Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Vote Democrat

If you were on the fence, if you were thinking of voting Republican, if you were thinking of not voting at all, here is a glaring example of why the majority of Americans should vote Democrat.

Protests Erupt Nationwide To Support Abortion Rights After SCOTUS Draft Leak
Wisconsin Abortion Rights Could Be Set Back Nearly 200 Years

Republicans only care about power and cronyism. And, this latest Supreme Court leak shows they definitely do not give a shit about women. 

Upcoming Elections:

Fall Primary - Tuesday, August 9

General Election - Tuesday, November 8

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Highway to Hell

The highway cabal is alive and well in 2022. The highway growth machine is an antiquated giant that keeps chewing up transportation budgets while doing nothing to alleviate the congestion. The media is more than happy to continually produce content detailing how wonderful each new highway project will be. For example, I-94 project about progress, connection. Sadly, the results are never as promised.

Milwaukee has made major highway investments in the Plainfield Curve, the Marquette Interchange and the Zoo Interchange, among others, over the past few decades. All these resources and money have done nothing to alleviate traffic congestion or make commutes any smoother for drivers. In fact, it has made things much worse. The roads, and routes, are more complicated and congested than ever. Travel times have increased, not decreased.

The political power of the highway cabal is evidenced by the fact that induced demand is a well-known result of highway expansion, yet we keep expanding highways. As Benjamin Schneider states, "When traffic-clogged highways are expanded, new drivers quickly materialize to fill them." Or, as Adam Mann out it, "Building bigger roads actually makes traffic worse."

As the report The Congestion Con details:
In an expensive effort to curb congestion in urban regions, we have overwhelmingly prioritized one strategy: we have spent decades and hundreds of billions of dollars widening and building new highways. We added 30,511 new freeway lane-miles of road in the largest 100 urbanized areas between 1993 and 2017, an increase of 42 percent. That rate of freeway expansion significantly outstripped the 32 percent growth in population in those regions over the same time period. Yet this strategy has utterly failed to “solve” the problem at hand—delay is up in those urbanized areas by a staggering 144 percent.

Those new lane-miles haven’t come cheap and we are spending billions to widen roads and seeing unimpressive, unpredictable results in return. Further, the urbanized areas expanding their freeways more rapidly aren’t necessarily having more success curbing congestion—in fact, in many cases the opposite is true.
If we really want to improve transportation safety, access to jobs, and mobility, we should be simply repairing (making safer) the roads we have while improving our modes of public transportation. 

For Further Reading:

How Induced Demand Explains the Vicious Cycle of CongestionGenerated Traffic and Induced Travel

Screenshots of Wisdom

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Fetishizing Disposability

M. Nolan Gray, a planner and researcher at UCLA, scolds that America needs to Stop Fetishizing Old Homes. He lists several complaints to buttress his point.

For starters, before I go into a critique of Mr. Gray’s points, I do not believe all old homes are better than new homes. Just as I do not believe the opposite. Generalizations, as such, get us nowhere.

Gray makes some broad and overreaching statements to condemn, in general, old housing.

He begins by labeling old housing as “at best, subpar and, at worst, unsafe.” No doubt, some old housing surely is subpar and unsafe. However, so is some new housing.

He next takes a dig at “self-righteous” preservationists. Though some may be pompous or pretentious (which can be the case in many occupations), some older things are worth saving and equally attractive as their newer, supposed, replacements. He fails to mention the craftsmanship and materials in older, quality homes, which many newer (even well-built) homes don’t contain.

Gray claims we “fetishize” old homes. I would like to think some people just like to take care of well-built or well-crafted items. Maybe Gray just fetishizes disposability over maintenance. 

He states, “If we want to ensure universal access to decent housing, we should be building a lot more of it.” First, although a noble goal, I'm not sure Republicans want to ensure universal access to decent housing. Second, new housing and old housing are not mutually exclusive. We can have well-built, well-maintained older housing alongside newer construction.

Here I should point out I am not for saving every building simply because of old age or some sentimentalism. Some buildings are too far-gone and exorbitant investment just does not make sense. But Gray's overarching theme here that everything old stinks and everything new is wonderful is just an extreme oversimplification and wrong.

Gray then lists some regional differences in the age of homes. Some places have more new homes than others do and vice-versa. Rather than condemning, in general, old homes, it seems Gray’s issue is with dilapidated properties and zoning practices. If this is the case, we can agree. Older, dilapidated buildings should be allowed to be razed so that newer, denser construction (whatever the highest and best use of the site is) can replace it.

He then goes on to proclaim that new housing is “just plain nice to live in.” Yet, some newer housing is also cheap, poorly built crap. Gray had previously criticized fetishizing the old, but here he is fetishizing something for simply being new.

Gray then rattles off insulation, HVAC and windows as supposed reasoning for why newer is better. He also discusses room layout and closet sizes. Yet, retrofitting an older home for insulation, HVAC and windows is common. Considering the quality of some older homes, this is also more economical than completely new construction. Moreover, older, quality-built homes have larger closets and functional layouts. Cheap construction is cheap construction whether it is built in 1922 or 2022.

Sure, there are a lot of old crappy buildings out there that aren't worth saving. But that does not de facto conclude that anything newer is better. There is a lot of cheap, new stuff. So how about cities look for ways to build dense housing where needed along with respecting older, quality construction. We are a pretty innovative country (when we want to be), I think we can move forward and accomplish two goals simultaneously. 

Midweek Reading

The Continuing Phony Debate on “Free Trade”Mocking anti-vaxxers’ COVID deaths is ghoulish, yes — but may be necessaryNew Climate Maps Show a Transformed United StatesCould Being Cold Actually Be Good for You?Stop calling workers “low skill”Fauci Caught on Hot Mic Calling Republican Senator a ‘Moron’ After Heated ExchangeCannabis compounds can stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from entering human cells by binding to the spike protein and blocking it from infecting people

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

There Is No Labor Shortage!!!

Accomplices Reporters keep labeling shitty-paying jobs, that are supposedly going unfilled, as a labor shortage. Labor Shortage Transforming State Workforce

There is no labor shortage. This is about a living wage, health care, and a pension (retirement). Respectable pay for an honest day's work - the mantra America has been shoveling and selling for generations. 

Unions were the answer to the disparity between the Haves and the Have-Nots. Yet, for decades, Republicans have attacked government and the public sector, in general, along with unions. It's no coincidence that as unionization has declined so have the wages and benefits of workers. 

Business news bloviators talk about how CEOs have earned and must be paid millions - that's just the market working. At the same time, Republicans, along with the business news crowd, tell us how these same millionaires shouldn't pay taxes - that would be a disincentive to their genius.

But when everyday workers decide certain jobs (and the lack of pay and benefits associated with such) aren't worth it - you know, the market - Republicans and the business crowd declare these workers to be lazy and ungrateful. Workers don't deserve good pay and incentives will only make them lazier.

I guess when CEOs get to make policy and write the rules, there is a set of rules for them and a set of rules for workers. The market rules for millionaires are very different from the market rules for workers. 

So is it really a surprise that as workers have had to work harder for lower pay and less benefits, the workers have turned away from these lowest-paid and worst jobs? It's not a labor shortage, it's a pay shortage. The labor is here and willing to do the work, they just need to be paid a fair market wage.

Only The Little People Pay Taxes

Proposal Cuts Taxes for 1%
A group of big business lobbyists is pushing a radical change to Wisconsin’s tax structure — one that would give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and powerful while shifting the responsibility of paying taxes to people with lower incomes. The change would also require significant cuts to the critical services that Wisconsin businesses, schools, and communities need to thrive. This one-two punch would make it more difficult for Wisconsin families to get by, while funneling additional resources into the pockets of the top 1%.

Screenshots of Wisdom

Midweek Reading

Gerrymandering locked in Republican control for another decade in Wisconsin. The power hungry want even more.Volk HeroesDeadly Collapse at Amazon Warehouse Puts Spotlight on Phone BanYes, most Americans own capital

Monday, December 13, 2021

Rand Paul - Shameless Hypocrite

Paul isn't alone in the hypocrisy. It's the entire Republicans party and anyone enabling, supporting, or listening to them. They deny climate change and obstruct any related public policy. They bash government and any legislation that might improve infrastructure, fight climate change, or help the majority of citizens. They cut government programs. Until it impacts them, then government should open up the checkbook and freely hand over whatever's needed. Republicans are truly despicable trolls.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Best Metal Music of 2021

Lorna Shore - And I Return To Nothingness
Gojira - Fortitude
Mastodon - Hushed & Grim
Cerebral Rot - Excretion of Mortality
Rivers of Nihil - The Work
Obscura - A Valediction
Archspire - Bleed The Future
Hooded Menace - The Tritonus Bell
Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality
Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined
Devin Townsend - The Puzzle & Snuggles
Jinger - Wallflowers
Ministry - Moral Hygiene
Carcass - Torn Arteries
Bongzilla - Weedsconsin
Four Stroke Baron - Classics 
Krallice - Demonic Wealth
AEnigmatum - Deconsecrate
The Absence - Coffinized
Heavy Sentence - Bang To Rights
Brand of Sacrifice - Lifeblood
Slaughter to Prevail - Kostolom
Succumb - XXI
Heavy Sentence - Bang to Rights
Vomit The Soul - Cold
Lucifer's Fall - III: From The Deep
Mega Colossus - Riptime
Warrior Path - The Mad King
Kayo Dot - Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike
Bummer - Dead Horse
Lucifer - Lucifer IV
Alien Weaponry - Tangora
Harakiri For The Sky - Maere
Inferi - Vile Genesis
Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
Soen - Imperial

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Visit Milwaukee is claiming the Bucks Championship Had $58 Million Economic Impact.

That's possible. Anything is possible. But claims of such an impact are dubious at best. 

As Roy Cordato's article noted:

Economic impact studies are everywhere.

Whether it’s to support a new highway project, special tax breaks for solar energy, the building of a civic center or sports complex, or to promote subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study, often touting how great the project will be for the state or local economy.

The formula is simple, predictable, and effective. A special interest group that stands to benefit from the project funds an economic impact study that purports to provide hard numbers on the number of jobs, the increase in wages, and the additional output that will be generated by the project or subsidy, and it will do this on an industry-by-industry basis. It makes grandiose claims about how much overall economic growth will be enhanced for the state or region generally. Once the report is completed, the special interest group that paid for the study will tout these results in press releases that will be picked up by the largely uncritical media establishment, ensuring that the political decision makers and others who determine the fate of the project receive political cover.

These studies all have several things in common. First, they typically use proprietary, off-the-shelf models with acronym names like IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), CUM (Capacity Utilization Model), or REMI (Regional Economic Model, Inc.). Rights to use the models are purchased by professional consulting firms who are hired by the interest groups to do the studies. Furthermore, seldom do those who actually perform the studies have formal training in economics. Instead their expertise is in using one or more of the aforementioned proprietary models. And finally, all of these studies ignore basic principles of economics and, as a result, do not meaningfully measure what they claim to be measuring—the economic impact of the public policies and projects that they are assessing.

One big problem with economic impact studies is the idea of substitution. If money that would have been spent elsewhere was simply spent on the Bucks, growth did not occur. Spending that would have occurred in one spot was merely spent in a different spot. The project (the development, the event, etc.) hasn't catalyzed growth. They haven't made an economic impact. They've merely realigned spending.

Now, this isn't to say all projects are unable to spur growth. But unless the impact study accounts for concepts like substitution and opportunity cost, it's mostly measuring the rewards that will go to primarily absentee owners.

Milwaukee Magazine had their own questions regarding the local economic impact of the Bucks championship run.

The sparkling, shiny, loud things (sports and entertainment events) often get attention, articles and praise. Yet, as far as being supposed economic catalysts, all too often, the economic benefits and impact are ephemeral to non-existent.

Maybe it's time we stop deluding ourselves in the belief that all activities and projects can be or need to be fun and exciting. Clean water, smooth roads, public transportation, quality schools, affordable housing and health care, and maintained infrastructure provide a better return on investment and generate much more growth than any stadium or convention center could ever hope to. 

Conventional Delusion

There are so many more impactful ways to spend $420 million.

The Boondoggle Bandwagon lumbers on.

For Further Reading:

Milwaukee's Boondoggle Twofer

The Convention Center Cabal

Beware of the Economic Development Hucksters

The Economic Impact Mythology of Convention Centers

We Have A Pay Shortage

Note to media: 

Please stop reporting on a "skills shortage" or a "labor shortage".

We have a "pay shortage".

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Dangerous Mythology About The US Labor Shortage

The dangerous mythology about the US labor shortage
In explaining the unimpressive quarterly jobs data recently, there is a dangerous mythology surfacing, a common refrain among pundits, that people don’t want to work because of stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits.

Some argue that unemployed low-wage workers make more from these benefits than from their previous employment. This may be true, but in my nearly 10-year tenure as CEO of what has become the nation’s largest publicly funded workforce development system, where we have facilitated training and employment of over 70,000 people, I have never once heard anyone say they didn’t want to work.

This is a harmful, corrosive narrative rooted in class, gender and race bias; it is a fallacy meant to demean and stigmatize.

The truth underlying what’s being touted as a “labor shortage” is far more nuanced than glib jabs at the working class. Examining reality invites us to reassess our beliefs about work and workers in this country.

Low Pay, No Benefits, Rude Customers: Restaurant Workers Quit At Record Rate