Monday, May 30, 2011

The words "Poor People"

This Blog uses and will continue to use the words "Poor People", because that's what they are. In our society and around the world the poor are relatively poor and getting poorer. They are economically poor. They do not have equal income, resources, information, and most important opportunity. Their beliefs and behaviors are little different from the rich yet their total happiness is much less. We in the press cannot hiding behind such phrases as "the working poor", income challanged, underprivileged, under resourced, 3rd world, and developing world. We need to use "poor" appropriately.

Unfortunately, many right wings folks imply that poor also means poor values. Or poor intelligence. They have turned "poor" into lesser than or inferior. You can hear they them say, "If only they behaved like White people, everything would be fine." The reality is that the poor often behave more like the rich than the rich themselves. I find the rich and the Republicans lack of responsibility for poor peoples plight completely self centered and short-sighted.


Big-up to Vermont for Single Payer Health Insurance

We want to give a shout-out to Vermont for enacting single payer health insurance on Thursday. Gov. Shumlin signed the legislation on Thursday, May 26rd, 2011. The bill will create by 2017, 2014 with waiver from the feds, a single health plan managed by the government for the states 620,000 citizens.

Vermont plan was created by Dr. William Hsiao of the Harvard School of public health. Dr. Hsiao estimated that the single payer system would be 25% cheaper than most other options.

Vermont's health care costs have been rising faster than the national average. The rise maybe be due to a requirement that insurance companies cannot deny anyone coverage. Currently about 8% of Vermonters do not have health insurance.

Physcians are concerned about re-imbursement rates. Some have threaten to flee to Massachusetts or Connecticut, but most will stay.

There is no free lunch, Vermont will lose some jobs that come from increased efficiency of single payer. Proponents argue that reduce health costs will freeup money for investment and jobs. However, I believe it will be a net job loss.

A natural experiment

One interesting thing is that with republican New Hampshire next door ("Live free or die") you have a natural experiment. So if vermonter's start living to 100 and NH resident starting dropping like files we will have imperical proof of better health care.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

US Black Income figure in 2009 $625 Billion (2009)

I localed some figures for total Black income in the US for 2009.

The American Community Survey (Table B19025B - Aggregate household income - Black)

The ACS (5-year estimate 2005-2009) reports a 2009 income of $620 Billion (620,072,093,600 dollars). The margin of error is $2.4 billion or a 1/3 of a percent.

The ACS i-year estimate for 2009 reports $626 billion (625,837,077,100 dollars) with an error of $3.5 billion or 1/2 a percent.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wal-Mart buys land on the South Side of Chicago

Wal-Mart has purchased a 13.5 acre parcel on the South Side of Chicago in Chatham. The location, is on 83rd Street to 85th street and South Holland road in Chicago. Wal-Mart plans to build a 155,000 square foot super-center including a grocery. It will be the first of six stores wal-mart plans to build inside the Chicago city limits.

The site is next to the exist Chatham Market Shopping Center which features a Lowes home improvement store and a Aldi Market.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I will write every day

My new resolution is to write everyday for a week and see if that works. Evil Black Economist.

I apologize in advance for but....

I apologize in advance but...

Economics has really missed it's mark. We can explain a lot of small. everyday stuff that affects us all. We cannot a explain anything important to society. So I wonder why the average person should care at all about economics. For example, Many economists cannot answer the following basic questions about life:

What is love ??
Do decisions at the firm level really matter at the macro level ?
What make a company good at innovation vs. dumb luck ?
Are Blacks less ambitious than whites ?

Thanks goodness for behavioral and happiness economics

The two fields, closely related, hold great promise for explaining how the real world works. I wish them both well.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Did mom over consume ?

My mom passed away recently. I'll miss her a lot. But boy did she have a lot of stuff. I mean she had 5 closets full of clothes. She had bags of clothes, shoes and purses. I was trying to figure out how much money she spent on clothes. And then being and economist, whether it was too much, too little or just right.
Just like a stupid economist, I am always look for a optimum.

When we were growing up we never went hungry and we always had bikes to ride and books to read. But my mom may have been a hoarder. She used to say, she was a child of the depression and ate "grass" biscuits for dinner when times were really tough. I never believed the grass biscuit part but my eyes would get pretty wide at that part of the story. They lived on a farm so I know they had something to eat during even the worst times this country has ever faced.

Now that we are relatively prosperous, I was trying to guess how much money she spent on all those clothes, shoes and bags. First, I will calculate the amount of money, then discuss whether is was a good use of the funds.

Note: All figures are current dollars. However, I know, thanks to Chinese manufacturing and American corporations, clothing prices have dropped by 50% in the past 20 years.

I estimate we gathered up 25 good bags (purses and the like), so I am going to put her down for 50 bags at a price of 25 dollars a piece. This whole calculation depends on on inflation and chinese manufacturing. So, I will assume the inflation adjusted bag of the 1970 costs the same as the fancy bag of the 1990, adjusted.

50 Bag @ 25 Dollars = 1250 Dollars

Next, there were about 50 pairs of shoes so I will assume about 150 over the shoe buting lifetime of 40 years. The shoe's average cost is going to be 20 dollars. So thats $3000 dollars.

150 EA @ 20 Dollars = 3000 Dollars

Next is coats: She had about 100 or more coats. Coats are expensive. They will be priced at 75 dollars. So that's $7500 in coats. I took some to the salvation army, but she would not let me take the rest.

100 Coats @ 75 dollars = $7500

Now for the hard one: Outfits(skirts, pants, blouse, shirts) I would estimate at more than three hundred. And I forgot another 100 in the attic. Each outfit I would guess costs, on average, 20 dollars. So thats 500 x 20 or $10,000.

500 items @ 20 Dollars = $10,000

The total is about $22,000 ($21,750);

When I total it all up, it is not really that much money. And what else would she have done with it. But did she really need all of that stuff to be happy?

Well to some extent yes. Consumption is ingrained in us when we are kids here in the US. Some people argue that material acquisition is genetic.

I also know, later in life, when they had nothing to do they would go shopping. Shopping definitely makes you feel good. My mom also like to look good especially next to her contemporaries. So she got some happiness there also. And then satisfy here desire for clothes though shopping also earned some happiness.

So, she may have over-consumed, but I would say it brought some happiness. The question is could she have reached the same level of happiness without consuming so much. Could she have given the money to charity or relatives.

For that, we have to turn to friends and family. We are all looking for a much less consumption oriented path to happiness. (See related post)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

What sources and links do we use?

I am frequently asked where we get our stories from. Here is my list of current sources.

The main ones get checked daily via google. Google news search term " African-American","Black","Economic","unemployment","Black business" and "African-American Business". I also check several Blogs, read Paul Krugman and Julian Malveaux. Finally, I also google blogs for the same terms.

Black News and websites
The network journal
The Root

News Sources and Links
Wall Street Journal

Cities with large Black populations

Star Ledger
Philly Inquirer
Baltimore Sun
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Miami Herald
Houston Chronicle
LA Timed

NY Newpapers

Finance and Business



Mexico & Canada

Government Organizations
Federal reserve
Congressional Budget Office
Congressional Research Office

Think Tanks – Left

Think Tanks – Right

Economic Research

Black Organizations

Black Scholars

Black Blogs

Good Blogs
Matthew Ygelsias
Ezra Klein






Saturday, May 14, 2011

April's Unemployment Report is Positive but Black and National Rates Rise

April unemployment rises: Black unemployment up 4%; National rate 9%

The unemployment report was pretty positive with a couple of bad areas. The number of non-farm payroll jobs increased by 224,000 with growth in the service industries and manufacturing. The bad news was the Black unemployment increased by 4% from 2.77 million to 2.88 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The figure was a 2% increase on a non-adjusted basis. The national rate also increased to 0.1% to 9.0% as more people started looking for jobs.

There was also good news on the long-term unemployed (out of work for more than 26 weeks). Their numbers dropped by 283,000 to 5.8 Million. Long term unemployed are 43% of the total unemployed.

The number of part-time workers for economic reasons was unchanged at 8.6 Million. These are people who would like full-time work but cannot find it. Marginally attached workers stayed around 2.5 million. These are people who have looked for work in the past 12 month but are not counted as part of the labor force. If they were included in the labor force, unemployment rate it would be 1.4% higher: 10.4%. A pretty sneaky way of hiding some of the unemployed.
The number of discouraged worked dropped significantly year-to-year. Last April there were 1.2 million. Currently there are 989,000 discouraged workers, a 17% drop. Discouraged workers have stopped looking for work because they believe no work is available for their skills.

Establishment Data
Non farm Payrolls increased by 244, 000. The private sector added 268,000 jobs which were reduced by government reductions. Retail trade stores added 57,000, business and professional services added 51,000, health care added 37,000 and manufacturing added 29,000.

Temporary help is a closely watched, bell-weather category. It grows during a recession as employers are unwilling to make the investment of hiring long term employees. When the economy picks-up, the demand for temporary help drops. Lately, as employers use of “temps” has changed, temporary help has stayed strong.
Temporary help was flat meaning that employers were hiring rather than using temporary help services.

Construction was also unchanged. Construction employment is also closely watched as an economic indicator. Construction employment has been depressed since the collapse of the housing “bubble” in 2007.

And finally some upward revision for past non farm payroll reports. The February new job creation was revised up from 194,000 to 235,000 and March was revised up from 216,000 to 221,000.

ADP reported 179,000 new jobs were added.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Everyday economics: Today's topic Teacher Salaries

Got in to an arguement with a teenagers about teachers salaries and tenure. Actually college students studying teaching, but they looked like teenagers to this old man. I tried to explain the purpose of tenure: to give teacher the freedom to explore and innovate.

I mentioned how under paid teachers were comapred to the rest of the professional class. And the NYT article on teacher salaries. Here.

We discussed the problem of teaching to the test. But all the simple questions quickly end up with philosophical and moral choices. What should we teacher our kids ?? What kind of society do we want ?? What is a teachers role in society ?? How should we reward teacher, cops, firemen, prison guards ?

I got deaf ears. They insisted tenure was bad and teachers were lazy. However, it is mice to see people focused on the teaching profession even as they were set against it. At least they care and are willing to consider a different point of view.

But then they went back to the usual: "the current system is not working." But for a few moments they were thinking.

Note: Anyone who wants an advanced credit topic can look up service process R&D and innovation in teaching methods. Service process R&D is very difficult.


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