Random (but not really)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Some Concepts to Keep in Mind

sunk cost fallacy:
the idea that a company or organization is more likely to continue with a project if they have already invested a lot of money, time, or effort in it, even when continuing is not the best thing to do

Escalation of commitment:
Tendency to invest additional resources in an apparently losing proposition, influenced by effort, money, and time already invested.

The act of making excuses to justify one’s actions or behavior.

cognitive dissonance:
psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously

Written by Michelle at 7:10 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tax Burdens

We’re in that interstitial period where people like me who filed their taxes as soon as they could have already gotten their refunds, and the majority of everyone else are dragging their feet, waiting for the last minute.

I’ve discussed this before, but I have always been delighted to pay taxes.

I like paved streets and police and fire departments.

I like public education and after school programs.

I like knowing that families struggling can have a way to help put food on their tables.

I like the elderly and disabled having access to medical care and believe that health care is a right and that no one should have to die because they can’t afford it.

So I’m totally fine with taxes.

What I’m not ok with is how those taxes are paid. Why? Because a greater percentage of income is paid by the poor–those who are least able to afford it.

Here are the numbers for West Virginia:

Lowest 20% Second 20% Middle 20% Fourth 20% Next 15% Next 4% Top 1%
9.4% 9.1% 8.5% 8.8% 8.7% 7.7% 7.4%

The poorest 20% of the population pays 9.4% of their income in taxes. The richest 1% pay 7.4% of their income in taxes.

And to clarify, that is income–what money comes in–not existing wealth.

States without income taxes place a much higher tax burden on the poor than the rich.

Lack of income tax means high taxes for poorer households; low taxes for high-income households

Lack of income tax means high taxes for poorer households; low taxes for high-income households

What does this mean?

That people with second homes and golf course tee times are supported by service workers earning minimum wage.

That those with leisure are supported by those working multiple jobs.

If it was up to me, I’d enact a wealth tax. I’d shift the income tax burden from the poor and to the wealthy.

But of course coming from a poor state, I get almost no saw in any of those–the primaries are generally decided long before we vote, and out-of-state actors have an outsize influence on state politics.

But it doesn’t mean I’m not mad about it.

ITEP: Who Pays?

Written by Michelle at 4:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Exclusion Covenants & Generational Poverty

Something that the right conveniently ignores is how systemic racism has kept minorities from accumulating wealth in the same manner non-minorities have for decades.

Consider ghettos, which were originally areas where Jews were segregated. The modern sensibility no longer thinks of religious segregation when ghettos are mentioned, but as areas where poor brown people lived in public housing.

Except that really it’s the same thing.

Exclusion Covenant

Mar 20, 1945

…the said land or buildings theron shall never be rented, leased, or sold, transferred or conveyed to, nor shall the same be occupied exclusively by any negro or colored person or person of negro blood.

I regularly hear “conservatives” claim that people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (which is QUITE LITERALLY something that is defined as impossible) completely ignoring the systemic racism that forced minorities into these ghettos where poverty and violence thrived, and where even if someone wanted an education, what was available to them was in no way comparable to that available to children not trapped in ghettos.

Before it was torn apart by freeway construction in the middle of the 20th century, the Near North neighborhood in Minneapolis was home to the city’s largest concentration of African American families. That wasn’t by accident: As far back as the early 1900s, racially restrictive covenants on property deeds prevented African Americans and other minorities from buying homes in many other areas throughout the city.

What continues to astound me is that so many West Virginians–who should understand systemic and generational poverty because it is inherent across the state–are blind to the same forces that keep WV struggling doing to same to others.

It’s the same process. The same forces. The difference is that the majority of us in WV aren’t doubly burdened by out skin color.

Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers in the 19th and 20th century to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. Often just a few lines of text, these covenants were inserted into warranty deeds across the country. These real estate contracts were powerful tools for segregationists. Real estate developers and public officials used private property transactions to build a hidden system of American apartheid during the twentieth century.

For centuries, the powerful have used poverty and segregation to keep “undesirables” “in their place”. It’s why mine owners used company scrip and had company schools and fought the unions tooth and nail: so they could maintain their wealth by keeping workers from rising above their station.

I understand that white privilege is something that makes no sense to rural West Virginians, who have been struggling with generational poverty themselves and so feel as if they don’t have any privilege, so this must be some kind of bullshit.

But it’s not.

However, those in power are going to push the narrative that it is, to push division between groups that have so much in common, so they can continue to maintain power and increased their own wealth.

I don’t have any solutions. I don’t even have the personal strength to fight power.

But I’m tired of being quiet about it.

When Minneapolis Segregated (https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/01/minneapolis-history-housing-discrimination-mapping-prejudice/604105/)
Mapping Prejudice (https://www.mappingprejudice.org/)

Written by Michelle at 9:41 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Monday, January 20, 2020

I Am Proud To Be Maladjusted


There are certain technical words within every academic discipline that soon become stereotypes and cliches. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any … It is the word “maladjusted.” This word is the ringing cry to modern child psychology. Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. In order to have real adjustment within our personalities, we all want the well?adjusted life …

But I say to you, my friends … there are certain things in our nation and in the world (about) which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leave millions of G-d’s children smothering in an air tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self?defeating effects of physical violence.

I’m … convinced … that there is need for a new organization in our world. The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment – men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation would not survive half?slave and half?free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery would scratch across the pages of history words lifted to cosmic proportions, ‘We know these truths to be self?evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator certain unalienable rights’ that among these are ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

Through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr., at Western Michigan University, 18 December, 1963

Written by Michelle at 7:11 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Thursday, October 10, 2019

That’s Not… I Mean… Have You Ever Even SEEN a Woman?

I’m creating a class on Facebook, and am looking for pictures to go with the various scandals and problems I’m discussing. So I thought I’d look for some of the artwork that FB had banned because it showed breasts.

What I discovered is that there were a LOT of painters who had apparently never seen a naked woman.

Or even paid any attention to the female form.

Written by Michelle at 5:47 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Labor Day

Textile Mills









Triangle Shirtwaist Factory



Chimney Sweeps



Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.


My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union
‘Til every battle’s won.

Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker Mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania, 10 January 1911, from a 1908-1912 series on...

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there;
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.


Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?




Upper Big Branch


child labor today 1

child labor today 2

child labor today 3


child labor today 4




Just a reminder what we’re celebrating today.

Written by Michelle at 6:15 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Podcasts I’ve Been Enjoying

As I noted on the book roundup, I’ve been listening to podcasts rather than audio books recently, so I thought I’d give y’all a round up of what I’ve been enjoying.

First up is Make Me Smart with Kai & Molly. Because I love listening to Kai’s voice, and the repartee between Kai and Molly is wonderful. Especially when Molly utterly geeks out.

Also, the episode What. The. Fed. opens with Kai cussing, and it is delightful.

But what you really want is CRISPR for Beginners. For work a wrote a piece on ethics and gene-editing, because this is something we need to consider NOW.

Next up is Planet Money, which I listened to right after it started (and even have the T-shirt!)

What I especially like about Planet Money is that I had NO (zero, none, zip, zilch) classes in economics and finance through all my many years of school. Planet Money doesn’t assume you know anything about economics AND it has really interesting stories.

You should check out this short episode on the Indicator, The Private Firefighter Industry . I recently read a book that was set during the time public fire companies were first being set up in London, and I find it disconcerting that we might be returning to a time when only those with money can afford real protection.

Another podcast I’m adoring is Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, which is (unsurprisingly) the podcast for Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Yes, the focus is romance books, but they can talk about so much more here, and I recommend to every woman a recent episode: Burnout – A Feminist Book about Stress: An Interview with Emily and Amelia Nagoski

If you like science, I highly recommend This Podcast Will Kill You. They recently did a two-parter on vaccines that I HIGHLY recommend.

They also talk a fair amount about epidemiology, which is a highly underrated science. (Correlation is not causation!) Thanks to Mary for pointing this one out to me.

So have you been enjoying any interesting podcasts?

Written by Michelle at 10:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Politics,Science, Health & Nature  
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