Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 14-15, 2014 Lunar Eclipse

Here's my best shot of the lunar eclipse last night.

I'm hoping to work out better photo techniques/settings for the October eclipse.

6 Heroes Who Died February 28, 2014 to April 2, 2014

February 28 - Lance Cpl. Caleb L. Erickson, 20, of Waseca, Minn., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

- Master Sgt. David L. Poirier, 52, of North Smithfield, R.I., died from a non-combat related incident currently under investigation.

April 1 - Capt. James E. Chaffin III, 27, of West Columbia, S.C., died in
Kandahar, Afghanistan, of a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

April 2 - Killed at Fort Hood by Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, 34, from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico:
- Sgt. 1st Class Danny Ferguson, 39, of Mulberry Florida. He had just returned from Afghanistan.
- Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney-Rodriguez, 38, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He planned to retire from the military soon after serving 20 years.
- Sgt. Timothy Owens, 37, from Effingham, Illinois. He was a counselor in the Army and had served in Iraq.
(The Department of Defense does not include any of the three killed at Ft. Hood in its statement or listings.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oregon Taxes: Bad News; Slightly Better Bad News

Jeff Mapes points out that a Tax Foundation study of 2011 state tax statistics ranks Oregon in the top third (16th) of states paying most as a percentage of taxes paid relative to state income: 10.1%. However, Oregon drops down to the top 2/5ths (20th) among the states in taxes paid per capita: $3,861.
Oregonians pay less in state and local taxes than the U.S. average -- but taxes take a slightly greater-than-average-share of their income because they make less money.
That's the bottom line of a new study from the Tax Foundation, which said that Oregon has the 16th highest state and local tax burden as a share of income.  On a per-capita basis, Oregon is 20th in its tax burden.
The drop from 16th to 20th is due to the fact that Oregonians make less than the national average in per capita income: $38,219. Oregon is in the bottom half of the states (29th) in per capita income.

So, Oregon drops near the upper middle of the pack in tax status per capita only because Oregonians make quite a bit less per capita than its northern and southern neighbors and $200/month less than Wisconsin square in the middle at 25th. Washington averages $46,456 (11th), California $45,254 (15th), and Wisconsin $40,741(25th). Here's the breakdown:

1. Connecticut - $60,287
2-6. New Jersey-Wyoming - $54,422-$50,805
7-27. Virginia-Iowa - $48,498-$40,147
28-50. Nevada-Mississippi - $39,947-$31,067

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oregon Really Good at Making Life Hard for Low-Income Workers

Veronique de Rugy reports that states require big license fees and lots of education/experience for workers to perform low-income jobs like:
preschool teacher
athletic trainer
school bus driver
truck driver
Not that a good barber or manicurist is not a wonder to behold, but why these rules for people who make little money and can do little real harm?

Oregon public officials think this is a big problem. Oregon rates third among the worst states for making life hard for low-income workers by imposing hoops to jump through before you can earn any money at it. Of course there are no licensing fees or educational requirements for being a legislator or elected official--both of whom can do (and have done) tons of damage. Go figure.

Institute for Justice: License to Work (http://ij.org/licensetowork)

Pew Research: On Newspaper Audience, Economics, News Investment, Ownership

A Pew Research paper on the media and news includes an overview on newspapers in its 2014 report.

A 3% circulation increase was due to "liberalized reporting rules" by the Association for Audited Media (AAM) which counted "both paying visitors to digital platforms and distribution of Sunday insert packages to nonsubscribers." In other words, nobody has a clue about how newspapers are doing in terms of circulation compared to 2013 and before. As if to underline the point when a search of state papers is done on the AAM total circulation page the answer for every state is "Results Found: 0"*.

Print accounts for 71.2% of daily circulation. Of the 15 largest newspapers only 54.9% of their circulation is print.

Newspaper revenue has declined 52% from 2003 to 2012. In 2012 revenue was $22 billion. Though digital advertising grew 300%, the latest total is only $3.4 billion. That revenues continue to decline is shown by Gannett's 6% decline in 2013.

Circulation revenue was up 5% in 2012 and is expected to stay the same or increase by less than 5% in 2013. Paywalls mostly gain in the first year "with revenues flattening in following years."

News Investment
In 2012 full-time professional newsroom employment dropped 6.4% (2,600 jobs). That makes a 33.2% (38,000 jobs) drop from the 1989 high of 56,000 jobs. More job losses are likely to be noted in the 2013 American Society of News Editors annual census. Some individual newspaper losses:
"Gannett is estimated to have cut about 400 newspaper jobs while the Tribune Co. announced about 700 cuts, not all of them in the newsroom. Media reports put newsroom layoffs at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland at about 50 and at The Oregonian in Portland at about 35 in 2013."
Multi-millionaires are buying newspapers:

Red Sox owner John Henry - The Boston Globe
Amazon's Jeff Bezos - The Washington Post
Warren Buffett - varous
*Why AAM still has the page up is anyone's guess.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hispanics Turning Against Obamacare

From Pew Research Center:

"Hispanics are evenly divided: 47% approve of the law, while 47% disapprove. Over most of the past four years, Hispanics have offered more support than opposition for the health care law. As recently as September, 2013, 61% of Hispanics approved of the law. Support for the ACA among Hispanics fell sharply in October of 2013 (to 47%) and has yet to recover."
But the young are warming to it:
"People younger than 30 do not view the law as negatively as do older Americans. About as many young people approve (50%) as disapprove (47%) of the health care law. Among older age groups, majorities disapprove. That marks a change from December, when younger people had about the same view of the health care law as older adults. "
However, one doubts that this means there will be a sudden uptick in the young buying health care policies. It's easier to say yes to a poll than to sign up for a $150-$250/mo policy. Their priorities are not health care over cell phone service.

H/T Byron York