1/29/2014

Some Facts About the Minimum Wage That You Probably Didn't Know

1) Only 1 Percent Of The U.S. Labor Force Earns The Minimum Wage
2) Teenagers Comprise The Single Largest Age Group Of Minimum Wage Workers
3) Most Minimum Wage Workers Are Under The Age Of 25
4) A Majority Of Those Who Earn The Minimum Wage Work In Food Preparation Or Sales
5) Less Than 5 Percent Of People Who Earn The Minimum Wage Work In Construction Or Manufacturing
6) A Majority Of Them Also Worked Less Than 30 Hours Per Week
7) Less Than One-Third Worked Full-Time
8) A Full-Time Minimum Wage Worker In 2014 Will Make 24 Percent More Than The Federal Poverty Limit
9) One-Third Of Minimum Wage Workers Either Dropped Out Of Or Never Attended High School
10) There Are Nearly Six Times More Minimum Wage Workers Today Than In 2007
11) A Change In The Minimum Wage Often Triggers Union Wage Hikes And Benefit Renegotiations

In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment. The law says: it is illegal, and therefore criminal, for anyone to hire anyone else below the level of X dollars an hour. This means that a large number of free and voluntary wage contracts are now outlawed and hence that there will be a large amount of unemployment. Remember that the minimum wage law does not provide any jobs; it only outlaws them; and outlawed jobs are the inevitable result.

Sources: The Federalist http://goo.gl/c85z33 , Thomas Sowell

1/28/2014

Getting Over a Failed Relationship

The best way to get over a failed relationship is to be completely honest with yourself.  The worst thing you can do is spend time imagining how things “could have been” or what “might have happened.”  The relationship failed, and that’s all there is to it.


Maybe it failed because your partner wasn’t faithful, maybe your personalities just didn't "click", or maybe you both got bored with each other.  There are plenty of reasons why relationships fail.

The first thing to do is give your old relationship the funeral it deserves.  This goes for a lot of things in life outside of relationships.  You have to move past the hurt feelings and the disappointment.  The better your relationship was, the worse this process may be. A lot of it also depends on how long the relationship lasted. The old adage of "well, we can just be friends"  is very difficult to make work; it's better to just make a clean break and forget everything - the sooner, the better.

The best way to get over these feelings is to put your mind on something else.  You are not a robot, so you can’t turn your feelings off and on like a faucet.  What you can do, however, is introduce yourself to activities that help you feel good and get your mind off the relationship.  Volunteering is one of the best ways of doing this, or sinking yourself into one of your creative pursuits such as art or photography.

If you feel overpowered by your circumstances and don’t know where to turn, then now might be the time to learn about meditation.  You cannot stop strong emotions, but what you can do is learn how to control them.  Meditation is the act of bringing your mind and thoughts under control.  This might seem weird and "new age", but I come from a family of meditators -  it works for me and it can work for you.

Find a quiet spot, undisturbed and away from any cluttered areas in your house.  Get into a comfortable position. Then, concentrate on your breathing. Think of nothing else.  If a stray thought wanders into your mind, simply objectively throw it away and go back and concentrate on your breathing.

Knowing how to get over a failed relationship is knowing how to master yourself.  It’s knowing how to remove pain and fear from your life.  It’s a hard road, no doubt, but it can be done and time heals all.

1/18/2014

Online Cyber-Romances - Can they work?

When you're a divorced full-time programmer who has an autistic son living at home, you really don't have a lot of time for the dating scene. I never liked it anyway, so "no great loss", as far as I'm concerned.  In my case, I've been divorced more than 10 years and in the last year or so I've come to the realization that I'd really like to find love again and have a life - partner who wants to share the rest of her life with me.

But what is left, if you are seriously "looking for love" again?  Well,there is social media (Facebook or Google+ - Twitter is out of the question) Of the two, I prefer Google+ because it gives you all the tools to meet someone in the virtual world, have private conversations, and even video hangouts. Facebook seems to have too many "fake profiles" and scams. The other alternative is dating sites such as OK Cupid or Plenty Of Fish (POF). I tried Match.com but it didn't seem to offer much more than the other two and you have to pay for it. Overall, my determination about dating sites is that they seem more like "target practice" I've met a couple of women though these but it seems like it's hard to get things to move to the next level somehow. My preference currently is Google+ - and I've had two online romances in the last year or so that originated on there.


The religious nut
The first romance was a fluke. A woman from California who I barely knew sent me a private post from "out of the blue" sharing her sexual fantasy about me. At that time, I didn't even know she was married. Anyway a cyber-romance ensued and I became emotionally involved with her. But it only lasted about two months; she suddenly wanted to withdraw and be "a better wife" to her husband, face God, repent and all that other Christian stuff about "sin". Oh, and could we "still be friends". Unfortunately, I later found out that she is a serial cheater - she turned around and had a new affair with an online friend of mine who is married. Hot naked pictures were exchanged, his wife found out about it and really got hurt. Later I find out that this woman is not only borderline sociopathic but has also been depressed and has taken medication for clinical depression. So that relationship blew up. I should have known better and asked her if she was married right up front. Unfortunately, there is far too much of this serial cheating going on and social media is the primary place that it takes place.


The "Processor"
My second romance was much more recent, and it's pretty much over. A woman circled me, I checked out her profile and liked it, and I circled her back. She sent me a thank you post, and I replied saying that I don't circle everyone, and  I thought she had "passed the test". There was a period of a few weeks where there may have been some good-natured subliminal "teasing" going on, and one day I sent her a private post confiding that I had a sexual fantasy about her (which was true). We ended up having private conversations; I found out we had a lot in common and she's divorced. Phone numbers were exchanged and there was a series of texts and phone calls. We talked a lot, we became rather intimate, and it looked to me like a serious potential relationship was developing. Then I sent her an email confirming my true feelings and I guess it kind of freaked her out and scared her. Apparently, I may be looking for love,  but she is a "processor" - much more cautious and didn't want to move that fast. The problem was that she didn't communicate this to me until it was too late.  In this particular case, it is still almost incomprehensible to me how a woman could respond so positively to a man's advances, texting, chatting, talking on the phone, becoming intimate and sharing her inner self, even having virtual sex as a willing participant, and then expect the man to be able to somehow "read between the lines" and know that she isn't ready to make a commitment and wants to be more cautious.


If you're not ready for love  and need to be cautious, you need to reevaluate how you are responding to the advances of men and think about ways you can respond more honestly, much sooner, and not give the man the wrong signals. Otherwise, it most likely will "blow up", as this one did.

The bottom line is that if you are a busy professional and don't have a lot of time to go on dates, yes -- you can actually meet somebody online and fall in love. It can be a little tricky, but it certainly can be done. I also have women friends who have met men online. Just be careful, and do what I do - don't do anything that could hurt other people.

1/14/2014

The Psychology of Social Media

"My name is Peter, and I'm a social media addict"


Have you ever run into a friend on Facebook or Google+ who posts that they "need to take a break from social media"? That their faith in humanity has hit a new low? Or that they are seeing too much intolerance, trolling, etc.?

Social media has made many aspects of relationships more accessible: Viewing posts from friends scattered around the world can make you feel more connected to them, while the ubiquity of social media can often make it easier to get in touch with someone than more traditional, “offline” means. But social media also helps fuel feelings of isolation and self-doubt. A 2012 study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, for example, found that the longer people spent on Facebook each week, the more they agreed that everyone else was happier and had better lives.

For some, that self-doubt can be countered in the same place it originates: through affirming social media interactions. This is part of what keeps users coming back to social sites; favorable attention, when achieved, is an addictive sort of reward. It’s also what makes not receiving those affirmations so dispiriting. Being on the short end of someone’s social media endorsements can create feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and irritation, while being too generous with your own social media praise can feel one-sided when left unreciprocated. So, then, can the friendship.

Such feelings are exacerbated when friends don’t follow you back, or "uncircle" or "unfriend" you - a circumstance so obsessed-over it has inspired a number of web applications meant to help users determine who dropped them.

It’s important to remember that as far as barometers of friendship go, social media is pretty shallow. It’s unrealistic, and dangerous, to presume you know how someone feels about you based on how they react or respond to you, or don’t, through virtual means, whether that presumption is positive or negative, unless that social media connection is enhanced by real communication via phone or other means and through IRL (in  real life) meetings.

Individuals who suffer from social anxiety and low self-esteem have a lot to gain from using social media. Yet, paradoxically, these individuals are less likely to do so. One study in particular found that online social communication skills and self-esteem are correlated, indicating a link between the strength of offline relationships and time spent online; this might not work to the advantage of socially anxious individuals for whom offline relationships are difficult to forge in the first place.

As an individual with great access to social media, I find myself reflecting more and more on its role in my own life. One thing I've learned is not to let it take over my life. I've learned to pace myself, taking frequent breaks whenever I feel that I need to, and above all, I try not to take social media "too seriously".

1/09/2014

Gratitude And Happiness


A friend posted somebody's link to a short movie about gratitude and happiness, and I instantly got the "connection" because it parallels many of the things that have been going on in my life right now.

It turns out, giving thanks is good for your health. A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being.

Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.

For older children and adults, one simple way to cultivate gratitude is to literally count your blessings. Keep a journal and regularly record whatever you are grateful for that day. Be specific. Listing “my friends, my school, my dog” day after day means that “gratitude fatigue” has set in. Writing “my dog licked my face when I was sad” keeps it fresher. The real benefit comes in changing how you experience the world. Look for things to be grateful for, and you’ll start seeing them.

Studies show that using negative, derogatory words — even as you talk to yourself — can darken your mood, as well. Fill your head with positive thoughts, express thanks and encouragement aloud and look for something to be grateful for, not criticize, in those around you, especially loved ones.

Philosophers as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans cited gratitude as an indispensable human virtue, but social scientists are just beginning to study how it develops and the effects it can have.

A Buddhist exercise, called Naikan self-reflection, asks people to ponder daily: "What have I received from…? What have I given to…? and What trouble have I caused…?" Acknowledging those who touched your life—from the barista who made your coffee to the engineer who drove your train—and reflecting on how you reciprocated reinforces humbleness and interdependence.

It's also important to express gratitude directly to others. For example, "It makes me so happy when you call me and we get to talk" is an example of a direct expression of gratitude. It makes not one, but two people happy!


Here are some additional resources to read on the subject of gratitude and happiness:
http://goo.gl/f7U7D  Time Magazine
http://goo.gl/f9AAov Psychology Today
http://goo.gl/f9aT2  How Stuff Works
http://goo.gl/q0XyP  PsychCentral
http://goo.gl/JBYuQ  Georgia Psychological Association
http://goo.gl/4y2QhL  Wall Street Journal


Some Lessons About Obamacare, Single-Payer, and an Example From Denmark

The Danish health care system is the nightmare of any anti-government free market believer: it's a tax-funded state-run universal health care system.

Denmark provides "free" health care to all residents, funded through taxes. According to OECD's Health Data, the Danish health care system delivers healthcare at roughly half the cost that Americans pay. Danish health care covers everybody - 100 percent of the population-while in the U.S. fewer than 80 percent of citizens are covered, and often only partially.

But the real question is: what makes Danish health care so cheap? It's not because it's of poorer quality. According to international surveys, more than 90 percent of Danes are totally satisfied with their health care, and it uses the most advanced methods available anywhere. And per capita there are more hospital beds and doctors than in the U.S.

It's mainly cheap because it's a lot simpler to manage. There are no medical insurance companies or lawyers or lobbyists operating for profit, or financial background checks. There are no uninsured, so there is no paperwork if you get sick or injured.

Of course Denmark's universal health care means a higher overall tax bill and that healthy people are indeed paying for the treatment of sick people through their taxes. But because the system is simpler and less profit-oriented, it ends up being cheaper for everybody.

That, of course, is the exact opposite of what is happening with Obamacare. Obamacare does nothing to control unit costs, and it does nothing to curb the bloated waste created by the U.S. where health care financing is siphoned off by lawyers, administrators, and insurance companies; the cost of lobbying lawmakers and advertising is astronomical.

U.S. health care is the most expensive system on earth and incredibly wasteful.  Denmark and  some other Scandinavian countries clearly prove that a government-run system can provide its population with superior care without being inefficient, bloated, or costly.

Stronger state regulations ensure that the money pouring through the system ends up where it's supposed to: with doctors and health care providers.
The pharmaceutical industry still gets its fair share since medication is still bought on the free market, which rewards innovation.

A greater degree of government involvement in health care might be un-American, but when the American system has abjectly failed, a refusal to look abroad for better models is simply self-defeating.

Sources: http://goo.gl/gvHhvY
              http://goo.gl/X0q19

1/02/2014

How's Your MINO doing?

In my travels through social media over the past several years, especially on Google+, I've come across a phenomenon that I've come to affectionately refer to as "MINO" - Marriage In Name Only.

For whatever reason, women whom I've met on social media  have a tendency to be willing to confide in me - probably  at least in part because I actually happen to be a trustworthy person, and never, ever disclose private information that I am entrusted with to third parties. And so I end up finding out about their relationships.



I wouldn't say there's a "typical" MINO; they're all a little different. One woman, a religious Baptist, confided that she hasn't been sexually attracted to her husband for over 20 years, even though she claimed that she "loves him". That's a MINO. Another woman who has a disabled child still lives with her husband but she really no longer loves him and the marriage is more or less "kaput". Another MINO. Another woman got married to her best friend from high school because all of her friends were getting married (peer pressure) but she discovered that she has never really loved him. That's a MINO! Another woman confides to me that she's married but there's just no intimacy or love any longer. Yep, a MINO!

Now you may notice that there is a common thread here: People are staying in marriages that aren't working; in some cases they are either unable or unwilling to work to "fix things", and yet they persist in staying in these essentially failed relationships. Now in some cases there may be a sound reason - usually it's children whom the parents feel need that "family unit" as they grow up. But in other cases, there is no good reason at all other than the fear of the unknown. 

The net result of this is that there is a lot of "fooling around" going on, almost always surreptitiously.
Me, I was married to the same woman for 23 years, and only cheated on her once. It lasted about one day. But the ex wife turned out to have histrionic personality disorder, was making my life miserable, and so I got divorced.

The problem with all this "fooling around" is that there's no free lunch. It creates stress - stress on the people in the failed marriage, often stress on the recipient of the amorous advances by the man or woman in the failed marriage, and occasionally even stress on the recipient's spouse, if they are married - and believe me, yes - they sure do find out!

Being divorced and essentially free from this  kind of guilt, at least for the time being, I can't really offer much advice other than this: 

If your marriage isn't working, for whatever reason, try to fix it. Get counseling, whatever. If it can't be fixed, then if you can, accept that and get unmarried. Then you'll be free to fool around all you want -- without the stress and the guilt.