Monthly Archives: February 2012

George Stephanopoulus And Condoms: Chance

In a debate held several weeks ago, George Stephanopoulus really zeroed in on Mitt Romney for an answer to the question:

“Could a state ban contraception?”

Romney, sensing the trap, declined to answer.

George didn’t stop-anopoulus.  He kept right on going,  Going to the point that the audience boo’ed him.

My question to you:

Was this a precursor to the whole fabricated women’s health initiative initiated by Obama?  Are they singing from the same hymnal?

Unemployment Benefits: Incentives Matter

I’ve argued time and time again that incentives matter.  And why people think this wouldn’t apply to the incentive not to work is beyond me.  But now there is evidence of just how strong that incentive is: via Dan Mitchell

The extension of UI [unemployment insurance] is found to have a positive and significant impact on the national unemployment rate…. The UI benefit extensions that have occurred between the summer of 2008 and the end of 2010 are estimated to have had a cumulative effect of raising the unemployment rate by .77 to 1.54 percentage points.

That seems pretty significant to me.

Libertarianism in Hungary: Who Knew

How cool to find a sympathetic voice in Hungary:

I will only give you a job if:

  1. I can fire you, when and if I want to.
  2. If VAT goes down to at most 20%, but better yet 15%.
  3. If the state takes away “only” 30% of your money.
  4. If higher income is not exponentially punished.
  5. If the state punishes corruption instead of decent companies.

Until these things change, I won’t give a job. Until the state ferrets out corruption in every possible aspect, I won’t start a business, and I won’t create jobs.

There are things that contribute to people giving people jobs and then things that discourage such activity.

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Occupy Raleigh: Gone Galt

Earlier this month I posted on the frustration of certain members of Occupy Raleigh.  It seemed that the “1%” of the movement was beginning to get fed up with the “99%.”

To those of you who continue to complain, and whine, and bitch, and moan about the camp – just fucking stop. We are all tired of hearing it. If you have a problem at the camp, come fix it. I can not fix everything myself. Jes can not fix everything herself. Thomas can not fix everything by himself. Nor can Charles, Susie, or any of the other people who do put an effort in.

In some ways this Occupy movement is a useful lesson to those involved.  It’s perhaps their first involvement in running an organization.  In generating consensus, in knowing when consensus is a paralyzing goal.  For the first time in life these folks might be managing people.  However, for some of the citizens of this society, enough simply became enough.

They “Gone Galt.”

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NASCAR: Jeff Gordon And Racing

Even if you’re not a NASCAR fan, this is must see TV.

It starts out with 3 laps to go on one of the circuits fastest track; Daytona.  The drivers are going about 200 miler per hour.  The thing is, the way these cars are built, when going that fast and that close, the driver in back has to, HAS to drift up on the right side of the bumper in front of him.  In other words, if you are not going to be directly behind the car in front of you, make sure you stay to his right side.

If you fail to follow this simple rule, the car if front of you will see the air pressure taken off his fender and he’ll enter into a “counter-clockwise” spin; his car will lurch left.

Now, in the middle of a race with dozens of cars around you, this is a good rule to follow.  Never break it.  However, racing for the win with 3 laps to go, this is less a rule than it is a tool.  Jeff Gordon is behind the M&M car and needs to be in FRONT of the M&M car.  So, Gordon “breaks” the one rule, slides to the man’s left, the car lurches left and Gordon gets by.  But.

Then he gets tangled with the driver above him and wrecks.

And boy does he wreck.

Wherein The Economist Channels Pino

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, if you wanna sell more beer, lower the price.  The same concept exists for labor.  If you want people to buy more labor, lower the price of labor.

But even as we face unprecedented levels of unemployment, there are people in the world that wanna make it harder for people to hire people.  They suggest that the real value of the current minimum wage is low and that we should consider raising it match past level.

I don’t understand how pricing low margin workers out of the job market right now makes sense.  And the Economist agrees with me.

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Negative Impacts Of New Technology

It goes without saying that technology has changed the way we live.  It’s changed how we communicate, read the news, shop and even pay bills.  Heck, it’s changed a daily routine of mine that’s practiced by millions of Americans:

Getting the mail.

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Value Added Teachers

We love our teachers.  Most people when asked to name the most influential people in their life outside their parents name teachers.  And more than loving our teachers, we CHERISH our best teachers.  These are the blessed souls that “save us”.  These are the folks who make the difference.  Sometimes it’s literal; a teacher reaches out and is the difference between a kid failing out or graduating.  Other times it’s just to magnify the focus; a good student becomes great.

These are the teachers we mean when we say teachers don’t make enough.  These are the ones, the special ones.

But how do we find ’em, pay ’em and keep ’em?

There may be a way.

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Collective Bargaining Changes In Wisconsin

It’s been a while since we checked in on how things are going in Wisconsin since the state passed the law restricting collective bargaining.

Let’s check:

Before the reform, many districts’ annual union contracts required them to buy health insurance from WEA Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the state’s largest teachers’ union. Once the reform limited collective bargaining to wage negotiations, districts could eliminate that requirement from their contracts and start bidding for health care on the open market. When the Appleton School District put its health-insurance contract up for bid, for instance, WEA Trust suddenly lowered its rates and promised to match any competitor’s price. Appleton will save $3 million during the current school year.

That’s a win.  Before the law the districts had to negotiate with ONE insurance provider.  Now they can shop.  The savings?  $3 million.

At the outset of the public-union standoff, educators had made dire predictions that Walker’s reforms would force schools to fire teachers. In February, to take one example, Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad predicted that 289 teachers in his district would be laid off. Walker insisted that his reforms were actually a job-retention program: by accepting small concessions in health and pension benefits, he argued, school districts would be able to spare hundreds of teachers’ jobs. The argument proved sound. So far, Nerad’s district has laid off no teachers at all, a pattern that has held in many of the state’s other large school districts

Because teachers are now required to contribute to some of their health care and retirement, the districts are able to save jobs.  So far 289 in one district alone.  A win.

Another example of saved jobs:

The Wauwatosa School District, which faced a $6.5 million shortfall, anticipated slashing 100 jobs—yet the new pension and health contributions saved them all.

Boom goes the dynamite.

Beyond the cost savings, districts are able to implement policies that encourage better educational outcomes:



The Limits Of Government Power

In the last 6 years, the government has done stuff that leaves me wondering if there is a  limit to what it can do.

For example, we see bills such as the Patriot Act passed into law that really push the limits on government intrusion.  If they can do “that”, what can’t they do?

Then there were the wars in foreign nations.  If we can just do “that”, is there any thing that we can’t do?

Then TARP, TARP II and the bailout of the car companies.

All of which leads us to Obamacare and the preventative care mandate.

What can’t they do?

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