Poll: jobs, economy, government most important problems

From Gallup:

Three issues — jobs, economy, and government — have been at the top of the “most important problem” list since the beginning of the year.

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Americans are about equally likely to name unemployment and dissatisfaction with government as the most important problems facing the U.S., with the economy in general following closely behind. These issues have ranked at the top of the most important problem list since the beginning of 2014.

Nearly one in five Americans still cite government itself as the nation’s top problem.

Independents name as their top four problems:
  • Dissatisfaction with government
  • Jobs
  • Economy in general
  • Poor healthcare

See the full poll here.

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Common Core Math is not rigorous, it is just ridiculous

“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

One wonders if the supporters of Common Core have ever opened a CC-aligned textbook. The math textbooks, curriculum, and homework are so bad that they will leave most kids math-challenged their entire lives.

Can you solve 8+6? Most of us would instantly answer 14 because we learned how to add the traditional way. In Common Core Math, kids are taught to “Make a 10” by adding 2 to the 8, then subtracting 2 from the 6 to get 4, then adding 10 plus 4 to get 14. They are taught to go through three separate steps, including subtraction, to “solve” a very simple addition.

“Making a 10” is just one of the ways Common Core teaches kids to do addition. In 2nd grade, they are taught doubles and “double plus 1”. They are taught that 7+7 is 14, 8+8 is 16, etc. Then they are asked to “solve” 7+8 and explain their result. Well, 8 is 7 plus 1, so now we have 7+7 plus 1. They know that 7+7 is 14, so 1 more makes 15. Let’s see. They are taught 7+7, and 8+8, but they are not taught 7+8; they have to “solve” to get that answer.

When adding two numbers there is no mathematical reason to set an intermediate goal of making a 10, pausing to figure out how much more to add, then finally reaching the right answer. The only reason to pause at 10 is because we have 10 fingers. The authors of common core actually invite students to count on their fingers. “They learn to replace counting the dots by tracking the count on their fingers to find the solution.”

The Common Core Math lessons invite kids to count on their fingers even as far as 4th grade. Is it any wonder that many teenagers and even adults do simple arithmetic on their fingers? Wouldn’t it be better to discourage, not encourage, kids from counting on their fingers?

In 3rd grade, instead of using a “doubles fact” they learned in 2nd grade that 7+7 is 14, they are told to “solve” 7+7 by “decomposing” the second 7 into 3+4, then adding the 3 to the first 7, yielding 10, then adding 4 to get the answer.

Early on, kids are taught to draw a small circle or dot to represent a unit, then a vertical line to represent ten units. They add numbers by counting the dots. If there are more than 10, they draw a new line. That is a good way to explain the concept of addition and place values, but once students understand the concept, they should practice only with digits. Common Core continues those drawings even into 4th grade.

In some textbooks, kids are taught to draw a square to represent a hundred, and a cube for a thousand. To add three numbers they would draw a bunch of cubes, squares, lines, and dots. They would add up all the dots, then combine some of them into a new line, add the lines, drawing a new square, and so on. Then they would convert all these drawings back into digits. A popular video on the web shows a 3rd grader taking 8 minutes to add three numbers – getting the wrong answer. Then she solves it the way her mom taught her in about 10 seconds – correctly.

And then there is the “arrow way”, yet another way Common Core teaches arithmetic. No, it is not worth describing; it is just one more technique they will never use in real life. So, we have at least four ways to do addition: counting dots and drawing lines, making a 10, doubles and doubles plus 1, and the arrow way.

Is it any wonder kids are confused? Not only are they are taught multiple ways to reach an answer, the right way one year can be the wrong way the next. A Manchester father told of his 3rd grade daughter coming home in tears because she was penalized for correctly answering a problem using the way she was taught in 2nd grade instead of the new way.

Through grades 1, 2, and 3, students are barely taught the standard way for addition: add the ones, carry to the tens, add the tens, carry to the hundreds, and so on. Not until grade 4 does the Common Core Standard expect students to become fluent with the standard algorithm for addition and subtraction. They should have become fluent in 2nd grade.

Supporters claim that having to memorize all the one-digit sums is somehow bad. But they have the kids memorize all those that add up to 10 or less, and all the “doubles”, and then learn four useless ways to add. Wouldn’t it be better to have kids learn useful facts instead of useless ways to do arithmetic?

Kids learn differently, it is true. But math fluency is foundational, built brick by brick with repeatable processes (algorithms) and practice. While some kids will learn arithmetic in spite of Common Core, we do them no favors by insisting that they solve 7+8 by decomposing 7 to 5+2, adding 2+8 to make a 10, then adding 5+10 to make 15.

Gun control laws cost lives

“Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.” — Will Rogers

Down in Concord, the big news last month, i.e. February 12, was the defeat of yet another gun control bill. The NH House killed HB 1589 by the overwhelming vote of 242 – 118. The battle is over, but could always reappear.

How would you have voted? Do you think we should require a background check for every gun buyer except for criminals? Okay, that isn’t exactly what the bill said but that would have been its effect. Common sense tells you that criminals would not have obeyed this new law any more than they obey existing laws.

Some months ago I came upon some people holding signs for “universal background checks”. I asked one of them, “How are you going to get the criminals to submit to a check?” His answer was, “We probably won’t. So what?” His side apparently wants to do background checks on all the law-abiding people who would pass a background check, but not do checks on any of the criminals who would fail a check.

Supporters admit that the bill would have had no affect on criminals, and they admitted at a hearing that it would not have stopped the Newtown tragedy or any of the other terrible shootings. But what if the bill could save just one life? Sadly, all such bills are more likely to cost a life than save a life.

One simple fact that the gun controllers don’t understand is that guns are used in America far more to STOP crime than to cause crime.  A wheel-chair bound grandfather uses his gun to stop an armed robbery in a restaurant. A mother saves herself and her two kids by shooting a home invader. There are hundreds of thousands, even millions, of episodes every year where a law-abiding citizen stops a crime, usually without even firing a shot.

Gun haters often say that guns are designed for one thing – to kill people. But that is nonsense. By most estimates, there are about 300 million guns in America. 299.99 million of those guns never killed anyone. Did they not work as designed? Or could it be that their owners never had any intentions of killing anyone?

No, guns are not designed to kill people. They are designed to DEFEND against people who would kill or rob or rape others. Throughout history there have been thugs who used knives, baseball bats, or simply their fists to victimize the weaker, the aged, the infirm, the women. Very few of us are martial-arts experts able to defend ourselves without a weapon. Firearms make it possible for a little old woman to defend herself against a big strong man.

The fastest-growing group of gun owners is women. They are buying guns to defend themselves and their families. Many are carrying their guns concealed. That gives thugs something to think about. Criminals are lazy; they go where the pickings are easy. If they think a woman might be carrying a gun, they will go looking for easier prey.

There is a photo going ’round the web of a woman shooting an assault rifle. The caption says, “You are not for women’s rights when you want to strip them of their right of self-defense.”

The right of self-defense is the most fundamental of all rights. Every living creature has the right of self-defense – not just defend self, but defend family and community. Just picture a mother bear defending her cubs. A bear has natural built-in weapons but a human mother needs artificial weapons to defend her children.

For self-defense, a firearm is the most useful tool yet invented. Just showing a gun can scare a criminal away. Nothing else can do that, not a Taser, not pepper spray, not a knife, definitely not calling 911. If a criminal continues to threaten, a gun can stop him before he can hurt or kill the victim. Virtually every would-be victim is capable of using a gun. It does not require special strength, agility, or training.

Guns have been called the great equalizer because even the weak, infirm, or untrained can be the equal of the criminal. Without guns the weak are at the mercy of the strong, the ordinary person at the mercy of an attacker who is well trained in fighting or knife work.

In his excellent “Opinion on Gun Control”, Larry Correia reports that “The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5.” Armed civilians save lives. The other side tries to dispute that fact by defining mass shootings as only those shootings in which 4 or more people are killed. They throw away the shootings that would have killed dozens or even hundreds but an armed citizen stopped the criminal early.

The many gun control laws have no effect on the criminals. But for law-abiding citizens, these laws cost time and money. In effect, they tilt the balance in favor of the criminal. One or two victims won’t have guns. That is why these misguided laws are more likely to COST lives than save lives.

‘Taxachusetts’ has lower business tax burden than NH

A new report by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center says that Massachusetts actually has a lower business tax burden than most states, including New Hampshire. Regionally, NH is behind both Connecticut and Massachusetts for combined business and local taxes.
Nationally, NH is fourth highest for the share of total state taxes paid by businesses. NH businesses pay 59.4% of all taxes. In Massachusetts, they pay about 34.5%.
If we want a growing economy, creating more jobs, then we must find a way to make NH more attractive to businesses.

Simple invention can save thousands of lives

Hospitals are dangerous places. Some 75,000 patients die each year of hospital-acquired infections. Now two Canadian doctors have stumbled on a solution that could save 10,000 lives a year – and that is just in Canada. Worldwide, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives.

The doctors discovered that a mixture of ozone and peroxide can kill 100% of the bacteria in a hospital room. They have built a gadget that spreads the bug-killing mist through a room. It is the first product ever that completely cleans a room tainted with drug-resistant bacteria.

A hospital in Belleville, Ont. used it on a contaminated ward and seven months later not a single patient has been infected by MRSA, a bacteria that kills about 2,200 patients in Canada every year.

 

Is the recession over yet?

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” — Will Rogers

Statisticians say the recession ended mid-2009, four and a half years ago. But what do you think? Does it feel like the recession ended or does it feel like we are still in a recession? In a recent poll, 74% said we are still in a recession.

It’s no wonder most people feel that the recession never ended. Employment is miserable. GDP growth is pathetic. Median family income is down for four straight years. Almost 50 million Americans live below the federal poverty line. A record 47 million people are on food stamps. One pundit declared that “More people in the United States are poor, unemployed, underemployed, looking for work, disgusted and quit looking for work, on food stamps, and on disability than anytime in our history.”

But the December jobs report says that unemployment dropped from 7.0% down to 6.7%. Doesn’t that show that the economy is improving? Well, no. Almost all of the reaction, other than from hopelessly partisan hacks, says that the report is bad news. E.g. CNN described it as “weakest job growth in years”, USAToday referred to it as “unexpectedly weak jobs report”. Many reported that there were “only” or “just” 74,000 new jobs, the worst in almost a year. (UPDATE: The January Jobs Report is better but “is another disappointing jobs report”. “Job growth remains weak,” “disappoints again”.)

Not so well known is that jobs have to increase by about 150,000 every month just to keep up with the increase in population. Since 2009, when the recession supposedly ended, the civilian population age 16 and above has grown from 236 million to 246 million. Meanwhile, the number who were employed grew from 140 million to 144 million. In other words, of the 10 million who entered the working age population, only 4 million found a job.

Compare the current “recovery” with two others. From 1983 to 1987, population grew by almost 9 million; jobs by almost 12 million. From 1993 to 1997, population grew by a bit over 8 million, jobs a bit over 9 million. Those were strong recoveries – employment grew even faster than population. In the eleven recoveries since they started collecting statistics in 1948, the current recovery is by far the weakest and slowest.

US News magazine has a fascinating chart from the Federal Reserve of St. Louis. It shows both the unemployment rate and the EMployment rate from 1948 through 2013. They show the data for employment and unemployment separately because the two are calculated differently. But for more than 60 years, covering 10 recessions, employment and unemployment are mirror images of each other. When employment goes up, unemployment goes down and vice versa.

This time is different. For the first time in the history of these employment statistics, employment is NOT moving up. By the government calculations, unemployment has improved but employment as a percentage of the population has held steady for four years at a level much worse than we have seen for 30 years.

employment to population

But how can unemployment go down without employment going up? If you stop being unemployed doesn’t that mean you are employed? Well, no. Many people are not counted as either employed or unemployed; they are counted as “Not in labor force”. If you have been unemployed for so long that you give up looking, then you stop being counted as unemployed, and are instead counted as no longer in the labor force.

A record high 92 million people are counted as no longer in the labor force, an increase of 10 million in just 4 years. Some people will say that it is because baby boomers are retiring. That’s a nice theory but the numbers say otherwise. Those aged 55 and above have actually seen their employment numbers grow by 6 million people. It is the younger workers from 16-54 who have lost jobs – 8 million jobs.

In the four years of the current “recovery” the number of Millennials working full-time has decreased every year. The number living at home with their parents has grown every year. This is a human tragedy.

On top of all the ongoing poor employment numbers, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently estimated that ObamaCare will cost 2.3 million jobs by 2021. Apologists quickly countered that it would not be because people lost their jobs; rather it would be because people decided not to work. “When Americans quit looking for work because they conclude not working beats working, America faces a significant problem” says a white paper from Express Employment Professionals.

Some say that were are in a “New normal”. Many of us – I hope most of us – do not believe in a “fate that will fall on us no matter what we do.” For most of its existence, the United States has been the freest, most prosperous nation on earth. It is long established that freedom and prosperity go hand in hand; more freedom produces greater prosperity.

Sadly, the U.S. has moved away from freedom to a more and more intrusive government. The Index of Economic Freedom reported just last month that “The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.” Hmm, could that explain the awful employment?