Monday, September 15, 2014

Tilting at Liberals 2: The Rebuttaling

Back in July, I posted about the exchange I had on Facebook with the liberal lamenting how minimum wage will not support a two bedroom apartment. There was more to the exchange. Unfortunately, I never got around to finishing posting the response to my response. So, now that I have all this glorious time on my hands, I figured it was time to get back into the swing of things and wrap up some loose ends.

First, her response:

I understand your point and agree with it as well, but I was thinking more about the people who DO have skills but are down on their luck and can't FIND work that suits their abilities. Yes, those jobs that pay minimum wage are GREAT for unskilled teens who don't need to necessarily support themselves and a family. There are a lot of elderly however who are barely existing because they can't make a decent wage, and they have no one to help them make ends meet. Even $10 an hour is hardly enough to live on and support a family with these days and there are PLENTY of jobs for SKILLED workers that only pay $9 or $10. I was referring to those companies that DON'T pay what a worker is worth, but the workers don't really have much of a choice but to work for a low wage OR starve, and many of them are barely eating as it is. I definitely didn't mean to offend you, or anyone else, [Daddy Hawk], with my post. ;)

I, myself, have skills, but am not able, at this point, with my health issues, to work enough hours to support myself. I'm hoping that the improvements I'm trying to make will allow me to begin to work soon. I'm working on a disability case until I can get my health back to that point, but I will NOT be able to exist on just disability, even.

My girls are sharing living expenses, and I hope that they do work hard to improve their skills and that they WON'T start families until they either themselves are able to support one, or until their future husbands are able to do so! Unfortunately, with my health the way it has been for so long, and with me being the ONLY parent around, and no one else really playing a role as mentor, they haven't seen the examples that many kids in the church have been exposed to, of hardworking parents with skills that help them make a good wage, usually of a Father who supports the family with HIS skills and a mother who is able to stay home and be there full time for the kids. We definitely haven't had the ideal life, but God has provided for us in spite of that. I pray He will help my girls to learn on their own what they need to know and that they will work hard and keep their health unlike myself. ;)

Now, I had originally intended to do a thorough fisking of her response. As I started drafting my response though, I discovered that there was a lot I wanted to say that didn’t fit well with a good old fashioned, beat down because her response didn’t contain enough to work with for a launching point. So, instead, I decided to just go with a detailed counter response and let fly.

[Facebook Liberal], first off, you have nothing to apologize for, and you did not offend me. I took issue with the political agenda behind the image you shared by a Washington DC based, liberal, lobbying group and expressed my opinion countering that agenda. The image is rhetoric, pure and simple, and misrepresents the issue to garner sympathy and support from people who have neither the time or interest to really understand the issue. Which is exactly how we wind up with social programs that cost more than the country can afford and don't work to boot.

Let's take a close look at the smoke and mirrors behind the image for a moment. As Mark Twain said, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." The image says that nowhere in the US can you afford a 2 bedroom apartment working 40 hours a week earning minimum wage. 40 hours a week at $7.25 per hour for 52 weeks is $15,080 a year ($1256.66 per month). They expect you to assume that a person earning minimum wage will receive no other forms of assistance so that they have to rely solely on that meager (you know that's what they are thinking) amount of money.

No discussion of earnings would be complete without taking federal and state income tax withholding, social security or the now federally mandated health insurance requirement into account. Medicare and SSDI taxes hit your paycheck for 7.65% combined. Federal income tax withholding claiming 9 deductions is 8% according to my last paycheck. So, let’s call total withholding something between 15% and 20% for most people. One week of wages at $7.25 per hour is $290. Net take home without considering insurance is between $232.00 and $246.50. It's not a ton of money, but it will go farther than you think if you make wise choices. 

Insurance is expensive no matter how you slice it, and it has only gotten worse since Congress bent us all over a barrel with the “Affordable” Care Act. But, let’s consider reality for a moment. If you are between 16 and 25 (or 26…I forget the cut off) [which is also the demographic most likely to be earning minimum wage], you still qualify for mommy and daddy’s insurance plan. So, you reject the healthcare coverage offered by your employer (assuming you are lucky enough to have employer provided healthcare) and continue believing you are invincible because you are young and employed. The other end of the demographic scale that earns minimum wage is retirees (those 62 and older). They qualify for Medicare which is a whole other can of worms that I’m not well versed enough to open.

Next, they want you to assume that a 2 bedroom apartment is the bare minimum that someone needs to survive. Perhaps. Perhaps not. The unspoken assumption here is that they want you to visualize ONE person earning minimum wage HAS to afford a 2 bedroom apartment to house a family instead of just themselves. Otherwise, why mention a 2 bedroom at all? I think you and I can agree that a single person can get by just fine with an efficiency or even a small one bedroom apartment. That's cuts your rent needs by 30 to 50% easily. So, they obviously expect you to add kids to the mix so that you feel more sympathetic to the cause. How many? 1? 2? 10? I won't try to argue that parent(s) + 10 will fit in a one bedroom apartment, but I will say that you can make mom, dad and 2 or 3 work in a one bedroom.

Now, they expect you to believe that NOWHERE in the US can you find a 2 bedroom apartment within the budgetary means of one person earning minimum wage. How exhaustive has their study been? How many people are really affected by the problem to begin with? Many a young (or elderly) married couple quite happily share small apartments without fuss or bother. Before we sold Castle Erickson, there was a nice young couple (she was an artist and he was an engineering major) who rented a garage apartment from a neighbor for the low, low price of performing maintenance around the property as needed. I personally rented a two bedroom apartment for $425 a month that I shared with a friend. Granted that was 20 years ago, but that dump hasn't gone up that much in rent even ignoring Section 8 assistance. And that completely ignores the movement of people living in 100-200 square foot tiny houses partially or completely off the grid and mostly debt free (Google "Tiny House Movement" or Tiny Houses...fascinating concept).

Based on my own recent research, NICE 2 bedrooms are starting at about $900 a month (roughly $10,800 a year in rent) in the Collin County suburbs. No minimum wage earner in their right mind is going to rent a $900/month apartment in the 'burbs, but I bet they would rent a subsidized apartment for $500/month in the inner city where there is some public transportation.

To quote someone else smarter than me whose name I forget, "You can have your own opinions, but you cannot have you own facts". In my humble opinion, I think we can safely state that their argument is a factually unsupported opinion covered in bovine excrement.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can go to town fisking the comments the liberal did make. Liberal in italics. Me in Bold.

I understand your point and agree with it as well,

No, not really. If you understood and agreed, I wouldn’t have to fisk the rest of your comments.

but I was thinking more about the people who DO have skills but are down on their luck

Luck has nothing to do with staying employed. Making wise choices and working hard are the keys to success. Getting a degree in medieval French poetry is not likely to lead to a successful, well paying career. Sitting on your ass checking Facebook every five minutes won’t do it for you either no matter how wisely you chose your career path. Being valuable to an employer by having education, skills and experience that benefit an employer’s bottom line will result in an employer looking for ways to keep you.

and can't FIND work that suits their abilities.

What exactly is this? The only job that matters to me is the one that earns a paycheck to put food on the table. If that means sweeping floors or designing airplanes, so be it. Refer back to making wise choices, if your abilities consist solely of medieval French poetry, it’s time to work on collecting some other abilities.

Yes, those jobs that pay minimum wage are GREAT for unskilled teens who don't need to necessarily support themselves and a family.

Minimum wage serves no other purpose than to be an arbitrary value for unskilled labor.

There are a lot of elderly however who are barely existing because they can't make a decent wage, and they have no one to help them make ends meet.

What choices did they make to put them in that position? I know people just like this; and, as harsh as it sounds, they did it to themselves. It is not my responsibility (unless they are family) to be the backstop for their poor retirement planning.

Even $10 an hour is hardly enough to live on and support a family with these days and there are PLENTY of jobs for SKILLED workers that only pay $9 or $10.

Choices, choices, choices. You are responsible for the choices you make. If you are making only $10 an hour, why are you starting a family? As for the jobs for skilled workers paying $9 or $10 an hour, you need to back that up with examples. I’ve been in the job market for a month now, and the only jobs I have seen earning $10 an hour or less are entry level and unskilled positions. Don’t like the pay, change industries. Entry level insurance claims adjusting positions pay significantly better than $10 an hour, and they will train you.

I was referring to those companies that DON'T pay what a worker is worth,

A worker’s worth is measured by the value he or she brings to the company. Having said that, every position in any company (from CEO down to the janitor) has an economic tipping point at which it is more cost effective to automate, outsource, downsize or otherwise replace an employee who no longer brings a positive value to the company. Fast food workers are in danger of pricing themselves out of a market right now. You can go into a fast food restaurant now, step up to a kiosk, select your own meal, and pay for your meal without interacting with a human until the food preparer hands it to you. I have experienced that myself at a couple of different chains so far, and more will follow suit. Food prep can be automated as well.

but the workers don't really have much of a choice but to work for a low wage OR starve, and many of them are barely eating as it is.

There’s that choices thing again. Everyone has a choice. The number of options you have to choose from depend entirely on your prior choices. Choose wisely.

I definitely didn't mean to offend you, or anyone else, [Daddy Hawk], with my post. ;)

Probably not…you just didn’t think before you blindly posted something ridiculous.

I, myself, have skills, but am not able, at this point, with my health issues, to work enough hours to support myself.

I understand having health issues after taking care of The Queen for the last 8 years or so. I also understand that health issues are often the result of poor choices. It’s not my place to judge your choices, but I can say it might be worthwhile to examine the choices that got you to this point.

I'm hoping that the improvements I'm trying to make will allow me to begin to work soon.

Improvement is good.

I'm working on a disability case until I can get my health back to that point, but I will NOT be able to exist on just disability, even.

It would seem you are existing just fine since you just got married.

My girls are sharing living expenses, and I hope that they do work hard to improve their skills and that they WON'T start families until they either themselves are able to support one, or until their future husbands are able to do so!

Hope doesn’t pay the bills. Teaching your kids the value of hard work and wise choices both through example and daily interaction will reinforce the values you want to instill better than anything else.

Unfortunately, with my health the way it has been for so long, and with me being the ONLY parent around, and no one else really playing a role as mentor, they haven't seen the examples that many kids in the church have been exposed to, of hardworking parents with skills that help them make a good wage, usually of a Father who supports the family with HIS skills and a mother who is able to stay home and be there full time for the kids.

This sounds like an excuse instead of taking responsibility for poor choices. So, where is their father? Whose choice was it to have kids with a deadbeat dad? You have mentors aplenty in the church to steer your kids towards if you will take the time to build those relationships.

We definitely haven't had the ideal life, but God has provided for us in spite of that.

God is merciful that way, but He also likes to see a little initiative and effort on our part.

I pray He will help my girls to learn on their own what they need to know and that they will work hard and keep their health unlike myself. ;)

For them to learn on their own???? Are you blind? How did that work out for you? God put YOU here to teach them and be their example not to let them learn everything the hard way.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Happy Anniversary and Other Stuff

Greetings one and all. With all my free time, you'd think I would post more often. I guess you could say that I've been preoccupied. So preoccupied in fact, that I neglected to notice the five year anniversary of my own blog. Imagine that.

Yep, five years ago in August, I gave in to the hare brained temptation that writing my thoughts down in pixel form for the amusement of others was a good idea. Thank you all for your continued patronage. If nothing else, I hope I have at least served as an example of how not to run blog.

So, what has been occupying my time?

Well, there has been the whole felony theft mess. The detective assigned to the case by the Dallas Police Department was very nice and patient with us. We were a bit disappointed earlier this week when she called to advise us that the DA's office would not be taking the case and pursuing criminal charges. They considered it a civil matter in light of the fact that we voluntarily gave the property to the thief/con man.

That kicked over my hornet's nest, and I went into private investigator/squeaky wheel mode. I found some more information that we didn't have previously which basically confirmed that the dirt bag really can't tell the truth about anything. I presented that information along with a detailed explanation of how our case most certainly DOES meet the definitions of the Texas Penal Code theft statute, how voluntary surrender of property is not the issue and the intent of the person committing the crime IS, and how the other charges and convictions ARE evidence of his intent according to the statute. In addition to that, I posed several questions that the dirt bag SHOULD answer were he, in fact, a legitimate business man not intent on defrauding people out of their property.

Well, the detective called this morning to let us know that she spoke with another DA who has agreed to take the case. Hurray for the squeaky wheel!!! We'll see what happens next. Personally, I would love to be there when they cuff him and perp walk him out of his nice little neighborhood.

I would also like to find the BIGGEST guy in the Dallas County Jail and convince him to make the thief his girlfriend for the other things he has put The Queen through. That's not happening, but it makes for a comforting fantasy.

Enough about that for now. One of these days, I will post the entire story.

Job search continues. 29 applications. 16 rejections including the AVP position and the unspecified position via the business associate connection. I did have a very good discussion with a recruiter yesterday who gave me some very helpful and honest feedback about my resume. She has a position (one of the 13 remaining) she is working on in Dallas that may or may not be a good fit for me. She emailed the employer while she was on the phone with me and asked if they would be interested in talking with someone like me. The answer was yes. Full resume was to be sent late yesterday or this morning. I hope to hear back soon.

I'm a bit frustrated about the rejections. Of the 16, only 5 have been formal, "Thanks, but no thanks" communications. The rest have all been informal, "the job is no longer posted or checking online reveals that you are no longer under consideration" non-communications.

I'm also frustrated with the available job pool. There is a fair number of good positions available in places I WON'T live. Boston, New York, Chicago, New Jersey. You know...liberal, statist HELL. I compromised a little yesterday and put in for a position in Sacramento, CA only because the salary range was almost double what I was making before.

In other news, I've been assisting someone close to me with their novel writing efforts while starting work on my own. It doesn't help that the person I am assisting is writing trashy romance novel material. My novel has a prologue written and an outline that still needs fleshing out. It's basically a treasure hunt/adventure novel. If there is any interest, I may be persuaded into a sample chapter or sending drafts to beta readers. The Queen loved the prologue. So, at least one person likes the idea.

That's all for now. I have to get busy and find work.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Update

Not much to report on the job search front. At last count, I've put out 20 or 21 job applications and received 5 formal rejections. In addition, I am working with several recruiters and a couple of people in my extended business associate network. The brightest possibilities are a recruiter with an AVP position in Dallas and a business associate with a yet to be defined possibility in Fort Worth. The AVP position is with a company where I still know several people including one of the VPs. It's a good company, and I can see myself being happy in the role. I am reportedly one of three candidates currently under consideration, but it is a nationwide search and there is no indication of when they will be moving to interview stage.

The other deal, despite being somewhat nebulous and undefined at the moment, has some advantages as well. Hopefully, one or more dominoes will start falling soon.

In other news, The Queen and I were forced to file third degree felony theft charges against someone yesterday for the first time in our lives. I can't go into details yet, but the short of it is that we were the victims of a con artist. There are aspects of the situation that would make your blood boil were I to share. "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord"....but, let's just say I'd be happy to arrange a meeting.

Lots of lessons learned and relearned out of this experience. In this digital age, the information is out there. You just have to know where to look, how to look and take the time to be thorough. Don't do business with anyone you haven't thoroughly vetted. Big deals (if you can't afford to lose, it's a big deal) should include a background check especially if things don't pass the smell test.

As I told The Queen last night, it's easy to spot evil when it's walking down the street shooting people left and right. It's real hard to spot it when it sits down, siddles up next to you and smiles.

Abraham Lincoln said it even better: "You can fool all of the people some of the time...." This was our time.

We are resigned to the fact that we will likely never see our property again or the money that was promised (if we do, that's a bonus). Our goal is to simply insure that the thief can't do this again to anyone else. There are two other felony theft cases pending against him which we really wish we had found before we entered into an agreement with him (we would have found it if we had searched for Stephen instead of Steve). He's currently under a deferred adjudication order in another county for theft charges there. He's also being sued in civil court by someone else for circumstances nearly identical to ours (I'm in contact with that attorney trying to convince them to file criminal charges as well).

If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and want to know who to avoid, send me an email. I'll be happy to share the name, court case references, etc.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Activity Does Not Equal Achievement*

*John Wooden

So far, I've put in for 14 jobs that are within the ballpark of possibilities (and a couple that were stretches). I have my resume out to a couple of other folks in my network that have connections that might help. I've had two, unfruitful interviews and two rejection letters. There are two other jobs in the hopper that I need to apply for tonight.

I will say this though, I really appreciate companies that streamline the application process. Allowing a person to use their LinkedIn profile to apply makes life easier and quicker for everyone involved. Forcing someone at a senior level to fill out an employment application that contains the exact same information as your resume, however, is stupid.

If I could get away with it, I'd chuck it all and go be a gunsmith or welder.

Spent the day at the zoo with The Queen and M&M. Some thoughts:

The Queen is a genius for bringing gel cold packs that fit under my baseball cap and kept my head cool.

Fat women should not wear yoga pants. It's a crime against humanity.

M&M is a delight at the zoo. Standing at the zebra enclosure: "Why won't they come closer? I want to pet them." She wanted to get in the pens more than once. One of these days, there will be a news story of a cute little girl riding a zebra at the zoo. Just wait. It's coming.

If you have a brood of kids hanging off of you or in your arms, get off the stupid cell phone.




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Too Good Not To Share

M&M gave me the precious gift of a special memory yesterday. We were listening to a church service on the computer in the bedroom, and M&M was between The Queen and I. All of the sudden, M&M snuggled in close, laid her head on my chest and went down for a nap.



I had to stay still for the better part of an hour, but it was so worth it.

Diabolical

Over the years, I've done my fair share of pre-employment assessments. The one I did for my last job was the most in depth by far. During this evening's job search efforts, I came across one of the most diabolical. It starts off easy enough with the standard "which of the two following statements best describes you? A) I like to lay naked on a fire ant mound slathered in honey and confectioners sugar. or B) I live to cauterize my intestines with Thai ghost peppers with a hot cinnamon schnapps chaser." As you would expect, they ask you the same questions a couple of different ways to calibrate your responses.

Then, they turn the knob up to eleven.

Math and logic word problems...against the clock.

You have three minutes to read, analyze and calculate the correct answer, you can use scratch paper, a calculator, an abacus or a three year old. No cheating.

Most of them I did okay on. I think. The one that killed me went something like this (not exactly like this since I don't want to get in trouble with someone for sharing their intellectual property).

"Your company has 5 employees that buy widgets. Beavis buys 450 widgets at a $1 more than Cornholio pays. Butthead buys 650 widgets for $0.50 less than Cornholio pays but $0.75 more than Gribble pays. Gribble pays $1.00 more than Boomhauer does but buys 600 widgets. Cornholio buys 500 widgets and pays the princely sum of $5.25 per widget. Who spent the most money buying widgets?"

I locked up on that one scratching it out on paper. By the time I had it set up and was making headway, the clock was down to 7 seconds. Doh!!! Pick an answer and hope it's write. I checked myself later...nope...got it wrong. Just another minute, and I could have narrowed it down. But, they are timing this for a reason. How does this monkey perform under pressure and deadlines.

This monkey thinks this is a stupid shell game designed by MBAs who think solving math and logic problems against a clock is a useful metric.