Beyond the Cusp

October 21, 2014

Upcoming Midterm United States Elections, a Slightly Different Look

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Who is ahead in the different races depends on the state and even on the political leanings of the news or talk shows one follows. If you go to polling it gets even more confusing. Not only are the polls often slanted depending on who ordered the polling but it also depends on what the subject the poll is covering. Here are a few examples from some polls. A CBS poll recently showed that fifty percent of those responding said the Democrats are the party that “cares more about the needs and problems of people” while only 34 percent chose the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans have a nine point lead concerning the economy, an eleven point lead on foreign policy and a twenty-one point lead on addressing terrorism in an October CBS poll. So, who wins; the party of the people or the party which appears to be more competent? These numbers are nothing new as often the Democrats have polled well on sympathy and feeling the people’s pains while the Republicans historically win on foreign policy and confronting threats from the outside world. The fact the Republicans are polling slightly ahead of Democrats on the economy is not nationally definitive enough to be applied to every race. The probability is that in the traditionally Democrat leaning states the Democrats will probably poll even or ahead of the Republicans while in traditionally Republican states the Republicans will poll ahead. The place where that mere nine point lead for the Republicans becomes evident will be in what is often referred to as the ‘purple’ states where the parties have split the wins between them would thus likely give the Republicans a slight lead on the economy. Unfortunately that may not transfer to votes as there is also the personality of the candidates as well as the effectiveness of their campaigns and whether there are third party or independent candidates on the ballot and from which side they will draw away votes. Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates tend to take more votes from Republicans while Green and sometimes Libertarian Party take more votes from the Democrats. But other than their campaign, their affability or their campaign commercials and use of media and social networks, the most important determining item will simply be which party gets the voters to the polls, period.

With this year not being a Presidential election year, the national party machines are operating but there are far fewer volunteers and fewer funds for them to make a large determining difference. This means that it will be up to the State and even more local party machines and the candidate supporting campaign staff which will make up a significant part of the get out the vote efforts. States with Gubernatorial elections this election will have more party influence than those without. What makes these midterms so difficult to make predictions is because there is no real enthusiasm evident in the electorate and it is very possible that both of the major parties will suffer from miserable voter turnout and thus calling the elections near impossible. There will be some states where polling data is so skewed to one candidate that there is almost no challenge to picking the likely winner short of an unseen stumble where the leading candidate is caught in a criminal act or other compromising situation. They do not even need to actually be guilty as that will depend on a court of law, but such accusations can sway the court of public opinion and that is exactly what elections are, the court of public opinion choosing those they feel are less guilty of potentially bad leadership. That has been the truth in all too many elections in the United States in recent times where people are literally trying to choose which evil is less harmful. Some have gotten to the point that they have finally refused to vote for the lesser from two evils and they refuse to ever again vote for evil no matter how slight. These voters are demanding the parties to put forth candidates who are capable of leading and representing the people with integrity and virtue. This might even lead to making a third party or independent candidate to have a real possibility to take elections and possibly change the American political landscape once again. Perhaps it is time for a new political movement as the last great movement was the Abolition Movement which birthed the Republican Party and the Whig Party was laid to rest. The more likely bet is that the two major parties have so slanted and poisoned the election laws throughout the United States that it has become next to impossible for any third party or independent candidate to make the ballot, let alone have any funds remaining should they manage to make ballot, and trust I know from where I speak. This is really a sad problem as this may prevent a new direction to be proposed and placed before the American electorate and instead continue forcing them to choose between two toxins, progressive Democrats who want to double the size of government every decade, or the progressive Republican who wishes to slow government growth so that it doubles only four or five times each century. Since both the major parties are in favor of growing government and the sole difference is exactly the rate of growth the American people can rest assured that over time the Republicans will seem like the Democrats of a few decades back while the Democrats will be breaking new ground which the Republican will fall in love with a few decades hence. Should this trend not be reversed soon the United States will continue in decline and only accelerate with time.

Beyond the Cusp

September 16, 2014

Realities and Deceptions of the Living Wage

There have been demonstrations and protests spanning the United States often by workers of fast food restaurants demanding that governments, either local, state or Federal, enact laws setting the minimum wages at fifteen dollars an hour. They carry signs calling their demands for either a minimum wage or a living wage, both calling for wages to be set at fifteen dollars, the one consistency of these obviously organized demonstrations. The coordinators behind these protests have remained obscure though the best bet is that the labor unions are in the background somewhere pulling the strings for their own benefits as often union wages are keyed to the minimum wage thus a sizeable increase in the minimum wage would also push union wages skyward as well. But what are the ramifications should such minimum wage or livable wage demands be met? Would it be the panacea providing the workers with the cornucopia they appear to believe their demands would produce or would there be catastrophic and unexpected ramifications should their demand be realized? Perhaps some news from futurists and leading edge robotics news might shine some light on the potential future should these demands come to fruition.

 

Recent robotics news predicts that many fast food restaurants will soon be completely or predominantly automated needing few if any human workers as all of the cooking and cleaning would be performed by robotics. They even predicted with the advances being realized in artificial intelligence (AI) that there will soon be robots operating the checkout and cash registers in many retail outlets replacing humans in supermarkets as well as fast food restaurants. Any serious rise in workers’ salaries will only drive these changes to automation and robotic workers that much faster. You want an example of higher wages driving automation one need look no further than the automotive big three and the other car manufacturers. The worker salaries continued to climb and their benefit packages also rose considerably in the middle of the twentieth century and this spawned the demand and implementation of robotic assemblers, welders, painters and virtually every other position on the assembly line even to the point of robotic carts delivering the parts as needed from the storage warehouse using just in time delivery. These parts in the warehouse are also placed in their respective storage bins by robotic carts who take the components often from robotic assemblers, welders and fabricators. Some of the most advanced car factories use five to ten workers on the assembly lines and in parts production and line parts supply where the entire operations used to require fifty people or more on each line. The impetus for automating the production of automobiles owed some of the urgency to the rising cost not only of workers who were necessary to produce the products but also the rising retirement packages making every employee now a life-long financial demand which was rapidly driving the auto industry to bankruptcy, and for some manufacturers it still is. There are some who define General Motors as a retirement and healthcare provider which happens to occasionally produce and sell vehicles to the public. The real question is when the AI programs will reach the point where robots will be capable of replacing salespeople, especially those on commission who are actually incentivized to provide the customer with polite and helpful assistance. Some prediction is such a day will come before many of us think, who knows.

 

Back on January 24, 2009, we posted an article titled <a href=http://wp.me/pIou8-7f> Socialism; Right Idea, Wrong Time</a> which predicted that the future would eventually reach the point where employers would be forced, or decide prudently on their own, to replace as many if not all workers with robotic and AI systems as they would prove to be less expensive and more productive. Some friends took that article rather poorly and sent e-mails and other more personal communications stating so, though none cared to leave their notes to be used as comments. Many of our closest friends decided after some time not to question predictions as that would mean making a counter prediction of their own. Either way, the reasons behind the Google data tracking which records every search wording and the web locations chosen by each search in order to attempt to fashion an AI program that closely matches the functions of a human brain is due to the plans, predictions and guidance of futurist Ray Kurzweil, likely one of the most famous and accurate futurist and genius on the face of the Earth.

 

The sole complaint I have regarding Mr. Ray Kurzweil is that he sees only the good and positive side of the potentials of advanced AI programs and futurist programs that he is the driving force and visionary directing the direction of the extensive efforts by Google to gather data on everything people do and the data they produce. Google is far from alone in these efforts and they have teamed with Microsoft and also have arrangements with many sources of data permitting them to gather all kinds of data produced in numerous ways which are sourced such as credit cards, power consumptions, driving habits, travel habits, vacation preferences and other data they receive either through contracts or through providing services which also gather the data the futurist cooperative of computer and internet companies have formed. Also partnered in these efforts includes General Electric, Yahoo, Cisco, HP and Motorola among others not to mention the numerous start-ups and established companies that have been swallowed up by Google and Microsoft. The one item which makes this futurist project cooperation, especially when the data available to the partners in these ventures is coordinated and compiled, is these futurist in the conglomerate effort have a silent partner which provides them with data beyond most companies’ wildest dreams is the Federal Government of the United States. The future is rushing towards us mostly unseen and unknown to the average Joe, but rushing forward at light speed it is. These demonstrators are simply giving more companies the impetus and a financial reason to join with those who are producing tomorrow today to quicken the pace even more. Where I am unsure as to whether these groups should be trusted as it makes little difference as the conglomeration of futurist companies are moving full speed into the future, and they are not using a Delorean or any flux capacitors, though they might invent one if such a capacitor could exist and have whatever the properties they were presumed to have in the movie (which was not actually well defined). Perhaps this is why I tried to avoid using Google search, but then they went and bought or gained access to virtually every search engine which actually produces usable results. If anybody knows of a Google free search engine, please enlighten us. Thanks in advance.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 15, 2014

Let’s All Celebrate the End of “Joblock”

A new term has been coined in Washington DC to describe virtually every job I have ever had over my forty plus years of employment with one or two exceptions. Even though the majority of the employments I have held can optimistically be classified as joblock positions which lacked the spiritual fulfillment of a supposed non-joblock position, not once was the primary reason that I worked at these positions hinged on the health insurance provided. The health insurance was a perk, not the main reason for working, the main reason was called a salary. I even had one position which I remained in a few years longer than the changed management team was tolerable, due to their generous retirement plan, but never have I kept or taken a job because of the fantastic health insurance, even when I worked for a leading thousand bed hospital in a major American city. So, I am led to wonder what the world must be like for those politicians who believe that people are working in order to have health insurance or some health care plan. Then, I should not be too critical of people who mostly have never held an actual real-world productive job and spent their entire lives, since running for Junior Class President, running for the next position where they simply sold influence and invented requirements for those not as influential as they and their fellow political class members. But the recent past since the CBO report that Obamacare will eliminate over two-million job seekers there has been a parade of Democrats and Administration people speaking on the great advantages of people being freed from the necessity of working for one’s health insurance will be for Americans in the future under Obamacare.

 

I have been trying to look at the bright side of this situation and not dwell on the fact that taxes will necessarily skyrocket, to use a phrase Obama liked to apply to electrical prices after Cap & Trade gets passed, in order to pay for the health insurance for those no longer victimized by joblock, and I may have found a few. This now explains why Obamacare forces parents to provide coverage for their non-joblocked children up to age twenty-six. The reasoning must be that by twenty-six even the most ardent refusenik avoiding joblock will have figured out that a salary is another bonus of joblock and surrendered to taking a joblock position even if they must explain to their future employer their demand for health coverage over their need for a salary. It also explains why the Democrats are pushing to raise the minimum wage one more time, for now. They are making it so that there will be no entry level positions forcing people into joblock. Now those tasks will either be outsourced or demanded of lower management or the new guy depending on the size of the company. We will now finally allow more starving artists to starve in good health. After visiting some art museums a few years back I decided we had enough artists and judging by the “art” and their price tags, I would like to call for an investigation to find out how they could be starving. As an example, one group of pieces consisted of pieces of driftwood painted one color and they were named “Yellow Driftwood #4” and “Green Driftwood #7” and I wondered how did they manage to sell any color driftwood numbers 1, 2, and 3? This will also be a new approach to minimizing the unemployment rates as it will manage even better than the Obama Presidency to encourage people to leave the job market thus removing any possibility that they will be counted among the unemployed still seeking employment. Perhaps the government will see its way to making the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) pay all the new self-proclaimed artists some form of subsistence remittance kind of similar to welfare so the funds they receive can find new avenues for their use.

 

The introduction of more people simply enjoying a life of leisure will stimulate the leisure industry which supplies the tools for such pursuits though how these people will have funds to purchase anything is still a mystery. Then again, it also explains the rumblings in the political circles, particularly the far left, that are calling for a guaranteed minimum wage which having this many idly avoiding joblock will make a necessity. There has to be additional item I have failed to realize as this is nowhere near sufficient plans to keep the over two-million people who will not become job seekers employed in other pursuits. Of course, if I understood the implications from some of those speaking in favor of this set of statistics, they were speaking more as if most people will simply not be working the long hours they currently work and instead will have part time work. Of course this part time work will always be under thirty hours per week thus not providing any health insurance making the position a non-joblock position. You see, only those positions which provide health insurance qualify as joblock as nobody takes a full time position except for the health insurance. Who needs a full time salary; especially if they can simply get the minimum wage up to a more respectable level of say twenty-five dollars an hour. I am still scratching my head trying to get my arms around the concept that all these years I was laboring away simply for the health insurance, who knew?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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