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  • July 2011
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links for 2011-07-30

links for 2011-07-29

links for 2011-07-29

  • Quote:"In terms of total employment, the U.S. lost 0.7 million jobs during the first 24 months of Obama’s recovery. The nation has never before had an economic expansion where total employment after two years of recovery was lower than it was at the end of the recession. In June 2011, America had 2.9 million fewer people working than when Obama was inaugurated. (By the same point in Reagan’s presidency, our total number of jobs had increased by 0.7 million, equivalent to 1.0 million jobs after adjustment for today’s higher population.)

    // Whoa. That's hardcore Fail.

  • Quote:"Hip replacements, cataract surgery and tonsil removal are among operations now being rationed in a bid to save the NHS money.

    Two-thirds of health trusts in England are rationing treatments for "non-urgent" conditions as part of the drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20bn over the next four years. One in three primary-care trusts (PCTs) has expanded the list of procedures it will restrict funding to in the past 12 months.

    // Duh. There is no free lunch.

  • Quote:"NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

    // Duh.

  • Quote:"Jobless claims dropped by 24,000 to 398,000 in the week ended July 23, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a drop to 415,000. Another report showed the number of contracts to buy previously owned homes unexpectedly rose in June.

    Fewer firings are a first step toward gains in hiring that will help stem a slowdown in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. A report tomorrow may show household purchases last quarter grew at the slowest pace since the end of the recession in 2009 as the jobless rate climbed above 9 percent and payroll gains decelerated.

    // It might be good news. Or it might mean the economy has simply bled out and there's nothing left to bleed.

    (tags: economy jobs)
  • Quote:"In March 2010, Congress passed President Obama’s health care reform legislation. The bill had appeared in serious jeopardy, and after the upset special election victory of Senator Scott Brown (R–MA), many analysts expected the bill to fail. Instead, it became law.

    The law discourages employers from hiring in several ways:

    Businesses with fewer than 50 workers have a strong incentive to maintain this size, which allows them to avoid the mandate to provide government-approved health coverage or face a penalty;
    Businesses with more than 50 workers will see their costs for health coverage rise—they must purchase more expensive government-approved insurance or pay a penalty; and
    Employers face considerable uncertainty about what constitutes qualifying health coverage and what it will cost. They also do not know what the health care market or their health care costs will look like in four years. This makes planning for the future difficult.

  • // Another interesting article on human evolution, this time it's about brain size and the sacrifices nevessary to have a large brain.

    Turns out our ancestors sacrificed a lot of guts (literally, our intestinal organs shrank), we had to change (or did) change our diets (including eating meat) and our genetic structure changed in a way that created more paths for glucose to get to our brains.

  • Quote:"Other research shows that concern about reputation also helps to motivate people to behave cooperatively. The U.C. Santa Barbara researchers speculate, “If defection damages one’s reputation among third parties, thereby precluding cooperation with others aside from one’s current partner, defection would be selected against far more strongly.” John Tooby, in a press release, asserts that his group’s research supports the happy conclusion, “People who help only when they can see a gain do worse than those who are motivated to be generous without always looking ahead to see what they might get in return." In other words, being nice is a winning strategy when it comes to economics and evolution.

    // Interesting read. Evolution favors the nice guy. Who knew?

links for 2011-07-26

  • Quote:"Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. Because Diamond Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that the FDA didn’t approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, “Your walnut products are drugs” — and “new drugs” at that — and, therefore, “they may not legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug application.” The agency even threatened Diamond with “seizure” if it failed to comply.

    // Zah?

  • // Interesting graphic. I have a few problems, 1) tax cuts aren't really costs, so I'd remove those. 2) TARP will probably be close to remunerative, so I toss that out. And that still leads Bush with 3.04 trillion in new spending versus Obama's 1.05 trillion dollars. Graphic ignores cuts in spending in existing programs. So it's a little slanted. But no doubt, Bush was a spender. Which is not to excuse Obama. His healthcare may be chearper than Bush's drug benefit, but the drug benefit didn't create thousands of pages of new regulations and make having health insurance more expensive for most people.

    There's another problem, but this isn't in the graphic. It's in the cyclical nature of the presidency. Presidents who reside in times of general prosperity (between 2002 and 2007, Bush enjoyed economic growth), you can increase spending as much as you want. The guys who pay the price are the presidents who work in the bad times. They can't expand programs.

links for 2011-07-25

links for 2011-07-23

  • // Eventually we have to come to the conclusion that, regardless of ability, those who seek community college are fundamentally different than those who seek four year colleges. That does not mean community colleges are inferior to 4-year institutions.
  • Quote:"The study was carried out by consumer research firm Intersperience, who surveyed over 1,000 people.

    Participants were quizzed on their attitudes to the use of the internet, smart phones, and other devices, and were even asked to go 24 hours without any access to internet technology.
    Giving up all technology allowing web access was described by some participants as similar to quitting drinking or smoking.

    // Interesting study, I have no reason to doubt it. It's more proof behavioral addiction can be just as strong as chemical addiction (and may in fact better explain what most people label as "chemical" addiction.

  • Quote:"Elise said she had just come out from an information meeting in a nearby building when she heard gunshots. She saw a police officer and thought she was safe, but then he started shooting.

    "He first shot people on the island. Afterward he started shooting people in the water," she said.

    Elise said she hid behind the same rock that the killer was standing on. "I could hear his breathing from the top of the rock," she said.

    In panic, the girl phoned her parents, whispering to them what was going on.

    "They told me not to panic and that everything would be OK." Her parents also told her to get rid of a brightly colored jacket she was wearing to not draw attention to herself.

    She said it was impossible to say how many minutes passed while she was waiting for him to stop.

    // Remarkable story of survival, and it shows clear thinking, making good decisions and not panicking can increase your chance at survival.

From the Notebook

If you didn’t know already, my book is out. Buy a copy.

- Watching the debt debate is very frustrating. It would be really great if we could figure this whole sustainable government thing out before we get Greece’d. One thought I had, if Obama and the Dems pursued a Millionaire Surtax, it would swing the public to their side very quickly and to a greater degree (polls already suggest the public favors Obama in these debates). The debt commission suggested a 6% surtax on income over a million dollars, and the GOP would never be able to defend against a tax hike to those earners. Thankfully, it looks like the Dems are against anything other than rolling back the Bush tax cut on the 250,000 dollar bracket.

-A lot of neat information popped up regarding taxes during the MN Shutdown debate. I saw one graphic showing the effective tax rate of the top 10% or MN earners versus the same for the bottom 90%. The bottom 90% have a lower actual rate, but pay a higher effective rate. The argument follows that raising the taxes on the top 10% is the answer. Sorry, I’d rather lower the MN regressive taxes, like sales tax and gas tax and so many others first (and maybe then make it revenue neutral by raising taxes on the wealthy). But it’s never offered. Never.

- Finished a few Teaching Company courses: Meaning from Data: Statistics Made Clear and Change and Motion: Calculus Made Clear (by Prof. Michael Starbird). This completes the “Starbird Trilogy” of math courses from The Teaching Company. I’m also working my way through the Khan Academy. I’ve completed Arithmetic, Developmental Math I&II, Pre-Algebra, Core Algebra, Core Geometry and Trigonometry video playlists. I’m also staying current on my business knowledge on Khan Academy, having completed the Valuation and Investing, Venture Capital and Capital Markets, and Geithner Plan playlists. It’s great, I’m trying to complete all the proficiency exercises for math in the coming months.

-Read Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche. It was really long and boring. The parts near the end where he tries to suggest what the Over Men might be, how they might think, were mildly interesting.

links for 2011-07-21

  • // This article relates a study (one of the two previously bookmarked) that shows community college students who take online courses are less likely to complete their academic careers with a certification or degree. Considering how much online learning can lower the cost of education, studies like this are very important. I have previously read studies whowing that students who complete online courses have better recall than classroom learners; which, when combined with the cost savings, gives online learning staying power. Personally, I think students should spend at least a year in the face to face classroom environment, then transition to distance learning and hybrid courses. I struggled and actually withdrew from my first distance course, but I later completed a degree online. I really believe in online learning more than in classroom learning. The problem with online learning is it takes a motivated student, and teenagers generally ain't that.
  • Quote:"Results indicate that nearly half of Virginia community college students enrolled in an online course across the period of study, with online enrollments increasing dramatically over four years. However, few students enrolled in an entirely online curriculum in a given term, even by the time the study concluded in 2008. In general, students with stronger academic preparation were more likely to enroll in online courses. Regardless of their initial level of preparation, however, students were more likely to fail or withdraw from online courses than from face-to-face courses. In addition, students who took online coursework in early semesters were slightly less likely to return to school in subsequent semesters, and students who took a higher proportion of credits online were slightly less likely to attain an educational award or transfer to a four-year institution.
  • Quote:"Students who were employed for more hours and students who had demographic characteristics associated with stronger academic preparation were more likely to enroll in online courses; however, students who enrolled in hybrid courses were quite similar to those who enrolled in a purely face-to-face curriculum. After controlling for student characteristics using multilevel regression techniques, results indicated that students were more likely to fail or withdraw from online courses than from face-to-face courses. In addition, students who took online coursework in early terms were slightly but significantly less likely to return to school in subsequent terms, and students who took a higher proportion of credits online were slightly but significantly less likely to attain an educational award or transfer to a four-year institution. In contrast, students were equally likely to complete a hybrid course as to complete a face-to-face course.
  • Quote:"[Bernie] Marcus: The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling.

    If you're a small businessman, the only way to deal with it is to work harder, put in more hours, and let people go. When you consider that something like 70% of the American people work for small businesses, you are talking about a big economic impact.

    // Duh

  • Quote:"
    "Most high-income people in our country do not realize that their incomes are being subsidized by their protection from competition from highly skilled people who are prevented from immigrating to the United States,” Greenspan said. “But we need such skills in order to staff our productive economy, so that the standard of living for Americans as a whole can grow."

    Think of that last line for a moment. We need to import labor – intelligent, skilled labor – to guarantee that Americans’ standard of living is maintained.

    Have we indeed fallen so far?

    // Or further.

  • // Back up.
    (tags: unemployment)

links for 2011-07-19

links for 2011-07-18

  • Quote:"It would be a huge mistake to imagine that the cumulative, cascading burden of many tax rates on the same income will leave the middle class untouched. Take a teacher in California earning $60,000. A current federal rate of 25%, a 9.5% California rate, and 15.3% payroll tax yield a combined income tax rate of 45%. The income tax increases to cover the CBO's projected federal deficit in 2016 raises that to 52%. Covering future Social Security and Medicare deficits brings the combined marginal tax rate on that middle-income taxpayer to an astounding 71%. That teacher working a summer job would keep just 29% of her wages. At the margin, virtually everyone would be working primarily for the government, reduced to a minority partner in their own labor.

    // These tax increases are not just about the rich. The deficit is not a made-up crisis. Unemployment is not at 9.2% by accident.

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