Krugman sez: Debt non-explosion

August 31, 2011

Radio filled with talk about “the debt explosion?

Not so, Krugman’s charts say:

August 31, 2011, 6:36 pm

The Debt Non-Explosion

A conversation I had earlier today suggested that it might be worth pointing out a fact that isn’t as widely known as it should be: namely, that there has not been an explosion in debt over the past few years. There has been a big rise in federal debt, but this has gone along with a collapse in private borrowing, so that overall debt growth has been lower than it was in the pre-crisis years:

Source.

Bear this in mind when someone starts ranting about hyperinflation just around the corner thanks to explosive debt growth.

Which suggests, once again, that it will be up to the government to do the economy growing.  It’s not a question of whether we think, philosophically, that government should be the main driver of economic expansion.  It’s a question of, what do you do when private business is sitting on $1.5 trillion in cash instead of hiring, and businesses who lack the cash are not borrowing to hire either, despite record low interest rates?

Under these conditions, it might be considered unpatriotic NOT to support a massive stimulus program, yes?

Didn’t anybody take high school economics?


Education spending = increased wealth in the nation?

August 29, 2011

From The Condition of Education 2011, Indicator 38, Education Expenditures by Country.

A country’s wealth (defined as GDP per capita) is
positively associated with expenditures per student
on education at the combined elementary/secondary
level and at the postsecondary level. For example, the
education expenditures per student (both elementary/
secondary and postsecondary) for each of the 10 OECD
countries with the highest GDP per capita in 2007 were
higher than the OECD average expenditures per student.
The expenditures per student for the 10 OECD countries
with the lowest GDP per capita were below the OECD
average at both the elementary/secondary level and at the
postsecondary level.

Per pupil spending in the U.S. is inflated in these comparisons because it includes per pupil expenditures for college.  One might make a case that this spending could be reduced and efficiency maintained were investment in elementary and secondary education increased and made more effective.

Chiefly, here we should note that spending more on education correlates with a nation’s wealth — the more a nation spend, the wealthier it is, and vice versa.  This applies in the developed nations measured by the Organization for Economic Development, anyway.

In short:  We cut education spending at our national peril.

More data on this measure here.  Other indicators, and the complete text of the Condition of Education 2011, here.

Conflict of interest statement:  My office published these reports in my time at the Office of Educational Research and Improvement; I have no affiliation with these data any  more.


Quote of the moment: Diane Ravitch, history won’t be kind to those who attacked teachers

August 29, 2011

Attacking Teachers Attacks My Future

"Attacking Teachers Attacks My Future" sign carried by students supporting teachers at the Wisconsin Capitol Building, February 16, 2011. Photo by BlueRobot, Ron Chandenais

Of one thing I feel sure—history will not be kind to those who gleefully attacked teachers, sought to fire them based on inaccurate measures, and worked zealously to reduce their status and compensation. It will not admire the effort to insert business values into the work of educating children and shaping their minds, dreams, and character. It will not forgive those who forgot the civic, democratic purposes of our schools nor those who chipped away at the public square. Nor will it speak well of those who put the quest for gain over the needs of children. Nor will it lionize those who worshipped data and believed passionately in carrots and sticks. Those who will live forever in the minds of future generations are the ones who stood up against the powerful on behalf of children, who demanded that every child receive the best possible education, the education that the most fortunate parents would want for their own children.

Now is a time to speak and act. Now is a time to think about how we will one day be judged. Not by test scores, not by data, but by the consequences of our actions.

Diane Ravitch, writing at Bridging Differences, a blog of EdWeek, June 28, 2011

See more photos from Ron Chandenais, here.


Christie’s Auctions: Astonishing Pair of Matching Singing Bird Pistols

August 28, 2011

Aurel Bacs, International Head of the Watch Department, shares his passion and knowledge of the only known matching pair of gold and enamel singing bird pistols, to be offered at Christie’s Hong Kong Important Watches sale on 30 May 2011.

This is the only known pair of matching singing bird pistols, thought to have been created by Frères Rochat, a Swiss watch, toy and machine maker.  Several people have sent me links and alerts to this video over the past several weeks — it’s worth seeing, just to admire the craftsmanship, and inventiveness required to make these things.

Christie’s Auctions: The Only Pair of Matching…, posted with vodpod

Bloomberg News reported the pistols fetched a price of $5.8 million at the sale on May 30.  The purchaser’s name was not reported, but a Bacs said it was an “epic bidding war” between two of the most ardent collectors of such treasures.

Will these pieces be seen in public again in our lifetimes?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Gil Brassard, and others.


How deep is the stupid in Tea Party and among their fellow travelers?

August 28, 2011

Barack Obama has managed to tack on a bit over a trillion dollars to the national debt, mostly in a successful effort to keep the U.S. and the world from plunging into a Greater Depression.  We haven’t shaken off the harmful effects of the Republican assault on capitalism during the previous years’ assaults on the Constitution, science, education and other American institutions.

But in the alternate universe of conservative thought, Obama’s put $15 trillion in new debts on the books.  Being off by a factor of 10 to 15 is an accomplishment worthy of someone wholly unconnected with reality.  That would be Victor Davis Hanson in this case.  Not sure why, but some search took me to a blog called The Clue Batting Cage — batting away clues to reality is a sport to them, I suppose.  There I found this post:

Here’s some excellent wording from Victor Davis Hanson.

Despite nearly $15 trillion in federal debt, the administration apparently wants to defy the rules of logic and do more of what made things worse in the first place, under the euphemism of “investments.” American popular culture has coined all sorts of proverbial warnings about such mindless devotion to destructive rote: “Don’t flog a dead horse,” “If you are in a hole, stop digging,” and “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

No matter: The administration still adheres to the logical fallacy that the toxic medicine cannot be proven to be useless or harmful, because there was supposedly never enough of it given. And the proof is that the worsening patient is still not quite dead.
:
That there is never enough spending is a seductive fallacy because it never requires any empirical proof: If millions of those supported by the state have lost their self-reliance and self-initiative, perhaps it is because millions supported by the state were not supported well enough, and so in response, some resorted to stealing things they could not afford.

How many others could possibly be with these yahoos, looking through the telescope backwards?

Looking through a telescope the wrong way

Looking through a telescope the wrong way

Here’s what I posted in comments:

It’s difficult to reconcile the idea of someone who recommends Bob Park’s blog, and approves of Victor Hanson’s blather at the same time.

But then I look closer. You missed the boat completely. You didn’t even recommend the right Bob Park, but some imposter named Parks. You missed reality by one letter.

Reality is not an opinion, not that I expect you’ll ever change your opinion on that.

Lay off of Morgan’s blog for a while, maybe read some science or something. You may not feel better in the morning, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

9:38 PM

Delete

The author complains that my comments are too acid, and that the National Science Foundation is a “government site.”

If you call a private foundation the government supports, independent from the government by design to keep its advice unbiased, does that make it a government site?

Or is it still a four-legged calf?

A wise person said that you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t get to by reason in the first place.  That’s the problem with the Tea Party in the first place.  It’s also the problem in the second place, and the third place, and on all issues.

To the Tea Party mindset, they are all five-legged dogs.

Tea Party's five-legged dog, by Esther Derby.com

Tea Party's five-legged dog, by Esther Derby.com


OK Go! and Muppets!

August 28, 2011

Together!  OK Go and the Muppets:

Oh, if only this meant the Muppet Show was coming back.


I get e-mail from MI-6 (a hoax, no doubt)

August 28, 2011

How many different forms can this scam take?   Is anyone taken in by it anymore?

FUND BENEFIT (LIAISON OF BRITISH GOVERNMENT)
From:
BRITISH SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (MI6) LONDON. <sis@ukgov.uk>
To: edarrell@obladeeobladah.uk.org

Office of the British Secret Intelligence Service Mi6
P.O Box 1300,Vauxhall – London SE1 1BD – United Kingdom.
Website: http://www.sis.gov.uk/output/sis-home-welcome.html
S.I.S Ref: LN/mi6/SIS/XX027

Dear Beneficiary,

BRITISH JURISDICTIONAL FUND LETTER:

As Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) also known as Mi6, SIS provides the British Government with a global covert capability to promote and defend the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom. Regional instability, Financial Frauds, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and illegal narcotics are among the major challenges of the 21st century. SIS assists the government to meet these challenges. To do this effectively SIS must protect the secrets of its sources and methods.

http://www.sis.gov.uk/output/sis-home-welcome.html

In regards to Legislation and accountability, SIS like other British intelligence and security agencies, is subject to parliamentary, ministerial, judicial and financial oversight. Oversight is based on two pieces of UK legislation, the intelligence services Act 1994 (I.S.A) and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (R.I.P.A).

With notice, SIS has litigated a group of apprehended UK-based multimillionaire financial fraudsters who dubiously perpetrated fraudulent acts with first degree ulterior motives against you through your e-mail over the internet in the United Kingdom.

By court order, prior to 12 years prison sentence charged upon them by the Lord Chief Justice and President of the Courts of England and Wales (R.H, The Lord Judge: Igor Judge, Baron Judge), the culprits were placed on a bail by way of compensation to you in a sum of 2,350,000 (Two million, three hundred and fifty thousand British Pounds Sterling) in lieu of British International Fundamental Human Rights Ordinances of 1997, of which your benefited fund has been brought in cash to our Head Office by the culprits’ Legal councils prior to their inception of jail term.

Click on your ”REPLY” to contact the British Secret Intelligence (MI6) Chief of Operations indicating your names, phone contact, age, current residential address & a valid identity card.

Caution: Do not recopy this letter or publicize the above Britain’s secret agent or the secret email identity above. For SIS diligence & effectiveness, it must protect the secrets of its sources & methods.

The Management,
British Secret Intelligence Service
London, United Kingdom.

You gotta wonder what these guys would do if they thought anyone would publicize their letter, say, like posting it on a blog.  If it were important to keep it secret, you can imagine how the letter-writer might fear that someone from MI-6 would learn what the letter-writer did, and come after him.  I mean, what e-mail scammer could stand up to MI-6?


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