Friday, November 30, 2007

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

This just in ...

... A man, thinking that the secret service was out to get him, went into Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters claiming to have a bomb and taking hostages.

The secret service went in and got him.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a very interesting example of the reflexive paradox and a good example of people arriving at the right conclusion for the wrong reason.

In all likelihood, it was the action of taking hostages that caused the secret service to go in and get him and not the pre-existing notions that made him think the SS was after him.

In other news, apparently a large number of people (especially those in the liberal media) appear to be of the mind that there will be a major devaluing of US currency and a deep recession in 2008. Such folks might, en masse, convert their currency from dollars to dinars, and disengage in local economic activity; thus causing the recession they fear.

Trying to figure out how to keep our society from destroying itself by our own schizophrenic way of thinking is a challenge. Imbalances in our economy might make self-fulfilling prophecies come true. On the whole, far too much money in the United States is invested in realty. Left leaning countries of the world might engage in George Soros's hobby of devaluing currencies and cause a monetary crisis in the United States by dumping dollars.

IMHO, preoccupation with the reflexive paradox is a hallmark of modern thinking. The central theme of modern thinking is that the psychological state of mind creates our reality.

I am a regressive thinker who holds that our actions are the primary cause of our reality. All of the the imbalances of the economic world can and will be exploited by wanks like George Sorros. The goal is to position ourselves so that we are not caught and destroyed by the sway of public opinion.

The US has a few nasty exposures that could turn around and cause a great deal of hardship in the upcoming decades: Most Americans depend on the government for their retirement, their education and healthcare (that is a nasty imbalance). Since we depend on the government for most necessities of our lives, few Americans these days directly own wealth producing assets (that is another nasty exposure). That government is leveraged to the hilt.

On the home front, Americans have far too much of their equity invested in their homes. Current mortgage and housing price woes have a lot of Americans in a financial bind. Those that have chosen to walk away from their loans have put our financial institutions in a bind.

It is possible that we will have a deep recession in 2008. The effect of social security and medicare is a society with an unbalanced portfolio with our futures dependent on the health of a single financial institution ... the Federal government. Our imbalanced investment portfolios that gave the manufacturing sector to China while we contented ourselves with flipping houses also created an imbalance.

It may be possible for the left to engineer a recession in 2008. I think the root cause of the recession is the imbalances caused by our progressive politics and not our thoughts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Running Out of Things to Say

Yahoo Reports that, due to the screenwriters guild strike, the Democratic Party will be forced to cancel their next debate.

The timing of the strike is horrible. Here we are in the last weeks before the primary begins and the candidates need new material with pertinent references to current events to complete the characters they've crafted.

Let's hope the screenwriters' guild resolves this strike before the general election; otherwise, we could end up with a really boring election season with the Republicans pontificating off the cuff while the Democrats pace back and forth waiting for new scripts to respond.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Site of the Day

Wow, my blog was just named Salt Lake Site of the Day for December 12, 2007. Can you believe it? I must know somebody.

The SoD program was not intended to be an award. Here is the evolution of the idea.

Salt Lake Sites was intended to be an all inclusive directory. No matter how bad the site; I will list it if it is from or about the Salt Lake Valley.

The directory lists over 5000 sites. I wanted a way to point out some of the better designs. I also wanted to figure out a way to get people to realize the diversity of the local web.

The other idea in my brain at the time was that I wanted changing content on the front page. I decided to do a site of the day program so that something new would show up on the front page every day.

This changing content idea proved problematic for Google. Google would cache the page and put it in the index. Since the front page was changing every day, the data Google had about my site's front page was always wrong.

This was problematic; So, I pulled the SoD program from the front page and left the reviews on stand alone pages.

In choosing the SoDs, I was trying to concentrate on design and not content. For that reason, only a few blogs are SoDs. A blogger uses a design from a third party. Also bloggers tend to link to each other. The SoD program gives a bias to artists, musicians, environmental and social organizations. These organizations are often link starved. Not to burst bubbles, but your typical non-profit social organization does more for the community than your typical blogger.

I occasionally throw in an advertiser. Actually I do so because I think some of the Advertisers are doing SoD worthy things. Of course, being a capitalist, I put the advertisers in Q4. I figure that if I am morally compromised; I should be morally compromised effectively.

Having created a SoD program, I was trying to figure out a way to monetize the calendar. I had tried putting affiliate ads on the calendar, but that didn't get a sale for some 300,000 page views; So, I decide to make a Store of the Day program. The Store of the day is pure commercialism. My thought was that all of the calendar events would have a link to the store of the day. When you add a calendar event, the event page would have a link to your event and one to the store of the day.

The store of the day is a money making ad, pure and simple.

he, he, he. I am so evil.

Actually the design lets me show local stuff with a minimal intrusion. I am trying to find ways to have ads that is less intrusive.

I think that the site of the day program does give extra exposure to the quality sites in the directory. The reviews have been viewed some 200,000 times.

Being a Site of the Day gets you about an extra 50 links a year.

If a web designer was smart, they would link to their SoD. Just like I am linking to my SoD in this post. Boy, I wonder what I did to deserve being called Site of the Day?

The rules for the Site of the Day is that a site can only be a SoD one day a year. I recycle the sites each year.

I thought about trying to make the SoD a wiki type thing where the public at large selects the site and writes the review. If you think something should be a SoD, you can drop me a note.

I just made a report that shows all of the SoDs. I do this silliness for Salt Lake (all SoDs), Provo (all SoDs), Moab (all SoDs), Park City (all SoDs) and Denver (all SoDs).

So, For all of you who you think all I do nothing but complain about Utah. Well, the truth is that I spent 95% of my time praising Utah, then grumble on this blog as a counter balance.

BTW: I don't put a lot of links on this blog, because I went link silly with the directories.

Black Friday Sales

Sorry, about those last posts. I let my inner progressive out to play. My inner progressive can get ugly at times. In school, I thought I would have a great future as a progressive thinker. I knew more paradoxes than all of the other progressives I know. But, of course, I knew that they were paradoxes. The people who are good at the game delude themselves into thinking that they are actually engaged in critical thinking when they recite paradox.

Anyway, I was letting my inner progressive play this morning as I was waiting to count my Black Friday Earnings. Counting money is what us capitalistic minded people do best.

Anyway on Black Friday my web empire had two sales and made $7.90.

Last Black Friday I had zero sales. Because I supported vouchers, almost every inbound link to the site was yanked and traffic fell 40%; So, I was worried that the sales would be zilch. But greediness and hatred prevailed and I had sales.

I had switched the site to West Host of Logan and only have to pay $6.95 a month. So, my capitalistic enterprise was able to cover hosting costs for the month on a single day.

Big Arm BayThe way that the site works is rather mischievious. My photo site has links into the community directories, and the community directories have links back to the photo site. (BTW, I just added a section of pictures Flathead Lake. I posted these with a leading edge of 1024px). I also have this blog and a really silly page called A Fountain of Bargains that has nothing but ads.

In other words, I basically am making a link farm that I am trying to pass off with a pathetic claims that amateur photography is content and links to things in the local community are some sort of community service.

The slime page shows you how slimy and corrupt the directories are. Right now the community directories have 15,000 links. About 14,000 of these go to local sites, and a little over 1000 go to evil affiliate programs (he, he, he). Of course, only about a quarter of the affiliate programs actively pay commissions.

I've had people get real upset at me for this structure. However, if you compared my directory structure to DMOZ, you would find that my structure actually gets more people to local community sites than DMOZ.

The stats page says I've had over 4 million page views on the directory. I've also had several million views of the calendar and other pages on the site. The protophoto stats show that the picture pages get viewed about 1.4 million times a year and the gallery pages get about 600,000 views a year.

Of course, all of this is dropping like a rock at the moment.

The site is a bear to maintain. This old link page shows that I've added about 21000 links to the directory. I've removed 3700 of the links because they've gone blank. There could be up to 1000 other dead links in the directory.

The only way for a community style site to thrive is figure out a way to users to contribute content to the site. I haven't been able to crack that code. I had some forums and a classified section which I had pulled as they only attracted spam and weren't worth the the maintenance costs. I would probably add stuff like that back to the site if ever I had any interest.

Not being able to crack that market, I am letting things idle as a link farm. The link farm breaks even and is really the only source of inbound traffic for several local community organizations and artists. Blogs tend to link to politicians and other bloggers, they rarely link to artists.

In some ways, I am glad that the site is a failure. If I had even an inkling of success, I probably would have hired people. Since I really dislike the corrupt UEA, I probably would have still shot my mouth off about vouchers, been publically ostracized for the effort, then I would have had to lay my employees off.

But Do They Have Self Esteem?

I just heard some of those hate-mongering rightwing conservatives on Fox News talking about how so many people below the poverty level in the US not only have full bellies, they have Big Screen TVs.

The ones that don't are just waiting until the screens hit that sweet price point.

As a progressively minded blogger, I am livid at these Conservatives who judge the well being of people by how well people's beings are.

If I could crawl through the cable connection and confront that Nazi on Fox I would ask the Barbarian Capitalist the single question:

"Do they have self-esteem?"

"Barbarian Capitalism" is like the death sport Dodgeball that regressive schools used to play in the dark ages of America's past. In this hate-sport, children would throw big red bouncy balls at each other. If you were hit; your self-esteem would be destroyed, and you might as well commit suicide.

I am sure that all of these impoverished Americans sitting around this Thanksgiving Weekend watching the big game on big screen TVs with full bellies would give up the game, the full belly and big screen TV if they could just erase from their memories the horrific nightmare of being hit by a dodgeball.

And as for George W. Bush, with all of his wars and tax cuts, I would ask him a single question: "What good is a Big Screen TV if you can't afford the HDTV cable channels?"

High Definition Cable is a right! It is a basic necessity that the government should provide.

George W. Bush, inc. is indoctrinating Americnans with basic cable that includes Fox News. A progressive leader would be liberating the peoples with premium cable which includes the enlightened programming of HBO!

And as for the games. Half of the teams are going to lose this weekend. Doesn't that bother anyone?

It is all barbaric capitalism. In a progressive world, all teams would win and we would all have the same size and same resolution TV screens and have access to the same channel (there would be only one channel, but the programming on that channel would be so good that no-one would mind. Maybe it could show profiles of the glorious leader?)

Having choice destroys self-esteem as in any system with choice, it is possible to make bad choices. In a progressive world, there are no choices, no red balls to dodge, and we all live happily and equally with self esteem for all.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Dark Side of Sesame Street

Perhaps the reason I am such a curmudgeon is that I saw the dark side of Sesame Street when I was a kid. I remember watching Sesame Street when dirty kids ran through fields full of cows. They showed this despite the fact that cows release greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.

I can even remember Cookie Monster eating a pipe. Then there was that whole episode where Big Bird had an imaginary Snuffleupagus.

Oh, I laughed "at" not "with" Big Bird on that one.

I still think of Big Bird as a big yellow funny shaped creature, and fail to appreciate the bird's full personhood.

Yes, I saw, was delighted by and still remember the adult only version of Sesame Street shown in the 60s. A large number of people ended up experimenting with drugs because of the first two years of the program.

I remember becoming disappointed with the Street in later years. I thought season three and on of the street was too clean. I missed the sensual scenes of dirty kids running in fields. Later seasons were just too much like Mr. Rogers for my urbane tastes.

Worst of all. I secretly delighted in the Muppet Show. The Muppet Show showed us raw side of being Gonzo. I loved the Muppet Show more than even the adult only Sesame Street episodes.

By watching images not suitable for children in my formative years, I became desensitized to social justice and peoples progress. I think horrible thoughts these days. For example, I think people should yank their kids from public school and go private. I would vote against any candidate offering universal health care.

he, he, he.

Ssshhh, if you want to know something even more sinister about me than my reveling in the adult only Sesame Street.

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a handmade Punch and Judy puppet set. The set had a strange little grinder box. One of the puppets was a red devilish puppet named Mephistopheles who would put Punch and Judy in the grinder and turn them into sausages!!!!

It was so funny.

That's right! Mephistopheles would grind Punch and Judy into Sausage.

Mephistopheles did all sorts of other terrible things to Punch and Judy.

Having had direct exposure to Punch and Judy puppets has resulted in all sorts of self-esteem and social adjustment issues.

I supported the troop surge, even though it is putting the best and brightest of our nation through a grinder.

I also delighted in racist literature such as Uncle Remus's tales of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Of course, I didn't realize it was racist until Romney was called racist for using the term "tar baby" to refer to a sticky mess. I've whistled zip-a-di-do-dah to myself when I've encountered briar patches in the wilderness.

But, don't tell anyone. That will be our secret.

Yes, the world clearly is a worse place becaue people like Jim Hansen, my grandfather, Mother Goose, Joel Chandler Harris, the Brothers Grimm and others wontonly exposed kids to unsuitable adult images. If only Jim Hansen had never shown those kids running in a field full of cows ... we would have progressed as a society. But I saw Cookie monster eat a pipe and am now forever tainted.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving,

I was looking at my web stats and realized that I probably shouldn't have written posts favoring vouchers. I see that most of the people who had links to Salt Lake Sites pulled 'em in the last months. Going against a group as powerful as the UEA has consequences.

I used to get about $400 in ad revenue on the sites in the fourth quarter, which I would use to pay the hosting fees. I still hope to get $300, although I am really braced to see nada.

I am extremely grateful to live in a free country. I was able to risk starting some local sites. There was interest in the project in Missoula. Not surprisingly, I only saw hostility in Utah. Of course, the goal of my project was to show the diversity of the community. Utah is a place where people strive for conformance.

I am thankful for living in a country where I was able to experiment with ideas without being hung up by my thumbs in the towns square as a result. I would be hanging by my thumbs in the town square if I tried this in a progressive country like North Korea or Cuba.

I am thankful for free thinkers like Patrick Byrne who are willing to state opinions despite the fact that the pack will try to bring him down.

Speaking of people who try to do good, I am thankful to live in a world where a person who dedicated himself to advancing the Boy Scouts prospered in the process. It is inspiring to know that a person made six figures by doing good.

I wish it were possible for teachers to make six figure salaries. They could if they were allowed to start teaching companies.

Professors at state Universities routinely make six figures. Most do so by thrusting daggers in the backs of the peers and graduate students. So, I guess I wouldn't count the wealthy professoriat among the class of people doing well by doing good.

I am extremely thankful this year for the brave men and women who served our nation abroad. I've known several people who served abroad and lost their lifelong friendships at home as a result. These veterans shrug and say that their schools buddies must not have really been friends ... still it is painful to be made a pariah for trying to do good.

The people in this world who stand against group think to do good are real heroes in my book. They, above all, deserve thanks.

I am thankful that General Patreus and George Bush stood against Pelosi and Reid and did the troop surge. There would have been a slaughter if they did not stand against group think. I we can find a way to exit from the area with a functioning democracy. I suspect that the US government will continue to be bumbling and inept in its doings.

Speaking of Exit Strategies ... During the decades that I've lived in Salt Lake, I've been asked some twenty or so times to leave. Mormons tell people to leave in firm, steady yet polite voices. Progressives do so with black slurs and backstabbing. I've become too jaded living here. So, I put a pull asking for thoughts on where I should go next.

I was born in Denver. I can actually claim to be a third generation Coloradan!

I love the Grand Junction area. It has access to both mountains and desert. I could be happy living on the Colorado River. Grand Junction just doesn't have a good University. I still have fantasies that someone might be interested in my mathematical research.

Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Missoula and Durango all have universities that blow the socks off anything Utah has to offer. There used to be a University in Boulder. I visited Boulder a few years back thinking to make that place my home.

There was a large progressive church where Colorado University used to stand. I went to some pagan religious ceremonies in the buildings that once housed classrooms. The priests at the CU Church seemed more interested in indoctrination than in teaching, the initiates seemed more interested in conforming than in learning.

There is a new Wyoming Catholic College in Lander. I understand that WCC wants to revive the classical liberal curriculum. It would be cool to live in an area with a school trying to revive the classical liberal world view, although I would prefer to see a nondenominational effort. Of course, it is entirely possible that you have to have a well stated religion that is separate from science to avoid the trap of trying to elevate science to a religion.

Wyoming is cold, and I don't know if there is a market for my skill set (database and web programming); So, I didn't put Lander or Laramie on the list. In Colorado and Utah, you can always just turn the heat off and wear a sweater when money gets tight. In Montana and Wyoming: if you turn the heat off; you die.

Damn, my thanksgiving post is coming off as jaded.

I am thankful for the efforts of so many to help clean up the air in Salt Lake Valley. Salt Lake is prone to inversions. Due to some very hard work and dedication to the environment, the population of the valley has been able to double without a corresponding increase in pollution. The valley is still smoggy in the winter, but it is far better than it was in the 70s.

I am thankful that most of the things I prayed for as a youth never happened. Things would be a lot worse if God had listened to me. I am thankful that most people ignore what they are taught in school. I am thankful that most politicians are inept. Things get bad when politicians realize their grandiose dreams. I am thankful for the billions of people who work to achieve their modest dreams. A collection of individual dreams is so much more interesting than singular dream of a collective.

I am thankful for each and every American who is working to achieve their modest dream, and am thankful that America has so far avoided the nightmare of a collective.

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Engineered Recession?

I wonder if the left is working on engineering a recession for 2008. A big recession could dramatically improve the changes that the Democrats could win big in 2008. I've heard a large number of progressive newspeople, like Krugman, talking about recession. This Report on Yahoo says that the two progressive leaders Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are talking about ways to destroy the US currency.

The fact that demand for gas in the US is unabated despite the rise in prices shows that calls for conservation have pretty much gone unheeded.

It is really silly that the progressive tax system and excessive social policies toward social services have discouraged Americans from saving. If Americans had their retirement savings invested in the market, rather than in the pay as you go plan of social security, I think we could weather any challenges thrown at us by the international community. As it stands, I think there is a good chance that the left would be able to engineer a major recession for the 2008 elections.

We have a public education system that teaches Americans how to be slaves. Maybe it is our destiny to diminish. Kurt Vonnegutt used the term "will to become." The millions of progressives who prefer feudalism to freedom just might will us to become a nation of slaves.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Splash Page

I made a splash page for this blog. The picture is of Coco looking into a mine shaft.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Back in Salt Lake

If you are wondering; Coco pooped on the brand new carpet of the home I was visiting in Hamilton, Montana; So, I took her back to Salt Lake where the carpet is 40 years old and has been subject, over the ages, to worse things than puppy poop.

It is sad, Coco was having a lot of fun living in the countryside. Unfortunately, she seems to have developed a taste for dead things found by the side of the road.

Coco, here is a hint: If wild animals didn't eat it; it is probably bad for you. Yes, this adage includes things found in the mulch pile. It is especially true for things found in a mulch pile.

Blodgett CanyonThe goal of this trip was not to take pictures, but I managed to snag a few shots. Here is a short walk up Blodgett Canyon and Fort Missoula. I will be labeling pictures throughout the week. The Year Sum report shows pictures by date.

The reason I take pictures of towns (instead of the scenery around the town--like real photographers do) is that I am trying to build traffic for a collection of community directories. Nobody else links to the directories; so I must.

My sister Connie has a collection of directories (under the banner that focus on Idaho and Montana. We are actually testing two different concepts. The first is a visual pay for inclusion directory. The second is a text only directory.

I am super jealous. When I talk to people in Montana about the goals of the project, I get greeted with interest in the project. When I mention the project to people, I am often rewarded with good conversation.

When I mention the community directory project in Utah, I am usually heaped with scorn and suspicion.

I mention this as I have been thinking about education of late.

Utah is a monoculture. 96% of the people in this state go to the same cookie-cutter public schools. It is a state where pretty much everyone has been indoctrinated with twice heated version of the Dewey's version of the Material Dialectics.

The UEA teaches a philosophy of intolerance where one is expected to conform to the molds dictated by the political class or live as an outcast. The Mormons are bad. The progressives are a thousand times worse.

This philosophy that one must dominate or be dominated reduces people to a base level where they become inhospitable and suspicious of new ideas. The virulent intolerance taught by the UEA creates a fractured society where people set to each others' throats before engaging in discourse.

This thing where 96% of the people go to the same school has created a culture where different perspectives cannot exist in parallel. There is one school with political titans battling for total supremacy over the school.

The result is a mean, snipy rude people who are incapable of talking to each other in a civil manner.

I've only take pictures of the exterior of buildings because, quite frankly, I really don't like the people inside the buildings.

Places where there is a diversity of schools tend to breed cultures where people are more aware of different perspectives and are open to discussing ideas.

Anyway, while wandering through Montana, I met a large number of extremely friendly people. I even found myself questioning why I only take pictures of the exterior of buildings. I was actually invited indoors. That is something that would never happen in Utah. Montana has lower taxes and a much greater diversity in schools.

I happen to love books and bookstores.

I suddenly have an image in my mind of the fat guy who bends the chair at the cash register of King's English. The conversation was quite comical. The guy accidentally made a comparison between Christianity and homosexuality. He then spent ten minutes in an absolutely absurd monologue where he apologized for comparing a group we are supposed to love, homosexuals, to a group that progressives are supposed to hate: the Christians. I really wish I had the monologue recorded.

I've had other bad experiences at The Kings English and Sam Wellers. On the reverse side, I was once tossed out of a bookstore in Saint George simply for mentioning that I read Giant Joshua by the apostate Maurine Whipple.

The only Utah Bookstore that I ever truly loved was a thing called Experienced Books in Sugarhouse. The store was owned by a guy named Keith who truly loved books. His primary concern was the quality of the writing.

While the majority of bookstores in Utah only carry books that support their ideology, Keith had a selection of books with a phenomenal breadth that was challenged only by the University's Library. Even worse, I think he may have read every single book in the store.

Anyway, my trip to Montana was fun. I had about twelve really interesting and friendly conversations with absolute strangers.

You would think that, in a state where 96% of the people went to the same school, people would be friendlier. Yet, I am now of the opinion that this system based on the premise that one must dominate or perish leads to a terse and suspicious character. While societies that openly have different schools of thought and accept that people of different schools might actually see the world differently, tend to become more civil with time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Custom Domain

I just moved this blog to a "custom domain." The custom domain is

A custom domain is still hosted by The reason I chose the custom domain route over the FTP route was that Google redirects the old pages to my new site. The blogger program says that the FTP route simply deletes the old domain.

If anyone has links to this site, you might want to change your links. The old links should all URL forward to the right place.

Of course, I am pretty much the only person who links here. I will be changing links this afternoon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mind Farts

The Daily Interlake has an interesting article about Staff Sargeant Brian Rhodes who is a public relation officer in Baghdad. As a public information officer, he takes reporters to the hot spots and gets to see first hand what the reporters choose to report. They seem to prefer writing reports about violence to peace.

I hope that Iraq can have a month or two of reduced violence. My big fear is that there will be a big increase in violence next year as international groups try to influence the US election.

It is strange. I have a horrible habit of being out of sync with the nation. I was against the invasion of Iraq, but for the surge. I was hoping that the voucher vote wouldn't have resulted in a landslide against it. Perhaps it is just a tendency to run in the opposite direction of the sheep.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Un Googled

It appears that my blog has been removed from the Google Search Engine.

It has a technorati rating of 4, which is about as low as a blog can get.

One of the problems is that google started blocking webcrawlers from the /search directory. They do this with a Disallow statement in the robots.txt file. The label links all go to this directory. To make matters worse, the date links use javascript. This structure essentially means that only the seven entries on the front page get crawled by google each month. None of the internal pages will be crawled.

So, I will probably be moving this blog to a new location.

The big challenge is that blogger doesn't have a mechanism for backing up posts and comments.

Anyway, if none of the pages get crawled, then I guess there is no point in dropping mind farts on this blog.

BTW, the voucher proposal went down big time. Writing about the proposal brought back the depressing memories of when I was cornered by the politically correct gatekeepers at the U's Education department. It is sad that so many people today fear choice and diversity.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Swim in the Bitterroot

I was called away to Hamilton, Montana and will miss the elections. It is ashame as I would love to vote for a more open and productive education system.

One Wet PuppyCoco took a swim in the Bitterroot. The water was all shivery cold, but she had so much fun. She would have played 'til hypothermia set in. Speaking of hypothermia, I think that, on average, people in Montana spend more money on coats than people from Utah. My warm winter coat appears a bit pathetic.

Quite frankly, I hate releasing green house gasses just so I can stay warm. In Salt Lake, it is possible to heat a living space just by baking some bread. For that matter, I've gone years without turning on the heater in my apartment. Of course, I tend to work 12 hour days and just use the apartment for sleeping. So 52 degrees was adequate.

Welcome to River ParkAnyway, Coco went swimming at the Kiwanis River Park. The park has this nifty feature where they carved little animal figures into the tree stumps. They had a similar statue in the Denver City Park.

Salmon v. BearSomeone upgraded Salmon, Idaho by placing a bear statue in their new river park. Creating public right of ways along rivers and green corridors fits perfectly in the scope of what local community governments need to do. Salmon had the problem that an old gas station and abandonned cheese factory had polluted the soil in the prime real estate near the Salmon River. Transforming the area into a city park was a wise decision. This is especially true in a town that derives a great deal of income from the rafting and recreational fishing industry.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tie In

Oops, I forgot the tie in between the last two posts. In the fractional post I note that vouchers would increase per student spending and would increase total spending (private and public) on K-12 education.

Because the program is breaking an the educational monopoly (96% of the market) it would reduce total money controlled by the monopoly. So there would be less spending on public education. The reason for the Power v. Wealth post is that I figure that this last figure is really only of interest to people who consider the power of the public education to be more important to the wealth that students gain through increased spending on their education. The power weilded by the public teachers would decrease. If you consider this to be the primary factor in education they you should vote against the proposal. If you consider the wealth gained through diversity in education is more important; you should vote for the proposal.

Fractional Debate

Prior to becoming a Congressman, Representative Rob Bishop spent 28 years as a public school teacher; so, it is not surprising that he doesn't know how fractions work. Very few people in public education these days seem to understand complex ideas like fractions or grammar. Anyway, Representative Bishop is running a TV ad that says:

[the voucher system] increases funds for spending on public schools

He is wrong. Vouchers will decrease spending on public schools. It will, however, increase total spending on education.

The Teachers Union is running ads that say vouchers will pull money from the public schools and conclude that this will decrease spending per student in public schools and increase class sizes. This, again, is not true. Vouchers would reduce the number of students at a greater rate than the reduced funding; so it actually increases spending per student.

Of course, I would not expect a group of public school teachers to be able to do fractions. I forgive them this error.

While fractions are above the required skill set for public school teachers, I think fractions are a good thing for voters to understand. This whole voucher debate is about the complex inner working of fractions.

The Math of Vouchers

Utah is a land of extremes. I've seen in several blogs and news articles the figure that 96% of Utah students go to public school. (I have not found an authoritative source for this number). Utah has an extremely high birth rate. The result of these facts is that Utah has both the highest tax burden for taxpayer in the US and ranks among the lowest in per capita spending per student. States with higher percentages of students in private school have more money to spend per public school student and have a lower tax burden.

The whole voucher thing will help correct this imbalance.

The extremely high tax burden makes it hard to improve per student spending. Since there is a projected spike in new students in coming years, Utah will soon be facing an education crisis.

The number of students is outside the control of the legislature. Utah could reduce the crisis if it found a way to divert some of the increase in our school population to private schools, where they are less of a burden on the state.

The voucher program would create a mechanism that would allow students underserved by the public school system a way out. It does this by creating a resource that follows the student. The resource ranges from $3000 to $500 depending on a family's income.

If a student leaves the public school, they will take $3k and add some of their personal money and go to a private school. They will leave $4k in the public school.

So, here is what the numbers do:

There are some students who are going to private schools who will use vouchers. This group pays taxes for services that they do not use. The voucher system will decrease the total amount of wealth transferred from this group. Reducing this wealth transfer directly decreases spending on public schools. There is a fairness issue here. The system is charging people for a service that they do not use.

A larger group will be students who leave the public school and go to private schools. The students in this group will take $3000 with them to their new school, but leave $4000 in the public school system. The families of these students are likely to spend an additional $2000 of their own money on education. The people in this group will free up resources for other students in public education. They will dramatically increase the amount spent in private education. This group will result in a big boost in total education expenses in the state.

Utah currently has only a tiny number of students in private schools. So, the proposal is likely to result in a big increase in the total spent on education. This increase would be realized primarily by the private schools.

Since Utah is expecting a big influx of students in upcoming years, we are likely to see a boom in the private school industry, while the public school system simply stays phenomenally large.

The public school system is like Walmart. The new fad of town sponsored Farmers Markets has decreased the growth of Walmart, but Walmart is still really big. Just as the Farmers Market has spurred a growth in small independently owned farms, the voucher system will spur the growth of small independently owned schools. The initiative simply increases local ownership, quality and diversity. Just as Walmart is huge, the public school system will remain huge.


This is the summary of the voucher proposal:

The Total amount spent on education increases and per student spending increases.

This increase will be realized primarily by the private school system.

The boom in privately owned schools would lead to a boom in privately owned local equity. The increase in privately owned equity would increase overall wealth in the state and increase state tax revenues.

The high taxpayer burden for education in Utah would remain the same, but there would be an increase in spending per student. The only social justice question is that wealthy families currently sending their children to private schools could get a break of $500 per child. This is countered by moral questions about robbing peter to pay paul.

Back to the Campaigns

It is sad, but most of the ads on the voucher proposal seem to be misleading people. The voucher system will increase spending per student. It will dramatically increase the amount spent on private education in this state. It will decrease the total number of students in public schools and decrease the growth of the public education behemoth (which will remain humongous).

Richard Eyre of Values Parenting has one of the better commercial on vouchers. In his commercial he has a plate with thirty stacks of cookies seven cookies high to represent a public school classroom. He shows that if you take one of the stacks of cookies from the plate, then redistribute 4 of the cookies from the stack back on the plate, the remaining stacks of cookies would be higher.

I wish his commercial showed additional cookies being added to the stacks going to the private schools. The amount of money parents spend on their kids should count as money spent on kids. Alas, I fear Mr. Eyre's model is far too complicated for people educated in the public school system to comprehend.

Power v. Wealth

This post exists so that I can reference it in the next post.

Robert Kiyosaki pushes a get rich quick scheme book called "Rich Dad Poor Dad." Mr. Kiyosaki's father (the poor dad) was a bureaucrat in the Hawaiian education system. The poor dad excelled at the political techniques needed to move ahead in a big bureaucracy. He didn't know how money works, and was often in financial turmoil.

The poor dad actually belonged to his best friend. This dad taught the young Kiyosaki about the way money works. Following the financial advice of the rich dad, Mr. Kiyosaki was able to do more in his life than if he followed the path of his bureaucratic dad.

Now, I did not like the Rich Dad Poor Book (so no link). The one gem I took away from it was that the bureaucratic mindset judges success by the amount of power the bureaucrat has over others. The free market mindset judges one's success by what one does with their resources. Success to the bureaucrat is the number of people below them in the political hierarchy. The free marketeer judges success by the thing that they have created in life.

I've seen several posts claiming that 96% of Utah's students are in public education.

A monopoly that has absolute control over a segment market is the ultimate desire of the bureaucratic mindset. It doesn't really matter how well the monopoly performs. The state of monopolistic control is the ultimate goal.

The ideal of this paradigm is the organization man who denies their personal ego then throws their entire being into the power structure of the group.

My sympathies are with the small companies that are struggling to come into existences. I look at vouchers choice and really want to see what these independent thinkers would create. I understand the desire to create but not the desire to control.

I fear that the teacher's unions, that are throwing millions to stop freedom of choice in education, are spurred by a primal desire for power. The power is in the monopoly.

When I look at the voucher debate, I see a pro-voucher group driven by the desire to create, and the teachers unions driven by the desire to control. Or better state, I see a group set on nothing less that absolute dominance.

The funny thing is that the voucher proposal will go down in defeat simply because the press will question the motives of the private schools. The public will experience a sense of fear and vote no. We fear that the private schools might create wealth, or do a better job of education for less, not realizing that we've given total power to a more insidious group that has its own motive.

It is true that the political mind that spends its days grubbing for power rarely ends up with as much wealth as the evil capitalist. I really can't say that their motives are purer.

I do feel comfortable saying that the person dedicated to the production of wealth produces more wealth than the person dedicated to the pursuit of power. For that matter, those dedicated to the pursuit of power often impoverish those around them.

I think we are driven by the idea that schools pursuing the creation of wealth will somehow corrupt our kids; so we opt for those who pursue power.

I actually see a well educated mind as the greatest wealth that a person can eve4r hope to attain, and that the best way to cultivate well educated minds is through freedom.