Archive for November, 2009

Job Prestige & Remuneration, Public vs. Private Sector

November 28, 2009

From the Economist:

Many working-class men have lost their jobs. Those who are still employed have seen their wages stagnate and their pensions shrivel in the stockmarket crash. Their health insurance is insecure, but they don’t trust Congress not to make it worse.

Meanwhile, they can see that one group of Americans has been practically unaffected by the recession: government employees. Their hours have not been cut, their benefits are gold-plated and they are almost impossible to sack. In good times, few Americans notice these things, but in bad times, the disparity grates. Cops and firefighters can retire in their 40s and draw defined-benefit pensions for life. With overtime, one tenth of the police in Massachusetts made more than the governor’s annual salary in 2006, according to the Boston Globe. Including benefits, the average employee of New York City makes more than $100,000, according to Forbes, while some Californian prison guards “sock away $300,000 a year”.

And what do taxpayers get for their generosity? The bad bargains get all the publicity. Union contracts force the postal service to pay thousands of unneeded workers to do nothing. In New York, public-school teachers who can’t be trusted to teach but can’t be sacked either are paid to sit and do crosswords.

USA Today: “Federal pay ahead of private industry

Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

Overall, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008, the most recent data available.

Instapundit on average compensation of Federal civilian employees vs. average compensation in the private sector.

Vcstar.com on California Compensation:

“Amid a crippling fiscal crisis, managers throughout California’s government have routinely allowed their employees to amass unused vacation time, enabling hundreds of workers to end their public service careers with payouts topping $100,000, a California Watch investigation has found. One worker combined vacation and compensatory time to walk away with more than $800,000, records show.”
…”In one case, James C. Tudor Jr., the former president of the State Compensation Insurance Fund, cashed out six times more vacation time than regulations allow, taking home more than $550,000 after he was fired in 2007 in the wake of an internal probe that “uncovered serious abuses at the highest levels,” according to state Senate documents.

Another state employee was allowed to accumulate large amounts of comp time in addition to unused vacation days, taking home $815,000 when he left state service.”

cato-at-liberty.org

First, people accuse me of producing distorted data somehow. Actually, it’s essentially just raw Bureau of Economic Analysis data, but the data is usually overlooked by the media because I don’t think the BEA puts out a press release on it. Anyway, the average wage data is from BEA Table 6.6D. The average compensation data is simply total compensation (Table 6.2D) divided by the number of workers (Table 6.5D).

Hot Air Federal pay surpasses private sector:

Job Federal Private Difference Pct
Public relations manager $132,410 $88,241 $44,169 50.05%
Broadcast technician $90,310 $49,265 $41,045 83.31%
Clergy $70,460 $39,247 $31,213 79.53%
Chemist $98,060 $72,120 $25,940 35.97%
Graphic designer $70,820 $46,565 $24,255 52.09%
Landscape architects $80,830 $58,380 $22,450 38.45%
Recreation worker $43,630 $21,671 $21,959 101.33%
Cook $38,400 $23,279 $15,121 64.96%
Pest control worker $48,670 $33,675 $14,995 44.53%
Laundry, dry-cleaning worker $33,100 $19,945 $13,155 65.96%

Via Volokh Conspiracy via Steven Greenhut in WSJ:

Approximately 85% of the state’s 235,000 employees (not including higher education employees) are unionized. As the governor noted during his $83 billion budget roll-out, over the past decade pension costs for public employees increased 2,000%. State revenues increased only 24% over the same period. A Schwarzenegger adviser wrote in the San Jose Mercury News in the past few days that, “This year alone, $3 billion was diverted to pension costs from other programs.” There are now more than 15,000 government retirees statewide who receive pensions that exceed $100,000 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Many of these retirees are former police officers, firefighters, and prison guards who can retire at age 50 with a pension that equals 90% of their final year’s pay. The pensions for these (and all other retirees) increase each year with inflation and are guaranteed by taxpayers forever—regardless of what happens in the economy or whether the state’s pensions funds have been fully funded (which they haven’t been).

and this:

ormer Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a well-known liberal voice, recently wrote this in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life. But we politicians—pushed by our friends in labor—gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . [A]t some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact.”

From the WSJ The Government Pay Boom :

“It turns out there really is growing inequality in America. It’s the 45% premium in pay and benefits that government workers receive over the poor saps who create wealth in the private economy. And the gap is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 1998 to 2008 public employee compensation grew by 28.6%, compared with 19.3% for private workers. In the recession year of 2009, with almost no inflation and record budget deficits, more than half the states awarded pay raises to their employees. Even as deficits in state capitals widen and are forcing cuts in services, few politicians are willing to eliminate these pay inequities.”

There’s more: “What if government workers earned the average of what private workers earn? States and localities would save $339 billion a year from their more than $2.1 trillion budgets. These savings are larger than the combined estimated deficits for 2010 and 2011 of every state in America. In a separate survey, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis compares the compensation of public versus private workers in each of the 50 states. Perhaps not coincidentally, the pay gap is widest in states that have the biggest budget deficits, such as New Jersey, Nevada and Hawaii. Of the 40 states that have a budget deficit so far this year, 28 would have a balanced budget were it not for the windfall to government workers.”

Politico 2,000 House staffers make six figures:

Nearly 2,000 House of Representatives staffers pulled down six-figure salaries in 2009, including 43 staffers who earned the maximum $172,500 — or more than three times the median U.S. household income.

NPR –

TO DO: Find the report on this of the 1st week of March that implied Fed earn less than private.

Related:

Politico, 2,000 House staffers make six figures By: Erika Lovley March 26, 2010 05:10 AM EDT
The Recession’s Fat Cats: Public Employees, biggovernment.com, Veronique de Rugy
High state-worker payouts break rules, cost millions, vcstar.com, Chase Davis California Watch, February 27, 2010 at 3:22 p.m. , updated February 27, 2010 at 7:49 p.m.

Federal Pay Continues Rapid Ascent, cato-at-liberty.org, Chris Edwards

Wall Street Journal, The Government Pay Boom, America’s most privileged class are public union workers., MARCH 26, 2010
USA TODAY, Federal pay ahead of private industry, Dennis Cauchon,

Obama’s Stimulus

November 28, 2009

The Efficiency & Effectiveness

TIM CAVANAUGH ON HOLLYWOOD’S STIMULUS: Why $23 million creates just 21 jobs. – via Instapundit

GayPatriot: Hey, Ma’am, where are the jobs? Twice as many Californians lost jobs in one week in October than put to work in nine months by the “stimulus”.

Instapundit: 7 Months After Stimulus 49 of 50 States Have Lost Jobs. What’s shocking is that even Washington, D.C. has lost jobs. How can that be?

The Accountability

More jobs saved than exist

Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s economic recovery program saved 935 jobs at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, an impressive success story for the stimulus plan. Trouble is, only 508 people work there.

Chicago Tribune: Illinois data on stimulus-related jobs saved, created don’t add up

ASSOCIATED PRESS: STIMULUS WATCH: Salary raise counted as saved job.

BLOOMBERG: ‘Jobs Created or Saved’ Is White House Fantasy: Caroline Baum.

Boston Globe – Stimulus job boost in state exaggerated, review finds:

“While Massachusetts recipients of federal stimulus money collectively report 12,374 jobs saved or created, a Globe review shows that number is wildly exaggerated. Organizations that received stimulus money miscounted jobs, filed erroneous figures, or claimed jobs for work that has not yet started.”

Washington Times: Recovery.gov shows money flowing to nonexistent Congressional districts.

“Recovery.gov also shows 2,893.9 jobs created with $194,537,372 in stimulus funding in New Hampshire’s 00 congressional district. But, there is no such thing. The site also shows $1,471,518 going to New Hampshire’s 6th congressional district, $1,033,809 to the 4th congressional district and $124,774 to the 27th congressional district. In fact, New Hampshire only has two congressional districts; inviting confusion about where the money listed for the 00, 4th, 6th and 27th districts is going.”

Reason: That Stimulus is So Freaking Awesome it Has Created or Saved Jobs in Congressional Districts That Don’t Even Exist!

Note 2 Self, the countless non-existent districts

The End Results?

Via Instapundit

August 22, 2009

MARK STEYN: Stimulus Hits A Pothole. “Meanwhile, in Brazil, India, China, Japan and much of Continental Europe the recession has ended. In the second quarter this year, both the French and German economies grew by 0.3 percent, while the U.S. economy shrank by 1 percent. How can that be? Unlike America, France and Germany had no government stimulus worth speaking of, the Germans declining to go the Obama route on the quaint grounds that they couldn’t afford it. . . . And yet their recession has gone away. Of the world’s biggest economies, only the U.S., Britain and Italy are still contracting. All three are big stimulators, though Gordon Brown and Silvio Berlusconi can’t compete with Obama’s $800 billion porkapalooza. The president has borrowed more money to spend to less effect than anybody on the planet.”

Paul Krugman responds … on Germany and France at least.

Describing Obama via Charts & Graphs

November 26, 2009

Private Sector Experience of Cabinet Secretaries … or lack there of. From Forbes/ JP Morgan via Volokh.

BUSH DEFICIT VS. OBAMA DEFICIT IN PICTURES.

White house predictions of stimulus vs Actual unemployment (Don Surber, Innocent Bystanders)

Joyce Foundation Funding Patterns

Afghanistan Troop Timeline

November 25, 2009

Just patching this together in a vain attempt to make sense of things….

Aug. 30 2009 – Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal submits report to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates

September 20, 2009
– NYT’s reports “The top military commander in Afghanistan warns in a confidential assessment of the war there that he needs additional troops within the next year or else the conflict “will likely result in failure.””

October 22, 2009 6:26 AM – Former Vice President Dick Cheney took a swipe, Wednesday evening, at the Obama administration’s drawn out decision on Afghanistan, saying the President, “seems afraid to make a decision”. In a speech to the Center for Security Policy, Cheney added, “the White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.”

24 Nov 2009 – “Bob Ainsworth, the defence secretary, has blamed Barack Obama and the United States for the decline in British public support for the war in Afghanistan.”

Sources:

Financial Crisis Notes

November 18, 2009

Volokh on the financial crisis
by category: Financial Crisis
History & FDR’s impact on the depression

Peter Wallison – WSJ op ed (who presciently warned of the danger posed by these policies back in 2005)
Does the Financial Crisis Discredit Libertarianism:
Narrative and Counter-Narrative on the Current Financial Troubles:

Question: Powerlineblog, cspan, the NYT’s, etc documented McCain’s attempt to slow down Fannie Mae & Freddy Mac as well as Barney Frank’s attempt to stop it. I wonder how of those that currently cry about “cowboy investers” and the free market claim the same?

The Teabag Perjorative

November 12, 2009

Talking dirty is getting pretty popular among the big whig dems…..

CNN’s Anderson Cooper

“It’s hard to talk when you’re teabagging.” – Politico

Bill Clinton

Whitehouse quoted Clinton arguing: “The reason the tea-baggers are so inflamed is because we are winning.”

Politico

Obama

, “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care?

NYT

Sources:
Michelle Malkin: http://michellemalkin.com/2009/04/16/what-is-the-difference-between-anderson-cooper-and-matt-taibbi/
prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com, Lawmakers Detail Obama’s Pitch, JACKIE CALMES, November 7, 2009, 9:45 pm
Politico, Clinton: ‘We are winning’, Inside 42’s lunch with Senate Dems, CAROL E. LEE & CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN | 11/11/09 11:36 AM

Healthcare War Stories

November 11, 2009

Starting about 8 months too late, but here’s some random notes on the Healthcare wars…

Patientpowernow.org

Above videos were produced by i2i.org & the Frasier Institute.

Here’s one from Reason:

Relevant Facilities:

Timely Medical Alternative

In 2003, Timely Medical Alternatives Inc. was formed to help Canadians, on long medical waiting lists, to take personal responsibility for their own medical care and “Leave the queue”.

Interesting Statistics:

Typical Wait Times (after initial visit to a G.P.)

1. Wait to see a specialist for initial consultation
* Public: 6 – 12 months
* Private: 10 days
2. Wait for diagnostic imaging (excluding X-Rays) after seeing surgeon
* Public: 4 – 8 months
* Private: 24 hours
3. Wait for a biopsy (if necessary)
* Public: 2 months
* Private: 4 days
4. Wait for pathological analysis of tissue
* Public: 14 days
* Private: 1 – 3 days
5. Wait for follow-up visit to surgeon to discuss results of diagnostics
* Public: 1 – 3 months
* Private: 7 days
6. Wait for a surgical/hospital date to be set
* Public: 6 – 18 months
* Private: 1 day
7. Wait for surgery after date is set
* Public: 6 – 10 months
* Private: 7 days

In The UK

Telegraph: Want to fix the NHS? Go private, When a hospital fails in the way that the Basildon and Thurrock Trust has, it should be turned over immediately to a private-sector hit squad to sort it out, writes Simon Heffer. Simon Heffer, 27 Nov 2009

DailyMail: The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets
Note to self: looks to be about .56% of yearly births. Would love to see how that compares to the US>

Instapundit, CBO on Healthcare:

CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN? CBO: Republican health plan would reduce premiums, cut deficit.

HEH: CBO Health-Care Score Assumes Congress Sticks to Its Promises, Which Probably Won’t Happen, Says CBO. Well, there’s a confidence-builder.

CBO: Senate healthcare bill estimated to cost $829 billion over 10 years.

Other stuff

LATIMES: “Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for healthcare” -July 27, 2009

Food Inc and Grist make similar arguments….

Sources:
The babies born in hospital corridors: Bed shortage forces 4,000 mothers to give birth in lifts, offices and hospital toilets, By Jenny Hope and Nick Mcdermott, Last updated at 8:36 AM on 26th August 2009

Tools

November 1, 2009

Costco
home | hardware | tools – hand tools & accessories

Sam’s Club
See All Categories > Home Improvement > Tools & Accessories > Power Tools & Hand Tools

Impact Wrenches:

Ingersoll Rand 231C – Via Amazon: “The classic 231 is the most popular tool in its class. Introduced over 25 years ago and continuously refined, it offers the sheer power and performance features to tackle the toughest jobs with ease – as well as proven durability and economy.” Echoes pretty much everything I see on the forums…..

HTPC Notes

November 1, 2009

Gadgets 2 Watch
HABEY’s BIS-6540HD mini HTPC

Streaming:

http://www.vudu.com/
http://www.cinemanow.com/
Roxio

Accelerators
LogicSupply’s BCM970012 PCIe mini card decodes 1080p on Intel Atom
Broadcom Hardware Decoder BCM970015 – PCIe Mini Card

Websites:

http://htpctek.com/
http://www.avsforum.com/
http://www.logicsupply.com

Benchmarks
http://www.hqv.com/index.cfm?page=benchmark

Software
Boxee
http://www.snapstream.com/products/beyondtv/
http://www.mythtv.org/
http://www.sagetv.com/
NVIDIA 3DTV Play

General Guides:
Anandtech: How To: Build An HTPC (With Windows 7)

Remote Control:
FireFly
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-950Q TV Tuner Stick/Personal Video Recorder with Clear QAM and Remote Control (Black)

Keyboard
Wireless Rf Mini Multimedia USB Kyb with optical Trackball 2.4GHZ Blk
by Adesso

Media Connections:
ATI: TV Wonder HD 650
Hauppauge: Big Selection

CPU Requirements:
Netflix tech-support says a dual core is needed with Silverlight 2.
Silverlight 3 helps w/ GPU support but still skips on a AMD Barton 2500+
AMD 45W Athlon II X3 Great deal for the money.

Zotac Ion boards are nice but too many complaints about them not being able to handle the whole protected path thing… Will Wait till the Intel Atom or AMD Fusion (eta 2011). VIA CoreFusion could be a contender as well.

12/2010 – Bobcat / Zacate

Mobo:
Asus AMD Fusion Mini ITX

Cooling
Scythe Big SHURIKEN Low Profile 4-Heatpipe Universal CPU Cooler (SCBSK-1000)

Audio:
Anandtech: Understanding 8-channel LPCM over HDMI: Why it Matters and Who Supports it

Case
Coolermaster Fanless TC-100
Coolermaster Fanless TC-100A
Coolermaster Fanless Cube
IN WIN IW-BQ656 Black Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
HFX® micro – M2 black