Hat Tip to Mary at The Left Coaster

From The Left Coaster and thank you to Mary:
NOAA just released their 2006 weather summary for the United States and it is quite something to compare the average yearly temperature map to that from last year.

01-12Statewidetrank2005_pg.jpg 2006-jan-dec-temps.jpg
2005
2006
Courtesy of NOAA

I think there are a couple of things going on to produce that startling red graphic of the USA on the right. Apparently El Nino and the global warming trends are both contributing. But the graphic comparison of 2005 on the left, which was a warm year, looks chilly compared to 2006 on the right. Anybody else seeing a red flag with the weather in 2006?

I suggest that a move toward sustainable economies is an absolute imperative. Time to stop fighting over the oil in the Middle East. The environment is going to punish us if we insist on burning fossil fuels. Time for a change. You connect the dots, kemosabe.

What can you do? Switch your lightbulbs first to compact fluorescents. Park your car. If you are buying a car, buy a “green” car. A hybrid that gets great gas mileage also reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Do the planet and your pocketbook a favor, park the Hummers, the Expeditions, the Durango’s, the Escalades. These vehicles and their ilk are symptomatic of the mindset that could destroy the inhability of this small blue planet.

Making Hay! While the Snow Flies!

Exit?  Had enough yet?That was a lot of snow getting dumped
in the midwest over the past few weeks.

And of course, natural snowstorms do occur, but with the global climate changes taking place, the rate at which some relatively disastrous snowstorms occur is anticipated to increase. Just like the incidence of drought, the flood level raining etc. The weather patterns are changing here on the small blue planet and that is primarily because of the burning of fossil fuels.
The thing I noticed as I watched the midwest snowstorms was that state and federal emergency systems were able to mobilize helicopters to drop hay to stranded livestock. And I appreciate the efforts to prevent the starvation of these animals. I think it’s right, but it’s a little weird to see how the National Guard and other agencies know how to mobilize to feed cows trapped in a snowstorm, but so few of the agencies in this country could figure out how to mobilize to drop food or water to the human beings stranded in New Orleans after Katrina.

I am sorry to say it, but I think the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the cattle trapped in snowstorms in the midwest are recognized as an economic asset that must be protected where the poor folks in New Orleans just aren’t seen to have much value.

The haydrop to the midwest cattle is a feel-good story except for the fact that these animals are being fed to be slaughtered and sent to packing plants in the near future. I do like a good burger from time to time. I had a good one at the Olympic Club in Centralia earlier this week, and I apologize to the bovine crowd for that weakness and habit.

And that really is key to understanding why and when our national emergency systems work now. We can mobilize when an economic asset is threatened. We talk and do the photo-op flyover when it’s just a disaster that primarily affects non-economic assets. This commercialization of the world shows up everywhere in US policy – in foreign policy and here at home.

What’s the Payscale Like Here on a Small Blue Planet?


Well, the payscale is all over the place.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the United States Supreme Court made judicial pay the sole topic of his second annual report, issued on Sunday, declaring that the failure by Congress to raise federal judges’ salaries in recent years has become a “constitutional crisis” that puts the future of the federal courts in jeopardy.

That sounds pretty serious. Just how bad is it for the Supremes and the Federal Judges who are appointed for life, with retirement, medical, and dental benefits?

By statute, federal district judges receive the same salaries as members of Congress, now $165,200 a year. Judges on the federal appeals courts receive $175,100; associate justices of the Supreme Court, $203,000; and the chief justice $212,100. The linkage of district judges’ and Congressional salaries means that judges pay the price when members of Congress discern that it would be politically unpopular to raise their own pay.

I guess that must seem like a pretty poor salary package to John Roberts. I suspect that anyone working for the federal minimum wage can sympathize with His Honor because the Federal minimum wage is currently set at $5.15 per hour. With 2080 weeks of work the minimum wage can produce an annual income of $10,712.00. And though the average minimum wage worker does not get medical, dental or retirement benefits, they also don’t have to shell out for those expensive robes and they can choose to live in areas with a lower cost of living where a Federal Judge is stuck wherever he is appointed for life, slaving away for $165,200.00 per year.

This doesn’t seem right. One thing that a minimum wage worker has been able to count on is wage security. The Federal Government has not allowed the minimum wage to drop a penny, in fact, the minimum wage has soared (maybe that should be sored?) by 90 centavos over the past 15 plus years when the wage was pegged at $4.25 per hour (1991).

And of course, this is just talk about the wages issues for Federal Judges and minimum wage workers here in the prosperous United States. Wage issues around the small blue planet may vary.

If you are interested in knowing more about just wage issues, we recommend the following websites for your reading pleasure:

And of course, not to forget the plight of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and all the impoverished federal judges, I suggest that any of you who may want to support raises for the Federal Judges get in touch with your Senator or Representatives and plead for a raise for the Judges and thank the Senators and Representatives for not allowing any decrease in the federal minimum wage.

I think it might make sense to add foodstamps as a benefit for Federal Judges to help them with their budgets. Let me think about that a bit and get back to you on that. one.