Monday, July 31, 2017

A striking bloom

I spied a flower, a striking bloom
It shocked my soul and pierced my gloom.

But I can't keep it, nor make it mine.
Only love its grace, its beauty, its life.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Real Median Income Questions aka Texas: WTF?

The latest State Median Income numbers are out from the BLS, along with the state Cost of Living and Income Tax adjustments* that allow us to transform it into Real Median Income (RMI) and make an 'apples to apples' comparison between the various states to determine which states do the "best" for their average (aka: median) citizen. And it is critical that we take into account the variation in racial and ethnic mix of each state because different races and ethnicities possess differing average levels of human capital which is the raw material that generates personal income. It's quite obvious from racial/ethnic breakdowns that the more privileged races (European white, Asian) have an earning advantage over their less privileged (African American, Latino) neighbors. So if I tell you the racial/ethnic composition of a state it should help predict its relative prosperity - aka: Real Median Income.

I've plotted the 50 states by their Income Tax Adjusted RMI versus the proportion of their populations that are European White and Asian (aka 'privileged'). I've also made the circle size reflect population and mischievously colored the 'bubbles' according to whether they voted 'Trump' (Orange) or 'Clinton' (Blue). If you put your pointer over the chart it should get big enough to read. Or if you're on a smartphone, open the chart in another window and expand. Incidentally, some of the 'red' states are obscured by all the other states. The raw data I used to plot the chart is at the bottom along with notes on where I got the data and my methodology*.

So what does this tell us?
  • First of all Hawaii is really poor, which I guess shouldn't surprise anyone, given its remote geography and politics that are hostile towards commerce.
  • There are geographical "clumps" for Trump Southern and Midwestern states but no geographical clumping for blue states - unless  you consider upper New England to be a (particularly poverty stricken) clump.
  • 14 of the 19 'blue' states have RMIs below the national average  (about $33, 415 - not exactly because this is a weighted mean of the state medians, not an overall US median. But this number is certainly within 1% of actual) while only 6 of the 31 'red' states do.  I tried a chart that broke out 'purple' swing states but it made the remaining 'blue' states look so much worse (three of the 5 above average "blue" states are in fact 'swing' or 'purple' states while only MI falls out of the top ten 'red' state ranks) and didn't affect the red state outcome much so I gave up on it.
  • If you look at the top performing "blue" states  you see a bunch of oddities: they're either purple 'swing' states that recently were red:VA and CO, a bankrupt living on past glory: IL, a state justly recognized for its combination of good government and homogeneity but that gave a majority of its votes to "red" Presidential candidates in 2016: MN and finally, WA: a 'blue' state with a 'red' fiscal policy: its lack of an income tax is the single key differentiator with next door 'poverty champ' Oregon who has no sales tax but far and away the highest income tax on the median earner of any state in the Union.
  • Indeed, lest you think this is all all 'blue' vs. 'red', WA and OR illustrate the immense chasm between state median incomes and therefore state economic policy. WA is a not very diverse (in the real sense) place that has the second highest RMI in the land, while OR, with the same geography and demographics is the poorest state in the continental US. Crossing a bridge gets you from richest to poorest. Wonder what the difference is? One might say "well WA has Microsoft and Amazon and Oregon doesn't" but that just begs the question: Oregon is a beautiful state with high earning demographics smack dab between the two greatest centers of wealth generation in the history of the world and it's scraping the bottom of the barrel. What gives?
  • There's a major difference in the concentrations of Blue and Red populations. The blue states with almost half of all blue state population have RMI's in the bottom quintile, while virtually no red staters are stuck in such a low income position.  

  • There is a correlation between the proportion of 'privileged' ethnicities in a state and RMI...for Clinton States, but not for Trump states. Unless you take away TX. Then the relationship returns - albeit it's a much weaker one (see above for my eyeballed lines). 

  • Then there are the "Big Four": First of all FL is a bit of an anomaly because its huge number of retirees distort the data downward somewhat but it still falls in the range of other big Red southern states. But if you compare the other three: CA and NY are among the poorest states in RMI terms in the nation while TX, with the least advantaged ethnic mix save New Mexico is among the very richest. 
  • So to put it succinctly:  What the Heck (I'm sorry but my mom might read this), Texas?  How in the hell does a polity founded by slavers, with a constitution written by libertarians and (we are told continually by the 'elite' media) run by yahoos, cretins and (until recently) Rick Perry (but I repeat myself) deliver a so much higher standard of living for regular people?
Texas is an enormous challenge to the racialist and statist narrative. Indeed, this entire chart is. Which is why it took a pro consumer website* economist to raise the issue. Academic economists are heavily on the left at least socially if not economically and analyses that present their valhallas in a bad light particularly when compared to the  "Trump Loving" world are "not done" or at least not published in the hallowed ivy halls of academe. Doesn't comport with the 'narrative'.

And it's not oil: over six years before this data was collected, the price of natural gas fell to (and has largely stayed at) the lowest levels in history and four years after that, oil prices fell from upwards of $120 to a little over $40 a barrel. In other words, the Texas data were gathered in the midst of one of the most catastrophic oil and gas depressions in history. While NY and CA's dominant industries were in the middle of major booms.

So once again:  all together now:  "What the (Heck), Texas?"

 Here's the raw data in a form that can be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet so that you can check my math:
State Real Median Income Federal BLS Cost of Living Index 2016 Federal BLS Nominal Median Income (Individual) 2016 Median Income Tax Paid 2016 2017 Estimated Pop. Census  Bureau
WY  $41,250  92.8 $38,280  $0   589,713 
WA  $39,802  106 $42,190  $0   7,384,721 
VA  $38,351  94.5 $38,180  $1,938   8,492,783 
TX  $37,311  92.6 $34,550  $0   28,449,186 
ND   $37,296  101.2 $38,170  $427   790,701 
IL  $37,223  96.5 $37,320  $1,400   12,815,607 
MI  $37,166  91.2 $35,400  $1,505   9,935,116 
OH   $37,080  92.5 $35,030  $731   11,646,273 
CO   $36,314  101.9 $38,800  $1,796   5,658,546 
IN  $36,164  88 $32,910  $1,086   6,663,280 
MN  $36,017  101.5 $38,870  $2,312   5,554,532 
KS  $35,682  90.9 $33,700  $1,265   2,929,909 
TN  $35,238  90.3 $31,820  $0   6,705,339 
NE   $35,075  92.3 $33,840  $1,465   1,922,610 
DE  $35,060  102.8 $37,750  $1,709   965,866 
UT  $34,946  92.4 $33,990  $1,700   3,098,761 
AK  $34,772  133.5 $46,420  $0   741,204 
IA  $34,739  92 $33,650  $1,690   3,152,735 
OK   $34,556  89.7 $32,430  $1,433   3,974,794 
MO   $34,538  91.5 $33,380  $1,778   6,123,362 
GA  $34,476  91.7 $33,430  $1,816   10,450,316 
AZ  $34,179  98.8 $34,680  $911   7,026,629 
KY  $34,054  90 $32,340  $1,692   4,450,042 
PA   $34,020  103 $36,150  $1,110   12,819,975 
WI  $33,853  98.1 $35,110  $1,901   5,795,147 
ID  $33,734  88.2 $31,860  $2,107   1,695,178 
AL  $33,273  90.2 $31,550  $1,538   4,884,115 
MS  $33,174  83.5 $29,000  $1,300   2,990,113 
MA  $33,171  130.4 $45,580  $2,325   6,873,018 
LA  $33,138  93.4 $31,980  $1,029   4,714,192 
MD  $32,968  121.1 $41,860  $1,936   6,068,511 
NC   $32,564  95.8 $33,100  $1,903   10,247,632 
NJ   $32,269  125.6 $41,320  $790   8,996,351 
CT  $31,744  131.8 $43,830  $1,992   3,583,134 
FL  $31,652  100.5 $31,810  $0   21,002,678 
NV   $31,643  106.5 $33,700  $0   2,995,973 
NH   $31,540  118.2 $37,280  $0   1,335,832 
NM   $31,016  100 $32,320  $1,304   2,084,193 
AR  $30,767  91.4 $29,420  $1,299   3,000,942 
RI  $30,483  123.3 $39,050  $1,464   1,059,080 
SC   $30,345  97.5 $31,280  $1,693   5,030,118 
SD  $30,029  102.5 $30,780  $0   868,799 
MT   $29,522  102.7 $31,970  $1,651   1,052,343 
NY   $28,948  135.6 $41,600  $2,346   19,889,657 
VT  $28,857  123.8 $37,040  $1,315   624,592 
CA  $28,651  134.3 $39,830  $1,352   39,849,872 
ME  $28,393  114.7 $34,710  $2,143   1,327,472 
WV  $28,066  103.7 $30,240  $1,136   1,834,882 
OR   $26,238  129.5 $37,080  $3,102   4,144,527 
HI  $21,511  168.6 $38,750  $2,483   1,454,295 
USA  $33,415   325,744,646 

*Bankrate - a website that advises consumers on the best mortgages and other financing made another crucial adjustment that had been skewing these comparisons in the past:  Taxes.  All property and excise taxes are already reflected in the cost of living calculations but the impact of income taxes was being left out. At the extreme it means that that a state like Oregon which has no general sales tax would have its income inaccurately inflated relative to Washington which has no income tax. The population data come from the Census Bureau, the COLA adjustments come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as do the Nominal Median Income estimates. The Tax Institute provided the Median Income Taxes paid.

We are in the middle of the 6th great explosion of species, not extinction

Author Chris Thomas calls it the 'sixth Genesis'. It turns out that man's effect on nature has been to radically increase local diversity and thereby create the conditions for rapid evolution and speciation.  Matt Ridley summarizes his main point:

At a local scale diversity has increased a lot: “The number of species living in virtually every country or island has already increased during the period of human influence, and numbers continue to increase.” The fauna and flora of Britain are much richer today than 10,000 years ago as a result of farming, towns, gardening, climate change and the deliberate introduction of exotic species. Thomas finds the same to be true in tropical forests in Cameroon, Costa Rica and Brazil: the net effect of some human disturbance can be more biodiversity.
You can resent some of the exotic species (I do) but you should pause to recognise that in terms of the functioning of ecosystems, there has been mostly improvement. In an extreme case, Ascension Island was a barren volcanic rock with a few ferns on its summit. It is now a semi-green island capturing more moisture from the wind, thanks to a deliberate effort, begun by Charles Darwin, to enrich its ecosystem.
Professor Thomas, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist from York University, has produced an immensely significant book. It is fluently written, carefully thought through, ruthlessly argued, neatly illustrated with case studies — and shockingly contrarian. He shows the upside for wildlife in the Anthropocene. He does not deny that human beings also cause problems for wildlife, far from it, but he does think we have almost entirely overlooked the gains for wildlife that our presence is also creating.
I have for some time been thinking that while human beings have caused many species extinctions, they must also be causing many speciations. I have not quite had the courage to say so, for fear of being accused by the green thought police of going too far. While watching sparrows on a recent trip to Hawaii, it occurred to me that, though they were little different from the ones I see in London, they must, through isolation, be on the way to becoming a new species of sparrow. Just as a flock of Asian rosefinches shipwrecked on one of the Hawaiian islands six million years ago have turned into scores of species of honeycreeper, half of which are now sadly extinct.
Evolution is driven by new and novel environmental pressures that species adapt to and that drive new species fitting into new environments. That's Humanity in a nutshell. Every ecosystem in the world is more diverse than before man came. In addition man's production of CO2 has generated far more biomass than existed before we came along. Man has had both good and bad affects on the environment and we should never stop trying to mitigate the bad ones but Humanity is part of the environment and Chris Thomas argues that net-net our impact has been to drive a sixth Great Genesis - an explosion of diversity, new species, new life.

It's turning out to be a "good gig".

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Intersectionality vs. Crossectionality

This just in: mainstream Muslim groups in moderate Muslim Malaysia and Indonesia are calling for a boycott of Starbucks because of its support for LGBTQ issues. I predict this is going to pick up steam as savvy muslim marketers and the politicians they support begin targeting more and more "progressive" Western brands in Muslim countries as well as the west.

And it makes "intersectionality" - which is the meticulous cataloging of victimhood status (does a black male Muslim transgender from Somalia have superior "V" - essence of victimology - than a paraplegic lesbian Asian from Hoboken?) tricky even before you start having 2 billion of the world's "victims" start shouting that half of the world's "victims" need to shut up and get back in their sacks and damn sure before said 2 billion of the "oppressed" start stringing up the 200 million or so LGBTQs. Not to mention all of the disabled that Muslim Shariah enforcement creates.

But 2 billion Muslim "victims" wildly outnumbers 200 hundred million LGBTQ "victims" and unlike LGBTQs boy do they reproduce. So sorry, LGBTQ community, the iron logic of demography combined with the lunacy of SJW "wokeness" eventually says back in the closet.

No, deeper. Way back in the closet. Behind the mothballs. See those bags? You lesbians get in them. Except for your hands and feet. We're serious. Do it. Now. Don't make me come in there with my scimitar....

We are soooo "woked".

Monday, July 10, 2017

The 'Deep and Dem" State is leaking like a sieve

Kimberly Stassel of the WSJ documents the recklessness of dozens of highly placed Federal officials who are now routinely committing felonies, betraying our allies and exposing our secrets to our enemies just to pursue their vindictive agenda.  As Ms. Stassel says about the leak crime wave:

The Trump leaks show the sweeping nature of this enterprise, coming as they have from “U.S. officials,” “former U.S. officials,” “senior U.S. officials,” “intelligence officials,” “national security officials,” “Justice Department officials,” “defense officials” and “law-enforcement officials.” One story cited more than two dozen anonymous sources. Alarmingly, the titles, and the nature of the information disclosed, indicate that many leaks are coming directly from the U.S. intelligence community.

What’s been disclosed? The contents of wiretapped information. The names of individuals the U.S. monitors, and where they are located. The communications channels used to monitor targets. Which agencies are monitoring. Intelligence intercepts. FBI interviews. Grand jury subpoenas. Secret surveillance-court details. Internal discussions. Military operations intelligence. The contents of the president’s calls with foreign leaders.

The analysis lays out the real and the assumed fallout. One clear example is the May stories hyperventilating that Mr. Trump shared classified intelligence with the Russians. Subsequent leaks suggested Israel provided the intelligence, about Islamic State. This revelation caused a diplomatic incident, and reportedly a change in the way Israel shares with the U.S. Even former Obama CIA Director John Brennan called the leak “appalling.”

How many foreign allies are pulling back? How many will work with a U.S. government that has disclosed military plans, weapons systems and cybersecurity tactics? What have our enemies learned? One March story divulged sensitive FBI data on U.S. border vulnerabilities, in hopes of undercutting Mr. Trump’s travel order.

I have long held that the Federal Government is too large, too expensive and too insulated from reality. To those negatives I now add rampant disloyalty and unprofessionalism.

We need to Break it Up, Break it All Up.

Hammock Dream

In a hammock side by side,
Head to toe, toe to head
Watching you watching me.
Speaking of hopes, dreams, you.

Touching foot, ankle, calf.
Your soft, sheathed strength beneath my hand.
You ask a question. I smile: "no".
It doesn't matter where we go.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Is Silicon Valley supporting the $15 Minwage from compassion or self interest?

The most enthusiastic implementers of a 'far above market' (aka $15 minimum wage) have been the centers of high tech and finance, principally in California, Washington State and New York. And they've done so in the face of negative outcomes and near unanimous opposition from the Economics profession.

Why? Could it be that these governments are simply acting in their dominant industry's interests? Because ultra high minimum wages are clearly driving massive adoption of robotics and automation across low wage industries.

Have the Tech Oligarchs and their Wall Street Investors simply decided to target a chunk of lower income America's earnings as a new growth area? And are the $15 laws that they pass at home and promote across the country just strategies designed to accelerate their paydays?

Perhaps the logic is that the profits from automating away a chunk of the working poor will far exceed the excess taxes they will have to pay to provide those people with government support. Particularly when you remember that Tech companies and their Wall Street investors pay virtually no income taxes. And when you remember that Silicon Valley are big supporters of a Federally provided minimum income.

And since they don't necessarily subscribe to the traditional American morality that  recognizes the poor's need for work and purpose, do they just look upon them as 'poorly adapted' members of the species that must be cared for?

I don't know. Because absent a big payday for the power elite in these communities it doesn't seem to be rational to have public policy accelerate the idling of a solid chunk of the industrious poor. Or to accelerate the eradication of the first rungs on the career ladder for many Americans. It also runs in direct contradiction to the Oligarch's promotion of open borders if all they are going to do is automate away the jobs they are luring people here for.

Much of this will happen anyway but why speed up the chaos and the pain that targets the least of us? Why drive the price of their labor so high that businesses are forced to get rid of them in large numbers now?  It seems so self serving and narcissistic of the Oligarchs.  And where are the politicians in these communities who are supposed to be standing up for the 'little' guys and against powerful interests?

Is it (to paraphrase the Who): Meet the New Robber Barons, just like the Old Robber Barons?

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Let's go out dancing tonite

You're a woman that everyone should know in this place.
Know that your beauty goes way deeper than just your face.
Everyone looks at you and asks what you'll do.
But they don't know you the way I do.
No they don't know you the way I do.

Cause you don't know what you'll do and that's alright.
no you don't know what  you'll do and that's alright.
Everyone thinks they know you but they don't have a clue,
so baby let's go out dancing tonight.
Oh baby let's go out dancing tonight.

I'm the kind of man that don't make sense today,
The kind your head tells you stay away.
Everybody looks at me and knows that I'm not for you
But they don't know me the way you do.

Cause I don't know what I'll do and that's OK,
no I don't know what I'll do and that's OK.
Everybody thinks they know me but they don't have a clue,
so baby let's go out dancing tonight.

Everyone says that you can't change how you feel
that you have to play the cards in the deal.
Well they don't know you and they don't know me,
hell, we don't even know what we'll be.

It may be love but it may not be,
yes it may be love but it may not be.
Everyone thinks they know what we'll do but they have no clue,
so baby lets go out dancing tonight.

But if you don't want to play then get up and walk away.
We'll leave the cards face down and go our separate ways
Remembering what this felt like,
what it meant to be this way.

But I'll always miss you and that's OK,
yeah I'll always miss you and that's OK.
'cause no one knows how it felt to be with you this way.
And I'll always remember when we went out dancing that day.