Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Government Impact on the Workforce

Here is a table that shows the top 15 companies in terms of total $$ awarded in federal contracts from the US government- (http://www.washingtontechnology.com/toplists/top-100-lists/2009.aspx) – not including defense spending. For those, check out http://www.taonline.com/securityclearances/defense.asp .

So, what I did was get the total amount of the awarded contract, the 2008 total sales figure, and the total number of employees for each company- usually found through yahoo finance. With this information, I made ONE assumption- That the percentage of overall sales related to government contracts was directly proportional to the number of employees.

This means that if the government grant was 20% of a company’s over all sales, I assume that this is also responsible for employing 20% of that company’s workforce. (Or rather if this money was to disappear, the company would have to lay off a proportional amount of its workers to compensate.)

With that in mind, the US government, via contracts to private companies, is responsible for the employment of 288,250 jobs- roughly the population of Corpus Christi, Texas. Now, think of all the businesses and jobs that must exist because of these employees- grocery stores, gas stations, car dealerships, repair shops, appliance stores… well, basically every business in Corpus Christi. So, let’s say for every 100 of these “government funded” jobs, there are 3 more jobs created to serve and sell to these people. So, that’s another 8,648 jobs. For sake of ease, let’s just say that this brings everything to approximately 300,000 people dependent on these government contracts (I know it’s much more complicated than this, but I’m making a point!) So now we’re in between Pittsburg, PA and Toledo, OH- as a referece.

Let’s move on to the military. There are 1,445,000 active duty members of the armed forces in the US. Keeping with the same figure of 3 jobs per 100, that’s another 43,650 jobs. I won’t count reservists (800k) in these calculations. So, the estimate of the total count of people who rely (directly or indirectly) on the US government for jobs is at 1,788,650.

If we add civilian employees of the federal government- not including the post office-, we are at another 1,800,000, plus (using the same ratio) another 54,000. Now our total estimate is at 3,642,650. (http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs041.htm) This is in between the populations of Chicago and Los Angeles. Keep in mind this still doesn’t cover defense contractors. The post office employs another 765,100, which calls for another 22,953- bringing our total estimate to 4,430,703. The only US city with more people living in its limits in the US is NYC. This is approximately equivalent to the cities of Dallas, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Fresno all wrapped into one.

Taking a ratio of 1.9 of these workers per household, that gives us about 2,331,950 house holds. If we take the average household income of about $50,000/year, this would be responsible for $116,597,500,000 on an annual basis.

That’s $116.6 billion annually. Let’s remember this employs 4.4 million people. Now, think about the current healthcare bills that could cost $1 trillion over 10 years- or 86% per year of the entire estimated income related to all of the government contracts, the USPS, and all branches of military (excluding defense contracts).

Does this seem feasible now? How can the federal government continue to employ so many people? How can it reign in costs when a population the size of the entire state of Louisiana (the 25th most populous state) relies on your growth and spending for their livelihoods?

How has it gotten to this point?

Monday, October 26, 2009


He turns the corner into the room, entering suitcase first to avoid even the smallest doubt that he doesn’t actually have it with him. There is talking; a conversation. His wife is sitting up and smiling. There are no beeps. “Is everything alright?” he asks. “And here must be the daddy,” is the reply. He only now notices that the two nurses in the room are not named Sadie. The one who speaks is a petite dark woman with a mound of tightly curled locks atop her head. She wears purple scrubs and eye shadow to match. Her name is Dawn. Dawn holds out her hand, flashes a big smile, and says, “Congratulations Daddy!” Steve shakes her hand. She pats him on the shoulder.
Another nurse stands in front of the now silent heartbeat monitors. “Everything looks good,” she says. “We’ll go and call your doctor.” This nurse is named Jane. She is tall and broad. Jane intimidates most people until they see her smile and hear her voice; these are always successful at putting new acquaintances at ease. Her scrubs match Dawn’s, but she wears no makeup. Her hair is long and braided tightly down to a point between her shoulder blades. Steve likes these nurses much better. “Do you want me to turn the monitor volume back up? Or we could just monitor it from out in the hall,” Jane says. “It’s fine how it is,” Cheryl says. Jane and Dawn leave the room, shutting the door on their way out. “These are so much better than those other two,” Steve says. His wife nods in agreement. “Did you ask for new people?” “No,” Cheryl replies. “Just the shift change.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The room is filled with three beeping sounds. The two Sadies leave. “We can monitor from the hall,” commie Sadie says as she heads out the door. Steve moves quickly to Cheryl’s side and grabs her hand- the one without the crimped finger. “Go get the suitcase,” she says. “Ok. Do you want ice chips too? I can get those first.” “No. Just make sure you get the suitcase.” He leaves the room and bolts down the stairwell, skipping as many steps as is prudent.
As he exits the building he checks his pockets in a panic, afraid that his keys are up in the hospital room. His fingers discover the keys and he is quickly at the car, unlocking the door and grabbing the suitcase. It is heavier than he remembers. He shuts the door and reenters the building. He notices things that he missed just moments ago. The smell of sterility mixed with old age fills his nostrils. The walls are bathed in tinted sunlight that produces the effect of overexposing film. There is a general bustle inside the building- wheel chairs, people waiting outside of offices, the cafeteria sounds of dinnertime flatware and conversation over hamburger patties kept warm in a hot water bath, telephones ringing, volunteers offering help to those who look in need. His sense of urgency adds to the feeling that he is only in a dream. The bell of the arriving elevator brings him back to the present. Steve steps quickly to the elevator and sticks the suitcase inside just in time to stop the doors from closing shut. The elevator is empty and no one waits to get in when he strides onto the maternity floor.
The walls here are purple, pastel green and beige. He is reminded of someone trying too hard. Someone, he thinks, actually got paid to design this place. The floor is carpet directly out of the elevator; he can see the seams and knows that it’s the kind of carpet you can buy in squares and stick to the floor. He guesses that would make it easier to deal with all the birthing stains. Are there even such things as birthing stains? He doesn’t know. He walks past the nurses’ desk and neither of the Sadies are in sight; the desk is vacant.

Monday, October 19, 2009

cont'd again

The second Sadie pulls out a couple of elastic bands; pink and blue Ace bandages. “Sit up please,” she sighs. Her scrubs are a poor man’s Jackson Pollack, and her shirt is just too short for her long torso, so that it reveals her middle every time she moves. She lifts up Cheryl’s shirt, exposing the fully distended bloat. Steve moves to close the door, for privacy, but the first Sadie gets in his way as she strolls back into the room. First Sadie is wheeling a medical equivalent of a coat rack over to the side of the bed. She stands directly between husband and wife, plugs in a black cord to the wall and clamps what looks like a miniature hot crimper on the end of Cheryl’s finger. The junior Sadie, who’s long brown hair is pulled tightly into a pony tail, wraps the two ace bandages around cherry’s pregnancy and says, “These are for the baby; to monitor the baby.” She has an accent like she’s from eastern Europe somewhere. Probably conned some GI into marrying her, Steve thinks. Pinko Stinko Commies.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Her water doesn’t break in the car. It doesn’t even break in the wheelchair at the hospital entrance while he is getting them signed in. In her mind that’s the way it should happen, bit it doesn’t. He is just there for support now. Ice chips, he must not forget ice chips. An orderly wheels her into an elevator and presses 2. There are only 3 buttons to press. “Steve,” she says to her husband who is tapping his feet on the elevator floor. “Steve.” She grabs his hand and the pain hits again. She squeezes and groans. “It’s ok, hon’,” Steve says in a soothing voice. He calms his whole body in an effort to ease his wife’s anxiety. It works.
“Steve,” she says again after the contraction dissipates. “What do you need Cheryl,” he asks, the calm still present in his voice. “Did you bring the suitcase?” “It’s in the car. I’ll get it in a minute.” The doors of the elevator open and the orderly wheels Cheryl out toward a desk. The two nurses behind the desk smile at Cheryl and point the orderly to a room at the end of the hallway. They don’t look or talk to Steve. He doesn’t like them.
The orderly, a dark, bald man of size, sets the brakes on the wheelchair and gingerly helps Cheryl into the bed. Cheryl notices the size of his hands and their unexpected softness and gentility. She lies in the bed wondering when Steve will get the suitcase. She would feel so much better knowing that it was ready and available. One of the nurses from behind the counter enters the room, still ignoring Steve.
The nurse is named Sadie according to the ID she has clipped to her scrubs. Sadie looks over a clip board. She wears neon floral pattern scrubs, sensible white and purple sneakers, and a bobbed and died hairdo that was in need of a touchup at the roots. She pulls pink reading glasses out of the breast pocket and places them on her nose. “You’re not due for 3 more weeks,” she says. “This is probably nothing. We’ll just check you out and probably send you home. Has your water broken? Your mucous plug?” “No,” Cheryl answers. “But my…” “Yeah, probably just false labor,” Sadie says as she walks out of the room. The second nurse, who ID claims her name is also Sadie, enters the rooms and walks silently toward the wardrobe next to the delivery bed. Steve looks at the clock on the wall; it is 5:45 pm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Start

He wears a white button down shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbow, tucked into his khaki slacks, white socks and soft leather shoes. The shoes used to be black, but now had faded to gray after years of neglect. He thinks about shining them every time he passes the elevated kiosks in an airport or an affluent shopping mall, but he never does. He is always in a hurry at those places. He is in a hurry now too.

The suitcase he carries is soft sided, a cheap made-in-china freebie he gets at trade shows. It is full; the harder objects distort the sides and threaten to rip the zipper apart. He doesn’t care, she can bitch him out about it later. He opens the rear driver’s side door of the silver compact car and tosses the bag inside. He holds his hand in mid-air as he thinks over the contents of the bag. Nothing ultra fragile. He pulls his hand back and shuts the door. The dust under the carport swirls with the thrust. He wishes they had a garage. He hates the carport, especially with the dryness of this year. It’s like the goddamned dust bowl all over again. He has no idea what the dustbowl was like. He makes assumptions about history as he pushes his hand through his thinning black hair.

He is nervous as she waddles out of the house. She holds her hands cupped under her protruding belly, supporting the extra weight of the baby. She wears a flowing top, short sleeves bunched with elastic just off her shoulders, the print reminds him of a table cloth for a picnic that took place decades ago, the shirt follows the tangent from the furthest protruding point of her abdomen, but is long enough so that there is no gap before her pink, tapered sweatpants are visible. Her sandals are plastic and shiny; she hasn’t worn them before.

He rushes over and grabs her elbow as the screen door slams shut, rattling for a moment. She shoots him a look to remind him that she’s in no mood to be hurried by him, and he eases off the pace. He hurries back to the car, gets in the driver’s seat and starts up the engine and the air conditioner. He thinks this will help and starts to get back to his role as elbow support and helper, but she released one of her hands from its support position and waives him to keep in the car.

He rolls down the window with a sense of urgency. “You sure,” he asks. She nods her head, put her hand back in its place, pauses and groans, but stays upright and soon resumes her waddling march. He drums on the steering wheel and watches as she moved in front of the car toward the passenger seat. He makes sure the car is in park and places his foot even more forcefully on the brake pedal. Neither of them wants her to be run over right now. When she’s in the right spot, he leans over and opens her door, then hops out and half sprints, awkwardly, a course that follows hers. He helps her lower her body into the seat, attaches the seatbelt like they told him to in the classes, and gently closes her door.

He bolts back to his seat, opting to slide across the hood of the car instead of waste time running around it. He is amazingly successful. He wishes he had filmed it. She is not amused, he could have injured himself. And then what, huh? She pulls down the visor as he gets situated in his seat. He puts the car in reverse. She sees the lumpy suitcase. Yes, she knows she should have packed that suitcase and just let him be.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Questions about a medical study

OK, read the summary from this link because I have questions about their conclusions.
Not in the study is the fact that 7.8% of Americans have diabetes, while only 3% of the French population. So these numbers (109 deaths per 100,000 for the us, 67 per 100k for Frenchies), leaves me with a question.

First, I believe it is important to notice that this is per 100,000 people, not per 100,000 people with these diseases.

If a higher percentage of Americans suffer from these diseases (I'm assuming all the other diseases mentioned follow the pattern of diabetes, but maybe not to the same degree), then it follows rationally that a higher number of people should die from them, correct?

Ok, if all the numbers follow suite with Diabetes, and 7800 people out of every 100k have one of these conditions, thent only 109 a year from that 7800 die,(in reality it's a higher number than 7800 but for ease I'm just using diabetic numbers).

Now, in France, they've got 3000 people outof every 100k that have diabetes, with 67 out of that 300 dying (same rules as above).

So, correct me if I'm wrong please, about 1.4% of people with diabetes in the US die compared to 2.2% of the French. Right?

So, shouldn't the conclusion be drawn that it's better to have diabetes in the US than in France? Or rather that the causes of these diseases should be addressed, and not that the US needs to adopt european systems? Shouldn't the french want to adopt our system? I mean, wouldn't our system save another 25 people per 100k per year?

Can anyone see this?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I'm really not getting this.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ok, going on the 3% of income per month payment by household (using median household income) - each household would be required to pay $313 monthly.

Hiring a general family doctor- who can also do pediatric work- would cost approx. $135,000/annum. Also, hiring 1/3 of a surgeon and 1/3 of an anesthesiologist (explained later), would cost approximately $154,000/ annum. Also, hiring 3 registered nurses would cost approximately $150,000/annum. The cost of 1/3 of 3 nursed to accompany the surgeon and anesthesiologist would come to another $50,000.

So, total we have $489,000 per year in salary costs.

Previously, I have shown that salary costs are 40.5% of all hospital costs. (http://www.solucient.com/articles/07_MTM_Solucient.pdf ) So, this would put the total cost of operating this doctor’s office (using hospital figures) at $1,207,407/ annum- or $100,617/month.

To maintain the $313 monthly cost, there would need to be 323 households that contribute to this office. The average size of the US household is 2.59 people. Using this, that would mean that this office would support an average of 813 people. Now, if every one of these people went to the doctor every other month that would be an average of fewer than 19 patient visits a day.

These patients would directly employ one general family doctor- he would answer to them directly. These patients would directly employ 3 full time RNs. 3 groups of this size would employ- together, an anesthesiologist, a surgeon, and 3 nurses tied to these doctors.

Likewise, they could share the cost of owning other medical equipment- pooling the remaining 58.5% of the annual budget to accomplish this.

Membership doctors offices. Medical Professionals are employed by the members.

I know this is simplistic here, but I think this could work with roughly these numbers.

What do you guys think?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some Shirts I Made

make custom gifts at Zazzle

Wow, I was just testing out how easy this would be the other day for a friend. It's really easy. Amazing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
You can put the resources in people's hands, but you can't make them connect the question to the answer.
You can outline, step by step, exactly what the truth of the situation is, based on the research and facts, but you can't make them believe you.

I sincerely believe that the easiest way to do something is always most likely the best way to do something. I see people wasting my time and theirs by making things much more difficult than they need to be. This was much more prevalent, of course, in the public sector, but I find it still happens every day in the corporate world.

What is the responsibility of us in the information sector in leading the world to do things more efficiently? Isn't the world better if everyone is more efficient at what they do (excepting criminals of any kind)? This is what the web is for- making things easier. This is what all technology has worked toward since the beginning of time.

If we can help people get more done in less time, why do they still insist on taking more time to get less done? When do we take the reigns and remove their choice for their own benefit?

When do we step in and say, "It's this aspect of your culture, or it's a better quality of life- pick!" ?

And one last thing that's bothered me for a long time-

Why is Coke in a can a 12 oz serving, but in a bottle its an 8 oz serving? It's the same Coke, right?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Prisoners of Biology

I posted the following over 2.5 years ago. I still haven't found out too much to contradict it.

"OK, I've been thinking about this theory for a little while now. It's not too terribly fleshed out, but I think I've got my mind around the basics. I call it "One Choice Theory on Human Behavior". Here is goes:

Human beings are simply prisoners of biology. Everything we do is dictated by biology, regardless of any rationalizations. We do not choose to draw breath or eat or sleep. Sure, some of the time we think these things are choices, or we choose how to do them, but this is an illusion.

We, as animals, seek to procreate. This is our end goal. It is why we do the things we do. We eat and breathe to provide energy so that we can accomplish social goals in order to win a mate. We earn a living to procure social status and provide for our mate and offspring. This encompasses everything from crime to sport and gossip. They are all done to meet this end, though we rarely acknowledge that this applies to humans as well as the other animals. Nature and evolution have ensured our reproduction by making it and things related to it carry with them pleasure. There is pleasure in reproduction itself, pleasure in providing, in success, in winning, in securing a mate in a stable relationship etc. Even drawing breath has small pleasure, or at least a lack of displeasure. If any of these things were unpleasurable, we would simply not do them and the species would adapt around them or die. This is the trick. We do not actually choose to do any of these things, but the pleasure makes us desire them and we confuse desire for choice. We are simple programmed to do the things that feel good, or perhaps we think things feel good because we have to do them.

So, what is the "One Choice" named in the theory title? Here's the depressing part. The only choice we have (that may or may not be unique to humans, but I doubt it is) is to not do the things that we are programmed to find pleasurable. Our choice lies in our ability to not reproduce, to not eat, participate in social activities, succeed, even breathe. What is the end result of this choice? Simply the pride in knowing that we can conquer our animal natures and actually choose. We are not so hard-wired that we cannot go against our needs. I'm not sure of the biological benefit of this, except of course that the ones who make this choice will be drawn toward each other by the attraction of mutual independence. (Meaning that perhaps, in certain circumstances, this is not a choice either, but another means to the end... more of that later.*) The negative of this choice is that we are denied the very things that give us pleasure.

So, we can remain supplied with pleasurable activities and the positive feelings that arise from them, but know constantly that we are just well-cared-for prisoners, or we can buck the shackles of biology and make the choice to forsake pleasure for the simple pride of knowing that we chose.

Sorry to ruin everyone's day. I'm still working on it and will post more as I figure things out.


* I am more convinced now that this is simply another form of mate selection. Being able to attract people with your nonconformity is apparently a pretty powerful tool in some circles. Perhaps, then, there is even less choice than I thought.

Also, this theory does not address homosexuality and how it relates to the genetic and biological need to procreate. I haven't figured out the right way to phrase that one yet... I guess the best way is to say that every population has outliers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Solution to Health Care.

Let’s say roughly half of the people registered to vote in 2004 (71mm people) think that medical coverage is a right that should be provided by the government. I think this problem can be solved simply by having these people donate to pay for it themselves.

Let’s see how this works- shall we. If each of these people gave $1 a month, that would be $852mm a year. It would take $156 per month from each of these people to raise the $133billion needed to insure the uninsured. In the US there is a median house hold income of $50,233 (2007 figures). Now, assume that each household has 2 people- making it a payment of $312/month/household. If this was taken pre-tax- that would leave hat household with $3,874 gross per month, or 92.5% of their current income.

This is, of course, an overestimation in the percentage of income taken, given that double income households actually make a higher median household income.

Now, if it was pre-taxed (or if the contribution was tax deductible) the household who contributes making the median annual income would pay $6,171 annually in taxes (with no other deductions). Before this contribution they would be paying $6,732. That change actually makes the cost of their annual contribution at $3,183 annually to provide insurance for the uninsured.

This is, of course, average. But, I am assuming that many of those who propose such government services also support progressive tax systems, than a sliding scale can be accommodated. 7.5% of your current income is all it could take to privately accomplish what the government cannot. (Also, please keep in mind that government traditionally does not get the same value per dollar as nonprofit organizations.)

This would raise enough money annually to relieve the cost of medical school for 953,000 doctors. This figure could also employ 532,000 doctors making an average of $250,000 a year.

Salary is 40.5% of hospital costs (http://www.solucient.com/articles/07_MTM_Solucient.pdf ). Let’s use Philadelphia’s Presbyterian Medical Center’s number of employees of 1350 for an example. (http://westphillydata.library.upenn.edu/west%20philly%20data%20top%2020%20businesss%20by%20employees.htm ) Now, if EVERY employee was a doctor making an average salary used above, the annual hospital costs of labor would be $337,500,000. Using this as 40.5% of hospital costs, the total annual cost of that hospital would be $833,333,333.33. When we divide that number into the whole, this money could annually fund 160 hospitals. That’s one hospital in each of the top 160 cities listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population#Incorporated_places_over_100.2C000_population .

Of course, not every employee is a doctor, so this number could radically go up. Also, not every hospital would have this many employees. Now, the cost of managing such a large organization of hospitals would be large, which is why a nonprofit insurance agency with certain requirements for approval would be better.

Am I wrong here? Do my numbers not add up? If this is the case, why don’t the 50% of Americans who want such a system simply make it happen? Remember, these are annual costs, so this would be an ongoing figure. Perhaps there would be another level that would also cover all people contributing.

I guess my question is, why force the other half to foot the bill if they don’t want to when they can easily get it done if they quit complaining about it and just did it on their own. I think if they don’t do it, then it makes their motives suspect. Perhaps they don’t want this health care. Perhaps they really want to force other people to pay. I don’t know.

Please let me know if I’m wrong.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Explanation of #30


Michelle's comment has brought to the forefront a need to explain further number 30 in the previous post.

This statement, as it is, has never really settled well with me whenever I say it. For one thing, it is too blanket for my usual tastes. Two, it's not really what I mean.

So, here it goes; I'll break it down.

"90% of the world is stupid"- Stupid is possibly the wrong word here. I think inept fits better. Also, this is a situation specific claim. Therefore, in any given situation, 90% of people are inept at it. Take, for instance, explaining what you actually mean. I would fall in that 90%.

Now, "the problems arise from the 86% of them that don't know it." I believe this still to be true when one understands the first part of the statement as explained above. In this case, a problem arose from me not knowing how inept I was at explaining what I meant. Now, in this situation, I fall into the 4% of the 90% who can head off any problems by understanding that they are probably going to be in the wrong.

Does that help?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Inspired by a Facebook viral, but more!

1. I took tennis and bowling in college.

2. I can't speak, read, or write Japanese anymore.

3. I like the way skunks smell.

4. I used to think it was impressive that I had a book still overdue from 1999, but now that I'm fully versed in the ways libraries work, I realize they don't even know they're missing it.

5. Freshly made flour tortillas are, perhaps, the perfect food.

6. I'm closed minded, but I don't think there's a problem with that because I'm right most of the time.

7. I don't notice a lot of things.

8. My son is the greatest human being ever born. This is provable scientifically.

9. I once had an ingrown toenail that is now the stuff of legend... an infamous kind of legend.

10. I like beer.

11. I have 3 dogs, with a total of 11 legs.

12. I participated in high school academic contests with hangovers.

13. I think the easiest way to do something is probably the best way to do something.

14. I play animal crossing... wow that's hard to admit.

15. I am not a good driver. In fact, I wish I never had to drive at all.

16. I'm not a very good writer either.

17. I have an opinion on just about everything, but that's only because I've thought about it already.

18. If there was a profession where people would pay me just to point out their faults (without offering any solutions) I would be the Frank Lloyd Wright of it.

19. I firmly believe that everyone peaks at some point and we shouldn't listen to the doom and gloom warnings of old people.

20. I am, and always have been, bad at spelling.

21. I went several years of my life without owning a vacuum cleaner. Don't worry, we've got one now. If you knew my wife, you would definitely know she married me in spite of my (ex) tendencies to slobbery.

22. My wedding day was HOT! It was good that there was a lot of beer. I think 95% of people there would agree on that.

23. I think my wedding is the best wedding I've ever been to.

24. Oh yeah, I'm pretty arrogant, but that's nothing new to anyone, really, is it?

25. I rarely know what day it is until I look at a calendar, and then I don't know what I've got scheduled for tomorrow.

26. I have attended 7 colleges and universities and have only 2 degrees.

27. I love low scoring baseball games- where every pitch and every swing, stolen base, or error can cost you the game.

28. I have worn cologne before, but I don't as a general rule now.

29. I like what Voltaire had to say, but I can't shake the feeling that if I was sent back in time- with a fluent understanding of period French- I would want to punch him in the face after about 5 minutes of conversation.

30. Not to offend, but I believe that 90% of the world population is stupid, but the problems arise from the 86% of them that don't know it.