Saturday, December 24, 2011

Everyone Has His Own Facts

The Glittering Eye

James Pethokoukis produces seven different charts on the economy over the last several years, decade, thirty years, and dating back to 1916, proclaiming them the "most illuminating economic charts of 2011". The first chart is the infamous chart of projected unemployment deployed by Obama White House economic advisors Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer, updated to the present day, and which may well sink a second Obama term. The best that can be said about it is that they were wrong.

The second illustrates the shockingly rapid decrease in the size of the work force since 2008, without which the U-3 unemployment rate would be above 11%. I don't believe that the Great Depression of the 1930s was the Great Vacation and I don't believe that about the late recession and subsequent weak recovery, either.

Others include a chart of median income and consumption since 1980 (a different take on the declining median incomes story), a chart of the percentage of total wealth possessed by the top 1% of income earners since 1916, a comparative chart of recoveries from recessions over the last 30 years, and a projection of the rising level of public debt.

For each of the charts there's probably another chart that illustrates its opposite or places the blame on somebody else. What I think that most strongly partisan Republican and strongly partisan Democrats miss in the food fight is that the number of Americans affiliated with either party is actually falling and the number of independents is rapidly overtaking the number of registered Republicans. I think they care more about what will be done than about whose fault it was.

What is President Obama going to run on in 2012? That it's all Bush's fault and that four more years of Congressional gridlock is just the ticket for healing the country's ills? It's more likely he'll try to emulate Harry Truman and run against the do-nothing Congress which seems like a pretty good strategy considering Congress's popularity is substantially lower than his. Employing that strategy without undermining the Democrats' continuing control of the Senate will be extremely delicate.

And then there are the pesky facts. President Obama got very much what he asked for in the first two years of his term. Largest fiscal stimulus in the history of the Republlic? Check. Continuing the bailouts started by the Bush Administration? Check. Healthcare reform? Check. Don't like the Bush tax cuts? The Obama White House asked that they be extended. Blaming the White House's asking for the wrong things on Bush or the Republican House may not be that easy a sell.

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The 7 most illuminating economic charts of 2011 « The Enterprise Blog

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@preciousliberty, 12/24/11 2:45 PM

Precious Liberty (@preciousliberty)
12/24/11 2:45 PM
ACORN Officials Shred Documents, Fire Workers After Exposed As Organizing Occupy Wall Street -

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

With More Vacation Days and Separate Travel, Price of Obama’s Annual Hawaiian Holiday Rises | Hawaii Reporter

Found this interesting link on the Drudge Report:

With More Vacation Days and Separate Travel, Price of Obama's Annual Hawaiian Holiday Rises | Hawaii Reporter

Get iDrudgeReport on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad free at the iTunes Store:

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spengler » Thomas Friedman and the Higher Education Bubble


That Thomas Friedman would spout stupidity and anti-Semitism surprises me no more than the appearance of a gumball after I put a quarter into the machine and turn the knob. But one line in the New York Times' calumnist's (sic) Dec. 13 tantrum against Israel was worth a double-take:

I sure hope that Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let's say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused.

Why on earth is the "real test" at the University of Wisconsin? For liberals, the only people who count are the smart people, because it is an article of faith that  social engineering can fix all the world's problems, and a logical conclusion that only smart people qualify as social engineers. It doesn't matter what the dumb people think. They are the ones who need to be socially engineered. To Friedman, it is irrelevant whether Americans at large support Israel by a 4:1 margin or better, and that support for Israel is growing steadily, as the Gallup Poll consistently shows:

Middle East Sympathies, Full Trend, 1988-2011

That poll includes dumb people, so it doesn't count. To Friedman, what matters is what university audiences might think. The insularity of the liberal mind is astonishing. It brings to mind the anecdote about Emperor Ferdinand of Austria (deposed for incompetence in 1848). He went hunting and shot and eagle. The bird fell to his feet, and Ferdinand said, "It's got to be an eagle — but it's only got one head!"

The American university system exists for the most part to produce the social engineers who will fix all the world's problems. During the 1960s, those of us who had the misfortune to attend the better colleges were taught that our mission was to make the world perfect, through the Great Society, arms control, internationalism, disarmament, and so forth. When the Vietnam War and the urban riots of the 1960s showed that the liberalism of our elders had not fixed the world's problems, we abominated them, and pursued even more radical versions of social engineering. The radicalization of the universities produced a generation of clever people unsuited to productive activity in the real world but skilled at bloviating, and they became the tenured faculty of today. And their salaries, privileges, and perks continued to grow to the point that $50,000 in annual tuition barely covers them. Overall CPI is up 70% since 1990, but tuition and fees have risen by 300%.


Source: Moody's

Meanwhile the hard-science faculties of major universities (as well as the better music conservatories) filled up with foreign graduate students, mainly Asians. As I noted in a recent post, MIT's Chinese graduates now get higher starting salaries if they return home. The most disturbing report of all was a UCLA study showing that only 40% of students who initially chose a science/engineering/math major finished a degree within five years (for blacks and Latinos, the completion rate was closer to 15%). Americans simply won't work hard enough.

Rather than produce smart people, the university system has dumbed America down. After two generations of academic wheel-spinning, the transformation of universities into Maoist re-education camps with beer kegs has ruined their practical value. The giant sucking sound you hear is the air going out of the higher education bubble. As the New York Times reported in a Nov. 23 feature, "One of the greatest changes is that a college degree is no longer the guarantor of a middle-class existence. Until the early 1970s, less than 11 percent of the adult population graduated from college, and most of them could get a decent job. Today nearly a third have college degrees, and a higher percentage of them graduated from non-elite schools. A bachelor's degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability."

Student loans, with a default rate of 8.8%, are the new subprime debt.

The only good news here is that liberal mainstream culture can't afford to brainwash as many American kids as it used to. Prof. Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University likes to say that the big question in American politics is whether the red states can produce kids faster than professors from the blue states can corrupt them. The lure of the elite universities was the promise that kids could have their cake and eat it, too, that is, save the planet and drive a Volvo. The dashed hopes of American students promote the sort of misbehavior we see in the Occupy Wall Street protests. They would do better to sue their universities for fraud and demand a return of their tuition, with interest. Somehow, I don't expect quite the same level of mobilization for Obama in 2012 as we saw at the universities in 2008. The kids won't have gas money, let alone cars.

The existential question for liberalism becomes: If you so smart, how come you ain't rich? Who cares what an audience of soon-to-be-unemployed kids at the University of Wisconsin might think? With their heads stuffed with literary theory, gender studies, and environmental pseudo-science, they are barely qualified for the cubicle jobs they will obtain if they are lucky. There is some value to a B.A. of any kind; it teaches you to read, memorize, show up on time and repeat what you are told. College graduates, at least, can read the new job manual, which explains why their unemployment rate is much lower than the national average. But few of them will live well, and almost none up to their expectations.

Liberalism, like cancer, is a self-liquidating malady. Eventually it kills the patient. Secular Americans, mainline Protestants, loosely-affiliated Catholics, and Reform and Conservative Jews breed like Germans or Italians, with fewer than 1.5 children per female. By contrast, Hispanic Catholics have 3 children, and evangelicals 2.6 children. America is like Schroedinger's Cat, in a superposed state of being dead and live. And long before demographics catch up with liberal culture and extinguish it, like the post-Alexandrine Greeks or the 5th-century Romans, the economic destruction wrought by liberal education will have impoverished most of a generation of American young people.

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Joe Biden. Jon Corzine. He`s The Smartest Guy That I Know.

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Just How American Is The Boeing 787 Dreamliner? (BA)

Business Insider

Boeing is one of the great American brands.  But most people don't realize that most of Boeing's airplane parts come from external vendors from all over the world.

Below is a diagram from Goldman Sachs' 100 favorite charts (via Zero Hedge).  It reveals just where all of the parts come from for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Basically, American companies make the front and back of the plane.  The rest come from all over the world.

787 dreamliner

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Wake Up And Smell The Espresso (Education) in [Market-Ticker]

Wake Up And Smell The Espresso (Education) in [Market-Ticker]

Here we go again...

Laura Sayer, unsure of what she wanted to do after graduating from college in 2006, figured a master's degree was "a safe bet."

With $5,000 in undergraduate loans from her time at the University of Cincinnati, Sayer was set back $50,000 more after completing the Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. The 27-year-old now makes about $45,000 a year as an administrative assistant for a nonprofit group, a job that didn't require her advanced degree.

More people are losing the same gamble as a 33 percent jump in U.S. graduate school enrollment in the past decade, coupled with an 80 percent surge in tuition and required fees, runs headlong into a weaker job market. Universities are fueling the trend by offering more one- and two-year programs in areas from environmental science to sports management that rarely come with financial aid other than the option for loans.

And how does that happen in a free market for loans?

It doesn't.

Why not?  Because nobody in their right mind would loan you $50,000 for two years of school to complete a Masters if there was not a decent return on the investment, which means that your income expectations would be boosted by more the fully-laden interest-inclusive cost over the next ten years (the typical repayment period) from where you are without it.

Yet Laura was able to source the money.  Why?

Because the financial industry bribed, cajoled and scammed its way into turning that debt into something that Laura could not discharge in bankruptcy.  As such there was no risk for the lender in making the loan and they didn't give a damn that there was no reasonable expectation that Laura would find a job that paid at least $10,000 a year more with her Masters than she had before it -- a job that in addition would actually require the Masters to obtain.

Remember, the lender always has superior information because they have the benefit of all the loans they made before and how they performed.  They also have spent a lot of time and money modeling loan performance and they thus controlled all the variables that went into those models.  As such they are, on an "actuarial" (across the entire universe of these loans) basis far more knowledgeable than Laura is about whether she will be able to pay and they know what factors control for that success -- and which do not.

Laura has none of this information.  She knows only one thing -- how hard she is wiling to personally work, and she has some idea of her personal aptitude.  That's all.  She's at a severe disadvantage in this evaluation.

This is why bankruptcy was written into the Constitution and why it's so important.  The threat of the borrower declaring bankruptcy and avoiding the debt taken on is the only market check and balance that works to restrain predatory and abusive behavior by lenders.  With it no lender intentionally makes a foolish loan because while the borrower has their credit rating ruined the lender loses their actual investment.

This intentional distortion, which the lenders and government pressed for and profit from, must be addressed.  There is no student and no family that should ever consent to a non-dischargable student loan under any circumstances and no adult worth the title "parent" should be willing to provide or file any document related to qualification for same, including but not limited to a FASFA.  Among other things it is none of the damn government's business what income and assets a parent has in relationship to their now-adult offspring, as their obligation to provide for said offspring ended at the age of 18 years.

We will never solve the problem of out-of-control educational costs until parents and students stand en-masse and simply refuse to cooperate with this rank corporate-sponsored and government-assisted financial rape.  Neither the universities or the lenders are your friends -- they're predators, you're their "meat", and part and parcel of their predation is capitalizing on our youth's inexperience and a drilled-in "trust in authority" (false and malicious) claim that has been foisted off on them during their previous years in school.

It's that simple.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

“Obama’s economic plan? Back to the ’70s!”

protein wisdom

Which means that we have to stuff a flux capacitor into a Firebird rather than a DeLorean — but that we'll still have to stomach a lot of Yes and Chicago. I guess is the point.

James Pethokoukis:

[...] what Obama is really saying is this: "Let's go back to the 1970s." It was a Golden Age of Equality, with the top 1 percent's share of national income at its lowest level of the 20th century. And the nostalgia surely doesn't stop there. It was also a time of strong unions, expensive oil, regulated industry and high tax rates. This is exactly the Obamacrat agenda. Of course, the 1970s were also a time of economic chaos and stagflation that led voters in 1980 to reject Jimmy Carter by a crushing landslide. Yet Obama wants give that formula another shot.

[...] Back during the success-punishing 1970s, the top marginal tax rate was 70 percent. And guess what? Liberal economists such as Paul Krugman, Brad Delong and Peter Diamond — whose nomination by Obama to the Federal Reserve thankfully failed in the Senate — think the top tax rate should zoom back there again. More evidence that Clintonomics is dead in today's Democratic party. Then again, Obama, like many Democrats, never thought the Reagan tax cuts made much sense. As Obama wrote in "The Audacity of Hope: "The high marginal tax rates that existed when Reagan took office may not have curbed incentives to work or invest … but they did lead to a wasteful industry of setting up tax shelters." So the only downside was excessive tax planning?

[...] Here is the real record of cutting taxes and regulation: The U.S. economy grew at an average pace of 3.3 percent from 1983-2007, inflation — the scourge of the 1970s — was slayed, and the stock market rose by 1,400 percent. Median middle-class incomes rose by roughly 50 percent. (These numbers are even more impressive when you recall that heading in the 1980s, experts were predicting a dystopian, Solyent Greenesque, Age of Limits future for America.) Obama would be lucky to fail like this.

Sure, median middle-class income exploded. But still, others had more — and that's what the income inequality argument is all about: taking what others have and spreading it out evenly, even if that means we wreck the very process that allowed for that 50% real wealth increase.

The left wants us to envy the wealth of others rather than embrace the fruits of wealth production itself — by way of a proven economic system that raises the standard of living for even those at the bottom of the "income disparity" scale such that our poor mirror much of the world's "rich" (they have cars, DVD players, computers, flat screen tvs, shelter, food, etc.).

And it's all so they — rather than a disinterested and organic free market — can direct wealth. The free market system takes away the power of the central planner. Which is why the central planner has to kill the free market system to consolidate power.

That they use class warfare and emotional sophistry to gin up outrage in those their institutions have trained to be useful idiots is not surprising. But surprising or not, the totalitarian impulse must nevertheless be identified, illuminated, and soundly defeated — each and every time it rears its fork-tongued face.

To borrow from that great freedom fighter, Kyle Reese, "Listen, and understand. [Socialist Utopianism] is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. [Or at the very least, it's made you it's worker bitch].

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Can you guess what the 'worst-run states in America' award-winners have in common?

Doug Ross @ Journal
The financial website 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the worst-run states in America. Can you guess what the worst three states have in common?

48. Michigan
> State debt per capita: $2,963 (21st lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 12.4% (18th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 15.7% (15th highest)
> Unemployment: 11.1% (3rd highest)

Michigan has arguably suffered more than any state in post-industrial America. The state is one of just four with a credit rating of AA-, although its debt per capita is actually below average. The state ranks among the worst in the country for violent crime, unemployment, foreclosures and home price decline.
Source: (September, 2011): From the Census Bureau's American Community Survey for 2010, the percentage of residents 25 or older with a high school diploma

49. Illinois
> State debt per capita: $4,424 (13th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 13.8% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 13.1% (25th lowest)
> Unemployment: 10% (10th highest)

Illinois has fallen from 43rd last year to the overall second-worst run state in the country. The state performs poorly in most categories, but is worst when it comes to its credit rating. Illinois has a credit rating of A+, the second worst given to any state, behind only California. The state has been on credit watch since 2008 because of budget shortfalls and legal challenges against then-governor Rod Blagojevich.

50. California
> State debt per capita: $3,660 (21st highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 18.5% (8th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 14.5% (tied for 21st highest)
> Unemployment: 11.9% (2nd highest)

California has moved down one slot on from last year to earn the title of the worst-run state in the country. In the fiscal year 2009, the state spent $430 billion, roughly 14% of all the money spent by states in that year. Compared to its revenue, the state spent too much — California had the 10th lowest revenue per person, and spent the 15th most per person. California is the only state in the country to be rated A-, the lowest rating ever given to a state by S&P. Despite the huge amount the state spends each year, conditions remain poor. California has the second-lowest percentage of adults with a high school diploma in the country, the second-highest foreclosure rate and is tied for the second highest unemployment rate in the U.S.

What they have in common is this:

• Decades of unchecked Democrat control at every level of government

• Massive, bloated, public sector unions that are intertwined with the Democrat Party and demand increasing percentages of the economy; they have but one aim: to enrich themselves at the expense of the taxpayer

• Sanctuary cities that attract illegals, programs that offer easy access to welfare payments and government subsistence programs, high rates of single-parent families, and therefore high levels of urban crime

You would think that someone in legacy media would actually analyze this data and report on it, but then again, I've always been a dreamer.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Government Is Expropriating Private Wealth at a Rapid Rate | The Beacon

The Government Is Expropriating Private Wealth at a Rapid Rate

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About a month ago, I posted in regard to what I called "the euthanasia of the saver." This comment had to do with the fact that nominal interest rates in the United States for financial investments such as bank certificates of deposit and bank savings accounts—the kinds of investments traditionally employed by retired persons and small savers, who wish to gain income without exposing their funds to great risk of capital loss—now fall considerably below the rate of inflation, and hence the real (or inflation-adjusted) yield on such investments is negative. That is, the nominal payoff is insufficient to offset the loss of purchasing power of the money invested.

About a month before I wrote my commentary, my old friend Richard Rahn had, without my noticing, written on the same issue in a commentary article published in the Washington Times, but he had gone beyond the simple point I made. Rahn notes that besides suffering the loss of wealth occasioned by the negative real yield on such investments, the investor has to pay tax on the nominal yield—truly a case of the government's adding insult to injury. He notes that given the currently prevailing rates of interest, rate of inflation, and tax rates, a small investor who earns a nominal yield of 1% and pays a 20% marginal tax rate, while the rate of inflation is 3.5 %, actually ends up paying a real tax rate of 370%. For example, an investor buys a $100,000 CD, earns $1,000 in annual interest, pays a tax of $200, and incurs a loss of $3,500 in purchasing power on the invested principal. Total (nominal) income is $1,000; total real tax (nominal tax plus inflation tax) is $3,700.

This expropriation of private wealth is not accidental. It is the joint product of the Fed's near-zero interest-rate policies, the Fed's money supply increases that underlie the current rate of inflation, and the tax rates established by Congress and administered by the IRS, including the taxation of nominal interest earnings even when they amount to real losses of capital, rather than genuine earnings. The government clearly aims to expropriate private wealth on a massive scale. The only plausible alternative interpretation of these policies requires us to believe that the government officials who set these policies are complete idiots about basic economics.

The expropriation amounts to a huge sum. For example, the value of the Non-M1 component of the monetary aggregate M2—consisting of savings and small time deposits, overnight repos at commercial banks, and non-institutional money market accounts—currently amounts to more than $7.5 trillion. If investors lose 2.7% on this investment each year (nominal yield minus the sum of the amount lost via taxation of nominal interest and the amount lost via the inflation tax), the loss amounts to about $204 billion. Because this type of investment is not the whole of the investments subject to this effect, the total amount the government is expropriating comes to a much larger sum. Because this taking continues year after year, so long as current conditions persist the continuation of this expropriation for another year or two will bring the cumulative amount expropriated in this fashion to more than $1 trillion since the onset of the recession and the Fed's adoption of the near-zero interest-rate policies, along with its allowance of substantial growth of the money stock and the consequent decrease in the money's purchasing power. This is a rough calculation for the purpose of illustration. My point does not hinge on a precise estimate, because any well-founded estimate is sure to amount to a gigantic sum.

In sum, the government's monetary and fiscal authorities are currently engaged in the expropriation of private wealth on a vast scale. Entire classes of investors—especially people who saved during their working years and expected to live on interest earnings on their accumulated capital during their retirement years—are being steadily wiped out. Astonishingly, this de facto robbery  is being committed by a government that misses no opportunity to shed crocodile tears over how single-mindedly it seeks to protect the weak and helpless among us.

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Dead Movement Walking: Top Six Signs the Left And Mainstream Media Have Hung Occupy Out to Dry - Big Journalism

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Article: America’s Public Sector Union Dilemma — The American Magazine

America's Public Sector Union Dilemma — The American Magazine

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@yidwithlid, 11/27/11 8:09 AM

Jeff Dunetz (@yidwithlid)
11/27/11 8:09 AM
Climategate II Emails Show US/British Govs Colluded W/Scientists to Suppress Anti-Warming Data #teaparty #nobama #fox

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NY Fed Issues Mea Culpa That Nobody Saw At 6PM On Black Friday

Business Insider

burnt turkey thanksgiving

[Published with permission from The Wall Street Examiner.]

In a report released on Black Friday around 6 PM, when nobody is around, let alone paying attention, except for crazy people like me, the NY Fed posted a mea culpa on just how lousy its economic forecasts have been, a function which I had already performed over a year ago (The Fed – Clueless, Delusional, or Both?). The author of the report stated the crux of the failure thusly:

One source for such metrics is a paper by Reifschneider and Tulip (2007). They analyzed the forecast error performance of a range of public and private forecasters over 1986 to 2006 (that is, roughly the period that most economists associate with the Great Moderation in the United States).

On the basis of their analysis, one could have expected that an October 2007 forecast of real GDP growth for 2008 would be within 1.3 percentage points of the actual outcome 70 percent of the time. The New York Fed staff forecast at that time was for growth of 2.6 percent in 2008. Based on the forecast of 2.6 percent and the size of forecast errors over the Great Moderation period, one would have expected that 70 percent of the time, actual growth would be within the 1.3 to 3.9 percent range. The current estimate of actual growth in 2008 is-3.3 percent, indicating that our forecast was off by 5.9 percentage points.

Using a similar approach to Reifschneider and Tulip but including forecast errors for 2007, one would have expected that 70 percent of the time the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2009 should have been within 0.7 percentage point of a forecast made in April 2008. The actual forecast error was 4.4 percentage points, equivalent to an unexpected increase of over 6 million in the number of unemployed workers. Under the erroneous assumption that the 70 percent projection error band was based on a normal distribution, this would have been a 6 standard deviation error, a very unlikely occurrence indeed.

He then went on to enumerate the 3 big reasons the Fed had gotten it wrong:

  1. Misunderstanding of the housing boom. Staff analysis of the increase in house prices did not find convincing evidence of overvaluation (see, for example, McCarthy and Peach [2004] and Himmelberg, Mayer, and Sinai [2005]). Thus, we downplayed the risk of a substantial fall in house prices. A robust approach would have put the bar much lower than convincing evidence.
  2. A lack of analysis of the rapid growth of new forms of mortgage finance. Here the reliance on the assumption of efficient markets appears to have dulled our awareness of many of the risks building in financial markets in 2005-07. However, a March 2008 New York Fed staff report by Ashcraft and Schuermann provided a detailed analysis of how incentives were misaligned throughout the securitization process of subprime mortgages—meaning that the market was not functioning efficiently.
  3. Insufficient weight given to the powerful adverse feedback loops between the financial system and the real economy. Despite a good understanding of the risk of a financial crisis from mid-2007 onward, we were unable to fully connect the dots to real activity until 2008. Eventually, by building on the insights of Adrian and Shin (2008), we gained a better grasp of the power of these feedback loops.

He then added that perhaps the biggest reason for the failure was "complacency," with which I heartily concur, but to which I would also add hubris and stupidity.

At the beginning of the piece the author cited a Turbotax Tim Geithner quote: Our best plan is to plan for constant change and the potential for instability, and to recognize that the threats will constantly be changing in ways we cannot predict or fully understand.

Adding to that the author wrote, "The quotations from Keynes and Geithner at the start of this post capture the importance of constantly striving to ensure that policy is robust to unexpected events. As explained in much of the recent work of the 2011 Nobel Prize–winning economist Tom Sargent, the unexpected events for which policymakers need to make provision have the characteristic of being the most likely unlikely bad event. The collapse in housing prices and its propagation to the economy certainly fit this description."

This is what I would call the "Nobody could have foreseen" fallacy, a tool often used by the professional economist and economic pundit class. I guess that I and the countless thousands of others who frequented this and other bearish websites at the time of the top of the housing bubble, who did foresee what was coming, must be the "nobody" that the pros refer to.

It's good to be nobody or not so good, because even though nobody took precautions, nobody ultimately took the hit. Because in this case, nobody was prepared for what happened, and nobody took steps to both protect and profit from it, while the rest of the Wall Street seers and the Fedheads, who are all somebody, didn't foresee it. As a result somebody got their asses kicked. But that hasn't stopped them, because Uncle Sam bailed them out, spending nobody's money, and nobody's children's and grandchildren's futures to do it. So in that sense, it's better to be somebody, even though somebody initially took the loss that nobody saw coming, until the US government bailed them out on behalf of nobody.

I wrote the following comment on the NY Fed Liberty Street blog. I don't know if it will still be there in the morning, so here it is.

The excuse that most other professional forecasters didn't foresee it is just that, an excuse. Some professional forecasters did see it. They were derided as Cassandras and dismissed by Wall Street and Fed insiders, who are only beholden to each other, and to their own delusions.

Millions of amateur economic forecasters who frequented the financial message boards and blogs saw what was happening and what was coming. They had one important advantage. They live in the real world, not inside the Beltway, not within the marble halls and equally hardened thought processes of the Fed, and not in the ivory towers of academia, a word which sounds like a disease, because it is a disease. Not only do these environments cause delusional thinking, they attract delusional people. The same is true of policy makers.

I call it elitist personality disorder. It leads to delusions of grandeur, delusions of omniscience and omnipotence, and the unwillingness to take responsibility for failure and incompetence, instead engaging in blame shifting.

Postscript. Yep, less than a half hour later, they pulled my comment. I left a subsequent comment which isn't fit for a family oriented website like this one.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Supercommittee’s Failure: What Really Happened | Power Line

Zuccotti Utopia: Portraits of The New Revolutionaries « Looking at the Left

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Barack Obama, Emperor of Insolvency

Doug Ross @ Journal
The lede in today's coverage of the U.S. deficit struggle ("Obama reopens debate on US stimulus") at the Financial Times is troubling on two fronts.

Barack Obama sought to reignite the debate over an ­economic stimulus package on Tuesday, demanding that a bitterly divided Congress pass an extension of payroll tax cuts before the end of the year.

"We still have to give the economy the jolt that it needs," the US president said on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, a day after a bipartisan committee failed to agree on a $1,200bn deficit reduction package. He added he would do "everything in his power, with or without Congress".


• Fact: the "payroll tax cuts" simply accelerate the collapse of the Social Security system

• And what kind of president talks about operating "without Congress"?

Our beloved Dictator-in-Chief knows that America is insolvent, that Social Security is headed for collapse, and that Obamacare simply hastens the implosion.

But, some believe that was the plan all along.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Greasing the solar skids -

Greasing the solar skids

Last Updated: 10:31 PM, November 18, 2011

So it turns out that Solyndra may be just the tip of the iceberg that is the Obama administration's politically charged energy-loan scandal.

Even as Energy Secretary Stephen Chu was on Capitol Hill this week, claiming — against all the e-mail evidence — that the White House played no role in the Solyndra debacle, came word of an even bigger potential scandal.

Turns out a California-based "green jobs" firm with a troubled financial history got a $1.4 billion Energy Department loan guarantee — three times the size of Solyndra's jackpot — despite mountains of debt.

And it turns out that the principal private investor in BrightSource Energy, the lucky recipient, is a company called VantagePoint — whose "venture partners" include Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

That's a name that certainly opens up a lot of doors in Barack Obama's Washington — when Kennedy's not busy preaching to New Yorkers about their environmental crimes and trying to shut down key energy sources, like Indian Point.

It also doesn't hurt that a VantagePoint official (and Obama fund-raiser), Sanjay Wagle, left the firm to become a renewable-energy-grants adviser at — yep — the US Department of Energy.

The revelation of BrightSource's bailout — and the RFK Jr. connection — appear in Peter Schweizer's explosive new book, "Throw Them All Out."

To be sure, BrightSource itself was upfront on just how iffy an investment its company was: "This offering involves a high degree of risk," warned its IPO registration statement. "We have generated substantial net losses and negative operating cash flows since our inception and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future."

How much in losses? "We have incurred losses of approximately $204.1 million from our inception through March 31, 2011," it conceded.

Moreover, "our proprietary technology has a limited history and may perform below expectations when implemented."

Wait — it gets better.

In an SEC filing, BrightSource conceded that its very survival depends on its ability to build Ivanpah, a 370-megawatt solar power plant, in California — even while admitting that its ability to do so is "subject to significant risk and uncertainty."

None of this should surprise: The New York Times reported Thursday on "the new calculus on political and policy shifts" when it comes to energy "as the White House sharpens its focus on the president's re-election."

Still, this is a viable candidate for a $1.4 billion taxpayer-funded bailout?

In Barack Obama's Washington, yes.

Especially if you've got someone like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on board.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

CARPE DIEM: Obama's Indefensible Pipeline Punt

Obama's Indefensible Pipeline Punt

"With a total length of close to 3,000 kilometers, the new [Keystone XL] pipeline would add just over 1 percent to the already existing network of crude oil and refined products lines that crisscross the United States and parts of Canada. Why, if pipeline safety is a key concern, have we not seen waves of civil disobedience focused on more than a quarter million kilometers of existing pipelines?

Long-term statistics show convincingly that there is no safer way to transport large masses of liquids over long distances than a pipeline. Moving the same amount by trucks or rail would be much more risky, in addition to being vastly more expensive. So would be moving the oil from Alberta to British Columbia and then shipping it by tankers via the Panama Canal to Texas.

 Here comes the craziest twist: if the opponents of the XL succeed and prevent its construction, there is a strong possibility that Alberta's oil sand-derived oil will be piped westward to Canada's Pacific coast and loaded on supertankers going to Asia, to feed China's grossly inefficient industries.

By preventing the oil flow from Canada, the United States will thus deliberately deprive itself of new manufacturing and construction jobs; it will not slow down the increase of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion; it will almost certainly empower China; and it will make itself strategically even more vulnerable by becoming further dependent on declining, unstable, and contested overseas crude oil supplies. That is what is called a spherically perfect decision, because no matter from which angle you look at it, it looks perfectly the same: wrong."

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Personal Finance - Lifehacker

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@RIGHTZONE, 11/18/11 5:56 AM

Leonard Park (@RIGHTZONE)
11/18/11 5:56 AM
OWS, Rape, public masterbation, public deficating, demands for handouts, anti-semitism, violence, destruction of private property.

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@poorconservativ, 11/18/11 5:55 AM

Poor Conservative (@poorconservativ)
11/18/11 5:55 AM
Watch This Devastating Video: #Obama Knew, So Holder Is A Liar

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@CarterFliptMe, 11/18/11 5:52 AM

WisConservative (@CarterFliptMe)
11/18/11 5:52 AM
Class Warfare at Occupy Wall Street Liberal Hypocrisy in Full Bloom. This is Progressive BS at it's Finest! #tcot #ows

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Five questions for Energy Secretary Stephen Chu

The Enterprise Blog

The New York Times reports this morning:

An unrepentant energy secretary [Stephen Chu] will square off on Thursday with a Republican-led committee that has spent months arguing that his department showed political favoritism and incompetence when it approved a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra.

As I pointed out in the Washington Post this week, Peter Schweizer blows the lid off of the Obama-Chu loan guarantee and grant programs in his new book, Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison. Here are five questions House members may want to pose to Secretary Chu today, based on Schweizer's research:

1.       "$16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama's National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party." How is it that 71 percent of the loan money went to President Obama's political cronies?

2.       Please explain your decision to approve more than $2.4 billion for Leucadia Energy, a company that Schweizer writes "had one employee and $120,000 in annual revenue." Schweizer notes that "The company is a subsidiary of Leucadia National, whose chairman and CEO is Ian Cumming. Cumming served as a member of President Obama's 2008 National Finance Committee and was on the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee. Curiously, Ian Cumming wrote three rather large checks to Democratic Party committees just weeks before his funds were approved. He wrote a total of $69,900 in checks in April 2009." Is this a coincidence, Mr. Secretary? Moreover, according to a government audit, as of December 2010, eighteen months after the loans were made, the Leucadia projects had resulted in a grand total of three jobs. Do you consider this an example of success, Mr. Secretary?

3.       Please explain your decision to provide $1.4 billion in loan guarantees to a company called Brightsource to build the Ivanpah Solar Electrical System on federal land in California. According to Schweizer, at the time the company had debt obligations of $1.8 billion and in 2010 lost $71.6 million on revenue of just $13.5 million—and had informed the Securities and Exchange Commission, "Our ability to complete Ivanpah and the planning, development, and construction of all three phases are subject to significant risk and uncertainty." Is it a mere coincidence that the single largest shareholder (25 percent) in Brightsource is VantagePoint Partners, whose principals included Sanjay Wagle, the managing co-chairman of Cleantech and Green Business Leaders for Obama, which raised millions for Obama's campaign?

4.       After the 2008 election, Schweizer writes, Sanjay Wagle joined the Obama administration as a "renewable energy grants adviser" at the Department of Energy. Please explain Mr. Wagle's role, if any, in loans and grants made to VantagePoint-backed companies.

5.       Please explain how it is that ten members of President Obama's finance committee collectively raised $457,834 for his presidential campaign, and were in turn approved by your department for grants or loans of nearly $11.4 billion? Is this a mere coincidence? Would you consider that a good return on investment?

There is enough material in Schweizer's book to grill Chu for weeks—but answering these five questions would be a good start.

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@preciousliberty, 11/17/11 12:15 PM

Precious Liberty (@preciousliberty)
11/17/11 12:15 PM
The U.S. is 235 years old yet over 1/3 of our debt will have been accrued by President Downgrade in just 4 years -

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Patriotic Millionaires

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Just Like the Tea Party: A List of Occupy Mayhem Sorted by Type | Verum Serum

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Five Lessons for America from the European Fiscal Crisis

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What If Middle-Class Jobs Disappear? — The American Magazine

What If Middle-Class Jobs Disappear? — The American Magazine

Structural change is an important factor in the current rate of high unemployment. The economy is in a state of transition, in which the middle-class jobs that emerged after World War II have begun to decline.

The most recent recession in the United States began in December of 2007 and ended in June of 2009, according to the official arbiter of recession dating, the National Bureau of Economic Research.  However, two years after the official end of the recession, few Americans would say that economic troubles are behind us. The unemployment rate, in particular, remains above 9 percent. Some labor market indicators, such as the proportion of long-term unemployed, are worse now than for any postwar recession.

There are two widely circulated narratives to explain what is going on. The Keynesian narrative is that there has been a major drop in aggregate demand. According to this narrative, the slump can be largely cured by using monetary and fiscal stimulus.

The main anti-Keynesian narrative is that businesses are suffering from uncertainty and over-regulation. According to this narrative, the slump can be cured by having the government commit to and follow a more hands-off approach.

I want to suggest a third interpretation. Without ruling out a role for aggregate demand or for the regulatory environment, I wish to suggest that structural change is an important factor in the current rate of high unemployment. The economy is in a state of transition, in which the middle-class jobs that emerged after World War II have begun to decline.

As Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee put it in a recent e-book Race Against the Machine:

The root of our problems is not that we're in a Great Recession, or a Great Stagnation, but rather that we are in the early throes of a Great Restructuring.

In fact, I believe that the Great Depression of the 1930s can also be interpreted in part as an economic transition. The impact of the internal combustion engine and the small electric motor on farming and manufacturing reduced the value of uneducated laborers. Instead, by the 1950s, a middle class of largely clerical workers was the most significant part of the labor force.

The Great Transition from 1930 to 1950

Government's role as an employer and as a regulator is likely to exacerbate earnings inequality going forward.

Between 1930 and 1950, the United States economy underwent a Great Transition. Demand fell for human effort such as lifting, squeezing, and hammering. Demand increased for workers who could read and follow directions. The evolutionary process eventually changed us from a nation of laborers to a nation of clerks.

The proportion of employment classified as "clerical and kindred workers" grew from 5.2 percent in 1910 to a peak of 19.3 percent in 1980. (However, by 2000 this proportion had edged down to 17.4 percent.)1 Overall, workers classified as clerical, professional workers, technical workers, managers, officials, and proprietors exceeded 50 percent of the labor force by 2000.

Corresponding declines took place in the manual occupations. Workers classified as laborers, other than farm or mine, peaked at 11.4 percent of the labor force in 1920 but were barely 6 percent by 1950 and less than 4 percent by 2000. Farmers and farm laborers fell from 33 percent of the labor force in 1910 to less than 15 percent by 1950 and only 1.2 percent in 2000.

The advent of the tractor and improvements in the factory rapidly reduced the demand for uneducated workers. By the 1930s, a marginal farm hand could not produce enough to justify his employment. Sharecropping, never much better than a subsistence occupation, was no longer viable. Meanwhile, machines were replacing manufacturing occupations like cigar rolling and glass blowing for light bulbs.2

If a job can be characterized by a precise set of instructions, then that job is a candidate to be automated or outsourced to modestly educated workers in developing countries.

World War II also demonstrated the increase in the relative importance of white-collar workers and machines. With all due respect to GI Joe and Rosie the Riveter, it could be that Cynthia the Clerk is a more appropriate symbol of the war effort, as logistics and communications came to be dominant factors. Although Winston Churchill famously praised "the few" who flew airplanes during the Battle of Britain, historians emphasize the role played by the communications and control systems on the ground, staffed to a considerable extent by women, in making the British victory possible. Female clerks also played a crucial role in the process of decoding German messages—the famous Enigma intercepts.

The structural-transition interpretation of the unemployment problem of the 1930s would be that the demand for uneducated workers in the United States had fallen, but the supply remained high. The high school graduation rate was only 8.8 percent in 1912 and still just 29 percent in 1931. By 1950, it had reached 59 percent.3 With a new generation of workers who had completed high school, the mismatch between skills and jobs had been greatly reduced.

What took place after the Second World War was not the revival of a 1920s economy, with its small farming units, urban manufacturing, and plurality of laborers. Instead, the 1950s saw the creation of a new suburban economy, with a plurality of white-collar workers. With an expanded transportation and communications infrastructure, businesses needed telephone operators, shipping clerks, and similar occupations. If you could read, follow simple instructions, and settle into a routine, you could find a job in the post-war economy.

The trend away from manual labor has continued. Even within the manufacturing sector, the share of production and non-supervisory workers in manufacturing employment went from over 85 percent just after the Second World War to less than 70 percent in more recent years. To put this another way, the proportion of white-collar work in manufacturing has doubled over the past 50 years. On the factory floor itself, work has become less physically demanding. Instead, it requires more cognitive skills and the ability to understand and carry out well-defined procedures.

The Current Transition

Blockbuster video adversely affected the capital of movie theaters, Netflix adversely affected the capital of Blockbuster, and the combination of faster Internet speeds and tablet devices may depreciate the organizational capital of Netflix.

As noted earlier, the proportion of clerical workers in the economy peaked in 1980. By that date, computers and advanced communications equipment had already begun to affect telephone operations and banking. The rise of the personal computer and the Internet has widened the impact of these technologies to include nearly every business and industry.

The economy today differs from that of a generation ago. Mortgage and consumer loan underwriters have been replaced by credit scoring. Record stores have been replaced by music downloads. Book stores are closing, while sales of books on electronic readers have increased. Data entry has been moved off shore. Routine customer support also has been outsourced overseas.

These trends serve to limit the availability of well-defined jobs. If a job can be characterized by a precise set of instructions, then that job is a candidate to be automated or outsourced to modestly educated workers in developing countries.

The result is what David Autor calls the polarization of the American job market. Autor and various research collaborators have documented a number of findings that reflect this polarization:4

•    In recent decades, wage and employment growth have both been lowest at the middle segment of the skill distribution. Wage improvements have tended to be concentrated at the high end, and employment gains have tended to be largest at the low end of the skill distribution.

•    This particular symptom of polarization is also prevalent in OECD countries other than the United States.

•    In the United States, this polarization was exacerbated by the economic downturn. While both high- and low-skill jobs have held steady, the brunt of the recession has been borne by mid-skill workers. For example, growth in employment in sales was 54 percent from 1979 to 1989, 14 percent from 1989 to 1999, 4 percent from 1999 to 2007, and -7 percent from 2007 to 2009. Employment in sales was a key component of upward economic mobility after World War II, but technological change and globalization appear to have stalled or perhaps reversed this engine of middle-class affluence.

•    From 1980 to 2007, real wages for male workers with only a high school degree fell by 12 percent, real wages of male workers with only a college degree rose by 10 percent, and real wages of males with post-graduate degrees increased by 26 percent. Female workers show a similar pattern, although wage gains were generally higher for females over this period.

Using the latest Census Bureau data, Matthew Slaughter found that from 2000 to 2010 the real earnings of college graduates (with no advanced degree) fell by more in percentage terms than the earnings of high school graduates. In fact, over this period the only education category to show an increase in earnings was those with advanced degrees.5

The Great Depression of the 1930s can also be interpreted in part as an economic transition.

The outlook for mid-skill jobs would not appear to be bright. Communication technology and computer intelligence continue to improve, putting more occupations at risk.

For example, many people earn a living as drivers, including trucks and taxicabs. However, the age of driver-less vehicles appears to be moving closer.

Another example is in the field of education. In the fall of 2011, an experiment with an online course in artificial intelligence conducted by two Stanford professors drew tens of thousands of registrants. This increases the student-teacher ratio by a factor of close to a thousand. Imagine the number of teaching jobs that might be eliminated if this could be done for calculus, economics, chemistry, and so on.

It is important to bear in mind that when we offer a structural interpretation of unemployment, a "loss of jobs" means an increase in productivity. Traditionally, economists have argued that productivity increases are a good thing, even though they may cause dislocation for some workers in the short run. In the long run, the economy does not run out of jobs. Rather, new jobs emerge as old jobs disappear. The story we tell is that average well-being rises, and the more that people are able to adapt, the more widespread the improvement becomes.

Challenges Due to Rapid Change

If you could read, follow simple instructions, and settle into a routine, you could find a job in the post-war economy.

There are two challenges. One is the sheer speed of adjustment. In a hyper-Schumpeterian economy, the main work consists of destroying someone else's job. Garett Jones has pointed out that the typical worker today does not produce widgets but instead builds organizational capital. The problem is that building organizational capital in one company serves to depreciate the organizational capital somewhere else. Blockbuster video adversely affected the capital of movie theaters, Netflix adversely affected the capital of Blockbuster, and the combination of faster Internet speeds and tablet devices may depreciate the organizational capital of Netflix.

The second challenge is the nature of the emerging skills mismatch. People who are self-directed and cognitively capable can keep adding to their advantages. People who lack those traits cannot simply be exhorted into obtaining them. The new jobs that emerge may not produce a middle class. Instead, if the trend documented by Autor for the period 1999-2007 were to continue, most of the new jobs would be low-end service jobs, for which competition will tend to keep wages low.

The recent trend in job polarization raises the possibility that gains in well-being that come from productivity improvements will accrue to an economic elite. Perhaps the middle-class affluence that emerged during the latter part of the industrial age is not going to be a feature of the information age. Instead, we could be headed into an era of highly unequal economic classes. People at the bottom will have access to food, healthcare, and electronic entertainment, but the rich will live in an exclusive world of exotic homes and extravagant personal services. The most popular bands in the world will play house concerts for the rich, while everyone else can afford music downloads but no live music. In the remainder of this essay, I want to extend further this exercise in imagination and consider three possible scenarios.

Three future scenarios

The most optimistic scenario is the one I consider least likely. Under this scenario, the supply of workers adapts to changes in technology. In particular, this means a future with relatively fewer workers whose skills are limited to following directions in well-defined jobs. Instead, more workers will have the cognitive ability, initiative, and self-discipline to constantly update their skills, adapt to new technology, and to participate in the creative part of creative destruction. Under this scenario, economic growth will be very high, and median earnings will also be high.

The main anti-Keynesian narrative is that businesses are suffering from uncertainty and over-regulation.

I do not believe that this optimistic scenario will emerge through more spending on education or even with education reform. My reading of the research is that variations in education techniques lead to differences in outcomes that tend to be small and transitory.6

If the optimistic scenario does arise, I suspect it will be the result of discoveries in biology. Perhaps pharmacology will succeed where pedagogy fails.

Turning to more realistic scenarios, I see the desirability of the outcome depending on the extent to which institutions serve to ameliorate problems created by disparities in ability. At one extreme, charities and government will develop humane, rational approaches for providing for the needs of people who are disadvantaged in an economic environment where rewards are concentrated among those who are disciplined, self-directed learners with creative gifts. At the other extreme, collective institutions will be arenas in which elites compete for resources, even when they claim to be fighting on behalf of the disadvantaged.

I would assess our current situation as closer to the adverse scenario. Our government is very responsive to cries for bank bailouts or to pleas for subsidies coming from well-connected companies, large (General Motors) and small (Solyndra). That same government is much less likely to target assistance in a charitable fashion.

With all due respect to GI Joe and Rosie the Riveter, it could be that Cynthia the Clerk is a more appropriate symbol of the war effort.

Economist Steve Allen calculated that a $447 billion spending plan could be used to pay all 14 million unemployed workers $32,000 a year to take low-paying or volunteer jobs.7 While there may be no practical way to implement Allen's approach, it does illustrate the deficiencies in existing stimulus proposals. Even according to the most optimistic estimates, these create or save many fewer jobs per dollar spent.

My guess is that the more power is concentrated in governmental units, the less likely it is that our collective institutions will be geared toward achieving outcomes that are charitable and make efficient use of resources. Trying to get large sums of tax money past the grabbing hands of rent-seeking elites will be like trying to get a stagecoach full of gold past a horde of armed robbers.

Government's role as an employer and as a regulator is likely to exacerbate earnings inequality going forward. Government pay scales and contract award policies tend to place a very high weight on formal academic credentials. This increases the advantages of advanced degrees both directly and indirectly. The more that government requires educational credentials, the greater the rewards to the providers of educational credentials. Of course, becoming a provider of educational credentials requires obtaining high credentials oneself.

I suspect that a more decentralized set of voluntary collective institutions would achieve better results. People are less likely to donate to institutions that provide windfalls only to elites, so that such organizations would lose out in a competitive environment. I believe that a scenario in which many people have dignified jobs and enjoyable lifestyles is more likely to emerge in an environment with decentralized voluntary charities than one with concentrated, coercive government.

To put this another way, I think it is possible that technocrats will be able to come up with programs that offer decent work and reasonable incomes for workers with modest skills. However, I have more faith in a process in which technocrats must compete for charitable donations than a process in which they compete for government power.

Arnold Kling is a member of the Financial Markets Working Group at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University. He writes for econlog, part of the Library of Economics and Liberty.

FURTHER READING: Kling also writes "What to Do with Super-Achievers?" "The Soothsayers of Macroeconometrics," "Prosperity, Depression, and Progress," and "Putting Mr. Market on the Couch." Andrew G. Biggs asks "Can the Middle Class Be Rebuilt?"


1. See Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker, "Occupational Changes During the 20th Century," March 2006.

2. See Amy Sue Bix, Inventing Ourselves Out of Jobs? America's Debate Over Technological Unemployment, 1929-1981. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

3. See Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, The Race Between Education and Technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008, p. 27.

4. The facts reported here are taken from David Autor, "The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market," a paper for the Center for American Progress and the Hamilton Project, April, 2010.

5. David Wessel, "Only Advanced-Degree Holders See Wage Gains," September 19, 2011.

6. That is my reading of the work of Nobel Laureate James Heckman. For example, he and co-author write, "Schools work with what parents give them. The 1966 Coleman Report on inequality in school achievement clearly documented that the major factor explaining the variation in the academic performance of children across U.S. schools is the variation in parental environments—not the variation in per pupil expenditure across schools or pupil-teacher ratios. Successful schools build on the efforts of successful families. Failed schools deal in large part with children from dysfunctional families that do not provide the enriched home environments enjoyed by middle class and upper middle class children." See James Heckman and Dimitriy V. Masterov, "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," 2007.

7. Steve Allen, "Some jobs bill arithmetic," September 10, 2011.

Image by Darren Wamboldt | Bergman Group

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