Pete Ware

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Category: Politics (page 2 of 9)

Wealth and Income Distribution

I keep having trouble getting my head around how wealth is distributed in America — or maybe just that I don’t seem to explain it well enough to other people. There’s an article, “Who Rules America: Wealth, Income, and Power“, that looks into the details. Most of the data is only up to 2007 but the suggestion is that things have gotten worse since the recession:

So far there are only tentative projections … there has been an “astounding” 36.1% drop in the wealth (marketable assets) of the median household since the peak of the housing bubble in 2007. By contrast, the wealth of the top 1% of households dropped by far less: just 11.1%. So as of April 2010, it looks like the wealth distribution is even more unequal than it was in 2007.

The following shows how wealth is distributed but it’s a little misleading if you don’t read the labels. The “pie” is all wealth but each slice represents a different percentage of households. For example, the big slice represents 1% of households (about 1.1 million) and all the other slices represent about 109 million households.
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Federal Deficit Research

Some research notes on the Federal Deficit

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New Revenue: The plan, which relies on roughly equal parts revenue increases and spending cuts, proposes removing the cap on the employer side of the payroll tax, which raises about $76 billion in 2015; imposing a new fee of $5 per barrel on foreign oil imports, to raise about $22 billion; and applying a new surtax of 2 percent to adjusted gross income above $1 million, and an additional 3 percent to adjusted gross income above $10 million, to raise about $29 billion. These increases would raise federal revenue to about 19.8 percent of GDP, which is higher than it was under the Bush administration, but lower than when President Clinton brought the budget into surplus.

Spending Cuts: The plan also lays out about $128 billion in total spending cuts in 2015, including about $60 billion in defense spending cuts, $35 billion in tax expenditures (which are essentially spending programs that are administered through the tax code), and $12 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts. The plan would also cut $3.8 billion from in agricultural subsidies and index all relevant federal programs to the chained Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers, which would result in “slower increases to those aspects of the code that are indexed.”

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  • From the Congressional Budget Office is this report with the following chart showing how Medicare costs are going to drive future budget problems:

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  • The NY Times has an interactive application to let you play with federal budget numbers (check the boxes to enact it). I don’t quite agree with the it. For example, eliminating ear marks would not reduce the deficit. Also, the consequences are not identified such as how many people people would be affected. Heather Thorn explains why it’s not so easy (e.g. “yes, balancing the budget is easy. Provided you never need to run for election yourself.”)

  • Here is an older calculator that lets you fix the budget entirely by assuming our per capita health care costs match other industrialized countries.

Virus that targeted Iranian nuclear sites

Based on [this](http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/26/secret-agent-crippled-irans-nuclear-ambitions/) article it sounds like some really talented developers (NSA) wrote a virus that targetted specific computers in Iran and had enough knowledge to target specific computer controlled equipment.

At Natanz, for almost 17 months, Stuxnet quietly worked its way into the system and targeted a specific component — the frequency converters made by the German equipment manufacturer Siemens that regulated the speed of the spinning centrifuges used to create nuclear fuel. The worm then took control of the speed at which the centrifuges spun, making them turn so fast in a quick burst that they would be damaged but not destroyed. And at the same time, the worm masked that change in speed from being discovered at the centrifuges’ control panel.

US Military Budget

I was arguing about military spending with some friends and wanted to verify numbers. My basic point was that US military spending almost matches what the rest of the world spends. We are at 43% of worldwide expenditures. The US and NATO account for 2/3 of the world’s military spending. China spends 1/8 what the US does and 1/12 what the US+NATO spend.

Iran’s annual budget is less then the US spends in 3 weeks in just Iraq and Afghanistan. China’s military budget would only finance 6 months of Iraq and Afghanistan.

This graph is the comparison between the US 2008 budget and the rest of the world from Center for Arms Control:

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From Laicie Olson at the Center for Arms Control is this graph showing US military spending over the past 10 years. These are expressed in constant 2010 dollars. The budget has increased since 2001 to 2011 by 67%. US GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has increased 18% in that time period $13.2T vs $11.3T from forcasts.or

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Federal budget overview

Here’s a great overview from Barry Ritholz showing how the Federal budget is proportioned.

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Unemployment won’t recover for 157 months (2021)

If we look at employment prior to the Great Recession compared to now there is a difference of 11.3 million jobs (from Bookings institute). Now how long is it going to take to return to that level? If you take the best job growth of the 2000’s it’ll be 157 months or 11years. That’s not until 2021!

If you take the best rate from the 1990’s it’s down to about 8 years! Here’s the chart with how many months it’ll take based on the rate with a couple note worthy rates highlighted.

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More exonerations for Climategate researchers

Yet another report says Michael E Mann is cleared of any wrongdoing related to his climate research.

An investigative panel at Pennsylvania State University, weighing the question of whether the scientist, Michael E. Mann, had “seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities,” declared that he had not.

This is the second report from Penn St. clearing him and joins two others in Britain clearing related researchers.

Senator Robert Byrd

From Frank Rich’s column about Senator Robert Byrd.

These senators were in the tradition of Thurmond, not Byrd — indeed, they are Thurmond’s direct heirs. Like Byrd, Thurmond had been an ardent Democratic foe of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unlike Byrd, he left his party in disgust that year and endorsed Goldwater, jump-starting the migration of the Democrats’ racist cadre and their political toxins to the G.O.P. and setting the stage for the Republican “Southern strategy.” That strategy isn’t dead.

The NY Times had an interesting obituary about Senator Byrd including his Ku Klux Klan membership, title as “King of Pork”

Mr. Byrd’s perspective on the world changed over the years. A former member of the Ku Klux Klan, he filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act only to come to back civil rights measures and Mr. Obama. A supporter of the Vietnam War, he became a fierce critic, decades later, of the war in Iraq. In 1964, the Americans for Democratic Action, the liberal lobbying group, found that his views and the group’s aligned only 16 percent of the time. In 2005, he got an A.D.A. rating of 95.

The Best Party: Campaign video from Iceland

“The Best Party” has this campaign video where they won city elections in Reykjavik. This is amusing and campy. I especially like the line “A drug free parliament by 2020!”

Budget Deficits

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Here’s how future US budget deficits are apportioned to various legislation and events from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Remember, the budget for 2000 was in surplus; in 2009 the deficit was $1.4 trillion. It’s not the stimulus spending that dominates deficit spending.

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In the meantime, employment is still terrible. If the employment rate stayed at the same rate as 1999 67.1% then there are four million fewer jobs then 10 years ago. That’s a lot of unhappy people.

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