Voices

A perfectly miserable day. Bluesky. Nary a breeze. A prescient 38 degrees.

I say prescient because can there be any doubt that Spring is nigh!

Spirit-filled, I lifted the Santa Cruz off the J-hooks, re-aired the tires, oiled the chain and set out on this year’s debut ride. In an ordinary year I would have been out riding several times by now, but this year I didn’t bother to put studded tires on the bike, in part because I’ve been too damn preoccupied. Besides, today riding on slightly under-inflated knobbies was all that was required, most everywhere the trail surface was  tacky and sticky. I pedaled a brisk 8-10 miles through Anchorage’s southern neighborhoods. The familiarity felt good. Like a walk in the mountains with the dogs a bike ride centers me. Introspection comes easy and it’s not unusual that I find myself talking to myself. The beauty of this symmetry is you always win an argument should one arise, the tragedy being you always lose.

As I pedaled about I thought about our science and where to take it next. Sometimes an idea will come to me and I feel an urgency to write it down lest I forget, but then I think, if it’s an idea of merit I won’t forget it. I should know better by now. When I was in the lab conducting experiments I never got into the useful habit of quickly committing important results or findings to my lab notes, I would leave that for the end of the day, but inevitably I would occasionally forget things. Why do we sometimes ignore our own good advice? ‘Tis a mystery.

Who’s Lying?

I was recently made aware of an article that appeared at Forbes.com, titled:

The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions

How can this be? For those public employees whose only source of wages is a paycheck from the state, all their compensation comes from the taxpayers. So what’s  going on?

The author bases his claim on something written by another person at Tax.com (url provided), who argued that Scott Walker, by saying that state workers should contribute more toward their pension and medical benefits was “casting the impression” that state workers presently don’t pay anything toward their pension plan, and that the contribution is actually an additional “gift” from the taxpayers. This author went on to say that state worker’s pensions are really funded by money that is part of the employees overall compensation package, negotiated by the union that represents them in collective bargaining. Hence, he says, employees’ pensions are really funded entirely by their own compensation, and taxpayers contribute nothing.

The Forbes author picked up on this and concluded that Wisconsin taxpayers were lied to by Scott Walker.  But I don’t think anyone in Wisconsin is really confused about where a public employee’s compensation comes from, or what Scott Walker meant by contribute more. Many commenters to the Forbes article certainly weren’t confused.

The point here isn’t to argue for Dems or Repubs or Tea Party or any of that. The point is honesty in reporting. In a supposed attempt to expose a lie, the author arguably committed one. At the very least he presented a straw man argument, although his replies to certain commenters indicates he doesn’t understand why.