Sunday, September 26, 2010

Number of people obese or overweight could reach 75% by 2020

Draft v2

What seems like a ordinary but scary headline, "Overweight and obese could be 70% of population by 2020," actually contains a lot of interesting economic issues.

Do markets always yield the best results ?? Will people make good, long-term choices ?? How far should regulations go (the government) in mandating behaviors ??

Few people dispute how efficiently Markets allocate resources. Nor how well they reward marketplace winners and losers. But what happens when produce undesirable results like pollution, toxic chemicals, or overweight/obese people. All of which contribute to economic activity and GDP. And then the cleanup also contributes to GDP.

It is interesting to note that two countries who have the highest rates of obesity and overweightness also have no national healthcare system.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Business of America is Labor

"The business of America is Business" -- Calvin Coolidge, US president

While Coolidge do not actual say those words, he certainly meant them. He also meant the business is a means to other ends. Now one of those other ends in is conflict with business. Labor rights, wages and quality of work life are in direct and constant competition with corporations. The corporations are winning in the short-term.

However, the cyclical and dynamic nature of the economy means a short term gain can be a long-term loss. For example, retailer sales have slumped as the number of unemployed has grown.

We are going to have to find a new balance between the "surplus" given to labor and corporate profits. Corporations are just another wealth transferring institution in society like government or schools that takes money from someone and gives to someone else. They can be very efficient generators of utility. The are not, as Coolidge said, a means unto themselves. Nor our reason for being.

Instead, it Labor that is the reason we work and allows business. We work to provide the most happiness to the greatest number of people.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We know what works; We just don't like it: It's hard work

I had quick chat with my local bartender who's from Ireland and we disagree about many subjects. But we agree on what works: education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. And by education, we mean the traditional liberal arts education that helps you think through and solve problems.

We agree that new jobs are very personal, one-on-one, jobs and high touch, value added jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. We agree the free trade pacts are good in principle but devastating in reality. We also agree that basic jobs require a living wage. That's simple. Corporations must share the wealth and profits to labor and pay a living wage. It turns out that labor not corporation are the "business" of

It will be tough on new entrants to the job market so acquaintanceships and skills bridging opportunities are required. But jobs are now becoming a valuable commodity and must be treated the same way. The demand for "good" jobs has never been higher, we must manager this valuable resource for the benefit of all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

August unemployment rate flat

The US national unemployment rate was unchanged to 9.6% in August due to a small increase in private sector jobs and a drop in government census employment. Total non farm payrolls drop by -54,000 jobs. Government employment dropped by -114,000 due to census bureau layoffs and private sector employment added 67,000 jobs.

Here are the key stats from the household data report:

The basic unemployment rate was flat at 9.6%.

The black unemployment rate jumped to 16.3% from 15.6% in July. The Black teenage unemployment rate was an astounding 45% versus 24% for whites.

U-6, the true underemployment and unemployment rate also moved up from 16.5% to 16.7%.

In the company and government side of the employment report (establishment data), manufacturing dropped -27,000 jobs, construction added 19,000 and healthcare added 40,000.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Modern Times by Charles Chaplin

Any good economist has to love "Modern Times" by Charlie Chaplin. It looks like a decent, good paying job that doesn't make you crazy is impossible.

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