The Childcare Problem.


Click image to read more from the original article
Click image to read more from the original article

Lately, politicians have been making a bunch of noise about affordable childcare. Here’s the part of the problem they are focusing on: “The average cost of full-time daycare for kids up to the age of 4 has reached $9,589 a year.” Just for reference, with the minimum wage at $7.50, a minimum wager lucky enough to actually get 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year makes $15,600 — and that almost never actually happens. Median income in the United States (remember, half of us earn more and half earn less) is

Median income in the United States (remember, half of us earn more and half earn less) is $53,657. That means that many families are spending a fifth of their monthly income or more on childcare. Even for somebody fortunate enough to make $100,000 is paying a tithe for an average daycare bill. Even though the problem is hitting low-income families hardest, the families of roughly 32,700,000 families feel this burn.

The other side of the problem is that child care workers are poorly paid: “These workers earned an average hourly wage of $9.40. This hourly pay rate translates to an average annual wage of $19,560. The median hourly pay rate was $8.94, which means that half of childcare workers in the daycare industry made more than $8.94 and half earned less.” This leads to high turnover, which isn’t good for the kids.

So let me summarize both halves of the coin: childcare workers are paid a pittance, yet child care is too expensive for workers who need it. That’s a big problem. It can’t be solved by paying childcare workers $15 an hour and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour: that still leaves workers paying too much of their salary for childcare (X still equals X)! It can’t be solved (completely) by office daycare centers: over 80% of us work for small employers where that’s just not possible. It is neither practical nor desirable to assume that there will be willing and able relatives to take care of our children.

How do we solve this problem? I don’t know. The one thing I do know is that market forces are not sufficient to make it happen.

Just Keep Squeezing.

Yeah, just keep squeezing the American people.

Keep spying on them while pretending it’s for their own good — does anybody think they will stop just because a judge said so?

Keep saying that if you have a bad job it’s your own damn fault, so shut up and eat your crap wages and your crap hours that make it impossible to do anything to improve your lot.

Keep saying that free trade agreements are always good and always create jobs despite evidence to the contrary, and how dare you want to know what’s actually in the free trade agreement. You’re just wrong!

Keep blaming the “other,” whether that means Jews or Homosexuals or “Thugs” or “immigrantsor whoever for the things that are wrong.

Just don’t be surprised if the kettle boils over.

In Closing: as we said in grade school, “no duh“; wonder how many years that path will take to trudge.

The Atticus Shorties

Indiana: Taken to absurdity (as if it weren’t already there).

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children: testing, 1, 2, 3….

Things People Say: to women.

I bet I know a way to create some jobs: repair some bridges.

Sobering Statistic: On average, 3 people were killed every day in March — by police.

Aw, you know I wouldn’t skip this part: a few choice NSA and privacy links for you, and one bonus TSA item.

Both ends of the spectrum: top and bottom.

A few choice words: on Christianity. Bonus track from the Pope.

I Don’t Know How I’ve Overlooked This: Sandwich Monday.

And Let’s Finish with Vegas under a Full Moon: Enjoy.

Yet More Things I Learned This Semester

Yes, the semester is almost over and that means it’s time to share a few choice thoughts.

In General:

  • There are people who are willing to wait for a spot 100 feet closer to the building, even in nice weather. In the meantime, I’ve parked in the next lot over, locked my car, walked to the building, and made it to the 3rd floor while That Guy is still waiting for an ever-so-slightly closer parking spot.
  • You’d be surprised how many people don’t show up to class regularly and still expect to do well in that class.
  • Sorry, I already knew that time management is important.
  • Cleaning staff never notice graffiti on the back of a bathroom stall door.

In Spanish:

  • Spanish has two verbs that translate “to be.” Use one to ask “What kind of person is Juan” and the other to ask “How is Juan”. Use one to ask “Where is Maria” and the other to ask “Where is Maria from”. Use the wrong one, and you may well say “Teresa is boring” instead of “Teresa is bored.” Teresa would be understandably upset.
  • It’s alarmingly easy to mix up the verbs “to go” and “to see“.
  • You can do a lot with cognates. The one thing you can’t do is be sure you understand the correct thing.

In Microbiology:

  • Not only can viruses infect bacteria, they can accidentally take bacterial genetic material to the next bacterium when they leave.
  • The entire family of Penicillin related drugs works by pulling out the “molecular nails” that bacteria use to build cell walls. Resistant bacteria have an enzyme that breaks up the “nail-puller.” Viruses don’t have cell walls, and that’s why these drugs don’t effect them.
  • Look, you’re never ever going to wash every single germ off your hands. What’s more, you wouldn’t want to. The germs that normally live there help keep “opportunists” — that’s bad-guy germs — from setting up shop. So for pity sake, stop using that damned anti-bacterial soap.

In Anatomy:

  • If you are trying to remember a whole bunch of acronyms (say, hormone names), you are better off memorizing the long version. Otherwise the “alphabet soup” will drive you mad. Besides, often the long version tells you what the darn thing does!
  • How much carbon dioxide you have in your body determines a lot more things than the amount of oxygen. It effects your respiration rate, the pH of your blood, and more.
  • The first thing your body does with any carbohydrate you eat is turn it into a simple sugar. So, should a diabetic be eating a lot of pasta?

There you go. Now let’s have some In Closing: GOP is upset that their Nevada organization doesn’t want to keep fighting a lost battle; on debt; it does at least put a roof over head; I wish I could refute this; even Mitt “Rmoney” thinks that the minimum wage is too low!; death penalty follow up; Subway CEO tosses owner operators under the bus; the ACLU on NSA reform and letting cops hack your computer.

Shorties of Badassdom

When Kids are Smarter than the Adults: Apparently, being accused of twirling a pencil with a pencap on it is a problem that is best addressed by a 5 hour interrogation evaluation, including a strip search and blood testing. No idea whether anybody thought it would be a good idea to call mom or dad. Elsewhere — and I would totally like to believe this is an April Fools joke except that here’s local coverage including an interview —  police responded to a couple of kids building a tree fort with guns drawn. The child’s reaction was “I was thinking that I don’t want to be shot today, so I just listened to what they said.”

Tired of LinkedIn?: It was a pain in the butt to figure out how to close an account, so let me save you some effort.

You know you want this: Your dose of NSA, surveillance, spyingSnowden, privacy, and related links.

Jobs: A few items about the minimum wage, employment, job creation, and income equality.

A weighty subject: Some miscellaneous stuff about food, calories, obesity, diet, and exercise.

College Math: Sobering.

News headlines you won’t see: yeah.

And a reason to reach out to your Congressman: The Better Off Budget.


More thoughts on Minimum Wage

Many arguments against raising the minimum wage — and indeed, against helping those in low wage jobs — does boil down to victim blaming. That is, “it is the fault of the person making low wages that they make low wages and it is on them to do something about it.” Never mind the fact that as long as we want to be able to buy a fast food lunch, some adult has to make it and sell it to us (oh look, another reason that “minimum wage is not just for kids”, kids should be in school at lunchtime) and that adult deserves to be able to pay his/her bills.

Even the President is calling for a hike in the minimum wage and a “better tax deal for working families” (of course he’s talking out both sides of his mouth). All those petition sites might just be getting some traction.

Nah, that would imply that we live in a democracy where elected officials actually care about voter opinion.

Look, there’s no way around the fact that posting is going to be light this week due to an unusually large number of exams. In return, please accept some amusing comics and other imagery.

In Closing: A few diet links; Elvis House.

Paranormal Activities: The Marked Shorties

Happy March! Let’s get started….

Student Loans: Officially dragging down the economy.

I think I have a way to increase consumer spending: This is crazy talk I know, but if the minimum wage were higher, people who make minimum wage could afford to buy stuff.

And the Supreme Court makes it worse: Now the government can effectively prevent accused criminals from hiring an effective defense team by confiscating all their assets, making “innocent until proven guilty” potentially a cruel joke.

When even the IMF disagrees with American tax policy: Yeah, they think the rich need to be taxed more. That trickle down thing? Doesn’t work.

Rules: “Planned food safety rules rile organic farmers“.

Price Fixing: Gold is a market controlled by a handful of banks.

5 Surprising Discoveries: here.

On those new nutrition labels: of course there’s still a 20% margin of error.

Treat someone like a rat and they’ll act like one?: Rat Park (h/t).

Blast from the past: The old Fiat factory.

Plagued with too much money?: Buy a private island!

Interesting point: Cats.

And Finally: I’m sorry, some stuff you just can’t make up. And just wait until you hear the reason this news station can’t air the footage they have.

A little reasoning

This post may seem a little dry, but bear with me.

  1. Let’s start with a basic premise: There are millions of square feet of retail, office, and light industrial space in this nation, and it all requires cleaning on a regular basis. I think everybody sane should be able to agree on this point.
  2. For practical reasons, most of this space needs to be cleaned when it is not in use. That usually means somebody needs to clean it at night, after closing.
  3. I can think of several very good reasons this work should be done by adults. First — remember that the cleaning is being done after business hours — the cleaning staff needs to be someone that can be trusted with keys. Second, adults have more experience cleaning things in a safe manner. Third, if we really think education is important, young people should be studying and sleeping so they can do good work in school (add the implied “you don’t want to be working as a janitor when you’re 50, do you kid?”). These are just a few reasons off the top of my head; give me a while and I am confident I can come up with more.
  4. I reject the idea that the minimum wage “is for kids who are going to work their way up to a better job” based on the reasoning above. In fact, the original law mandating the existence of a minimum wage said the idea was to create a “minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being, without substantially curtailing employment”.
  5. Adults who work full time jobs deserve a wage that allows them to pay their bills. Ok, the cleaning staff maybe don’t need to drive Ferraris, but they do deserve to be able to pay the rent, the power bill, and still have money for groceries. I don’t see how anybody can say with a straight face that an executive who sits behind a desk all day works harder than the guy who spends the night cleaning the office toilets.
  6. Someone working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at minimum wage earns $15,080 annually. Do the math yourself if you like. That’s no vacations, no getting sick, actually getting scheduled 40 hours every week, and no getting stiffed on hours (I can hear the laughter). The poverty line for a family of two is $15,730. That’s an average across the lower 48; obviously $15,730 is not going to go as far in some areas.

I think it’s fairly obvious that I support raising the minimum wage. You’ve heard news reports over the last few days about how the CBO report on this proposal offers conflicting opinions. It turns out that some of that reporting may be misunderstood. I’m not an economist, but I do know that when people who have a hard time paying the bills, they spend money. And I also know that consumer spending is a major factor in our economy. More people with more money buying spending more money means more demand, and that is a good thing right now. As a bonus, more wages means more taxes collected — including Social Security contributions. Seeing that certain people in Congress are still clutching their pearls about how there’s not enough money in the Federal coffers, that has to be a good thing too.

A special announcement: I have been asked to share a little information with you. If you’ve ever thought that medical coding and billing might be a great new career for you, you should really check out this site and their free ebook.

In Closing: Wheeee, let’s have some fun NSA, NSA, and NSA links to start off (you know, if they had come clean in the first place, we might not still be talking about it months later); flood zone; rich people problems; political reality set in; be careful buying a used car but not for the reason you think; engineering marvel; and the Bobcats.

The NSA Scandal is a Gift that keeps on Giving

So, let’s get started. No particular order here.

The NSA is apparently tracking a lot of information about where people are based on their cell phones. I’m not sure whether this makes it better or worse, but this appears to be a big deal overseas, where Bad Guys might want to follow American spies “case officers.”

More and more people of note are publicly saying that “surveillance” of personal data is wrong, and that would include what the NSA’s been up to. In fact, 8 major American tech companies have asked the Feds to please stop already. Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that they stand to lose money. Security experts have already said they can no longer trust Intel’s crypto technology, and that means companies that actually need secure data have to migrate off systems that use it — potentially migrate off Intel hardware altogether.

I think the Feds honestly want to catch some terrorists. Even though the job is tough. Even though so far, they’ve had to manufacture terrorists in order to actually catch one. Of course maybe if they stopped playing World Of Warcraft it would be easier.

Despite all this controversy, it looks like the Government wants to do as much as possible to make it look like they are making changes, while in fact changing as little as possible.

Merry Freaking Christmas.

In Closing: Some thoughts on the minimum wage and the wages of workers in general (and lookie here, education turns out not to be a magic bullet); Duhpartment of Research says keeping your body healthy might keep your mind healthy; food lies; shadow inventory is a crock; funny how you have to have money for taxes to matter; the stimulus did work, but not like you can tell; good analogy; about time.

But the CEO might not be able to afford a second Bentley!

You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that raising wages a few dollars an hour is going to result in massive inflation in an environment where every fast food joint I can think of is highly profitable and introducing new low-price options on a regular basis. On the other hand, I can see where raising wages a few dollars an hour might relieve strain on the safety net and result in increased spending in general, which will in turn raise GDP without the government having to perform voodoo rituals on the actual economic data or gasp spend money.

That is all.

In Closing: There’s always more room for NSA, spying, privacy, and general stupidity links (go on and sign that ACLU petition like I did this morning); I hope nobody thinks this is good for the flying public; if only the anti-vax morons were the ones reaping the folly of their actions instead of their children and communities; kill it; interesting notion; not buying it; stupid breeder tricks; right on, Dave; and pet tigers turn out to be a bad idea.