atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4351: Obama, SCOAMF.

Victor Davis Hanson reminds of the 2008 election cycle:
The antidote to the great madness of 2008 would have been, instead of focusing on what Obama claimed or hedged, simply to recall what he had done before he ran for president and to notice what he did during the campaign. Had America done that, there would never have been a President Obama to surprise us now.
And those of us who did pay attention, who warned everyone about who Obama really was (and is) and correctly predicted how he would govern, were simply denounced as racists.

Only those who weren't paying attention are surprised that a man who was an incompetent, lazy blowhard before he was elected President remains so afterwards. Them and the perilously stupid.

*

Obama's golf vacation has really taken a lot out of him but he's gutting it up and getting back to work...fundraising. Yep, he's just got to go to a dinner with 250 super-rich people who will pay $10,000 to $32,000 for the privilege of spending a couple of hours in close proximity to our utterly useless President.

*

Of course, none of the crises that Obama is pretending to handle are anyone's fault.
All the bad news, from Iraq to Ukraine, from Libya and Syria to the Mexican border, just seems to have happened: Obama was standing there, golfing or shaking hands with donors, and, like a burst of bad weather, the winds blew, the skies opened, and things went to hell. Mysterious forces conspired against him, terrible setbacks occurred for no reason, and we were left with effects without a cause.
Just imagine any one of Obama's problems laid at the feet of a Republican administration.

Okay, let's just look at the open borders thing, with thousands of unaccompanied alien children flocking across the border, leaving them open to exploitation and rape and violence and murder. Imagine what the outcry would have been like if it had been George Bush (either one) or Ronald Reagan whose policies had led to this deplorable situation.

Meanwhile, "[Obama's] supporters commiserate with him and note his bad fortune at being in office at a time when events make his life difficult."

Obama is a terrible, terrible President. He's worse than Jimmy Carter was. I would not have believed that possible had I not seen it myself, but then again Obama managed to secure a second term because the entirety of the media are more interested in supporting him than reporting the news. In the same environment, Carter could have been re-elected, too.

I suppose that's just how it goes.

* * *

This kind of thing makes me roll my eyes. Okay, the American left is shitting itself over Burger King merging with a foreign corporation and moving its corporate offices to the foreign country, thus removing its tax revenue from Washington D.C.'s till and giving it to Alberta.

Perhaps--I know this is rainbows and unicorn flatus, here, but bear with me--perhaps, if the American left does not like companies relocating to countries with lower tax rates, just maybe they should consider the advisability of CHANGING THINGS SO THAT AMERICA NO LONGER HAS THE HIGHEST CORPORATE TAX RATES IN THE ENTIRE FREAKING WORLD. If government makes it more attractive to remain here, more companies will choose to do that.

...but of course it's not a boot stomping on a human face if we set up an environment where people will choose to do what we want! It's no fun if we can't force people to pay high taxes, so we'll continue to have the highest corporate tax rates in the world and simply make it illegal for companies to relocate their headquarters outside the United States.

* * *

Demonstrating that while it is still smoking crack, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its crack consumption, the CBO has revised its GDP growth estimate for 2014 from 3.1% to 1.5%. This revision reflects, they say, "...the surprising economic weakness in the first half of the year."

It's only "surprising" if you take the government numbers on--say--unemployment at face value. If you begin with the assumption that most of the government numbers are fudged, fiddleated, adjustered, and just-plain-fiction, then you can conclude that we are in a depression that started in 2007 and the weakness of the economy is no longer even remotely surprising.

Apparently CBO has not given up the crack pipe entirely, though, as they're projecting 3.5% growth for 2015 and 2016.

* * *

If I had a college-age kid possessed of even ordinary intelligence I would strongly urge him to become some variety of engineer. I would have done that before I saw this chart, though.

Of course, to be an engineer you must be able to handle mathematics, and math is hard--requiring that you study and learn--which is why so many college-bound kids choose not to be engineers but rather take up the super-soft majors on the left side of the chart at that link.

...actually I would advise my kids to eschew college entirely (or almost entirely) and instead learn a trade. Become a plumber; you'll make a shitton of money and get paid for every minute of overtime you put in. You'll never work twenty or forty extra hours in a week without being substantially rewarded for it in your next paycheck, unlike any salaried job where putting in lots of overtime gets you a "meets expectations" on your annual review. Learn to weld, then go to North Dakota; you'll be making $100k a year in no time as long as you show up every day clean and sober.

Don't want to get your hands dirty? Go the Borepatch route and self-teach yourself computer security, then pony up the cash to take the Cisco certification exams. Once you have the piece of paper from Cisco (which will cost a hell of a lot less than one course at a major college) you can start your career in computer security, and as a bonus you'll work in an office. (But you'll be expected to put in overtime, for which you won't be paid, because you'll be on salary.)

If you simply must go to college, for whatever reason, go there to learn electrical or computer engineering and then get a job programming and repairing machine tools. If you are not studying engineering (or pre-med, or one of the hard sciences) in college you are wasting your time and money. "Liberal arts" degrees are no longer an indicator of an educated individual; they might better be labled "progressive arts" degrees since ninety percent of the requirements for earning one consist of regurgitating Marxism on command.

* * *

As for my comments about working hourly being preferable to working for a salary?

Generally speaking the theory is thus: you get paid more on salary, but you're expected to work more hours--which is to say, when your salary is $60,000 a year, you're not actually being paid $30 an hour, 40 hours a week; you're actually being paid something like $25 an hour, because you're expected to put in 50-hour weeks. (Sometimes the equation is closer to $20 an hour for 60-hour weeks.) You get paid more than you would if you were working hourly, but with the expectation that you will put in the overtime to make this a fair trade between you and your employer.

That is the theory.

In practice, however, the salary does not actually compensate you for the extra time you must spend at work, not until and unless you get into the upper echelons of management. Further, putting in all that extra time is likely only (as stated above) to get you a "meets expectations" on your performance review, particularly when you're saddled with a pointy-haired boss. (Especially when said PHB himself keeps banker's hours, which is usually the case.) If you are not promoted--and most people are not--then a whole bunch of factors (all beyond your control) have to line up right, and then your reward is that you might get a raise every couple of years. Which--if you are lucky--allows your salary to keep pace with inflation.

With an hourly wage, though, when you work overtime you get an immediate and tangible benefit from it--something you can literally take to the bank--not just nebulous "maybe perhaps" nonsense from a PHB who is going to give raises and promotions to sycophants and ignore the most productive and hardworking people because they spend more time working than sucking up...and of course come review and/or promotion time you have a hard record of how much time you put into your job, as well as a new boat bought with the fruits of your overtime labor.

That's why I'd advise my kids (if I had any) to take up a trade. There are enough people out there that simply refuse to get their hands dirty; our economy needs people who will, and needs them so badly that their services carry a premium.

Seriously--how much does it cost to get a plumber to come to your house? How much does a journeyman electrician make? What about a backhoe operator? None of these jobs are peformed at a desk in an air-conditioned office, but the pay reflects that and none of it is back-breaking labor, not like unloading trucks or landscaping. Tradesmen make good money without needing a single credit-hour of college coursework, and the harder they work the more money they make guaranteed, money they can take to the bank right now as opposed to "maybe someday".

It's a sad thing, really, that I have this attitude. My Dad was the only person in his family to get a white collar job; his sisters were housewives and his brother was a tradesman (and his father wound locomotive springs for Alco). Dad was very pro-salary...but then he got his education at a time when a college education actually made a difference in a person's earning power, and began his career at a time when most of the world's industrial capacity was still being rebuilt after a major war. Further, in his era, there was still a premium placed on loyalty--not just worker to the company, but company to its workers--so that a man was rewarded for staying in his job by getting some kind of raise every year, or almost, because he was more experienced and therefore more valuable. Sure, a salaried man was expected to work overtime, but he could do so with the reasonable expectation that he was going to receive tangible benefits from it, because he usually did. Dad benefitted from being on salary; he was smart, productive, and knew his business.

My own experiences with being a salaried employee, though, are different. Being the most productive member of a team was ignored. Being smart and adaptable was shrugged off. Knowing how technology works was irrelevant, having the ability to determine the operation of a circuit from a schematic was superfluous, and even my writing ability was dismissed. All this happened in an environment where upper management had declared that no salaried employee would be considered for any kind of raise without working at least 60-hour weeks. (The office had hourly employees, working in technical capacities, who were carefully instructed to work no overtime whatsoever. Did any of them get raises? Somehow I doubt they did not.) I saw a lot of smart, highly experienced men leave the organization, taking their knowledge and wisdom with them, rather than remain in such an environment.

Management wanted commodities, not people; they wanted cheap labor to pound out manuals, which is why they tried to pawn the hard part of technical writing--the actual technology--off onto the engineers. You can hire an English major for the minimum tech writer salary and he'll be glad to get it...but he won't know the difference between a transistor and a capacitor, and won't have the faintest idea what's wrong with saying something like "the voltage at the output pin of the resistor is 240 Farads". Since they considered technial writers to be infinitely replaceable, management was able to hire people with no technological experience, lowball everyone's salary, and on top of that demand overtime, all while happily proclaiming, "We're professionals, and that means we stay at work until we're done!" and patting themselves on the back for being so shrewd.

So, yes--based on my life experience, I'd say "trades, not college" and mean every word.

* * *

Today is much cooler than it has been over the past week or so. I can't remember the last time we had the bunker open.

Tonight it should be cool and dry enough to do so, though.
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