Friday, June 30, 2006

Indiana Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways:

I went to the Allen County Library down town and tried to find the Indiana Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways: signs, markings, and traffic signals. I could not find it and neither could the staff.

At one time there were two copies and now there are none. The State library may have a copy of this. I was hoping to be able to put this to rest quickly, but it is proving just as hard to find a copy as before. I will up date what I find when and if I find it.

Another Biodisel/Ethanol plant?

Huntington, IN may see a new biodisel and ethanol plant soon. NuFuels officials have estimated a plant could create 75 to 100 jobs is trying to get Huntington County to approve their plan for the plant. A group took a bus to a plant to Palestine, Illinois to see first hand an ethanol plant.

Over the past three months, I have read about no less then five new proposed ethanol plants for Indiana. Obviously companies, groups and individuals support them. Fledgling ventures may need some tax credits and incentives to get going, but obviously with all the interest in Biodisel and Ethanol there appears to be no shortage of investors. It is time for the Federal Government to eliminate the tax credit of 51 cents for each gallon of ethanol. It is time for these plants to sink or swim on their own without taxpayer bailout or subsidies.

If they are truly economically viable they will compete and survive just fine in the energy market, if not they will fail and close.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Yellow Caution Light

I was at the bank today and overheard a lady say she got a ticket at Coldwater and Coliseum while making a left turn from Coldwater onto coliseum. She said she saw an individual standing behind a light pole on the corner. She was in the intersection waiting for an opportunity to turn left and when it was clear, she turned. At the same time the light turned yellow. She said she made it through the intersection before it turned red. As she pulled straight flashing lights came on behind her. She was cited for a running a yellow light.

My wife also told me she saw on the news something about police issuing citations for those passing through on a yellow caution light. I would like to make a few observations:

  • A four-lane intersection is about 40 feet wide.
  • The pedestrian walkway sits back about 3 to 4 feet from the intersection.
  • The pedestrian walkway is about six feet wide.
  • The white strip painted on the road to indicate where your front end is to stop at is about four feet from the pedestrian walk way.
  • Total travel distance to clear both the intersection and pedestrian right of way is a minimum 65 feet. This now makes a standard four-lane intersection about 60 feet wide.
  • A car traveling at 30 mph is traveling at 44 ft/sec.
  • A 30 mph speed limit would require a minimum of 1.5 seconds to just clear the intersection and pedestrian right of way.
  • The average reaction time of an individual is 1/2 second. Though this is not the mean distribution point it would indicate roughly about half the population is faster and about half slower.
  • To ensure that 98% of the population's reaction time is fast enough to observe, analyze their speed, distance they have to stop and surrounding traffic would most like increase the reaction time to respond to a full second if not more.
  • In essence the yellow light duration for a standard 4 lane intersection would be a minimum of 2.5 seconds, but that only takes into account those who do not have time to stop. What about those who decide to stop? How much time do they need and what travel distance is needed to stop?
  • From what I can gather from looking for standards on yellow light duration, there are none, but if there are they are not readily accessible to me.
  • The Indiana BMV drivers manual has stopping distances for different speeds. Are these emergency stopping distances or are they stopping distances needed for coming to a non-emergency stop?
  • Clearly if you were to use the stopping distances in the manual and calculate the time it takes stop assuming the distance, initial velocity to be the speed limit and final velocity to be zero and add this to the 2.5 second time to get through the intersection, you will find you need about 5 seconds.
How many yellow lights last 5 seconds? The intersection with turn lanes make it even wider and longer. If traffic is traveling slower let us say 20 mph, it will take nearly another full second to get through.

The purpose of the yellow light is to indicate to on coming traffic approaching the intersection that the light is going to turn red. Its purpose is to keep people from jamming on their brakes, causing accidents. It is so that cars are less prone to be in the intersection when it turns red. It is to clear the intersection so that a controlled change in direction may take place. It is a safety feature that traffic engineers use to safe guard the public.

The Fort Wayne Police Department is wrong to be citing people for going through yellow lights. The police are manually taking this safety feature out of service. They are endangering the population by doing this. This in my opinion is criminal intent to do bodily harm.

I am going to do more research on this matter. I would like input from others as to how long they observe yellow lights and their locations.

Indiana Bureau of Motor Veihcials Driving Manual 2005 Edition states on page 30 and 31:
For Vehicles Proceeding Straight through Intersection:
  • A green signal means go. The driver has the right-of-way and may proceed through the intersection provided it is clear of other traffic and pedestrians.
  • A yellow signal means that the right-of-way is ending.
  • A red signal means stop. Traffic entering the intersection from another direction has the right of-way. The driver may not enter the intersection until the light turns green and the intersection is clear of other traffic.
For Vehicles Turning at the Intersection:
  • A green arrow displayed in conjunction with a red or green signal means the driver has the right-of-way to make the turn so long as the intersection is clear. Oncoming traffic must stop.
  • A yellow arrow displayed in conjunction with a red or green signal means that the right-of way to turn is ending.
  • A green signal alone means that the driver may make a turn so long as the intersection is clear and the driver yields the right-of-way to all oncoming traffic. When making a left turn on green, only one vehicle is allowed to move into the intersection to complete the turn when the way is clear. Always make sure that the oncoming vehicles are going to stop.
  • A yellow signal alone means that the period to turn is ending. As stated above, if you are in the middle of the intersection, complete your turn once the oncoming traffic has stopped.
  • A red signal alone means stop. Drivers lawfully within the intersection shall complete the turn. Traffic entering the intersection from another direction has the right-of-way when conflicting traffic is no longer present. The driver may not enter the intersection until the light turns green and the intersection is clear of other traffic.

NOTE: Traffic facing a steady red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line.


I just found this:
IC 9-21-3-1
Standards and specifications
Sec. 1. Each traffic control signal on a street or highway within Indiana must conform with the standards, specifications, and warrants set forth in the Indiana Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.

Though I did not find it on-line, the Allen County Public Library has a copy:

Indiana manual on uniform traffic control devices for streets and highways : signs, markings, and traffic signals
Indiana. Dept. of Highways.
Publisher: Indiana Dept. of Highways,
Pub date: 1988-
Pages: 1 v. (loose-leaf) :
Owned By Agencies Below
MAIN # of Copies Material Format Location
343.77209 IN2 1 Book Bus & Tech Reference

I will be making a stop and will let you know what I learn.

Secondhand Smoke

The paper has had several editorials about the smoking bans in restaurants these past few weeks. Many believe it is up to the restaurant owner to decide if smoking is permitted and not the county.

The Surgeon General reported today that separate smoking sections don't cut it: Only smoke-free buildings and public places truly protect nonsmokers from the hazards of breathing in other people's tobacco smoke.

If you employee people, the law says you must provide a safe environment. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the establishment is safe for workers. Businesses are also responsible for ensuring a safe environment for patrons.

  • Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilation systems don't eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • There is good evidence that comprehensive smoking bans, like those in New York City and Boston, don't economically hurt the hospitality industry.
  • Workplace smoking restrictions not only reduce secondhand smoke but discourage active smoking by employees.
  • Secondhand smoke can act on the arteries so quickly that even a brief pass through someone else's smoke can endanger people at high risk of heart disease. Don't ever smoke around a sick relative, Carmona advised.
  • Living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker's risk of lung cancer and heart disease by up to 30 percent.

Block Scheduling

I do no mind change and in fact embrace change when there is a good reason to change. However, when it comes to education it seems to me that they do it far too often and with little thought or analysis. In my opinion they need to define the problem, measure, analyze, improve and then control it. School systems seem to try one thing and then another. It is like a wave going across the country. The size of the changes can be fairly significant as well. Has a school system ever let anything stay constant for 12 years (the length of time a student is in school)? If not, how do you know the change is positive?

The human brain has changed little for thousands of years. The brain processes information the same way it did 10,000 years ago. We are basically dealing with rev 0. With that said, is there an optimum amount of material that can be processed at any given time?

Fort Wayne Community schools' is looking at changing or updating their block scheduling. They use a block 4 schedule where classes last 85 minutes each. I am not sure that being in class for 85 minutes is a good thing. For years I have been training operators and giving presentations and find that 60 minutes is about where you begin to loose peoples attention. Not only do you begin to loose people’s attention, but also you begin to overwhelm them with material.

With education, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm people. You want them to remember as much as possible that is presented. Exceeding their ability to comprehend and digest the material serves no purpose. It is not the passage of time that causes people to forget, but rather the number of interactions taking place. Therefore, saturating people with information serves no purpose and may possible cause more people to learn less.

You also want a variety throughout the day in order to create associations. Associations are linked to your senses. In many ways it is deja vu. Ever take a walk and all of a sudden you are reminded of something or you have done, heard or been there before? This is most likely because one of your senses is associated a given memory. Associations can be temperature, sound, color, touch and is influenced dramatically by surroundings. In simple terms when learning a given subject, you want to have as many different associations as possible with that memory so that it has a better chance of being recalled. Four classes per day are less variety than seven classes per day.

In my opinion shorter class room time and more classes are better. Frustration in one class can carry over into the next. To reduce the amount of frustration, I think shorter classes, but more classes per day are better. This will reduce the time frustration has to build before it can be relieved.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Time Zone Change: What do you think?

If you are a drive in theater, your business has declined dramatically. If you are a restaurant in Fort Wayne, reports are business is down slightly. Some say going out to eat while it is so light out looses some of its atmosphere.

I myself do not like it. I open the windows a night to cool the house down and now must wait another hour to do so. In addition my kids have seemed to change their time tables by about one hour, getting up later and going to be later which affects my time table as well.

I have heard no personal endorsement for the time change. There were much bigger fish to fry than the time zone and it will result in no economic increase at all. People are not spending more, only differently.

Allen County Commisisoners and Raises

The other day I read in the Newspaper that Allen County workers are paid less than the average Midwest town employees are. The Allen County Commissioners are looking into raising their salaries. My question is are we trying to stay up with the Jones’s?

Salary is not the only thing one looks for in a position. Location is a big thing as well as climate. Property taxes, things to do, diversity of the economy, job security, benefits, cost of living and location to other points of interest is all things to consider. I have lived in a number of different locations and Fort Wayne is a nice place to raise a family. Unless workers working for Allen County are leaving, why increase salaries beyond inflation? Raising salaries will only put upward pressure on property taxes.

ID Thief hits 16 year old Student

I heard the other day of a Homestead student who’s mom had received her son’s Social Security number and had stuck it away for when it would be needed. She had never once taken it out of the envelope. The other day her son went to get a driver’s license and was refused because someone else had already claimed that number. The only people she had ever given the number too were schools her son had attended.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is looking into the matter, but until it is resolved this young person will not be driving. Does anyone think the National ID Act is going to keep terrorists from getting an ID that allows them on planes, trains and into government buildings?

The single largest growing crime is identity theft. The fastest growing portion of identity theft is against minors. They target a minor’s name, birth date and social security number for one main reason. They can use this data for years before anyone even learns of a crime taking place. A large source of information for these identity thieves is from our public schools. Schools data is notoriously unsecure.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sylvia Smith on Socail Security and Medicare

Sylvia Smith had a good piece on the financial problems of Social Security and Medicare. She wrote an article about congress being unable or unwilling to tackle these huge problems. She reports that it is down hill after 2011. In 2002 when I proposed repealing the Social Security Act Sylvia was out raged. She ridicules my social security plan.

Here is what will happen under current law to the Social Security Old Age program. When the balance in the SS-OASI trust fund falls below 20% of that years projected expenses, across the board cuts are made to maintain the trust fund at a minimum of 20%. In other words, the federal statute passed in 1984 to safe guard that there would be funds to pay benefits will be there even though only partial benefits will be paid. In Flemming v. Nestor the courts ruled Section 1104 of the 1935 Act, entitled "RESERVATION OF POWER," specifically said: "The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to the Congress."

This means some time in the mid 2030’s COLA’s will cease. Starting in 2041 actual benefits will be cut.

For Medicare it is a bit sooner. By law Medicare expenses are capped. 50% of all expenses are to be paid by workers payroll taxes. 25% by beneficiaries in the form of premiums, co-pays and deductibles. 25% is to be paid using general revenues. The automatic break will be wages. The maximum amount of expenses can never exceed the equivalent of 5.8% of payroll of which 2.9% payroll tax is paid by the worker. Equivalent of 1.45% of wages paid by beneficiaries and the equivalent 1.45% of wages contributed from general revenues. When the trust fund is exhausted then by law Medicare will have to stop paying for coverage when the total cost exceeds 5.8% of wages. This will occur about 2018.

I am just amazed that she can write this type of article yet since 2002, she has ridiculed my constant attention to the problems facing social security and Medicare in my previous three campaigns for Indiana's 3rd U.S. District Representative seat. I hope she continues to write on these two very large problems.

For those who are interested in a short historical percpective on Social Security that many may not know, I invite you to read Social Security: What Went Wrong?

What was initially promised in terms of benefits and taxes? Who was covered? When were the first sings of a problem identified? What changes have taken place since 1937?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wind Power

Bob Caylor of the News Sentinel had a wonderful piece on wind power in today’s paper. I am so glad that this paper has now printed several articles on wind power and the positive aspects of this cheap, abundant, reliable, environmentally friendly and best of all renewable.

The photo shown in the paper depicting a wind mill farm appears to be of the very early style windmills of the late 60's and possibly the 70's. The new larger windmills with variable pitch blades turn at just 5 RPM. As you get higher in elevation, wind speed tends to be more constant and higher. A larger blade allows a slower rotational speed thus reducing the potential to kill birds. Research on this has shown more birds are killed hitting airplanes than windmills.

Bob wrote "it’s true that wind farms don’t bring an employment windfall to a community. And they don’t boost demand for marketable Hoosier resources, as is the case with traditional power plants and coal or ethanol plants and corn." Though this is true, cheaper energy will provide our manufacturing base to be more cost competitive. In addition, cheaper energy will reduce inflation, which again makes us more able to compete abroad. But most important, we should not be creating jobs just for the sake of jobs. Each job created should be needed and provide a needed product or service. Subsidizing ethanol plants artificially creates an unrealistic price and puts forth the perception that this is a good thing. When we can no longer afford the subsidy we will have millions of dollars in plants we have no use for and hundreds of people looking for other work.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Nanny State Alive and Well

When the pilgrims came to America, they relied on themselves. The 13 colonies relied on their own as well. People helped each other in time of need. There were no government programs to protect people from natural disasters. America grew strong with each generation building upon the previous generation. The goal of parents was that their children would do better then they did.

Americans did not have health insurance, but they helped with what they could when a friend or family member was ill. They helped when a parent died or lost their job. Government did not step in and help, but friends and family did, much like the Amish do.

What caused so many Americans to become dependent on government? Was it the depression, which shook the American work ethic to the core and broke it? Was it the fact that so many were hurt financially that neighbors, friends and family had nothing extra to help with?

FDR's Social Security program was the first major move for government to step in and take over what individuals had been doing for generations. It grew when Social Security Disability as passed in 1957, Medicare in 1965, The Great Society ushered in welfare and Medicaid.

The San Francisco earth quake was terrible with little notice if any and there was no government rebuilding plan yet it was rebuilt by its people.

Katrina showed the nanny state to be alive and well. People live below sea level and yet have no plan of their own to get out in the event they need to. They blame the city for not protecting them or having plans and want the federal government (us) to pay to rebuild their city.

Now I read "Major cities aren't ready for catastrophes, government says" I think each of us needs to have their own plan to take care of our families. When I lived on the coast in North Carolina, I knew hurricanes could be a factor. I made sure my home was on high ground, that I had enough food on hand to last a month or more. I discussed with my family what we would do if we lost power, which happened several times normally for about five to seven days.

In any disaster you need water, food and shelter. What items do you have on hand that you know where they are at? What do you need to protect against the cold, rain, heat, contamination, etc? Each of us needs to have our own plan instead of relying on government. Your plan may be different from mine, the more people who are able to take care of themselves in a disaster the better we all will be.

PS. If you rely on canned food, be sure to have a can opener.

Personal Data Lost/Stolen again

Insurance giant loses data on 970,000 consumers through burglary

Hear is the way your employer can lose your personal data without you knowing about it.

"the lost records were submitted to AIG by 690 different insurance brokers, on behalf of possibly thousands of employers, seeking group coverage for a type of supplemental medical insurance for catastrophic claims. The lost records include names and Social Security numbers"

I have been up front with employers when I work for them that they are not authorized to use my SSN for healthcare identification nor are they authorized to give it to the insurance company at all. In the 80's I had more difficulty with this, but recently I have found companies very understanding. In addition I do not authorize 401K plans to use my SSN as an ID, PIN or any other type of login identifier. This has been more difficult, but I have still been able to get alternative numbers to use.

In general employers are lax in their security of your personal information. Human resource departments routinely use the SSN for a wide variety of things. Giving it to subcontractors is mostly unsecured. You have no idea who is given it.

Again I call on government not to use the Social Security number as a universal identifier. It is bad news.

Friday, June 16, 2006

State Board of Education & ISTEP

It never ceases to amaze me how some agencies/ groups or people continue to go around in circles trying to solve problems. To solve a problem you define it, measure it, analyze the data, improve and then control the process. To define the problem you need a participant from each of the areas affected.

The state of Indiana, in particular the State Board of Education has been gathering input from around the state on ISTEP. Should it be given in the fall or spring? What is its purpose? The problem with only inviting teachers, educators, administrators and state board of education members is that you leave out the one source with most likely the single greatest input and source of data, parents and students. Parents and students are are the customers and you need their input if you want to solve the educational problem.

Apparently I did not see a notice for a public meeting on ISTEP testing, otherwise I would have attended. Last night at Northrop High School State Board of Education members Michael Pettibone and Jeffrey Zaring were their to here comments.

The News Sentinel reported “Taylor University education professor Rebecca Shearer argued that the ISTEP+ assessment should be moved to the spring because students lose excitement for the start of school with the impending tests. She added that fall testing also fell short because a lot of struggling students haven’t had any education enrichment over the summer, and they’ve forgotten most of what they’ve learned.”

Does this person think we are stupid or just plain ignorant? Is it true students have forgotten most of what they’ve learned over the summer? If this is true, then let us do away with the ISTEP altogether. What we should be focusing on is retention. What good does it do to present material during a school year, paying teachers tens of thousands of dollars yearly only to have most of what the presented forgotten? I have said it before and I will say it again. If students are forgetting material because of the laps of time, then the material never got into long-term memory to begin with. The most likely reason it did not make it into long term memory was they were overwhelmed by the quantity or the speed at which material was presented. In simple terms it exceeded their capacity to comprehend the material and make the necessary fundamental associations needed so it could be retained. The solution is to present less material. The reasoning is if you are going to forget it, at least focus on material that can be retained. If it takes more time on task to ensure retention, then presenting less material will allow more time on task and a higher probability of that material being retained. In simple terms if we reduce the amount of material presented by 25% we can increase time on task by 33%. The result could be a much higher amount of material learned and retained.

Stop trying to drown students in information.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven & Alternative Fuels

Phyllis Pond, R-New Haven wrote an guest editorial in the News Sentinel today. After reading it she has lost my support because of her ignorance on Ethanol and Biodiesel. Many complain about requirements for county coroners not being stringent enough, well the same can be said of State Representatives like Pond. For example three plants will have a profit of $13 Million for local farmers but we as tax payers will contribute to the these companies more than $103 Million in tax credits (51 cents per gallon). We as taxpayers could simply save $90 million by paying the farmers directly while at the same time keep corn prices low for the consumer.

But the real ignorance of her position is ethanol is not a viable solution to foreign oil. A gallon of ethanol contains an energy equivalent of 83,000 Btu’s while a gallon of unleaded gas contained an energy equivalent of 120,000 Btu’s. The energy consumed to grow, transport, dry and distill the corn to ethanol is equivalent to more than 90,000 Btu’s. In simple terms we consume 7,000 Btu’s more than we get out.

The last time I checked, farm equipment consumed diesel or gasoline. Natural gas prices are high due to demand and 50% of the energy used to make ethanol comes from natural gas. This means we will need to import more natural gas from some place else or guess what, convert natural gas consumers to some type of other energy source maybe coal, oil o nuclear.

Now some will say the by-products are worth something and they apply an energy credit for it. The by-product normally in the form of hog feed. Just how much hog feed do we need? Will the increase in supply of hog feed from ethanol plants cause alternative producers of hog feed go out of business?

Then there is the problem of overall capacity. Converting all 80 million acres of corn to ethanol would replace 13% of gasoline, but we would no longer have corn to eat, feed for beef production and the list goes on. At the same time our overall energy usage would increase by 5%. Where do we get 5% more energy? Do we burn more coal, build more hydro electric, nuclear, or natural gas?

We need an energy plan that uses the right source of energy for the right task. Using corn to make ethanol will in no way reduce foreign oil.

Government officials need to stop giving tax credits or incentives (our money) for products and then turning around saying how good a job they are doing at bringing jobs to Indiana. I don’t think Indiana can afford to buy to many more jobs like this

Local Editorials

Both the Journal Gazette and News Sentinel have had recent letters referencing negative comments about Mark Souder. The writers reference the Hayhurst campaign as being the instigators of these negative attacks.

I do not believe those writing negative editorials are under the influence or direction of Tom Hayhurst. Over the past four years the number of people I hear making negative comments about Mark Souder have increased dramatically. Last Monday waiting in the checkout at the grocery store I was speaking with my daughter about the recent VA letter I got informing me my data was stolen and the potential ramifications. I was upset. Here we have an identified problem more than twenty years old and congress has done nothing to address the root cause. A lady behind me apparently overheard me and made some negative comments about Souder not having to worry about his data being lost since he was a conscientious objector.

The people writing these negative editorials are most likely democrats who do not like Souder. To insinuate Hayhurst has any control over what these people write is ludicrous. If they like Souder, then they should write positive things about him, if they can find any.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Enumeration of the United States

In 1935 the Social Security Act was passed to help those left destitute by the Depression. The reality was not one monthly benefit check was ever received by anyone during the depression. The depression ended prior to the first monthly checks being sent out in 1940.

Prior to the social security act, there was no wide spread use of any government numbering of Americans. People existed just fine without a number. However, when the Social Security Act was passed, they needed a way to identify and keep track of workers wages. Numerous people having identical names posed a problem. How would you separate out a John Smith in Fort Wayne from a John Smith in Indianapolis or California or anywhere else for that matter? Then complicate the problem by people looking for work anywhere they could get it and for short periods of time resulting in multiple jobs while living at multiple different locations.

To keep track of individual workers wages the Social Security Commissioner was to create a record base using an issued number to each worker who applied. Applying for the number would be voluntary and according to the Social Security Administration, it still is voluntary today.

Americans were concerned about being issued a social security number. Europe had created good records of the number of people in a family, names, addresses and more. There were rumors these records were being used to find people.

Some Christian Americans thought this social security number might be the number of the beast identified in revelations. While others thought it was an invasion of privacy. To qualm fears the Social Security Administration printed at the bottom of social security cards “Not for Identification.” Government officials pointed out that since only about half the work force would be covered by social security, it would not be a universal identifier. Military, farmers, doctors, federal workers, civilians working for the government agencies were not initially covered by social security. This seemed to qualm fears and life went on.

With social security on the verge of being unable to pay scheduled benefits in 1950, congress changed who was covered and not covered by social security. Congress now covered new category of workers.

1951 - Farm and domestic labor, civilians not under civil service, home workers
1955 - Self employed farmers, ministers (voluntary)
1956 - Self employed groups (Lawyers, Dentists)
1957 - Military
1961 - US Citizens employed by Foreign Government
1965 - Self employed doctors
1966 - Railroads
1968 - Ministers (compulsory)
1984 - All newly hired Federal Employees

In 1961 the Congress passed 26§6109 Identifying Numbers. This required every worker to have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). The purpose was to improve accuracy of reporting. They wanted to be able to determine what income belonged to who. This statute has two main sections identifying what the number would be.

26§6109 Section (c)
Requirement of information. For purposes of this section, the Secretary is authorized to require such information as may be necessary to assign an identifying number to any person.

26§6109 Section (d)
Use of a social security number. The social security account number issued to an individual for purposes of section 205(c)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act shall except as shall otherwise be specified under regulations of the Secretary be used as the identifying number for such individual for purposes of this title.

The premise behind requiring those who had been issued a social security number use this number as their TIN was thought to lesson the burden on the individual. An individual would have only one number to contend with. Section (c) clearly was to cover all those who did not have social security numbers and requires the Secretary assign an identifying number to any person. Section (d) gave the secretary of the IRS the authority not to use the social security number, but to regulate something else.

In 1974 congress passed what is known as the Privacy Act of 974. It came about because many government agencies were collecting information on individuals in excess of what was needed to perform their functions and this information was being misused. This statute has a particular powerful tool for individuals.

(e) Agency Requirements. - Each agency that maintains a system of records shall -

(3) inform each individual whom it asks to supply information, on the form which it uses to collect the information or on a separate form that can be retained by the individual -

(A) the authority (whether granted by statute, or by executive order of the President) which authorizes the solicitation of the information and whether disclosure of such information is mandatory or voluntary;

(B) the principal purpose or purposes for which the information is intended to be used;

(C) the routine uses which may be made of the information, as published pursuant to paragraph (4)(D) of this subsection; and

(D) the effects on him, if any, of not providing all or any part of the requested information;

I highly recommend every citizen who is asked to present a social security number or some other identification by a government agency to request that agencies legal authority to require that information per the Privacy Act of 1974. K-12 Schools do not have authorization to require social security numbers. Identity theft among minors is one of the fastest growing crimes. It allows identity theft to go unnoticed for years. How many minors check their credit history?

The IRS routinely issued their own TIN to individuals who had never been issued a social security number up through 1995. This changed in 1996 when they interpreted section (d) to require all U.S. Citizens to have a social security number.

See section 301.6109-1(a)(ii)(A) and (B), Procedures & Administrative Regulations. Section 301.6109-(1)(d)(4) of the regulations further specifies that “Any individual who is duly assigned a Social Security number or who is entitled to a Social Security number will not be issued an IRS individual taxpayer identification number.”

(A) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(B) and (D) of this section, and Sec. 301.6109-3, an individual required to furnish a taxpayer identifying number must use a social security number.

(B) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(D) of this section and Sec. 301.6109-3, an individual required to furnish a taxpayer identifying number but who is not eligible to obtain a social security number must use an IRS individual taxpayer identification number.

Individuals who are ineligible for or do not wish to participate in the benefits of the social security program shall nevertheless obtain a social security number if they are required to furnish such a number pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.

Beginning in 2006 the IRS has now written regulations requiring all colleges and universities to require the TIN off all students. Without the TIN, an individual will not be able to attend higher education.

The U.S. Treasury requires a person present their TIN to obtain a passport.

The National ID act now requires all state licensing agencies to require a social security number in order to issue identification to enter federal administered buildings (airports, rail, etc.)
A little known voluntary number in 1935 that caused concern that it would become a universal identifier has now become the defacto universal ID of U.S. citizens. It reminds me of the frog that thought he had jumped into a nice cool pond when in fact it was kettle and when he finally realized his mistake it was too late.

With 26.5 million veterans data, which includes name, date of birth and social security number stolen; identity thefts increasing exponentially yearly; terrorists used social security numbers to obtain drivers licenses; should we be using the social security number at all to ensure a person’s identity? When you buy a home do you change the locks because you do not know, which neighbors may have a key? If your purse is stolen with you identification and house keys, would you not change your locks to guard against burglaries?

Years ago a young man was driving along the East Coast and was pulled over for a tail light being out. When the officer ran the driver’s license the driver was identified as being AWOL from the marines. The driver said he had never been in the marines, but was detained anyway. The marines came and placed him in the brig where he was incarcerated for over 20 days. Finally someone looked at the photo on record for the military and compared it to the person in the brig and realized they had the wrong person. This person lost their job because they had failed to go to work. This individual’s previous roommate had stolen his ID years before, joined the marines and when it did not soot him, went AWOL.

In the News Sentinel it was reported that millions if not billions of dollars were fraudulently obtained through FEMA after hurricane Katrina. Thousands of debit cards were given to individuals who presented names and social security number, which turned out to be prison inmates. Katrina was months ago and the extent of fraud is yet unknown.

The problem is the social security number is not secure. You cannot simply change your social security number if it is lost or stolen like a house key to keep intruders out. You are marked with it for life.

FWCS passes the buck to taxpayers

On the news last night they showed Snider HS in a bad state of repair. I served in the US Navy and the steam pipes I saw on the news along with the valves showed little to no preventative maintenance. The rust on the valves is due to leaking steam. No one has put any grease on the threads in years nor have they rebuilt the bonnet. The rusted pipe flanges have seals that have failed. This is clear from the rust and the degradation of the outside pipe. How many times have they changed these low cost and easy to fix seals? Now they propose to spend $389,000 to due a study. Give me a break.

The principals of the schools are responsible for their schools. This includes maintenance. It appears some have failed to adequately maintain their buildings. Now if the principals have requested funds for maintenance and the school board has not approved them, then the school board is negligent.

Much of the problem is the result of using cash flow accounting instead of accrual. Build a nice building and do little to maintain it for the first 15 years. Accrual no funds to replace the heating or AC in 15 years, resulting in another one time big cost. A roof is another big time cost. For example if a roof costs $250K every ten years in preventive maintenance, then you need to be setting aside $25K a year or more to pay for it when it is needed. The same is true for all consumables. What I saw at Snider showed little to no maintenance. Now they come to the taxpayer and want them to pay to fix their negligence.

If accrual accounting were used, then funds would be budgeted and funds accumulated to pay for scheduled maintenance. If you do not do this, then building fall apart and a $100 million assets drops in values and becomes a white elephant.

People speak out about coroners needing to be educated and trained in their field; well the same is true of school board members, principals and representatives to name just a few.

I will say it again; it is the responsibility of the school board to maintain the assets of the school system. They higher a superintendent who is responsible for making sure the assets of the schools are maintained. They must implement preventative maintenance programs to maintain asset values and minimize costs to taxpayers. The principals are responsible for informing the superintendent of the needs of the schools. The maintenance workers in each school are responsible for informing the principal of their needs to maintain buildings. I will say it again, what I saw on the news was not a properly maintained school. Now the taxpayers are the ones who must pay the bill. If I were a FWCS taxpayer I would be asking each school board member how many times they visited the schools and where did they go? Did they spend time in classrooms shaking hands and being seen or did they look at the school’s infrastructure in particular?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Secretary of Verterans Affairs Washington

I was notified yesterday that "an employee took home electronic data from the VA, which he was not authorized to do and was in violation of established policies." This data was stolen and included my SS#, date of birth, name and other information.

It goes on to say the VA "out of abundance of caution, however, VA is taking all possible steps to protect and inform veterans." Great where was the "abundance of caution" to begin with?

They apologize for the inconvenience. Nice, but what good does that do. The privacy act of 1974 was to safe guard electronic records. It was passed in 1974. I have been fighting this type of negligence for decades. Our representatives created this mess, but those who did not serve do not have to live with the consequences.

Our U.S. Representatives are not pro-active and they are barely re-active. We need a big time change.

  • Identity theft has been with us for over a decade and they have done nothing.
  • The Social Security problem has been with us since 1937 and they were told about it by A.J. Altmyer in 1943 and yet they have just made things worse.
  • Medicare is in deep do-do and what do they do, they add Rx drugs and make the financial problem even worse.
  • We have had an energy problem that mushroomed in 1973 and yet over the past 33 years have done little but subsidize with tax credits ethanol which does nothing for us our energy independence.
  • Over twenty years ago they gave amnesty to many illegals. It was a problem then and it has only gotten worse because of inaction by our representatives.
Did they correct the problem? Did they identify the root cause, no? The root cause is our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators. Out with them all! Our representatives like to be re-active. Big problems make big headlines and they get their name in the media. It allows them to put on a dog-and-pony-show and make it appear they are doing us some great favor when all the while it is their fault. We need Pro-active representatives’ people who head of problems so that they do not occur.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The National ID Act

How many think the National ID Act is a good thing? Recently 26.5 Million veterans might have had their ID’s stolen when the VA lost records covering veterans discharged since 1977. This data included social security numbers, date of birth, address, name, type of disability if any and more.

The hijackers of 9/11 had social security numbers and with them they obtained drivers licenses. By using a social security number are we making ourselves more secure or less? The social security card does not have a photo and it does not in any way meet any standard I know of as being a secure ID. Illegal immigrants use other peoples’ social security numbers. Identity theft affected 9.2 million individuals in 2004.

The social security administration requires a birth certificate to obtain a social security number. In fact they say applying for a social security number is voluntary and there is no federal law requiring any individual apply for one.

By using a social security number as the key ID for issuing a National ID are we not opening ourselves up to attack and more? I know that South Carolina up until 2001 sold driver’s information to marketers and included social security numbers. The congressional record reported social security numbers of flag officers in the military when promoted up until a few years ago.

If we want to be secure, the best security comes from a layered approach. In this I mean every government agency should be required to check the background/authenticity of documents given it. Using the social security number as the key ID means that once this number is issued, no other checking is done. Every government agency will assume the Social Security Administration did their job. If the social security administration makes an error, how will it ever be found?. Recently a tragic error is misidentification of two Taylor University students showed how tragic a human error can be. Since humans make mistakes, should we not have more than one human checking in order to increase the probability of catching potential errors? If we required a birth certificate be used instead of a social security number, then each time a person applied for an ID, a new review or fresh eyes would see and verify this information. If there was a problem, then it has a higher probability of being detected at some point in time.

Now with the National ID Act, the state of Indiana no longer will issue driver’s licenses to those without social security numbers nor will they issue photo ID’s. Up until one year ago the State of Indiana would issue driver’s licenses and photo ID’s to those without Social Security Numbers if they signed an affidavit that they had never been issued a SSN.

The IRS up until 1996 routinely assigned TIN’s to those eligible for a SSN, but has written regulations that no longer allows this. According to 26 USC 6109 (c) the IRS secretary is to assign an identifying number to any person yet the IRS will not issue a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to those eligible for a Social Security Number, but whom do not have one. The IRS has now written regulations that require all colleges and Universities to require the TIN of each student. To obtain a passport no longer requires a Social Security Number of the applicant, but treasury regulations require the person paying the fee must be the applicant and must provide their TIN.

In essence the government has now legislated that if you do not have a social security number you may not work, open a bank account, buy or sell property, travel, attend college or vote.

Below is the National ID Act as written.

The National ID Act - 49 USC 30301,

(a) Minimum Standards for Federal Use.--

(1) <<NOTE: Effective date.>> In general.--Beginning 3 years after the date of the enactment of this division, a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section.

(2) State certifications.--The Secretary shall determine whether a State is meeting the requirements of this section based on certifications made by the State to the Secretary. Such certifications shall be made at such times and in such manner as the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, may prescribe by regulation.

(b) Minimum Document Requirements.--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by the State:

(1) The person's full legal name.

(2) The person's date of birth.

(3) The person's gender.

(4) The person's driver's license or identification card number.

(5) A digital photograph of the person.

(6) The person's address of principle residence.

(7) The person's signature.

(8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.

(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.

(c) Minimum Issuance Standards.--

(1) In general.--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall require, at a minimum, presentation and verification of the following information before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person:

(A) A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth.

(B) Documentation showing the person's date of birth.

(C) Proof of the person's social security account number or verification that the person is not eligible for a social security account number.

(D) Documentation showing the person's name and address of principal residence.

(2) Special requirements.--

(A) In general.--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall comply with the minimum standards of this paragraph.

(B) Evidence of lawful status.--A State shall require, before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, valid documentary evidence that the person--

(i) is a citizen or national of the United States;

(ii) is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence in the United States;

(iii) has conditional permanent resident status in the United States;

(iv) has an approved application for asylum in the United States or has entered into the United States in refugee status;

(v) has a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status for entry into the United States;

(vi) has a pending application for asylum in the United States;

(vii) has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States;

(viii) has approved deferred action status; or

(ix) has a pending application for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States or conditional permanent resident status in the United States.

(C) Temporary drivers' licenses and identification cards.--

(i) In general.--If a person presents evidence under any of clauses (v) through (ix) of subparagraph (B), the State may only issue a temporary driver's license or temporary identification card to the person.

(ii) Expiration date.--A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall be valid only during the period of time of the applicant's authorized stay in the United States or, if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, a period of one year.

(iii) Display of expiration date.--A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall clearly indicate that it is temporary and shall state the date on which it expires.

(iv) Renewal.--A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph may be renewed only upon presentation of valid documentary evidence that the status by which the applicant qualified for the temporary driver's license or temporary identification card has been extended by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

(3) Verification of documents.--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall implement the following procedures:

(A) Before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, the State shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented by the person under paragraph (1) or (2).

(B) The State shall not accept any foreign document, other than an official passport, to satisfy a requirement of paragraph (1) or (2).

(C) <<NOTE: Deadline. Memorandum.>> Not later than September 11, 2005, the State shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Secretary of Homeland Security to routinely utilize the automated system known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, as provided for by section 404 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 3009-664), to verify the legal presence status of a person, other than a United States citizen, applying for a driver's license or identification card.

(d) Other Requirements.--To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall adopt the following practices in the issuance of drivers' licenses and identification cards:

(1) Employ technology to capture digital images of identity source documents so that the images can be retained in electronic storage in a transferable format.

(2) Retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of 7 years or images of source documents presented for a minimum of 10 years.

(3) Subject each person applying for a driver's license or identification card to mandatory facial image capture.

(4) Establish an effective procedure to confirm or verify a renewing applicant's information.

(5) Confirm with the Social Security Administration a social security account number presented by a person using the full social security account number. In the event that a social security account number is already registered to or associated with another person to which any State has issued a driver's license or identification card, the State shall resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action.

(6) Refuse to issue a driver's license or identification card to a person holding a driver's license issued by another State without confirmation that the person is terminating or has terminated the driver's license.

(7) Ensure the physical security of locations where drivers' licenses and identification cards are produced and the security of document materials and papers from which drivers' licenses and identification cards are produced.

(8) Subject all persons authorized to manufacture or produce drivers' licenses and identification cards to appropriate security clearance requirements.

(9) Establish fraudulent document recognition training programs for appropriate employees engaged in the issuance of drivers' licenses and identification cards.

(10) Limit the period of validity of all driver's licenses and identification cards that are not temporary to a period that does not exceed 8 years.

(11) In any case in which the State issues a driver's license or identification card that does not satisfy the requirements of this section, ensure that such license or identification card--

(A) clearly states on its face that it may not be accepted by any Federal agency for federal identification or any other official purpose; and

(B) uses a unique design or color indicator to alert Federal agency and other law enforcement personnel that it may not be accepted for any such purpose.

(12) Provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State.

(13) Maintain a State motor vehicle database that contains, at a minimum--

(A) all data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards issued by the State; and

(B) motor vehicle drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.

Homestead's class of 2006

I attended my niece’s graduation ceremonies Saturday night. Homestead’s ceremonies were different. I looked for conformity in attire and found none. Some males wore T-shirts, dark colored shirts, striped shirts, blue jeans, suits, ties, sneakers and dress shoes. Females wore dresses, pants, sandals, flip-flops, sneakers and shoes. Did attire change the conformity of the ceremony, no? So little of the individual’s clothes were visible that the gown transformed the entire graduation class into a uniform group. The single largest observable facet was hairstyle.

I liked both ceremonies. The speakers at Homestead were good. I got the distinct impression the principal was well liked. They even brought three to four inflatable beach balls and tossed then into the air. The principal spoke about how solemn these ceremonies were, but in reality I thought it broke the “ice” of the occasion. Graduation is to be a fun and happy time.

Though they asked all not to applaud until the end many hooted and yelled after a name was read. They did a great service by noting those not in attendance due to enlisting in the military and I applauded them. I wish them well and all the best.

Both graduations were very good, far better than my own 31 years ago. Congratulations to all 2006 graduates!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Class of 2005: Carroll High School Graduation

Carroll High School Graduation

My son graduated this year and his commencement exercise took place yesterday (6-8-2006). Things have changed quite a bit since I graduated. I learned afterwards that had he been unable to find a different/ “lighter” colored shirt, that both his grandparents, Aunt and his own family would not have seen him cross the stage to receive his diploma. Apparently there is a school requirement that all males wear a light colored shirt. My son had on a light blue shirt. Another requirement was that all males have a tie. Females were to wear a light colored or white dress.

Our neighbor across the street came in just minutes prior to the ceremonies beginning breathing heavily. She said her son had forgotten his tie. Another parent had spent hours trying to find a light colored or white dress and ended up paying a lot for it. Yet another was told to change her hair color. I did not know there was a dress code for commencement until after the ceremonies had taken place and we were half way home.

Having graduated in the mid 70’s during the height of streaking, long hair and different styles, I find it hard to believe that a school would prohibit a nicely dressed individual with tie simply because of the color of his shirt or the color of a dress. Individuality is key to our society and after seeing how individuality was made such a keen process of the ceremony makes the dress code really out dated. For example, when I graduated, it was by alphabetical order and the only distinction between those with honors and without honors was I believe in the tassel if that. However, with Carroll, they were seated by grade point average, then honors and then the rest. Carroll’s ceremony was much better than my own stale graduation. It was a very nice blend of music, lights and movement which was wonderfully different from mine

Did the color of a shirt make any difference? I did not notice they were nearly all the same color. In my opinion, the color of shirt makes no difference and neither does the color of a dress. Quite frankly the graduation gown covers over 95% of the graduates clothes and from 50 feet away I do not think anyone can really make out the color of clothing underneath or even notices.

So what is my real beef with Carroll? When we arrived at 5:50 PM, graduates were ushered to a different portion of the coliseum. It only makes sense to keep parents and graduates separated so that they can assemble the graduates efficiently. However, once this is done, it makes it virtually impossible for the graduate to find the parents if they need to go back home or make a change. In our case, our son could not find us. How was he to find a different lighter shirt in one hour? The Salvation Army has a store near by and my son ran to the store and bought a shirt. Luckily he had some money with him.

Therefore, Carroll should have inspected the graduates’ attires prior to separating parents from graduates and if a problem existed, it is identified and a corrective action recommended. I am told this is a Carroll tradition that dates back a long time. It is the first time I have ever heard of this tradition. It is one tradition that needs to be updated or at the very least identified in the student handbook and on the NACS web page.

I found this, this morning in the Carroll Communicator May/June 2006 on page 5 of 14.

It is very important that all seniors dress appropriately for commencement exercises. Seniors improperly dressed will not be allowed to participate in commencement exercises and may pick up their diplomas on Friday, June 9, at the high school guidance office.

Ladies: Dress preferably in a plain dress either white or a light color, but not a bright color. A plain skirt following the same color scheme and a plain white or pastel blouse would be acceptable. No slacks or pants. Shoes -dress shoes with strap on back, white or light color, but not a bright color, one to two inch heels, no casual sandals or flip flops. Cap, gown, and tassel (tassel right side. ) Purses and valuables should be left with your parents as there is no place to secure them and you cannot carry them with you.

Gentlemen: Dress in plain dark slacks, not jeans, a plain white or pastel colored shirt with a tie, dark socks and dark shoes (no gym shoes, sandals or flip flops.) Cap, gown, and tassel (tassel right side. )

General thoughts: 1. Carry your gown and put it on at the Coliseum. 2. Carry your cap and put in on at the Coliseum unless it must be pinned on. (Bring bobby pins with you. ) 3. DO NOT CHEW GUM.

With two students at Carroll, I never once saw this newsletter. Carroll High School needs to make a more direct effort in making sure parents are notified of this requirement instead of leaving it up to indirect communication. As an engineer, I deal with poorly worded documentation routinely. This dress code is not quantifiable and is subjective to the person who is inspecting the attire of graduates. After looking at many pictures taken as well as video of every graduate walking up the aisle, I find a large inconsistency in applying the dress code uniformly. The words light, bright and dark mean different things to different people. My son’s shirt I would say is a light colored blue or even pastel, but to the inspector it was not “dark.” My son’s friend had on a shirt that was nearly identical in color, yet was “passed.”

Graduation should be a happy day marking the end of 13 years of schooling and the transition to one’s next step in life. No one should be denied participating in ceremonies simply because of the color of their shirt or dress. Why hassle an individual on the last day?

NBC-33 Debate poll results from 2002