To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the booked
obligation of $19+ trillion) ---
The US Debt Clock in Real Time ---
Remember the Jane Fonda Movie called "Rollover" ---
To Whom Does the USA Federal Government Owe Money (the
unbooked obligation of $100 trillion and unknown more in contracted
The biggest worry of the entitlements obligations is enormous obligation for the
future under the Medicare and Medicaid programs that are now deemed totally
Entitlements are two-thirds of the federal budget.
Entitlement spending has grown 100-fold over the past 50 years. Half of all
American households now rely on government handouts. When we hear statistics
like that, most of us shake our heads and mutter some sort of expletive. That’s
because nobody thinks they’re the problem. Nobody ever wants to think they’re
the problem. But that’s not the truth. The truth is, as long as we continue to
think of the rising entitlement culture in America as someone else’s problem,
someone else’s fault, we’ll never truly understand it and we’ll have absolutely
Steve Tobak ---
"These Slides Show Why We Have Such A Huge Budget Deficit And Why Taxes
Need To Go Up," by Rob Wile, Business Insider, April 27, 2013 ---
This is a slide show based on a presentation by a Harvard Economics Professor.
Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions ---
Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements
Jensen's health care messaging updates ---
How Did Hitler Rise to
Power? : New TED-ED Animation Provides a Case Study in How Fascists Get
Democratically Elected ---
I wonder why this was released just now? Dah!
Senate Bill Proposes Shot in Arm for Career and Technical Education
Clinton, Trump Tax Return News ---
Note the links to many media reports following the release of the Clinton tax
Stanley Fish ---
"Professors, Stop Opining About Trump," by Stanley Fish, The New
York Times, July 15, 2016 ---
PROFESSORS are at it again, demonstrating in public how little they
understand the responsibilities and limits of their profession.
On Monday a group calling itself Historians Against
Trump published an “Open
Letter to the American People.” The purpose
of the letter, the historians tell us, is to warn against “Donald J. Trump’s
candidacy and the exceptional challenges it poses to civil society.” They
suggest that they are uniquely qualified to issue this warning because they
“have a professional obligation as historians to share an understanding of
the past upon which a better future may be built.”
Or in other words: We’re historians and you’re not, and “historians
understand the impact these phenomena have upon society’s most vulnerable.”
Therefore we can’t keep silent, for “the lessons of history compel us to
speak out against Trump.”
I would say that the hubris of these statements was extraordinary were it
not so commonplace for professors (not all but many) to regularly equate the
possession of an advanced degree with virtue. The claim is not simply that
disciplinary expertise confers moral and political superiority, but that
historians, because of their training, are uniquely objective observers: “As
historians, we consider diverse viewpoints while acknowledging our own
limitations and subjectivity.”
But there’s very little acknowledgment of limitations and subjectivity in
what follows, only a rehearsal of the now standard criticisms of Mr. Trump,
offered not as political opinions, which they surely are, but as
indisputable, impartially arrived at truths: “Donald Trump’s presidential
campaign is a campaign of violence: violence against individuals and groups;
against memory and accountability, against historical analysis and fact.”
How’s that for cool, temperate and disinterested analysis?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that this view of Mr. Trump is
incorrect; nor am I saying that it is on target: only that it is a view,
like anyone else’s. By dressing up their obviously partisan views as “the
lessons of history,” the signatories to the letter present themselves as the
impersonal transmitters of a truth that just happens to flow through them.
In fact they are merely people with history degrees, which means that they
have read certain books, taken and taught certain courses and written
scholarly essays, often on topics of interest only to other practitioners in
While this disciplinary experience qualifies them to ask and answer
discipline-specific questions, it does not qualify them to be our leaders
and guides as we prepare to exercise our franchise in a general election.
Academic expertise is not a qualification for delivering political wisdom.
Nor is it their job, although they seem to think it is: “It is all of our
jobs to fill the voids exploited by the Trump campaign.” (I’m not sure that
I understand what that grandiose sentence means.) No, it’s their job to
teach students how to handle archival materials, how to distinguish between
reliable and unreliable evidence, how to build a persuasive account of a
disputed event, in short, how to perform as historians, not as seers or
I would have no problem with individuals, who also happened to be
historians, disseminating their political conclusions in an op-ed or letter
to the editor; but I do have a problem when a bunch of individuals claim for
themselves a corporate identity and more than imply that they speak for the
profession of history.
There are at least two things wrong with this claim. First, it couldn’t
possibly be true unless it were the case that no credentialed historian is a
Trump supporter; even one or two (and I bet there are a lot more than that)
would spoil the broth. Second, and more important, the profession of history
shouldn’t be making political pronouncements of any kind. Its competence
lies elsewhere, in the discipline-specific acts I identified above.
Were an academic organization to declare a political position, it would at
that moment cease to be an academic organization and would have turned
itself — as the Historians Against Trump turn themselves — into a political
organization whose arguments must make their way without the supposed
endorsement and enhancement of an academic pedigree. Its members would be
political actors who share the accidental feature of having advanced
degrees. But it’s not the degrees, which are finally inessential, but the
strength or weakness of the arguments that will tell in the end.
If academics are wrong to insert themselves into the political process under
the banner of academic expertise, is Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrong when she
makes unflattering remarks about Mr. Trump at a conference and in an
interview? Maybe so (indeed, she herself has expressed regret for the
comments), but she has not committed the same transgression as the
historians. Justice Ginsburg was speaking off the cuff, offering her opinion
on a matter currently in the news, as any citizen has a right to do. She did
not cite or trade on the trappings of her office; she did not proclaim from
Continued in article
How to Mislead With Statistics
The following two articles show how economists can put two different spins
on the same data (something that seems to be taught in social sciences in
general whenever politics gets involved).
The City of Seattle hired a group of economists to study the transitory
impact of minimum wage hikes on labor and business firms in Seattle. I say
"transitory" because the wage hikes are being phased in and won't reach the $15
REPORT ON THE IMPACT OF SEATTLE’S MINIMUM WAGE ORDINANCE ON WAGES, WORKERS,
JOBS, AND ESTABLISHMENTS THROUGH 2015 The Seattle Minimum Wage Study Team1
University of Washington
This report presents the short-run effects of the
Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance on the Seattle labor market. The Seattle
Minimum Wage study team at the University of Washington analyzed
administrative records on employment, hours, and earnings from the
Washington Employment Security Department to address two fundamental
questions: 1) How has Seattle’s labor market performed since the City passed
the Minimum Wage Ordinance, and particularly since the first wage increase
phased in on April 1, 2015? 2) What are the short-run effects of the Minimum
Wage Ordinance on Seattle’s labor market? While quite similar at first
glance, these two questions address very different issues and require very
different methods to answer. The first question can be studied with a simple
before/after comparison. Although the comparison is simple, it risks
conflating the impact of the minimum wage with other local trends. Many
things have happened in Seattle’s labor market since June 2014, most of them
having little or nothing to do with the minimum wage itself. The City has
enjoyed steady expansion in tech sector employment, and a construction boom
fueled by rising residential and commercial property prices. Even the
weather – a key determinant of economic activity in the Puget Sound region –
was favorable in 2015, with record-low precipitation in the early months of
the $11 minimum wage. The before-after comparison can tell us the net impact
of all these simultaneous trends, but this comparison cannot distinguish
among them. Our second question – the more important one for purposes of
evaluating the policy – aims to isolate the impact of the minimum wage from
all the other regional trends seen over the same time period. Whereas the
first question asks “are we better off than we were when Seattle raised the
minimum wage” and requires only a simple comparison of yesterday to today,
the second asks “are we better off than we would have been if Seattle had
not adopted a higher minimum wage?” To answer it requires imagining how the
local economy would look in absence of a Minimum Wage Ordinance. While it is
impossible to directly observe what would have happened if no wage ordinance
had been implemented, this report uses widely accepted statistical
techniques to compare Seattle in its current state—with the presence of the
Minimum Wage Ordinance—to an image of what Seattle might have looked like
today if not for the Minimum Wage Ordinance. We take advantage of data going
back to 2005 to build a model of the way Seattle’s labor market typically
works. We also take advantage of data on nearby regions that did not
increase the minimum wage to better understand how other factors might have
influenced what we observe in the City itself.
3 In this report, we present findings on wages,
workers, jobs, and establishments. Our findings can be summarized as
follows: Wages: The distribution of wages shifted as expected. The share
of workers earning less than $11 per hour declined sharply. This decline
began shortly after the ordinance was passed. However, similar declines
were seen outside of Seattle, suggesting an improving economy may be the
cause of the change in the distribution of wages. Low-Wage Workers: In the
18 months after the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance passed, the City of
Seattle’s lowest-paid workers experienced a significant increase in wages.
The typical worker earning under $11/hour in Seattle when the City Council
voted to raise the minimum wage in June 2014 (“low-wage workers”) earned
$11.14 per hour by the end of 2015, an increase from $9.96/hour at the time
of passage. The minimum wage contributed to this effect, but the strong
economy did as well. We estimate that the minimum wage itself is responsible
for a $0.73/hour average increase for low-wage workers. In a region where
all low-wage workers, including those in Seattle, have enjoyed access to
more jobs and more hours, Seattle’s low-wage workers show some preliminary
signs of lagging behind similar workers in comparison regions. The minimum
wage appears to have slightly reduced the employment rate of low-wage
workers by about one percentage point. It appears that the Minimum Wage
Ordinance modestly held back Seattle’s employment of low-wage workers
relative to the level we could have expected. Hours worked among low-wage
Seattle workers have lagged behind regional trends, by roughly four hours
per quarter (nineteen minutes per week), on average. Low-wage individuals
working in Seattle when the ordinance passed transitioned to jobs outside
Seattle at an elevated rate compared to historical patterns. Seattle’s
low-wage workers did see larger-than-usual paychecks (i.e., quarterly
earnings) in late 2015, but most— if not all—of that increase was due to a
strong local economy. Increased wages were offset by modest reductions in
employment and hours, thereby limiting the extent to which higher wages
directly translated into higher average earnings. At most, 25% of the
observed earnings gains—around a few dollars a week, on average—can be
attributed to the minimum wage. Seattle’s low-wage workers who kept
working were modestly better off as a result of the Minimum Wage Ordinance,
having $13 more per week in earnings and working 15 minutes less per week.
4 Jobs: Overall, the Seattle labor market was
exceptionally strong over the 18 months from mid2014 to the end of 2015.
Seattle’s job growth rate tripled the national average between mid-2014 and
late 2015. This job growth rate outpaced Seattle’s own robust performance
in recent years. Surrounding portions of King County also had a very good
year; the boom appears to fade with geographic distance. Job growth is
clearly driven by increased opportunities for higher-wage workers, but
businesses relying on low-wage labor showed better-than-average growth as
well. For businesses that rely heavily on low-wage labor, our estimates of
the impact of the Ordinance on the number of persistent jobs are small and
sensitive to modeling choices. Our estimates of the impact of the Ordinance
on hours per employee more consistently indicate a reduction of roughly one
hour per week. Fewer hours per employee could reflect higher turnover
rather than cutbacks in staffing. Reductions in hours are consistent with
the experiences of low-wage workers. Establishments: We do not find
compelling evidence that the minimum wage has caused significant increases
in business failure rates. Moreover, if there has been any increase in
business closings caused by the Minimum Wage Ordinance, it has been more
than offset by an increase in business openings. In sum, Seattle’s
experience shows that the City’s low-wage workers did relatively well after
the minimum wage increased, but largely because of the strong regional
economy. Seattle’s low wage workers would have experienced almost equally
positive trends if the minimum wage had not increased. Although the minimum
wage clearly increased wages for this group, offsetting effects on low-wage
worker hours and employment muted the impact on labor earnings. We strongly
caution that these results show only the short-run impact of Seattle’s
increase to a wage of $11/hour, and that they do not reflect the full range
of experiences for tens of thousands of individual workers in the City
economy. These are “average” effects which could mask critical distinctions
between workers in different categories. Our future work will extend
analysis to 2016, when Seattle’s minimum wage increased a second time and
began to distinguish between businesses of different sizes and industries.
It will also incorporate more detailed information about workers by linking
employment records to other state databases. This will give us a greater
capacity to answer key questions, such as whether the workers benefiting
most from higher minimum wages are more likely to be living in poverty. We
are also in the process of collecting additional survey information from
Seattle businesses and conducting interviews with a worker sample tracked
since early 2015. The next report, expected in September, will focus
specifically on how the minimum wage has affected nonprofit organizations.
Continued in article
Spin From Investors Business Daily
The Bitter Lesson From Seattle's Minimum Wage Hike
August 10, 2016
Spin From a Respected, Albeit Very Liberal Economist --- Jared Bernsten
So far, the Seattle minimum-wage increase is doing what it’s supposed to
August 10, 2016
The issue of minimum wage became an enormous political issue when the workers
receiving the wage changed. When I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and those
McJobs having low pay were primarily intended to be temporary jobs where
students could earn a little outside the classroom and where younger people in
general could get a start in the work place. Nobody with normal capabilities
intended to make careers out of those very low paying McJobs. Somewhere along
the way things changed to where now those McJobs became careers for many folks
who are not destined for bigger and better careers in the economy. With that
change came increasing demands to increase the minimum wage to a more suitable
wage for longer-term careers.
The real question that the Seattle study is trying to answer is whether
raising the minimum wage in Seattle had a positive or negative impact on
employers, employees, and low-skilled unemployed. The answer seems to be varied
(depending upon what economist and what workers you consult.) Impact on is hard
to isolate statistically because Seattle is a relative boom town due to the high
tech economic sector. Thus just because a lot of McJob employers are still
thriving is confounded by the boom times apart from the minimum wage increase.
McJob employers are likely to be hit harder in communities having less boom
success in general. Also the wage increases are being phased in over time (until
2021)such that there is not one big boom to study.
It's hard judge impact on some McJob employers in very large or otherwise
isolated communities relative to those surrounded by competition not required to
raise minimum wage. For example, restaurant customers in in Seattle are not
likely to go elsewhere because their favorite restaurant had to raise prices
slightly. Restaurant customers on the very edge of Seattle might drive a bit
further for better prices.
Thus the impact of the Seattle's minimum wage hike focuses more on
labor/employment impact than on employer impact. And herein commences the lying
or possible lying with statistics. I would dwell on all the issues since you can
read them for your self in the above links.
Personally, I think the $15 minimum wage eventually is a good idea in a high
cost city like Seattle.
But I would like to conclude with what I think is trickery in Jared
Bernstein's rejoinder. He skirts important issues like how entry level employees
without skills (like students in need of part-time jobs and employees who messed
up their early years (e.g., with drugs and crime) get a start without higher
turnover in the minimum wage jobs that open up entry-level jobs.
At times he totally ignores the study's findings such as:
The distribution of wages shifted as expected.
The share of workers earning less than $11 per hour declined sharply.
This decline began shortly after the ordinance was passed.
However, similar declines were seen outside of Seattle, suggesting an
improving economy may be the cause of the change in the distribution of
Second he seems to imply without more data or foresight that in larger firms
the minimum wage is an even better idea than it is at fast-food restaurants.
What he fails to note that it is in the larger firms where robotics alternatives
to low-paying jobs are exploding. :
Wal-Mart Has An Army Of Robots That Pick, Pack, and Send in Their 130
Distribution Centers ---
McJobs in those Wal-Mart distribution centers have already disappeared with
advances in robotics. Perhaps this was inevitable but eliminating McJobs with
higher minimum wages will speed up job sacrices to robots and drive more and
more low skilled workers to welfare rolls and crime.
The Automated Wal-Mart: A Thoght Experiment
The Seattle experiment is hard to extrapolate to every town and city in the
USA. I think higher minimum wages where the cost of living is very high is
probably a good idea. For example, the cost of living is even high in the
suburbs of Seattle and San Francisco. But the same minimum wage successes for
those metropolitan areas can be a disaster in rural America where the job losses
are likely to be enormous, For example, down the road from our mountain cottage
is an old fashioned hardware store that is already struggling to compete with
stores 10 miles away (in Littleton, NH), stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and
Lowes. A $15 minimum wage might close the doors on my favorite and struggling
little hardware store that now makes almost zero profit. The workers in this
store are typically part-time spouses who supplement the family income with a
bit of added wage within walking distance of the store.
The main conclusion from this illustration is that professional economists
cannot agree on much of anything!
At this point most of my liberal/progressive friends wish I would stop
mentioning the IRS scandal. They assume this is only a manifestation of
conservatives in the USA Senate who contend that the IRS tilted the relatively
narrow 2012 presidential election toward Barack Obama.
But as I predicted the more bipartisan courts are finally making some
decisions in this regard.
The IRS has so far evaded accountability for its political targeting of
conservative groups, but the courts haven’t been forgiving when they’ve
considered the issue. On Friday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the
agency its latest comeuppance, reviving lawsuits by dozens of groups
discriminated against by the IRS. In a 22-page ruling by Judge David Sentelle, a
unanimous three-judge panel ruled that since it is “plain” to all parties
including the Treasury Inspector General and a lower federal court that the IRS
“cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits, the governing issue is
now whether the controversy is moot. The district court held that it was; we
conclude that it is not.
. . .
The court’s opinion applies to Linchpins of Liberty
et al. v. U.S. as well as True the Vote, Inc. v. IRS. The decision remanded
the cases to the district court for further proceedings but the Obama
Administration may further delay discovery by appealing to the full D.C.
Circuit, which the White House has stacked with friendly judges. Stay tuned
According to the Washington Post one out of every 20 physicians in the USA
is Muslim ---
The IRS Scandal, Day 1180
World Tribune, ‘Smoking-Gun Documents’ Show IRS Knew About Targeting of
Conservatives Before 2012 Election:---
Top IRS officials knew the agency was targeting
conservatives because of their ideology and political affiliation two years
before disclosing it to Congress and the public, according to a Judicial
Watch report released on July 28.
“Senior IRS officials knew that agents were
targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011,” the
Lois Lerner revealed the targeting in May 2013 when
she responded to a planted question at an American Bar Association
Continued in article
Lois Lerner continues to refuse to testify whether or not the conservative
targeting was at the behest of somebody in the Whitehouse (not necessarily
President Obama who was up for re-election).
The IRS admits to destroying the evidence in Virginia that might answer the
question of who instigated the targeting of the conservative fund raising
It would become a tremendous scandal if the Whitehouse manipulated the IRS or
any other government agency to aid in the election of a USA President. But
without testimony and other evidence the genuine scandal cannot be proven. The
shadow of scandal will probably last long into history after President Obama
leaves office. By not investigating the scandal himself he has not cleared his
Here's An Illustration of Grade Inflation
"Nearly Half Of Detroit’s Adults Are Functionally Illiterate, Report Finds,"
Huffington Post, July 8, 2013 ---
Detroit’s population fell by 25 percent in the last
decade. And of those that stuck around, nearly half of them are functionally
illiterate, a new report finds.
According to estimates by The National Institute
for Literacy, roughly 47 percent of adults in Detroit, Michigan — 200,000
total — are “functionally illiterate,” meaning they have trouble with
reading, speaking, writing and computational skills. Even more surprisingly,
the Detroit Regional Workforce finds half
of that illiterate population has obtained a high school degree.
The DRWF report places particular focus on the lack
of resources available to those hoping to better educate themselves, with
fewer than 10 percent of those in need of help actually receiving it. Only
18 percent of the programs surveyed serve English-language learners, despite
10 percent of the adult population of Detroit speaking English “less than
the report finds, one in three workers in the state of Michigan lack the
skills or credentials to pursue additional education beyond high school.
In March, the Detroit unemployment rate hit 11.8
percent, one of the highest in the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported last month. There is a glimmer of hope, however:
Detroit’s unemployment rate dropped by 3.3 percent in the last year alone.
Continued in article
Will nearly all the illiterate high school graduates in Detroit get a free
college diploma under the proposed "free college" proposal?
My guess is that they will get their college diplomas even though they will
still be illiterate, because colleges will graduate them in order to sop up the
free taxpayer gravy for their college "education."
Everybody will get a college diploma tied in a blue ribbon.
I doubt that illiteracy is much worse in Detroit than in other large USA
cities like Chicago and St Louis.
In Europe less than half the Tier 2 (high school) graduates are even allowed
to to to college or free trade schools ---
OECD Study Published in 2014: List of countries
by 25- to 34-year-olds having a tertiary education degree ---
College Readiness Based on ACT College Admission Scores for 2015 by State
For other states simply replace the state name in the above URL with the name
of the state
Note that often the better students opt for SAT testing rather than ACT
testing such that in states that provide an option for SAT or ACT the ACT scores
may be biased by not including top students.
ACT to SAT Conversion ---
Conversion Calculator ---
By most any standard imaginable public high schools in the USA are not doing a
great job in preparing students for college when college might soon be more than
affordable to all students. Community colleges have lowered the admissions bar
for almost all students. Do for-profit-universities ever reject any applicant?
We can blame democracy for the high risk of public-sector pension plans.
The Economist Magazine
July 26, 2016
It turns out that pension investing risk relies heavily on investment and
accounting rules where public-sector pension fund managers
are allowed to get their funds into riskier investments, including junk bonds.
The enormous TIAA/CREF and some other pension funds give investors risk
choices. TIAA bond funds are doing worse due to the Fed's low-interest policy
such that teachers in TIAA/CREF are choosing more risky funds. Deals are no
longer as good for fixed-annuity plans on the date of retirement relative to
when I retired in 2006 (blind luck rather than brilliant strategy).
Sadly, riskier public-sector pension plans increase the expectation of future
taxpayer bailouts. Public-sector pension plans would probably not be as risky if
government declared there was zero chance of future bailouts. But then what
legislators seeking office are going to promise zero chance of a public-sector
pension bailout? Hence we can blame democracy for the high risk of public-sector
One definition of democracy is gambling with taxpayer dollars.
Bankers as well as K-12 teachers helped to invent the taxpayer bailout idea
along with municipal workers. Public-sector workers opposed to gambling probably
don't even know they are gambling with taxpayer dollars.
VAT Tax ---
Corporate Income Taxes Increases Are Either Avoided (such as sweetheart deals
from the Illinois Governor)
or They Get Passed Along in Higher Prices
or They Drive Companies Out of State (as Wisconsin and Illinois learned the hard
"Oregon’s Regressive Tax Referendum: A gross-receipts levy would
punish the 99% to help public unions," The Wall Street Journal,
August 11, 2016 ---
Progressives claim they can pay for their grand
spending ambitions by soaking the rich, but the little guy invariably gets
wet. The latest illustration is Oregon, where unions are campaigning for a
gross-receipts tax on large corporations that even state budget analysts
warn will drench the 99% too.
Last week Governor Kate Brown endorsed a November
referendum that would impose a 2.5% tax on corporate sales exceeding $25
million. Oregon’s top income tax rate of 9.9% is the second highest in the
country after California, and it hits at an income of only $125,000 for a
single tax filer.
The Beaver State last raised income taxes in 2009,
and state revenues have grown by nearly 30% in the last four years. But
unions say the new business tax is needed to close a $1.4 billion deficit
and pay for baked-in spending—the same justification for the last tax
Health-care costs will rise by $1 billion in the
next two-year budget thanks in part to the state’s ObamaCare Medicaid
expansion. Generous new union contracts that increase worker pay and reduce
their health-care premium contributions will add hundreds of millions to the
fisc, while public pension costs are projected to swell by 150% to $4.5
billion by 2021.
The gross-receipts tax, which would throw off $3
billion annually and expand the budget by a third, would be a revenue gusher
because of its pyramiding effect. As the Tax Foundation notes, “In effect,
the tax gets built into prices and compounded as a product moves through the
production process.” So low-margin businesses at the end of the supply
chain—particularly retailers—get walloped.
Only five states assess a gross-receipts tax. Many
including Michigan and New Jersey have dumped theirs due to its economic
distortions. Oregon’s would be the highest and most onerous since it
wouldn’t include deductions or differential rates to ameliorate the burden
on low-margin industries. For instance, Texas allows businesses to deduct
the cost of goods sold and employee compensation—and the Lone Star State has
no income tax.
Businesses will respond by raising prices, reducing
investment and laying off workers. The state Legislative Revenue Office
estimated that the tax would cost 38,200 jobs in the private economy
including 13,600 in retail trade while increasing government employment by
17,700. By 2022 state income would decline by 0.17% while prices would edge
up 0.89% relative to the office’s baseline forecast.
The analysts also forecast that the measure would
increase the state’s per capita tax burden by $600, and that “the marginal
impact of the tax will be regressive.” Households making less than $21,000
in income would experience a 0.9% decline in after-tax income—about twice as
much as those earning more than $206,000.
Continued in article
Actually I favor a VAT tax to replace the easily-avoided corporate income tax,
but the VAT tax will only work well if it is imposed nationally.
How to Lie With Statistics
Lies Politicians Tell Us ---
. . .
Hillary Clinton proclaims almost daily that women
receive only 78 percent of the income that men receive. Her message is so
misleading as to be dishonest. The 78 percent number is the ratio of women’s
to men’s median pay. It does not adjust for occupational and other
differences in the work that men and women do. For example, skilled
neurosurgeons and football, baseball, and basketball stars are men. Domestic
workers and hospital cleaning crews are mainly women. A recent paper by
Diana Furchtgott-Roth summarized studies at Cornell and other quality
economic departments. When adjustment for occupational differences are
considered, the ratio is 92 or 94 percent, not the advertised 78 percent.
And the remaining difference may not be due to discrimination. Differences
in time in the work force, hours worked, and other factors may play a role.
Two striking facts stand out. The first is that
laws require equal pay for equal work. Clinton’s claim that there is great
discrimination means that many employers violate the law with impunity.
That’s very implausible. Even journalists should be able to understand that.
Second, the difference between 78 percent and 92 percent is well known to
labor economists and almost certainly to some economists on Clinton’s staff.
Do they not tell her? Or does she not want to correct this central message
of her campaign?
Economic growth is a major issue in this
presidential campaign. Research has done much to uncover the factors that
contribute to growth. Secure property rights, rule of law, open markets, and
limited trade restrictions all play important roles. But the Trump and
Clinton campaign messages are all critical of freer trade. It is false—a
lie—to claim that freer trade has hurt us as a nation, as my Hoover
colleague David Henderson has pointed out.
It has always been true that some lose as a result
of trade agreements. We gave up textile jobs to gain jobs elsewhere, in
services for example. Trade agreements including NAFTA raised income in the
aggregate and provided some of the funding for retraining displaced workers.
Trump is wrong or badly advised to oppose trade agreements and Clinton was
badly advised when she shifted her position on the Pacific trade agreement.
Of course, the agreements are complicated, so it is always possible to claim
that a better agreement for the United States is possible—but it’s not
accurate to claim that trade restrictions will benefit Americans.
These are just a few examples of lies and
misleading statements that we encounter every day. Clinton lies frequently
and Trump shouts a falsehood a day—and probably more—as a major part of his
campaign. This is not what citizens of a free country should expect and
demand. And these examples are part of a much larger set.
At one time, citizens could count on their
officials and candidates to either tell the truth or say nothing. Not any
more. Clinton has a long record of neglecting truth. Trump seems not to care
about the veracity of his statements. And the media is so much on one side
that it mainly looks at the Trump gaffes and does its best to ignore
Clinton’s. And most serious of all, it allows the Obama administration to
tell the public lies like Americans can keep their health insurance or that
global warming is a coming disaster.
No less serious is the failure of politicians to
tell us the truth about the promises that they have made that cannot be
honored. Careful studies put the cost of government promises for pensions
and future healthcare benefits at more than $100 trillion. There is no way
that anything close to that amount will be available.
Continued in article
Hillary Clinton slapped
with dreaded Washington Post 'Four Pinocchios' rating for false claim about FBI
101 of Donald Trump's Greatest Lies
Salon: The Iran Deal Is A
Disaster–And Obama Is To Blame ---
What makes this significant is that Salon is one of the most liberal,
anti-capitalist Websites in the world.
House Task Force Confirms:
ISIS Threat Was Altered in Intelligence Reports For Political Purposes
What makes this significant is that the Daily
Beast is one of the most liberal,
anti-capitalist Websites in the world.
How to Lie With Statistics
"The Great Productivity Puzzle," by John Cassady, The New Yorker,
August 10, 2016 ---
For the Wealthiest Colleges, How Many Low-Income Students Are Enough?
The bad news is that most of the universities supportive of low-income students
also do not have programs for majoring in accounting, finance, marketing, and
other business disciplines offering great careers. Sure it's possible to major
in these fields in graduate school, but getting financing for graduate school is
a whole new ball game.
At 3,100 Colleges and Universities
Tuition and Fees, 1998-99 Through 2013-14 ---
What is the Price of College? Total, Net, and Out-of-Pocket Prices by Type
of Institution in 2011-12 ---
This report describes three measures of the price
of undergraduate education in the 2011–12 academic year: total price of
attendance (tuition and living expenses), net price of attendance after all
grants, and out-of-pocket net price after all financial aid. It is based on
the 2011–12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12), a
nationally representative study of students enrolled in postsecondary
institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Students are
grouped into four institution types: public 2-year institutions, public
4-year institutions, private nonprofit 4-year institutions, and for-profit
institutions at all levels (less-than-2-year, 2-year, and 4-year).
Understandably there are wide margins of error. For example, many institutions
now offer multiple sections of the same course --- some onsite sections, some
online sections, and some hybrid sections with both online and onsite
components. Various universities charge the same for all sections. Some charge
less for the online sections. Some charge more for the online sections, because
due to higher demand the online sections are cash cows.
Although the numbers are still small some universities like the University of
Wisconsin and the University of Akron are now offering less expensive
competency-based credits where students no longer have to take courses.
And there are wide ranging alternatives for room and board. Almost all
campuses now offer various meal plan options that vary in price, choice, and
quantities. Students often live off campus at widely varying housing and meal
costs. Even on campus there may be varying room and apartment costs.
And financial aid deals are sometimes so complicated that I'm not certain how
financial aid could be factored into this study. For example, colleges vary with
respect to work study alternatives. Education in free at the
University of the Ozarks but all students must work at least 15 hours per
week. Most other colleges have work study for some but not all students.
More and more Ivy League-type universities are charging zero tuition for
students from families earning less than $125,000 per year. Hence the cost
varies considerably based upon family income.
Some students receive financial aid covering all or part of their room and
But the data in this study are interesting as broad guidelines of college
costs in the USA. College is free in some other countries, but in those nations
only a small proportion of students are admitted into the colleges. For example,
in Germany taxpayer costs are controlled by only admitting less than 25% of the
the students into the German universities. There's an enormous tradeoff
between providing free higher education of great quality (as in Germany) versus
free or nearly-free higher education of lesser quality to the masses (as in the
I think the USA is unique in that initiatives are underway in some states
like Tennessee to provide universal college education for at least two years.
California has had to back down somewhat from its nearly-free community college
The most misleading statistics in the USA are those that conclude that going
to college greatly increases lifetime income. Of course there are numerous and
obvious instances where this is true, especially in lucrative professions
where only college graduates are admitted. But the studies that imply going to
college increase income for most everybody are highly misleading. The main
problem is that such studies confuse correlation with causation. They also
confound ability, work ethic, and college degrees.
Many college graduates would earn more income than high school graduates even
if those college graduates did earn college degrees. The reason is ability and
work ethic combined, in many instances, with family support. Many families have
the finances to help their children become entrepreneurs or get job skills such
as becoming master mechanics, plumbers, and electricians. For many students
college is only a transition period before returning to join the family business
such as taking over the family farm or dealership.
Net-Price Calculators Get the Kayak Treatment," by Beckie Supiano,
Chronicle of Higher Education, October 9, 2012 ---
net-price calculators were going to be the
next U.S. News & World Report rankings? That’s the comparison
that staff members at Maguire Associates, a consulting firm, made a
couple of years ago in a paper
explaining what the
calculators could mean for admissions.
But the calculators, which allow students
to estimate what they would pay at a particular college after grants and
scholarships, don’t seem to have gained much traction yet. While
colleges have been required to post the calculators on their Web sites
for nearly a year now,
early evidence shows that only
about a third of prospective students have tried one out.
The Maguire Associates paper predicted
that online aggregators would spring up to allow students to compare
their net prices at different colleges, much as Kayak.com lets travelers
compare air fares. The prediction has come true: A new Web site,
College Abacus, lets students
do just that.
new comparison tool will encourage more prospective students to use the
calculators, though, remains to be seen.
Bob Jensen's threads on financial aid in higher education ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Home Equity Loan ---
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on August 12, 2016
Home equity loans come
back to haunt borrowers, banks
The bill is coming due for
many homeowners on a type of loan that was widely popular in the run-up to
the housing bust, causing a rise in delinquencies at banks. More homeowners
are missing payments on their home-equity lines of credit, or Helocs, a type
of loan that allows borrowers to withdraw cash from their house to pay for
renovations, college tuition or almost any other expense. These loans
typically require interest-only payments for the first 10 years, but then
principal payments kick in for the next 15 or 20 years. Borrowers who signed
up for Helocs in early 2006 were at least 30 days late on $2.8 billion of
balances four months after principal payments kicked in this year, according
to Equifax Roughly 840,000 Helocs taken
out in 2006 are resetting this year, with principal payments on an
additional nearly one million loans expected to hit in 2017.
Reverse Mortgage Calculator ---
Finding and Using Health Statistics
Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics and databases ---
Medicare Fraud is Rampant ---
Feds break up $1 billion (with a "b") Medicare scam in Miami — biggest in
U.S. history ---
Medicare Glossary ---
Aetna’s ObamaCare Shock: Expecting to lose $300 million, the insurer
may opt out ---
We Hear a Lot About Smaller Obamacase Exchange Insurance Companies Quitting:
The Enormous Companies like Blue Cross Anthem are Bleeding (but not
Hemorrhaging) as Well
Anthem Projecting Losses on Affordable Care Act Plans This Year ---
he Big Medical Insurance Companies are Pushing Out Obamacare's Smaller ACA Plans
From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on July
ACA dings UnitedHealth
UnitedHealth Group Inc. on
Tuesday posted a strong earnings beat as
revenue continued to surge in its pharmacy-services business, and it lifted
the low end of its profit guidance for the year. It also raised the low end
of its earnings guidance. But amid the positive news, the company included
one ongoing dark spot: Affordable Care Act
plans, which it will almost completely stop selling next year.
The insurer booked another $200 million in full-year ACA-plan losses in the
second quarter, but more than that, costs mounted because enrollees were
even sicker than projected, with more chronic conditions than last year.
Eventually only a government-funded national healthcare plan with the bottomless
pit of taxpayer money will be able to fund health insurance in the USA