Beam, Fulcrum, Torque, Law of the Lever and Mechanical Advantage

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 30th, 2014

Technology 101

(Originally published May 1st, 2013)

A Lever is a Rigid Beam on a Fulcrum

Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the Earth with it.”  At least we think he did.  Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek genius.  Mathematician.  Physicist.  Engineer.  Inventor.  And astronomer.  One of many of the ancient Greeks who advanced modern civilization.  By using math and science.  He did a lot.  And explained why things worked the way they did using math.  Like the Law of the Lever.

In the days before the twist-off bottle cap we used bottle openers.  Because try as we might we could not pry a bottle cap off with our hands.  Most grown men just didn’t have the strength to do that.  But a child could open a bottle if that child used a bottle opener.  For that bottle opener is a lever.  Giving the child leverage.  The ability to use a little bit of force to do a lot of work.

A lever is a rigid beam on a fulcrum.  Like a seesaw.  A common playground fixture.  If two kids of equal weight are on either end of the seesaw and the fulcrum is in the center these kids can effortless push up and down.  But if a grown adult sits on one end and a child is on the other the weight of the adult will drop his side of the seesaw down.  Leaving the child up in the air on the other side.

As the Lever increases in Length the more it will Amplify the Input Force we Apply

Now that’s no fun.  Having the seesaw permanently tipped in one direction.  However, even two people of different weights can enjoy playing on the seesaw.  All they have to do is move the fulcrum towards the heavier person until the seesaw balances.  So that there is a short length of seesaw between the fulcrum and the heavy person.  And longer length of seesaw between the fulcrum and the lighter person.  This creates the same amount of torque on both side of the fulcrum.

Torque is the turning force created by a force acting about a fulcrum.  The force in this case is the weight of the people on the seesaw.  Which we calculate by multiplying their mass by the force of gravity.  With the force of gravity being constant the greater the mass the greater the weight.  This weight pressing down on the beam creates torque.   And the further away from the fulcrum the greater the turning force.  Such that a lighter weight at a greater distance from the fulcrum can balance a greater weight at a shorter distance from the fulcrum.  Allowing a child to play on a seesaw with someone of far greater mass.  Because the lever amplified the smaller force of the child.  Allowing the child to move a heavier weight.  To illustrate this consider the following table.

Lever

This is just a visual aid.  The numbers don’t represent anything.  It just shows a relationship between force and the length of the lever.  In this example we need 1000 units of force to move something.  If we use a lever that is 10 units from the fulcrum we need to apply 100 units of force.  If we have a lever that is 40 units from the fulcrum we only need to apply 25 units of force.  If we have a lever that is 80 units from the fulcrum we only need to apply 12.5 units of force.  As the lever increases in length the more it will amplify the input force we apply.  Which is why a child can open a bottle with a bottle opener.

A Wheelbarrel combines the Lever with the Wheel and Axle

A lever gives us mechanical advantage.  The amplification of a small input force into a larger output force.  Such as a hand-held bottle opener.  But what about the kind that used to be fastened to pop machines?  When you bought a glass bottle of pop out of a vending machine?  The fulcrum is the fixed bottle opener.  And the lever is the bottle.  A can opener was often on the other end of a bottle opener.  Instead of a grip to latch onto a bottle cap this end had a triangular knife.  When we lifted up on the lever it pressed down and pierced a hole in a can.

A wheelbarrel allows us to move heavy loads.  This device combines two simple machines.  A wheel and axle.  And a lever.  The wheel and axle is the fulcrum.  The lever runs from the fulcrum to the handles of the wheelbarrel.  We place the load on the lever just before the axle.  When we lift the far end of the lever we can tilt up the load and balance it over the axle.  The lever amplifies the force we apply.  And the wheel and axle reduce the friction between this load and the ground.  Allowing us to move a heavy load with little effort.

Today’s pop bottles have screw-top caps.  Some people still use a lever to help open them, though.  A pair of pliers.  We use the pliers because we don’t have the strength to grip the cap tight enough to twist it open.  The pliers are actually two levers connected together at the fulcrum.  The pliers amplify our hand strand-strength to get a very secure grip on the bottle cap.  While our hands compress the two levers together getting a firm grip on the cap we can then use our arm to apply a force on the handles of the pliers.  Providing a torque to turn the bottle cap.  Very simple machines that make everyday life easier.  Thanks to the knowledge Archimedes handed down to us.

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Appalachian Mountains, Great Lakes, Northwest Territory, Louisiana Territory and the Erie Canal

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 29th, 2014

History 101

(Originally published July 30th, 2013)

Everything grown on the West Side of the Appalachian Mountains eventually ended up on the Mississippi River

At the time of the Founding the American population was clustered around the East Coast.  And on major rivers that flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.  On land east of the Appalachian Mountains.  Not by choice.  But because of geography.  The Founding Fathers knew what great land lay west.  But getting there was another story.

The Great Lakes are huge.  The largest group of freshwater lakes in the world.  If you walked all the coastlines you’d walk so long and so far that you could have walked halfway around the world.  Getting on the lakes opened up the Northwest Territory.  Western New York.  Western Pennsylvania.  Ohio.  Michigan.  Indiana.  Illinois.  Wisconsin.  Minnesota.  And with some portaging, the great interior rivers.  Including the Mississippi River.  Opening up the Great Plains to the West.  And the rich fertile farmland of the interior.  But there was one great obstacle between all of this and the east coast.  Niagara Falls.  Which portaging around was a bitch.

The United States would become an agricultural superpower.  But until they had a way to transport food grown on the land west of the Appalachians that land was not as valuable as it could be.  There were some land routes.  George Washington crossed many times into the Ohio Country from Virginia.  And Daniel Boone blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky and Tennessee.  Opening the Northwest Territory to settlement.  All the way up to the Mississippi River.  And its tributaries.  Including the Ohio River.  But none of these water routes offered a way back east.  Which is why everything grown on the west side of the Appalachian Mountains eventually ended up on the Mississippi River.  And traveled south.  To the Port of New Orleans.  But there was one major problem with that.  The Port of New Orleans belonged to the Spanish.

Thomas Jefferson fought Tirelessly against the Constitution to Restrict the Powers of the Executive Branch

At the time of the Founding there were four European nations jockeying for a piece of the New World.  Who all wanted to keep the Americans east of the Appalachians.  The French had lost New France to the British.  Which they hoped to get back.  And the farther the Americans moved west the harder that would be.  The British were in Canada.  With outposts still in the Northwest Territory.  Despite ceding that land to the Americans.  While the British were pressing in from the north the Spanish were pressing in from the south and the west.  Coming up from Mexico they were in New Orleans.  Texas.  The trans-Mississippi region (the land west of the Mississippi River.  And California and the West Coast.  Making navigation rights on the Mississippi River and the Port of New Orleans a hotly contested issue.

Time would solve that problem in America’s favor.  Napoleon would get the Louisiana Territory for France from the Spanish.  And was intent on rebuilding New France in the New World.  But with the slave rebellion in Saint-Domingue—present day Haiti—Napoleon’s plans changed.  Instead of building New France he was focusing on saving Old France.  As the world war he launched wasn’t going all that well.  So he sold the Louisiana Territory to Thomas Jefferson, then president of the United States.  Making the navigation rights of the Mississippi River a moot point.  For it now belonged to the United States.  Which was great for Thomas Jefferson.  For, he, too, looked west.  And believed the young nation’s future was on the west side of the Appalachian Mountains.  Where yeoman farmers would work their land.  Forming the backbone of the new republic.  Honest men doing honest labor.  Not merchants, bankers and stockjobbers that were trying to destroy the new nation in the east.  The detestable moneyed men that Jefferson hated so.  No.  The winds of the Revolutionary spirit blew west.

This is why Jefferson jumped on the Louisiana Purchase.  In direct violation of the Constitution.  A document he hated because it gave way too much power to the president.  Making the president little different from a king.  Which was the whole point of the American Revolution.  To do away with king-like power.  Throughout his active political life he fought tirelessly against the Constitution.  Fighting to restrict the powers of the executive branch wherever he could.  But the Louisiana Territory?  President Jefferson suddenly had an epiphany.  It was good to be king.

The Erie Canal connected the Eastern Seaboard with the Great Lakes without any Portages

Jefferson would resort to his anti-government positions following the Louisiana Purchase.  He may have violated everything he stood for but even the most stalwart limited government proponent no doubt approves of Jefferson’s actions.  Jefferson was happy.  As was everyone west of the Appalachians.  But it didn’t solve one problem.  The Great Lakes region upstream of Niagara Falls was still cutoff from the East Coast.  And the Port of New Orleans.  There were some routes to these destinations.  But they included some portaging between navigable waterways.  Which made it difficult to transport bulk goods into the region.  And out of the region.

As Jefferson’s vision of limited government faded government grew.  As did government spending.  Especially on internal improvements.  For they had great political dividends.  They created a lot of jobs.  And brought a lot of federal money to communities with those internal improvements.  Which helped politicians win elections.  And back around the 1800s the big internal improvements were canals.  Such as the Erie Canal.  Connecting the Eastern Seaboard with the Great Lakes.  Providing a waterway without any portages from the Hudson River that flows into the Atlantic Ocean at New York City.  All the way to the Great Lakes.  Near Buffalo.  Just above Niagara Falls.  Opening the Great Lakes regions to settlement.  And the Northwest Territory.  (Something George Washington wanted to do.  Who wanted to extend a canal into the West from the Potomac River.)  Creating a trade super highway between the Great Lakes region and the East Coast.  Through the Port of New York.  And on to the rest of the world.

The U.S. population moved west.  But still clung to rivers and coastlines.  Until another internal improvement came along.  The railroad.  Which did for the country’s interior what the Erie Canal did for the Great Lakes region.  With cities growing up along these rail lines.  Away from rivers and coastlines.  Then came the interstate highway system.  Which allowed cities to grow away from the rail lines.  There is now a road, rail or waterway that will take you pretty much anywhere in the United States.  And now we have the airplane.  Which can fly over the Appalachians.  Or the Niagara escarpment.  Allowing us today to move anyone or anything anywhere today.  Something George Washington and Thomas Jefferson desperately wanted.  But could only dream of.

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Aging Populations and Replacement Birthrate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published July 8th, 2013)

Trying to follow a Baby Boom with a Baby Bust creates Problems in Advanced Economies with Large Welfare States

In the late 1960s began a movement for zero population growth.  It called for women to have only enough babies to replace the current population.  Not to have too many babies that would increase the population.  Nor have too few babies that the population declines.  Something that women could easily do because of birth control.  And, later, abortion.  The drive behind this was to save the planet.  By keeping large populations becoming like a plague of locusts that devour the earth’s resources and food until the planet can no longer sustain life.

China did these zero population growth people better.  By promoting a negative population growth rate.  Limiting parents to one child.  They did this because during the days of Mao’s China the country set some world records for famine.  Their communist state simply couldn’t provide for her people.  So to help their communist system avoid future famines they tried to limit the number of mouths they had to feed.  Of course, trying to follow a baby boom with a baby bust creates other problems.  Especially in advanced economies with large welfare states.

China’s one-child policy and the preference for boys have led to a shortage of women to marry.  Some Chinese men are even looking at ‘mail-order’ brides from surrounding countries.  But China is going to have an even greater problem caring for her elderly.  Just like Japan.  Japanese couples are having less than 1.5 babies per couple.  Meaning that each successive generation will be smaller than the preceding generation.  As couples aren’t even having enough children to replace themselves when they die.  Leaving the eldest generation the largest percentage of the overall population.  Being paid and cared for by the smallest percentage of the overall population.  The younger generation.

States with Aging Populations are Suffering Debt Crises because they Spend More than their Tax Revenue can Cover

As nations develop advanced economies people develop careers.  Moving from one well-paid job to another.  As they advance in their career.  Creating a lot of income to tax.  Allowing a large welfare state.  Which is similar to a Ponzi scheme.  Or pyramid scheme.  As long as more people are entering the workforce than leaving it their income taxes can pay for the small group at the top of the pyramid that leaves the workforce and begins consuming pension and health care benefits in their retirement.  And there is but one requirement of a successful pyramid scheme.  The base of the pyramid must expand greater than the tip of the pyramid.  The wider the base is relative to the top the more successive the pyramid scheme.  As we can see here.

Babies per Generation - Constant Replacement Birthrate

Generation 1 is at the top of the pyramid.  It is the oldest generation.  Which we approximate as a period of 20 years.  In our example Generation 1 are people aged 78-98.  They’re retired and collecting pension, health care and other benefits.  Some combination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance, etc.  All paid for by Generation 2 (58-78), Generation 3 (38-58) and Generation 4 (18-38).  Each generation is assumed to bring 6 children into the world.  So these couples are not only replacing themselves but adding an additional 4 children to further increase the size of the population.  Which really makes running a pyramid scheme easy.  For if we assume each member in Generation 1 on average consumes $35,000 annually in benefits that Generations 2 through 4 pay for that comes to $555.56 per person annually.  Or $46.30 per person monthly.  Or $10.68 per person weekly.  Or $1.53 per person daily.  Amounts so small that Generations 2 through 4 can easily pay for Generation 1′s retirement.  Now let’s look at the impact of a declining birthrate with each successive generation.

Babies per Generation - Declining Replacement Birthrate

When all couples in each generation were having on average 6 children this added 1.9 billion new taxpayers.  Which greatly reduced each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1′s retirement costs.  But thanks to birth control, abortion and the growing cost of living each successive generation has fewer babies.  Generation 2 only has 3 children.  Enough to replace themselves.  And add one new taxpayer.  Generation 3 has only 2 children.  Only enough to replace the parents.  Providing that zero population growth that was all the rage during the late 1960s and the 1970s.  While Generation 4 only has 1 child.  Not even enough to replace the parents when they die.  Causing a negative population growth rate.  Which is a big problem in an advanced economy with a large welfare state.  For instead of adding 1.9 billion new taxpayers they only add 217.5 million new taxpayers.  Greatly increasing each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1′s retirement costs.  Instead of paying $555.56 per taxpayer they each have to pay $5,384.62 annually.  Or $448.72 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $103.55 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $14.79 per taxpayer daily.  Numbers that prove to be unsustainable.  The state simply cannot tax people this much for Generation 1′s retirement.  For if they did this and added it to the rest of government’s spending they’re taxing us to fund it would take away all of our income.  This is why advanced economies with aging populations are suffering debt crises.  Because their spending has grown so far beyond their ability to pay for it with tax revenue that they borrow massive amounts of money to finance it.

If you want a Generous Welfare State you need Parents to have More Children

If you carry this out two more generations so every generation only has one child the per taxpayer amount tops out at $14,736.84 annually.  Or $1,228.07 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $283.40 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $40.49 per taxpayer daily.  Amounts far too great for most taxpayers to pay.  This is what an aging population does in a country with a large welfare state.  It makes the population top-heavy in elderly people who no longer work (i.e., pay taxes) but consume the lion’s share of state benefits.  When couples were having 6 children each across the generations there was a ratio of 84 taxpayers per retiree.  When there was a declining replacement birthrate that ratio fell to 15 taxpayers per retiree.  If we look at this graphically we can see the pyramid shape of this generational population.

Generational Population - Constant Replacement Birthrate

With 84 taxpayers per retiree we can see a nice and wide base to the pyramid.  While the tip of the pyramid is only a small sliver of the base (Generation 4).  Making for a successful Ponzi scheme.  Far more people pay into the scheme.  While only a tiny few take money out of the scheme.  This is why Social Security and Medicare didn’t have any solvency problems until after birth control and abortion.  For these gave us a declining replacement birthrate over time.  Greatly shrinking the base of the pyramid.  Which made the tip no longer a small sliver of the base.  But much closer in size to the base.  That if it was an actual pyramid sitting on the ground it wouldn’t take much to push it over.  Unlike the above pyramid.  That we could never push over.  Which is why the above Ponzi scheme would probably never fail.  While the one below will definitely fail.

Generational Population - Declining Replacement Birthrate

If you want a generous welfare state where the state provides pensions, health care, housing and food allowances, etc., you need parents to have more children.  For the more children they have the more future taxpayers there will be.  Or you at least need a constant replacement birthrate.  But if that rate is below the rate of a prior baby boom the welfare state will be unsustainable UNLESS they slash spending.  The United States has a replacement birthrate below the rate of a prior baby boom.  While the Obama administration has exploded the size of welfare state.  Especially with the addition of Obamacare.  Making our Ponzi scheme more like the second chart.  As we currently have approximately 1.75 taxpayers supporting each social security recipient.  Meaning that it won’t take much pushing to topple our pyramid. We’re at the point where a slight breeze may do the trick.  For it will topple.  It’s just a matter of time.

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Following the Tragedy at Lac-Mégantic shipping Crude Oil by Train in Canada will be more Costly

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2014

Week in Review

On July 6, 2013, a 4,701 ft-long train weighing 10,287 tons carrying crude oil stopped for the night at Nantes, Quebec.  She stopped on the mainline as the siding was occupied.  The crew of one parked the train, set the manual handbrakes on all 5 locomotives and 10 of the 72 freight cars and shut down 4 of the 5 locomotives.  Leaving one on to supply air pressure for the air brakes.  Then caught a taxi and headed for a motel.

The running locomotive had a broken piston.  Causing the engine to puff out black smoke and sparks as it sat there idling.  Later that night someone called 911 and reported that there was a fire on that locomotive.  The fire department arrived and per their protocol shut down the running locomotive before putting out the fire.  Otherwise the running locomotive would only continue to feed the fire by pumping more fuel into it.  After they put out the fire they called the railroad who sent some personnel out to make sure the train was okay.  After they did they left, too.  But ever since the fire department had shut down that locomotive air pressure had been dropping in the train line.  Eventually this loss of air pressure released the air brakes.  Leaving only the manual handbrakes to hold the train.  Which they couldn’t.  The train started to coast downhill.  Picking up speed.  Reaching about 60 mph as it hit a slow curve with a speed limit of 10 mph in Lac-Mégantic and jumped the track.  Derailing 63 of the 72 tank cars.  Subsequent tank car punctures, oil spills and explosions killed some 47 people and destroyed over 30 buildings.

This is the danger of shipping crude oil in rail cars.  There’s a lot of potential and kinetic energy to control.  Especially at these weights.  For that puts a lot of mass in motion that can become impossible to stop.  Of course, adding safety features to prevent things like this from happening, such as making these tank cars puncture-proof, can add a lot of non-revenue weight.  Which takes more fuel to move.  And that costs more money.  Which will raise the cost of delivering this crude oil to refineries.  And increase the cost of the refined products they make from it.  Unless the railroads find other ways to cut costs.  Say by shortening delivery times by traveling faster.  Allowing them an extra revenue-producing delivery or two per year to make up for the additional costs.  But thanks to the tragedy at Lac-Mégantic, though, not only will they be adding additional non-revenue weight they will be slowing their trains down, too (see Rail safety improvements announced by Lisa Raitt in wake of Lac-Mégantic posted 4/23/2014 on CBC News).

Changes to improve rail safety were announced Wednesday by federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in response to recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board in the aftermath of the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que.

The federal government wants a three-year phase-out or retrofit of older tank cars that are used to transport crude oil or ethanol by rail, but will not implement a key TSB recommendation that rail companies conduct route planning when transporting dangerous goods…

There are 65,000 of the more robust Dot-111 cars in North America that must be phased out or retrofitted within three years if used in Canada, Raitt said, adding, “Officials have advised us three years is doable.”  She said she couldn’t calculate the cost of the retrofits, but told reporters, “industry will be footing the bill…”

The transport minister also announced that mandatory emergency response plans will be required for all crude oil shipments in Canada…

Raitt also said railway companies will be required to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods. The speed limit will be 80 kilometres an hour [about 49 mph] for key trains, she said. She added that risk assessments will be conducted in certain areas of the country about further speed restrictions, a request that came from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities…

Brian Stevens head of UNIFOR, which represents thousands of unionized rail car inspectors at CN, CP and other Canadian rail companies, called today’s announcement a disappointment.

“This announcement really falls short, and lets Canadians down,” he told CBC News.

“These DOT-11 cars, they should be banned from carrying crude oil immediately. They can still be used to carry vegetable oil, or diesel fuel, but for carrying this dangerous crude there should be an immediate moratorium and that should have been easy enough for the minister to do and she failed to do that.

“There’s a lot of other tank cars in the system that can carry crude,” Stevens explained. “There doesn’t need to be this reliance on these antiquated cars that are prone to puncture.”

Industry will not be footing the bill.  That industry’s customers will be footing the bill.  As all businesses pass on their costs to their customers.  As it is the only way a business can stay in business.  Because they need to make money to pay all of their employees as well as all of their bills.  So if their costs increase they will have to raise their prices to ensure they can pay all of their employees and all of their bills.

What will the cost of this retrofit be?  To make these 65,000 tank cars puncture-proof?  Well, adding weight to these cars will take labor and material.  That additional weight may require modifications to the springs, brakes and bearings.  Perhaps even requiring another axel or two per car.  Let’s assume that it will take a crew of 6 three days to complete this retrofit per tank car (disassemble, reinforce and reassemble as well as completing other modifications required because of the additional weight).  Assuming a union labor cost (including taxes and benefits) of $125/hour and non-labor costs equaling labor costs would bring the retrofit for these 65,000 tanks cars to approximately $2.34 billion.  Which they will, of course, pass on to their customers.  Who will pass it on all the way to the gas station where we fill up our cars.  They will also pass down the additional fuel costs to pull all that additional nonrevenue weight.

Making these trains safer will be costly.  Of course, it begs this burning question: Why not just build pipelines?  Like the Keystone XL pipeline?  Which can deliver more crude oil faster and safer than any train can deliver it.  And with a smaller environmental impact.  As pipelines don’t crash or puncture.  So why not be safer and build the Keystone XL pipeline in lieu of using a more dangerous mode of transportation that results in tragedies like that at Lac-Mégantic?  Why?  Because of politics.  To shore up the Democrat base President Obama would rather risk Lac-Mégantic tragedies.  Instead of doing what’s best for the American economy.  And the American people.  Namely, building the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Americans want ever more Free Stuff as the Founding Fathers feared they would under Mob Rule

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2014

Week in Review

Let’s imagine you buy your groceries a different way.  Instead of going to the store and picking things off of the shelves and paying for them at checkout imagine this.  You don’t pay the store.  A third party does.  Like it does for everyone else that shops at this store.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Let’s say people pool their money together for purchasing power.  And have this third party take that pooled money and use it to get better pricing.  Because of the large amounts they will be paying for.

So everyone pays in a monthly amount to their third-party purchaser.  Then goes to the store and takes what they want.  And at checkout they just sign an invoice to acknowledge they took this stuff.  And the store will submit the bill to the third-party purchaser.  Of course, there would have to be some rules.  Because if everyone pays a flat amount each month you can’t have someone picking up steaks every day when you’re buying hamburger for your kids.  So there are limits to what you can buy.  Requiring the third party to review every submitted invoice.  Requiring a very large staff to review every grocery store purchase to approve and disapprove line items on each and every invoice for payment.  To resolve billing and payment errors.  And to bill shoppers for any unapproved purchases they made.  Even if they didn’t understand that these items weren’t covered.

So, included with that monthly payment there must be an overhead fee.  To pay for all those people reviewing those invoices.  Those who bill shoppers for unapproved items.  Those who pay for the approved purchases.  And those who process payments from shoppers.  Still, things slip through the cracks.  People are getting unapproved purchases through the system.  Grocery prices rise.  The overhead costs at the third party grow due to new costly regulations.  Etc.  Such that on occasion the total amount of cash out at the third party exceeds the total of cash in.  Requiring them to raise the monthly amount everyone pays.

Sounds a bit more complicated than just going to the store and paying for what you want out of pocket.  And more costly in the long run.  But if someone else pays the third party for those monthly fees it’s a whole different story.  Say as a benefit at work.  Because without you having to pay anything it’s just free groceries.  At least, to you.  And you will demand that your employer pays for more stuff so it’s free to you.  Even though it’s not.  Because the rising cost of third party grocery purchases will cost your employer.  Which will limit your pay.  And other benefits.  Because in the real world nothing is free.  Even if people think that a lot of stuff is free.  Or should be free.  Like health care (see Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say health plans should cover birth control by Karen Kaplan posted 4/22/2014 on the Los Angeles Times).

Among the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act, few are as controversial as the one requiring health insurance providers to include coverage for contraception. A new survey finds that support for this rule is widespread, with 69% of Americans in favor of the mandate…

Women, African Americans, Latinos and parents living with children under the age of 18 had higher levels of support for mandatory contraception coverage than people in other demographic groups, the survey found…

— 85% of those surveyed supported mandatory coverage for mammograms and colonoscopies.

— 84% supported mandatory coverage for recommended vaccines.

— 82% were in favor of mandatory coverage for diabetes and cholesterol screening tests.

— 77% backed the provision on mandatory coverage for mental health care.

— 75% supported mandatory coverage of dental care, including routine cleanings.

There’s a reason why the United States is a republic and not a democracy.  For the Founding Fathers feared a democracy.  And wanted responsible people between the people and the treasury.  For once people understood they could vote themselves the treasury they would.  And things like this would happen.  Mob rule.  Where the mob demands more and more free stuff while fewer and fewer people pay for that ‘free’ stuff.  And people in government anxious to win elections will keep giving the people more ‘free’ stuff that others have to pay for.  Until one day you end up with the health care system we have in the United States.  All because other people were paying for routine costs people could expect and budget for.  Things that if they paid out of pocket for would cost less in the long run.  Which would keep insurance what it was supposed to be.  Insurance.  And not turn it into a massive cost transfer scheme that only allowed the price of health care to soar.

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NFL Cheerleaders are suing for a Livable Wage for their 300 Hours of Annual Work

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 26th, 2014

Week in Review

If you were in the ‘in’ crowd in high school the most ‘in’ people were the quarterback of the football team and the head cheerleader.  Typically the best looking guy and girl in high school.  This is why girls want to be cheerleaders.  Because only pretty and popular girls are cheerleaders.  These girls don’t get paid.  And that’s okay.  Because they do it for the privilege of wearing that cheerleader uniform.  And being part of the ‘in’ crowd.

There’s a fascination with cheerleaders.  Men like them so much they made a porno movie about a girl trying to make a football cheerleader squad that wasn’t the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders but looked like it was.  Debbie Does Dallas.  A porn bestselling video.  Because men like cheerleaders.  For they are toned, fit and beautiful.  And they wear revealing outfits.  Which is why NFL cheerleaders are sexy.

Women try hard to become NFL cheerleaders.  But only toned, fit and beautiful women get to be cheerleaders.  Which is why women work so hard to be toned, fit and beautiful.  So they can go to cheerleader tryouts and best the competition.  To win that honor of wearing an NFL cheerleader uniform.  At least, that’s how it has been until now (see String of Cheerleader Lawsuits the Next Headache for the NFL by Tierney Sneed posted 4/25/2014 on US News and World Report).

What will become of the Buffalo Jills, the cheerleaders that are on the sidelines for Buffalo Bills games? A lawsuit alleging lower than minimum wage earnings and other New York labor law violations filed by five former Buffalo Jills has caused the suspension of the squad, and taken with a pair of similar suits, is creating yet another public relations cloud over the National Football League.

Stephanie Mateczun – president of Stejon Productions Corp., the third-party production company that manages the Jills and was named in the suit alongside the team – confirmed the organization’s activities had ceased indefinitely as a result of the lawsuit, filed in New York Supreme Court Tuesday…

The Jills’ lawsuit is the third case to be brought up by an NFL team’s cheerleaders against their respective organization this year. Each case – the first, a class action suit filed in January against the Oakland Raiders, and the second, launched in February by a Ben-Gals cheerleader against the Cincinnati Bengals – is unique in its specifics…

The string of cases, as well as leaked copies of cheerleader handbooks from other teams, suggest the alleged mistreatment of cheerleaders is a league-wide problem. They are often paid per game, with hours spent practicing or at off-field events left uncompensated. They are also held to standards unthinkable in most workplaces: regular weigh-ins, costly requirements for certain hair and beauty treatments, and restrictions on who they date and what they post to social media…

Similar claims were made in the next suit to follow, filed by Ben-Gals’ cheerleader Alexa Brenneman against the Bengals in February. It suggests she made less than $2.85 an hour for her 300 hours of work during the season, well below Ohio’s $7.85 an hour minimum wage. The Jills suit likewise describes an alleged violation of New York minimum wage laws, and also details what it calls “demeaning and degrading treatment” at Jills events where the cheerleaders supposedly faced “lecherous stares,” “degrading sexual comments” and “inappropriate touching…”

“The issue here is … how we treat our workers in this country,” Dolce, of the Jills case, says – which is why he thinks the NFL should be paying attention as well. “I know it’s not a central issue for the NFL, but in terms of worker rights and human rights and gender politics, it shouldn’t just be ignored…”

The controversy isn’t sitting well with the NFL’s current  marketing outreach to female fans. A Change.org petition launched before the lawsuits were filed demands teams across the league provide their cheerleaders with livable salaries – and it has more than 100,000 signatures.

Livable salaries?  Cheerleading is not a job.  It’s a thing to do for fun.  That thing these women may enjoy unlike their day job.  Which provides their livable salaries.  Not their cheerleader earnings.  I mean, who can work only 300 hours a year and expect to pay all of their bills?

Cheerleading can’t be that horrible.  Because women go to cheerleader tryouts to make the squad.  And abide by all the rules to remain a cheerleader.  If it was so horrible they wouldn’t do this.  But they do.  And they’re not doing this for the money.  For we know they don’t make any money being a cheerleader.  No.  They do this because they love it.

You know who’s happy now?  Teams that don’t have cheerleaders.  And if they were considering adding them you can bet they won’t now.  In fact, those teams that do may consider dropping theirs.  For here’s a startling fact.  Cheerleaders don’t win games.  The only time most people even see them is coming out of a commercial break.  Then they’re gone.  As the football game fills widescreen televisions across the country.  They are trying to use cheerleaders to make the stadium experience special as a lot of people these days prefer watching football at home on their widescreen televisions.  Making it harder to sell out some home games.  But it is doubtful people are going to buy tickets for a game because they may be able to talk to a cheerleader.  No matter how pretty or sexy they are.  Because people love football more.

Teams may make some money with their cheerleaders.  But it’s probably not enough to justify these legal headaches.  So NFL cheerleaders may soon be a thing of the past.  Something most football fans probably won’t even notice.  For few in a big stadium can even see them.  And those watching on television may catch a glimpse of them but that’s not why they’re tuning in.  No, the people who will most notice the passing of the NFL cheerleader are the cheerleaders.  And the women who wanted to try out to become a cheerleader.  Something they may have dreamed about since high school.

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Catholic Women have more Sex and that Sex is more Satisfying

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 26th, 2014

Week in Review

The Democrats get the youth vote.  Because the Democrats aren’t these kids’ parents.  After a lifetime (i.e., high school) of their parents telling them ‘no’ after they turn 18 they turn on their parents.  And start voting Democrat.  Wait until you’re married before having sex?  I think not, Mom & Dad.  Because there isn’t anything wrong with having cheap meaningless sex with a bunch of different people.  The Democrats understand this.  And provide these young women with birth control and access to abortion so they can have a lot of casual sex without any consequences.  Of course, a lot of this sex won’t be very good (see Devout Catholics Have Better Sex, Study Says by Elizabeth Flock posted 7/17/2013 on US News and World Report—an older article appearing in their Twitter feed this past week).

Devout, married Catholics have the best sex of any demographic group, the Family Research Council said at an event Wednesday, pointing to a collection of studies from the last several decades.

The socially conservative Christian group relied heavily on statistics from the University of Chicago’s last National Health and Social Life Survey, conducted in 1992, which found the most enjoyable and most frequent sex occurring among married people, those who attended church weekly – any church, whether Catholic or not – and people who had the least sexual partners…

The notion that Catholics have better sex isn’t a new one, especially coming from Catholics. In 1994, Andrew Greeley, a Catholic sociologist and priest, published “Sex: The Catholic Experience,” which released a litany of new statistics: 68 percent of Catholics professed to have sex at least once a week versus 56 percent of non-Catholics; 30 percent of Catholics had bought erotic underwear versus 20 percent non-Catholics; and 80 percent of devout Catholic women approved of having sex for pleasure alone.

Girls go to parties where guys ply them with alcohol.  To get them drunk enough to lower their inhibitions.  A Girl may want to be relaxed enough to be with a guy she likes.  While a guy may just want to get her drunk so she can’t say ‘no’.  One thing for sure, though, whatever happens won’t be the subject of any romance novel.  It could be a scene in a porn movie.  But it sure won’t end up on the big screen in a love story.

Let’s face it, any sex where being inebriated is a prerequisite just isn’t going to be that good.  Or memorable.  Further, it is likely to leave a woman filled with shame or regret.  As she worries about what she did.  With whom she did it with.  And then the questions to fret over.  Did she take any precautions?  Is she pregnant?  Did she catch a sexually transmitted disease?  Did someone make a video of her while she was passed out and naked?  Doing things to her?  Is she going to see herself on the Internet?  Will her friends and her family see her on the Internet?  Her professors?  Her boss?  Will this come up should she decide to run for public office?

To have the same frequency of sex married women have may leave her with more feelings of shame and regret.  And an emptiness.  For while she is having sex a married woman is making love.  For a married woman doesn’t have to get drunk to lower her inhibitions.  For there are no inhibitions to lower.  She doesn’t have to worry about catching an STD.  And if she gets pregnant it may be because she wanted to get pregnant.  Also, there is no shame and regret the day after.  For a married woman is not coming home disheveled the following morning.  Where her neighbors can see her wearing the same clothes she had on the night before.  And see her underwear fall out of her purse while digging out her keys.

For a married woman sex is about love-making.  Sharing intimate moments with the person she loves.  Someone she wants to please.  Just as her husband wants to please her.  As well as honor her and protect her.  He won’t be posting any videos of her passed out and naked on the Internet.  Sure, they may leave the bathroom door open, but there’s honor and protection.  As well as an active sex life spiced up with things like erotic underwear.

So what are the Democrats really doing to our young women by being anti-parents?  Opening them up to a lot of shame and regret.  And worse.  Democrats are ruining their sex lives.  For using birth control and abortion to stay unmarried only makes their sex lives less fulfilling.  At least according to this study.  And it’s rather ironic that the women who oppose birth control and abortion (i.e., Catholics) are having better sex lives than those who don’t.  So once again their parents were right.  Even when it comes to waiting until marriage to have sex.  For if you do it will apparently blow your socks off.

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FT219: “Obamacare will give us rationing and long wait times like America’s other national health care: the VA.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 25th, 2014

Fundamental truth

Our Veterans have been Wounded and Maimed and we thank them for their Service with the VA

Where do the rich and famous go when they go to a hospital?  They can afford the best.  So you will hear hospitals like Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai, etc.  The crème de la crème of the best health care system in the world.  But one name you won’t hear?  Any VA hospital.

Rich and famous people have something our veterans don’t.  Choice.  They can choose to go to the crème de la crème of the best health care system in the world.  While our veterans have no choice but to go to the dregs of the best health care system in the world.  Very often the worst place you can go in the United States for health care.

It’s sad, really.  For our veterans have given more than any other American.  They have put themselves in harm’s way.  Had people shoot at them.  Lob hand grenades at them.  Had mortar rounds and artillery rounds land near them.  And had improvised explosive devices (IED) detonate around them.  Our veterans have been wounded and maimed and faced the hell of combat.  And our thanks for their volunteering to do this for us?  The VA.

Our VA Hospitals are so bad because they know our Military will be good Soldiers and Wait

There aren’t a lot of VA hospitals around.  So some veterans have to travel to get to one.  And when they get there they have to wait.  As there are a lot of other veterans in the waiting room with them.  Because there aren’t a lot of VA hospitals around.  But that’s not the only waiting they’re going to do.

If they need surgery or treatment there will be even more waiting.  A lot more waiting.  Because there aren’t a lot of VA hospitals around.  Or a lot of VA health care providers.  Or a lot of VA diagnostic equipment.  Which means they have to ration out health care in our VA hospitals.  And when you ration health care you make people wait longer for treatment.  An alien concept for the rich and famous.  Who get what they want when they want it.  Because they have choice.

Our veterans, on the other hand, continue to be good soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen.  And wait.  Just like the old military joke to ‘hurry up and wait’.  Where they will get up before dawn to wait on the tarmac for 4 hours to board an aircraft.  So we’ve trained our military personnel well in waiting.  Perhaps this why our VA hospitals are so bad.  Because they know our military will be good soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen.  And wait.

VA Hospitals are run so poorly that Veterans are dying as they wait for this National Health Care

The sad thing is that some of our veterans are waiting so long that they are dying (see A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital’s secret list by Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin posted 4/24/2014 on CNN).  Because rationing leads to longer wait times.  And longer wait times lead to more deaths.  And this is why the VA hospitals (America’s national health care) are the dregs of the best health care system in the world.

The American left wants national health care.  They want VA hospitals for everyone.  Except them, of course.  For they will be going to the hospitals the rich and famous go to.  But it’s VA hospitals for the rest of us.  Where they will ration health care.  Increase wait times.  And provide some of the most inefficient health care service.  Another reason veterans have to wait so long is that the VA still uses paper records.  Like they did before the 1970s.

The left settled for Obamacare.  They wanted national health care but accepted Obamacare as a stepping stone to national health care.  For they think the government can run health care better than the private sector.  Even though they’ve been running the VA for decades without ever modernizing it.  The government runs the VA hospitals so inefficiently that veterans are dying as they wait for this rationed national health care.  But these same people who can’t bring the VA into the 20th century say they can improve the crème de la crème of the best health care system in the world.  But if they do the VA poorly they will do all national health care poorly.  Because the government just can’t do anything well.

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Farming Societies are more Advanced than Hunter and Gatherer Societies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2014

Week in Review

Why did the Europeans become the dominant people in the world?  Why did their colonies become some of the richest and most affluent nations?  Because when the Europeans entered those ships to cross the oceans they were farmers.  Having given up their hunter and gatherer past long ago (see DNA analysis solves the mystery of how Europeans came to be farmers by Steve Connor posted 4/24/2014 on The Independent).

It was the biggest cultural shift in European prehistory but the Stone Age transition from a lifestyle based on hunting animals and gathering wild berries to one built on farming and livestock was largely a mystery – until now.

A detailed analysis of the DNA extracted from the bones of 11 prehistoric Scandinavians who lived thousands of years ago around the Baltic Sea has shown that the transition from hunting to farming was more of a one-way takeover than previously supposed.

The genetic makeup of the people who lived through this cultural revolution has revealed that the incoming migrant farmers from southern Europe subsumed the indigenous hunter gatherers of the north, rather than the other way round, scientists said.

Farming people are more advanced than hunters and gatherers.  Because it takes knowledge and organization to master their environment and not live at its mercy.  Which is what hunters and gatherers must do.  As they travel across great expanses looking for food.  Food they can only eat if nature provides it.  And they can find it.  Whereas farmers can grow food and raise livestock.  On small farms.  And they can grow a surplus.  To carry them through winters.  And bad growing seasons.  While hunters and gatherers can only go hungry.  And die.

So farming societies are more advanced than hunter and gatherer societies.  Their knowledge and organization created food surpluses.  And economic activity.  Which created wealth.  This is why the Europeans went on to dominant the hunter and gatherers they met in the Americas, Australia, etc.  And why the transition from hunting to farming was a one-way takeover.  For advanced people have the knowledge, organization and wealth to dominant less advanced people who must live at the mercy of their environment.

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Only about 3% of All Workers at any one time make the Minimum Wage

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2014

Week in Review

If you’ve heard the left talk about the urgent need to raise the minimum wage you would think half the nation is languishing under pauper’s wages.  While rich business owners are lighting their cigars with twenty dollar bills.  As they rest their feet on the back of a minimum wage worker.  But it’s not quite that bad (see The Cost of the Minimum Wage: $20 for a Burger posted 4/24/2014 on E21).

McDonald’s high turnover rate shows that most of its workers are using the job as a stepping stone to other careers or as a transition position between jobs. One in every eight U.S. workers has been a member of McDonald’s 750,000 person workforce. Economics21 director Diana Furchtgott-Roth entered the workforce scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins at about $3 an hour. She never intended to have a career in ice cream…

Ninety-seven percent of American workers make more than minimum wage, not out of the kindness of employers’ hearts but because this is the only way that employers can retain employees. Low-skill workers need jobs, wages, and work experience too, and if the minimum wage rises, these people will be priced out of a job.

So only about 3% of all workers at any one time make the minimum wage.  And the 3% from 10 years ago are most likely included in the 97% of workers today.  Because minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs.  And what makes them so valuable is their low pay.  For these workers gain some skills and work experience.  And then get the hell out and join the 97%.  And go on to do great things.  Even become CEOs and directors.  Which they never would have done had they stayed at those minimum wage jobs.  Which they might have had if the minimum wage was a more comfortable living wage.

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