Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Police exam bias in NJ

I was at the local police station reporting my stolen bike, when I spotted an article about reverse discrimination in a correctional officers' magazine. Puh-lease. Out town is 1/2 Black and Spanish yet their are only 3 Black officers on the force.

The article was about reverse discrimination in Teaneck, NJ. In New Jersey, the current list of police officers were denied promotions because the police exam was ruled biased by the US justice department. One Black officer had his promotion delayed, so the article screamed "Reverse Discrimination!" Puh-lease.

The basis for the delay was a ruling by the justice department that the police promotion exam had a "disparate impact," on minorities. Basically, the results of the exam show Whites are favored over Blacks and other minorities. Minorities have long been discriminated against in New Jersey law enforcement.

One of the great things about a blog is you can do original research and make a difference.

To evaluate the claims of bias, we reviewed several exam preparation test books for the police officers and Sargent exams. All the books were obtained from the local library. The prep books give a good idea of what is required to pass the exam for a police officer or promotion.Specifically, used:

Barron's Police Office Exam, Schroeder and Lombardo,2009
McGraw-Hill's Police Officer Exams, Palmiotto and Brown, 2008
Learning Express Police Sergeant Exam, 2009

Based on the content of the books, here is what to expect on the police officers exam:

McGraw-Hill and Barron's
Memorization and memory testing
Map reading, Visualization and Spatial Orientation
Grammar, writing, sentence structure and spelling. Filling out forms and reports.
Reading comprehension
Some basic math
Information processing such as deductive reasoning
Legal definitions and police procedures

The sargent's exam include additional topics:

Legal procedures
Laws and statues

What's missing ? Common sense, real crime prevention strategies and social work. Yes, crime prevention is social work.

We agree with the court that the exams are biased toward testing taking and answer memorization. They do not full reflect true police work. We understand and appreciate the work of the exam creators. They have a difficult job with lots of interest group and cultural pressure. How do you put on a written test questions that distill years of police work (Sargents exam) or basic police skills into a written, multiple choice exam ?

How to you test for aptitude, learning ability, community relations skills, and common sense and social welfare. An almost impossible job. So any test devised is flawed from jump. Yet, like education, we must test. We must have some benchmark for comparison. We do support testing as part of a comprehensive candidate evaluation portfolio. We also support the recognition a point in time test is a flawed measure

Our proposal is for more realistic tests, work evaluations, and observations that de-emphasizes memorization, reading and writing and rewards crime prevention, bravery, community relations and police skills.

Police work is the dark side of social work. They catch all the people who choose not to follow social norms. Police work is also about community building. Police work is about crime prevention. None of those principles are emphasized in the exam.

The exam is about following orders, filling out forms correctly, memorizing the correct answer. There is a large section on geographical navigation.

The real life exam is about applying the principals of constitution law and why the rulings were made, handling difficult situations without resorting to force, community relations, acculturation, [speaking Spanish in a Spanish community], crime victim empathy and preventing crime. Again none of these topics appear on the test.

The tests are a good start, but only a beginning. It is time to consider the limits and biases of the test in considering the results. It is time to revise the test to measure what really matter for police especially police in Black and minority communities.


Census bureau income and poverty data

The US Census Bureau has realeased it's Small Area Income and Poverty survey. 653 counties saw a significant increase in poverty for children 5 to 17; 8 saw a decrease.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

The Evil Black Economist support the Occupy Movement !!! Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland, Occupy the Hood and all the other Occupy's.

Occupy has successfully shifted the debate from lowering the debt to inequality in the United States. They have people asking the right question: what sort of society do we want to live in ?

Many of us have no problem with some of the huge inequities in the US. We are used to it. Black memories of racial oppression are still fresh. My dad talks about having to sit in segregated movie theaters in Trenton, NJ as a kid. So we come from a different starting place than many of the young White kids in the occupy movement. But we have a lot in common. Now there is a lot more equality: Equality of misery. Everyone is feeling the Black pain. Which is good for the country and for Black people and other minorities.

I am asked constantly about why there are so few minorities at the occupy rallies. The best answer I have is that it is not our fight or we think it is not our fight. Unemployment and economic problems have been huge in the Black community since Slavery, yet no one cared before. So the average Black person thinks: "Hmmm, it seems like only when white kids are affected is it worth protesting."

Near as I can figure there are a couple of other reasons as well: We have better things to do with our [economic] time, the "vibe" of the protest has not been particularly familiar to Blacks [camping out] and the chances of success look small[you can't fight Mr. Charlie].

Given all that, in our gut we still support what they are trying to do. Black people do support the Occupy movements. We frequently stand on the side of right. It is our nature. And anything that will increase economic and social justice has to be a good thing.

We stand on the side of social justice that the Occupy movements embody. We support Occupy !!!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We support the NYC "Living Wage" bill and increasing the minimum wage

The Evil Black Economist supports a living wage and the "Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act" (living wage bill) currently being debated by the NY City Council. Living wage bills are an obvious way to put more money in the hands of low wage workers. San Francisco, CA and Santa Fe, NM have enacted living wage bills.

Living wage bills have little proven effect on overall employment level: up or down. Jobs cannot change location easily nor change their experience or education requirements. Pretty much the same condition holds true for people. A skilled carpenter or electrician cannot work remotely. Companies make up the extra cost though small price increases and increased productivity.

New York city has further qualified the wage requirement such that only companies receiving subsidies from the government must pay the wage. So the tax people pay would be used to generate better jobs.

A living wage is also a way to reduce income inequality. Occupy Wall Street has made reducing income inequality a center piece of their agenda.

You can read the website of Livingwagenyc.org to get the latest news.

The good, old Daily News is here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Supercommittee cuts look OK to me; Obama threaten veto to keep cuts

This country spends way too much on defense. I know we get alot of jobs and we killed Osama, but there is a better way to spend the money and still get jobs. Rather than waste it on the beltway security consultants, we should be investing in clean energy, education and innovation.

So here is the nice part, if you look at the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts about $500 million come from national security and military operations. I don't know who put together the cuts, but they knew what they were doing, so it looks "Check!" and "Mate" by the Obama team. Well thank goodness for the country. Now no gloating.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

TE: What if everyone had a job that wanted one ?

TE = Thought Experiment

In economics, we have great difficulty conducting pure experiments. We simply cannot change many important variable. Instead, we have to think about a particular circumstance and try and use our models to describe what the world would look like.

One of my favorite is: What would the US look like if everyone who wanted a job could find one ?

What is this really means is: What if the unemployment rate dropped to the natural turnover rate (about 3%), the economy perfectly matched the skills of the people and the local job market matched the demand for jobs. There is no immigration or migration.

Retail Season Score KPI's

How to track consumer spending and the retail industry.

1. Increase in Volume, Store visits, website hits
2. Price increases
3. Increase in Revenue
4. High end sales / Low end sales ratio
5. Total US advertising expenditure
6. Store sales / deals / promotion
7. US Personal Consumption Expenditure
8. Conference board's Consumer Confidence index

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Favorite Economic Joke of the Week

From Spike Lee's film "Bamboozled" here is a fake commercial for Tommy Hilfinger, well actually Timmi Hillnigger. Video is Here.

My favorite economic joke of the week

Here is my favorite economic or business joke of the week:

"Macy's is having a sale"


"Macy's is having a four-day, one day sale"

Black Economic Goals

Draft v2

I just realized when writing I need some moral standards and guiding principals that we black people, as economic actors, should aspire to achieve. You cannot tell someone: "No, don't do that", without offering an alternative.

The number one goal for black people is the largest amount of happinesss for the most black people. On a personal level this means: above average happiness as measured by indicators. This include health, friends and family, material wealth and human development.

There is also a larger societal goal of contributing to the black community, society, and making society better for others.

Friends and familiy
Material Wealth

Safe home or Apartment
Car or Bicycle
TV, Oven, Refridgerator
2 week of clothes

Black people should be no less than 15% below the average unemployment rate, income and home value.

Human Development

80% post high school education rate (college, trade school)

societal goals
Join one black organization
Attend church
volunteer 10 times a year
Vote or participate in school events

Black Consumer !!! Please try to take it easy on Black Friday

I am now convinced that the Black Consumer is one of the keys to improving out economic situation. The best way to do that is to hold a little more back, or spend a little more with black businesses. Or not spend at all and go out for a meal with family.

This year, let us resolve to go a little easy on Black Friday and over Christmas. The stores are really pushing sales this year. Christmas advertising is starting the second week in November. Retailers are really pushing sales. Macy's is out of control as usually.

But, when you, take a step back, you realize most of have everything we need. We don't need another jacket (I know some one with over 50) or pair of shoes (again over 150).

If you buy, check the label. Try a get a quality item that is made in the US, versus some cheaper and lower quality item from overseas. Also, try to buy from coutries other than China which sells over 80% of the imported low-value consumer items in teh US. Spread the wealth around to other struggling countries like Haiti.

So, if you are going to shop, shop with a friend and enjoy the experience. Talk a little more and buy a little less. Stop for a bit to eat. But this year go easy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The October’s report shows slow employment growth but positive details

The report for September unemployment shows slow growth but positive details.

The report has a couple of positive highlights: A drop in Black unemployment, some upward revisions of non farm payrolls, hiring in education and temp help sectors and an increase in private employment index. The big news was a near 1% drop Black unemployment rate now 15.1%. The second high light was the major upward revision (plus 50%) for non farm payrolls for August(57,000 to 104,000) and September (103,000 to 158,000).

Non farm payrolls increased 80,000 (104,000 private jobs offset by a loss of -24,000 public jobs). However, 80K is below the new benchmark of 100K jobs, so the report is rates as “poor”.

The rate itself moved down to 9.0%. The rate has been stuck at approximately 9.0% for the whole year. It has bounced around between 8.8% and 9.2% since January, 2011.

Politically, the house republicans continue to block any stimulus measures. The Fed has said it will keep interests rate at zero for the next two years. Banks continue to be reluctant to lend.

The overall unemployment rate was 9.0% and the Black unemployment rate stayed at 15.1%. The rate for Whites (8.0%) and Hispanics (11.4%) was little changed.
The long-term unemployed dropped by 366,000 to 5.9 million (42.4% of total). The part-time employed for economic reasons rose to 8.9 Million and the marginally attached stayed the same at 2.6 Million.

Non farm payroll employment increased by 103,000 jobs with growth in business services, education and transportation and utilities. Health care added only 16,000 jobs. There was good news in two future oriented sectors: education (long-term ) at 11,000 and temp help (short term) added 15,000.

Average work week was unchanged and wages by $0.05 cents in October following a $0.06 raise in September. The employment diffusion index (a hiring signal) was still positive (55.4) but down 0.2.

There was some good news on revisions. August NFP was raised from +57K to +104K and September NFP was raised from 103K to 158K.

ADP reported a 110,000 payroll increase and also revised upward, it’s August to September number to 116,000 payroll jobs.

Monster Employment Index increase to 151, up 11% compared to last year and up 2% for the month. Monster said the index was pushed up by retailers hiring temporary workers for an early Christmas season.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Apple vs. China value added

Ok, I saw some report of who benefits from Chinese manufacturing. We know it ain't labor. Well it ain't Chinese labor either. The beneficiaries are multi-national corporations.

Here are two research papers on where the value added is captured in the supply chain for apple products. An astounding 60% of the iPhone profits and 30% of iPad profits go to Apple. Potentially 5% of profits and 2% of labor costs go to China. That's about $10 per item for labor cost. The profit margins are insane.

You cannot make this up, you have to read it here. And here is an older paper here. We are talking pharmaceutical profits here !!!

Corporate environmentalism is a hard to take serious

The actions of big companies are really starting to get annoying. They just blatantly put their own interests above the citizen consumer. Sometimes I forget this basic fact and get a rude reminder.

Today's reminder is my PSEG bill. Every paper bill comes with an additional "paper" reminder to switch to electronic billing to save trees. "Go green" they extort. Save old growth forests. They even print the notice in green ink. Give me a break.

The only one really benefiting is company, which is saving a huge about of money on paper and printing costs. Very little is passed on to the paper company or any environmental group. You think they would lower the price charged to customers for paperless billing and split the cost, but no.

It's the same when hotel's asked us to save the environment by re-using our sheets and towels. Do they lower the price for people who are "green". Hell no, the money goes straight to their bottom line.

Another example is the many companies with environmental programs. These programs are done either to comply with a government regulation, public relations or to save energy. The environment is really secondary. But smart companies have figured out that: "since we spend so much money on the environment, we should get something out of the deal." They are really caring about the environment for the wrong reasons. When you take a close look, the efforts seem fake and un-authentic.

Some companies are active in environmental issues. But again only when it is in their best interests. The classic examples are the outdoor sports companies that import almost everything from China. I am thinking of REI sports, NIKE, New Balance, EMS all of which puts on an environmentally friendly face on their company but ships all their goods from China (40' container = $2500 Shanghai to Long beach, CA). These companies need to look at their total environmental footprint. They should look at weather the environment or money is their core shareholder value.

Our final example is the large number of cups and bags printed with 100% post consumer waste and asking us to recycle. These token effort cheapen the real work of being environmentally friendly and let us off guilt free.

If we really want to help the environment, then we should drive less, use less electricity, fly less, recycle almost everything, use less plastic, turn the heat down, and pay more for oil and carbon fuels.

All really tough stuff to do. But the sad part is a lot of us know what to do.

Here is a related article on Corporate Environmental Rankings in Newsweek.

Here is a site I really like called greenwashing index. Here.

Interbrand, a "brand strategy" and marketing company, has a list of environmentally friendly brands here. The fact that this a "brand" assessment shows self interest is everywhere.

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