Field of Science

Fun for the biomedical graduate students

I know this is a few months old, but its still funny as shit. Also, huge kudos to the makers of this video.

How many aspects of "this bad project" can you relate to? My personal favorite is 'what's in this box?'

Explain Republican Economics to Me Again!?!?

Ok, so the republican dogma is that we need to cut taxes to...wait, actually we need to cut taxes on the ultra-wealthy, then we can finally balance the deficit and grow the economy and make Jesus happy. Now Im not an economist, and before you disregard anything that follows, please realize you aren't one either (unless of course you are).

One thing republicans do well (and probably democrats as well, but when do they ever stick up for their own actual policies as opposed to follow a diminished republican script?) is hit you fast and furious with a variety of different, slightly related, but distinctly different topics: Taxes, Job Creation, Deficit, Taxes, Unions, Balanced Budget, Taxes, ad nauseum. This serves to keep you disoriented by shifting from position to position and prevents them from having to deal with substantive rebuttals.

I want to deal with one rebuttal to the no taxes debate.

First some facts:
1. The rich are being taxed at levels not seen since just before the great depression (see figure). So, the rich who apparently are required to make the economy grow are taxed at levels much lower than at levels when the economy grew inordinately.
You should probably realize that this graph does NOT include capital gains (buying and selling stock), which is at  15% (thanks for keeping that going Mr. Obama). If you make millions on the stock market, your tax burden is much less than those working for a living.

2. The tax rate is based on the level of income. So, if we say that the tax rate on people making $100,000 is 24% and the tax rate on people making $500,000 is 28%, then the tax rate on those making $500,000 is 24% for the first $100,000 and 28% for the remaining $400,000. I think most people in this country fail to grasp this point. WHAT!!! tax a $1,000,000 at 75%, that's unfair!!! Indeed, it is. But in the real world, not the one sold by pundits bought and paid for by the ultra-wealthy, the reality is different. here is the reality: If you made $1,000,000 last year and were single, the first $8,375 was taxed at 10%, then $8,376-34,000 at 15%, $34,001-82,400 25%, $82,401-171,850 28%, $171,851-373,650 at 33%, and $373,651-1,000,000 at 35%. But if you listen to the millionaire, it seems their entire income is taxed at 35% (which is about a historic low), but that's not true, actually its a lie. Only their income >$373,650 is taxed at that rate. (Of course any of their income resulting from stocks is only taxed at 15%, so if they make $500,000 from capital gains and $500,000 in income, which is $1,000,000 total; $500,000 is taxed at 15% and only (500,000-373,650 =) $126,350 is taxed at 35%.

Ok, so we need to make sure the rich keep more of their money (of which they have a tremendous amount, hence the nomenclature rich) in order to create jobs and balance the budget.

Create jobs: The idea is that if the rich have more money they will use it to start up companies and hire people. But that is not reality. The truly rich are conservative and hold on to their assets in bad economies. The poor/middle class spend their fucking money. If you give tax cuts to the poor/middle class, it goes immediately into the economy, not into gold investments. Poor/middle class people buy shit. Rich people do not (or do not need to, compare to the poor). Also, who the fuck thinks the rich are going to throw their money away on new businesses, when the poor/middle class are living paycheck to paycheck?  Supply and demand anyone? If there is little demand, why is Jane Q. Moneybucks going to start a company selling widgets when everyone is struggling to pay their fucking cable bill? In a poor economy, the money going into the riches' pockets, stays there, but in the poor/middle class it doesn't even stay in a pocket long enough to accumulate lint.

Balance the budget: There are two ways to balance a budget. Increase revenue (like taxes) and decrease spending (like 2, or is it 3, wars?). All the bluster from republicans to decrease spending sounds good in soundbite. However, if you look at what republicans have to cut, it isn't about saving money but about long held ideological issues. Republicans are against the reproductive rights of women, so we must cull funding to Planned Parenthood, which will save as much as $360,000,000 in 2009. Of which 3% (not well over 90% dumbass) is used for abortions. That's a shit ton! Well, not really...Planned Parenthood's entire budget was 0.011% of the 2009 budget!!! Or roughly 3 days of cruise missile attacks in Libya.

Unfortunately, all the bluster about spending cuts is really serving to pay for more tax cuts for the ultra-rich. If you are in debt and you take a second job to help pay the minimum payment on the new credit card you just bought a flat screen TV with, well you aren't balancing the budget, just maintaining the cluster fuck of a life you call status quo. Actually, you aren't maintaining. While taking out the new credit card to buy your new TV, you have chosen to sit on a se7en-inspired anal probe you call "balancing the budget"

Brewers Unite! at the Univ. of MN

For those interested in science and beer, the following seminar is taking place this Thursday.

3:30-5 p.m., Thursdays | 239 Gortner

"The Natural History of Beer"

Jim Cotner Ph.D.

Dept. of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior

University of Minnesota

Items of Interest

Since I wrote this recent post, I thought Ild share some related information. First, the colleague, Dr. Cotner, who is using the "penis as an evolutionary spade" paper in her class was interviewed on a local radio show (4/3/11). You can find out some information regarding her popular biology (sex) class. Also, she is giving the following seminar in the Department of Ecology and Intelligent Design Evolution Biology:

EEB Seminar
April 6, 2011
3:30 p.m.
335 Borlaug
Dr. Sehoya Cotner
A classroom full of creationists: Separating fact from fiction in evolution education
If we accept that evolution is essential—if not the key—to understanding biology, then we also have a problem: How can we understand the tendency of so many practitioners of biology to avoid teaching evolution? Recent events in the evolution-creationism controversy highlight the tensions involved in teaching and learning about evolution, and reinforce themes that have persisted for decades. My work with colleagues, from both a survey-based perspective, as well as from my experiences teaching on the front lines of introductory biology, will inform much of this discussion.  Namely, we’ll address what our students have learned prior to arriving at the University, how they perceive the evolution they are taught in class, and what, if anything, can be done to affect positive change in our students’ understanding of the discipline.

Personally, I love the accompanying picture.