How many chickens does Costco buy & sell each year?

December 14, 2018

According to CNBC

Costco is shelling out $440 million to open a Nebraska chicken farm.

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Why is Costco doing it?

“To partially escape the American chicken monopoly run by the likes of Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride and Perdue.”

Technical note to CNBC: A monopoly has only one supplier.  A duopoly has two. When there are three, it’s a concentrated competitive market.

The self-operated farm provide Costco with 100 million chickens … 40 percent of its yearly chicken needs.

Doing the arithmetic, that means that Costco goes through about 250 million chickens every year.

That’s a lot of chickens but pales in comparison to KFC which reportedly goes through 3 or 4 times as many.

Personal note: Many, many years ago, I interviewed for a position at KFC as a chicken buyer. I was recruited because I had an economics degree and had worked for a large grocery store chain.

It wasn’t a good fit. (<= understatement)

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The two most dangerous words in the English language today …

December 13, 2018

When it comes to human behavior, “studies show” are becoming “the two most dangerous words in the English language today.”

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According to Andy Kessler, writing in the WSJ

Many of the cited studies on human behavior are pure bunk.

For example:

The 270 researchers working under the auspices of the Center for Open Science spent four years trying to reproduce 100 leading psychology experiments.

They successfully replicated only 39 of the 100 psychology experiments.

A survey of 1,576 scientists published in Nature reported that “more than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments … and more than half are unable to reproduce their own experiments.”

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What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

President acts Russian … names more than 30 “Czars”

December 12, 2018

Why hasn’t this gotten any attention recently?

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Dems and their media buddies keep hammering Trump for being too cozy with Russia.

The slightest innuendo or chance encounter (think: Trump chats with Putin at formal G20 dinner”) gets blown up into a faux cause celebre that quickly evaporates.

Imagine for a moment if President Trump were to circumvent the Senate’s “advise & consent” rules by appointing people to his administration who play high-level cabinet-like roles … but aren’t subject to Senate approval.

The screaming would be deafening.

And, imagine if Trump were to call the process-circumventing appointees “Czars”.

Russia !  Russia !!!  Russia !!!!

Clear evidence of collusion: Impeach for treason.

 

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Only problem with the story: Trump hasn’t done it, but Obama did … to a gleeful, encouraging press that argued “he had no choice but to do it.”

For a trip down memory lane, here’s a list of Obama’s Czars….

Read the rest of this entry »

“Resisters” now think that it’s not fair to resist … say, what?

December 11, 2018

Forrest Grump: “What goes around, comes around”

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For a couple of years, it’s been in fashion among the established, the elite and the folks on the left to use any method to stymy the Trump agenda.

After all, the end justifies the means, right?

Well now, from Madison,Wisconsin to Paris, France … left-leaning elected officials are being thwarted.

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And, many who were touting the graces of the Resist Movement just a couple of weeks ago are squealing like pigs.

Read the rest of this entry »

In praise of gridlock …

December 10, 2018

And, why I don’t care if Trump gets impeached.

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I had a few very interesting conversations over the past week or two.

They revolved around a couple of linked topics:

1) Buyer’s remose

2) Congressional gridlock

3) Impeachment

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For what it’s worth, here’s how I come out on these topics …

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe we’re just not that smart …

December 7, 2018

Yesterday, we reported that the U.S. is, on average, #40 in the world in mathematics.

Usual punditry is that schools are bad … blame it on the teachers.

But, I wondered: is it a bad production process (the schools) … or could it be the raw material going into the process (i.e. innate brain power).

So, the question of the day: how does the U.S. rank on IQ versus other countries?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

December 6, 2018

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its  survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

Read the rest of this entry »

#15 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change …

December 5, 2018

Reason #15: Did Paris just pull out of the “Paris Accords”?
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For the record: I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.
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In car-speak,  the rubber seems to be hitting the road in Paris.

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In case you missed it, French President Macron tried to slap-on a gas tax to save the planet by discouraging petrol consumption, (i.e. driving).

The result: a political crisis for Macron … more than a million protesters … some rioting in the streets … approval ratings in the 20s.

Apparently, French citizens who don’t travel by Metro, Uber or private jets took the gas-tax personally since it impacts their get-to-work costs and, thus, flattens their wallets in a statistically significant way.

As Gomer Pyle would say: “Surprise, surprise, surprise”

Read the rest of this entry »

Need proof that charter schools work?

December 4, 2018

New study of NYC charter schools provide compelling evidence.
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I recently stumbled upon an interesting research study by CREDO – the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University.

CREDO was established to gather and analyze empirical evidence about education reform and student performance (i.e. “outcomes) with a particular emphasis on innovative programs, curricula, policies and accountability practices.

A recent report focused on New York City  charter schools since “New York City has been the nexus of public discourse about charter schools for nearly two decades but only a fraction of that debate has been grounded in well researched evidence about charter schools’ impact on student outcomes.”

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And, the answer is …

Read the rest of this entry »

Finding college-caliber disadvantaged high-schoolers …

December 3, 2018

Universal SAT / ACT testing  “finds” talented low-income college candidates
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Interesting study reported by Brookings

Entrance exams (ACT or SAT ) are required for admission to virtually all selective colleges in the US.

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For low-income students, that’s a hurdle to overcome.

Students have to register and pay for these tests, and then travel to a testing center on a weekend to take them.

This is straightforward, if you have internet access, a computer, a credit card, and a car.

If you are missing any of these resources, it’s a lot more challenging.

The nearest testing center may be in a suburb that is unreachable by public transportation early on a Saturday morning.

To overcome these hurdles, several states are now giving the ACT or SAT exams in school, for free, on a school day during school hours.

The benefits are two-fold …

Read the rest of this entry »

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

November 30, 2018

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

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Earlier this week we posted about how Asian-American students are being admitted to selective elite high schools at increasingly high rates.

Why?

Because they are academic achievers.

Why?

In part because Asian-American parents place a high priority on education, drive their children to excel (especially in STEM academics) and provide their kids with extensive  extracurricular learning experiences.

And, oh yeah, they’ve probably gone to college … providing good role modeling and ready tutoring capabilities.

To that point …

The College Board published a  “Total Group Profile Report” for recent college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

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Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

Read the rest of this entry »

Some “interesting” SAT results …

November 29, 2018

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” for  college-bound seniors.

Browsing it, a couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

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OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama better buy his Volt now … right now!

November 28, 2018

On a campaign stop a couple of years ago, after a photo op sitting in a Volt, President Obama told a crowd of United Auto Workers:

“It was nice. I bet it drives real good,” he said. “And five years from now, when I’m not president anymore, I’ll buy one and drive it myself.

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Well, since GM has announced that it is killing the Volt, Obama might want to place his order pronto … and, demand a clearance price discount.

All of this should come as no surprise to anybody.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why are Asian-American students dominating “elite” schools?

November 27, 2018

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ” for short), is a selective DC-area magnet school designed to provide an elite, high-tech education for the most academically gifted students in Northern Virginia.

The school offers rigorous study in advanced college-level offerings like electrodynamics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

High octane academics, for sure … offered to the best and brightest.

What’s the rub?

Demographic mix.

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The school’s newly accepted Class of 2022 is 65 percent Asian, 23 percent white, five percent Hispanic, and two percent black.

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20 years ago, the concern was that Black and Hispanic representation at TJ was less than half their demographic mix in Fairfax County – the “feeder” county.

Several initiatives were launched to increase Black and Hispanic representation, including early identification and proactive outreach to high potential minority children; supplementary in-school and extracurricular programs to teach and mentor them; and more ready access to prep and gateway courses such as Algebra.

While undertaking those initiatives, something unexpected happened.

The numbers of Black and Hispanic students applying and enrolled at TJ remained stalled at the pre-initiative levels. So, that’s still a concern.

But, during the same time period (and unrelated to the minority initiatives), the number of white students declined sharply … and the number of Asian-American students has soared.

Why is that?

Read the rest of this entry »

How would you feel if a “squeegee boy” kicked in your car door?

November 26, 2018

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This one hit close to home recently.

One of my sons works downtown in Baltimore’s Harbor East complex … his office building is across from the posh Four Seasons Hotel.

You get the idea…

His morning commute is about an hour … with the last leg running through Baltimore’s city streets.  The finish line is thru a busy intersection – the only way to his workplace.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Thanksgiving !

November 21, 2018

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Answer to: Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 20, 2018

Yesterday, we posted a question posed to me last year by my soon-to-be 10 year old granddaughter … and challenged you to give it a try:

Determine the numerical values for a roasted turkey, a slice of pie and a cob of corn.

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Here’s the answer … if you haven’t already done the problem, do it before peeking:

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 19, 2018

A Thanksgiving Day puzzle from my granddaughter.

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What does your family do for fun at Thanksgiving?

Nowadays, mine tries to stump me with math problems.

Last year, my soon-to-be 10 year old granddaughter brought over a set of puzzles that she’d been working on at school (when she was in 3rd grade).

Give one a try:

Determine the numerical values for a roasted turkey, a slice of pie and a cob of corn.

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We all like to whine that American students are slipping behind other countries in math and science … which begs a basic question:

Are you at least as smart as a 3rd grader?

I’ll post the answer tomorrow …

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Thanks to AMH for feeding the lead.
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About the homeless guy who forked over $20 to save a damsel in distress…

November 16, 2018

Heartwarming story that raised  $400,000 takes a strange twist.

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Just in case you missed it…

In November 2017, a homeless guy (Johnny Bobbitt) noticed that a driver (Kate McClure) was stranded on a roadside … out of gas with no money or credit cards.

So, Bobbitt gave “his last $20” to McClure to buy a couple of gallons of gas.

McClure went on a PR blitz praising Bobbitt’s generosity.

Then, McClure and her boyfriend (Mark D’Amico) set up a GoFundMe page to lift Bobbitt from homeless.

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The GoFundMe campaign raised almost $400,000.

Bobbitt reportedly set up a bank account, bought a house and a truck, and started looking for job.

A life-changing story that restores your faith in people, right?

Well, here’s the rub….

Read the rest of this entry »

Amazon and the “power of free” …

November 15, 2018

Since Amazon is in the news these days ….

In class, I always preached: Don’t underestimate the “power of free”.

Here’s a real life example to prove the point.

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Everybody knows that Amazon’s free shipping program has been a resounding success.

So much so. that the company has announced that it will be moving the minimum qualifying order up from $25 to $35 … inducing shoppers to fill  their carts fuller or switch to the highly profitable Amazon Prime program.

The free shipping program’s success was highly predictable based an an apparently inadvertent “matched market test” that Amazon did.

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Here’s the skinny on the Amazon’s inadvertent market test …

Read the rest of this entry »

Amazon decides … more jeers than cheers.

November 14, 2018

May be a classic case of the “winner’s curse” … or just loser’s lament.

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Well, Amazon finally reached a decision re: HQ2.

Err, make that HQ2 and HQ3

Rather than the ballyhooed 50,000 jobs in one locale somewhere in the U.S., Amazon had a last minute change of heart and split the spoils between 2 east coast metro areas:: HQ2 in Crystal City. VA  … HQ3 in Long Island City, NY (25,000 jobs).

WSJ summarized Amazon’s stated criteria … and estimated where both VA and NYC score.

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Looks pretty analytical, right?

But, many observers retro-conclude that the fix was in from the start.

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Predictable places?

Yep,

DC because it’s the nation’s capital and proximate to the goldmine of government business (of which, Amazon is already a major player).

NYC because it’s the financial and media capital of the world (where Google has already staked a big claim).

Both DC and NYC because they’re located on the east coast (pundits say that Heartland locales were never serious contenders) … and because those local governments have the deepest pockets.

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So far, there don’t seem to be many current residents dancing in the streets.

What’s up with that?

Read the rest of this entry »

Economist: The demography of American voters…

November 13, 2018

Conclusion: All politics is “identity politics”.

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The Economist and YouGov, a pollster, have surveyed thousands of Americans and built a statistical model to predict political party preferences.

Think: generic ballot for Congressional elections.

What did they find?

America’s founding fathers envisioned a republic in which free-thinking voters would carefully consider the proposals of office-seekers.

Today, however, demography seems to govern voters’ choices.

Specifically, Economist and YouGov identified a dozen demographic characteristics that highly predicted how people would vote in Congressional elections.

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Let’s drill down on the the findings…

Read the rest of this entry »

Déjà vu all over again?

November 9, 2018

Florida’s tax migrants may not be out of the woods yet … but they may be holding an ironic high card.

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OK, let’s recap the the bidding…

On election day, FL Gov. Rick Scott (R) edged incumbent Senator Bill Nelson (D) by a razor thin margin.

Similarly, Congressman Ron DeSantis edged Socialist-Democrat Andrew Gillum for the Florida Governorship.

Gillum conceded the race to DeSantis.

Looked like Florida was safe as a tax sanctuary … at least for another 4 years.

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Then the worm turned.

Let’s walk thru that … and, a predictable end-game that I haven’t heard from the pundits yet.

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s “Exhausted Majority”…

November 8, 2018

Post-election, can they muscle up to pull us together?
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A lot of punditry these days about American Tribalism … categorizing people by common interests …  usually with a demographic slant (i.e. race. gender, and location – urban, rural; coastal or Heartland).

Those “tribes” are usually characterized as warring factions with little in common.

The result: sharp differences and apparently intractable political polarization.

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An organization called More in Common did some research that takes a different cut at the situation.

Their study – America’s Hidden Tribes – identified seven distinct groups of Americans. These are our Hidden Tribes of America: distinguished not by who they are or what they look like, but what they believe. (Below – at end of this post – are descriptions of the groups)

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The study reached three fundamental conclusions…

Read the rest of this entry »

Bottom line: The stock market likes the results.

November 7, 2018

Brace for 2 years of Congressional theatrics, legislative gridlock, Executive Orders and  judicial appointments.

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Here are a couple of morning after thoughts from the election:

  1. Big win for prognosticators … on balance, the election turned out the way Silver, et. al., said it would – split decision with an expanded GOP majority in the Senate.
  2. Money down rabbit holes … big money bets by Bloomberg, Streyer, Soros, etc., made for some tight races, but no wins.
  3. Obama was a non-factor … the candidates that he stumped for came up short: Gillum, Abrams, Cordray (former head of BHO’s CFPB)
  4. So were the celebs … think: Oprah, Buffett, oh yeah, Taylor Swift.
  5. MSNBC first with many calls … I was flipping channels and MSNBC beat Fox to the punch on many calls (e.g. Cruz over Beto); big exception was Fox’s early call that the House would flip.
  6. Another Reid Rule kicks in … remember how Harry Reid refused to take up hundreds of bills passed by the GOP led Congress? Well, what goes around, comes around … gridlock is alive and well.
  7. Time for “pen and phone” … remember how a stymied Obama turned Executive Orders into a governance art form? A favorable judiciary looked the other way as Congress was rendered inconsequential.  Bet on Trump to apply the precedent.
  8. Here come the judges … no secret that the GOP will use its Senate majority to pack the courts with Constitutionalists … again, big thanks to Harry Reid for implementing the nuclear option.
  9. Tax migrants sigh relief … couple of close calls – especially Florida – but tax & spend progressives were fended off … whew!
  10. Stock market is up … past couple of days have been good and today’s futures are up … let’s see if that trend is enduring.

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Silver’s hedge: ”Bet’s off if there is a systematic polling error”

November 6, 2018

And, a Vegas odds-maker says that’s likely.

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Let’s connect a couple of dots today…

Nate Silver is the Democrat’s predictor of choice.

Remember, he’s the guru who said – on the day before the 2016 election – that Hillary had a greater than 90% chance of winning.

Oops.

Of course, he retroactively said that he was talking about the popular vote – not the pesky electoral college …. and Hillary’s 90% meant conversely that Trump had a slim statistical chance that happened to materialize..

Vindicated, right?

So, what is Silver saying about today’s elections?

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Cutting to the chase, he says that Democrats have an 86% chance of taking control of the House.

But, wiser with age, Nate is explicitly hedging his bet this time….

 

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Here’s Silver’s final pre-election banner headline:

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Directly on-point,  he says:

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Hmmm

Could it be that the polling data is “systematically wrong” … again?

Read the rest of this entry »

How do you feel about the country’s direction?

November 5, 2018

Here’s a variant of the question: Are you better off than you were 2 years ago?
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According to the mainstream media, America is going to hell in a handbasket.

Evidence: Only 40% of Americans think that the country is on track and  moving in the right direction.

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True, but let’s put that number in perspective…

Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re one of the 155 million people on employee-based health insurance plans …

November 4, 2018

Here’s the main reason why YOUR health insurance premiums have gone up.

Since Dems have made pre-existing conditions a centerpiece in their midterm campaigns, lets flashback to a 2009 post which injected some sobering facts into the debate…

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All the healthcare attention seems to be on the 20 million people who are getting insurance via Extended Medicaid or ObamaCare Exchanges.

Virtually no light is being shined on the vast majority of folks who are covered by employer plans.

Case-in-point: the soaring premiums being paid by employees … hardly the $2,500 reduction that was promised.

Here’s one of the reasons that premiums have gone up not down …

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Most people – probably bordering on all – would agree that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get health insurance.

I accept that as a non-debatable point.

But, I got curious about the economics of so-called “guaranteed coverage”… i.e. how much does it cost, and who pays for it?

Specifically, for folks covered by employer plans, how much of their increase in health insurance premiums over the past couple of years is attributable to guaranteed coverage?

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Let’s take a whack at the numbers …

Read the rest of this entry »

Has ObamaCare provided more healthcare?

November 3, 2018

Not really: it just covered more people with health insurance?

Since Dems are making ObamaCare an election issue, let’s flashback to a prior post and inject some facts…

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In my consulting / problem-solving class, I emphasize asking the right question before starting to gather data, doing analyses, drawing conclusions and making recommendations.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Then, would someone please explain to me why the politcos (on both sides) obsess over health insurance coverage (how many people are covered) and largely ignore the quantity & quality healthcare that Americans are getting?

 

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Source: AAMC

My conclusion: More Americans now have health insurance, but healthcare hasn’t increased … it has just been re-distributed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember how healthcare costs were going to drop by $2,500 for every family?

November 2, 2018

Since Dems are making ObamaCare a midterm’s election issue, let’s flashback to a prior post and inject some facts.

In 2016 (Obama’s last year in office), employees paid $11,000 out-of-pocket for healthcare … up $2,500 since 2012.

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Milliman – a well-regarded actuarial consulting” firm – has published an annual recap of healthcare spending since 2001.

The Milliman Medical Index tracks the total costs of providing health care to an average family of four covered by an employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan” … that’s about 155 million employees and their dependents.

The total includes the health insurance premiums paid by both the employer and the employee, as well as the actual expenditures for health care paid by the insurance plan and out of pocket by the insured family.

The big news: In 2016, the average healthcare costs for a family of 4 surpassed $25,000 for the first time … the $25,826 is triple the cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001 … and up about $5,000 since 2012.

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The bad(est) news is the increased proportion of the healthcare costs being shouldered by individual employees …

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember when an ObamaCare architect called you stupid?

November 1, 2018

Since Dems are making a big deal of ObamaCare in the mid-terms, let’s flashback to a November 2014 post ….

Once again, they’re counting on the “stupidity of the American people.” (<= their words, not mine!)

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Even if you believe that “the end justifies the means”, this has gotta make your skin crawl.

Some background: Prof. Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist who helped on RomneyCare in Massachusetts and was one of the primary architects of ObamaCare.

He was caught on video  speaking quite frankly about the crafting of ObamaCare.

His basic message:

“The bill was written in a tortured way … to be sure that the CBO didn’t score the mandate as a tax …  otherwise the bill would die … so, it was written to do that.

With regards to the subsides … if people figured out that healthy pay in to give sick people money, it wouldn’t have passed … lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.

Basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or what … that was critical to getting the bill to pass … yeah, it would be better to be transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Watch the video … it’s even more chilling to hear Prof. Gruber say the words: “obfuscate” and “bank on American stupidity”.

How do these guys sleep at night?

 

 

P.S. Another Gruber video got some wide play..

He’s on tape saying that the specific language in the bill that only provided subsidies for folks going through state exchanges was intentional to motivate states to build exchanges,

ObamaCare supporters started claiming that  it was just a typo that didn’t represent intent.

The Supreme Court agreed with them … with life & death consequence for ObamaCare.

As Forrest Gump would say:” Stupid is as stupid does.”

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Is Trump on the midterm ballot?

October 31, 2018

Of course, he is …. presidents always are.

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Interesting analysis by Pew which asked people:

Will your vote (in the midterms) be a vote FOR the president, AGAINST the president, or isn’t the president not much of a factor?

Here’s what they found:

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Let’s drill down on the numbers…

Read the rest of this entry »

Liar, liar … pants on fire.

October 30, 2018

What’s worse, lots of inconsequential lies … or a a couple of consequential ones?

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As a Catholic kid, I was taught about the difference between venial sins and mortal ones.

The former are naughty-naughty  … destining you to a few years in a holding tank before admittance to perpetual bliss in heaven.

The latter – mortal sins – are bad-bad … guaranteeing you that you’ll get banished to the fires of hell.

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That lesson comes to mind when former President Obama adopts his trademarked holier-than-thou persona and  lambasts current President Trump as a congenital liar.

Read the rest of this entry »

More from Obama’s “I’m back” tour …

October 29, 2018

Another theme of former President Obama’s “I’m back” speeches is that there’s a racial divide and that Trump rhetoric is fueling it.

Hard to dispute either of those points.

But, Obama also ballyhoos that things weren’t that way when he served as self-proclaimed Uniter-in-Chief.

That’s where the facts belie the storyline.

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Source

Lets drill down…

Read the rest of this entry »

Uh-oh: The end of Florida as a tax haven?

October 26, 2018

A lot of friends have packed up and moved to Florida.

Some say it’s because of the winter weather.

Most concede that it’s because of the favorable state tax structure.

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Andrew Gillum is a far  left progressive … even to the left of Bernie Sanders.

He advocates extensive government spending on social programs … think: Medicare for all and expansion of Medicaid.

His campaign is built around the “power of free”.

It’s relatively silent on the details of paying for the freebies.

So it surprises me is that I haven’t heard any chatter about the inevitable rise in taxes if Gillum gets elected governor.

Maybe, the FL legislature will still be controlled by the GOP … containing any tax increases in the short-run.

But, eventually the tax piper will need to be paid if the majority of Floridians vote for big spending.

All of which raises the question: what happens when a tax haven turns Blue.

Uh-oh.

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Does anything about this photo strike you as odd?

October 25, 2018

Below is a picture of the caravan that’s moving from Honduras and Guatemala to the thru Mexico to the U.S. border.

Does anything in the photo strike you as odd?

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Let me rephrase the question…

Read the rest of this entry »

Some people just shouldn’t vote!

October 24, 2018

Sometimes (often?) I scratch my head and wonder whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Polls routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

Try this: ask folks to explain the difference between the Federal deficit and the Federal debt … ask them where the money that funds, say unemployment benefits, comes from.

Jason Brennan is a rare breed … a libertarian prof at MSB.

His research is at the nexus of ethics and politics.

He has written an insightful book called The Ethics of Voting

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The essence of Jason’s argument is that all adult citizens have the right to vote … but that they shouldn’t exercise that right unless they are informed, rational, and aiming for the common good.

Let’s drill down on that conclusion…

Read the rest of this entry »

Should all people vote … or, just those who are “informed”?

October 23, 2018

Sometimes I scratch my head and wonder whether “one man, one vote” makes sense.

Polls routinely reveal that a majority of Americans have marginal knowledge of government, politics, and political issues.

All citizens should be allowed to vote.

But, should these uninformed citizens vote?

YouGov.com conducted a survey that queried people’s opinions on  that specific issue.

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Overall, it was a split vote … with a slight plurality (46%) saying that all citizens should vote and 42% saying that only the well-informed should vote.

The results are more interesting if you drill down to the poll’s “internals”:

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Maybe there is a political middle…

October 22, 2018

In the old days it was called the “silent majority”
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Last , we reprised a post: America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

That analysis ended in 2014 … showing a double-humped distribution that had been separating over the past decade or so.

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New data is now available, so let’s advance the picture to 2017

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Source: WaPo analysis of Pew data

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The humps have spread further apart … indicating sharper polarization.

The peaks are higher … especially the one on the left,

Also, note the vanishing middle (the dark blue on the graphic).

Now, let’s drill down another level…

 

 

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A Never-Trumper asks: Is it too late to get one of those red hats?

October 19, 2018

We previously posted results of a Rasmussen survey that showed 64% of Republicans are “very angry” about the way that Kavanaugh was treated … and practically all of them are more likely to vote in the midterms than they previously were.

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Today, let’s provide some human context to the numbers…

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About that “blue wave” that’s coming …

October 18, 2018

Post-Kavanaugh, momentum seems to have shifted.

A few weeks ago, most pollsters predicted that Dems would win a Congressional majority and that they stood a shot at taking the Senate.

That picture seems to have changed … quite a bit.

RealClearPolitics is a down-the middle source that reports several polls-of-polls.

One tracks Congressional races, slotting them as likely Dem, likely GOP or toss-ups.

It takes 218 seats to control the Congress (which has 435 representatives).

A couple of weeks ago, RCP was reporting 206 seats as likely Dem, 191 likely GOP and 38 toss-ups.

Now, the RCP recap is Dems 206 and GOP 199 … with  30 toss-ups.

The Dem “hard” advantage has narrowed from 15 seats to 7 … with most of the GOP gain coming from the toss-ups (note the near mirror image of the GOP and toss-up lines).

 

What’s going on?

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Gallup: GOP favorability up, ties Dems

October 17, 2018

Last week, we reported Gallup findings that Americans satisfaction with the way they are being governed jumped 10 points in the past year …. and that 72% of Republicans are satisfied with the way the Trump administration is governing.

See Gallup: Satisfaction with governance increasing…

Predictably, the “satisfaction with governance” seems to be influencing the way that people view the Dem and GOP parties.

Gallup periodically surveys party favorability.

Their most recent poll was conducted during September during the run-up to the Kavanaugh hearings.

It’s headline conclusion:

In the past year, the GOP has erased an 8 point favorability disadvantage and now edges out the Dems by a point … that’s a 9 point swing.

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Let’s drill down on those numbers…

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Here’s a way to get your kid into a better college…

October 16, 2018

Instead of submitting SAT scores, take an ancestry-DNA test.

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Call it the “Elizabeth Warren Method”.

The Senator used DMA testing to  “prove” that she is at least 1/10th of 1% Native American and she stands behind the legitimacy of her claiming minority status for academic standing ….

Tech note: The DNA testers inferred from Warren’s lab sample that she  has some Native American DNA tracing back 6 to 10 generations (i.e. hundreds of years).  “Inferred” because they don’t have enough certified Indian DNA in their data base to ascertain Indian  ancestry.  So, they “project” off of South American DNA that they assume mimics Native Americans.  Said differently, 1/10th of 1% is probably overstated … with a very wide margin of error.  In mathspeak, the result is not statistically different from zero.

Math note: 6 to 10 generations ago translates to between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Indian blood … 1/1,024 = .0009765 ~.001 ~ 1/10th of 1%That’s about a big toe nail’s worth of Indian blood

A veritable  Pandora’s has been opened.…

As previously reported, some colleges are no longer requiring (or accepting) SAT & ACT scores

See University of Chicago drops SAT / ACT scores … say, what?

The action is a thinly veiled move  to “diversify” the student body by throttling the number of high scoring Asian-American admissions.

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I’m not a big fan of the commercial DNA testing done by ancestry sites.

But, they may be a tool for getting kids into better colleges.

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Shocker: Hearings stoked anger and likely voter turnout.

October 15, 2018

And, advantage seems to go to GOP.
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In a prior post, we reported an NPR survey finding that  Dem’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated.

There’s some directional support for that conclusion from a recent Rasmussen poll.

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Let’s drill down….

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Specifically:

62% of vote-eligible Republicans say that they’re more likely to vote in the midterms because of the Kavanaugh controversies.

The 62% compares to 54% for Dems and 48% for Independents.

Arguably, the GOP and Dem numbers are a wash.

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64% of likely Republicans voters are “very angry” about the Senate’s treatment of Kavanaugh

Less than half (48%) of Dems are “very angry” about the Senate’s treatment of Dr. Ford.

I’d call 64% to 48% statistically significant.

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Rasmussen’s conclusion:

“Republicans are madder about the Kavanaugh controversy than Democrats are and more determined to vote in the upcoming elections because of it.”

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Technical note: Rasmussen is often disparaged by pollsters because it’s a robocall survey. 

But, in 2016, its method was one that early-captured the “hidden” Trump voters … in part because the method doesn’t require admitting a controversial opinion to human pollsters.

So, I often refer to Rasmussen for clues … but, wouldn’t bet the house on its specific findings.

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How reliable is your memory?

October 12, 2018

Simple answer: not very … it’s subject to gaps, distortions and falsehoods.
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The Kavanaugh-Ford imbroglio really piqued my interest in brainworks, memory and psychotherapy.

Studying up on the topics, I stumbled upon a 2013 TED Talk by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus – a research psychologist specializing in memory.  Her specific areas of interest are the effects of trauma and therapeutic memory reconstruction.

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click to view

Trust me, the entire 15 minute talk which has been viewed by almost 4 million people and is loaded with evidence and examples – is engaging and educational.  Well worth watching!

For now, here are some key snippets from the talk…

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Gallup: Satisfaction with governance increasing…

October 11, 2018

According to a recent Gallup poll, American’s satisfaction with the way they are being governed has bumped up by 10 points in the past year (the green line below).

38% now say they’re satisfied with the way they are being governed.

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Let’s drill down on those numbers…

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Everybody has an opinion on Dr. Ford’s allegations; some are hyperventilating.

October 10, 2018

But, how well informed are the opinions?
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In a previous post, we presented a post-testimony survey finding  that only 37% of respondents thought that Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

That is, until they were informed that Dr. Ford’s accusations could not be corroborated by anyone … not  even her “lifetime” best friend.

When so informed, jumped to about 60% said that he should be confirmed.

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See Poll: So, should Kavanaugh be confirmed or not?

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But, some recent polls indicate that a majority still say that Kavanaugh shouldn’t have been confirmed.

How to square that circle?

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America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

October 9, 2018

The Kavanaugh circus and former President Obama’s return to the campaign trail reminded me of an interesting analysis that NBC’s Chuck Todd did a couple of years ago.

So, let’s flashback:

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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

Of course, Obama lays blame on Trump and his band of ignorant deplorables.

Let’s look at some inconvenient facts from Todd’s analysis…

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As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Based on the latest Pew data (from 2014), here’s where we stand:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are.

How did we get here?

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The politics of the Supreme Court…

October 8, 2018

Now that Kavanaugh is confirmed, let’s take another look at ideological balance on the SCOTUS.
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Let’s put things in context…

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.

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Source

First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

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If you’re serious about the Kavanaugh decision, read Sen. Collin’s speech…

October 7, 2018

Don’t just rely on biased summaries from your usual cable news favorites.
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Read the text   View the speech

For my right-leaning friends, the speech gives you most of what you need to fend off your left-leaning friends.

For my left-leaning friends, the speech matter-of-factly provides context and Collins’ legal reasoning behind her conclusions on both Ford’s accusations and Kavanaugh’s likely judicial rulings.

In the final analysis,  this polarizing bruhaha really centered on abortion rights and Rowe vs. Wade, here’s an extract of what Collins argued on those specific  questions…

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