Sunday, December 23, 2007

French-Canadian labor setup: natural transition to sector-wide (collective-collective) bargaining here?

Checking out of my national-chain supermarket the other night, the bagger took no notice of multiple requests to double bag heavy items and not place heavy 12-packs on the underside of the cart. A young employee finally informed me that the bagger could not speak a word of English. Have supermarket pay scales dropped so low -- Wal-Mart's entry into the retail food business having forced two-tiered contracts upon new employees -- that (middle-class career seeking) Americans need not apply?

American supermarket employees (especially in California and Illinois by personal observations) would kill to negotiate contracts on a sector-wide basis.

The streamlined version of sector-wide labor agreements -- the French/French-Canadian practice requiring non-union firms to operate under agreements worked out by unionized firms -- is ready and waiting for America's seamless transition to a fair and balanced labor marketplace. Economies from South America to South East Asia use mixes of mostly unionized to mostly non-unionized sector-wide rules -- some confined to certain industries (sector - sector-wide) -- there's all ways to do it.

Adopting French-blueprint sector-wide here would not require -- on the run -- building a broader union base than we ever built before (as going German style, full-out unionized could). And, the French-Canadian example will always be right next store for our convenient perusal -- in an economy we can reasonably fathom. 

PS. Sector-wide collective bargaining was put in place by after WWII industrialists in Europe -- not labor unions -- to keep unions from going on a race to the top. Turns out to stop the race to the bottom just as well. Wal-Mart closed 88 big boxes in Germany because it could not compete pay the same wages and benefits as everyone else.   Now in practice around the world -- as far flung as Argentina and even Indonesia.
If we could have predicted to 1968-Americans that 25% of 2007-Americans would get by below a more realistically set poverty line (based on a varied market basket instead of a single-factor formula*) -- further, that 25% of Americans' wages would sink below LBJ's ($9.50/hr adjusted) minimum wage -- what could they have guessed: that a mini ice age, a limited nuclear exchange followed by a mini ice age (nuclear winter), or multiple depressions or even tsunamis would bring American (not European) employees low?

Average income actually doubled since -- as real world 1968-Americans might have anticipated. 2007-working Americans -- if and when somebody troubles to fill them in on their missed prosperity (50 to 90 percentile incomes could mostly have done significantly better; 25 to 50 percentile incomes mostly held plus a little) -- will have one culprit to mostly contemplate: the race of under-powered (ultimately because under-informed?) labor to the bottom.

[ * 12.5% of American incomes are officially reported below today's, decades irrelevant, federal poverty standard: three times the price of the cheapest emergency diet -- dried beans only please, no canned! -- try the 2002 book Raise the Floor for realistic poverty parameters. ]

The latest on British pay pulling ahead of US:

WE WANT MORE!!! (On Krugman's blog -- "Inequality Denial"

Since the money doesn't do all that much for the rich, they surely will not mind us taking it back when it will do so much more for us -- "us" who have not progressed so far along the margin of diminishing returns: an extra thousand dollars in my pocket will do so very much more for me than an extra thousand in the pocket of the so-over paid.

Further: the militant labor viewpoint (exemplified by my old strike-happy fellows in the very well paid Teamsters Union) don't really care if the extra dollar means more to the rich than it does to us: WE WANT MORE!!! :-) It is just a question of whether we know how to get it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Are serial molesters targeting the Catholic priesthood? SEE ADDENDUM

[Late insight: the word "incurable" that goes with child molester should tell us that molesting is not something you pick up from being attempting to be celibate, nor from being homosexual. This is something that obviously has deep roots in the perpetrator's earliest development.]


One out of 14 Catholic priests is -- not a just pedophile, just a molester, but a serial-molester?! This is such an unlikely mathematical distribution (especially spread over a giant sample of tens of thousands of priests nationwide) that serial-molesters must be deliberately targeting the job; not developing from inside the priesthood out.

Probably not even 1 out of 14 pedophiles is a molester. I have been spotting men and boys since I was a boy (good psychological detective, me -- used to spot pickpockets half way down crowded NYC subway platforms when I wasn't looking for them) -- first time when a younger boy on my paper route hinted to me between the lines (would sound like a blatant proposal today, but was so unthinkable at that time -- the Advise and Consent era -- it was supposed to go right over my head if I were not "sophisticated") about what he was doing with some old man for money.

I've been spotting the same thing everywhere I go ever since (never tell -- because never non-consensual). The trade off tends to be like that between a younger woman and an older man: one has the young body; the other has the expensive toys and a place of his own to play.

Pedophiles attracted to girls? See all those guys getting caught on the MSNBC show -- and similar reports in the newspapers? It's just about all consensual isn't it? Except for pedophiles who get caught on jobs working with children: back to targeting.

Indeed, what might have partially lead the bishops to unrealistic hopes in the reformability of priest offenders may have come from their experience with typical (as in non-serial molesting) pedophiles in the confessional box -- not realizing (if I am right) that they were dealing with a more singular phenomenon.

The Church ought to commission a deep study of this kind of personality so it can reliably spot them ahead of time (spotting rapists, not gays: gays see overweening ego exclusively in females, instead of in males: tend to be "dismissive " of the male ego -- no big mystery there). If I am right, more are burrowing their way into the priesthood right now -- making such proactive research as much a moral imperative as dealing responsibly with offenses in the aftermath.

Being a gay priest does not correlate with being a molester (or even a sinner: Fr. Andrew Greeley does sociology pretty well and reports that 3 out of 4 gay priests are celibate which he compares with 4 out of 5 straight).

It takes a lot longer to become a priest than it does to get a job as a basketball coach so the motivations of these guys must be very interesting -- are they delusional about their religious commitment or what? They strike me as loners; could the loner aspect of the job as well as the prospect of relating to adults from behind a wall of abstract authority appeal to some of their missing marbles? Time to get cracking to find out exactly what.

Since I began spamming the "eighth-grade math" insight above to Catholic addresses all over the country, I actually began researching the problem a little (began reading the 2002 book, Goodbye! Good Men). Seems the heart of the problem may be that we are force feeding likely predators down seminary throats (reminds of live geese being force fed grain to prepare for cooking).

What I read doesn't reassure me that even fair psychological testing is up to winnowing out these guys -- anything but. Prejudiced (by Catholic standards) testing being (SUPER) UN-sophisticated enough to find orthodox believing Catholic men to be the sexually maladjusted signals a lack of a sufficiently worked out "science."

Here as in another science that is not worked out, economics, higher intelligence and heavier common sense may be more of a help than so-called higher theoretical training -- why psychiatrists often make better therapists than psychologists.

Since adherence to unorthodox (to us) religious concepts seem to be opening the flood gates here, the first logical remedy may be to institute just the opposite in all vocation screening (using only devout Catholic shrinks? -- sounds like a very good idea).

I would have been one to accept homosexual men into the priesthood (as long as they are celibate of course). But after reading as far as partying type homosexuals seemingly hijacking the Jesuits, at least in California -- DEFINITELY targeting; if not necessarily for molesting -- and seemingly in many other milieus across the country, I begin to think that barring homosexuals as a general rule may be the only way to take this segment of the priesthood back to the church (perhaps making exception for the exceptionally devout -- I am sure there are may of them in the closet).

The Jesuit seminary abuse stories put a caveat in my "too unlikely" 1 in 14 theory. Males in positions of power in any venue have a serious probability of taking advantage of underlings. The seminary stories gave me this idea -- but it could apply to adults in charge of children too.

If bishops are not sufficiently interested in closing off the (if I am right) still wide open molester pipeline for the sake of protecting children -- perhaps they should consider cleaning things out before they are forced to auction off St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Last thing for now: if dioceses that prohibit altar girls have a big drop in vocations -- and this does not simply coincide with their being unorthodox overall -- and the reason for the drop may be because fewer boys are exposed to the altar, it is possible to include more boys while keeping the girls at the same number while explaining the reason. At this stage in our civilization it is almost a scandal (in the relative sense) to prohibit girls.

So much for today; I'll probably spend a month before I come up with another good spam.

REVERSE matching funds (On

The best suggestion I saw in the SEIU's "Since Sliced Bread" contest was paying people $35 to vote. That would get the disenfranchised-feeling poor vote out for once. It would also accomplish what mandatory voting does without hitting anyone over the head with a fine.

Next thing you want to try -- (don't recall if it was one of my contest ideas) -- is REVERSE campaign matching funds: matching any contribution to any candidate from taxpayer funds (buy our government back). This will keep incumbent congresspersons from spending half their time raising money and the other half satisfying those who gave -- incumbents will run from contributions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Grow young with HGH and Acetyl L-Carnitine and Resveratrol

Reader's Digest cover story, November 2003 (?), described Acetyl L-Carnitine as doubling the energy in old rats from one-third that of young rats to two-thirds -- by rejuvenating their mitochondria. Works just that way in (old) humans too (me). Works in 45 minutes. Best "count": Swanson Vitamins online (been around almost 40 years.
Heard of Resveratrol for the heart? Gives an energy (to old people) up tick also, not nearly as pronounced as Acetly L-Carnitine and takes about a week to be noticeable. Best "count": Life Extension "Optimized Resveratrol." Optimized means 100% trans resveratrol -- the only kind that works. 60 (1 per serving), 250 mg capsules for $37.99.

I had been touting Walgreens' supposed bargain: 60 capsules for $10.49 -- BUT I read online BOTH that it takes 2 capsules per serving to add up to 160 mg AND that only half of the resveratrol is the trans type AND that half the capsule is filler: alledgedly leaving only 20 mg of trans per capsule!
HGH: any protein meal from hamburger to eggs provokes your pituitary (and most old pituitaries, all young ones) to produce HGH -- also provokes your pancreas to produce insulin. HGH and insulin conflict with each other's workings but when you are young you produce amounts of each in a proportion that allows the other to do its work. In old age your insulin remains high (or you would die) but your HGH drops way (or completely) off.

Only way to get full benefit of your HGH when old is to provoke it without provoking insulin at the same time. That is where 2gms of Glutamine (most commonly used amino acid) and 2gms of Arginine come in -- three hours after eating (to let insulin clear your blood) and one hour before bedtime (you produce half of your daily output of HGH in your first two hours of sleep) -- see Doctor Klatz's book Grow Young With HGH for a lengthy list of benefits (basically sets your aging clock back about 10-15 years -- did mine).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Inflation God has joined together; no man can put asunder :-) (on

[ This was in REPLY to howls about how "unbearable" it will be when the combination of Social Security retirement payouts, Medicade and Medicare add up to 36% of GDP -- some 80 years out. ]

When, when, ever, ever, is this world going to catch up with the import of something called ECONOMIC GROWTH -- when viewing these kind of long, long term (80 years out) federal spending projections?!

Economic output per person doubles every 40 years -- which means quadruple every 80 years..

By 2082 (close enough to 80 years), someone whose grandparent earned $50,000/yr should be able to make $200,000/yr doing equivalent work (and that's not even counting "flying cars" for the same $25,000*).

Federal spending that takes 18% of a $50,000 income today leaves the earner with $41,000 for everything else -- federal spending that will take 36% of a $200,000 income tomorrow will leave the "suffering" tax payer with only $128,000 to spend on everything else (and that doesn't even count super potent medicine).

Three times the income left over, "3D" TV for the same price*, super healing: shouldn't we all glad we wont live to see those "terrible" days?

[ * Technological progress isn't counted by inflation (objections of the Gingriches of the world aside) because it would be:
a) inhuman: we are not going to give people living on indexed incomes less money to buy potatoes because they they can aquire a better TV for the same (adjusted) price;
b) unworkable: only God could put together into one inflation number that my new Timex watch costs half what the Timex of my youth (50 years ago) cost while it is 10 (?) times better -- and man would not find God's tech-included inflation number useful, anyway, unless it were broken back down into the two original interesting quantities;
c) unnecessary; when average income grows 20% over an average decade, there is no harm in leaving the free gifts of technology out of the inflation spec ("Mr. Sky is Falling", a.k.a. Chicken Little, Newt Gingrich who is panicking that old pensioners getting a few dollars of extra value out of their checks will cause civilization to crumble, aside).]

Posted by: Denis Drew | December 16, 2007 at 07:59 AM

Monday, December 10, 2007

The TRUE significance of the S.S. Trust Fund (TAP)

When S.S. retirement benefit payouts finally fall short of payroll tax (FICA) receipts (at some point in the next decade?), the only significance of the Trust Fund will be to signal a hike in the income tax to cash the pile of "government owned" bonds that have been built up over time to "cover" said shortfall -- in place of simply raising the payroll tax a bit to cover the benefit gap, as we always did before.

Without the Trust Fund bonds to cash, we would be forced to raise the payroll tax about 1/10 of a point a year -- as average income grows 1-1/2 percent per year -- to maintain the going benefit level (until near mid-century when the retired population is predicted to stop increasing relative to overall population).

Whatever payment method to cover our pay-as-you-go retirement system -- and the present double-trouble arrangement looks clunkier and clunkier as the time to invoke it's clunkiness comes nearer -- we have to raise SOME tax the SAME overall amount to keep paying-as-we-go -- until retiree population finally fills out.

PS. It is entirely possible (even likely?) that, when the FICA gap that is supposed to trigger cashing Trust Fund bonds (w/income tax) finally hits, we may opt instead to run up even more (?) income tax debt (by selling new bonds to private -- i.e., real) owners -- thereby leaving even more debt for our great, great, great, great grandchildren to pay off , in this case to cover the retirement of their long deceased great, great, grandparents. That is the alternate (likely?) significance of the Trust Fund.

Addendum: it has occurred to me that the best way to return to normal S.S. funding (all FICA) would be to pay down the Trust Fund until there was about a 5 year bridge left (a bridge to cover any temporary shortfall in the FICA stream while Congress gets around to hiking FICA -- the only sensible rationale for a trust fund) -- at the point we see the bridge-point coming, we can begin to phase (rather than one-jump) income tax out and FICA in.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More Mandate, Shmandate (on economistsview.typepad)

Mandate, shmandate! Weren't you progressives disappointed when governors Romney and Schwarzenegger went for mandated private plans instead of tax supported. So why do you (I'm talking to the columnists/bloggers: Paul Krugman/Ezra Klein variety) now all go full blast for mandates?

Why do you go along with Hillary and friends -- the Clintons who according to Joe Stigler screwed up on 7 out of 10 domestic economic issues (I cannot think of them all now, but read Joe's Roaring Nineties) and just about all foreign issues (forcing nations from South East Asia to Argentina into depressions in order to pay US bankers); the Clintons who brought you a minimum wage that was one dollar an hour short of Eisenhower's, three years into their administration, one week before their renomination convention with only 70% public support. The current minimum wage hike will top out at around fifty cents below Eisenhower's by the time inflation takes its 2009 bite.

When are you progressives going to stop pushing intellectual chess pieces of the automatically-doable (you often mistakenly think) around -- and start FIGHTING for what is merely possible but actually desirable?

The Republicans (one thinks of Newt "the Grinch" Ging-rich) are stupid but they fight like hell which is why they get what they want. Try FIGHTING (okay, advocating) for what you really want for once. Truly desperate American workers await you -- or somebody.

Posted by: Denis Drew | December 08, 2007 at 06:29 AM

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Health mandates, shmandates (on

Mandated purchase of private health insurance could cost nearly 45% more than Medicare for all:
Private insurance is supposed to add 30% costs (20% insurance provider paperwork and procedure denial machinery and 10% doctors dealing with multiple plans paperwork and fending of denial). 30 is 42.8% of 70: nearly 45%.

The poverty line multiples really need to be cut in half (adjusted for reality if you will) before discussion of income levels even begins — because the federal poverty line is based on the useless (if too obviously understated) measure of three times (3X) the price of the cheapest possible emergency diet (dried beans only, no canned beans please!). The 2002 book, Raise the Floor has a professionally worked out poverty line which comes to twice (2X) the official federal line.

Whatever multiples of poverty a person’s wages may be, some individuals will not be in a position to purchase insurance because of their personal situations, making for potentially tragic situations in a programs supposedly trying to help those most in need. We equally need to take into account the tragic state of wages on the low end in this country thanks to the race to the bottom that began in the early 70s. Our standards for what people should be paid are way off what they would be, in an adequately unionized country for instance — potentially leading to more misjudgment on the impact of mandates on people who really cannot afford them.

The only reason I ever see progressives offering for not advocating Medicare for all as best option is the assumption that politicians will be overwhelmed by the politicking of the insurance companies — no other objection. Seems a weak rationale for throwing their support behind a basically undesirable program right at the beginning of a national discussion. Especially when polls show most Americans support Medicare for all as the ideal way to go. Show a little moxie fellows and maybe one of the politicians will get their courage up and follow you (Huckabee?) — couldn’t happen?

December 6th, 2007 11:16 am

Saturday, December 1, 2007

If Israel looks, walks and talks like the 51st state.... (on

If Israel looks like a state and walks and talks like a state and hangs around with states, then, it is what I have always claimed it is: our 51st state -- it cannot look like anything else in the eyes of avenging Arabs.

Israelis look like Americans (Caucasians anyway; enough for the avenging Arab version of dual loyalty); they walk the same Western life style walk and talk the same English talk; half of their ethnic group actually are Americans -- not New Zealanders. (Can anybody imagine Israel getting away with half of what it gets away with if the other half its ethnic group lived in New Zealand? Neither can a lot of crazed Arabs.) The most famous member of their ethnic group founded much of our Western Civilization.

For forty years now our 51st state has permanently occupied itself with permanently occupying Islam's 51st state: the raped and robbed Palestinian homeland. Is it any wonder we are ducking airliners piloted by maddened avenging Arabs? If we were supplying Germany with arms and money as it happened to be invading Russia (or the other way 'round) what would we expect the "invadee" to view us?
As to dual loyalty. I'm a melting pot New Yorker. Everybody in this immigrant country is somewhere along the sliding scale on dual loyalty. No problem with that.

The only dual loyalty that really upsets me is the dual loyalty of politicians (the names Moynihan and Clinton come to mind) who put their own political safety ahead of the America's (and Israel's).

There is no conflict between the good of America and the good of Israel. Both depend heavily on Israel getting out of the West Bank, ASAP:
It's not about neighborhoods anymore, Moishe -- after 2000 years of neighborhoods. You have to start thinking countries -- and nobody moves in on another country; get used to it or Hitler may win the final round:
first, by turning Jews into fascists;
second, by said fascist behavior leading to another (nuclear) holocaust or a twenty-first century diaspora.

Israel is reputed to have 200 nuclear bombs. But, as analysts on both sides have be pointing out lately, Israel is vulnerable to a single nuclear bomb hitting Tel Aviv -- and nobody has to know where it came from.

Actually, it doesn't even have to explode -- it doesn't even have to be a working nuclear bomb. Someone just has to dead drop somewhere in Tel Aviv to be discovered a nuclear device without even nuclear material (a bluff?; maybe they don't even have weapons' grade material) and half of Israel would empty out, then the other half would have to follow.

Our 51st state is running short of time to join the community of nations as a democratic state in one piece. Let's hope it wises up before we trade any more skyscrapers (or whole downtowns) for settlements.