Investigators are trying to determine who drove six-inch nails into hundreds of red pine trees near Backus. They think the vandals might have thought they were saving the trees from logging; about 100 of the 600 trees were slated to be cut down and sold this month. But now the entire forest will be cut down because of safety concerns, the authorities said. Mike Diekmann of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said that if a saw hit one of the nails, “it would explode like a gun going off” and could cause serious injury.The report from Minnesota is here.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.
Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.
This change, Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It's forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims.More unemployment raises unemployment insurance costs for employers, making them less willing to hire, causing more unemployment--a positive-feedback loop or, in the terms popular in macroeconomics, an automatic destabilizer.
Some employers say the extra costs make them less likely to hire. That could be a worrisome sign for the economic recovery, because small businesses create about 60 percent of new jobs. Other employers say they'll cut or freeze pay.
The press's view on global warming rests on an appeal to authority: the consensus among scientists that it is real, dangerous and man-caused. But the authority of scientists rests on the integrity of the scientific process, and a "consensus" based on the suppression of alternative hypotheses is, quite simply, a fraudulent one.Update: Now the issue is on youtube. A few years ago the gatekeepers of the main stream media could have shut down this whole discussion. The Internet has democratized the flow of information.
In the United States, every year, 21.5 million jobs disappear. ... If you look at it on a daily basis, the extent of the carnage is striking: every working day, the United States loses 90,000 jobs.... [F]ortunately, this perspective only tells half the story...every day, the United States creates 90,000 jobs....
Europe will become increasingly less important in the world, while Asia will grow in importance, at least for much of the next century. Why? Demography.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
It is not because we care about children and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.If the choice is between protecting the jobs of its members or educating students, which will they choose?
And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.
This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary. These are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay.
What exactly is the justification of public-sector unionism?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Every lawsuit filed or even threatened under a California law aimed at electing more minorities to local offices - and all of the roughly $4.3 million from settlements so far - can be traced to just two people: a pair of attorneys who worked together writing the statute, The Associated Press has found.
The law makes it easier for lawyers to sue and win financial judgments in cases arising from claims that minorities effectively were shut out of local elections, while shielding attorneys from liability if the claims are tossed out.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Often the authors will use a specific example to illustrate a broader point. In a chapter on how the poor put together usefully large sums of money, they write:
Take a household like Sultan and Kanon's. This Bangladeshi couple rented a yard where they sorted and sold waste scavenged in their Dhaka slum, but Sultan was in his fifties and ailing, and the income he raised was rarely more than $1.50 a day. Just before the research year their 15-year-old daughter Sweetie had found a job in a garments factory at $28 a month plus occasional overtime, much of which she saved for her wedding while contributing her bit to the housekeeping: she married and left home just before the end of the year. (p. 99)Sweetie was working for a sweatshop! If people in the West did not buy products from sweatshops, that garments factory would have been shut down and Sweetie would not have been exploited by the evil factory owners. Right?
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Does it illustrate the problems of fiscal policy or of economic development?
(It is a bit unsettling that Al Jazeera has better youtube clips on the world economy than any of the American networks.)
An article in The Wall Street Journal asks if football helmets have made football more dangerous. That possibility seems counter-intuitive to noneconomists who usually do not consider that changes in risk will change in behavior.
Andrew McIntosh, a researcher at Australia's University of New South Wales who analyzed videotape, says there may be a greater prevalence of head injuries in the American game because the players hit each other with forces up to 100% greater. "If they didn't have helmets on, they wouldn't do that," he says. "They know they'd injure themselves."
"Without the helmet, they wouldn't hit their head in stupid plays," says P. David Halstead, technical director for the Nocsae, the group that sets helmet-safety standards. But without helmets, the game "wouldn't be football," he says.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Chanos and the other bears point to several key pieces of evidence that China is heading for a crash.
First, they point to the enormous Chinese economic stimulus effort — with the government spending $900 billion to prop up a $4.3 trillion economy.
Chang argues that inconsistencies in Chinese official statistics — like the surging numbers for car sales but flat statistics for gasoline consumption — indicate that the Chinese are simply cooking their books
the Chinese already consume more cement than the rest of the world combined, at 1.4 billion tons per year. But they have dramatically ramped up their ability to produce even more in recent years, leading to an estimated spare capacity of about 340 million tons, which, according to a report prepared earlier this year by Pivot Capital Management, is more than the consumption in the U.S., India and Japan combined.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
And since we on Wall Street have all seen this movie before, what comes next has been highly predictable. I’m a portfolio manager at a large hedge fund so I make my living predicting results not hoping for growth. That has made Obama a boon for me personally.
As an American I’d love it if he’d embrace the free market reality and start doing things that would actually help create jobs. But the economy will recover eventually no matter what he does. In the meantime, as a professional investor I’m delighted to see him embrace the bat guano. It’s bad for America but good for me personally.
I have a friend who is a currency trading legend (and also a major AEI money man) whose conservative credentials are beyond doubt. He’s a little older and can remember what it was like to trade the markets during the Carter administration. When I was lamenting Obama’s impending election with him last year he said to me, in a glass half full fashion which is typical of him:
“It’s never easier to make money in the markets than when there is a Democrat in the Whitehouse who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else”.
So far he’s been dead on, but I think it would be better for all of us if he wasn’t.
How does one invest in a way that bets against the economy? What are they doing?
Thursday, November 5, 2009
But traditional agriculture began to fall apart in the 1960s after Yemen was flooded with cheap foreign grain, which put many farmers out of business. Qat began replacing food crops, and in the late 1960s, motorized drills began to proliferate, allowing farmers and villagers to pump water from underground aquifers much faster than it could be replaced through natural processes. The number of drills has only grown since they were outlawed in 2002.
Mr. Amer, the farmer based here, proudly showed visitors his efforts to irrigate fruit and tomato fields using rubber tubes, instead of just funneling it through earthen ditches that allow most of the water to evaporate unused. Little hoses spray the crops with water instead of wastefully soaking them.But he also pointed out two local wells where the water is dropping at the astonishing rate of almost 60 feet a year, causing the land to subside. Nearby, sinkholes in the arid soil of his property are growing longer and deeper every year.