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Showing posts from January, 2012

The Jobs are GONE. Forever. Deal with it.

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President Obama and many others keep saying we need to bring manufacturing jobs and even ag jobs "back to America." Apparently, President Obama and others don't realize the U.S. now manufactures more goods and harvests more crops than at any time in our history. The jobs were not all outsourced. They were robo-sourced, along with your bank teller, grocery clerk, bookkeeper, file clerk, and hundreds of other jobs that are not coming back because they were not shipped overseas. They are gone. And gone for good.

The Kia plant in Georgia is a prime example of automation. The plant manufactures as many cars as the busiest 1950s GM plant. But, unlike the old auto plants, modern plants are "manned" by robots. Watch the video and ask yourself how many men and women were replaced by the automation. This plant is in Georgia not South Korea. They can run the line with as few as 1000 workers according to one report I read.



In the 1970s, GM's "Buick City" pl…

Mobility Stupidity

If everyone earned no less than $30,000 and no more than $50,000 a year, we'd have far greater "mobility" between classes. So argues the chattering class, most of whom occupy the evil top one percent. No, that's not what they are saying and writing, but they are complaining that the United States has less social mobility than other nations.

The problem? Those nations have less mobility because they have artificial floors and social limits on how far people can climb.

To which nation was the U.S. compared by the New York Times? Denmark.
American men born in the bottom quintile are more likely to stay there than the Danish, according to a study of earnings across generations. — http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/04/us/comparing-economic-mobility.html?ref=us
Denmark? Compare education attainment. Compare the makeup of the society, including such factors as immigration and emigration. This is a strange comparison. Denmark, unlike the United States, is incredibl…

Those With Education Credentials In A Soft Field Can Breed Disaster - Investors.com

This column by Thomas Sowell  (http://www.tsowell.com/) has some points that need to be clarified, but the general concepts are important. 
Those With Education Credentials In A Soft Field Can Breed Disaster - Investors.com

First, Sowell is not suggesting you should not be able to study whatever you want, as long as you and your family are paying for the degree. If the federal government (read: "taxpayers") are paying for an education, however, we need to consider promoting specific fields.  When institutions of higher learning turn out highly qualified doctors, scientists, engineers and others with skills that can raise the standard of living of a whole society and make possible a better and longer life, the benefits are obvious.
What is not so obvious, but is painfully true nonetheless, is that colleges and universities can also turn out vast numbers of people with credentials, but with no marketable skills with which to fulfill their expectations. There is nothing magic a…

Rich America, Poor America - Niall Ferguson

There are some tidbits in this column worth exploring when I have a bit more time.
Rich America, Poor America - The Daily Beast

Niall Ferguson uses the publication of Charles Murray's Coming Apart as a starting point for an analysis of the left-right divide on the causes and cures for income disparity in the United States.
Ferguson begins with a clear summary of the problem. There is no question families are drifting further apart at the extremes of the income scale. This is not a 1 percent versus the 99 percent issue, it is most extreme at the top 0.01% and the bottom 10% according to most economists. The bottom is falling, skewing averages, and the top is… well, read for yourself: Adjusted for inflation, the income of the average American male has essentially flatlined since the 1970s, according to figures from the Census Bureau. The income of the bottom quarter of U.S. families has actually fallen. It’s been a different story for the rich.  According to recent work by Berkeley …

Mobility… and Presidents

I've been reading a lot about the end of the American Dream. Class mobility? A myth. The idea that hard work and good choices lead to success? A lie meant to placate the masses.

Yet, as I've written before, there is ample evidence that hard work, a stable family, and some relatively simple choices do lead people in the middle class. See:
http://almostclassical.blogspot.com/2011/03/wealth-disparity-myths-and-realistic.html

As I wrote in that post:

86% of the wealthiest households are married couples.20% of the poorest households feature a married couple.$56,000 is the median income for a person with a bachelor's degree.$19,000 is the median income for someone without a high school diploma.$36,000 is the median income for someone with a two-year college degree or technical certification.
The basic formula for reaching the upper-middle class (or better): get a degree, get married (and stay married), exercise, and avoid "bad" habits (smoking, drugs, heavy drinking).

Time for Recess Appointments to Go

Republicans are shouting that President Obama has acted "unconstitutionally." The Democrats respond that the GOP merely dedicated to obstruction. And the truth is… (in my opinion) they are all schmucks.
President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Board are legally questionable, but the real problem is that the appointments continue an already lousy practice that is outdated.

This week the President is claiming that he can make recess appointments because the Senate session is currently a "sham" procedural move by Republicans. The Senate, we all know, is really on vacation. But, only weeks earlier, the non-present Senate conducted serious business and he was more than willing to accept arcane Senate parliamentary tricks.

In December of 2011, the U.S. Senate and House approved a two month extension to current payroll deduction rates. Only a handful of legislators, not even a third, were in W…

The Lost Majority by Sean Trende

I hesitate to suggest a book I haven't yet read, but I read Sean Trende loyally. The book, available today, is The Lost Majority. A link to the introduction can be found at: The Lost Majority.

The introduction states: This book makes three interrelated claims. First, that the 2010 midterm elections were a result of Barack Obama and the Democrats misreading both their mandate and how they had been brought to power, imagining a realignment in 2008 when, in fact, none had occurred. Second, that the emerging partisan majorities described by theorists from both parties are mirages. Third, that the entire concept of realignments/permanent alignments, which underlay much of the misbegotten analysis of the 2008 elections, is bankrupt and should be abandoned. I wholeheartedly agree with these statements. The "swings" mentioned in the media, by historians, and by some political scientists are illusions. The swings are of a few percentages, generally in the middle. President Obama …

Debt Matters… but When?

As I've written before, Paul Krugman exemplifies a problem with modern economics: his views swing with the politics of his choosing. For research supporting my assertion, see the post:
http://almostclassical.blogspot.com/2010/06/do-economists-change-their-tune-on.html

The New Year's Day column by Krugman is that frustrating mix of absolutely right and definitely wrong that come from economists. Again, I've posted on the astounding lack of accuracy among economists of all political persuasions, so this isn't a left/right debate: I'm opposed to the "scientism" behind dominant economic thought.

Krugman's column left me with a dozen issues I want to address, so forgive the length of this post.

I have beliefs (and they are beliefs) about economics that run counter to Krugman in several ways. At the same time, the differences between most (roughly) free-market economists and thinkers isn't as great as the media or the scholars might have the public bel…