Sunday, April 30, 2006
WHAT'S THE WORST THING ABOUT BEING POOR IN AMERICA?
The widening income gap is a frustrating problem to attend to fairly. But atleast we know being poor ain't so bad.
I took a look at the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for the past few years. Key points:
In general, income may have remained flat, but so have expenditures for all but the top earners. For the lower income earners, income has increased and expenses have decreased.
Transportation expenditures have declined for all but the top 40% earners (they spend more money on new cars as status symbols).
Health care expenditures have gone up significantly, but again only for the top 40% (Have health care cost gone up for basic services, or are we mostly spending more on the latest and greatest?)
All groups saw increases in entertainment expenditures.
All groups had a decline in spending on reading (just thought that was interesting).
Increases in tobacco and smoking spending in the lower end and decreases in the high end earners.
Decline in alcohol spending for lower 60%, big increase for the top 40%.
Food expenses have remained flat for all groups (slight decline).
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
2) Social Security, healthcare, and health insurance taxes only collected for benefits paid out in the same year.
3) Move toward HSAs, reduce regulation, and simplify healthcare. Allow individuals to make more of their own healthcare decisions. Allow pharmacists to write most prescriptions. Money in HSAs should be invested in indexed healthcare funds, this ensures that benefits will grow along with the healthcare industry.
4) Provide nationalized insurance and basic health care to all Americans. This will include only the most basic, necessary, and cost effective care (and that benefit from very large economies of scale). No patented procedures or medications will be covered. Long-term care will only be provided for life-threatening and debilitating degenerative conditions and only proven effective treatments will be covered.
5) Streamline education and training of doctors and healthcare workers. Create more focused and specialized programs.
6) Simplify taxes and focus taxes on consumption.
7) Allow deficit spending only when interest rates are below historical inflation. Deficits will be funded with long-term debt only.
8) Restrict non-deficit spending to a fixed percentage of GDP. Exceptions will be made for extra-ordinary disasters and war. Extra-ordinary and war spending will be funded by additional tax or deficit spending (if available).
UPDATE: Inflation may be too conservative. Nominal GDP growth would be a better number to compare with interest rates. It would be really nice if we could figure out what the marginal contribution a dollar of government spending contributes to GDP.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Editing for Space?
A draft would 1) Take opportunities away from lower income people and force them on people who don't need or want them 2) Put more unmotivated people in the way of those driven to achieve 3) Further keep salaries depressed. A draft mostly keeps salaries artificially low.
It would also further decrease efficiency and productivity [if that's possible].
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Neuroeconomics in Courts
Here's the link: http://neuroeconomics.typepad.com/neuroeconomics/2006/04/there_is_a_nice.html
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
I think that where Bush is weakest is that he is seen as a political tool. He is completely subservient to congress. Bush’s approval rating is so low not because of Iraq, but because he lets congress, which has long had lower approval ratings, have free reign. Bush hasn’t lived up to his obligation to be a check on the hundreds of politicians who are disapproved of more than him. He has been oblivious to mismanagement of funds in Iraq and Defense Spending. He has poured money into Katrina Relief without concern for results. He has funded deficits with short-term debt, leaving us at the mercy of rising interest rates.
His fear of micro-managing has given the crooks free reign.
Time to take a stand, pussy.
On my way back from the gym during lunch just now, I was following a bus on a dirt road. The air was filled with a light dust cloud about as far as the eye could see. The sun was bright, and about an hour past directly overhead (it's 2:00 here). Because the sunlight was uniformly illuminating the dust cloud, rather than the sunrays showing in the dust, the shadow of the bus showed. It was like the rays of a dark light shining from the top edge of the bus, a pyramidal shadow was clearly visible in the air. The side of the shadow along the bus was significantly lighter than looking through the back of the shadow and the shadow cast on the ground looked almost black. This created a clear three dimensional shadow.