May 28, 2009 § Leave a comment
I take this as definitive until I know better. The fudging and equivocation are just frustrasting, but undersandable, given the stakes.
What cannot be disputed, however, is the financial bailout’s biggest loser: the American taxpayer. The US government, led by the Treasury Department, has done little, if anything, to maximize returns on its trillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded investment. So far, the bailout has favored rescued financial institutions by subsidizing their losses to the tune of $356 billion, shying away from much-needed management changes and – with the exception of the automakers – letting companies take taxpayer money without a coherent plan for how they might return to viability.
May 26, 2009 § Leave a comment
the Virginia and Maryland suburbs, prices for single-family homes are down to where they were five years ago. In Prince William and Loudoun counties, a flood of foreclosures has pushed prices so low that bargain hunters have flocked there in recent months, helping to boost sales.
So The problem is, who own houses? The general shift his been from poor to rich.
via Calculated Risk.
May 24, 2009 § Leave a comment
Been thinking about guaranteed annual wage of lets say 12,000 per person US. In the US. Gets rid of welfare, gives people choices of their own making, creates a feeling of security and stability. Here is an example.
Are there reasons to oppose this general approach to emergency aid beyond those noted below?:
How to help the poor have more money? Well, you could give it to them, by Laura Freschi: In 2007, people in the Western Province of Zambia lost their homes, their livestock and their crops when heavier-than-normal flash floods swept through their area. USAID’s office of disaster assistance stepped in with $280,000 worth of with seeds and fertilizer, training for farmers, and emergency relief supplies.
Two NGOs working in Zambia, Oxfam GB and Concern Worldwide, tried a different approach: they handed out envelopes stuffed with cash—from $25 to $50 per month per affected family, with no strings attached. An evaluationfound that common fears about cash transfers—that the cash infusion will cause inflation in the market, that the money will be squandered, or that men will take control of the money—were unrealized.
What did people buy with the money? The list includes maize, beans, salt, cooking oil, meat, vegetables, clothes and blankets, paraffin, transport, soap and body lotion, and lots of other mundane household items. They also loaned it to friends, used it to pay back debts, purchased health care, education and transport, and rebuilt their homes. Only a very small fraction of the money (less than .5%) was spent on “unproductive” items, like liquor for the men.
May 24, 2009 § Leave a comment
As I’ve written GardenWorld Politics, we have lost the image of the future.
The future is not what it used to be
I’m in Hong Kong right now; as always, I’m just awed by the way the city looks. And this time I think I’ve figured out why it’s so appealing.
Hong Kong, with its incredible cluster of tall buildings stacked up the slope of a mountain, is the way the future was supposed to look. The future — the way I learned it from science-fiction movies — was supposed to be Manhattan squared: vertical, modernistic, art decoish.
What the future mainly ended up looking like instead was Atlanta — sprawl, sprawl, and even more sprawl, a landscape of boxy malls and McMansions. Bo-ring.
So for a little while I get to visit the 1950s version of the 21st century. Yay!
But where are the flying cars?
May 20, 2009 § Leave a comment
This doesn’t describe everything but leaving it out weakens any analysis.
Romer has been working on for two years.
His economic theory of history explains phenomena such as the constant improvement of the human standard of living by looking primarily at just two forms of innovative ideas: technology and rules.
Technologies rearrange materials with ingenious recipes and formulas. More people create more technologies, which in turn generates more people. In recent decades technology has enabled the “demographic transition” which lowers birthrates and raises income per person even higher as population levels off.
Rules structure the interactions between people. As population density increased, the idea of ownership became an important rule. A supporting rule for managing violations replaced the old idea of deadly vengeance with awarding damages instead: simply shifting value replaced destroying value. For the idea of open science, recognition replaced ownership as the main event, which means that whoever publishes first is most rewarded, and that accelerates science.
via Economist’s View.
May 17, 2009 § Leave a comment
And,this is actually importnat. Taxes plus delivery!
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Northern Europeans are the happiest people on the planet, according to a new survey.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says people in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands are the most content with their lives. The three ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the OECD’s rankings of “life satisfaction,” or happiness.
There are myriad reasons, of course, for happiness: health, welfare, prosperity, leisure time, strong family, social connections and so on. But there is another common denominator among this group of happy people: taxes.
Northern Europeans pay some of the highest taxes in the world. Danes pay about two-thirds of their income in taxes. Why be so happy about that? It all comes down to what you get in return.
The Encyclopedia of the Nations notes that Denmark was one of the first countries in the world to establish efficient social services with the introduction of relief for the sick, unemployed and aged.
It says social welfare programs include health insurance, health and hospital services, insurance for occupational injuries, unemployment insurance and employment exchange services. There’s also old age and disability pensions, rehabilitation and nursing homes, family welfare subsidies, general public welfare and payments for military accidents. Moreover, maternity benefits are payable up to 52 weeks.
Simply, you pay for what you get. Taxes in the U.S. have taken on a pejorative association because, well, we are never really quite sure of what we get in return for paying them, other than the world’s biggest military.
Healthcare and other such social services aren’t built into our system. That means we have to worry more about paying for things ourselves. Worrying doesn’t equate to happiness.
The U.S. ranked 11th on the OECD list. In addition to the top three, we were beat out by Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Norway. To be sure, we were ahead of France, Great Britain, Japan and China, among many others. But we can do better.