Archive for November, 2018

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

November 30, 2018

Just make sure that your parents went to college.


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


Because they are academic achievers.


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.


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 …


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.



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


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.


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.


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

November 26, 2018


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.


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.


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


Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?

November 19, 2018

A Thanksgiving Day puzzle from my granddaughter.


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.


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 …

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.


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.


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….


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.


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.



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


Amazon decides … more jeers than cheers.

November 14, 2018

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


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.


Looks pretty analytical, right?

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


Predictable places?


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.


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

What’s up with that?


Economist: The demography of American voters…

November 13, 2018

Conclusion: All politics is “identity politics”.


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.


Let’s drill down on the the findings…


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.


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.


Then the worm turned.

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


America’s “Exhausted Majority”…

November 8, 2018

Post-election, can they muscle up to pull us together?

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.


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)


The study reached three fundamental conclusions…


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.


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.


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.


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?


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….



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


Directly on-point,  he says:



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


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?

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.


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


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…


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 …


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?


Let’s take a whack at the numbers …


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…


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?



Source: AAMC

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


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.


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.



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


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!)


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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