Diskatopia's comment history

Diskatopia said...

Comparing the 2014 CDC budget to the 2013 is baldface cherrypicking, typical of rightwing pundits... willfully (we hope, else born of ignorance of very recent history) ignoring the rightwing budget-slashing and sequestration cuts that began after the 2010 election. The honest pundit looks at the CDC budget for a decade or more, as well as the overall NIH budget, and sees that the cuts are very evident since about 2003-4, and more drastic since 2010 (hint: due to inflation, budgets need to be about 32% larger now than in 2002, otherwise the agency is losing buying power, in effect a budget cut by inflation and population growth). The NIH Budget was on the upswing during the Clinton years, as Congress realized that medical R&D is a huge benefit to the nation as a whole. Unfortunately since 2003-4 the NIH budget has lost ground mainly through inflation and budget cuts/sequestration, and the CDC budget has suffered also. One has to look at the change in budget over years, not just a single cherrypicked year.

One thing that many who do not understand national economics miss is that not only is inflation taking a bite from budgets as years go by, but increasing population is also. Thus comparing a budget to many years ago is often meaningless from the getgo unless one at least takes population into account, as well as new missions deemed important to the nation.

Don't clamor for cuts and then cry when the results of those cuts appear. You wanted cuts, you got them.

But then the above kind of dodge is what hamstrings the current GOP, an unwillingness to admit that the rallying cry of "slash budgets to the bone" is a bad idea economically speaking and in the end such cuts will have a very human cost. Anyone clamoring still for slashing the budget is economically naive and likely does not realize the result of their wishes coming true would be the USA falling into third-world status over time.

PS-- the CDC first budget was about $10million according to their website, and that would be about $107million dollars today, basically for the job of "prevent(ing) malaria from spreading across the nation" (population 144million).

October 20, 2014 at 8:41 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

Soakya-- the cuts have not been a sliver, they have been steady bleeding over the years since Reagan's second term (after his cronies started pillaging the middle and uppermiddle classes to siphon more income to the uber wealthy). Look up the data on the number of federal and state employees through the years, both in real numbers and per capita, not including military. We have many fewer federal employees now than during Reagan-- not just per capita but in ACTUAL NUMBER. And yet Austerites clamor that THAT is were the problem is-- too many government employees, making "lavish" (i.e., middleclass) salaries. Murdoch's and the Koch's propaganda has worked miracles for the uber wealthy-- the average total effective tax rate of the Forbes Top400 (avg. annual income over $350million)... is 17%. Thus, Caymans banks.

Deficits are where Austerites totally misunderstand macroeconomies-- the answer to deficit problems is not in slashing spending but in increasing revenues. Austerity does the exact opposite and extends the misery in the economy, this has been shown historically time after time after time.

Half of the deficit problem is spending, half is collapsed revenues. Increasing revenues, or at least the THREAT of such in the form of increased tax rates on the uber wealthy to reasonable levels, will fix the deficit problem because it works at the problem from both ends-- increasing tax rates on the wealthy (NOT on the middleclasses, as rightwingers continually do and urge, and Obama has fallen for to a degree) encourages true job creation, as the wealthy would rather get personal utility out of the money (deductible HIRING and investment in jobs-creating business infrastructure, PRE-tax) rather than just paying the money in as taxes, and as unemployment goes down, spending on safety net goes down AND revenues received from more citizens working goes up, the deficit shrinks from both ends. Again, the insanely low tax rates the uber wealthy face now are a jobs boon almost nowhere except Caymans banks.

Higher capital gains tax rates on the uber wealthy also can steady stock markets, so instead of boom and bust there is steady growth (although computer algorithm trading is a looming mega-disaster)

Austerity accomplishes nothing in the short run for fixing any of the deficit problem and causes pretty much the opposite of the intended result in the long run.

Fairmon, you are confusing issues, no one is against slashing waste, but cutting to the bone in the name of austerity only leaves a dead skeleton, and from the data we are being shown, there is no massive waste at the Circuit Court offices. Austerites are at the point of federal and state power now where we are seeing the bones rot, the infrastructure start to collapse. And where doe the cuts go? Back into the pockets of the uber wealthy (see: Haslam tax cuts in TN).

June 20, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.
Diskatopia said...

The data is out there and readily available online, so here are some numbers to start with:

Top five highest paid employees--

Name/2011/2008/yearly increase

Thompson/ 100772 / 98457 / 0.8%

Sissom/ 84872 / 82923 / 0.8%

Masterson / 84717 / 82772 / 0.8%

Neighbors / 63271 / 60059 / 1.8%

Daniels / 63271 / 60059 / 1.8%

We see less than inflation increases in the top 3, with increases slighly more than inflation for the next two, and although the salaries are very good, they seem inline with private business managers' salaries (again, compare with Cigna, Unum, BCBST, etc.) and with local public servant salaries.

Next, if we subtract those employees salaries and assume the rest are full time, that brings the average of the rest of the employees (who very likely received most of the "two hundred thousand dollars" in increases the editorial writer compains about) to roughly $30,000, possibly less.

Extrapolating what we have, we can guesstimate that the top fives' salary increases total about $21,000 of the $200,000 in increases over 5 years mentioned (assuming the $200,000 IS the increase, i.e. 2012salaries-2007salaries, and not just the amounts paid out over that time, which would make the raises much smaller, 1/5th of these estimates). That leaves an average "raise" of roughly $830-$980 a year for the other employees.

Someone making $4150 to $4900 more now than they did in 2007 is not being "showered" with raises.

Again, as of the 2011 data, it seems they are mostly lower middleclass to middleclass salaries (at least 37 below $60k that year), with the top three definitely doing very well and 3 more making a little above $60k, which is also good, while the rest make about half of that but got larger "raises" percentage-wise.

So far from the data, there is no big pirating going on, in fact nothing seesm out-of-hand at all, and the revenue shortage they are experience can be fixed simply by allowing them to charge filers $229-$239 per filing instead of the $209 mandated.

And, in case anyone is wondering-- no, I do not know anyone who works at the Circuit Court offices and I have no connections in any way with those offices. I am just doing my small part to fight against the cut!/slash!/sequester!/austerity! insanity that is crippling our nation and society.

June 19, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

"I don't think we need to worry about the cut/sequester/slash mentality collapsing the economy because that's not what is collapsing the economy. "

It is not what initiates collapse, but such wrongly-timed austerity moves do keep the collapse going and severely hamper any recovery-- they are just more fuel for the fire as the crash happens. Unfortunately, due to 30 years of the trick(le)-down lie and other voodoo(doo) econ, many people have been brainwashed into believing the exact opposite, and keep pushing for cuts and more cuts-- in effect cutting the throats of the middleclasses. The austerity insanity is hamstringing the economy, and more and more and more cuts (with the savings going to the bank accounts of the uber wealthy--see: Haslam state tax cuts) will only hasten a death spiral for the middleclasses.

The fact that some folks are attacking the Circuit Court salaries as "lavish" and urging cuts when the data seems to point to the salaries averaging between $20k to at most $40k a year*.... well, this attack on lower middleclass earners by (usually) middleclass earners is a pernicious symptom of this death spiral of the economy, and it is important that such symptoms and fact-challenged attacks be called out and corrected with facts and data.

So I challenge the editorial writer-- get more of the facts, do the math. There is even a chance the editorial writer MAY even be correct in his/her vociferous outrage, say for example if 30 of the employees are only working 20 hour weeks. Likely most are full time, but TFP should find out and let us know. But, going with the data we have been presented so far, the editorial writer essentially calling the likely lower middleclass salaries and raises "lavish" is a symptom of the problem this nation faces.

*I am assuming that most are full time-- if a large part of the employees are part time, then more data is needed

June 19, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

"The salaries and benefits are significantly above any private sector job for like work." This is false-- $20k-$30k a year after 3-10 years of experience is at or BELOW similar paperwork jobs locally. Check Cigna, Unum, BCBST, local law firms, etc.

"I wonder why civil servants comp should keep up with or exceed inflation when the rest of the country is not?" They do not exceed inflation, or not by any significant amount that I have seen, but the question really is "why should they not match inflation?" The work is generally the same year in and year out, their salaries are not tied to profits and losses like private businesses (or at least like private businesses' salaries SHOULD be, see below).

Private businesses that are not raising salaries with inflation currently are either

a) really having hard times with sales down and prices cut or (in many cases I have seen) b) using the media fearmongering about the economy to diss their workers by not sharing the increased cash flow from price increases while stockpiling cash

Remember, inflation and CPI are TIED TO PRICES, so, in a rough sense, the businesses PRICE INCREASES are causing the inflation and they are pocketing the extra profits instead of increasing salaries of workers to match the inflation, at least on average.

Overall (averaging ALL businesses) businesses cannot say their cash flow is not up to or nearly keeping up with inflation (again, on average), because that cash flow average is TIED TO INFLATION, and is a driving cause.

This is the result of the cut!/sequester!/slash! mentality that the ultrarightwing has foisted onto the middleclasses for 30 years, and will collapse the economy more if not reversed-- the way it is SUPPOSED to be is: business increases prices, cash flow increases, and business increases salaries, thus people can still afford the products. However, many businesses are increasing prices and NOT salaries, thus fewer people can afford the products, thus the price goes up to keep cash flow even, thus even fewer can afford the products-- the market death spirals, unless businesses shares the profits with employees in the form of raises.

June 19, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.
Diskatopia said...

Here is some more data extrapolation done assuming that the data in the article and the op ed above is all true:

Assume that the "25 percent" increase in "salary expenses" since 2006 is correct, and assume that salary expenses is only salary and not insurance, etc. Next assume that ALL of the expenditure increase since 2006 is that salary increase. That makes salary totals for 2012-2013 roughly all $2million of expenditures, which I have assumed above and we know is not true, but is the extreme example to make a point.

And if we assume the "25 percent" is the lesser $200k amount in salary increase mentioned above for 2007-2012, then it is going from an average salary of $19.5k to an average salary of either $23.2 or $24.4k in 2012-13 (depends on 41 or 43 employees).

Is that REALLY an egregious salary and increase? Really?

It is stunning and revealing that the author of the editorial or anyone would think such meager salaries and increases are "lavishing" and "substantial" and were "showered" on employees....

Again, it seems clear that either the editorial author has some personal ax to grind with the Circuit Court, or just didn't even bother to do the math before flying off the handle.

June 18, 2013 at 9:52 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

So if Chattanooga has a high poverty rate civil servant jobs should pay poverty wages?

The state of the economy has nothing to do with the salaries paid to civil servants, nor should it, ever-- should they get huge raises when the economy is booming? The salaries are likely very fair and commensurate or LESS than similar private sector jobs (say at BCBST, Cigna, etc.), and "raises" at CPI levels are not some magic road to riches, they are just keeping people even.

The mindset you put forth shows the problems this nation has faced for nearly thirty years-- dissing the middleclass worker, especially the civil servant, BY other middleclass workers, for the "crime" of staying even, with their meager "raises." Meanwhile the uber wealthy like Governor Haslam slash their own taxes by millions of dollars and claim they must cut government salaries-- and hardly anyone in the Tennessee print media complains about the sleight-of-hand, the shifting of the money from the middleclass workers' pockets to Haslam's via his massive tax cut for the wealthy. But it's okay, because we all each got a $3/year sales tax cut, and Haslam needs the million$ to sock away more than the workers need their few thousand$, all they do is serve The People.

But I digress... you miss that that $48.5k in my example assumes ALL of the budget went to salaries, and that it is an average. If 2/3rds went to salaries, it drops to $32.3k on average. You brought up insurance-- likely a large part of the budget goes to that also. Not some amazing high paying gig ($30-40k and health insurance), by any stretch, unless one is stuck in 1983 price mode.

And yes, average teacher salary in Tennesee is around $48,000-- feel free to go look it up. No, it's not riches, it is a fair pay level.

This is the bizarro-think created by the ultrarightwing over the last 30 years: "damn those teachers and civil servants for making a living wage--and we must cut the taxes of the wealthy even more!" It is a terribly sad national fugue state with respect to economics history, and will lead to the eventual collapse of the middle class, and the nation will likely fall into a plutocratic corporate feudal state if the economic lunacy of nigh self-hatred of the middleclass by middleclass people in other jobs is not ended soon.

Again-- the data is there, and unless the TFP reported incorrect numbers-- no one at the Circuit Court offices is making out like a bandit, and to imagine they are at such average wages is, well, silly and math bereft.

June 18, 2013 at 9:12 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

"Fresh perspectives" has nothing to do with data. As can be seen by the data, the "perpective" of their budget currently is neither extravagant nor cut-to-ineffective, it is pretty much middle of the road. If by "fresh perspectives" you mean someone who will slash salaries and who WON'T give employees raises to keep them even with inflation, then prepare for massive increases in attorneys complaining about filings taking forever. We can EASILY tell that the salaries currently are not excessive, as even if 100% of their expenditures were salary (obviously not, but let's play), the average salary would be roughly $48,500-- slightly above the average teacher salary in Tennessee. Not rich in the slightest. And remember, that $48,500 is assuming they have NO OTHER EXPENDITURES.

June 18, 2013 at 5:34 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

The author of this piece seemingly can't grasp economics, time value of money, and basic math, and clearly leaves out some data to try and make it seem he/she is being reasonable, when in reality the article is blabber with sound and fury signifying nothing. Here are some facts, with math from the data we have fro the piece above and the article from last Sunday's TFP:

According to the graph provided, the budget in 2003 was $1.5million. In 2012 it was $2.0 million. Assuming all things stayed the same , when adjusted for CPI from 2003-2012 the budget in 2012 should be $1.91million. So the budget of 2012 was a $90,000 increase above CPI/inflation, which is EASILY explained-- the office had 41 employees in 2003 and 43 in 2012, possibly to cover the larger case load (a 5% increase in employees, an approximate 18% increase in caseload(?*)).

Which leads us to another bit of avoiding-the-math nonsense by the author-- the "$200,000 in pay hikes." Saying that makes it sound HUGE, doesn't it? Two hundred thousand dollars! But let's look at the breakdown: giving the author the benefit of assuming that that $200,000 does NOT include the one employee-added's salary, but just increases in pay, that comes to a raise on average of about $950 a year, or about $4750 over the five years-- which is JUST EVEN with CPI for salaries of $38,000. Hardly some massive getting rich scheme-- just fair raises (at least on average)versus inflation. Hardly "substantial pay hikes" as the author contends, just a staying even with inflation. How many years should someone be paid exactly the same salary? Will the author be making the same salary in 10 years for the same work he/she does now?

Now, to the REAL reason for the shortfall-- LOOK AT THE GRAPH! It CLEARLY is not a ballooning of expenses, which steadily increase pretty much like CPI/inflation do, but it is clearly a revenue shortfall, possibly due to the fee cap on filers' costs-- currently $209-- so how much are they allowed to increase that each year, and is that keeping up with CPI? Caseload has dropped a little from 2008, true-- and there are two employees fewer than then, also.

From the buzzwords used in the piece above (and the bias that slipped through in the article by Brogdon and South--"Bulges"?), it seems the authors have some personal axes-to-grind with the Circuit Court office. Or just can't be bothered to parse the data given.

Begrudging folks for their salaries staying pretty much even with inflation over a decade is just silly and pointless.

The solution to the shortfall is clear and obvious-- get the fees charged to filers up to $239 instead of $209.

*the data given for 2004-6 does not include "judicial cases"

June 18, 2013 at 3:45 p.m.
Diskatopia said...

As the rightwing spin dies down it is seeming more and more that, other than perhaps the long delays (possibly caused by congressional budget cuts to the IRS), these actions by the IRS toward both conservative AND liberal groups, were just and correct. This is not a liberal or conservative issue-- both have fatcat donors trying to sneak political donations through as "charity", and the real victim in this case is the People of the UNited States, as represented by the IRS. Go to opensecrets org (nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics)and read their whole series about "Shadow Money" and see for yourself.

May 17, 2013 at 5:18 p.m.

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