Friday, October 31, 2008

Penny Bernard Schaber's July Report

I found it hard to track down and download Penny's July 2008 finance report, so in order to make it easier for you I provide a direct link to the report here:

Hehehehe, if the state would be so kind to put these reports up as field delimited text files I would appreciate it!

As I have said it seems the only thread connecting Penny's widely dispersed contribution network is one issue and North Shore Exponent notes what it is and so too James Wigderson.

So, Appleton resident, do you vote for your candidate Jo Egelhoff or do you vote for San Francisco's candidate?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AC/DC - A Can of Danged Crap

A lot is being written of AC/DC's last release.

I'll admit some of their tunes are catchy, but no more so than Come on Eileen and that was a long time ago, a time I left along with Reedsville High School.

Now, if I am spinning through the radio and I hear one of a number of select AC/DC songs I may stop and listen to it, but I am guessing there is nothing original (not that there was much original AC/DC material after their first or second release) to listen to, just "the same, but different" AC/DC I left years ago.

Out of State Pennies

Yet another post on Penny's (out of state) pennies. It is quite obvious most people know what I am reluctant to come out and name. I received a PDF regarding Penny's out of state supporters, James Wigderson posted a blog on it, and a commenter also stated quite plainly the issue driving the out-of-state pennies to Penny.

I will am going to post the PDF here, give the closest link I can to Penny's July '08 pennies, outright name the cause. Problem is, its late and I have to travel tomorrow & will not be home until the night after. It is coming.

As the commenter Charie states – probably 60%+ of Appleton residents oppose the agenda and this is true statewide. The issue Penny is obviously in support of, was widely rejected by statewide referendum in 2006 - in wider margins than the public voted for GOP candidates!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Contrary Positions?

Bice and others are pouring through FoxPolitics through various archives taking before & after snaphsots of Jo Egelhoff, looking for gatchas. One "gotcha" jumps out at me:
As a candidate, Egelhoff promises to work to lower prices at the gas pump. As a blogger, she ripped "gas price whiners," defended ExxonMobil's (NYSE:XOM) profits and suggested cutting state spending on roads by 10%.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Daniel Bice column Egelhoff the blogger might argue with Egelhoff the candidate - Daniel Bice Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

There is no contradiction in what Mr. Bice notes. There is no contradiction between wanting lower prices and defending another's rights to the money they earned. There are ways to lower gas prices – ways that do not entail penalizing successful industries! The state makes good money on gasoline w/o worrying about finding the raw material, refining, dispensing, and paying people to do all of that. I would love to see $0.50/gallon gasoline but I do not whine when it is $4.00/gallon, I cut back elsewhere, I minimize trips, plan trips, drive more conservatively. There is no inalienable right to gasoline. I also defend Exxon's right to make a profit, I have run small business like enterprises with an eye towards maximizing profit, it really changes your perspective when you get on the other side of the supply & demand curve.

In the end, none of what Bice notes is earthshaking.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Penny's Out of State Donors

I just googled all of Penny Bernard Schaber's out of state donors.

Before I talk about that let me discuss how I view donors and donees. I do not see donors as bribing a candidate, as expecting a definite quid-pro-quo. For example one of my favorite causes is gun-rights, if Sarah Brady ran for office would you expect the NRA-ILA to contribute to her campaign? Of course not, they would most likely contribute to her opponent. Why? They want candidates friendly to their cause to win so they are going to support the friendly candidate. However, a bribe is to pay someone to get them to perform an action they would not otherwise commit. E.g. pay the cop to to be two hours late one night. Similarly I do not believe Penny's numerous and wealthy out-of-state contributors are paying her to try to get her to do something she normally would not do, no, I believe they send her money because they KNOW she will do what they want them to do.

By my count of the data Penny's campaign submitted, there are 39 out of state contributors, many of the 39 are serial campaign contributors and many contribute to candidates far & wide across the nation. Of those 39, I found seven that Google can demonstrate support one issue and my guess is most others in the out-of-state donors are also connected by that issue.

I will not come out and state what that issue is, at least not now, I have to think how I am going to approach the issue's outing. One thing I will say, get away from Lawrence University and my guess is the issue is quite out of favor in Appleton, especially with Union Democrats. Also, I would not be surprised to find a large number of Penny's out of Fox-Valley contributors to also support this cause.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Penny Bernard Schaber's Funding

Later yesterday I visited visited the Wisconsin Election Divison GAB site (a clumsy and hard to use site), after some searching I found this page which allows one to pull candidate campaign finance reports. I pulled Penny Bernard Schaber's (look under Bernard not Schaber) report that was due July 21, 2008.

I then took the report, sorted the contributions by state and then by city and then looked at the total donations from Appleton vs. those not from Appleton. After all, Penny is running to be the representative for Appleton not for San Francisco. I generally do not support campaign finance laws and restrictions, but I do believe contributions should come from those directly affected by the candidate i.e. the constituents or groups that represent one or more constituents.

When I look at the numbers coming from Penny's report here is what I see. Total contributions (on this report) come to $38,921.07. Okay, then I sort the records by state and city, so Appleton contributions float to the top. Now, for the purposes of this work I believe we are safe assuming Appleton is in the district and others are not. Not quite a 100% valid assumption, as parts of Appleton do lay outside the district and it would not surprise me to find out parts of Menasha and Kimberly are within the 57th, but let us assume the contributions erroneously ruled out will be balanced by those erroneously included.

How much of Penny's $38,921.07 comes from Appleton? According to my spreadsheet work $16,897.57, that is, 43% of the total contributions. People with Madison addresses kick in $3,777.25, and out of state contributions total $7,158.00 a little more than 18% of the total.

Now, I do not count organizational contributions. There are a number of unions and other political committees contributing to Penny's cause, I am less concerned about organizational contributions because, for example, the unions most likely have members in the 57th district. But why are Adam Freed & Paul Albert from San Francisco California interested in kicking $500.00 each to Penny's campaign? What concern of theirs is this race? I consider such contributions as meddling.

I hear it now – Everyone does it! Sure, let us now look at the contributions of Penny's opponent Jo Egelhoff. Jo received a total of $22,312.32 for the same reporting period $16,120.00 of which comes from Appleton, that is 72% of Jo's contributions come from within the district, whereas only $900.00 comes from outside of Wisconsin! Wow! Jo did not raise the same amount of cash, but remove the out of district contributions and it is a dead heat!

Put simply, Jo is Appleton's candidate, Penny is not.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Select *

In my day job I am bumping my head into a giant frustration. It involves databases and good programming practice. Most of you will probably want to ignore this because I am going to address it with a certain level of knowledge assumed, a level probably higher than most casual readers.

When writing a program (not ad-hoc queries) do you use default field ordering in your SQL? That is do write code such as: select * into field1, field2, field3 from table_name or insert into table tableX (select * from tableX1); or similar? I never do, and when asked to do otherwise I make at least a certain level of protest.

I recently had to deal with the consequences of such style and am getting complaints about the need to write explicit field specifications. I have written programs for IMS and the slightest change to that database and you are rewriting any application dependent on the changed node, it's children, or even nodes on the same level. Why would anyone want to perpetuate such code brittleness?

One of the big advantages of SQL and relational databases is one can delink code from the database structure, depending on default sort orders (another coder-sin I have seen in this shop all too frequently) and on default field selection order is throwing a huge benefit of relational databases out of the window and increasing maintenance work.

I can understand the temptation, it is a less work to code select * than to code select fld1, fld2, fld3, fld4,...,fld121... but that is why GOD made various methods of copy and paste and if you are using ISPF then you have even less excuse. Still, given the huge overhead involved with documentation and review the idea of five extra minutes of cutting, pasting, and substituting is a lot less effort than days of documenting and reviewing.

It all reminds of a The Jetson's episode. George and Henry get called up into the army reserves. They go to camp and foul up and get assigned to KP. They are ordered to peel potatoes, wow did they gripe about that work. Under much sourness George walks over to the potato mashing station, pushes a button and the potatoes are peeled & mashed. No matter how simple it is do something sooner or later it will become too much effort to do correct.

A Day At The Races - A Credit Crunch Demo

One of the websites that has become a regular read for me this summer is Seeking Alpha up until August it was for analysis and opinion on the energy markets, looking for clues as to trends not so much for investment purposes but to get an idea what this consumer can expect with regards to energy prices. Good site, with lots of wide ranging opinion, from people believing we have passed peak oil to those who think we have some more time to hit peak oil.

However, of late, the energy section of Seeking Alpha has slowed down and the financial section is busy. So a lot of what I am going to discuss here is based on my readings of the analysts at Seeking Alpha.

A lot of people don't understand the problems our economy is facing, that is not to impugn anyone's intelligence as the reading at Seeking Alpha indicates the problems are not simple and involve areas of human endeavor far removed from most of our experience.

In a nutshell the problem is the gamblers were given too big of a credit line and then encouraged to take gambles on longshots with little chance of losing. However, it isn't the gamblers who are losing it goes up one or two levels.

Think of it like this. You go to the horse track with a buddy he tells you he will buy your bets on good horses for cost + 5% of the winnings, but in turn he gets to keep the proceeds from the winnings. So on a normal day you may put $100 on the favorite, pocket the cut of the winnings and your buddy may takes the rest.

However, today your buddy is in a good mood. He removes the good horse condition. So what do you do? You bet on the longshot hoping to maximize your cut of the winnings, why not? You don't lose your initial bet so you start picking the longest long shots. You are a lucky dude and your longshot bets are paying off real well.

Now, let us say your buddy is in REAL good mood and invites other freinds along and sets up the same conditions, they bet, he buys the bets, and pays a cut of the winnings. For a while the picks keep winning and then the longshots revert to form and start losing, but before your buddy realizes what is going on he has to purchase thousands of dollars of bets, has only hundreds in his pockets, and the horses are no longer winning. To add to the mix, your friend owes a few thousand dollars to his buddies who helped set him up. Now the question becomes who gets paid and who does not, or do his partners pony up more money? Or do him and his partners approach someone else for a quick infusion of cash. Of course, by the time your buddy can consult his partners or the guy with the real big bucks, the bets all become worthless.

The problems is the longshots stopped paying off and even those who were not so long started to lose, and at one time even if they lost, you had a piece of property worth more than the loan, all of that is reversed.

Of course no analogy is perfect but this is a good description.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Busy Summer


Yes, this blog is coming back to life. The summer was busy with my regular travel for work and the house project.

Supply and Demand in Action

It is amazing to watch the interaction between supply and demand in action close up. Of course, if you do not make the decisions on bringing a product to market it is easy to miss.

One complaint I frequently see lodged in the papers and others spouting populist demagoguery is how supply and demand arguments are rubbish as gas stations always have gasoline. That is, always having gas means abundant supply. However, supply and demand are not about wishes the idea of supply and demand is about reality – actual purchasing and selling. I recall my econ teachers and profs trying to stress this but the idea of actual purchasing and selling needs more emphasis.

I am a part of a group that runs a booth at the local Octoberfest. We make and sell a popular food product. We always had lines and sold a lot of the product which at our first Octoberfest we sold it for $1.50 a piece. At both events we were unable to keep up and had long lines, we sold a large number of the product and made a good profit. Next summer we increased our price to $2.00 same story (however we had made even more of the product).

However, this summer we increased our price again to $3.00 a piece. What happened? Our lines were shorter, we were able to keep up with demand and our gross income was identical to previous years with less work and less investment! Why would any rational person now go back to $2.00 or less?

While I have yet to perform a full analysis I am certain the increase in price improved our bottom line. In fact, we were able to make more money with less investment and less people-hours of work.

Were fewer customers able to purchase our product, yes. So? We do not owe them the product we worked hard to produce it they need to show some appreciation of that work. Were we gouging? I suppose you could characterize it that way, but if you wanted a similar product for cheaper all you had to do was walk less than a block up College Ave and visit some our friendly competition or even further up and buy essentially the same product from less than friendly competition for $2.00 a piece.

You see, what happens when a gas station accidentally sets the price to $2.54 per gallon? They develop long lines but do the long lines indicate profit being made? Not necessarily.

The Dynamics Favor....

Dope, that is BO (phew) Barak Obama.

So much about this election reminds me of 1992. The housing sector of our economy in the duldrums, a press very eager to pump up that situation and a string of Republicans in the Whitehouse.

While tonight's debate is not about Dope, BO (phew) or Senator McCain it really is and while Biden is not blowing it he is playing a good game and a draw favors him, he is playing defense and doing well. Sara's problem is she IMO comes off as populist or even lefty and it just depresses the bejeezus out of myself. Why is she talking up about her record of regulating and stealing from the oil companies? Is it left & lefter debating?

The talk of the financial meltdown too also casts way too much credibility on BO's position. It wasn't predatory lending and lack of regulation it was a mix of items and part of those items include regulations forcing expanded lending to the unworthy. No one puts a gun to a person's head and forces them to take out a loan. Part of the problem was easy money all the way up & down the lending chain.

I think she got some good hits in on foreign policy and Biden is not doing so good there. Dope, that is BO (phew) is on record of saying different things regarding Israel to different groups and is on the record opposing the surge. Joe's attempts to cast McCain's opposition to a timeline as opposing funding is a cheap debate trick I think most people will recognize as unworthy of even a high school forensics newbie.

I can only hope BO's ties to domestic terror and a group key in bringing in pushing for lessened lending standards will keep him a minor senator from Illinois.