Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Segway Use in New Haven

I just received a letter from the ADA Coordinator in New Haven, and I have been granted use of my Segway on sidewalks and crosswalks, just not streets. They have taken the position that any

'electric personal assistive mobility device ("EPAMD") that is self-balancing, has two non-tandem wheeled devices, is designed to transport only one person, and has an electric propulsion system that limits the maximum speed of the device to twelve and one-half (12.5) miles per hour or less'

...is classified more-or-less like power wheelchair. I wouldn't feel comfortable with a power wheelchair cruising down the street, either. However, in California, I am allowed to ride on bike lanes. I wonder if they have bike lanes in New Haven? Or if I'm allowed to use them?

Off to find out!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Bloated Economy

In Response to The Captain:

The Bloated Economy

The other day a man approached me outside of one of my favorite burger joints. He asked if I could spare some money so he could get some food. It was about 12:30 in the afternoon and I had just finished eating. I told him, “No, not today.” I suppose I could have told him that Vons was hiring, or that there was a Help Wanted sign at Nick’s Burgers. Go earn your own money. That’s what I did.

The great thing about the American Economy is that somewhere there is a job or everybody. Regardless of how uninspired, unmotivated, or uneducated (heaven forbid!) one might be, somewhere somebody will want to accommodate that person. Now, granted it might pay at minimum wage, it might involve checking septic systems for leaks, roofing a house in the August heat, or giving barium enemas to incontinent pachyderms (ehem, elephants)… but it’s something.

The problem is that there are TOO MANY JOBS. We’ve all seen the movie “Office Space” of course. The company hires a “consultant” (dun, dun, dun!) who promptly surveys the payroll and advises the boss to fire something like 30% of the company’s employees. Everybody asks the boss, “Why am I being fired!? What did I do!?” The boss’s response: “I don’t know what you did. That’s why you’re being fired.”

Having too many jobs means too much pay, which means higher prices everywhere. Look at the quagmire of insurance companies, especially those involved in medical insurance. If everybody paid cash for their medical needs instead of going through insurance, doctors would be able to charge 40% less for their services and would make more money than they do now. And imagine how much money we would save if state law did not require us to have auto insurance.

Couldn’t we self-insure? Would it be so difficult, if, say, we deposited $100 a month into a bank account called “My auto insurance” or “My Rx Benefits” instead of paying it to an insurance company? You'd earn interest, too. How often do you think you USE your auto insurance for your benefit? Once a year? Once every 5 years? If you save conservatively at $100 per month to your bank account called “My auto insurance” then that entitles you to $1200 in damages per year. Who causes that much damage to a vehicle every year? If you do, for God’s sake, get off the road. If you want to drive behind a BMW in a car with bad brakes but don’t have the money to fix a BMW bumper, then please, fix your brakes or at least change lanes. Oh, and get off your cell phone.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m a flaming libertarian. And I’m sick of people hitting my car while it’s parked, then running away because they think that because I drive a BMW and have a personalized license plate I must have good insurance too.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Workplace Ethics

We work because our employers pay us; our employers pay us because we work.

If we do not put in a full day’s work, yet accept a full day’s pay, we are not ethical. Our employer should fire us.

If our employer does not pay us at a level equal to our skills, knowledge and production, they are not ethical. We should fire them.

If we demand compensation above our skills, knowledge and production then we are unethical. Time on the job does not warrant compensation by itself, unless our experience gained by time on the job benefits the organization through better production.

In a larger sense, if we are not ethical, we introduce chaos into our social system. In a chaotic system, those who are the cruelest thrive. The cruel and power hungry dominate and enslave those around them. Therefore, in the interest of self-preservation, unless we are one of the cruel, we must be ethical to protect ourselves and those we care for.

It is frightening to realize that there is a tipping point at which the amount of non-ethical behavior overwhelms the system’s ability to compensate and chaos predominates.

We each know in our heart what is ethical and what is not, only the scholars are uncertain. They are overwhelmed by their knowledge of the definitions.

Lee Bertrand
The Captain

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Californians: Executive Summary

The information contained in this post is directly copied and pasted from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) website. Some formatting has been done to make this article readable in this format, no changes have been made to the content of this article, a link to the orginal is provided in the links section of this website. A full copy of the report can be obtained using the link below. - The Chemist
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Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that California's illegal immigrant population is costing the state's taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to nearly $9 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden from those three areas of state expenditures amounts to about $1,183 per household headed by a native-born resident.

This analysis looks specifically at the costs to the state for education, health care and incarceration resulting from illegal immigration. These three are the largest cost areas, and they are the same three areas analyzed in a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute, which provides a useful baseline for comparison ten years later. Other studies have been conducted in the interim, showing trends that support the conclusions of this report.

As this report will note, other significant costs associated with illegal immigration exist and should be taken into account by federal and state officials. But, even without accounting for all of the numerous areas in which costs associated with illegal immigration are being incurred by California taxpayers, the programs analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial and that the costs are rapidly increasing.

The more than $10.1 billion in costs incurred by California taxpayers is composed of outlays in the following areas:
  • Education: Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in California and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Californians spend approximately $7.7 billion annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings. Nearly 15 percent of the K-12 public school students in California are children of illegal aliens.
  • Health care: Uncompensated medical outlays for health care provided to the state's illegal alien population amount to about $1.4 billion a year.

  • Incarceration: The cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in California's prisons and jails amounts to about $1.4 billion a year (not including related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).
State and local taxes paid by the unauthorized immigrant population go toward offsetting these costs, but they do not come near to matching the expenses. The total of such payments can generously be estimated at about $1.6 billion per year.

The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state's taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, school feeding programs, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were added into the equation.

While the primary responsibility for combating illegal immigration rests with the federal government, there are many measures that state and local governments can take to combat the problem. Californians should not be expected to assume this already large and growing burden from illegal immigration simply because businesses or other special interests benefit from being able to employ lower cost workers. The state must adopt measures to systematically collect information on illegal alien use of taxpayer-funded services and on where they are employed. Policies could then be pursued to hold employers financially accountable.

The state could also enter into a cooperative agreement with the federal government for training local law enforcement personnel in immigration law so that illegal immigrants apprehended for criminal activities may be turned over to immigration authorities for removal from the country. Similarly, local officials who have adopted "sanctuary" measures that shield illegal aliens from being reported to the immigration authorities should be urged to repeal them.

November 2004
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