Archive for the ‘public policy’ Category

The Focus is on Cheap Labor, Not Immigration

May 1, 2013

Today is May Day, a universal recognition of labor everywhere save the U.S.: We have  “Labor Day” in September, which serves as a proxy for the end of summer. Thus, Labor Day is a bit of a downer, even if the weather doesn’t start to change towards fall for another month.

May Day, however, has always been tinged with workers’ movements, socialism, communism, etc., etc., so its always been viewed as a little unseemly, hence the U.S. had to create its own day for labor recognition.

Nevertheless, labor is a hot-button issue these days in the U.S., so May Day seems to be a good day to post on labor issues.

Wait. What labor issues? Who’s talking about labor issues?

Well, if truth be told, the entire immigration reform battle, er, discussion, revolves around the labor issue, not the immigration issue. More specifically, cheap labor, and more specifically than that, cheap skilled labor. (more…)

The Great Big Lie That is Ethanol

February 5, 2013

A few weeks ago, a family vehicle suffered a fender bender from a driver sliding into it at a traffic light and, as usual during the winter, the quality body shops were booked solid. So, it took a couple of weeks before we could drop off the vehicle for repairs.

We ended up with a rental that was capable of burning ethanol. Initially, I was excited about this development because, after all, the tank could be returned full at minimal cost.

But something was amiss. A few years ago, when ethanol E85 first appeared at gas stations in the area, every pump had an E85 nozzle. Now I discovered that not only have a number of stations dropped E85 but if they still offered it, only one pump had an E85 nozzle. With a “savings” of $0.49 per gallon, why wasn’t there more demand for ethanol?

Next, after finally finding a station with E85, I pumped a tank-full of ethanol in the vehicle. In around-town driving, I noticed the fuel gauge seemed to drop rather rapidly.

Over this past weekend I had to make a trip out of town, and a road trip makes it easy to test the fuel mileage I was getting from the E85 ethanol. I filled the tank with E85, reset the trip computer (there’s an onboard computer with fuel economy data, but I wanted to test the accuracy of the computer as well) and drove off.

The trip to my destination consumed most of the tank. I filled the tank with regular 87 octane gasoline for the return trip. Noting the gallons pumped and resetting the trip computer again, I headed home. What I discovered upon arrival was a shock.

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The Destruction from Local Tax Abatements

December 19, 2012

A great new post over at Bacon’s Rebellion looking at the problem of tax abatements and tax incentives for the purposes of local economic development. Randy Salzman wraps the issue of tax abatements around the required rise in property values required to cover the losses realized in tax abatements. This, in turn, directly affects the funding of school systems, roads and highways, parks and recreation facilities, etc., etc.

The Catch 22 of Growth | Bacon’s Rebellion.

Thinking and the Federal Deficit.

December 19, 2012

Thinking and the federal deficit mat be two concepts that won’t often appear together – and from the public discourse one could say mutually exclusive – but if we get to the heart of the matter, both concepts are in critical need of being tied together. The days of believing we can simply throw more money at a social or economic issue are over.

In TSr Institute’s paper on Google Drive, The American Republic, I discuss the need for more engagement with our political system, but that engagement must come from an informed opinion. Informed = Education = Thinking. Dr. Derek Cabrera, of the Cabrera Research Labs at Cornell, mentions this critical aspect of maintaining a democracy in his TED talk at Williamsport on thinking.

While I confess I have little patience watching many video links that come my way, Cabrera bursts out of the gate on this one… he has to, since TED speakers have a very strict time limit in which to give a presentation.

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