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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Outsourcing Our Privatized Voting Process Overseas

 

DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT: We need to wake up and take back our voting processes.  Voting has to be taken out of the control of government and political parties.  This is insane.

Bev Harris, Blackboxvoting.com

NEW CERTIFICATIONS, PLANNED EXPANSION: Black Box Voting has been investigating and reporting on this disconcerting trend for nine years now. Everything we’ve been reporting has not only turned out to be true, but is increasing. A press release today about the planned expansion of Unisyn into more USA locations renews attention on foreign ownership of corporations selling voting systems into the United States. Unisyn is owned by a Malaysian gambling outfit.

Another major elections industry player, Canada’s Dominion, purchased the massive Diebold Election Systems division (which it shares with ES&S); Dominion also owns Smartmatic, which handles electronic vote-counting in the Philippines and Belgium.

Military voting is now handled in several states by Barcelona, Spain-owned Scytl. In January 2012, Scytl acquired the largest election results reporting firm, SOE Software. Accenture, now based in Dublin Ireland (formerly headquartered in tax-haven Bermuda), claims copyright over the massive electronic voter registration/voter history databases used in several states, including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Colorado, Wisconsin and Arkansas.

Accenture purchased its voter registration unit from Election.com, a Saudi-owned company based in the Cayman Islands. Because a computer will only do what it’s programmers and administrators tell it to do, whoever issues the commands gains ultimate control over how it receives, counts, and reports votes, voter registrations, and voter histories. UNISYN: According to Barry Herron (formerly of Diebold Election Systems), now Director of Sales for Unisyn, “Unisyn and our business partners are actively supporting installations in the States of Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, and Virginia. We intend to expand into other states in late 2012 and early 2013.” Unisyn also recently made inroads into Puerto Rico.

Another Unisyn election product called “Inkavote” is used in 4 million-voter Los Angeles County (Calif) and in Jackson County Missouri. IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF USA ELECTION SOFTWARE? Not if you don’t mind some unknown guys working offshore controlling whatever they choose to in the software processing votes and voters.

For more on Malaysian, Chinese, Canadian, Spanish, Saudi, Cayman, Irish ownership of USA election software, see full Black Box Voting article with supporting documents and links: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/82176.html  * * * * We APPRECIATE the wonderful support many of you have been providing over the years! It is the sole reason we still exist. Permission to reprint or excerpt granted, with link to http://www.blackboxvoting.org

Steel Guitar Inventor Joseph Kekuku and His Obscure Grave

Joseph Kekuku (1874 – 1932)

Regarded as the inventor of the steel guitar.
 
I recently visited Kekuku’s grave. It is hard to find even when you know where to look for it.  

It would nice if people who appreciate his contribution to modern music would come together  and design a more appropriate grave marker.  I was expecting to see a small sculpture of a steel guitar or something. Share your comments below if you have any thoughts about this.

Biography
From Wikipedia
Kekuku was born in Lāʻie, a small village on the windward side of OʻahuHawaii. As a boy, he would experiment with guitar technique, sliding ordinary household objects across the strings to see what sounds could be produced. When Joseph was 15, he and his cousin, Sam Nainoa left for a boarding school in Honolulu, about 40 miles south of Laie. In 1889 while attending the Kamahameha School for Boys, Kekuku accidentally discovered the pleasing sound of the steel guitar.  By the time he was an adult, he had developed a unique style of playing. He traveled extensively, teaching and performing throughout the USA and Europe. 

According to C.S. DelAno, publisher of the “Hawaiian Music In Los Angeles” whose “Hawaiian Love Song” was the first original composition to be written for the Hawaiian Steel Guitar,

“Joseph told me that he was walking along a road in Honolulu 42 years ago, holding an old Spanish guitar when he say a rusty bolt on the ground. As he picked it up, the bolt accidentally vibrated one of the strings and produced a new tone that was rather pleasing. After practicing for a time with the metal bolt, Joe experimented with the back of a pocket knife, then with the back of a steel comb and still later on with a highly polished steel (bar) very similar to the sort that is used today.”

In 1904 at the age of 30, Joseph left Hawaii and in his 58-years of life, would never return to his native islands. Instead, he brought his native islands, through music, to the rest of the world. He started in the United States by performing in vaudeville theaters from coast to coast. His group was “Kekuku’s Hawaiian Quintet” which was sponsored by a management group called “The Affiliated.”

In 1919 at the age of 45, Kekuku left the U.S. for an eight year tour of Europe traveling with “The Bird of Paradise” show. During this time, Kekuku played before Kings and Queens in many different countries. “The Bird of Paradise” show had been on Broadway with brilliant Hawaiian scenery, dazzling costumes, plus authentic Hawaiian music. The show traveled in Europe for eight years and was a total sellout. European hearts were captured by the sweet teasing sounds of the steel guitar. NO OTHER INSTRUMENT HISTORY BECAME THE DARLING OF SO MANY COUNTRIES SO QUICKLY. (Lorene Ruymar) “The Bird of Paradise” show was so popular that it became a film in 1932 and again in 1951. [snip]

In the 1930s the steel guitar went electric. Electrification attracted other musical forms such as western, big band, jazz and country. The electrified steel guitar made its greatest breakthrough into country music. Little Roy Wiggins was the first widely known electric steel guitar player to back a major Nashville artist, in his case Eddie Arnold. Another influence was the rise in the use of the pedal steel guitar, where the player could produce a correct change in harmony by pushing a pedal or kneeing a lever.

Kekuku returned to the United States and, at the age of 53, settled in Chicago and ran a popular and successful music school. Around 1930, he left Chicago and visited Dover, New Jersey. Some think he came to Dover as part of a traveling musical troupe that appeared at the Baker Theater. Hawaiian groups on these vaudeville tours usually consisted of 5 or 6 musicians with the steel guitarist seated in the center. Why Kekuku settled in Dover is not known. A possible reason is wanting to be near the rolling hills of Dover, the bustling downtown district in the valley, the shows at the Baker Theater, and the trains that ran to New York City. Another possible reason is his wife Adeline was tired of traveling and wanted to settle down there. In any event, in 1932 Joseph Kekuku was living in Dover, New Jersey with his wife at 88 Prospect Street and giving Hawaiian guitar lessons. Around town, he was ofter referred to as “the Hawaiian.”

Death
On January 16, 1932 at the age of 58, Joseph Kekuku died in Morristown, Dover, New Jersey of a cerebral hemorrhage.[1] His obituary appeared in the Dover Advance on January 18, 1932 and read:

“Funeral services will be held tomorrow at 1:00 o’clock for Joseph Kekuku, fifty-eight years old from the home of Mrs. Mary Stone on Prospect Street. Rev. Hedding B. Leach will officiate and interment will be in the Orchard Street Cemetery. Mr. Kekuku is survived by his wife. He died after a lingering illness at Morristown on Saturday. Mr. Kekuku, an Hawaiian, resided with Mrs. Stone last summer and gave lessons on the steel guitar which he claimed to have originated.”

Kekuku is buried in the Orchard Street Cemetery. A small marker at the Orchard Street Cemetery reads: JOSEPH KEKUKU JAN. 16, 1932 marking his final resting place.
[edit]Inducted into Steel Guitar Hall of Fame

In 1993, Joseph Kekuku was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame with full honors as the inventor of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar. The Dover Area Historical Society salutes this genius musician, this artist, this teacher, this ambassador of Hawaii and the Aloha spirit around the world. His passion brought him far from his birthplace of Laie, Hawaii to his final resting place in Dover, New Jersey.

Do Business Friendly Policies Reduce Poverty?

Do Business Friendly Policies Reduce Poverty?. A look at the numbers.

Free Market Enterprise Is No Way to Distribute Social Services

Where do you turn when your aging mother can’t be by herself anymore, or you notice your baby seems a little delayed.  Imagine that your teenager starts  skipping school and staying out all night or imaging you are suddenly diagnosed with a serious illness or disabled in an accident?  Where do you go for help?

Sooner or later we all knock on the door of our community’s social service network.  What greets us may be far less than we expect.  And sadly, the help available to us will depend a lot on where we live and how much money we make.   The confusing patchwork of private, public and non-profit social service agencies through which we must navigate is the natural, unintended consequence of the free market model we’ve created to deliver social services.

We are all only temporarily able bodied.  When don’t give much thought social services.   We are content knowing that free market competition is efficiently keeping down the cost of publicly financed services for the needy.

It isn’t until we seek help ourselves that we encounter a labyrinth of agencies with confusing components and cutesy sounding acronyms for their name.  Agencies often list the types of services they offer (counseling, for example) without listing the types of problems they serve (such as adolescent issues).   Consumers are expected to know which services work best for their problems.  Some agencies over promise results in their marketing or take on people with problems that would be bettered resolved elsewhere.   Access to services are often restricted by bewildering eligibility requirements based on age, gender, geography, diagnosis, income, insurance provider, religion, ethnicity, funding source or hours of operation.

If your family has  one or two very common problems, chances are you will find the help you need.  But if your problems are uncommon or complex your search will not go smoothly, and if you also happen to be poor, live in an under served community or don’t have transportation, the prospects for getting effective help are slim.

This is character of our social service networks today.  They are not based on matching service availability and capacity to the needs of local communities.  They are loosely coordinated networks created by free market forces and competition between private or non-profit agencies scrambling for dollars.

For over thirty years we have been privatizing public social services in the belief that free markets are more efficient than government in providing the best services at the lowest cost.    Little attention is given to the inescapable fact that market driven systems create uneven results by their very nature.  This is true in commerce but especially true in public social welfare.  Larger agencies are more politically connected and better positioned to compete for public dollars.  Wealthier communities have a higher profit potential so they attract more and better competitors.   Smaller agencies and program models that incorporate innovative ideas are less able to compete for government money.

Innovative approaches to helping people are usually funded in  small trials by private foundations.  Even when these trials prove successful, bringing them up to scale is almost impossible.  Agency competition actually works against it because social service providers are competing on an artificial playing field.

Governments create the playing field on which agencies compete, but the government departments responsible for developing and funding social service contracts are often under staffed and ill equipped to monitor service outcomes.  They also lack the personnel and special expertise it takes to design better programs.  The time and effort involved in researching literature, writing contract proposals, putting contracts out for bid and guiding the implementation of new programs is enormous .  Politicians don’t what to spend what it would cost to create real free market competition for high quality services.

To overcome the uneven distribution of services problem,  governments develop specially targeted service contracts with extra financial incentives to serve specific areas.  But these initiatives are expensive and tax revenues are declining.  Targeted service contracts are usually limited in size and scope because of their higher costs.

We have come to the point where the quality and availability of essential social services, to treat an abused child for example,  becomes an accident of birth.  So often I have seen that a child can get this great service if she lives here but not if she  happens to live a few towns away.   Free markets are very efficient at distributing profits according to

Not surprisingly, the free market approach to social service delivery mirrors what we see today in our free market economy.  Larger corporations have tremendous advantages over smaller, more local businesses.  Most of the mom and pop store that once served local communities have been driven out of business.  Chain stores that replace them tend to locate in more profitable communities and away from less profitable or economically blighted areas, further adding to the decline of poorer communities.

Another consequence of our particular brand of free market capitalism is the tendency of large corporations to optimize profits by catering to the average, hence largest segments of the population.  For example, big retail clothing outlets carry a range of sizes that is narrower than the population as a whole.  This forces some customers to shop in higher priced specialty stores and settle for less fashionable clothing.  In another example,  privatized bus and rail services tend to drop less profitable routes isolating those who can’t drive.  This  can have a disproportional impact the poor or elderly living in commercially less viable areas. In fact, the free market model is efficient, in part, because it discriminates between profitable and less profitable geographic markets or market segments.

What then makes the free market model the best approach for dispensing publicly funded social services, especially since the distribution of need for services is so often found in commercially unviable communities?

This is a question I hope to explore in future posts.  I hope to elaborate on this discussion of our social service delivery model.

For now, however, please consider a minor example of how a alternative system might look. The example below may serve as a window into a different ways of thinking about social services.

Imagine the benefit of a seamless partnership between public health, education and community social services conveniently located in public buildings distributed throughout cities and local communities across America.   Imagine if each of these public facilities provided modern classrooms, resources and teachers to educate our children during the day and provide remedial and secondary educational services to adults in the evening. These facilities would also provide after school and evening sport and recreational opportunities for the community.  Imagine each of these facilities having community health clinics or screening centers staffed to meet the local public health needs of these children and families.  Imagine each of these facilities serving as comprehensive social service intake and referral centers for families and the surrounding community .  Each of these local facilities could be configured, staffed and funded to best meet the local needs of the immediate surroundings.  A network of these local facilities would have among its goals the elimination of health, educational and social inequality and the provision of equal access to all public services.

This might seem like a grandiose plan, but much of the bricks and mortar infrastructure already exists to support it… our public schools.  Public schools are located in the communities they serve and more accessible than most social service agencies serving the same community.

This concept above is a small start, yet it goes well beyond what is currently under construction in the field of Education today, for example.  Some work is being to to develop what is being called “full-service community schools”.  An example of this can be found on the Website of Steny Hoyer, a Congressman from Maryland and from the OaklandUnified School District, in California, which is attempting, with some success, to implement this model.

Full-Service Community Schools – Thinking Outside the Classroom

Why do so many schools have auditoriums? Why do they have athletic fields?

We take features like those for granted today, but there was a time when a school building with anything more than classrooms and chalkboards was considered wildly unorthodox. But, more than a hundred years ago, educators came to realize that schools can be more than simply places for instruction: they can be the center of their communities.

Indeed, classroom education is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring that all children succeed. The notion of building a future of opportunities for our children through community partnerships that give them and their families the tools they need to grow and thrive is at the heart of the full-service community schools movement.

Full-service community schools work with local organizations and the private sector to coordinate a wide range of services for students and families. At a full-service community school you might find health clinics or dental care, mental health counseling, English lessons for parents, adult courses, nutrition education, or career advice. For high-need communities that require social services, there is no more welcoming — or efficient — place to house them than in a public school. Schools like these quickly find a place at the heart of their communities, staying open long after school hours and on weekends, giving neighbors a place to come together and participate in the education of their children.

Here in Maryland, we have seen the success of such a model in our state’s Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and FamilyEducation Centers, or “Judy Centers.” The 24 Judy Centers throughout Maryland promote school readiness through collaboration among community-based agencies and organizations located within each Center. State evaluations of theJudy Centers have shown increased access to high-quality programs and services for low-income and special needs children and that they improve school readiness and minimize the “achievement gap” at the start of first grade.

A decade of research on full-service community schools has consistently shown that they promote higher student achievement and literacy, stronger discipline, better attendance and parental participation, a reduction in dropouts, and increased access to preventive health care (a factor that is especially urgent as we face a possible flu epidemic).

With these benefits in mind, Congress is considering legislation I have introduced that could greatly expand the number of full-service community schools in America — one of the most important pieces of school legislation in recent years. It would provide grants for states and school districts to work with community organizations and businesses to create the kind of programs that have had so much success at schools across America. Strengthening services in schools also has the potential to save our country money on everything from prison systems to emergency room visits.

Oakland Unified School District:

A Full-Service Community School in Oakland serves the whole child; it invites the community in and extends its boundaries into the community in order to accelerate academic achievement; it shares responsibility for the student, family and community success.

http://www.thrivingstudents.org/reference-materials

Despite Flaws, We May Be The Model For Pluralistic Societies

The story which follows supports a theory of mine that the UnitedState, with its highly diverse population, and despite all our ethnic and racial bias, may still be the most social advanced nation with respect to the development of a pluralistic society. Pluralistic societies, to the extent of ours here in America, are a relatively recent development. Our founding fathers were thefirst to build a nation based on principles and ideals instead of geographic population and culture.  This was, and is, a gift to human progress.

 

European nationality remains primarily based on geography and the resulting cultural diversity that historical isolation once allowed. What would happen, for example, if migration patterns resulted in the majority of the Germans being from various other cultures?  While we have a long way to go in becoming a truly pluralistic society, we have a two-hundred year head start over most other countries.  Unfortunately, there are those here who would undo this progress but the long arch of history is not on their side.

Greece: Halt Mass Migrant Round-Ups

Discriminatory Police Sweeps Violate Rights

AUGUST 8, 2012

 

(London) – The Greek authorities’ ongoing sweeps targeting suspected migrants based on little more than their physical appearance violate international standards, Human Rights Watch said today. Since August 4, 2012, more than 6,000 foreigners presumed to be undocumented migrants have been taken into police stations for questioning, and more than 1,500 arrested for illegal entry and residence with a view to deportation to their countries of origin.
Greece has the right to enforce its immigration laws, and after a fair process, to deport people with no legal basis to stay in the country”, said Benjamin Ward, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. “But it doesn’t have the right to treat people like criminals or to presume irregular immigration status just because of their race or ethnicity.”

Greek police must have specific cause to stop and question people beyond the appearance of their national origin. Mass expulsions are strictly prohibited under international law. Greece is also legally bound not to return refugees to persecution or anyone to risk of torture. Yet Greece has failed to demonstrate its capacity even to receive asylum claims, let alone to process and decide them fairly, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch and others have also documented inhuman and degrading conditions in Greek migrant detention facilities. While enforcing its immigration laws, Greece needs to be scrupulous in respecting the basic human rights of migrants.  Greece should not discriminate based on race or ethnicity and should not subject migrants to arbitrary detention, inhuman and degrading treatment or to summary removal without due process of law. Greece should also provide effective remedies to those in need of protection.

With its deep economic crisis, and after years of mismanaged migration and asylum policies, anti-migrant sentiment has grown in Greece. A far-right party entered parliament for the first time in 2012 elections. A recent Human Rights Watch report showed that xenophobic violence in Greece has reached alarming proportions, with gangs regularly attacking migrants and asylum seekers. The attackers are rarely arrested, and police inaction is the rule.

“Greek police have a duty to protect all foreigners from violence, just as they do Greek citizens”, Ward said. “These sweeps are a dangerous distraction from the real policing challenges the country faces.”

Wealth Redistribution Begins with A Fair Wage

When America’s wealthy elite talk of the redistribution of wealth it is a derisive term applied to federal aid to the working poor paid out of federal tax revenues. The rich are unhappy that some of their compensation goes to support low wage earners.  But the growing need for federal aid to support working families is really a consequence of the unfair redistribution of wealth that takes place every working day.

Beginning around 1978 and continuing today, hourly employees have not received a fair wage for a days work.  More specifically, hourly wages stopped keeping pace with the rise of hourly productivity (or GDP).  Workers continued generating new wealth but they were no longer receiving a share in the additional wealthy they were creating.  This simple fact, compounded over the decades, is the single most relevant factor behind our economic difficulties today. Below are some key findings from a report regarding how America’s wage earners are doing.  It is from a report put out by the Economic Policy Institute.

THE STATE OF WORKINGAMERICA

Policy-driven inequality blocks growth for low- and middle-income Americans

http://stateofworkingamerica.org/fact-sheets/key-findings/
Daily stock indices, monthly employment reports, and even quarterly data on the gross domestic product are insufficient indicators for answering this vital question:

 

How well is the American economy providing acceptable growth in living standards for most households? 

 

EPI’s The State of Working America, 12th Edition looks broadly at available data and concludes that the  answer is simply “not well at all.”
This is not because the economy has failed to grow, on average. National income has grown enough to substantially improve the fortunes for all. As the data reveal, however, it is the top 5%, the top 1%, and fractions of the top 1 percent that have received almost all the benefits of the economy’s growth.

 

America’s low- and middle-income families have suffered a lost decade

22% – Despite an increase in productivity of more than 22 percent [between 2000 and] 2010, typical wage earners made roughly the same amount per hour as in 2000.
↓ 6% – Median family income was 6 percent lower in 2010 than in 2000.

This lost decade of no wage and income growth began well before the Great Recession—which started in Dec. 2007—battered wages and incomes. In the historically weak economic expansion following the 2001 recession, hourly wages and compensation failed to grow for either high school– or college-educated workers.

 

Another lost decade ahead?

Consensus forecasts predict that unemployment will remain high for many more years, suggesting that typical Americans are in for another lost decade of living standards growth. For example, as a result of persistent high unemployment, the incomes of families in the middle fifth of the income distribution in 2018 will likely still be below 2000 levels.
A generation of rising inequality.
156% – From 1979–2007, wages for the top 1 percent of wage earners grew 156 percent, compared to 17 percent for the bottom 90 percent.
60% – From 1979–2007, the top 1 percent of tax units claimed 60 percent of the cash, market-based income growth, compared to 9 percent for the bottom 90 percent.
38.3% – From 1983–2010, 38.3 percent of the wealth growth went to the top 1 percent and 74.2 percent to the top 5 percent. The bottom 60 percent, meanwhile, suffered a decline in wealth.

 

Rising inequality prevented wage growth for low- and middle-income workers

0.6% – From 1979–2007, incomes for the middle fifth of households grew, but the annualized rate of growth (0.6 percent) reflects a deep economic failure. This middle-fifth growth lagged far behind average growth over the same period, and pales in comparison to growth during earlier periods of history; between 1947 and 1979, for example, cash incomes (not even including expanded employer-provided and government in-kind benefits like health care) for the middle fifth of American families grew at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent—or four times as fast as what was achieved by the middle fifth of households between 1979 and 2007. If the middle fifth of the income distribution had grown at the average rate of income growth overall, these households would have had income $18,897 higher in 2007.
7% – The typical worker has not gained from improvements in the ability to produce more goods and services per hour worked (productivity growth). Between 1979 and 2011, productivity grew 69 percent, but median hourly compensation (wages and benefits) grew just 7 percent.

 

Policy choices generated inequality

Policy decisions made over the last several decades have caused this explosive rise in inequality. These decisions include: lowering individual and corporate tax rates; deregulating industries; failing to maintain the value of the minimum wage; failing to protect the right of workers to obtain collective bargaining; and failing to prevent asset bubbles.
Additional findings.
These sobering data could be mitigated by the ability of Americans to move freely up and down the income or wealth ladders (mobility). There is no evidence, however, that mobility has increased to offset rising inequality.
Further examination of the data through the lenses of race and ethnicity finds the overall data obscure the dramatically worse outcomes minorities face.
Gender gaps have been reduced in many of our labor market analyses. While due in large part to substantial gains for women, part of the closing of the gap has occurred because men have lost significant ground.

U.S. Drops to 12th Place on Global Prosperity and Well Being Index

How prosperous is the United States compared with other nations?  The latest Prosperity Index is out, and the news for America is disappointing.   The U.S. fell to 12th place in the world, just behind Luxembourg and Ireland.  Partisan and ideologically driven arguments should to be set aside for the moment as we analyze and assess this data.  We should take this finding as a challenge to be solved by appealing to our strengths as a nation.   In the coming months I will be exploring various aspects effecting our national prosperity.  I invite the readers of this blog to check back periodically to see what I uncover.

The 2012 Legatum Global Prosperity Index of Wealth and Well Being

http://www.li.com/media/press-releases/2012-legatum-prosperity-index-american-dream-at-risk-in-key-election-year

The just released Global Prosperity Index finds the United States has fallen to 12th place in the world. This is the first time the US has not been in the top 10 group.  The Index is based on the Dubai-based Legatum Institute’s assessment of prosperity based on both material wealth and personal wellbeing in 142 different countries, in eight categories ranging from the economy and entrepreneurship to health and personal freedom. The top 25 nations ranking is as follows:

Prosperity Index
1 – Norway
2 – Denmark
3 – Sweden
4 – Australia
5 – New Zealand
6 – Canada
7 – Finland
8 – Netherlands
9 – Switzerland
10 – Ireland
11 – Luxembourg
12 – U.S.
13 – UK
14 – Germany
15 – Iceland
16 – Austria
17 – Belgium
18 – Hong Kong
19 – Singapore
20 – Taiwan
21 – France
22 – Japan
23 – Spain
24 – Slovenia
25 – Malta

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227334/Scandinavian-countries-list-worlds-prosperous-nations–U-S-drops-time.html#ixzz2BCCN6dJl

There are eight categores by which national prosperity is judged.  The United States scored as follows on these eight categories:

Ranking    Catigory
20         Economy
12         Entrepreneurship /Opportunity
10         Governance
5         Education
2         Health
27        Safety/Security
14        Personal Freedom
10        Social Capital

Half of All Full-time Employees Earn Less Than $19/hr.

DATA DRIVEN VIEW POINT:  There are 103.6 million full-time workers in America, half of whom make $758 per week or less before income taxes and other payroll deductions.  That means a full time worker supporting a family of 4 and making the median U.S. wage needs, and is income eligible for, supplemental food assistance (SNAP).  These employees work a minimum of 35 hours per week, but may be working more than 40 hours per week as this income includes tip, commissions and overtime. It doesn’t include employer benefits.  All self-employed persons are excluded.
If the average hours worked per week is between 40 and 50 hours, the median hourly wage would be between $15 and $19 dollars per hour (with any overtime pay included). Again, that means that almost half of all full-time employees make less than $15 to $19 dollars per hour.  By inference, this means a great many full-time employees are making close to minimum wage. Also of note is the significant wage disparity between men and woman, especially among White and Asian women.
American workers are simply not being paid enough.  Any business hiring a full-time employee and paying less than a living wage should be taxed the difference between the employees wages and the taxpayer supported supplemental services that person is entitled to receive.

Bureau of Labor Statistics
For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, October 18, 2012   USDL-12-2072
Technical information: (202) 691-6378  •  cpsinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact: (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov

USUAL WEEKLY EARNINGS OF WAGE AND SALARY WORKERS THIRD QUARTER 2012

Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 103.6 million full-time wage and salary workers were $758 in the third quarter of 2012 (not seasonally adjusted), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

This was 0.7 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.7 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.

Data on usual weekly earnings are collected as part of the Current Population Survey, a nationwide sample survey of households in which respondents are asked, among other things, how much each wage and salary worker usually earns. (See the Technical Note.) Data shown in this release are not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified. Highlights from the third-quarter data are:

  • Seasonally adjusted median weekly earnings were $765 in the third quarter of 2012, little changed from the previous quarter ($773). (See table 1.)
  • On a not seasonally adjusted basis, median weekly earnings were $758 in the third quarter of 2012. Women who usually worked full time had median weekly earnings of $685, or 82.7 percent of the $828 median for men. (See table 2.)
  • The female-to-male earnings ratio varied by race and ethnicity. White women earned 83.4 percent as much as their male counterparts, compared with black (93.2 percent), Hispanic (87.5 percent), and Asian women (73.1 percent). (See table 2.)
  • Among the major race and ethnicity groups, median weekly earnings for black men working at full-time jobs were $633 per week, or 74.1 percent of the median for white men ($854). The difference was less among women, as black women’s median earnings ($590) were 82.9 percent of those for white women ($712). Overall, median earnings of Hispanics who worked full time ($556) were lower than those of blacks ($606), whites ($780), and Asians ($915). (See table 2.)
  • Usual weekly earnings of full-time workers varied by age. Among men, those age 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 had the highest median weekly earnings, $976 and $980, respectively. Usual weekly earnings were highest for women age 35 to 64; weekly earnings were $740 for women age 35 to 44, $754 for women age 45 to 54, and $766 for women age 55 to 64. Workers age 16 to 24 had the lowest median weekly earnings, at $437. (See table 3.)
  • Among the major occupational groups, persons employed full time in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median weekly earnings—$1,300 for men and $948 for women. Men and women employed in service jobs earned the least, $530 and $440, respectively. (See table 4.)
  • By educational attainment, full-time workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $464, compared with $648 for high school graduates (no college) and $1,170 for those holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Among college graduates with advanced degrees (professional or master’s degree and above), the highest earning 10 percent of male workers made $3,448 or more per week, compared with $2,311 or more for their female counterparts. (See table 5.)

Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Usual Weekly Earnings Data The Usual Weekly Earnings news release for the fourth quarter of 2012 will incorporate annual revisions to seasonally adjusted data for the number of full-time wage and salary workers and median weekly earnings in current dollars. (See table 1.) Estimates for constant (1982-84) dollar median weekly earnings also will be affected by revisions to the current dollar series.  Seasonally adjusted estimates back to the first quarter of 2008 will be subject to revision.


Go to Tables: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

Projections of Power – How Elections are Called by Our Media

DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT: Our election results are called based on statistical projections made by corporate media behind closed doors. These are the same media corporations that benefit so lavishly from all that campaign spending. So the question becomes, what is the rationale for highly vulnerable electronic voting machines to rapidly count votes when elections are called based on projections and exit polling by the NEP?  And why is it so important to get such quick result in the first place? Finally, if something did go wrong,this extra layer would make it so much more difficult to unravel what went wrong.  Recall the confusion caused in 2000 when Gore was projected to win. The Bush camp when nuts, got the medial to take it back and then call him the winner weeks before anyone knew the final result. And when you think about it, how could Bush have been declared the projected winner when the actual vote coun was so close.

Bev Harris covers these issues and she grants permission to  re-post providing it is attributed and credited to her Website, blackboxvoting.org

AMERICA’S CLAIRVOYANT ELECTION SYSTEM

by Bev Harris, BlackBoxVoting.org
11/7/2012

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

Perhaps one of the oddest moments of all during last night’s live election coverage was what happened to Karl Rove on Fox Network News.

With Florida still too close to call and hundreds of thousands of votes still out in Ohio (including a large hunk of votes in Romney strongholds), and with a spread of about 100,000 votes separating the candidates in Ohio, Fox called Ohio for Obama. Karl Rove arranged to come on the Fox network to voice his rebuttal.

Now, whatever you think of Rove, I think most of us agree that he’s a numbers guy. His numbers didn’t support the calling of the state of Ohio at that point in time. When he explained his reasoning, the Fox anchor quickly shut him down. “It’s a science” he was told.

Based not on actual votes, but on projections from a single private entity, the National Election Pool (NEP), we were all told what the election results were going to be. When Rove pulled out his notes and calculations, he was basically told “Shut up, this is a science.”

But is that what your vote really is? A science project, to be viewed only by experts inside a nesting set of black boxes, completely out of public view?

If we are to have real self-governance, we need to be able to authenticate each essential step in our own elections — without need for special expertise to explain to us what the result is. What more centralized, privatized form of declaring a result is there than to commission the NEP to provide a single set of statistics to ALL of the TV networks for a declaration of results without human eyes ever looking at a single ballot.

The media called the election in Tennessee just 11 minutes after the polls closed and by the way, exit polls had already been cancelled in Tennessee because, it was explained, everyone already knew who the winner was going to be so why bother with the expense. Even the voting machines, opaque and controlled by whatever their programmers put into them, had not yet issued results printouts. Is this the new, NEW method for pretending at democracy?

Washington State, where I live, is a forced absentee state, where 100% of the votes are now absentee ballots, which must be postmarked on Election Day. I placed my ballot in the post office at 2 pm. There are no exit polls, because there are no polling places. Apparently a few phone calls now substitute for actual exit polling (to people with land lines? That’s an increasingly elderly demographic). Perhaps 40% of all ballots in Washington have not even been counted yet, but we’ve been told the results.

In California, typically 25% of the votes are counted after Election Day, yet results have been announced. That’s a million uncounted ballots in Los Angeles alone. We have no clue what is on those ballots but we’ve been told not to worry about it. The stats guys have issued their verdict.

Forget voting machines, programmed by insiders to do whatever they do. Let’s just skip counting the votes altogether and use statistics.

Creepy little way to run an election, if you ask me.

From Wikipedia: The National Election Pool (NEP) is a consortium of American news organizations formed in 2003 to provide “information on Election Night about the vote count, election analysis and election projections.” See NEP’s FAQ. Member companies consist of ABC News, the Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News. The organization relies on the Associated Press to perform vote tabulations and contracted with Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International to “make projections and provide exit pollanalysis.” [see below]
The precursor was Voter News Service, which was disbanded in 2003, after controversies over the 2000 and 2002 election results. The NEP plan is largely the suggestion of CNN, which used Edison/Mitofsky as consultants in the past. Mitofsky headed the original pool that preceded VNS.
The organizers of the pool insist that the purpose of their quick collection of exit poll data is not to determine if an election is flawed, but rather to project winners of races. Despite past problems, they note that none of their members has incorrectly called a winner since the current system was put in place. [1] However, to avoid the premature leaking of data, collection is now done in a “Quarantine Room” at an undisclosed location in New York. All participants are stripped of outside communications devices until it’s time for information to be released officially.

Warren Mitofsky (September 17, 1934 – September 1, 2006) was an American political pollster.
Mitofsky graduated in 1957 from Guilford College and was executive director of the CBS News election and survey unit from 1967 to 1990. He also previously served as an executive producer of CBS election night broadcasts.
Prior to CBS, Mitofsky worked with the Census Bureau where he designed a number of surveys. Along with Joseph Waksberg, Mitofsky is credited with developing an efficient method of sampling telephone numbers using random digit dialing, which has since been widely adopted as a sampling method. In 1999, the American Association for Public Opinion Research presented him with its lifetime achievement award for his “continuing concern for survey quality”.
Mitofsky is credited with having invented the exit poll.[1]
In November 2004, Mitofsky was interviewed by PBS NewsHour regarding what went wrong with the accuracy of his exit polls for the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Early poll results were leaked which showed John Kerry leading George W. Bush, conflicting with the final official outcome. Mitofsky said he suspected that the difference arose because “the Kerry voters were more anxious to participate in our exit polls than the Bush voters.” He refused, consistently, to release precinct-level polling data from Ohio to researchers who maintained that the election results were fraudulent, and his own exit polls were a more accurate picture of the vote.
He died on September 1, 2006 in New York City of an aortic aneurysm, aged 71.[2]

Male Contraception Could Mute Abortion Debate

Bio-technology may one day mute the abortion debate by curtailing the number of unintended pregnancies. The possibility of developing an effective male contraceptive just improved.

Scientists from Monash University, the University of Newcastle, John Curtin School of Medical Research and Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Australia; and the University of Cambridge, in the UK have advanced research that could lead to a male contraceptive.  They discovered a genetic mutation in a protein (RABL2) that shortens a sperm cell’s tail and limits its ability to swim.   According to an  article published October 8, 2012 in Genetics (Medical Xpress), “In laboratory tests, the team found that a mutation in RABL2 resulted in sperm tails that were 17 per cent shorter than normal. Dysfunctional RABL2 also negatively affected sperm production, resulting in a 50 per cent decrease. “

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-10-closer-male-contraceptive-pill.html 

According to the report, RABL2 also works with other molecules known as intraflagellar transport proteins that carry genetic cargo along the sperm tail.  Dysfunctional RABL2 results in lower sperm counts as well as sperm structure that reduces a its potency as well as its motility.  With these insights it may be possible in the future to develop a pill that inhibits this protein. The prospect is not straight forward, however, because lower concentrations of  RABL2 is also found in other organs.  The trick would be to find a way to inhibit it only in the testes.

DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT:

The development of a male contraception should be a welcome, even an urgent goal for pro-life advocates.  A male contraceptive pill would greatly reduce the number of abortions in the United States and bypass most religious based objections to post-fertilization contraceptives methods currently available for woman.

As it stands now, people have been fruitful and have multiplied to the point where human population is creating enormous stress on the planet’s ecosystems.  There are more people alive today than have already died in the past.  And population growth is still rising exponentially.  It is a mathematical certainty that we either take control of our population growth or nature will do it for us in ways that could lead to our extinction.  Any advances in contraception and increased ability of families to control reproduction is welcome news.