Category Archives: Politics vs. math

Updating the Actuaries Climate Index – Listen up Republicans!

Ever since a data update arrived in my email from the Actuaries Climate Index in August I have been wanting to revisit one of my most re-tweeted posts from two years ago, called “Listen to the actuaries if not the scientists.” The short read here is that the climate continues to change in a dangerous direction, as determined not by… Read more »

When innumeracy kills

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Covid risk of harm

In mid-November a fundamentalist Tulsa megachurch held a packed, largely-maskless Christian concert for 2500 people. I’ll deal with the theological ironies in a later post, but despite their likely support for “Right to Life,” I can confidently say that, statistically, the attendees surely murdered people with the coronavirus that night, perhaps people even not in attendance. Ignorance of basic mathematics… Read more »

Chasing Benford’s Law down an election rabbit hole

Nautilus shell

Benford’s Law is a fun statistical phenomenon that this blog has explored a couple of times, most notably here. Benford has gained a sudden new popularity among 2020 election conspiracy sites, alleging huge vote rigging, but only in states where Donald Trump lost. However, this technique is invariably misused and misunderstood in these applications, and so, this is my attempt… Read more »

Seven bets on your 2021 Medicare supplement

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Medigap thumbnail

We are in that season, especially in Florida where I live, when my mail is flooded daily with Medicare switching come-ons, and every other television commercial seems to be pitching me as well. One of my most-viewed posts from last year was my advice to treat this decision as a series of bets on “your money or your life.” This… Read more »

The intentional kneecapping of mail voting

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I-Voted

Early in the summer I published a well-retweeted post about why mail-in voting is, from a CPA’s perspective, a far more auditable voting method than even most traditional in-person systems. As mail and absentee voting have exploded beyond all records in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, however, a very real weakness lurking in mail voting systems has emerged that… Read more »

Donald Trump’s tax problems revisited

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Trump Hotel Sign

Note: This is a cross-post with the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. Ever since I began this blog in January of 2018, Donald Trump’s “not-normal” finances have been in my head and have appeared in this blog numerous times. Now that the media frenzy over his Covid diagnosis has abated somewhat, perhaps we can get back to Trump’s financial frauds. In… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 2

Nursing home

Part One of this series laid out the cashflows draining middle-class estates in the final years of life into the “eldercare industry.” In my view, this is a significant contributor to rising income inequality. Middle-class wealth in the U.S. does not get passed on to the next generation, leaving that group to start over from scratch.  My own children’s generation… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 1

Nursing home corridor

Rich people pass on wealth to their children; poor people don’t. And increasingly, middle-class people don’t either. We know that this lack of inheritance in the middle and lower ends is a significant force behind rising income inequality over the last 30 years. Much of the “extraction” of net worth from middle-class families happens in the last years of their… Read more »

When Chuck Grassley was “pwned” by the televangelists

Donald Trump & Paula White

Note: This is a repost from a piece that first appeared in the Iowa blog Bleeding Heartland. In a recent Bleeding Heartland piece, Laura Belin contrasted Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s aggressive attack on then-Vice President Al Gore’s use of a government telephone in 1997 to make a fundraising call to his silence after repeated and blatant Trump administration violations of… Read more »