All posts by EcoMan

Letter to Politicians

I mailed this to ta few of the folks on my ballot and thought that I would share it to share my ideas publicly:

Dear Candidates,

Some food for thought,

I’m voting soon and I’ve not decided whom I’m voting for yet.

I was reading some of your positions and thought I would share some thoughts.

I just wanted to share my most recent epiphany regarding the healthcare industry with you. Perhaps if you are elected you will remember this email.

My brother moved to Germany a few years ago for grad school. He has been studying there for a while. When he first went he was super pumped about the healthcare systems in Europe.

He told me about the care etc… I asked him how he thought that it was possible that they provided equivolent care for cheaper?

He did not have a good answer to this very simple question.

At the time my thinking was that surely they had longer lines, less qualified doctors and various other defiencies compared to our American system.

Why? Because we have the best system money can buy, even if it has some waste built into the system…..

Well a few years passed and I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while at this point. I’ve recently come to an new and very interesting hypothesis.

Look around Chattanooga and what do you see? Unum, Cigna and Blue Cross…they have gigantic expensive buildings. Look them up as companies for their asset values. How many employees they have. Many of these jobs are high paying jobs like actuary or biostatician or nursing consultant. Sure they have phone clerks and security guards as well but on average their jobs are more highly qualified.

In addition there are people who come to open enrollment at workplaces, run workplace benefits programs, interface with doctors offices run server rooms and a whole host of other “work” related to healthcare insurance administration.

Let me present an alternative proposal. Suppose we eliminate the health insurance companies entirely and instead of spending this vast amount of capital on pushing paper around we spend it on health and wellness then we might just save a heck of a lot of money.

It would be worth examining what might be the most cost effective way to utilize this money. For instance maybe it is simply most effective to hire more nurses and doctors. Then again maybe building free public gyms in urban locations to improve population fitness and prevent disease might be more beneficial. Maybe improved nutrition for school lunches would reduce childhood sickness and thus provide the best bang for the buck.

We have a ton of very intelligent people who currently work in the health insurance industry. Let’s shut down this scam industry and start saving lives.

Let’s give those actuaries a new job calculating cost benefit analysis on how to get the best ROI on improving our countries health now that we arnt spending money tracking useless paperwork. Let’s give those IT guys a new job rolling out public information portals to get the public informed and involved.

It doesn’t require getting rid of jobs, it requires repurpopsing people into newer and better jobs.

A funny thing happened… after I came to this conclusion I began talking to others about my ideas. It turns out that in 2015 Boeing (the airplane manyfacturer) started to offer its employees an insuranceless option. This is an option where Boeing directly negotiated with the hospitals to eliminate the middleman in an effort to save money.

It looks like private industry may take us there anyways…..however I would rather see us provide universal coverage to everyone. Let’s start small. Let’s just start with universal preventative care and prescriptions. This way people can go see their doctor for routine well visits, annual lab work and for prescriptions.

Let’s put drug research back into the public sector. Grandfather the current patents until they expire. Publicly fund research for new drugs and release the recipe internationally to help people. Let pharmaceutical companies become manufacturers and focus on competing on price. This keeps the cost low for the consumer.

Finally, the environment is the most critical problem we face today. Please treat it as a first class problem instead of a second class problem. Stop road expansions, stop urban sprawl, secure out future food and water supplies. Shift us off of fossil fuels  (yesterday, not tomorrow).

Sincerely,

Ecoman

Review – Logitech K400r Keyboard

Why I bought the K400r

The front side of the K400r.
The front side of the K400r.

My laptop keyboard is acting up so I decided to take it out and clean and look to see if I can find any problems (unfortunately, I could not, so I will have to order a new replacement for that one). I wanted to make sure I had a backup keyboard if that one completely fried after my tinkering. I checked around and finally decided to try the Logitech K400r . The selling points for me:

  • Cheap
  • Has a built in touch pad (incase I ever wanted to hook it up to remotely control my projector from the couch).
  • The batteries are supposed to last a long time.
The Battery Case for the K400r
The Battery Case for the K400r on the left you can see the storage slot for the USB dongle.

What I Like About this Keyboard

Let me start by saying I may be a little biased against this keyboard because I use exclusively full-sized keyboards. My laptops are all 17″ with full-sized keyboards, my work computers all have ergonomic or other wired full-size keyboards. The result is that it is a little bit of an adjustment to switch to this smaller more compact keyboard. I think it is similar to what you might find on a 13-15″ laptop. If you already use a laptop in this size then this should be an easy adjustment.

  • Lightweight
  • Small
  • Good Range (it works flawlessly much further than my Logitech M510 wireless mouse, why? I have no idea, it just does)
  • The touch pad mouse is actually neat and convenient, I wasn’t sure if this would be good or bad when I bought the keyboard
  • The rubber feet on the bottom grip a variety of surfaces well
Backside of the K400r showing the rubber grip feet.
Backside of the K400r showing the rubber grip feet.
  • The convenience buttons are useful, I mostly use the volume up/down/mute, play/pause/rewind and power/sleep buttons. These all worked out of the box simple plug and play with no setup required.
  • A convenient slot to store the USB dongle
  • The keys feel nice and they reflex (raise back up after being pushed) well.

The Bad

Most of the complaints I have are fairly minor and I think with continued use would become a non-issue.

  • First the Shift key on the right hand side of the keyboard just underneath the enter key is tiny. I am used to a full sized shift key and this often results in me changing lines while typing when I attempt to capitalize letters. After a week of use this has become less problematic but it was really frustrating at first.
The on/off switch on the top side of the keyboard.
The on/off switch on the top side of the keyboard.
  • Second, many of the convience buttons (which I really like) are built into the F1, F2, F3 … F12, Scr Lk, Print Scr buttons, this in and of itself is not bad. My gripe is that all of these standard keyboard keys (F1, F2, F3 …) all require your press the FN button on this keyboard. My preference would be to follow convention and make the convience buttons require the FN key. I think perhaps Logitech envisioned people using this more for media than on a laptop and that is perhaps why they put the priority on the convience buttons.
  • The keys are not backlit, you may or may not care about this but from someone who is used to playing in the dark and used to backlit keys this was annoying.

That’s it! Only three complaints. Additionally, Logitech released an upgraded version the K400 Plus which increases the size of the shift key. They squashed the up and down arrow keys in the new design so I am not sure it is perfect but I would certainly like that a little better and probably splurge the difference in price for the newer one if I were to buy this keyboard again.

Final Verdict

This keyboard does what it advertises and it does it cheaply. There are a couple flaws that I observed but if cheap and adequate is your objective then this will get the job done. Finally, if your primary usage is media (audio/video) then all of my gripes may be less meaningful and this keyboard would do an excellent job at a very affordable price.  I say buy if you are getting it for high portability, media usage, or cheap temporary usage while getting your normal rig fixed. If you are looking for a more everyday use keyboard for more traditional computer tasks or for gaming then this is not a keyboard that I would recommend for those purposes.

Chattanooga, Zika Virus, and concerns for adults

I am concerned about the potential risks of Zika Virus to people locally. Below are some links to literature to aid in illustrating my concerns. I included some potential actions that can be taken to mitigate the potential spread of Zika.

Some Reading Material:

Health Departments currently advise that the best way to prevent the spread of Zika Virus is by preventing mosquito bites. Zika Virus is also a sexually transmitted disease. Initially it was thought to only cause mild viral symptoms in some adults. The primary major concern was the virus’ effect on fetuses. The major concern for fetal infections is that it can cause malformed joints and microcephaly. More recently there is growing concern for adults and children.

Zika is scary to me

As an adult this is a scary risk to see in our local community. However, as a parent it is even more frightening.

I’m not an epidemiologist however I have studied environmental science fairly extensively and part of that study involved fate and transport and advanced ecology.

Public Education Campaign

To me it seems that the most logical approach is to treat patients as they occur. While rolling out an extensive community awareness program to inform people about the potential risks to adults.

This public information effort needs to include at a minimum:

Disease Vectors:
  • Zika Virus can be passed on through sexual contact. People have been infected through unprotected sexual contact with partners who has the illness as recently as 188 days earlier. Unfortunately, 80% of people infected show no symptoms. This means that a sexual partner who was unaware of an infection up to six months earlier could pass the disease on.
  • Mother to fetus transmission.
  • Mosquito bites (major vector).
At risk communities :
  • We need to prioritize informing communities at higher risk.
  • Sensitivity to individual patients infomation privacy.
  • With regard to Zika it is prudent to inform the public of the risks and educate them about the disease.
  • Encourage those at higher risk to take proactive measures to reduce their personal risk and the risks of others.
  • I would guess the current cases in Chattanooga occur in more affluent neighborhoods (those are the people more likely to travel). If a mosquito acquires the disease it is likely to first appear in these neighborhoods.
Preventative measures:
  • Wear effective mosquito repellent (DEET based products or DEET alternatives) or other outdoor focused protective items.
  • Also, Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants (not shorts) will reduce skin exposure and thus bite occurrence.
  • Mosquito/bug deterring clothing.
  • Additionally you can reduce standing water. For instance, if you have something on your property that collects standing water (such as: a lid, pond, or bucket) then emptying the water out and taking measures to limit future pooling of water might have substantial positive impact. For pools and ponds you could consider adding movement to prevent egg laying, fish (to eat the larvae), or chlorination (to kill the larvae).
  • Avoid unprotected sex with partners who have been infected with Zika Virus in the previous seven months.
  • Avoid ecosystems where mosquitos might be more prevalent (bogs, marshes, wetlands, ponds and other such habitat where mosquitos have an easier time breeding).
  • If you have these ecosystems on your property then consider hiring a pest control company to work on mosquito issues. There are other options for mosquito control such as fogging and bug zappers.
  • For neighbors that these hazards consider talking to them about the safety concerns.
  • In order to address public property that has this kind of habitat then consider contacting your politicians to see if they are able to address the issue. Also contacting the responsible party for the property (like if it was a wetland on a county park, then contacting county parks and recreation might be beneficial).
  • Consider writing your congressman to request disaster funding for Zika control for your community. The white house requested $1.9 Billion in funding to address Zika and Congress recessed without approving the request.
Description of the risks:
  • Microcephaly in fetuses in pregnant women.
  • Zika Virus have been linked in the causation of Guillain-Barré syndrome.
  • Potential problems (in mice) include depression and cognitive issues (similar to Alzheimer’s). However, the type of stem cells necessary for mice symptoms are also present in human brains.

As far as schools are concerned I’m not sure what is the best approach. Some routes to consider might be mosquito fogging, indoor recess and mosquito habitat reduction. The primary concern currently should focus on minimizing the number of mosquito bites.

Media should be encouraging people to contact their local health department with Zika questions.

The public education effort on the adult concerns should be proactive. Proactive public education efforts help create a more prepared and less panicked public when infections become prevalent.

Official sources:

Here is a link to the local health department (Hamillton County, Tennessee) page on Zika Virus. At current it does not reflect the medical concerns for adults.

Here is the CDC section on Zika Virus. They seem to be up to date with the adult risks on Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, the CDC does not address the potential longterm cognitive effects, memory problems, depression and alzheimers like symptoms that could potentially effects adults.

Both the local health department and the CDC have listed preventative measures. Their recommendations are similar to my recommendations but read multiple sources never hurt anyone.

Disclaimer: I am not a Medical Doctor or Epidemiologist. Also, I do not work officially in a field focused on Zika. However, I do have some education in ecology and environmental problems and have read a tiny amount of the literature body on this topic. I am writing this more as a concerned parent/citizen than anything else.

Poll – You pick the President of the United States

Pick your favorite option and share it with your friends.

Vote before reading below.

Are many people are voting for Donald Trump because they despise Hillary Clinton and vice versa. It appears that this election is destined to become a vote for the lesser of two evils. I am curious who is the real favorite this election. It would be really neat if people could vote their conscious instead of voting against their fear.  I optimistically hope that this poll gets circulated around the Internet and there is enough support for a viable third party run based on people’s desires instead of their fears.

Pastor Ray Shawn Mckinnon’s argument

I was intrigued by the logic presented by Pastor Ray Shawn McKinnon. Basically he attests that minorities do not have the option of a “protest vote” (say for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or a Barnie Sanders write-in) and that he feels his only option is to vote for the best viable option. Well this got me to thinking….for several days in fact: What if the whole country was voting on this premise that they are afraid of the consequences so much that they would vote for a less than ideal candidate to prevent the alternative? Further, what if another option actually had a chance but it was suppressed by our fears.

Maybe we have more options than we thought

I urge you to consider who you really would like as president vs who you are planning to vote for because of fear of the alternative. Maybe this poll will show that a clear majority support Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or a write-in (if it’s a write-in we might need another poll). Imagine if we had 2 million responses to this poll and the majority didn’t vote for one of the major party candidates. What would that mean?

Perhaps we (the country) have a viable alternative and we just need the confidence to vote our desires instead of our fears. Then again maybe the results of this poll will instead indicate that we really do need to vote against a worst case scenario as Pastor Ray Shawn McKinon has so eloquently explained. I must admit after reading the Pastor’s thoughts I may very well vote for Hillary instead of casting a “protest vote” like I had planned. While the consequences of a “protest vote” for me are low I can see how it might be high for other people. I hope that there is mass support for something greater than a protest vote. Perhaps this poll will clearly confirm that Pastor McKinnon is absolutely correct. Perhaps it will show a larger discussion that should occur.

Share this so our sample can get Yuge!

Please share this poll and discuss this with people you know. I’m sickened by the idea that it might be necessary to vote the lesser of two evils. If enough people agree then maybe there is an alternative.

Enjoy the Olympic Games a nice retreat from the election.

Samsung Gear S2 Review (7+ months of use)

Samsung Gear S2 Smart Watch

I received my Samsung Gear S2 Classic for Christmas last year. It has been on my wrist practically everyday since then. I wanted to share it with everyone because I really like this watch a lot. I am a bit on the heavier side and this watch has directly contributed to me losing some weight. When  received this watch I immediately enjoyed the pedometer and began walking everyday to ensure I got enough daily steps in. Well this added activity led to dieting and weightlifting and 15 lbs of weight loss later I can honestly say it all began with the watch. I have it paired with my Samsung S5 phone.

Features I Like
  • Pedometer – Great for increasing physical activity
  • Remote Control of Camera on my Phone – This is great for filming or photoing yourself
  • Rotating Bevel – Its got a great rotating bevel that’s fun to use.
  • Text messaging – Replying to text messages is a breeze
  • Checking E-mail – a breeze to see if I should find a computer or get out my phone to respond.
  • One touch Alarm Turn off – just lift the phone and swipe the screen to acknowledge alarms from your phone .
  • Call Answering – Can answer the phone from your watch, allowing time to get your phone from your pocket or the desk across the room.
  • The Classic version works with any standard watchband for lots of customization options.
  • Many downloadable watch faces
  • Aesthetics
  • Locate your phone – This feature causes your phone to ring even when it is on silent. Ever since I got this I do not have to waste time trying to locate my phone.
  • When using the phone with my car speakers I can select music using the watch from Samsung’s radio stations. With an unlimited data plan this is a great digital radio for on the go.
  • Obviously it tells the time and date and battery level.
  • There is a watch face that can show me daily stock quotes and news.
  • Water resistant
  • Wireless Charging – no more cords going bad, works as advertised for 7 months going now.
  • Long Battery Life

Features I wish it had

Speaker-  want to be able to talk into it like an Apple Watch and hear the person on the line respond, it has a mic but no speaker. This is mildly annoying but as an android phone user I would not choose another android watch over this. If I had an iPhone and I were deciding between this and the Apple Watch then the lack of a speaker would make me choose the Apple Watch as the devices are comparable in almost every other way (my wife has an Apple Watch so I have done the side by side). Additionally, I think the 3g version actually comes with a microphone.

Camera – Maybe pointing out the side between the two buttons so I can photo on the go and send it to my phone SD card. Video and still capture would be great and preferably 5+ megapixels.

How I Care for my Gear

I wear it to the gym and get all sweaty

It does not go swimming (technically is should be fine but I’ve never tried).

I usually take it off in the shower (but I have showered with it a couple dozen times, I make sure to keep it from being directly hit by the falling water and keep soap off of it…by the way adjusting your music from your watch while you shower is pretty awesome).

I did not tempt fate by wearing it to the beach or ocean. The sand and salt water scare me too much.

Other than that I wear it everywhere, wash my hands with it on and everything else. I take it off at night and throw it on the charger then put it on the next morning.

Overall

I recommend a Gear S2 as a daily watch  after wearing it constantly for over 7 months. The Classic version is my favorite because of the watch band options at the time. It was preferable to me to not be dependent on whatever watch bands were produced for the Samsung proprietary band connector. So for $50 extra I got the classic and now I can use virtually any traditional watch band on the market.

I prefer the looks of the Gear S2 to the Apple Watch or other Smart Watches. If you use a Samsung phone with it then I would not consider any other watch because you can unlock the watch’s full potential with the Samsung phone.  However if you must be able to use the watch to talk on the phone then you may wish to get a watch with a speaker (the gear works with a Bluetooth headset but I don’t wear Bluetooth earpieces).

Not so quick to call Trump full of IT!

 

I was reading some articles about the political campaign and this article caught my attention. Basically it asserts that even in a scripted speech Trump is making up numbers. Here’s an open letter response to a part of  the criticism.

Kevin Drum,

First I’m a Berner…but in your article yesterday you were critical of Donald Trumps unemployment numbers. Here is some reading material that may shed some light for you.

See the graph here and the read the explanation for the shadow stats calculations at this pdf.
The U6 utilizes the post 1994 numbers which can be argued to skew the actual numbers when compared to the method utilized prior to 1994. There is some debate that the U6 calculations are less accurate (intentional to make Bill Clinton Economic Improvement look good??? Just speculation but it makes you wonder….) than the method utilized prior to u6 shows.

I’m not gonna say if Trump is right or wrong for using this or similar information but it might be part his numbers. Perhaps it would be prudent to not so quick to say someone is full of IT. Accusations like this especially if they are potentially incorrect will only help his message. Perhaps your next article can discuss why his source (whatever it is) is worse than the U6 and your analysis.

Sincerely,

Ecoman

P.S. I started to just e-mail you but then I thought that perhaps others would benefit from a possible source as well. Please don’t take this personally I am just attempting to do my part and keep the political discussion the country is having accurate.

Poll – Will Bernie Supporters Support Hillary?

After reading more than a healthy dose of politics on reddit I stumbled across a link posted where Clinton believes that Sanders younger supporters will support her if she gets the nomination. I suspect that her belief in this statement is overconfident and decided to create a poll to see what Bernie supporters actually think. Please share the poll with your networks to help get the biggest sample possible.

Without further babbling here it is:

Read after voting

This question is of high importance because if Bernie Sanders supporters do not fall in line behind Hillary Clinton then it is likely that she will lose the general election. Total electability of candidates should be an  important consideration for the superdelegates of the Democratic Nomination process. I would encourage you to share the results (even if they do not support my predictions) with the superdelegates tht represent your locality so that they can make the most informed decision when selecting the best route for the party.

If Bernie supporters flee the Democrtic nominee then that would provide a much reduced likelihood of the party securing the White House in November. There are already many sources findable with a quick google search that indicate that Bernie Sanders performs better than Hillary Clinton versus all three of the Republican Candidates. My guess is that this trend will continue the longer that Hillary takes the millennial generation for granted. Nothing stings worse than a candidate trying to intimidate you into voting for them on the basis that they are the better of two evils.  Sorry Hillary but this generation is very resilient. We are more politically informed (thanks to the Internet) than any other generation. While we may on occasion have low voter turnout it is not because we do not care it is instead because we do not like what is on the table.

My personal belief is many Bernie Supporters will either get behind Jill Stein or another independent if their candidate fails to be nominated by the Democratic Party. I can actually see some of Bernies supporters even jumping on the Trump train if push came to shove (if for no reason other than to send a message to the establishment). I think the majority will likely just opt to not vote at all rather than support the GOP or Hillary Clinton. In the end I suspect Hillary will net a minority of the Bernie Sanders supporters.

Thanks Everyone for your participation in this poll.

 

Democratic Primary Examination

Democratic Primary

I like many others have been watching the primary season with interest (click here for current results).  The recent momentum of Bernie Sanders (and maybe my like for him) made me interested enough to delve into the numbers. I gathered the information from all the stated that have voted (caucuses and primaries) and looked at them for potential trends.

First I looked at the last seven states and much to my surprise it turns out that based on the current momentum Bernie Sanders indeed has a very legitimate path to nomination. In fact if you look at the percentage of voters that picked Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton then the breakdown predicts that if this trend continued then Bernie would have a 481 delegate lead on Hillary Clinton (that’s pretty impressive since he is currently 249 behind Hillary Clinton). I also checked based on actual vote count and utilizing the current momentum Bernie would reduce Hillary’s pledged delegate lead from 249 to only 64 by the Democratic Convention. Finally, if one considers strictly the pledged delegate count then the projected outcome is a 234 delegate lead for Bernie Sanders by the convention.

Note: Votes vs Percentage are different in how they weight the data. Consider Alaska’s vote count vs Arizona by  percentage. Bernie Sanders has a 20% lead over Hillary ( 39.9 + 81.6) / 2 = 60.75 % vs. (57.6 + 18.4) / 2 = 38%. However vote count gives a very different picture (163400 + 440) / 2 = 81920 votes per state for Bernie vs. (235697 + 99) / 2 = 117898 votes per state. As can be seen one weighting indicates (based on two states) that Bernie is winning and the other indicates that Hillary is leading.  

This is the Democratic Primary results from the most recent states.
This is the Democratic Primary results from the most recent states.Standing

It is important to note that this is only based on the most recent results where Bernie seems to have gained and be gaining momentum.  Another important takeaway is that even with this cherry picked data where Bernie is doing well none of his of the total delegate counts secure a nomination for either candidate (2383 needed to secure nomination). This indicates that based on recent performance if either candidate wish to secure the nomination without super-delegates then they will need to increase their ground game in the remaining states.

The trends of each candidate over time in the race for the democratic nomination.
The trends of each candidate over time in the race for the democratic nomination.

I decided to compare this data to the whole election season where each candidates performance was scaled against time. In this model which documents the momentum change overtime since the first state cast it’s votes then there has been a clear shift in the voters candidate preferences over the two month period.

The votes towards each candidate over time. Hillary has clearly had the momentum for a while but it seems to have stalled.
The votes towards each candidate over time. Hillary has clearly had the momentum for a while but it seems to have stalled.

Looking at the election long vote tally Hillary has been able to fairly consistently meet or beat Bernie’s total accumulated votes. This indicates that Hillary might have more voters behind her than Bernie. Another consideration is that Bernie did chip into her lead a little bit recently. If the Sanders campaign can push out a little more steam then they can probably chip into that lead even more. Will it be enough to win the nomination? We will all know in a few months.

Each candidates' pledged delegates count since the voting began.
Each candidates’ pledged delegates count since the voting began.

Finally, the last thing I examined was the cumulative pledged delegate counts. This graph mostly mirrors the vote count chart. It is worth noting that Bernie is having a bit more success at chipping away Hillary’s lead when the pledged delegates are the only consideration.

Overall many indicators lead to the conclusion that this race will be decided by super-delegates. If either campaign wants to secure the nomination before the convention then they will need to do better. I personally am optimistic about Bernie Sander’s prospects but in my opinion either candidate is better than a Trump presidency .

Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton Tied, 51 to 51!

I think this election cycle has been the most exciting that I can recall in my lifetime (both sides of the aisle). As a centrist I have in the past supported both democratic and republican candidates. This year I am unable to support Donald Trump and looking at the completed 20160211_150413primaries and caucuses it seems likely that he will be the GOP nominee. As a result I have been paying more attention to the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton race.

I have seen a couple polls that came out recently that indicate that they are tied by telephone poll and while it is still a minority of polls the number is growing. This indicates a trend that Bernie Sanders is gaining ground on Hillary Clinton.

I am of the opinion that the best indicator for a poll is actual votes. We so far have three states that have cast their votes for the democratic nominee (Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada). If you remove the super delegates and just look at the voted delegates then it turns out that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are tied 51:51! Remember this sample is actually people who turned out at the primary and the caucuses to cast their votes.  I think the pollsters and news reporters have completely missed this sample as I have not found this discussed anywhere.

Why A Millennial Likes Bernie Sanders

Why I am writing this article

Last Thursday, I decided to donate $3 to Bernie Sander’s campaign (I had been subscribed to his news feed for few months and felt like I supported him enough to do this). I recalled that my disposable income account had $5  ($5.38 to be exact) left and payday was the next day. I figured I would give $3 of the last $5 that I could spare for the pay period to support my candidate.

It was to be my first political monetary donation in my life. I went to double check my bank account (it had been a rough week, had to pay roofers $850  for a repair and the a/c unit blower had gone out the week before $350)  and with those extra unexpected expenses the account was lower than usual.  Nonetheless, I was getting paid in 12 hours and  wanted to support his campaign so I was willing to give 60% of my available disposable assets to support my candidate (how many people can say that?). Unfortunately, when I double checked my balance but the Netflix  auto payment had over-drafted my account (doh).

Screenshot_2016-02-11-08-56-26

I did the next best thing. I went down to the election commission in Hamilton county Tennessee and I cast my early vote.  I was the 355th early voter according to the ballot machine. I tried to take a photo of my ballot but the staff on site advised me (when I inquired) that I was not allowed to as it would be a violation of state law.  They did give me this sticker (you will have to trust that I filed in Bernie’s bubble, sorry I tried).

20160211_145823

20160211_150413

I decided to share my views because it seems that the older generation doesn’t understand my generation very well. Especially a millennial willing to spend 60% of their current disposable income on a political candidate.

About Me

I’m 32 years old and for much of my life I have denied being a millennial. I do not like the stigma that the older generation seems to place on the entire generation and feel that it does not accurately represent me. I guess I associated my self more with the generation previous to millennials. Unfortunately, I grew up in an upper middle class household, got internet and all of the other goodies characteristic of a millennial childhood and perhaps I am more representative of the millennial generation than I thought. Perhaps the older generation characterizes my generation (the millennial generation) completely incorrectly.

A brief bio of myself:

  • Born 1983 – (Millennials start at 1980 -1982)
  • Graduated HS 2001
  • Pursued Higher Education (A.S. & B.S. and  M.S. degrees)
  • Employed since about 3 months prior to turning 16 until now (yeah I worked while going to school, I also had kids and raised a family during my B.S. and M.S. )
  • Invested in the stock market 6 months before the 2008 crash
  • Bought my first house in 2010
  • Invested more Just before the January 2016 downturn (I have really bad luck with the market)

Let me sum it up since I turned 16 year old in 1999 I have:

I am fully qualified for social security. I have worked enough to have an average of 2000 hours a year for 17 years (there were some gaps and I’ve had 2 and 3 jobs at various times), completed 220 semester hours of higher education (180 undergraduate and 40 graduate) and raised 3 kids. I feel like I have worked hard to accomplish what I have. I do not think many people would disagree. To date my highest paying job is my current one ($34,500 annually for a 40 hour week, that’s after 10 years in the same job).  Please keep in mind I am highly experienced with statistics, web development and I have a  M.S. degree in Environmental Science. Each of these skills by themselves has a median salary of $67,000 to $118,000 depending on the specific job title (and this includes people with a B.S. as their highest education).

I however am unable to find a job (I blame it on the economy) to even get my foot in the door (locally for $35k+ or nationally for $50k+). It seems that all employers have such great applicant pools that entry level jobs require 2+ years experience (yes, I have seen that multiple times, job title “Entry Level ….must have 2-5 years experience” ).

My views (may or may not represent my generation)

People characterize the millennials as being uninformed and not politically informed. Again, this seems to be an incorrect assumption made by the older generations. I have found that most of my peers (and myself) are highly interested in the political outcome of this race. That’s not to say that we all agree on politics but there seems to be a general consensus that baby boomer politics has not been beneficial for millennials. Some concerns that some members of my generation have include:

  • Jobs – Where are they? We work hard, we go to school, many of us did everything our parents said we should do. We still cannot find career type work. Busts, .com, 2008, again today? I’m not sure…

I studied environmental science because I want to be a part of the solution. The Paris conference on climate change last November outlined the importance of environmental scientists and how they are integral to the solution. We have known this for decades yet there is not enough support for people who want to be a part of the solution to be involved and get their foot in the door.  Checkout independent calculations on unemployment (www.shadowstats.com/) and consider that those with the least professional experience are getting hit harder than other generations. This article “40% of unemployed workers are millennials”sums up my position.  Just google it, there are literally hundreds of articles showing how unemployment is skewed towards my generation.

The problem is millennials are getting older and opportunities are passing us, because we do not have the experience. However, when the baby boomers retire more jobs will open up ….who will be employed then? Millennials who have a decade old education? Or the generation after us that have the more recent education? Neither of us will have experience?

Yeah, an opportunity to get started in a career is of utmost importance to to millennials.  Who can do this the best? Liberals? Conservatives? For me it doesn’t matter much because generally speaking conservatives are not for spending more money on the environmental front. Since that is where my education is and at this point a chance at a career is probably the most important thing in my life I am practically obligated to vote for a candidate who will push an environmental agenda.  A conservative who stood for the environment could win over some millennials.

  • Pay – I have become convinced that the women’s rights movement was one of the worst things to occur to American families. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying, the women’s rights movement was a great thing for women and it was a great thing for women’s families, initially at least. I firmly believe that women who wish to be involved in the work force should be allowed to do so as equals to men. However, the result of women’s rights is that households have become centered around two income earners.

Prior to women’s rights households lived off of a single income. This income allowed the women and children to be financially secure. A single income was priced to take care of the family (even on the low end of the scale).

Fast forward, women’s enter the work force. This is a great time period for American families. Households gained a great portion of disposable income. Women were striving for men’s incomes and as they approached those incomes their households benefited. They benefited because the market and the price of consumer goods was still based at a single income household level.

Fast forward some more. Unfortunately, this benefit to households was predictably short lived (maybe 100 years). Eventually, workers allowed their pay position to be deteriorated by cooperate america devaluing a workers income. Consumer goods increased in price and cooperatie America neglected pay raises for their workers.

What I see has happened is that now it almost requires a family to have a two-income household in order to make ends meet. This is wildly different from the era of single-income households.  Consider a man used to go work a full-time job and that would support him, his wife and his kids.

Today, the man and the wife work to accomplish the same thing. Except, the kids are lacking a parent (either the husband or the wife, doesn’t matter to me) at home.  If one adult stays home then the household is under much greater stress than a comparable two-income household.

Essentially what has occurred is that companies are getting twice the labor for the same adjusted pay. The workers time has been devalued and people with their extra disposable income have let it slide (over the course of 100 years).

This is why pay is my second concern after jobs. It is my opinion that families should be able to support themselves adequately as a single income household. I advocate for a minimum wage that is a living wage based on the idea of single-income households as the norm rather than the exception. I also advocate for a household to be considered three children under this model (2.5 is the average “ideal number of children” for Americans according to Gallup polls, rounded up to 3).

There are not very many models that utilize a single income household and three children as the baseline for a living wage. Perhaps the best that I have located is published by M.I.T. and suggests that for most places (my random check of different places) this rate is about $25/hour.  Further, this value should be linked to an appropriate index and maintained at that relative living wage value permanently.

While Bernie Sanders ($15/hour advocate) doesn’t share my vision on this one he is far ahead of Hillary Clinton ($10.10/hour advocate) and even further ahead of any GOP candidate.

  • Education – I was fortunate enough that my college education was fully funded. Many people do not have that benefit. A good education should be a fundamental right to those who put forth the academic effort. I have seen many peers placed in bad situations because they have student debt and cannot find work.  The United States is the last 1st world country to adopt a publicly funded higher education system and instead place that debt burden on children who don’t even necessarily understand the investment or the risk associated with that debt.

I definitely support a system where people are able to receive an accredited education without taking on massive amounts of personal debt. The investment in peoples educations will pay back dividends in earnings potential over the course of a career as far as taxes are concerned. Additionally, students will be more capable to pursue careers that interest them and utilize their talents and take a lower salary position that is perhaps a better fit for them (without having to worry about the debt burden). The result is a more educated public, a public that in general earns more and thus pays more taxes and a public that is more happily employed. All of these things are good for society as a whole.

Will it cost money? Yes. Will it be harder at first? Yes (it will be hardest for the first 5 years but every year it will get easier because as students graduate citizens will earn more and pay more taxes).  Will all investments be profitable? No (but neither are investments in the stock market).  Will it create a more diverse, happier and resilient workforce? Yes. Will it be worth it? Yes, yes, yes.

  • Environment – I mean I have a M.S. in Environmental Science. I am a little biased on this topic. As such I’m not even going to evaluate this position.
  • Healthcare – A single payer health system makes sense. Strictly speaking it simplifies and streamlines the monetary side of the healthcare industry. This allows for cheaper and more efficient management of the payer side of the equation and it takes this out of the hands of profiting companies. What about government bloat? Government bloat vs Corporate profiteering at the end of the day I am OK with Government bloat on this topic because I would rather be paying more than worrying about a private corporation making decisions based on the best interests for it’s shareholders.

It’s strange a person might take me for a very liberal person. Then again I also value many conservative ideas. Gun rights, pro-choice, anti-circumcision, more military funding, more proactive approach to ISIS, lower taxes and many other things.

I have taken several political view quizzes to match me with candidates and I always end up in the “Centrist” category. I consider this to be a good thing it shows that I am able to accept ideas from both sides of the aisle and be for (what I see as) a good combination.

I like to think of my self as pro people, maybe this is millennials in a nut shell. I read a lot about different ideas and views, The internet, which my whole generation is very familiar with, makes it incredibly easy to get lots of information quickly. I see a world where policy is made based on what is best for the most people and for peoples rights.

People should have a right to bear arms, as long as they are not committing crimes with those arms.

Babies should have the right to not have irreversible medical procedures (circumcision or abortion) committed to them without their (not their parents) express and informed consent.

People should be allowed to die if they are of a sound mind to make that decision.

People should be free to create domestic partnerships with whomever they choose.  What someone else does in their home does not impact you. Stay out of their business.

The NSA shouldn’t infringe on our privacy (phone tapping, internet monitoring etc…).

Privacy methods like encryption should be available to all internet users (not just criminals who conceal their actions).

People should have a right to work for an honest pay that allows them to live a comfortable and happy life. This business of paying people sub-poverty wages is completely insane.

People should have a right to healthcare and society should have an obligation to take care of other members of that society.

Our military should have the money and the firepower and the leadership to allow it to take decisive action to protect our society.

We should invest strongly to combat climate change and to protect the environment. Future generations deserve to be left an environment that is equal or better than what we were left.

We should invest strongly in science.

The economy should be improved, in a way that protects peoples rights but also allows people to enter and be a part of the work force.

Finally, the current political organization, and the organization of my entire lifetime has failed my entire generation. Millennials want a revolution (queue the Beetles song) that benefits them and they are willing to kick out the current political groups and instate their own. Not only are they willing they also compose the largest demographic of the work force and have the numbers to make a serious impact. This is why outsider candidates (Trump and Sanders) are polling so well with millennials. These candidates are willing to put forth ideas beyond politics as usual and my generation is sick of getting shafted by politics as usual. I happen to side with Bernie because his ideas are closer to my own (and I’m a bit scared of more than one Trump idea).  I do understand the appeal some people have for Trump he channels what much of the country is feeling.

My first pick is Bernie Sanders, my second pick is Marco Rubio (for completely different reasons) and if it ends up being Trump vs Clinton I may just not vote (neither seems like a good candidate to me).