Sunday, August 28, 2011

Admissions meeting

I am flying 1,200 miles to see the admissions committee of a college, so that I can attend Physician Assistant school. I hope to get in, because I think that I am ready to move on from EMS. I still love patient care, and I enjoy what I do.

The problem is that I no longer enjoy the setting. It began when a rash of poor care by fellow paramedics was being actively covered up by my administration. It culminated in my mother being one of the patients who were shortchanged. This planted the seeds of discontent. Now I understand that no profession is immune. I have worked with plenty of nurses and doctors who screw up just as badly, and private ambulance companies are no better, been there, done that. I was willing to suffer through things, since I couldn't see anywhere or any job where bad employees were not tolerated and protected. I sucked it up.

Until recently, when the public began jumping on the "cushy" pay for firefighters, and the "public employees are evil" bandwagon. I am tired of being spit on and underpaid. It is time to go.

That's right- underpaid. Starting pay for a firefighter/paramedic is $13.77 an hour. After two promotions and 15 years with the same department, I make $19.23 an hour. I began working a part time second job as a paramedic in a local theme park less than six months ago, and we only perform BLS procedures. Starting pay for a medic with no experience is $16.50 an hour, and $17.50 an hour if you have two or more years of experience. The health plan is better, the hours are better, and the working conditions easier.

So, I am trying to get into school to get my master's degree. Like me, many firefighters are leaving the profession. Out of the 100 men and women in my department, we have lost 9 in the past year:
1 now drives an ice cream delivery truck
1 left to return to college
2 have left to be nurses
2 left to be firefighters in other states
1 is now a radio DJ
2 retired, and I have no idea where they are now

I also know that one just tested for a department in Colorado, one tested in Arizona, and three have notified the department that they will be retiring between now and June. And now me. If all goes well, I will be leaving by December.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gold experts and inflation

Gold tops $1900 an announce, and the experts are all claiming that it is overbought, and that the bubble will soon burst.

That is the same thing that the experts said in June, when gold was at $1500 an ounce.
- and October of 2010, when gold was $1380 an ounce.
- and March, 2010, when gold was at $1200 an ounce.
- and December of 2009, when gold was passing $1100 an ounce.
- and in December of 2005, when gold was $520 an ounce.

The secret here is that the world's governments and private citizens alike are coming to the realization that the US Government cannot stop spending money, and are moving away from using the dollar as the reserve currency for the world. This is injecting large amounts of dollars into the world's markets, and making the dollar worth less. This is causing a massive devaluation of the dollar. This isn't the first time that a country has spent itself into financial ruin. Zimbabwe, the Soviets, and the Germans have all done it during the last century.

Our politicians don't care, because both parties need your money to buy your vote. They are spending us into ruin. Don't be caught holding dollars when the end comes, or you will need them to heat your home, like this woman is doing in 1923 Germany, because bank notes are cheaper than coal.

Price of 1 ounce of gold (in German Marks):

January,1919………. 170
September,1919……. 499
January, 1920………. 1,340
September, 1920……. 1,201
January, 1921………. 1,349
September, 1921…….2,175
January, 1922……….3,976
September, 1922…….30,381
January, 1923……….372,477
September, 1923…….269,439,000 (that's right- from 4 thousand to 270 million in a year and a half)
Oct. 2, 1923………….6,631,749,000
Oct. 9, 1923………….24,868,950,000
Oct. 16, 1923…………84,969,072,000
Oct. 23, 1923…………1,160,552,882,000 (over 1 trillion)
Oct. 30, 1923…………1,347,070,000,000
Nov. 5, 1923…………..8,700,000,000,000
Nov. 30, 1923…………87,000,000,000,000 (almost 80 trillion increase in one month)

Do you see how the problem escalates? This is where we are headed. Scary stuff.

Fascinating read

The Economic Collapse of the Soviet Union.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pay and skill

I work at a major theme park. This theme park recently had a turnover problem- that is, a number of employees were leaving for other paramedic positions that paid more money. To solve the problem, they raised starting paramedic pay to $17.50 an hour- a raise of $3.75 an hour. The medics who had been there for more than a few years are livid. They are claiming that they 'deserve' more because they have been there longer.

The American public believes that public employees are overpaid. They complain about what the public employees 'deserve' and claim that, since the economy is bad, that public employees should be paid less.

Both positions show a complete lack of understanding of basic economics. The law of supply and demand dictates what an employee makes. The market sets the price of labor. If you, as an employer, pay too little, your employees will leave. The ones that are available to replace them will be of lower quality. That is, the employee is selling a product: his labor. The price of that product is set by the market. Wages are a balance between the supply of people that are capable of providing the labor, and the number of people who are needed to perform that labor.

Numerous things can lower wages. If just anyone can provide that product, then the price (pay) will be low. A good example of this is greeter at WalMart. This position requires a skill set that nearly anyone can master, so the wages for that position are low. The other factor that can have negative effects on wages is the demand for that particular skill. You may be a master of 14th century French poetry, but there is no market for 14th century French poetry, so you will likely become a greeter at WalMart, that being your only other marketable skill.

Conversely, wages can also be driven in the opposite direction. If you bring a skill set to the table that not many people have, you can "auction" off those skills to the highest bidder.

This is the point that many miss. If you think that you are more valuable simply because you have been at a job for a long time, you are wrong. You become more valuable with longevity because you have (presumably) become more adept at the job you are being tasked with as the years went by. Eventually, though, the job is mastered, and your value becomes capped at a certain level. In order to demand more pay, the employee must accomplish two things: he must gain more skill, and must ensure that the skill gained is one that the employer needs. Just like any other product. It is up to you as to whether or not it is worth the effort to improve your product (yourself) for the additional pay.

And to employers: remember that, as your wage scale falls below market value, the more valuable employees will sell their wares to the highest bidder, leaving you with a cheaper, sometimes less valuable product. It is up to you to determine if you are willing to accept the lower level of skill.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CBS news bias

With the Obama's planning to take another vacation to Martha's Vinyard, CBS news has come to his defense as the Republicans attack him for taking too many vacations. CBS news correspondent Mark Knoller, a self-proclaimed presidential statistician, claims that Obama has had 61 vacation days over his 31 months in office.

Now, I am one of those who believes that a President is always working, and no matter where they are. I thought the complaints about Bush vacations were silly partisan sniping, and I believe that the same can be said about the attacks on Obama for his vacation. After all, President Bush was just as capable of carrying out the business of the Executive branch from his ranch in Texas as he is from the White House.

Mark Knoller, in an article written in January of 2010, about Obama's first year in office, claimed that Obama spent 27 days at Camp David, and another 26 days on vacation in his first year. That totals 53 days. In addition, he spent 29 days playing golf. It doesn't appear that accuracy in reporting is Mr. Knoller's strong suit, because in July of 2010, he claimed that Obama had taken 35 vacation days so far in his Presidency.

 Mark Knoller claimed on December 31st of 2010 that Obama took 32 days of vacation in 2010, and took 58 days of vacation in 2009. According to my math, that is a total of 90 days for 2009 and 2010. So how can the same man claim that, as of 2011, Obama has taken a total of 61 days of vacation? I think Mark Knoller just makes up numbers as he goes along.

No, today's post is about the press and their partisan bias, not about Presidential time off. Much hay is made in lefty circles about how Fox news is biased. Names like "Faux News," yet this is an obvious, provable falsehood. This should be no surprise, since more than half of the items that CBS news is selling in their online store is Obama memorabilia.

Tell me again that Fox is biased, and CBS is not.

(Incidentally, I could not find a source that listed the number of days that Obama has vacationed.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Only Fox news has biased coverage

Recently, there was an attack by a group of forty or more teens against a neighborhood, and one of the residents used a rifle to scare them off. Some of the people reading the article were asking why the news didn't mention the fact that it was a group of forty black teens attacking residents of a white neighborhood, and the further alleged that if it had been a large group of white teens terrorizing a black neighborhood, it would have been the largest headline possible. Calls from the press to pass hate crime laws would have been heard. Instead, crickets.

The Chicago Tribune responded by saying:

It's the newspaper's sound general policy not to mention race in a story, whether about crime or anything else, unless it has some clear relevance to the topic. 
 Really? Let's see:

Editorial accusing people who disagree with Obama of racism.

Story accusing Arizona of racism because they crack down on illegal immigrants, who happen to be Mexican because the Mexican border is closer to Arizona than the Canadian border.

Story about how blacks do not save their money like whites do.

Story about a man charged with a hate crime for pointing at another man and calling him a name.

The Chicago Tribune fails to realize that the race of people involved with a story only becomes relevant when you report the race of the people. Ignoring the fact that an attack is racially motivated makes the race of those people irrelevant and shows your bias.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hey Dave Ramsey

You keep telling people what a bad investment it is to buy gold. Let's take another look at the numbers:

Dow in 1971: 868
25 ounces of Gold in 1971: 875

Dow in 2010: 10,067
25 ounces of gold: 27,200 (1088 per ounce)

Dow today:10,862
25 ounces of gold: 44,550 (1782 per ounce)

So, since January of 2010, the Dow has increased at an annual rate of 5%, but gold has climbed at an annual rate of 40%. Since 1971, the Dow climbed at an average of 28.8%, and gold at a whopping 124.7%.

Of course, the Dow is adjusted, and the stocks on it are dropped as they become worthless, so the actual return on the Dow is much lower than that. Thanks Dave.


History tidbit:

Shortly before noon on June 8, 1959, the first official dispatch of U.S. Mail was launched from the guided-missile submarine USS Barbero (SSG 317), from international waters off of the Atlantic Coast.  Twenty-two minutes later, the Regulus I Missile, carrying 3,000 pieces of mail (postcards), landed at the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Mayport.  Among the officials present for the event was Postmaster General Arthur Summerfeld, who stated, "This peacetime employment of a guided missile for the important and practical purpose of carrying mail, is the first known official use of missiles by any Post Office Department of any nation." He proclaimed the event to be "of historic significance to the peoples of the entire world," and predicted that "before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.  We stand on the threshold of rocket mail!"

Fiscal Budget Math

The Obama administration is claiming that S&P made a $2 trillion error when they projected the spending of future years and downgraded the nation's debt rating from AAA to AA+, saying that S&P has "shown a stunning lack of knowledge about basic U.S. fiscal budget math."

Let's take a look at that, and at what the government means by cuts, and why they complain that S&P got it wrong. like most people, talking about trillions of dollars makes things a bit hard to understand, because most of us cannot imagine what a trillion dollars is.

To put things in simpler terms, let's say that we have a household budget of $3,000 per month, but we only make $2,000 per month and we borrow the other $1,000. We are planning on increasing our spending by $300 per month, but our income is projected to remain the same.

We are already $10,000 in debt, so I get in an argument with my wife, and we reach an agreement that we will cut our planned increase six  months from now, and only plan on spending the following:

Plan......Now ..... 1 month out ...... 6 months out ....... 1 year out
Old ...... $3,000... $3,300 ............ $4,800 .............$6,600
New..... $3,000...$3,300 ............ $4,700 ............. $6,000

We congratulate ourselves because we have managed to save $2100 over six months, because we "saved" $100 the sixth month, $200 the seventh, and on until we reach the $600 "savings" of the twelfth month. That is what government budget cuts mean: cutting the rate of increase. Never mind that that we will have to borrow $50,000 on top of the $10,000 we already owe to make ends meet. Never mind that we will argue about the budget next month, and completely rewrite it.

So, the bank that is going to loan me this money looks at my budget and lowers my credit rating. Instead of fixing the problem, I accuse the bank of not understanding how I do my budget. It's the bank's fault. Yeah, that's it- the banks. I don't think that S&P has failed to understand budget math. I think that the US Government has failed to understand basic arithmetic.

Of course, I can always "print" money to pay my debts by tearing all of my dollar bills in half, and thus doubling my money. That will fix it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Officer Benjamin Stanaland of the Orlando police department is a tyrant. He has twice been reprimanded for violating people's constitutional rights, yet he still holds a job as a police officer.

In the first case, he arrested a man for refusing to give the officer his name in February of 2010.

In the latest case, used an unsterilized Q-Tip to test a motorist's mouth for drugs without the man's consent during a traffic stop. According to the law and department policy, officers must use sterilized gloves and agency-issued tongue depressors and swabs. Stanaland said he purchased the Q-Tips from a Walgreen's pharmacy.

Why is he still working as a cop?

Monday, August 8, 2011

We aren't wanted here

The TEA party screams that government should be run like a business. Like a business, firefighters in the state of Florida get extra money if they have certifications that are above and beyond the basic certifications required for the job. For example:

Statewide, firefighters get $50 a month for having an associate's degree that is related to their job duties, and they get $100 a month for having a bachelor's degree. (You can only get one or the other, not both, and having more than one degree still only gets you one bonus)

Most departments pay extra for paramedics. This amount can vary from $2000 to $7500 a year, depending on your department. Since 90% of calls that fire departments answer are medical runs, this is an important incentive. Nearly every fire department in Florida requires that you be a certified EMT. Paramedics have MUCH more responsibility and work to do than their EMT counterparts.

Departments provide equipment like uniforms and PPE like safety glasses and safety shoes. Many businesses do this. The money spent on PPE is saved in reduced injury costs.

The new position? All of these incentives are "extras" that are not needed. Considering that the state recently cut the pay of all firefighters statewide 3% by forcing them to contribute to retirement plans, cut retirement benefits, and many local governments (including mine) have not only withheld pay raises for the past 6 years, but have cut hours by shutting down units to save money, and other plans to cut pay, it seems like the message is loud and clear:


That is fine. I have made my decision. I am applying for Physician Assistant school this week. It was a good job while it lasted, but I cannot continue down the road that we are traveling. I went from $84,000 a year in 2008 to less than $60,000 this year. How many of you would continue to work for 25% less, if you had other options?

There are incompetents everywhere

I work a second job at a large central Florida theme park. (There are only a few, you can guess which one.) During my last shift there, I was called to evaluate a man who was "having a seizure." When I arrived, I found a 59 year old man who was sitting upright in a chair and only verbally responsive.  He has a history of cardiac, HTN, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes. A local hospital owned ambulance service was called. While waiting for them to arrive, we got the following vitals: HR 88, BP 92/54, RR 18, Temp 97.8, BGL 140. It was over 100 degrees in the park, and the patient's skin was flushed. We initiated active cooling, and he was again responsive within ten minutes.

The unit arrived, and in walks the EMT. Alone. Then he began talking the patient into signing a refusal. The medic never even got out of the truck. They took no vitals and did not even put him on the monitor. I pitched a fit and threatened to call their supervisor. The medic came in, ran a strip and they collected their refusal and left. Here are my questions:

How does the medic know that this was not a seizure?
How does the medic know that this was not a cardiac problem?
Why did the medic send his EMT in to get a refusal without even evaluating the patient?
Why do some medics still insist that medics who work for EMS only agencies are automatically better than fire based medics? Is it possible that my position, that it doesn't matter who signs the paychecks, it is what lies in the heart of the medic that counts, is the correct one?

I think the real problem is that some medics are unable to get a fire medic job for a variety of reasons (too fat, out of shape, can't pass the test, whatever) and spend their time bashing the fire department. I do everything that an EMS only paramedic does, and I fight fires and perform rescues as well.


The poverty threshold is an amount of money that is required to meet a certain minimum standard of living. That is, it is computed by determining what amount of money it takes to live in an apartment and eat at a certain minimum level. The government's definition of poverty is not tied to an absolute value of how much an individual or family can afford, but is tied to a relative level based on total income received. For example, the poverty level for 2011 was set at $22,350 (total yearly income) for a family of four, and $10,890 for a single person. Here is the table:

Persons in
Family Unit
48 Contiguous States
and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $10,890 $13,600 $12,540
2 $14,710 $18,380 $16,930
3 $18,530 $23,160 $21,320
4 $22,350 $27,940 $25,710
5 $26,170 $32,720 $30,100
6 $29,990 $37,500 $34,490
7 $33,810 $42,280 $38,880
8 $37,630 $47,060 $43,270
Each additional
person adds
$3,820 $4,780 $4,390
(source: US Dept of Health and Human Services)

Currently, 12.6% of the US population, or 37 million people, are below this poverty threshold. So, could we fix this problem by merely giving every person below the poverty level a million dollars? The answer is no. The reason for this, is that as we pour money into the poor community, those people will by things, thus placing an inflated demand for products like food and housing on those communities. Additionally, no one will go to work, because they are all millionaires. The only way for businesses to produce the goods that are under such high demand is for wages to increase to the point where the nouveau riche will stop the buying spree long enough to go to work. These two factors will cause prices to rise until the supply/demand curve stabilizes at a new price level- a price level that is much higher than it was before we handed out the money.

This is why a war on poverty where the wages of the rich are confiscated and given to the poor can never be successful.

Not only that, but let's face it: The United States doesn't have a poverty problem. We are the only country in the world where the poorest portions of the population own cell phones and televisions. According to Nielson, 96.7% of American households own a television. Cellular ownership is high as well: 94% of Americans own a cell phone. Tell me again why my money needs to be confiscated so that someone else can get a free cell phone and television.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Republicans: America's Taliban

See Florida Governor Rick Scott as he delivers his daily video address to the state. I know that the Republicans don't kill and torture like the Taliban, so don't bother sending me hate mail.

There is a parallel here that I want you to understand: There are many Americans who are completely turned off by the fascination that the Republican party has with preaching instead of governing. You need to keep your religious views to yourself when you are running the nation's governments. We do not want to be preached to. Religion is like a penis, it is sometimes good to have one, just don't go ramming it down people's throats unless they ask you to.