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Showing posts from September, 2011

Yes, I'm a Union Member, But...

I have several broader topics on the "to-do" list for this blog, but this week a colleague's observation reminded me that too many people see issues from stark, all-or-nothing, positions.

Since joining the faculty at a private, non-profit, university, I've been publicly stating that the union isn't starting its negotiations for a new three-year contract from a position of power and authority. That bothers me.

"How can you be in a union? You've detailed union corruption, negative effects on employment, and complained about public employee unions. I thought you hated unions?"

I do not "hate" all unions. I dislike many unions, definitely, primarily because of their leadership. But that does not mean that I am opposed to all unions. If anything, I want to reform unions and help guide change to make them relevant. Unions, as they are, represent the past — a romanticized past that often overlooks the problems of unions.

I am opposed to the roman…

Pres. Obama and 'Unexpectedly' Useless Economists

This week, a CNN/Opinion Research poll found only 43 percent of potential voters favor Obama's jobs plan. That means 57 percent aren't convinced this plan will do much. In another poll, 51 percent of likely voters said the plan was likely to have no effect on unemployment.

"But… but… but…" the President's people stammer. "Economists like Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi says it will create 1.9 million jobs!"

That's the problem. The public is starting to realize that economists are "unexpectedly" useless when it comes to forecasting the economy. If you want evidence, do a search on the word "unexpectedly" and any combination of "unemployment," "housing," "prices," "wages," or "inflation."

Today's top story on CNBC:
The weekly jobless claims number, which is closely watched as an indicator for employment trends, unexpectedly rose 11,000 to 428,000, well ahead o…

The Myth of the Multiplier - Reason Magazine

I have written in the past that I doubt the "multiplier" effect some economists and politicians cite when promoting federal spending. I believe this column makes several good points:
The Myth of the Multiplier - Reason Magazine

There are "indirect" multipliers, which I do believe are real — though not perfect. Money spent on roads and highways, for example, enables transportation of goods. The problem is, even spending on transit systems is seldom wisely managed.
Government is not efficient. Even what it should do, such as providing for the national defense, it does inefficiently. I admire the military, but it isn't efficient. Any "multiplier" effect from military spending is long, long term and often hard to quantify versus the waste.
NASA has created technologies that do provide economic benefits, certainly, but the NASA of today cannot even replace the space shuttle program in a timely fashion. The private contractors linked to NASA have develope…