Monday, June 20, 2011

Medicare Saves Money

The easiest way to reduce health costs is to improve Medicare.  It has outstripped the cost performance of the private sector while delivering care much more broadly.  True, it has its problems, but the gap between it and private insurance is so large that those problems could easily be fixed and still not match the private insurance cost levels.

Looking for Jobs in All the Wrong Places

Dan Rather points out that job creation is tricky.  It takes more than just throwing money around.  You have to put the money in the right places with the right restrictions.  Otherwise you run the risk of encouraging the export of even more jobs offshore.

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in most US counties is below that of other developed nations.  Best health care system in the world?  Not.

Bacteria and Biofuel

bacteria has been found that produces an enzyme that breaks down lignin, the hard stuff in cellulose.  This could be an economical source to more easily create biofuels from waste plant stocks.

More Stimulus Needed For Jobs Crisis

Larry Summers makes the case for stimulus spending.  But it must be careful stimulus spending.  Now is the time to make investments in infrastructure.  Labor costs and borrowing costs are low.   
the fiscal debate needs to take on board the reality that the greatest threat to the nation's creditworthiness is a sustained period of slow growth that, as in southern Europe, causes debt-GDP ratios to soar. This means that essential discussions about medium-term measures to restrain spending and raise revenues need to be coupled with a focus on near-term growth. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Damn Lies and Statistics

When analyzing the effects of the tax cuts, conservatives like to use dollar figures to say that revenues went up.  Liberals like to use %GDP to say that revenues declined.  Timing is everything.  It takes discipline to take in revenues during a growing GDP and pay down the debt, and increase debt and spending during times of shrinking GDP to reverse the trend.  The easy path (and destructive) path is to not worry about the debt during a rising economy and then only address in when the GDP shrinks.  The former dampens the oscillation and the latter exacerbates it.

A Worthy Investment

Whenever our finances rise above the treading-water phase, investing in early education has been shown to be an easy way to leverage better standards of living and reduced crime.

Something New in Steel

This interesting innovation could result in a form of steel that is lighter and stronger than anything now produced.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Lasting Effects of the Bush Tax Cuts

Here's the charts.
Millionaires saw their after-tax income increase by 6.2%.  The middle class saw an increase of 2.2%.
In dollars than $128,832 for the millionaires, 860 for the middle class.
The Bush tax cuts are the largest contributor to the deficit.  More than wars, more than stimulus, more than bailouts, and more than the effect of the recession.
The cost of the tax cuts is roughly equal to the Social Security shortfall.
If we only let the cuts expire, our rising debt stabilizes and begins to drop.  Otherwise the debt just keeps going up.