Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans. Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency.
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!”
Unemployment — not if you caused the crisis!
So if you lost your firm billions of dollars, laid off tens of thousands and indirectly caused millions to lose their jobs and drove the unemployment rate to 10.3% well, the good news is it didn’t cost you your job! 92% of management in TARP funds recipients still have their jobs!
From A Fair Deal for Taxpayer Investments:
The executive leadership of the financial sector remain largely unchanged—92 percent of the management and directors of the top 17 recipients of TARP funds are still in office.
What’s a Bailed-Out Banker Really Worth?
Fascinating article on what’s happened with the bankers bailout. One intriguing quote compares executive compensation to the average employee::
Over the last 50 years, the ratio of top pay to average pay at public companies has multiplied roughly 11 times (24:1 to 275:1). That’s more pay in one workday for the chief executive than his average employee makes in a year.
Global warming a political winner?
I was arguing with someone about global warming and one of his claims was that global warming is a political winner for the democratic party. I don’t think so. As a measure, here is a poll from CNN just before the election showing what people think is important. Environment and/or global warming? Not on the list:
Gold bugs unite!
Taxes on the top 1%
From Conor Clarke is this chart plotting the effective federal tax rate of the upper 1%.
First off, never trust a chart that doesn’t start at 0 but anyway. What’s interesting is that this is the effective rate being paid (not the marginal rate).
Here’s some related information that shows how income has grown for the wealthy. This is also the chart that makes a great argument that income inequality isn’t representative of an educational gap. Presumably, the top 10% have all received comparable educations — yet the top 1%’s income has grown even more.
And in the most recent past, the very highest earners did very well indeed, capturing almost three-quarters of total income growth in the economic expansion of 2002 to 2006, while the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population split among themselves the final 25 percent of the increase.
This graph has been making the rounds (I got it from Barry Ritholtz’s). It shows the percentage change in unemployment (Y-axis) and the months since the official start of the recession.
What’s particularly dramatic about this is employment continues to worsen and over a much longer period of time than past recessions. E.g. this recession is going to be deeper and longer than past ones.
What I don’t like about this chart is that it is the percentage change in a rate. For example, the unemployment in 1960 was ~6%. A 50% increase brings it up to 9%. In 2007, unemployment was 4.5%. A 100% increase brings it up to 9%, too.
‘Cash for Clunkers’ Passes House
So the cash for clunkers is getting closer. It passed in the House:
In addition to having stricter fuel economy requirements, the Senate bill contains three major differences. The first is the maximum fuel economy of the trade-in vehicles, which is 17 miles a gallon. The second is there are three voucher amounts ($2,500 to buy a new car that gets at least seven miles a gallon more, $3,500 for 10 m.p.g. more and $4,500 for 13 m.p.g. more). Finally, the Senate bill also offers a provision for buying a used car.
So maybe that new car smell isn’t so far away. Here’s a comparison of the House and Senate version of the bill.
The estimate is that it’ll increase auto sales by 625,000. It’ll work for me!