About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Two Men & A Dog Quiz

Since I present quizzes several times a year you can imagine how nervous I was when I received an e-mail that started "
Okay Doug...got one for you."  Now I do get quizzes from time to time from members of the readership but this is the first one from a participant with a nearly perfect score on all the quizzes over the years - an extremely smart man whom I admire.
 
After working the problem I was quite relieved when I received his passing grade "Yes that's correct. 
Well done, Doug."
 
Below is the subject quiz that I added a Part B to since that is the way I worked the problem.
 
Please let me know how you work the problem.  I will post all correct answers or alternatively will send the solution privately to anyone who requests it if no one figures it out.
 
Two Men & A Dog Quiz
 
Two men are walking toward each other, one is walking at 10 miles an hour the other is walking at 5 miles an hour.  They meet after one hour.  A dog is running back and forth between them at 8 miles an hour immediately turning around each time he gets to one of the men, until the men meet.  A) How many miles did the dog run? & B) Where is the dog when the two men meet if the dog starts with the man who walks @ 5 miles per hour?
 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

America Coming Apart

click on graphic to enlarge
 
The above graphic shows the 2018 results from the ACT (originally an abbreviation for American College Testing) standardized college-entrance exam, which along with the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), is used for college admissions in the U.S. & Canada.
 
This year's ACT exam was taken by 1.9 million high school graduates – just over half the graduating class.  Thirty five percent of high school graduates met none of the guidelines that indicates college readiness in the four subjects tested – English, Reading, Math, & Science.
 
Results were lower in 2018 in all of the aforementioned subjects compared to 2017 – see right side of above graphic.
 
Math results were @ a 14 year low with only 40% of the 2018 high school graduates taking the exam showing they were capable of passing a first year college algebra class.
 
The prestigious University of Chicago, where two of the greatest professors I admire taught – Professors Friedman & Knight, is getting around these depressing results by dropping the admission requirement for students to submit either an ACT or SAT test score saying in the most politically correct way possible that dropping the test requirement leveled the playing field for first generation & low income students.
 
And we see no improvement coming forward from the elementary school ranks.  For instance, the Detroit urban government school system continues to be the worst in the nation with only 5% of fourth graders being proficient in reading & 4% proficient in math.  My question is always how did fourth graders not proficient in reading & math get to the fourth grade?  But we can see how such fourth graders became the high school statistics described above.
 
Now these sad high school results carry over into later life after high school.
 
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation recently gave a multiple choice test to 1,000 Americans based on the citizenship test administered by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.  Passing the test requires a score of 60% or higher.  Only thirty six percent achieved that score.
 
Some results of the test:
 
1.  60% didn't know which countries the U.S. fought in WW II;
 
2.  37% thought Ben Franklin was famous for inventing the light bulb; 
 
3.  57% couldn't say how many Justices are on the Supreme Court;
 
4.  13% could identify 1787 as the year the Constitution was written;
 
5.  72% were not sure which states were part of the 13 original colonies;
 
6.  12% thought General Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War; &
 
7.  2% thought the cause of the cold war was climate change.
 
People 65 years old & older scored the best, with 74% passing.  Only 19% of people under the age of 45 passed – a cheerless result just like the ACT exam result shown above.
 
Arthur Levine, President of the Wilson Foundation, reflected on these results before the midterm election saying "With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed & engaged citizenry is essential.  Unfortunately this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America's history & incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test.  It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment.  Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today."
 
The results of the above two tests are no surprise when you consider the 2018 edition of the annual American Council of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) report that was released on September 18 entitled What Will They Learn? 
 
Based on the ACT & Wilson tests it is obvious that students are no longer taught anything constructive about America in elementary & secondary schools & ACTA's initiative that grades the core requirements of over 1,100 colleges & universities across the country confirms that many students don't do any better after going to college – ACTA found that only 17.1% of colleges require students to take a course in U.S. government or history, while just 3.2% require any study of economics.  Many also skip the requirement of English, math, &/or science studies.
 
For instance, ACTA finds that students can graduate from the prestigious universities of Johns Hopkins & Vassar without ever taking one course in U.S. history, composition, literature, math, science, economics, or foreign language.  Both schools are graded "F" by ACTA, tuition is $52,170 per year @ Johns Hopkins & $55,210 per year @ Vassar, & not surprisingly 87% of the students graduate in 4 years from Johns Hopkins & 85% graduate from Vassar on time.
 
I have recommended to UMD that they offer a no credit remedial course in civics & U.S. history to make up for what is not taught or learned before college - if for no other reason than not having their graduates be an embarrassment to the university when they are seen or heard in public.  No one thinks it is the secondary school's failure when a college graduate seems poorly educated.
 
I post the ACTA report every year when it is released to help students, parents, & grandparents get a broad introduction so they have a good starting point to narrow the selection from the over 1,100 schools covered in the report.  ACTA says the What Will They Learn? website will provide unique information on whether colleges make sure their students learn the things they need to know – you can find what they expect their graduates to study outside their majors, how much they are charging, & how many students graduate on time.
 
In 2018, 23 colleges & universities received an "A" grade & 342 received a "B" – all of these are shown on the website.  Although they are graded by ACTA strictly on curriculum many of the "A"s are inexpensive especially when compared to a school like Harvard that was graded "D".
 
In 2015 Educational Testing Service (ETS) did an analysis & found that millennials in the U.S. are "relatively weak" in literacy, numeracy, & problem solving compared with those of other countries.  I previously posted that European secondary school students "felt sorry" for how badly American students did on certain exams – the European students were not trying to be mean but it was very hurtful for me to hear.
 
In a global economy Americans are competing with an academic hindrance compared to people from Europe & especially Asia.  It is an understatement to say we must strengthen academic standards.
 
Now this does not mean everyone should go to college – especially if colleges are not teaching anything useful regarding how to make a living that allows you to increase the standard of living for yourself & fellow citizens.
 
To paraphrase Professor Friedman – it does not make any difference where you learn it, the important thing is that you learn it.
 
Just think how many people had only an eighth grade education 75 to 100 years ago – we all knew many such people when we were growing up & they were smart.  They read newspapers & books.  They could write a letter & they could talk coherently.  And they knew enough math to run a family business.  In short, they were proficient in the three "R"s.
 
Click on Kentucky Eighth Grade Exam & The Employment Opportunites - Income Gap In America to see what was expected of a student to graduate from the 8th grade in 1912.
 
In summary, this post shows that far too many Americans are ill-prepared to hold or be offered a good paying job in the global economy in which one fifth of the current jobs did not exist in 1980.  This fact screams for education & proper training – as of September 30 employers had 1,050,000 more job openings than there were people capable of filling them (i.e., 7.01 million job openings – 5.96 million jobless Americans actively looking for work = 1,050,000 unfilled job openings.  Source; Labor Department.)
 
There are over one million job openings currently in the U.S. that are not filled either because people are not qualified to do the work &/or they don't have the intellect to get the education or training necessary to qualify for the positions.
 
Two real world examples that underscore the scarcity if not shortage of qualified American workers are: 1) Amazon's decision to split its second headquarters evenly between two cities – NYC & the Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, VA.  The scarcity of qualified workers prompted Amazon to prefer two locations thereby providing better access to top tech talent.  The original plan was to have just one city chosen to be HQ2 but Amazon did not believe that any one American city had enough technical talent to meet its needs; & 2) Foxconn's challenge to find enough American engineers to work on the $10-billion 22-million square foot liquid-crystal display panel plant being built in southern Wisconsin that will supply Apple with electronic components.  Foxconn is considering transferring engineers from China to Wisconsin because of the engineering personnel shortage in what is a real insourcing shame.
 
Its obvious that companies like Amazon & Foxconn cannot afford to employ people as woefully informed as the ones described above – like the 20 people from the above Wilson test who thought the cold war was caused by climate change. 
 
Instead of focusing the youth of America on creating value & wealth the American education system concentrates on the politically correct – worrying about diversity instead of merit, encouraging people to look for reasons to be offended even for the most innocent of comments, awarding blue ribbons & trophies for every elementary school athlete win, lose, or tie, & supporting  sympathetic, tolerant, & self-sacrificing immigration & asylum policies for people who want to kill us or take advantage of every one of the 126 welfare programs identified by the Cato Institute.
 
Dumbing down the society with a poor education system is the tap-root from which political correctness grows – it starts by producing people who don't know much about their own country or the world & winds up with a society who cannot tell right from wrong or good from evil.  Today political correctness continues to work its way through America eroding our prosperity & standard of living. 
 
Discerning readers will see how all of the above goes together. 
 
And this post shows how it is all coming apart for America.
 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Midterm Election Analysis - 2018

Although Democrats & Republicans each control one chamber of Congress starting in 2019 the mid-term election was no split decision to me – it was a big loss no matter how many conservative TV commentators say it was not a blue wave – whatever it was we lost.  I can't take solace losing control of the House. 
 
After the presidential election of 2016 Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress & the Presidency – we may never have that opportunity again in our lifetimes.  With the House gone, @ a 39 seat thumping, we lost the political correctness issue – anchor babies & sanctuary cities are here to stay, & building the border wall is going nowhere unless the lame duck Congress comes through.
 
In addition to losing the House, Republicans lost more than 300 state legislative seats nationwide & seven governorships including the three states that generally are considered the three that put Trump over the top in 2016 – Wisconsin, Michigan, & Pennsylvania.  The Michigan & Pennsylvania races were blowouts while Scott Walker lost by 30,000 votes out of 2.6 million cast in Wisconsin.  This was a Midwest blue wave.
 
Most important - the quality people that were defeated is staggering.  Dave Brat is the very best & he lost in an R+6 district after achieving a 97% Conservative Review Liberty Score over his four years in office - they were not looking for liberty or the Constitution in VA 7.  Katie Arrington lost in SC 1 (after a primary win defeating Mark Sanford - liberty score of 93% - who I supported for president several years ago).  Pete Sessions (TX), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Claudia Tenney (NY), & John Faso (NY) are all people who could have continued to help the country move forward in one way or another – but they lost.  Mia Love (UT) was a supposed rising star in the GOP but she lost two of the four elections she participated in since 2012. 
 
Gubernatorial candidates: John Cox got swamped in California & Kris Kobach (KS) & Bob Stefanowski (CT) each lost by several points.  What a terrible shame.
 
Then there were the ones who just squeaked by: Ted Cruz (TX), Rick Scott (FL), Ron DeSantis (FL), Brian Kemp (GA), & Rob Woodall (GA).  Ted, Rick, Ron, & Brian ran against the biggest nothings imaginable (for instance Rick Scott's Senate opponent, Bill Nelson, has a liberty score of zero) & barely won - these should have been blowouts not squeakers.
 
I can't remember when Orange County, California was not a Republican stronghold – now all seven of the county's seats are held by Democrats who have a 45 to 8 advantage over Republicans overall in the state.  Of the 39 House seats Republicans lost nationwide in 2018 six were lost in California & four in NJ.  To illustrate the electoral enormity of California please understand that there are more registered voters in California than there are residents of 46 of the other 49 states & 41 states don't have 14 members of Congress – the current number of GOP congressmen in California.
 
After Orange County's wipe out the next biggest blow was Harris County, Texas which includes Houston – it is the third most populous county in the U.S. with 4.6 million people.  Ted Cruz won the statewide Senate race 50.9% to 48.3% over supposed rising star Robert Francis O'Rourke who prefers his self proclaimed Hispanic shortened name Beto (short for Berto).  Even though Beto did not win his Senate race he came close enough & had long coattails in the big population areas & Harris County exemplified this in that nearly every Republican in the county lost – including 59 judges & the top County Executive who was defeated by a 27 year old woman who had never attended a Harris County Commissioners Court meeting – which she will now oversee.  Turnout was 75% higher in Harris County this year than in the 2014 midterm election.
 
Speaking of NJ, voters would not give marine veteran & business executive Bob Hugin a chance against incumbent Bob Menendez in the Senate race.  Menendez had been indicted on federal corruption charges for alleged favors he gave to Ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen & gifts he received from Melgen.  Menendez's trial ended in a hung jury & a mistrial.  Melgen is now serving a 17 year sentence in jail for stealing $73 million from Medicare.  Hugin lost by over 300,000 votes 54% to 43%.
 
Now the Senate was ripe in 2018 for Republicans to make major gains due to a very favorable electoral map in that there were 35 seats up for reelection of which 26 were held by Democrats, 10 of which had to defend seats in Trump-friendly states that he won in 2016.  Nevada was the only state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 that had a Republican incumbent senator running for reelection.
 
This great political advantage in a midterm election was squandered.  After all the dust has nearly settled Republicans added one Senate seat to their column with one special election in Mississippi to be decided Tuesday.  At most, Republicans will have a 53 to 47 advantage in the Senate.  This is extremely disappointing when you consider the advantage was 54 to 46 after the 2014 midterm election. 
 
This electoral phenomenon will reverse in 2020 in that there will be twenty Republicans standing for reelection compared to eleven Democrats.  In 2022 there will be twenty two Republicans standing for reelection & only twelve Democrats.
 
The results of some Senate races were known, or highly suspected, by the political class several days before the midterms in that Trump did not return to Arizona or Nevada for MAGA rallies where both Republican candidates lost.
 
All tolled it was a wipeout in every state except for some of the ones Trump carried handily in 2016 & a few close ones like Florida where Rick Scott won by 0.12% out of over 8 million votes cast after a hand recount of under & over votes.  Voter turnout was up 12.6 percentage points over the 2014 midterm levels with early voting doubling since 2014.  Almost 116 million people voted in the 2018 midterm elections – the first ever topping of the 100 million mark in a midterm & the largest turnout in terms of the share of the eligible population since 1914.  See graphic below.
 
It is not a confidence booster to count on continuously winning close elections because electorates change.  For instance, Florida voters passed an amendment on November 6 to restore voting rights to 1.5 million convicted felons who served their sentences & finished probation & parole – does not apply to felons convicted of murder or sex crimes.
 
Trump won Florida in 2016 by 112,911 votes, Ron DeSantis won the governor's race by 33,683 votes, & Rick Scott won the Senate race by 10,033 votes so making 1.5 million felons eligible to vote will have an enormous effect on both national & Florida state election results going forward.
 
But it is the Republican secret ballot election in the House for their new minority leader that is the strongest indication that things will not get better any time soon.  The current Republican leadership team of Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, & Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all have identical Congressional Review Liberty Scores of 36% - all three leaders of the Republican Party are graded F.  McCarthy, hand picked by Ryan as his successor, defeated House Freedom Caucus Co-Founder Jim Jordan 159 to 43.  Jordan has a liberty score of 98% & 80% of the Republican caucus wanted no part of his type of leadership.
 
So the Republicans learned nothing from this pitiful midterm performance – 4 out of every 5 Republicans voted to continue with the leadership that watched as their House majority was wiped out.  It makes you wonder if they want to get back in power – it is easier to just wallow around in the minority complaining about this or that issue.
 
Add the Democrats in & Jordan has the backing of only 10% of House members – this is the minority we are in.  It is very disheartening to see this clearly just how feckless 90% of our elected representatives are.
 
I used the word "we" several times in this post & I certainly did not mean Republican politicians because we see that 80% of them are not worth voting for.  The "we" I was referring to were the people my dear friend & colleague in liberty, Lawson Bader, wrote to me about on Thanksgiving day – those "across the country connected in a kinship of shared commitment to the guiding principles of America's founding."
 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thanksgiving Proclamation In The Year Of Independence Of The United States Of America The One Hundred & Eighty-Eighth

 
click on photo to enlarge
 
Below is JFK's Thanksgiving Day, 1963 Proclamation 3560 issued on November 4, 1963 thereby proclaiming Thursday November 28 as Thanksgiving Day.  On November 23, 1963 LBJ issued Proclamation 3561 entitled National Day Of Mourning declaring Monday November 25, the day of the funeral service of President Kennedy, to be a national day of mourning throughout the United States. 
 
November 22, our day of Thanksgiving 2018, was the date in 1963 that President Kennedy was assassinated.
 
Click on proclamation to enlarge. 
 
 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Patriotic Air Show

  click on photo to enlarge
 
Click here to enjoy the video sent by a frequent contributor to RTE that shows the 49 airplane flyover @ Arrowhead Stadium in KC during a football game after the federal government put a hold on such flyovers by the Air Force as a result of the sequester spending cut law in the early 2010s.
 
Forty nine patriotic pilots from all over the country volunteered to perform during the game to bring attention to & raise money for breast cancer research.  Watch for the pink smoke from their planes.
 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Mike Huckabee On The Importance Of Voting

Last week I asked a very dear friend, who lives in another state, for whom she planned to vote for senator & governor.  Since she is a member of a household that subscribes to RTE I was surprised to hear that she was not voting – because she does not know enough about the candidates.  We discussed this & I agreed saying that I too do not vote if I don't know enough about the candidates whether they are running for political office or a position in a professional society. 
 
My friend recently moved & built a new home so she was satisfied the political climate in her new state was one that she wanted to spend the next part of her life in.  I pointed out that that could dramatically change & volunteered to send her an advance copy of the text below that @ the time constituted the post I had intended to present tonight.
 
My friend responded the next day – "Hi Doug - Thanks for the link to Huckabee's video.  It's very good.  This makes me want to study the candidates & go vote."
 
For anyone who finds themselves in the circumstance described above the following message is written with you in mind.
 
Click here to hear Mike Huckabee explain the importance of voting - namely, people who don't vote must take whatever is given to them by people who do.  Mike makes his point by providing vivid examples that teenagers would be interested in but it does not take much imagination for my friend mentioned above to find one of the candidates in her new state, if he is successful, establishing an income tax, raising property taxes & sales taxes, forming sanctuary cities if not declaring the entire state a sanctuary state, & in general welcoming illegal aliens to her neighborhood.
 
In brief, Mike's presentation is especially important for people who think politics has nothing to do with them.
 
Governor Huckabee does not mean for everyone to just go out & vote without direction or planning so they can say they voted.  He means that every citizen who has the privilege to vote makes it their business to learn the fundamentals about our government & Constitution & then knows the vital & important positions of the candidates from which they are to choose.
 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The High Stakes For America In The Midterm Election

 click on graphic to enlarge
 
Over the past several months I have winced every time I heard or read a column by a conservative pundit saying that Democrats have nothing to run on in the November midterm elections.  These pundits feel victorious because under Trump the economy is booming with 4.2% GDP growth in the second quarter & an initial estimate of 3.5% growth in the third, unemployment is down to a near 49 year low, Black, Hispanic, & Asian unemployment rates are @ all time lows, women's unemployment is @ a 65 year low, the tax cuts & regulation reduction have produced a much better business climate for sustained growth, two excellent Supreme Court justices have been appointed, peace may be @ hand with North Korea, defense build-up has been revivified, the ISIS caliphate has virtually been eliminated, & the U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel & relocated our embassy there. 
 
Now that is an impressive record & the Democrats fought all of the above accomplishments every step of the way with near unanimity.
 
So why do I wince? 
 
It is not because I don't appreciate the above list of accomplishments because I do think they are marvelous; but because the conservative pundits then go on to recite most of the Democrat-Socialist planks as if they have been dismissed by the voters.
 
In fact, there is substantial evidence that socialism in America has gained momentum (mass times velocity in politics just like in physics) to the point that American-socialists do not care about the state of the economy or any of the items on the above list.  These people would rather have a rotten part time job & benefits from a government welfare program or two with plenty of time off.  The goal of democrat socialists is to eliminate capitalism because they see capitalism as an infringement on their freedom & leisure time that requires them to go to work to earn a living.
 
Hillsdale College recently wrote that our young people don't understand our nation's heritage of liberty – nor what is required to preserve it.  I add that millennials don't care about this since they take the freedom they have in America for granted, assuming with no thought, that they would have it no matter where they go or what system of government is put in place in the U.S.
 
In the 2016 presidential primary, Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, was the choice of 72% of Democrat primary voters aged 17 to 29, & 45% of his total votes came from college graduates.  Hillsdale reports that twenty thousand of Bernie's followers who share his vision for America have already committed to running for political office @ all levels – school boards, city councils, state legislatures, & Congress.
 
And Socialists are winning.  In 2017 the Democrat Socialists Of America (DSA) backed candidates who won 21 of 32 local & state elections in Minnesota, Tennessee, Montana, & Virginia.  In 2018 four candidates backed by DSA won their local primary races in Pennsylvania & of course 28 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came from out of nowhere last June 26 to beat the powerful ten term incumbent Joe Crowley in a NYC primary in an extremely low turnout election.
 
But its not just millennials - the Democrat Socialists have offered plenty of planks that anyone of any age attracted to the 126 government welfare programs identified by the Cato Institute will find appealing.
 
Democrats can run on single payer universal healthcare, or any of its current sister forms – Medicare for All or just defending & keeping ObamaCare with its coverage of pre-existing conditions requirement, free college, or $15 per hour minimum wage demands.  These could certainly be winning issues in America's mixed economy that has been more than 50% socialist for decades.
 
But Democrats also have a visceral hatred for President Trump caused by the fact that Trump's election in November 2016 made Democrats realize they are fish on a hook fighting for their politically correct lives.  Saving their progressive statist hides, @ the expense of everyone else, is the cause they are really fighting for.
 
Democrats are willing to propose the preposterous in hopes of making their points.  For instance prominent Democrats have proposed abolishing the electoral college, the Supreme Court, the Senate, ICE, private schools, the police, student debt, the Department of Homeland Security, the first & second amendments, & capitalism.
 
Now if Democrats are finally in a mindset to cut some government let's @ least do it constructively so that we get a real benefit out of it. 
 
Several years ago Ann Coulter recommended the elimination of the Departments of Health & Human Services, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, HUD, Transportation, the EPA, the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, & the progressive income tax & instituting a flat tax.  At the time, I seconded Ann's recommendation except I recommended eliminating the progressive income tax & replacing it with the FairTax.  I also recommended 1) replacing the current Medicare system (parts A, B, & D) that is  75% funded by the federal government with one of premium support where the government provides a nominal dollar demogrant for beneficiaries to purchase private insurance; 2) reducing the initial benefit of Social Security so that the initial benefit is calculated based on the CPI instead of the wage rate thereby effectively dealing with the Social Security solvency problem meaning the elimination of the inevitable 23% reduction in benefits coming in 2034; & 3) implementing the "cut, cap, & balance" plan in which federal spending would be controlled so that projected borrowing is cut in half next year (not 10 years from now), federal government spending would be capped @ 18% of GDP (it was 24% in 2012), & under a balanced-budget amendment the president would be required to submit a balanced budget within the foregoing guidelines that call for super congressional majorities to raise future debt limits or tax rates.
 
All predictions are that this midterm election will shatter voter turnout records for a midterm – raising turnout from a typical 40% midterm rate to over 60% – a rate only seen in presidential elections or the Tea Party route of 2010.
 
But please look @ the graphic above to get a grasp on the dynamics @ play.  The turnouts for the categories of Democrats, Women, Hispanic, & Ages 18 - 34 are all way up from the turnouts in either the 2010 or 2014 midterms.  All of these categories have historically voted Democrat.  The turnouts for White, Black, & Ages 65 or over are up somewhat while Men & Republicans are actually down from their high points.
 
While we should only expect the Democrats high interest in the midterm election to be for the purpose of reversing all of the accomplishments listed above there is a chance that Women, Hispanic, Ages 18 – 34, Black, & Ages 65 or over will realize the benefits presented above & vote to keep the Trump agenda for America going forward.  Trump has approval ratings with Blacks of 29% compared to 6% who voted for Romney & 29% for Hispanics compared to 27% who voted for Romney.  The question: is this increase in Black & Hispanic support for Trump what is driving the high interest in the midterm election - this is the unknown tug of war that will culminate on November 6.
 
But the stakes are greater than GDP growth versus $15 per hour minimum wage jobs, or Black unemployment versus free college, or defense buildups versus single payer healthcare.
 
The high stakes for America in this midterm election entail changing the politically correct mindset that is ruining America unless it is reversed – & quickly.  Items like eliminating the fallacious destructive anchor baby claim to birthright citizenship, settling the incompatible relationship of Muslims who follow Sharia law taking a U.S. citizenship oath, banning people from Muslim countries prone to terrorism from entering America until we know that immigrants & refugees from these countries are not terrorists, ending sanctuary cities & states, & restoring the enforcement of immigration laws – are all bedrock matters that must be settled before issues like tax reform, healthcare, climate change, the national debt, the budget deficit, or even adequate national defense are addressed. 
 
Without Trump none of the politically incorrect issues listed above would have ever been brought up @ all by any other person running for office & for this every lover of America should thank Trump whether or not they hate him for any or every other reason.
 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Part 2 - The Economic Growth & Prosperity The American Middle Class Has Been Cheated Out Of

This is Part 2 of the subject post.
 
Meanwhile the U.S. Census Bureau's annual report for 2018 entitled Income & Poverty in the United States: 2017 was released on September 12 & highlighted that median household income was $61,372 in 2017, an increase in real terms of 1.8% from the 2016 median of $60,309 (2017 CPI-U-RS adjusted income).  This measure includes both private & public sector incomes & reports the composite for the country – i.e., the higher incomes of the public sector as described above will raise the income levels indicated in this report.
 
A good portion of the 2016 – 2017 increase in household income was the result of more Americans working longer hours as the U-6 unemployment/underemployment rate dropped as more part-time part-year workers found year-round full-time work.
 
From 1978 to 1999 the inflation-adjusted median household income rose @ a pitiful annual compound rate of 0.70% per year from $52,089 to $60,062 – both years in 2017 dollars.  Since 1999 the median household income, in constant 2017 dollars, never surpassed the 1999 level until 2016 as indicated above – a miserable annual compound rate of 0.36% per year over this 38 year period.  Please note that household incomes did go up & down during these years – the annual compound rates are calculated for illustration only to show the effective growth rates from the start of the periods considered to the end points.
 
The above described phenomenon continues to play out – the Labor Department reported that private-sector hourly wages rose 2.9% in August compared to a year earlier while the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 2.7% for the same period.  Also, the fiscal year 2019 defense appropriations bill includes a 2.6% military personnel pay raise meaning that members of the military will lose purchasing power if the CPI continues to increase @ the August pace. 
 
Now there have been many posts on RTE over the years regarding income mobility – i.e., it is not the same people in the top quintile every year or the bottom quintile.  As older higher paid workers retire each year (currently 10,000 per day) they are replaced by younger lower paid workers so even though the median household income growth was pathetic, as indicated above, many people did see good income growth as they moved from the bottom quintiles when they started work toward the top quintiles as their careers' progressed & then back down the rungs as they entered retirement.
 
There are boom periods & recessions but over a person's working lifetime (say 22 to 62) their income typically takes about 40 years to double in real inflation adjusted terms – an annual compound increase of 1.8% per year in real terms - the increase realized between 2016 & 2017 for the median household.  The higher your starting salary the higher your final salary & standard of living by this measure. 
 
Say you started work in 1978 @ a salary of $10,000 per year when you were 22 years old.  If you retired in 2018, @ age 62, you would have been making $76,800 if you doubled your starting salary in real inflation adjusted terms. 
 
Stop & think of the purchasing power & standard of living in 1978 of a $20,000 annual income – they were very good.
 
Because of the U.S. skills gap – i.e., not enough qualified Americans to fill the number of job openings - many firms have changed the compensation type paid.  See the following graphic that shows wages & salaries increased 22.6% from 2009 to 2018.  During that time inflation increased 17% so the real wage gain per year was a little less than one third the 1.8% per year average annual figure needed to double your salary over a lifetime of work.  But companies have shifted compensation toward benefits, as indicated in the graphic below, & away from baseline salaries except for employees deemed strategically important, so total compensation is a better measure of how workers are doing.  For instance, from 2009 to 2018 the inflation adjusted value of bonuses & supplemental pay increased over 7 times greater than the inflation adjusted value of wages & salaries.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
The following graphic shows the effect of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 is in line with the above change in compensation trends – namely, companies continue to minimize additions to their fixed labor costs (i.e., permanent payroll – wages & salaries).
 
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The above information shows the history, that is where we have been the past several decades regarding wage, salary, & total compensation growth for both the public & private sectors. 
 
To see where we could have been please look @ the following graphic & in particular focus on the increasing slope of the green line (earnings of men) from 1960 to 1973, after which it declined & then leveled off for the next 44 years.  Yes, the real median annual earnings for men has never been higher than it was in 1973 measured in 2017 dollars. 
 
Using the data from Table A-4 of the aforementioned Census Bureau's 2018 annual report I calculate that the growth in real median annual earnings for men between 1960 ($38,991) & 1973 ($55,317) was 2.75% per year.  Had this growth rate continued @ the same rate the typical male worker would today be making over $182,400 per year.
 
So now we know where we have been, where we are, & where we could have been.  To find out all the reasons why the American middle class was cheated out of the economic growth & prosperity they were on track to achieve 44 years ago click on the referenced post below.
 
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Reference Post:  An Explanation Of The Deterioration Of America's Middle Class

 

Part 1 - The Economic Growth & Prosperity The American Middle Class Has Been Cheated Out Of

"I strongly oppose eliminating the pay raise for civilian federal employees & will work with my colleagues to have the pay raise included (in spending bills).  Our public servants have been getting shortchanged for years." – Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) who is in a tight reelection campaign in the northern Virginia suburbs right outside of Washington, D.C.
 
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The above graphic shows that federal government civilian workers continue to do just fine, as they have for decades, compared to private sector workers – so Congresswoman Comstock doesn't have to worry about their compensation.  Average total compensation (i.e., wages & benefits) for a full-time year-round civilian with a high school or less education working for the federal government clocked in @ over $100,000 per year.  The above graphic shows that it is not until the professional degree/doctorate level that the private sector total compensation exceeds federal government civilians' total compensation.
 
The Bureau Of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that in 2016 federal government civilian workers had an average annual wage of $88,809 - about 50% more than the $59,458 annual average wage that private sector workers earned in 2016.  See graphic below that shows the wage growth & widening wage gap since 2000 – excludes the U.S. Postal Service.
 
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According to BEA data, in 2016, the average annual total compensation for federal government civilian workers was $127,259 - 80% more than the $70,764 annual total compensation for private sector workers.  See graphic below.
 
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Long time readers of RTE will remember the following graphic that I presented in previous posts over the years.  The compensation gap has been somewhat reduced for the private sector versus federal government civilian workers as indicated above.  The compensation gap for the almost 20 million state & local government workers has been reduced also – it was 42% on average in 2016 substantially lower than the 76% shown on the graphic below.
 
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The above described compensation gap is rooted in the fact that federal government workers are a powerful special-interest group with effective lobbyists.  Federal government unions actively oppose legislators who support restraining worker pay – just ask Congresswoman Comstock (see quote above) as she campaigns for reelection in her northern Virginia district that has a large number of federal government civilian workers. 
 
See graphic below that shows the growth of the membership in public employee unions from less than 20% of the total in 1973 to the majority in 2009.  As recently as the 1950s there were no unions for government workers.  In 1962 JFK signed executive order 10,988 which allowed unionization of the federal workforce – this also was the genesis of the unionized public work force in many states & cities.  This led to the large membership growth of public employees unions such as The American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), & the National Education Association (NEA).
 
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We don't have to think long or hard to see the problem the 114 million private sector workers, who pay the salaries & benefits of the the 22 million federal, state, & local government employees, are having with the above described compensation gap. 
 
Private sector workers can work decades longer @ lower wages than many public sector employees.  It is common for private sector workers to still be working in their 60s, 70s, & 80s & paying taxes that support inflation adjusted pensions plus lifetime free healthcare benefits of much younger public sector employees who retired in their early 50s.  It is only human nature for this development of events to cause resentment of people's fellow neighbors – unless they do an honest evaluation of their own culpability or ask themselves why they didn't join a public sector employer if they thought this seeming gold mine employment could continue for a lifetime of work.
 
But of course there are problems because the consistent creation of the richness of wealth under a growing dominant public sector regime cannot be maintained as the graphic below shows.
 
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The above graphic shows that from 2001 to 2016 employer's contributions to state & local pensions increased four fold while for the same period the funding ratio dropped from fully funded to below three quarters funded meaning that accrued liabilities increased faster than the growth of the economies in many states including NJ, IL, CT, NH, & KY.  These states, & many others, would have to raise billions of dollars more, mostly through taxing the private sector – either individuals or corporations, to even have a chance to adequately fund the promised pension benefits.
 
Robert J. Sartorius ASA, MAAA, FCA, provides the latest egregious example of private sector taxpayer abuse by local government when he writes in the WSJ "nowhere in the free marketplace can such guarantees be made" referring to the matching of the assumed funding rate of pensions by taxpayers if the actual rate earned on employee contributions is below the rate set by New York City in their pension funding calculations.  That is, if the current assumed 7% investment funding rate of return is not met on employee contributions taxpayers make up the difference.  This NYC taxpayer liability is an example of the creative exploitation politicians can foist on the private sector.
 
This concludes Part 1 of this post.  See Part 2 for the conclusion.