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Everything posted by Pangloss

  1. Exactly. What about the working mother on minimum wage who has to skip work to take care of her kids because their teacher thinks it's more important to protest than to teach? Do they get a sick note too?
  2. Pangloss


    Sure, the analysis is mainly a political statement, but so is the "poverty line", at least in terms of its usage in support of social spending programs. The oft-heard meme is something like this: "The nation's homeless/poor is a growing problem. Over 40 million Americans now live below the poverty line." In my opinion the Heritage Foundation analysis in response to that usage is valid. You think otherwise, more power to you.
  3. This does not mean that the majority support the current level of spending by the government. It just means they don't agree on what, specifically, should be cut.
  4. Adding social services during prosperous times is a social experiment. I don't know that this is the case. If you're referring to the difficulty inherent in getting everyone to agree on which spending programs should be cut, that does not equate to the majority agreeing with the current level of government spending as a whole.
  5. Pangloss


    Yeah yeah, and my mother dresses me funny. I appreciate the corrections and I will adjust my signature accordingly. I was trying to save space, and in the process I clearly introduced additional error. Thanks.
  6. Pangloss


    I wish I knew. It seems like online education is here to stay, but oversight and regulation still have not caught up. And even with advanced Web application technologies, major obstacles remain, such as learner identification and shortfalls in asynchronous strategies. The problem is undermined by a lack of agreement in the industry on even the broadest of definitions. Just agreeing on what constitutes a credit hour is a major hurdle that nobody seems to want to solve.
  7. So you believe, then, that they're handing out these notes for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with politics? That all of the recipients are legitimately ill? You don't think there are doctors who oppose abortion? Interesting. That's because you're asking the wrong question. The right question is, "Why are these well paid, intelligent people undermining their professional authority to commit fraud for the sake of a political belief?"
  8. Yah fair enough, some psychology experts might be able to split some hairs there. And their review boards can decide if those doctors are practicing medicine appropriately to their profession. I'm fine with that. The ones writing notes for people saying that they have the flu when they don't, however, is anothe matter. But this is the main concern: (That was from the article I linked earlier.) Fine, no problem. Now turn it around. The protest in question is an abortion clinic, and the doctors are right-to-life. Now the "complaining officials" are going to be "registered Democrats". Will they support the right of doctors to write such notes? I don't think they will. This is no different from the problem raised by Democrats fleeting the state to avoid a vote. Democrats complained when Republicans fled the state of Texas to avoid a redistrictin vote, but now they seem to think it's a capital idea. I think that's very poor reasoning.
  9. Pangloss


    Not to digress too far, but yeah, IMO watering-down the bachelors degree is a significant problem these days, fueled by the casual acceptance of online degree programs. These are not only undermining the quality of the Bachelor's degree, they're also ripping the guts out of the alternate/backup education system (community colleges and trade schools). I know "professors" who make well in excess of six figures churning online classes like an assembly line. Why should they work at a community college when they can make that kind of money? And if enrollment at my school continues to decline I might have to take a job like that myself, at least until I finish my PhD (and maybe after). The problem affects graduate schools, too. Masters and doctoral programs have to add students each year, and they have to get them from somewhere. It seems to be settling out into two camps: Schools that still require GRE or GMAT scores, and schools that could care less so long as you have a bachelor's and can get financial aid. The first category seems to be shrinking, the second rapidly growing, and many of the schools in it are surprisingly traditional and respectable -- large non-profits with big-name MBA programs, substantial endowments, and fine reputations! That doesn't necessarily mean that schools in the second category won't give you a good education -- they'll kick you out if you fail. But over time they have little incentive NOT to gradually lower the bar so that students remain in their seats and financial aid money keeps flowing in. It's a very slippery slope.
  10. You mean the way it provides it as a legal means for downtrodden minorities to become wealthy communities? Interesting... Instead of calling Goldman Sachs, you could call the Cherokee Indian Nation!
  11. Isn't that just another way to lose your house because you have cancer? Seems to me that the problem with health care in this country is cost, not collection methods.
  12. So the ends justify the means? What if they were writing sick notes for abortion clinic protesters? Would you be okay with that too? Also I wonder if it's fraud. If the employees aren't sick, and IF they're getting paid for that time off (which is not always the case), then it would seem to be theft based on a lie.
  13. Kind of in a hurry at the moment but I thought it might be interesting to ask what you all think of this issue. Is it legitimate protest for doctors to write medical notes to legitimize sick leave for protesting teachers? I'm concerned about the precedent. I kinda understand it, but it seems like a bad idea because it undermines the honor-system nature of sick notes, and puts doctors in a position of lying as a political protest. Do we really want doctors to be lying? If you like the idea, ask yourself if you would approve of their actions if the notes they wrote supported abortion protests. Fair is fair, right? Seems like dangerous ground to me. What do you all think? Some background here: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=41928
  14. That's Europe's problem. I refuse to accept without objective evidence that there's some specific tax-percentage threshold that marks a society as "civilized", and that any country that doesn't spend that amount is "barbaric". The fact that "everyone does it" is not evidence that "it" is a good idea. And I don't think you, Marat, would like a society that worked that way, because if it did you'd sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings, sir. Sure, that's a great question, but that's not my problem, it's yours. If you want to levy a tax to pay for some social experiment, you have to convince the majority to go along. It's not the other way around.
  15. Pangloss


    There was some talk during the 2008 campaign about implementing a national version of Georgia's HOPE Scholarship program. This is a lottery-funded program put in place during the governorship of Zell Miller that works very well. Under this plan every Georgia high school student gets a FREE college education at any school in the public university system, which includes Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, and many other fine institutions including several prominent traditional black colleges and universities. Students can even opt for a private institution, receiving a fixed payment instead of general coverage. Students are required to maintain a B average. According to the Wikipedia article almost a million students have now gone to school under this program. And it hasn't cost taxpayers a dime. The program has had problems, such as not covering all fees, and unintended consequences, such as flooding the system with new students and making it harder for people to get into the more popular schools (like Georgia Tech and UGA). It's also been blamed for grade inflation. All of these issues are surmountable, IMO, and Georgia seems to be dealing with them on an ongoing basis.
  16. Pangloss


    Well the Pell Grant could be expanded, but I believe President Obama's current budget proposal calls for reducing it, which is unfortunate, because it's pretty clear the GOP won't be much help here at the moment either. Perhaps a 0%, or even 1-2%, loan initiative, with 100% coverage, might be realistic in the current budgetary environment. Current federally-guaranteed student loans are already exempt from repayment until six months after graduation (or dropping out), so that's fine, but they don't always cover the entire amount of college, including books, which leaves students picking up the pieces with high-interesting, immediate-repayment loans. (I can't tell you how many students I've watched skip a quarter because they couldn't make their payments. That didn't happen five years ago.) The nice thing about low-interest loans is that the only long-term impact on the budget is from defaults, which currently are something like 7%. So we get back 93% of our money, with a small amount of interest that may make up for the defaults, and we enable students to go to school who otherwise could not. Everybody wins. This basic reasoning is what produced the existing student loan programs, both federal and private-federally-guaranteed, but over the years the goal has been kinda forgotten amidst various political and economic issues. President Obama attempted to reinitialize the issue about a year ago when he pledged to move all lending into the federal budget, which promised to eliminate corruption but introduced a risk of funding loss due to budgetary cutbacks. I was opposed to that change (still am), but I'm even more concerned about the larger problem of inadequate funding and high interest rates that have crept into the picture without a lot of public notice. Whatever the method, IMO a renewal of national public interest in the subject is desperately needed.
  17. Yup, that's the problem with fleeing votes -- it's a double-edged sword. A lot of partisan political moves have that drawback, and it's through that process that new low bars are set for future behavior. Republicans fleeing over gerrymandering leads to Democrats fleeing over budgetary disputes -- the escalation is obvious. Pretty soon it'll be over major policy direction, and then it'll start happening at the national level, and matters will come to a head. Some of our more knuckleheaded types are cheering the similarities between Madison and Cairo. Such people should be careful what they wish for. (First time I've ever referenced Perez Hilton in a political discussion. Anybody got any hand sanitizer?)
  18. I agree. Wisconsin taxpayers also ate a massive tax increase in the current (about to end) budget cycle. So the new governor's promise not to raise taxes this time is hardly a short-sighted ideological thing. The problem they're having now apparently stems in part from a new program that constructed a $200 million medical malpractice fund that they "borrowed" from to balance the budget three years ago. They were supposed to end the current cycle in the black, but because of the ruling they have to refill the fund right now, so they'll be in the red. (source) Departing jobs has had an impact, but I think this underscores the fact that spending was greatly increased during recent prosperous times, and states are just taking the easy way out by pounding on teachers and first responders, hoping that the publicity will produce federal dollars. Now that it's become clear that that's not going to happen, the plan is backfiring and the states are getting hammered on a new front. If I were a teacher or first responder I'd be angry too, and I'll bet they have a lot more in common with the Tea Party people than they realize. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the conversations that took place on the ground between the two groups in Madison today were along the lines of "you know, you're absolutely right", followed by an angry glare by both parties in the direction of the state capitol building.
  19. I agree with replacing pensions with 401k plans for government employees, at least going forward. Employees should be advised to structure their plans such that retirement planning is not dependent upon matching employer contributions. When times are good and budgets are balanced, an employer contribution can provide a useful incentive to bring in good people. When times are lean and budgets are in the red, the contribution can be eliminated without harming the employee's retirement plan. A 401k can never be borrowed-from or eliminated due to a budget cut because it belongs to the employee, not the employer. It's portable, too, so if the employee leaves government service they can continue to develop it with a private employer. It's untaxed until payout, and in an emergency the employee can have their money any time they want it (the employer has no say in this either). Everybody wins.
  20. And yet you advocate Federal intervention in Wisconsin. By that broad definition, national security is also impacted by unregulated financial practices in the computerized and globalized world, yet you oppose federal regulation. Ditto immigration policy. And if the Federal government banned abortion but explicitly specified that the states have the right to ban it (on the basis of -- you guessed it -- "states' rights"), would you support the right of individual states to ban it? I'm thinking probably not. In other news today, Tea Party protesters were outnumbered in Wisconsin today, but this interesting article suggests that the unions may not have as much support as they think. They do have a lot of support, especially when they go up against a government, but it's not at all universal. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0219/Wisconsin-protests-Do-Americans-agree-with-tea-party-view-of-unions
  21. They certainly can! Reminds me of a story I read yesterday: http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2011/02/18/the-hypocrisy-of-the-tenthers-and-states-rights-defenders/?cxntfid=blogs_jay_bookman_blog
  22. Why is it okay to have the government enforcing moral laws pertaining to wealth distribution, but not okay to have the government enforcing moral laws pertaining to marriage, religion, race or abortion? Bear in mind that the majority determines the laws of this country, and the majority has been damned hard to move away from moral restrictions on marriage, religion, race and abortion. Do we really want the majority to return to a policy of enacting new moral laws? Just when we seem to be moving past that sort of thing?
  23. That's cool, I'd not heard of Tweels before. Two cool automotive techs to ponder from a single thread -- bonus!
  24. I think I said something last week about how state's rights advocates are often the first ones to scream for federal interference?
  25. The general contact patch issue is pretty familiar -- narrow tires for fuel efficiency, fat tires for performance. I've always just assumed this was a friction thing, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear it's more complex than that.
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