publicsq
It is terrible that students these days are taught there is only one flavor of ice cream, when there are 9 or 10 different ones. At least, let them taste them all, and if they conclude that neoclassical is the best, then so be it. But you have to at least tell them that there are all other kinds of theories. Otherwise, it’s like North Korea. They’re not told that there are other types of society because the information is blocked.
Ha-Joon Chang, economics professor @ Cambridge University (via publicsq)
oupacademic
oupacademic:


Every year, for the past thirty-five years, the World Bank has published the World Development Indicators (WDI), a fine collection of data on developing countries. The 2013 issue of the WDI is unusually telling. Deep into the report, there is a table that shows the status and the evolution of extreme poverty, that is, of people who live on 1.25 dollars a day or less. Thing about it: $1.25 a day. How would your life look if you had to live on that? To start with, your house – if you had something that could be called a house – would have no electricity, gas, running water, or sewer. So no TV, refrigerator, showers, or toilet for you. How about toothpaste, contraceptives, or motorized transport? You’d surely not spend your $1.25 on any of that. If you got sick – which would be very likely in your sanitary and nutritional condition – you couldn’t afford any medicine. In fact, you’d save your meager cash to buy food, just to keep yourself and your family alive. It would all add up to a miserable existence, wouldn’t it? It is even difficult to imagine that, in the twenty-first century, anyone lives such a nineteenth-century life. 
Well, 1.2 billion people do, according to the 2013 WDI… that’s a huge proportion of the world’s seven billion human beings. It makes you wonder what development experts and financiers have been doing all these years. And yet, behind the horror, shame, and urgency of those figures, there is, believe it or not, news of hope.

To read more about how economic growth can be used to “squash extreme poverty,” check out Marcelo M. Giugale’s Economic Development: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Image credit: Barefoot on Red Dirt by FrankOWeaver (2013). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

oupacademic:

Every year, for the past thirty-five years, the World Bank has published the World Development Indicators (WDI), a fine collection of data on developing countries. The 2013 issue of the WDI is unusually telling. Deep into the report, there is a table that shows the status and the evolution of extreme poverty, that is, of people who live on 1.25 dollars a day or less. Thing about it: $1.25 a day. How would your life look if you had to live on that? To start with, your house – if you had something that could be called a house – would have no electricity, gas, running water, or sewer. So no TV, refrigerator, showers, or toilet for you. How about toothpaste, contraceptives, or motorized transport? You’d surely not spend your $1.25 on any of that. If you got sick – which would be very likely in your sanitary and nutritional condition – you couldn’t afford any medicine. In fact, you’d save your meager cash to buy food, just to keep yourself and your family alive. It would all add up to a miserable existence, wouldn’t it? It is even difficult to imagine that, in the twenty-first century, anyone lives such a nineteenth-century life.

Well, 1.2 billion people do, according to the 2013 WDI… that’s a huge proportion of the world’s seven billion human beings. It makes you wonder what development experts and financiers have been doing all these years. And yet, behind the horror, shame, and urgency of those figures, there is, believe it or not, news of hope.

To read more about how economic growth can be used to “squash extreme poverty,” check out Marcelo M. Giugale’s Economic Development: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Image credit: Barefoot on Red Dirt by FrankOWeaver (2013). Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

basedheisenberg

#1 According to an analysis of U.S. government numbers conducted by Terrence P. Jeffrey, there are 86 million full-time private sector workers in the United States paying taxes to support the government, and nearly 148 million Americans that are receiving benefits from the government each month.  How long can such a lopsided system possibly continue?

#2 Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.

#3 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#4 Today, the federal government runs about 80 different “means-tested welfare programs”, and almost all of those programs have experienced substantial growth in recent years.

#5 Back in 1960, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 10 percent.  In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent.  Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.

#6 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the total number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to nearly 47 million.

#7 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#8 It sounds crazy, but the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the entire population of the nation of Spain.

#9 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps is now greater than the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”

#10 According to a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, 43 percent of all immigrants that have been in the United States for at least 20 years are still on welfare.

#11 Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#12 The number of Americans on Medicare is projected to grow from a little bit more than 50 million today to 73.2 million in 2025.

#13 Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

#14 If the number of Americans enrolled in the Social Security disability program were gathered into a single state, it would be the 8th largest state in the entire country.

#15 In 1968, there were 51 full-time workers for every American on disability.  Today, there are just 13 full-time workers for every American on disability.

#16 It is being projected that the number of Americans on Social Security will rise from about 62 million today to more than 100 million in 25 years.

#17 Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

#18 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.  Back in 1983, less than a third of all Americans lived in a home that received direct monetary benefits from the federal government.

greenmedia13

greenmedia13:

Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff, originally released in December 2007, is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the Stuff in your life forever.

hipsterlibertarian

hipsterlibertarian:

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. — Mark Twain

Last year I shared the very first image in this post, the Heritage Foundation's chart for 2012 explaining where your tax dollar goes. It got almost 800 notes, because it's a great graphic way to demonstrate what our government does with our money. I noticed this morning that it was getting a few additional reblogs thanks to today being Tax Day, so I thought I'd share an updated chart.

As it turned out, I’d already found and saved the very similar chart for 2013 made by the National Priorities Project (NPP), the second to last graphic in this post. When I uploaded it to share, I took a minute to compare the two. Both Heritage’s image for 2012 and NPP’s image for 2013 use the same clever design, but I immediately noticed that the similarities stop there. And when I dug up Heritage’s chart for 2013 (the second graphic above) and NPP’s far more chaotic version from 2012 (the third graphic), the differences became even more telling.

See, all these charts are informative, but they’re made with different agendas in mind. Heritage is a conservative think tank, and as the ACA (Obamacare) has gone into effect since their 2012 graphic, their focus has shifted even more strongly to highlighting entitlement spending. Note that big bracket they’ve added, and how “Income security, Veterans’ benefits” was retitled “Income security and other benefits,” a subtle shift which will make that spending feel more wasteful to Heritage’s typically anti-welfare, pro-military audience. Military spending, meanwhile, is dubbed “National defense” — a label I’d say isn’t quite accurate in our age of endless war — and calculated in a way which makes it seem quite small compared to the social programs.

Then there’s the NPP, which is a nonpartisan transparency organization that leans left. In both of their charts, military spending is labeled as just that, and it’s also calculated in a way which makes it the largest portion of the budget. Veterans’ benefits, health care spending, unemployment benefits, housing benefits, and food benefits are all chopped up into different sections, making social welfare spending look like a smaller slice of the pie than it really is. (The interest on the national debt also plays a much larger role in NPP’s charts than Heritage’s, a difference which I presume comes from Heritage’s use of “net interest.”)

So what’s the takeaway here? Well, there are a few:

1. No matter which chart you use, one thing is clear: Our government spends a heck of a lot of money that we don’t have.

2. The vast bulk of it goes to military spending and entitlement programs. Within each of those categories, there is plenty of corporate welfare, crony capitalism, and corruption of all sorts.

3. While I don’t believe any of these charts were intentionally designed to be deceptive (there are multiple, legitimate ways to slice up these spending categories), each presents the information with a certain bias. Bias is NOT a bad thing (see more on that here), but it can be dangerous if we’re not aware of its presence. Last year, I posted Heritage’s chart uncritically. I don’t think anything too terrible happened as a result, but looking at their updated chart this year (especially compared to NPP’s differently-biased graphics) indicates that was not the best choice.

4. ALWAYS use multiple sources. Last year I didn’t look for other sources on this, because the proportions are generally correct. It’s typically fairly safe to think of Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, and military spending each taking about 25% of our spending, with the rest going to other programs and interest on the debt. That’s a very rough estimate, but it’s a good guide to see if charts like these are anywhere close to reality. 

Beyond that general estimate, though, we need more sources. Unless you’re a math and budget genius, check multiple versions of these calculations, which inevitably simplify very complex information into a very small space.

Personally, I think the final graphic above is, though least visually interesting, probably the most valuable. It’s from the Tax Foundation, which is more interested in lowering taxes and spending overall than making any particular part of the spending look more ominous than it is (note: it’s all pretty ominous). This chart slices up $100 instead of $1, but the idea is the same. And here you’ll note something of a mediating position which lines up pretty closely with my 25% x 3 approximation.

The White House, the New York Times, CNBC, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and plenty of other organizations with widely varying agendas have put out their own versions of these charts. Being able to find and compare these different calculations is a huge advantage of the internet.

So, where do your tax dollars go? Well, you figure it out. Probably somewhere you don’t like. Happy Tax Day…or something like that.

allthecanadianpolitics
allthecanadianpolitics:

High tuition, high debt, high unemployment: Being a young adult is tougher than it used to be

There are a countless number of songs, poems and books about how great it is to be young.
Middle and senior-aged Canadians across the country often yearn for the good old days.
"How great would it be to be 21 again," you might hear one say.
Well, maybe being young isn’t such a good thing anymore.
A new analysis — by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — adds to the growing number of recent surveys, studies and reports highlighting how difficult life is for 18- to 30-year-olds.
This one is about university tuition rates.
According to the report released on Tuesday, the average annual undergraduate tuition fee in Canada has skyrocketed from $551 in 1975 to $5,772 in 2013.
A more telling statistic, however, is the number of hours necessary for a student to work, at minimum wage, in order to pay for their own schooling.
As explained by CBC News, a student in 1975 only needed to work 230 minimum-wage hours to pay for their post-secondary education. Today, students need to work at least 570 hours.
The ‘high’ tuition rates are invariably leading to record historically high student debt levels, according to the Canadian Federation of Students.
"Skyrocketing tuition fees and the prevalence of loan-based financial assistance have pushed student debt to historic levels," notes the organization’s website.
"This past year, almost 425,000 students were forced to borrow in order to finance their education. The aggregate of loans disbursed by the Canada Student Loans Program, less the aggregate of loan repayments received is resulting in student debt increasing by $1 million per day."
According to a 2013 BMO Annual Student Survey, 86 per cent of Canadian students expect to graduate with debt, with 21 per cent expecting a debt load of more than $40,000.
And of course, that’s not the only debt young people are going to be saddled with.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation recently launched a new initiative — aptly named Generation Screwed — warning young Canadians about the impending fiscal cliff that they’re ultimately going to be responsible for.
"Past generations voted to spend more and more money expanding entitlements and the size of government," notes their website.
"They are handing the next generation the bill."
The story of young peoples’ lot in life gets worse: youth unemployment rates across the country are dismal.
Our youth unemployment rate is about 14 per cent and, if you include youth up to age 30, there are approximately 904,000 Canadians not in employment, education or training.
And those who have jobs aren’t very confident about the future.
Here are some of the highlights — or low-lights, if you will — of a recent Abacus Data/Broadbent Institute survey about millennials’ collective fears about the future:


Overall, 41 per cent of millennials are worried that their generation will be able to pay enough tax to support their parents’ social programs
38 per cent of millenials with university degrees believe that their economic opportunities are worse than those of their parents.
60 per cent of millienials think the gap between rich and poor will grow over their life with only 16 per cent thinking it will shrink.
Only one-third of millienials are “certain” that they will own a home at retirement


Let’s face it: being young isn’t what it used to be.
(Photo courtesy Reuters)


Are we really promoting the best for our future generations?

allthecanadianpolitics:

High tuition, high debt, high unemployment: Being a young adult is tougher than it used to be

There are a countless number of songs, poems and books about how great it is to be young.

Middle and senior-aged Canadians across the country often yearn for the good old days.

"How great would it be to be 21 again," you might hear one say.

Well, maybe being young isn’t such a good thing anymore.

A new analysis — by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — adds to the growing number of recent surveys, studies and reports highlighting how difficult life is for 18- to 30-year-olds.

This one is about university tuition rates.

According to the report released on Tuesday, the average annual undergraduate tuition fee in Canada has skyrocketed from $551 in 1975 to $5,772 in 2013.

A more telling statistic, however, is the number of hours necessary for a student to work, at minimum wage, in order to pay for their own schooling.

As explained by CBC News, a student in 1975 only needed to work 230 minimum-wage hours to pay for their post-secondary education. Today, students need to work at least 570 hours.

The ‘high’ tuition rates are invariably leading to record historically high student debt levels, according to the Canadian Federation of Students.

"Skyrocketing tuition fees and the prevalence of loan-based financial assistance have pushed student debt to historic levels," notes the organization’s website.

"This past year, almost 425,000 students were forced to borrow in order to finance their education. The aggregate of loans disbursed by the Canada Student Loans Program, less the aggregate of loan repayments received is resulting in student debt increasing by $1 million per day."

According to a 2013 BMO Annual Student Survey, 86 per cent of Canadian students expect to graduate with debt, with 21 per cent expecting a debt load of more than $40,000.

And of course, that’s not the only debt young people are going to be saddled with.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation recently launched a new initiative — aptly named Generation Screwed — warning young Canadians about the impending fiscal cliff that they’re ultimately going to be responsible for.

"Past generations voted to spend more and more money expanding entitlements and the size of government," notes their website.

"They are handing the next generation the bill."

The story of young peoples’ lot in life gets worse: youth unemployment rates across the country are dismal.

Our youth unemployment rate is about 14 per cent and, if you include youth up to age 30, there are approximately 904,000 Canadians not in employment, education or training.

And those who have jobs aren’t very confident about the future.

Here are some of the highlights — or low-lights, if you will — of a recent Abacus Data/Broadbent Institute survey about millennials’ collective fears about the future:

  • Overall, 41 per cent of millennials are worried that their generation will be able to pay enough tax to support their parents’ social programs

  • 38 per cent of millenials with university degrees believe that their economic opportunities are worse than those of their parents.

  • 60 per cent of millienials think the gap between rich and poor will grow over their life with only 16 per cent thinking it will shrink.

  • Only one-third of millienials are “certain” that they will own a home at retirement

Let’s face it: being young isn’t what it used to be.

(Photo courtesy Reuters)

Are we really promoting the best for our future generations?