Thursday, May 18, 2006
Calling it quits...
Well I've decided that since I have been so lousy at keeping up with the blog I'm going to call it quits officially. I may take it back up again someday, but for now let's just say that the blog is in hibernation.


Monday, April 24, 2006
Welfare Reform 10 Years On
One of the most successful policy changes in the last 20 years was the welfare reform act of 1996. If you have the time, read this article. It is a bit lengthy. Welfare reform ties in to one of the most basic assumptions in life that is People Respond to Incentives. Until reform there was no incentive to work. Here's a key quote from the article:

Human beings tend to do pretty much what they are expected to do. When the
culture expects self-sufficiency, people will try to achieve it. When the
culture sends mixed messages about self-sufficiency, as it did during the old
welfare regime - particularly to the minority poor - some will not try to become

Perhaps the second best policy change regarding poverty was increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit. Basically this boils down to a negative income tax for low-income workers. There is no reason why a person working full-time shouldn't be able to provide for their family. They are doing everything right and in a society as wealthy as ours they should be provided for if they are working. The problem is that well meaning people think we should raise the minimum wage to accomplish this. Raising the minimum wage is the wrong way to go about doing it. Artificially modifying the cost of labor inevitably causes unemployment and kills jobs. One needs to look no further than Europe to see the effects of rigid, high-cost labor markets. With the EITC the burden is shared by the taxpayer (society as a whole), rather than the business doing the hiring. Again, people respond to incentives. If the employer is incented to not higher someone because they cost more than they are worth, then they will find a way to not hire them.

Friday, April 14, 2006
Hollywood and Movies
I've begun to put the link to articles in the title of the blog post so if I refer to something and you don't see the link, it is the title to the blog post.

Couple things today:

1.) I love wireless internet at home.
2.) I hate it when places charge you for wireless internet (like the mall). It's so cheap that it should just be a perk.
3.) The article about Hollywood is interesting. The fact that there is a broad swath of society that is culturally very different than that found in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco and therefore has very different taste in movies is an epiphany to these people for some reason. The fact is that so many movies these days are pretty much garbage and offend a broad portion of the possible audience...which is fine as long as you also make movies geared to the excluded portion of the audience which it appears Hollywood is finally realizing is profitable.

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Who are those handsome devils?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Quincy - Opportunities Unlimited?
Maybe they'll stop painting out the 'Un' in the Opportunities Unlimited sign in Quincy... Yahoo is coming to Wenatchee too. I think this is so interesting. They are like the new Alcoa (Alcoa came to Wenatchee a long time ago). It's got to be primarily for the power rates. There's plenty of cheap land elsewhere and a single fixed cost like that is a drop in the bucket for those companies anyway. Racks and racks of servers use a bunch of power.

Sorry about the lack of blogging lately. I've been too slammed to look for interesting things to blog about. Jack is doing great and sleeping through the night (till 5 or 6 anyway) which is great. He's fun to make laugh. Work is really really busy which is good, but tiring. And we're looking for a house which is very depressing. That's the 30 second summary. I'll try to do better in the future.

I'd like to blog about the economics of immigration. It is an interesting subject, but I don't have the time today.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Drive Around Seattle from the Comfort of Home
Check this out...

And this is pretty cool too for you Simpson fans.

And so is this.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Private Schooling in India
Private schooling in India is taking off. After listening to ads on the radio by the WEA about how Washington schools are underfunded I think this article is particularly appropriate. How about cutting down on some of the educational bureaucracy and actually getting more of the money we spend into the classroom? There's a novel thought.

Here's the key paragraph from the Newsweek article:

"These private schools are delivering results. Although teacher salaries tend to
be two-thirds lower on average, Prof. James Tooley of the University of
Newcastle found that even unrecognized schools in Hyderabad's slums delivered
mean scores in mathematics that were 22 percentage points higher than public
schools. A national study led by the education NGO Pratham confirmed that even
in villages 16 percent of the kids are now enrolled in private primary schools,
and their reading and math scores were 10 points higher."
I'm not sure how much of this difference is due to the fact that parents that invest more in their children's education tend to send their kids to private school. It would be interesting to do a more extensive regression analysis on this to see how much of the bump is actually due to the private school. However, I think introducing competition in education is a good idea. It obviously doesn't make sense in every district (I think most parents in the Bellevue school district are probably pretty happy with the education provide), but you can't tell me parents who send their kids to Rainier Beach High or Cleveland High wouldn't like another option.

Jack loves his new dinosaur towel-cape


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