Saving Production Rules

If California can do it for chicken eggs, why can’t we do it for all goods sold in America?

The Oct 4 print copy of the New York Times Business section has the report (on-line) on the recent United States District Court ruling by Judge Kimberly Mueller in favor of a California law.

Fig Chicken Factory. source  farm sanctuary.org

Fig 1:  Chicken Factory – products banned in California

California had passed a law that all eggs sold there had to be from chickens living in a volume large enough to stand, lie down, turn around, and stretch wings to the fullest extent.

If the hens were in tighter confinement, their products (eggs) could not be Continue reading

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How To Peel A Mango

Peel a mango, remove its pit, without mess and in less than a minute. Same for any other stone fruit.

Mangoes are my favorite fruit.  This even though they have a bad reputation for being really messy, wasteful to peel, and knife-dulling stringy to remove from the pit.  Other than that, there is nothing better!   Today, I was slipping a mango from its peel and sliding the pit out when I was overcome with grief for those who were never shown how.

This is a post about peeling fruit – really.  The method works for any stone fruit like peaches and plums.  Once I had a boss who laughed at me for peeling a plum, but that is where you find the insecticide residue, so I feel vindicated.  A friend once called me a “fruit nut” because I like fruit over  chocolate;  so I get mangoes, he gets small boxes of raisins.

Choose the fruit.  A mango should be purchased firm/hard.  I envy those who live where they grow on trees and are branch ripened, but here, at our markets,  soft mangoes have probably gone bad.  Buy mangoes a couple days before you want them and let them ripen in the kitchen.

Mango Tools

Fig 1  You need a knife, spoon, clean board, a bowl and a mango

Fig 1 shows the all the tools needed to cleanly slide the peel and slip the pit.

Click any image to see full resolution.

The pit of a stone fruit is not a sphere, but 2 flattened halves pressed together with a clear rim or septum where they join.  On a peach or plum, the peel shows an indented line from stem to tip, right above the septum.  Continue reading

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Gini Index demonstrates Saez-Piketty Inequality

The Gini index demonstrates Saez-Piketty trends. These two very different markers show that inequality is increasing.

The trend line for the Gini index (Gini)  is well correlated with the trend line from Saez-Piketty Inequality (SPI) studies, although these two ways to estimating inequality are unrelated – different techniques employed by different economists using different resource bases.

We present this result as a graph through time, discuss what Gini and SPI indicators mean, and examine why the Gini marker, part of the standard U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) report, is intrinsically hard to use.          Click any image for full resolution.

Gini Index of Inequality

The  Gini index is a value devised by the Italian Corrado Gini and meant to indicate the “level” of a country’s inequality. Gini uses data about a country’s economy to calculate a single value G that ranges from 0 to 1. The bigger the G number, the more unequal the society. Continue reading

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Business Startups and Inequality

FiveThirtyEight posted on the decline of startups.  Who would have thought of Saez-Piketty inequality?

New information shows that startup businesses in the U.S. have been following a declining trend since 1977.   This was posted by Ben Casselman, chief economics writer at Nate Silver’s well known FiveThirtyEight.com blog.

Casselman presents several graphs – The charts show that the startup fraction of all existing enterprises has been decreasing for decades. Established businesses had little to fear from disruptive new techniques traditionally brought to maturity by newly started business wanta-bes  –  at least in America.

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Fig 1   Ben Casselman

He points out  “Entrepreneurship is a critical source of jobs in the economy.  Perhaps even more importantly, it is a major driver of productivity growth.”  This growth is fueled by new ideas and Continue reading

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Are Tuition Costs Exaggerated?

Claims that college tuition rate rises cause problems are wrong. Or are they?

Do rising college costs exclude some and force others into crippling loans that weaken their future?  Maybe that’s nonsense!  Maybe the exact opposite is true – aren’t trends showing lowering in actual payments, making higher education easier for all?  Maybe this means graduates have a better future than ever before.  LastTechAge uses tuition values from the colleges and accepts the first view.  Some folks argue for the Maybes.

David Leonhardt, New York Times

Fig 1  David Leonhardt, New York Times

David Leonhardt in his New York Times Upshot column (Tuesday 29 July 2014) gives a strong pushback. Mr. Leonhardt is one of the NYT’s outstanding reporters and is managing editor of the Upshot website.  Leonhardt’s comments are probing and edgy, perhaps a bit more sympathetic toward the monied Right.

LastTechAge posted Government data showing that, for the decade prior to 1980s, college tuition followed inflation, then abruptly started rising, following the Saez-Piketty inequality curve.  This is a clear and visible data trend, but, if wrong, we should acknowledge it.

As always, click any figure to get a full resolution image.

The data

Here are Leonhardt’s two basic charts.. Continue reading

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Should oil trains get limited liability?

Exploding oil cars do not deserve a waiver from the costs they generate.

Warren Buffett has requested that oil train companies get a liability limitation – just like nuclear power plants, so reports Heather Smith  in her 2014 Aug 6 column in Grist.

Casselton oil train explosion

2013 Dec – tanker collision with another train.  Casselton, North Dakota.

The immediate reason is the recent destruction in Lac Megantic (Quebec, 2013 Jul) when a tank train hauling extra thin and flammable shale oil exploded.  1.6 Million gallons of oil took 47 lives and 30 buildings.  See Grist link for Quebec image.

The rail company, Montreal Maine and Atlantic, had $25M in insurance, but 10 times more was needed to merely clean up their mess.

MM&A declared immediate bankruptcy, the owners walked away, and Canadian taxes (including from the survivors and local owners of lost businesses) is being used to clean up and rebuild.

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Warren Buffett

Buffett (who owns Irving Oil which transports lots of oil) wants a guarantee of limits to liability and cites the Price-Anderson act which limits liability in the nuclear reactor industry.

He wants something similar so that future misadventures are covered by taxes, not personal wealth.

Though Buffet is one of the ‘good’ 0.01 percent, it is not too Continue reading

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The Tuition Addition

Education debt soars with rising college tuition and correlated Piketty inequality, causing loss of opportunity in America

Want a good job? Though experts say get an advanced degree, tuition costs continuously rise while salaries continuously drop.  If you agree to excessive debt at market rates, you must  accept the grinding consequences.  Data show clear and shocking correlation to Piketty’s “income inequality” (= workers’ fraction of all U.S. wages has been falling since 1981) .  Student debt burden has been rising at a well known but astonishing rate.

Post high-school education is expensive and has been growing ever higher for some time, with no good way to pay for it. This should worry you if you are considering how to survive our present and future reality of shriveling opportunities in the American world.

The NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) is a government agency that reviews current and past American education.  We use the current NCES post-secondary education (post high-school) tuition trend data to understand what has happened over the past 40+ school years (1969-70 to 2011-12), then demonstrate a correlation with Saez-Piketty economic changes.  Continue reading

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