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Daniel Becker



Articles by Daniel Becker

Understanding Inflation using Gasoline Prices

October 28, 2022

Seems that gas, fuel, gasoline is being used as a marker to understand just how horrible we have it as a result of the current inflation. It’s just sooooooooooo terrible. I’ll just say this. As a marker of inflation and our personal economic experience all it shows is how terrible we are at remembering. Unfortunately for us, such a bad memory leads us to terrible voting decisions. Though, it does allow for easy emotional manipulation of the citizenry come election time. Enough lecturing. On to the lesson. You can skip to the very end to see the results, but you’ll miss a great story.

Let us look at a bit of recent history. I used this site for historical gas prices: U.S. All Grades All Formulations Retail Gasoline Prices (Dollars per Gallon)

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Hit by the Proverbial Mack Truck, Alas it is empty

August 23, 2022

Republican: A synonym for Selfishness and Narcissism and Violence

Synonym: a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language; a person or thing so closely associated with a particular quality or idea that the mention of their name calls it to mind.

Selfishness: the quality or condition of being selfish.

Narcissism: selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

I should also include Libertarian as a synonym for selfishness and narcissism.

Violence: the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.

Political Violence: Political violence is the deliberate use of

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Outlawing Abortion, It is a costly Endeavor

May 24, 2022

Boston Public Radio May 19th episode held a discussion of the consequences for the nation when abortion is outlawed. The guest was Jonathan Gruber, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT. He was involved with the ACA and the Mass health insurance system.

Getting right to it:

Based on studies: Women who wanted an abortion but could not get one are more likely to die in child birth, have worse mental health outcomes and a huge increase in serious financial difficulties. An 80% increase in bankruptcy. Increasing costs for society.

When abortion was made available, It lowered births by 10% and reduced teen motherhood by 34%. In black women there was a 30% decline in births, 1/3rd decline in maternal mortality and a 25% rise in the odds of

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Today’s math challenge: Less than 50% of the vote but 72% of the seats

April 20, 2022

On Morning Joe today, they interviewed Senator Mallory McMorrow. She mentioned toward the end (around 8:02 minutes in) that in 2014 the Republican party had less than 50% of the vote. However, they had 72% of the seats. Unfortunately, it was toward the end and no one’s ears perked up upon hearing this. She notes it will not get any better unless they are voted out of office.

At Crooks and Liars today is a post of James Carville suggesting that the Democratic Party needs to start pointing out how “weird” and “strange” the Republican Party is. I’m thinking he did not hear Senator McMorrow. Her words all revolved around the word “hate”. The hateful, hate filled words coming out of the mouths of the Republican Party universally.

Both note that

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Our relationship of work, technology and life

December 12, 2021

I stumbled upon this article riding home yesterday. It is a pod cast called: On the Media. I catch it at times on my local NPR. Some very intriguing discussions are presented.

This one is very timely considering the great dropout in the work force. Or, “resignation” as it is being called. It caught my attention because of what just might be a new interest in unions?

Take this Job and Shove It: The article is about 1 hour long. It looks at the question of loving your work and how people have been moved to experience their job as “family”. There is the issue of technology and it not actually freeing us. In the end there is a discussion of the Luddites and how their stand against tech has been misinterpreted in that technology needs to

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The Powell Memo by Senator Whitehouse

June 17, 2021

Senator Whitehouse posted the clips of his presentation on the Powell Memo at youtube. Ken posted the text of it here. I have known about the Powell memo for a long time. People really do need to come to internalize just what this part of our political history means for our present day social structure and government. People might not be so gullible once they understood what he has been saying for years. Then again, to understand this history one has to be wanting more than a jingle phrase or chant for understanding their condition.

Just reading the words of Senator Whitehouse deprives one of the disgust he has for what has happened to our courts, especially the Supreme Court. So, do take the time to actually listen to his presentation.

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Tech Companies: Be your own town and government

March 4, 2021

I saw this bit of news on Steven Colbert’s show last night. Seems Nevada’s Democratic Governor thinks tech companies need to be their own town. The thinking is that this is a way to attract business development without spending money. What could go wrong?

From the AP news:

“Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a plan to launch so-called Innovation Zones in Nevada to jumpstart the state’s economy by attracting technology firms, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday.

The zones would permit companies with large areas of land to form governments carrying the same authority as counties, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and courts and provide government services.”

I am surprised that a Democratic

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Two Audio Interviews: Rethinking the Constitution and The New PhD

February 22, 2021

I thought readers would enjoy the following two interviews.

The first is with Mary Anne Franks: The Cult of the Constitution. The discussion is titled: Rethinking the Constitution. She gets into the first and second amendment. What I found thoughtful was her presentation of the Constitution being viewed as a sacred document. Think the Bible etc. Considering the influence of the Evangelical Right in the Republican party, it put clarity to the Right’s arguments involving the Constitution. This discussion coincides with Peter Dorman’s post: We need a Plan for Militias.

The second interview I heard a bit ago: The New PhD, How to Build a Better Graduate Program. Leonard Cassuto and Robert Weisbuch. What they suggest is that the Graduate programs

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It’s by Design: Texas’ Electrical Mess

February 19, 2021

Something is funky with our comment function. They are showing up at the WP site, just not showing here today. Though, sometimes you might see them, then not. So, leave a comment. We’ll get it happening.

By now, you are aware that the problem Texas is having is because they failed to build their system to withstand cold/winter weather. That is the mechanical reason for their problem. Of course, this leads many to assume that as soon as it warms up, the power will be back on and life is good again.

Unfortunately, that does not account for all the water damage that has happened and will happen as broken plumbing thaws. It won’t just be people’s homes. I’m confident there will be news about failures within the municipal systems and of course,

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The Supreme Court rationalize like children or, The US court is selfishness incarnate

October 27, 2020

So, here is the thing about the arguments the Republicans are making regarding mail ballots based on this article at Slate.
“the court held that Florida’s recount used procedures that violated “the equal dignity owed to each voter.” Because the standards used to recount ballots varied between counties, the court concluded, the process violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. “
Being that “equal protection” is the issue as to getting a vote counted on election day such that a vote counted after election day is violating the “equal protection” of said voters on election day, then there is an issue for those who voted prior to election day via mail.
If mailing a ballot is considered a valid means of voting, and the Republicans and their

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Tic Tac Toe, Supreme Court style

October 20, 2020

(This was first posted February 21, 2008.)
Bribes, payola, favor of the physical kind? Forget-about it. Just put the right person in the appropriate agency, preferably a person from the line of business the agency is to regulate. But, for extra insurance over the long haul, with a little luck of timing you get to fix the legal issue almost permanently: supreme court justices.
Justices Make it Tougher to Sue Makers of Medical Devices
The case has significant implications for the $75 billion-a-year health care technology industry, whose products range from heart valves to toothbrushes. In a recent three-month span, federal regulators responded to over 100 safety problems regarding medical devices.
At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the estate of

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Senator Whitehouse lays it all out or: How to hide the Court Packing

October 14, 2020

This is what I believe Eric Kramer is asking for.  If we are ever going to fix the justice system and ultimately this nation, what Senator Whitehouse presented today needs to be internalized by everyone.
Yes, ACA, abortion, gay marriage.  They are major issue, I have a stake in 2 of them.  But – a big ass BUT – the real game is the machine that has been operating for a very long time and honed to a run as smooth as a screaming F1 engine.  And it’s screaming.  Senator Whitehouse has just educated everyone on the engineering of this engine.
It is reverting.  It should be all over the news.  It should be what the Democratic party et al start pounding during these final weeks of campaigning.  It is the real court packing that has been happening.  Note in this

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Why Post Election stealing by Trump is highly unlikely

September 28, 2020

I stumbled across this article at Electoral-Vote .com.  They have a chart showing the control of the Secretary of States, Legislatures and Executive offices.   They combine that with the current polling in each state and electoral votes.  Their conclusion, more than hell would have to freeze over for Trump and the Atlantic’s article warning of a post election electoral steal to happen.
We have addressed many of the concerns that Davis and Gellman raise, and have been dismissive of most. However, Gellman builds a substantial part of his article around a semi-new concern, one that has gotten particular attention since The Atlantic posted his piece, and one that we would like to address. The general idea is that Team Trump will use the courts (or anything

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People were warned!

June 4, 2020

I’m certain readers here know this, but… it really needs to be posted.
Rep. Schiff closing remarks of the senate trial of Trump January 23, 2020:
If the truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. Framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don’t matter. And you know that what he did was not right. …No constitution can protect us, right doesn’t matter any more. And you know you can’t trust this President to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters and the

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Study looks at the course of recovery for Covid 19

May 18, 2020

This is an interesting study.  This link is to the summary.   There is a link there to the full study.   600 people with active disease of over 2 weeks completed a survey to find out just what people are experiencing with the illness.  I find the following most interesting:
● Early testing is crucial, and questions remain around test accuracy: Despite all respondents showing COVID-19 symptoms, 47.8% were either denied testing or not tested for another reason. The main difference between respondents who tested positive and those who tested negative was how early in their illness they were tested (on average day 10 for those testing positive, and day 16 for those testing negative).
Furthermore, the only difference in symptoms between these groups is that

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Define Rich, part II: Rat Race and the American Dream

April 14, 2020

I have had this re-posted today because I believe it is as relevant today as when I wrote it in May, 2009.  My hope is that this event we are living moves enough new people to realize the society we built is not sustainable.  My hope is that one of the basic questions I was trying to answer in a more completely when I started blogging at AB is answered in a manor such that the nation and ultimately humanity becomes more inclusive: Why do we have an economy?  I will not accept the answer: To make money.
I believe today, people are discovering the rat race they have voted themselves into. I hope enough people will come to understand that just making money is not life sustaining.
My concern is that the use of the “war” analogy will lead us to policy which

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This is our president, and it’s sickening.

April 3, 2020

This is the complete letter Trump sent to Senator Schumer on April 2nd.   It is beyond embarrassing.

Senator Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
Washington, D.C.  20515
Dear Senator Schumer:
Thank you for your Democrat public relations letter and incorrect sound bites, which are wrong in every way.
As you are aware, Vice President Pence is in charge of the Task Force. By almost all accounts, he has done a spectacular job.
The Defense Production Act (DPA) has been consistently used by my team and me for the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, medical supplies, ventilators, and other related items. It has been powerful leverage, so powerful that companies generally do whatever we are asking, without even a formal notice.  They know

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Yes, someone in the Media finally says it…It’s the REPUBLICANS!

March 26, 2020

[embedded content]I have been wondering for a while, when would the media start pointing out that it’s no longer Trump. It is the Republican party. Well, finally.
She asked THE question that needed to be asked: How Long are we going to let him go?  Not that his party would hear her.  Even Joe is cringing at hearing it.  Too Bad Joe!

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Moscow Mitch was hoping the fever would break

March 19, 2020

[embedded content]The closing remarks of Moscow Mitch McConnell statement before the vote to spare Donald John Trump his presidency.
He was talking about “factional fever” that the “framers” referred to as a concern for majorities acting in a partisan manor.  And yet, here we are.

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Digital technology as used in today’s campaigning

January 29, 2020

I just read the this article: Trump’s Digital Advantage is Freaking out Democratic Strategist.   It is a NYT’s opinion piece.
I know and have known about the use of collecting our data to sell us stuff.  The concern for me is that there is almost no way for an individual to stop having their self tracked and mined any more based on this article.  What is worse though than just having it used to sell me stuff is having it used as what clearly has become psych ops.  We are clearly in the subliminal suggestion pathway to influencing personality.
Steven Livingston, a professor of media and public affairs and director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University, has been tracking this sub rosa electioneering in the current

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Anand Giridharadas in a Dutch interview: Their Parliament’s Finance Committee called him

December 26, 2019

I found this interesting.  Mr. Giridharadas was invited to discuss his perspective regarding his themes of his book Winners take all.  He was invited by the Dutch Parliament’s Finance Committee to discuss his book.  All 6 parties showed up.  All had been given the book prior and several had read it.   This is a link to the entire 1.5 hour presentation via Youtube.
One of his points that I found most interesting was at 7:13 of the discussion, during his introduction he points out the role the Dutch system has played as a tax shelter inhibiting nation’s like the US to adequately tax.  He notes, that the Dutch have a history of being very egalitarian with their governing approach, but their status as a tax haven is “exporting oligarchy to other countries”.

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If you are a conservative, you have no memory. Jonathan Turley

December 4, 2019

I learned a long time ago at much personal expense, that there is a personality type which function within reality, but only in the present moment of reality.  That is, what ever I say now has no bearing or relationship to what I just said or what I am about to say.  I will deny what you thought you heard.  If that is not enough, I will qualify it but…it has no bearing on what you believe I am saying.  You can just never know and ultimately have no conversation that resolves.
It’s as if they can time shift.  You can just never know and ultimately have no conversation that resolves.
That is what I believe we are witnessing today with the republican party.  They are not protecting Trump.  They are protecting an image they believe in at the moment fully

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Just because we are where we are today. Conservatives without Conscience

November 26, 2019

Being that I have lots to say and have not had time to formulate it into posts I figured I would just start here.  2006.  Do watch it.  He tried to warn us.   But hey…Now the news media is being threatened too and they are concerned.
[embedded content]
I keep coming to these words: But don’t ask me what I think of you
I might not give the answer that you want me to”
Ooh, well
One question for MSNBC who now puts on David Jolly regularly as the non-republican republican: Why has MSNBC not  put John Dean on?

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Mind F*K, Cambridge Analytica

October 9, 2019

I am posting this Fresh Air interview of Christopher Wylie and his book about Cambridge Analytica here because I strongly feel that the subject matter is not getting enough attention.
The way the technology Mr Wylie worked with was applied by Cambridge should be viewed as being as dangerous as any weapon humans have devised.  I realize some will say I’m being hyperbolic.  Have at it.
I remember being taught, even in school, how to understand the goals and effects of advertising including the means by which subliminal messaging works.  It’s banned in some places, sort of regulated in the US.  I was taught to be aware when watching TV.  When we look at the progression of communication, the written word leaves the emotional interpretation to the reader and

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The Truckers are not happy

August 21, 2019

I’ll just post this link and let it speak for itself.
Truckers voted for Trump in droves. Now they say his trade war is ‘killing’ their ability to make a living.
Its starts wtih:

Morris Coffman has been a truck driver for 35 years. And he’s been a conservative for even longer than that — his whole life.
“That said,” Coffman told Business Insider, “[Trump] is absolutely a moron. His idiotic ideas will tank the economy even further.”
Truckers, like Coffman, lean conservative. A Verdant Labs analysis of Federal Elections Commission data found that nearly three-quarters of truck drivers are Republican — one of the most conservative jobs in America, along with surgeons and farmers.

Maybe they should have been listening to music instead of talk radio while

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Income Inequality (I’m tooting my own horn)

June 17, 2019

I’ve been on the beat of income inequality since I started blogging here.  My theory: We changed the way we make money from one of making it from producing (polishing rocks into tools) to one of making money from money.  When you can make money from moving money, you don’t need to compete.  Just buy back your stock, just collect rents, just get your tax cuts.
The World Bank has a new report out on Inequality 2018.   I want to direct you to a chart that appears on page 7.
World Bank Inequality 2018 Report Chart
Now, here is one half of the chart I posted December 7, 2007.
Income vs Consumption 1963 to 2005
Notice the approximate time of the crossing over of the Bottom 99%’s income vs the Less chained Personal Outlay?  Look at that top chart from the World

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Interview with Andrew Yang

March 18, 2019

Now that Andrew Yang has made it into the first debate by meeting the fundraising threshold, and being on Morning Joe this morning,  it is time to post this interview of him via Freakonomics.
I was impressed by his thought approach.  He is the first person who is talking about the economy as a ecosystem of society.  That is, it’s not just about making money.  He does not come out and say it as I would but I think he is thinking about a question I have asked here in the past: What do we have an economy for?  Is it to just produce the biggest most powerful engine in the world and watch it run?
My concern is that the MSN is not prepared to do a proper interview with a person who actually wants to discuss a comprehensive idea regarding social structure and

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Hey Rustbelt and beyond, Losing factories is not new

February 11, 2019

(There’s a movie at the end!)
For decades we have been hearing about the loss of industrial production through out what is called the “Rust Belt”.  It’s presented, even as recent as the prior presidential election as a relative regional problem that only began post Reagan.  What gets me though is that the reporting and ultimately the politics are as if the rust belt is/was unique in their experience with the west and east coast experiencing nothing of the sort.  The presentation is of the west coast Hollywood economy and now the “tech” economy, the east coast (namely New York/Boston) being the money economy.  The south east is not considered other than Disney and orange production.  The north west?  Microsoft and Starbucks.  Well I think it used to be

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NYT video series on Fake News. Worth the watch

November 21, 2018

I had heard about a video series on NPR’s Fresh Air regarding the origin and current issue with the concept of Fake News via Russia.  You can listen and read the interview of the author, Adam Ellick here. 
There are 3 videos of 15 to 17 minutes each.  The series is titled: Operation Infektion,  Russian Disinformation: From Cold War to Kanye You can watch them here.   It begins with the AID’s hoax that it was a biological weapon developed and released by the US Military and how the KGB planted it and got it to spread such that it was ultimately reported on a US national news broadcast.  This hoax still has it’s believers.
We learned about propaganda from our experience with Nazi Germany.  With the advent of the internet, propaganda has become a more

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