Walker, Peeing, and Lessons

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 by bauertim

When I lived in Slidell, LA (suburb of New Orleans) I can still recall the time when Todd and I were horsing around in the spare bedroom in a mixture of wrestling and bed jumping I believe.  Anyway, nature called and, as 4 to 6 year old boys tend to reckon, going to the bathroom to relieve ourselves was just too far.  So, we decided to pee out the window.   Another thing about young boys, their aim aint so good.  Before two shakes of lambs tail there was more urine on the wall than out the window.  A wall with an outlet.  Sparks ensued as both Todd and I lept away (proving false the myth that a stream of urine can conduct electricity).

Why do I mention this urination debacle?   The lesson learned.  All experiences lead to gains in wisdom.   In this case, don’t pee out a window.  With that in mind I think we should look at the 12+ month journey in WI attempting to recall our governor.    What did we learn?

  1. Echo Chambers (BAD).  You can’t change your thinking if everyone you ‘listen’ to thinks like you.  Before the election the Democrats felt attacking Walker was enough to swing votes.  Personally I felt the negative campaign would not address the core issue the swing voters seemed to be worrying about (the economy).  Perhaps if the DEMS had listened to some of the GOP platform and embraced parts (reducing government, admitting pensions need fixing, etc.) the vote might have been different.  As it was the DEMS came off as protecting existing programs that the majority, it seems, feel is bloated.
  2. Independents Are The Key (INTERESTING).  Never has a vote been so polarized.   What was interesting however was that even with all the clouds hanging over Walker (and there are some) more people voted for him than his original run for office.  Why?  It seems since then more independent voters have decided warts and all they will take a person hell bent to shrink government over one protecting programs.  Lets not kid ourselves those that typically vote DEM or GOP didn’t change their mind over the last 12 months.  It was the independents that flipped.
  3. GOP Win = Double Loss for DEMS (?).  I suspect that Walker will now get re-elected as the base has been galvanized.   The recall process may have played into the GOP’s hands.   Took their core issue (size of government) and put it up against the DEM flagpole (Social Programs, Rights) and won.  What is going to disrupt a repeat in 12 months?  Not much I expect.

Another interesting factoid, while 400,000 more voted in the recall (2.5M vs 2.1M) than back in 2010, Walker widened his gap over Barrett in most districts.  Strange.  You would think that the gap would at least narrow due to various foul play angles on Walker.  Drives my points on #2 and #3 above.  My favorite graph showing this is the 2nd link in the Rabbit Holes section.

In summary, I think the DEMS need to start pondering why they would lose a recall against a candidate with so much baggage.  There is something in their platform that independent voters feel so strongly about that they would rather stick with Walker than change horses.   Till the DEMS do that … the overall trend of upsets will continue … at least in WI.

** RABBIT HOLES **
EXIT POOLS – WHY WALKER WON
GRAPH SHOWING WALKER WIDENING LEAD  

Whats The Right Word? A Dynamic Box.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 25, 2012 by bauertim

For some time I have been getting static that no one can pronounce my company (it is LEVERAGE-n-c).  So I have been toying with new names.  Then one hit me.  It seemed great.  So great that I reserved two website names and hired a graphics group to come up w/ logo/font ideas.  $600 later I realized no one liked that name either.  DANG IT.

Why do I mention my ‘re-naming’ woes?

Well, it seems very similar to me to the core message formulation for Obama and Romney.  One has to figure a TON of hand wringing is going on trying to figure out what each candidate’s core message is.   AI think their positions are:

  • GOP
    • Smaller social programs
    • Bigger Defense
    • Less Regulation
  • DEM
    • Same size (or bigger) social programs
    • Smaller Defense
    • More Regulation

Restated:

  1. Do you think the current government does to much or too little (or just enough) for us?
  2. Do you want to be more, less, or stay the same in terms of our military spending?  Social spending?
  3. Do you want more control, less control, or o.k. with current controls on businesses?  Stated another way do you think controls are blocking business growth in the US?

Whats missing from that list?  Money.  Neither party has a core platform on how to control of our current spending versus income and then insure it doesn’t get out of control.   So if I were to run for office here would be my position:

  • Put our government in a dynamic box

Lets look at the two key words in that sentence.

  1. Box – In a given year you can’t spend more than you take in.  If you have more spending than income you have to pass taxes or cut the programs (or both).  So on Day 1 of being in office you are passing legislation to either cut a given program or pass a new tax to support it.  Do this for ALL programs.
  2. Dynamic – Each year you can ‘box’ yourself out.  Want a bigger box?  Fine, pass more taxes.  Want less taxes?  Fine get a smaller box.

Wouldn’t it be funny to see a national commercial from Romney or Obama that went after that angle?   Instead what we see is the earlier drivel.  Which is saying (for either party)

“Hey, I want to do this, and I don’t want to pay for it.”

One of the biggest crocks I have ever seen.

No post this week

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2012 by bauertim

Busy week.  No post.  Going for a run instead.

Dandelions, Drugs, and Terror

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 11, 2012 by bauertim

Weeds.  Do what you will but you can never kill them.  Case and point my front yard.  Every year I drop the consumer version of “Agent Orange” on it.  Every year the dandelions pop right back up (thanks, in large part, to side lot that is not developed).  Frustrating right?  I spend $200 bucks in weed-n-feed and the results are bupkis?   Time to change tactics.

So, this year, we went hand-to-hand with the interlopers.  Armed with screwdrivers my boys and I dug them out … one by one.  After a couple days all were dead … or so it seemed.  The next morning a score of new shoots arose.  Again we ventured forth, flat heads in hand.  Again the carcases of the deeply rooted varmints littered the field.  Victory?  No.  The battle continues.  Each day new recruits from the side lot paratroop in.  Each day we counter attack.

But why do I delve into my battles with my lawn?

It seems to me that my efforts to exert my will on roadside vista might be a good lense to use in examining some of our higher costs political efforts:

  1. War on Drugs.  $15B/Year.   We make drugs illegal in the US (our lot) but really have no control over those that produce them (neighbor’s lot).  So the supply of ‘weeds’ will never end.  That said, the spend to fight this infestion (~ $15B a year) isn’t bad.   Especially considering ~40 thousand people die a year.   Are we winning?  No.  Is it worth it to try and reduce?  Yes.   Are we using the best tactics?  Probably not.
  2. War on Terror.  The war on terror seems like an elephant when compared to war on drugs.  Somewhere around $3-5 Trillion is spent a year.  Must be a lot of weeds out there.  Strange that we spend such much more when the true terror king is drugs (40,000 deaths to drugs a year, 2000 to terrorism in last 10 years).  Why are we spending so much?  Worried about the higher risk long term?   I wonder if we are really  fighting weeds with fertilizer here … darn expensive fertilizer to boot.  For every ‘insurgent’ we kill we create 20-40 people who hate us even more (the insurgents loved ones).  How do we remove the threat without spreading the seed?  That is the question.  One that isn’t answered in my view.

After looking at the above, I think we are doing o.k. with our efforts around drugs (cost to value).   However, the war on terror looks HORRIBLE.  The only war its winning is the one its waging on my checkbook (I give, I give).

So, when your weeding next time, ask yourself … are you winning your war of control?  Think of the one ten feet from your door AND the ones abroad.  Weeds are persistent because they are everywhere.  Till you can counter that (be everywhere) you will always fighting a war of attrition.   How best do you fight an enemy that is everywhere?  A holy quest … barring no expense to root it out where it lives?  Probably not.  Attempting the impossible is best left to Tom Cruise.  A tact of reducing/removing the reason for existence?   That might be smarter.

Just a thought.

** RABBIT HOLES **
Drug Clock.
Drug War Timeline.
Drug Deaths Per Year.

Dishwahers, Money, and the Two Party Trap

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 4, 2012 by bauertim

So I sat, in a pool of water, staring at my dishwasher this weekend and I realized I care about MY money.  So much that I would rather try to fix an appliance that I know zero about … than risk losing $300.  Three hours later the leaky culprit (hole in waste water hose) was spliced by a makeshift (makeshit?) patch.  Huzzah!

But it got me thinking … why is it that $300 motivates me (us) to spend 2-3 hours in a pool of Cascade … but the $50k+ that the government has signed me (us) up for gets no notable response?   Where is the equivalent 500 hours ($50k divided by $300 times 3) response attempting to fix the $50k leaky pipes problem in Washington?   Where indeed.  So I shifted around under the sink and thought more.  Two main themes came to mind:

  1. We don’t feel we are spending “Our Money” when we vote.
  2. Neither party (GOP or DEMS) really has a Fiscal Balance focus as priority #1.  The both say parts of the equation.

The first point is pretty simple.  If its not clearly YOUR money being spent … you don’t care as much about your ability to pay for it.  We have the same situation with healthcare.   Same issue with government.  All this federal legislation we pass is never tightly footed to associated tax increases (or reductions).   You never hear:

“We can got to War in Afghanistan … but everyone must pay $10k times the amount of dependents they claim.”.

Wouldn’t that be refreshing?  The war cost approximately $3T.  Divide that by the tax paying citizens in the US.   Ouch.  Granted you could portion some of the costs to companies too.  Still a big number either way.  Would the vote of changed?   Probably would of been more thought to diplomacy I bet.

The second point is more interesting.  The two party system is really what has enabled this soggy underworld of debt to puddle into  small lake.  Neither party brings the full answer on how to mop it up either.  Each has half the equation.  The Democrats are o.k. with tax increases BUT want to protect current levels of spending and potentially add (net) more.   The Republicans want to gouge out every spending program in sight AS LONG AS its not defense and god forbid you mention tax increases.   Neither party foots their ideas against the hole we are in.  That we spend almost TWO TIMES what we take in for revenue.

See the conundrum?  Neither party answers the true fiscal challenge.  SO, if you truly are trying to vote on your pocketbook, who do you vote for?  Some would say the Libertarians are on point on this issue … as they have a platform of BALANCED cutting (social and defense) coupled with appropriate increases in revenue (new taxes).  However, most voters balk with the Leader of the Libertarian Party Ron Paul as he seems a bit nutty.  Plus, many see voting outside of the DEMS or GOP is seen as one less vote for the party I “kinda” agree with.  Really, you are going to vote for something you ‘kinda’ agree with?   Should you be ‘kinda’ voting for a party that has you ‘kinda’ $50k in debt?  Probably not.

In short, I think we need to shake things up more consistently.   Vote out of the two party box if neither fully address your core issue 100% (or at least 80%).  Reality is both parties get no where near a 80% issue on core issues … they beat their same old drums.

Further pondering on this is warranted.

** RABBIT HOLES **

DEBT CLOCK –> http://www.usdebtclock.org/

44 years – Time to Branch Out

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2012 by bauertim

So today is my Birthday.   Woot!

In celebration, I think I should kick off something I have been pondering for some time … the branching out of the focus of this blog.  Really there are three things that I like to ponder in life:

  1. Politics – Why its broke
  2. Humor – Whats funny in the ebb and flow of everday life
  3. Deep Thoughts – The Buddhist monk in me

So, going forward my weekly missives will be one of those three and I’ll try to remember to prefix the subject with each (so you know what type the subject matter is at a glance).

So, till next week … enjoy the weekend … while I enjoy my age.

Addictions — Personal and National

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 20, 2012 by bauertim

Last year I went to work on my weight.  Started running.  Tracked everything I ate.  Worked great.  Then I hit milestone.  Dropped under 200 pounds.  I was quite excited.  Then the success got to my head and my good habits fled and the old habits returned and the weight.  Dang.  I began to ponder staring again.  Weighing in.  But then I had a realization.  Wouldn’t the cycle just repeat?  Wouldn’t I once more hit some weight target only to slip back again?  Probably so.  I realized I was too focused on the metric of the symptom (weight) and not enough on the grappling with the addiction that got me there.  So now I have decided to restart but NO MORE weighing in.  Weight isn’t important.  What is important is learning a daily process to control the addiction (how to eat what I need, not what I want).   Establish that and the weight will take care of itself.

Blah blah blah … why my personal story of weight loss on a political post?

Well, you see, I see a corollary between personal addictions and our national ones.  Whats interesting is to look at ourselves in the light of an addict … and ask … “What are our biggest addictions as a country?”  What are we doing to control those impulses?  Are we just measuring the symptoms like I did with my weight?  I suspect so.  And if so, what should we do about it?

But lets back up …

The first step, as an addict, is figuring out what your addictions are.  As a country we probably have a few addictions.  Write down the ones you can think of.  Call that your long list.   Now take that list and whittle it down to items that all (at least the majority) parties can agree to .   For example, the GOP would say the DEMs are addicted to entitlement programs.  So that can’t be one.   The DEMS, in turn, would accuse the GOP of being addicted to Militarization.  So forget that.   What then?  Perhaps campaign finance.  Everyone seems to agree that there is too much money in politics.   Interesting how the phrase “Too much of a good thing” is a good rule of thumb for identifying an addiction.  Most addictions are o.k. in reasonable quantities.  Food is not evil.  Excess of it is.  So perhaps what we need to analyze is our excess as a country.  Identify areas where everyone agrees there is excess.  For example:

  1. Military spending
  2. Social programs
  3. Deficit spending

Three worn out concepts … in a new light.  Instead of the light of “We have too much of XYZ” instead say “We are addicted to XYZ”.  Changes the perspective of what should be done.  Instead of cutting you wonder how to control it long term (similar to losing weight versus controlling eating).   If our politicians had this perspective they wouldn’t be trying to ‘cut’ the budget but rather trying to establish a process so that its regulating itself.

Back to my calorie counting ..

p.s.  sorry no deep facts this week … but this riddle has been rattling around in my brain this week so I thought I would put it to paper.

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