Category Archives: Politics

Teacher Protests in Oklahoma

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Our public teachers in Oklahoma have walked out of their classrooms and have been marching on our Capitol in Oklahoma City demanding that our legislature restore funding for education both teacher salaries and general funding for schools and supplies.

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Our Governor, Mary Fallin and the Republican Party are running scared. Fallin claims that  ANTIFA is behind the protest and has stayed away from the teachers to hang out with oil billionaires at Oklahoma City Thunder Games. The legislative leadership insists that many of the protesters are paid from out of state. We have a situation where our representatives are scared of the citizens they are supposed to represent.

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I ran across these folks here in Tulsa. They are teachers, parents, and children. They are getting paid with horn honks by supportive passing motorists.

I think the people of Oklahoma have had enough. The last ten years or so, the state has entered this grand experiment led by a combination of Christian Dominists and Tea Partiers who have done all they can to defund schools and lower taxes with the promise of everlasting prosperity. The experiment has failed, just as it has in Kansas, Louisiana, and other places.

They have frittered their time away by eliminating restrictions on guns, installing Ten Commandments statues on public property that had to be removed later, passing unconstitutional abortion laws and in general just wasting time, money and energy. Now they are being called to account for all that and that is making them scared and angry. We are seeing the ugly face of entitlement from many of our representatives.

Oklahoma had a long history of populism way back when and I always wondered what happened to it. Maybe it is coming back?

The Heat is On Downtown, Politics and Energy

Its’ been hot here in Tulsa. Especially downtown Tulsa. The main diversion here at lunch used to be dodging the tumbleweeds. Now all sorts of things are happening.

US Rep John Sullivan campaigning in downtown #Tulsa on election day.

John Sullivan, our local US Representative was strolling the main mall Tuesday with his handlers and body guards and a KRMG radio reporter talking to local voters. He lost the election. So, if he calls you looking for a job, take the call ok? He really is a decent guy, I think voters were wanting change.

#protest #keystone #tulsa #environment #energy #jobs
There was also a demonstration down by the Federal Courthouse. I walked down and chatted with this lady a while. She is of course is against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline that will be built to take tar sands oil from Canada down to refineries on the gulf coast. She has a lot of concerns about the extraction of the tar sands oil and the air and water pollution involved. She is also worried about the integrity of the pipeline and potential leaks and the effect on the environment. I neglected to ask if she was a part of an organization. Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council to see what they have to say. She and I parted friends. I’m just glad that she and her friends were taking advantate of their right of peaceable assembly.

#protest #environment #energy #jobs #keystone #tulsa - these guys think my iPod is cute.
I walked across the street to see these guys. I didn’t talk to them very much.  Anyway, these guys and gals above are from LiUNA, the Laborers International Union of North America. They are for the pipeline for the jobs it will create.

I think the Keystone Project is one of the biggest no-brainers I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to dismiss the concerns of the anti partisians but I think they have been addressed. Energy is what makes our economy go. I would rather get our energy from a close friend and partner like Canada instead of the Middle East. Anyway both pro and anti groups were downtown trying to influence the Army Corps of Engineers who are considering a permit for the Oklahoma leg of Keystone XL. I didn’t want to be the big know it all and tell them that Corps hasn’t been downtown  for years. They are in east Tulsa, hunkered down with the IRS behind a big iron fence.

I hadn’t had as much fun downtown since the Occupy Tulsa folks last Fall.

Tulsa World article on Tuesday’s protests.

What do you think? Are you for or against Keystone XL?

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Yogi Film Festival Movie #1 “Beer Wars”

We have been watching lots of movies lately. “Beer Wars” I watched online, the others I’m posting we went to theaters.

I just got through watching a dynamite documentary on Amazon’s streaming service, Beer Wars. A film about the beer industry in America. I was hooked, it is about the battle between the big brewers and the little guys in the beer business.

Beer Wars: Brewed in America

It turns out that it is a no holds barred fight going on in the aisles of our grocery stores, on the shelves of our liquor stores and in the halls of Congress as the big guys are fighting to maintain their virtual monopolies and the little guys are fighting for access.

What I like best about the film is the passion of the small brewers. They are in it for love and their love has them in debt, personally. The big guys are fighting slowing sales of their crappy swill and are looking to exploit the niches opened up by the little guys.

But you know, that goes on in almost any business. All is fair in love and war though, right? Above and below are zoomable infographics. The top one shows which brewers own which brands. The big guys have been buying the little guys and so that beer you think is from a small brewer? It may not be. The infographic below shows how dominating the big guys are and how truly small the little guys are.

Well maybe, the disturbing part of the movie is how the big brewers use their campaign cash to buy access to our representatives to reinforce and bolster their advantages. That buying out of Congress is one thing that I think drives both our Tea Party and Occupation neighbors nuts. The brewers are very equal opportunity. They don’t care if a representative is a Republican or a Democrat as long as they vote the right way. I love capitalism and the vibrancy it adds to our economic system, but the access that big money has to congressional power is corrupting the system.

I didn’t mean to get all serious about this. This is a great flick. Watch it, cheap on Amazon dot com. (Free if you are an Amazon Prime Member)

Grab a beer and drink, No no no, not a Bud Light fool, something decent.

Yogi’s Deficit Reduction Plan

Hey, are you fed up with Obama and Palin, the Red States and the Blue States, Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow, and all the finger pointing and yelling, screaming, crying, and just general bellyaching going on these days about health care and the cost of health care and deficits and who is at fault and blah, blah, blah.

The New York Times has a link where you can balance the deficit yourself. Try it out here, I did. It only takes a few minutes.

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Appoint me and my able sidekick Kings for a day. Just 24 hours and he and I will solve the nations financial problems. And we work cheap.

Through a carefully selected blend of selective deep cuts in Spending and and increases in Taxes. I will have angered the left who think we can just print money clear to the moon and the right who worship tax reductions but don’t want to cut spending.

We are going to have to work longer before retiring, we are going to pay taxes on medical insurance benefits, its going to be a pain in the butt, but(t) we can do it, together. We’ll preserve Medicare, at drastically lower benefits. I’m keeping Social Security but you are going to work until 68 to get it. The military is getting shrunk, a bunch. We are cutting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m getting rid of farm subsidies (big secret they go mainly to multi-billion dollar companies not struggling family farms.) Earmarks are gone. I’m cutting the Federal workforce by 10%. The nuclear arsenal is getting cut in half. The Navy is losing a bunch of ships, the Air Force a couple of fighter wings.

What are the results? Check out the details of my plan here.

Basically the way I’m going to run the country is that we’ll go from a 2015  revenue shortfall of 418 billion to a surplus of over $200 billion. It’ll be worth it even though everybody will hate me.

By 2030 we will have a balanced budget from a project shortfall of 1.345 Trillion Dollars.

Try the link out and tell me what you end up with.

Fox News – Lying Then, or Lying Now, or Lying Then and Now

From erv

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News attacking Senator Coburn for dis’ing Fox News.

Of course O’Reilly attempted some spin control right away, notice the very carefully worded denial and the carefully edited sound bites.

As Huffington Post describes it:

“Ohhh, I get it! Very clever, Bill. I guess you win. Except for just a few things:

1) In the original exchange on Tuesday night with Senator Coburn (the full, unedited version of which you can watch here), O’Reilly didn’t say “We researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you’re going to jail if you don’t buy health insurance… during the time that the final Obamacare bill was being debated. Nobody’s ever said it… during the time that the final Obamacare bill was being debated.” No, what O’Reilly said was: “We researched to find out if anybody on Fox News had ever said you’re going to jail if you don’t buy health insurance. Nobody’s ever said it.”

2) While most of the clips in our highlight reel were indeed from the fall of 2009, two of them — Rush Limbaugh speaking on “Fox & Friends”, and Bill Hemmer on “America’s Newsroom” — were from February and March of 2010, the time referred to by O’Reilly as “the final bill debate.” So even if we ignore point 1, O’Reilly’s still wrong.

3) Of course, the original claim put forward by Fox News all those times back in the fall of 2009 was itself a lie. Factcheck.org debunked it back in November.”

Give it up guys,

Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

I had really been looking forward to reading this book and I finally got my library copy. I kept it way past the due date so they are probably going to rip up my library card. But this is supposed to be “the” book about our last presidential election.

Wow, has there ever been an election like the last one. It was fun. First we had Queen Hillary prancing along with King Bill like it was going to be a coronation and then along comes this guy Obama who kicks her butt. I mean bad, from one end of this nation to the other. Along the way John “Hair” Edwards gets shown for what he really is, a creep. Obama swept to the Democratic nomination all cool, calm, and collected. Hillary fought tooth and nail to the very end. At the Democratic convention Hillary gives a great speech. Good enough to get Secretary of State! But hey O, what’s up with Joe Biden? Joe Biden O, is that the best you got?

And then on the Republican side. You had McCain, war hero, POW, and hard working Senator, and the seven mutts. Mitt Romney completely changing his positions to align with the electorate, same with Rudy. McCain starts strong and then runs out of money, goes rogue and low budget and comes storming back. McCain changed all his positions in order to bow, scrape, and kowtow to the religious right. It didn’t do any good, they weren’t buying it. But they aren’t going to vote for Obama, no matter what. But hey this is politics. It’s not about principles anymore, maybe never was. It’s about focus groups, positioning, wedge issues, marketing, and money. Big on the money.

Anyway, McCain is getting his butt kicked good by Obama. Obama is harvesting the money off the internet like nobody’s business and McCain is not doing very well. The old fighter pilot knows that he runs the same old campaign with a predictable running mate he is going to get shot down. So he picks Sarah Palin, who? We had never heard of her but have you ever heard a better convention speech than what she gave? It was awesome! She kicked some butt. McCain got a kick in the polls and the race was on.

The press started checking on Palin. They check thoroughly. What do they find? Well maybe she was not exactly opposed to the “bridge to nowhere,” maybe she didn’t exactly sell the State airplane on ebay. It turns out that a lot of what she claimed just plain was not true. And then what about her experience, mayor of a small town. Ethic investigations in the Statehouse (“Troopergate”). The McCain campaign kept playing catch up with her on various issues.

I’m actually sympathetic to Palin. The book claims that the McCain campaign only spent a couple days checking her out. They are not looking for somebody who is spotless, nobody is. They just want to find all the warts, freckles, and wrinkles so they can develop a strategy for dealing with them. I don’t think she understood just how closely the microscope is that she would be under. So, the McCain campaign kind of threw her under the bus and she had to fend for herself. I also don’t think she understood how grueling a campaign is with every minute scheduled and an army of press ready to jump on you if you make a mistake.

She also just plain wasn’t ready. She still gets mad at Katie Couric for asking such “unfair” questions like “What newspapers do you read?” She is a great communicator. I don’t think we have heard the last of her. Whether it is more gaffes like the whole “death panel” thing or if she uses her charisma in a positive manner is an open question at this point.

Palin was a bold gamble for McCain and it could have paid off. The country was ready for a change and they got one. We’ll see how that works out.

Anyway, the book explains all the ins and outs of the campaign. It is very sympathetic to Obama. Cool, bright, and capable, yet unexperienced. McCain the principled, fly by the seat of the pants fighter pilot who wouldn’t go down without a fight.

This is a great book. If you found the last election fascinating, I recommend it. Four stars out of four from me.

Age, Work and “The Times They are A-Changin”

(Photo: Carpenter at Work on Douglas Dam, from Library of Congress via Flickr)

“The Times They Are A-Changin'”
by Bob Dylan
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Let me interrupt this musical interlude to talk about facts and data from our very own Census Bureau. What got me thinking about it is this weeks US News and World Report. They had two articles that piqued my interest “Get Ready for the Age Wave” and “Entitled Americans Don’t Get It” by Jean M. Twenge. The first article talks about how life is going to change as Baby Boomers get old and the second article is about how Social Security and Medicare are going to have to change (i.e. reduce benefits) in order to survive this Age Wave.

Lets talk about the Age Wave. First, we are experiencing a huge population increase here in the United States. Below is a graph of the Census Bureau’s US population estimate.

As you can see, we are expected to grow from about 310 million people now to about 440 million people in 40 years. Wow is what I say. Where are they going to live? What are they going to do? I’m not too worrried about that, yet.

Now, lets look at the age component of the population.

The blue line is the total population between 18 to 64 years old. The red line is the total numbers of people 65 years and older. You will notice that this segment grows from about 40 million now to over 70 million people by 2030 or about a 75% increase. The working age folks in contrast barely move. from about 195 million now to about 210 million in 2030.

Lets look at it a different way, here is the percentage breakdown of these two groups over the same time.

Now, you see what I’m a little concerned about. Those folks who are in the prime working age are going to become less and less a percentage of the population as time goes by. These men and women are the ones who traditionally paid most of the taxes plus they get to spend money raising their kids and taking care of the elders. I know these people have broad shoulders but I don’t think they are going to be able to carry the whole burden.

Something is going to have to give. They are going to have to give a lot. Despite all the political blather about “not reducing medicare benefits” and “preserving social security” sooner or later we are going to have to face facts.

I’ll tell you how I think things are going to change.

  • People are going to work longer. They days of working until your are in your mid-50’s and then going fishing or bowlling are done. I expect that if I’m able I’ll work until I’m about 70 or so. I hope that I can, I love my job and the industry I’m in..
  • We are going to see a combination of increased Social Security taxes, increased age until eligible, and means testing. Go ahead, cry on my shoulder, its ok, you’ll live. However, people already on Social Security won’t see a decrease in benefits. Go ahead, cry some more, its not fair, but hey we just can’t just strand people now can we.
  • Companies are going to have to change to handle people working longer. Younger people will pass over older people. Older folks may voluntarily step down from management positions in order to do work that is less demanding. The existing structures are going to change.
  • If Boomers can’t stay in traditional organizations then we are going to have learn to hustle up consulting, temporary, and short term jobs or maybe even start up our own small companies.
  • Our existing employer based health care system is going to change. It will have to. The existing system which everybody hated but then started loving when the Democrats started their push on health care reform will collapse under its own weight eventually because nobody, not our employers, nor employees will be able to afford it.
What gets me is that our political system is failing us right now in dealing with these changes. The impending doom of Social Security and Medicare has been known for years. Is anybody doing anything about it? No, they are not. It would be political suicide! 
So, what’s your take? Do you see any changes coming personally?

Algebra, Death, National Health Plans (or lack thereof) and YOU!!

Several days ago I wrote about the 2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States and how much fun we can have with that. Together we explored the lack of effectiveness of our lack of a national health plan. We spend more money per capita than any country on the planet and we have some of the worst results in terms of longevity.

We also found out that we have about 46 million Americans who are not covered by health insurance.

Lets turn out attention to that and what it means. OK, now anybody with math anxiety, take a few deep breaths and just fast forward to the end. You get a “speed pass” and it doesn’t cost you anything. Nothing but the best for Yogi’s Den readers. Check out what a speed pass costs at Disney World and you will appreciate me.

OK, you math, data, and rational thinking fans out there, here goes. Glenn Beck fans and other nostalgia buffs, you are welcome to come along also.

There was a study published in September 2009 in the American Journal of Public Health that said that the death rate for those people in the United States who do not have health insurance is 40% higher than the death rate for those who do not have insurance. The article is titled “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults.” You can find an abstract at the link above. The cheapskates want $20 to download the full article (maybe I’m the cheapskate, I don’t know – but I didn’t spend the $20.) Now lets be clear about the source. The American Journal of Public Health is a peer reviewed journal. That means, unlike Fox News or CNN, things have to be verified by other scientists before its published.

So anyway, the news media popped up everywhere, like here, and reported that this meant that 45,000 people a year were dieing because they didn’t have health insurance. I have googled and binged and searched and I can’t find the link between the 40% higher death rate and 45,000 more deaths per year annually.

So, lets see if we can do it!! With statistics and math! Wow.

So off we go to the Statistical Abstract.

We find in Table 127 that the total death rate in the United States is 815 deaths per 100,000 population as of 2006.

We find in Table 12 that the total population in 2006 was 298,363,000. (I’m going to use 300 million just to make the number more manageable.

So the number of deaths at 300 million population =

815 deaths per 100,000 people * 300,000,000/100,000 = 2,445,000 deaths per year.

OK, so what if everybody had insurance? How many deaths then.

The 815 deaths is for the actual mix of people. 46 million don’t have insurance so this means that 300-46 or 254 million people do have insurance.

Let X= the Death rate per 100,000 people for those with health insurance.

That means that 1.4X = the Death rate per 100,000 people for those without insurance.

So the total deaths of people per year that have insurance = X* 254,000,000/ 100,000
= 2,540 X

And the total deaths of people per year that don’t have insurance is 1.4*46,000,000/ 100,000
= 644 X

We are cooking with gas now folks.

So the total number of deaths in the US = 2,540 X + 644 X = 3,184 X

Remember, the total number of deaths is 2,445,000

So 3,184 X = 2,445,000

So X = 768 deaths per 100,000 insured people per year

and 1.4 X = 1,075 deaths per 100,000 uninsured people per year.

So, if everybody had insurance then the death’s per year would be

= 768 per 100,000 * 300,000,000/100,000 = 2,304,000 deaths per year.

Compared to the actual guestimated 2,445,000 deaths per year

So excess deaths per year due to uninsurance = 2,445,000 minus 2,304,000

= 141,000 per year.

So, I think maybe the published estimate of 45,000 excess deaths per year may be reasonable once somebody got through correcting for health condition, age, risk factors, etc (I mean if somebody shoots you or you die in a car accident it’s not affected by your insurance status.)

So lets go a step further. Forget the moral part of letting people die unncessarily, lets talk about the cost. If you go to table 124 you will find that in the year 2000, the total cost of somebody dieing was $192,772 in the year 2000. That includes the present value of remaining life’s earnings, etc. Lets say the cost with a little inflation is now $200,000 per death.

So the extra 45,000 deaths per year would costs $45,000 * 200,000
= $9 billion dollars per year.

The money is fine. I would just as soon have the people living.

What’s your take on all this?

Green Day – “21st Century Breakdown” and Digressions


There are a few advantages to getting older. One is that you don’t have to be on the cutting edge of everything to be cool. In fact you don’t even have to be cool anymore. Uhh, truth is, you don’t have any choice, nothing you can do can make you cool. Cool! unless you happen to be married to somebody like that. Poor Sweetie.

Anyways, I was bee bopping through Target earlier this week checking out this and that and came to an end cap in the music section. There was a display that said “New Music.” It had Green Day CDs, “21st Century Breakdown.” So I said “cool”, bought it, and have been listening to it the last several days.

It surprised me. I think of Green Day as kind of punkish. Old punkers in their 40’s or so. They look the part. This CD, although it rocks is quite musical, in fact it is kind of “pop” in some tunes. It has 18 tracks and there is quite a variety here. I have listened to the whole thing a half dozen times and I’m not tired of it yet. The cd can rock but then it gets all melodic. I think that it is quite good.

Check out the bands web site here. It has cool stuff, except for the widgets bloggers use on our posts. None of their widgets work at all. Which is par for the course for band web sites.

The cd came out in May so its not like brand new, but I love it.

I give it a 3.5 stars out of 4. Which is good!

Anybody out there a Green Day fan? Tell us about it.

After I wrote this, I checked out the reviews. Turns out this cd is a rock opera in three parts. Imagine that, I had no idea. I don’t listen to lyrics, I cannot understand them anyway. (Drives Sweetie to the brink sometimes, this trait of mine!) The opera is all about how life was hard under George Bush. Ugh, I’m no W fan at all, but He’s gone folks. He is walking his dog in Dallas people. He is even carrying a pooper scooper! He is out of the picture. SO FOR THE LOVE OF PETE CAN’T I JUST LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC without some sort of political message. Ahhhhhhh!!! By the way, as a certified tax payer, and a certified Republican non fan of “W”, I’m willing to spend a little extra so that a former President of the United States of America doesn’t have to scoop his dog’s poop. Please!

Anybody else out there tired of the culture wars? What we can going to do about it? Class? Class?