The State of Education

Here is some entertaining and enlightening commentary on the state of education today. Once again I thank Craig Newmark for the link. This may sound somewhat familiar to Albuquerque:
“Ordinarily competition is fierce for our final accolade, the coveted George Orwell Creative Use of Language Award. This year, however, there was no competition. The academy, unanimous in its judgment, presents its Orwell to a British educator for her call to abolish the word “fail” and replace it with “deferred success.” Employing this tactic more broadly would yield immeasurable benefits, instantly rendering war “deferred peace,” poverty “deferred prosperity,” and winter “deferred summer.””
Deferred sucess? Even the Albuquerque education establishment wasn’t imaginative enough to come up with that.

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Is a GMU Academic Economist Wrong?

I am a big fan of Tyler Cowen. He always makes me question my own views. But on this one I think he is wrong.
Constitutional limits on taxing and spending are put in place because voters cannot “simply cut spending by voting for anti-spending politiicians.” The reason is that the political process itself leads to outcomes which are biased in favor of bigger government. On that score he could take a lesson from his student.
Tyler may be justifiably “surprised” about whether or not Tax-Expenditure limitation will survive as a long run political equilibrium. The reason for that is clear; and it is the reason mentioned above.
Experience has shown, though, that Colorado’s limits on taxing and spending could have been better designed. New initiatives in other states will anticipate these problems.

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Milken Institute 2005 Cost-of-Doing-Business Index

Look here to see that NM is in the top half of states ranked by business expenses (even though New Mexico has competitive wages and below average energy costs).
A few thoughts: There is no attempt to capture regulatory burden. There is no measure of gross receipts tax pyramiding. The weighting scheme for each of the 5 elements making up the index is not clear.
Thanks to Ralph Frasca at Division of Labour for the heads up.

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A Little More Perspective on Gasoline Prices

The Albuquerque Journal is up to their usual hyperbole about gasoline prices. There is no question that gasoline prices have been going up; and that hurts. We never like it when the price of something goes up; but we enjoy it when the price of something goes down.
The problem with the Journal article is that it provides no context as to your tradeoffs today versus those in the past. Albuquerque’s reported price per gallon of $2.44 is still 85 percent of the inflation adjusted price in 1981. The 1981 price still holds the record in inflation adjusted terms.
More importantly, on average you “empty your wallet” a lot less today than you did in 1981. In 1981 if you “emptied your wallet” of 10 percent of New Mexico’s average annual disposable income of $8,255, you could buy you 611.5 gallons. Today if you “emptied your wallet” of 10 percent of New Mexico’s average annual disposable income of $25,100, you could buy 1,028.7 gallons. In other words, New Mexico’s average annual disposable income can buy 68 percent more gasoline today than it could in 1981!
That’s not all. Vehicles get some 30 percent more miles per gallon than they did in 1981. The result: New Mexico’s average annual disposable income today can buy 117 percent more vehicle miles than it could in 1981!

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“Living Wage” — Who Actually Benefits?

I have pointed out that the so-called “living wage” ordinance will actually hurt the poor. That raises a question: who will actually benefit from this wage floor? The answer: labor unions. They enjoy the spoils of reduced competition.
Here is a great summary of the logic by John Stossel in context of Davis-Bacon. And New Mexico exacerbates the situation with its “little Davis-Bacon.”
And now Albuquerque may increase the spoils of these selfish scoundrels with its “living wage” proposal. The voters have the opportunity to say “NO” on this October 4. And they will have future opportunity to say “NO” to the state’s union-legislature monopoly.

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Inflation as Measured by the CPI

Most people do not understand inflation. They notice the price of gasoline increasing; and they think that is inflation. They may also notice that housing and health care prices are rising; then they are really convinced that inflation is on the rise.
They are wrong. And Craig Newmark briefly explains why here, while correcting the errors of some thoughtful commenters. I recommend you check it out.
Robert J. Samuelson’s recent article in the Washington Post got the discussion going. Newmark provides a link to Samuelson’s article.
Speaking of inflation, we can now obtain all kinds of insights from scholars like Craig Newmark for practically nothing (all you need is access to the Internet). Insights at a price of almost zero — and they are not included in measuring inflation!

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There They Go Again: More New Slogans, Old Errors

From RGF President John Dendahl:
The Rio Grande Foundation is a new, and small, part of the network of think tanks giving so much heartburn to the wealthy bunch of Leftists discussed today in the Washington Post. Excerpt:
“At least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to
contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund
a network of think tanks and advocacy groups
to compete with the potent conservative
infrastructure built up over the past three
decades.”
The Heritage Foundation is probably the largest and best known, but our movement may include one hundred or more.
The Left has just one problem, but it’s a fatal problem: its answer is always some version of socialism. In the memorable words of Lady Margaret Thatcher: “President Reagan and I knew … what didn’t work –
namely socialism in every shape or form. And how many forms there are! Socialism is like one of those horrible viruses. You no sooner discover a remedy for one version, when it spontaneously evolves into another … Nowadays socialism is more often dressed up as environmentalism, feminism, in international concern for human rights … New slogans; old errors.”

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No to Corporate Welfare:” an Honor Roll

Matt’s recent posts on pork barrel spending and lack of fiscal discipline made me curious about voting records on the “transportation” and “energy” bills. I decided to create an honor roll of representatives and senators who voted against both bills. Here are the few, the proud, the defiant.
No to Corporate Welfare Honor Roll:
House
Flake, Jones (NC), Royce
Senate
Gregg (R-NH), Kyl (R-AZ), McCain (R-AZ)
BTW, if you would like to see how members voted during the last session of congress look here for the senate and here for the house.

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