Crises, Global Solutions" which may spark a new set of controversies.

What Lomborg claims is that Global Warming is a type of global effect, but it must be placed in the context of the world we live in. He tries to explain that all changes to our environment have both negative effects, but also positive ones, and therefore we must evaluate both when making judgment on the effects of such change.

Wait, What? You mean, we can't simply just FREAK OUT and yell at people for how BAD it is that we affect the environment? Is a scientist really going to tell us, that we can put things into a perspective and not simply make rash generalizations and claims based on a single set of theories?

Here is an excerpt:
"Q: There are advantages to global warming?

A: Absolutely. I come from Denmark, and there it's pretty cold. The environmental assessment of the impact of global warming in Denmark is that overall it will be slightly positive. We'll have better agricultural production. We'll probably have better forestry. We will, however, also have more flash rain. That will be a negative."


More behind the PERMALINK...

Now it wouldn't be fair to assume or even proclaim that this scientist is correct and all others with a more "cynical" view on Global Warming are wrong, but I do think it is important to consider all well founded arguments.

Q: Do you think that global warming, like predicting the weather, is complex and chaotic? Or is there some sort of linear pattern we can take from the data? How do we know which we're dealing with?

A: It makes sense to try and predict it. That's how we've gotten to where we are. We try to use science to understand how things work. But just like we use scientists to be better able, we should also use economists to tell us how much this is going to cost and how much good is it going to do. And that is exactly what the Copenhagen Consensus and my new book is about.
We can do fairly little about global warming at a fairly high cost. Maybe there are other things we'd like to be spending our money on doing first.


Lomborg is essentially trying to ease back on most enviro-claims. It is a responsible approach. I think it could be said as such:

  1. If Theory A: "Global Warming will kill us all in 50 years" is '0' on a spectrum, then Theory B: "Global Warming may be helpful" would be '100'
  2. We must consider all theories with in the spectrum equal, unless that theory lacks evidence.
  3. Other factors must come into our analysis of "course of action" besides simply preservation of current 'Status Quo'.
  4. The environment is important to maintain and preserve, but 'Status Quo' levels (@ current time) are not paradigmatic nor is a move into a "worse environmental state" necessarily a solely bad thing.

Like I said, I am not going to go and burn Styro-foam in my back yard for fun, but it does place the environmental debate into a context and more logical approach. It is only fair, and although I know it won't get much "play" it's good to know someone out there is thinking it.