Some experts believe the decline in workforce participation is the legacy of the Great Recession and that it will improve. That rate is only 63.2%; it was nearly 67% in 1990.
But structural changes are plainly at work too, based in part on slower-moving demographic factors. A 2012 study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimated that about one-quarter of the decline in labor-force participation since the start of the Great Recession can be traced to retirements. Other economists have attributed about half of the drop to the aging of baby boomers.
Baby boomers can’t be the whole story, though, since the participation rate has declined for younger workers too. This part of the drop is a function of various factors, including simple discouragement, poor work incentives created by public policies, inadequate schooling and training, and a greater propensity to seek disability insurance. Globalization and technological change have also reduced employment and wage growth for low-skilled workers—which raises questions about whether current policy is focused enough on helping workers to achieve the skills necessary to work productively and earn decent incomes. Excerpt from WSJ 4-5-14
I think I said something like this before, we are focused on the wrong things. That is, we pat ourselves on the back at the growing numbers of participants in government programs for the poor and low income (programs that make not working more comfortable for those so inclined) when we should delight in increasing the employment and employment participation rate and work toward that goal. What good does it do to hype raising the minimum age when 37% of the adult workforce has stopped looking for work?
I, like most Americans, want more than the basics, mere subsistence in life. However, for some especially low-skilled and poorly educated citizens, going from unemployment to Social Security disability with food stamps and Medicaid and tax credits may be sufficient to stop trying.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.”
Shouldn’t our focus be not on palliative care, but on correct diagnosis and treatment focused on a cure? Instead we have more programs providing disincentives to work and grow income.
Filed under: Government, Observations on life Tagged: poor, underemployed, unemployed, workfore participstion
Stuck in Password Hell
April 17, 2014 by
It has to be the most common annoyance experienced by users of technology everywhere. As soon as you want to partake in the pleasures and treasures of modern comforts, a password is required. For every frigging thing.
Where did they get my list of passwords from?
A password is required if you want to buy stuff, read stuff, access stuff, post stuff, play stuff, write stuff, approve stuff, release stuff. A password is even required if you just want to retrieve your own goddamn stuff. You end up with a thousand different places where you need to type in those eight crucial characters.
The problem is an obvious one: What normal human being has the ability to remember all the different passwords that is required for daily functioning?
No one, I tell ya. Not one single person. (And Spock is not a person.)
The reality is that most people simply pick one. A password for everything. One word that rule them all. One that grants the user the ability to access everything about you. A whole Internet portfolio available if you know the crazy combination of the user. Allowing cyber criminals the opportunity, to not only hijack your credit card, but steal your blood and kidneys as well.
The second conundrum in selecting a password is finding something that you will remember tomorrow.
So it will most probably end up being something relatable. Something the user likes or dislikes. Maybe a favourite movie. Or band. And this proves that the spy movies are accurate. You know which ones I’m referring too? Those where the hacker sits and access a computer because he sees a painting in the study and types in the painter’s name that appears on the golden frame. And we think what poor sod would choose such an obvious, easy password? And we laugh at the ridiculousness of the scene. The absurdity of another Hollywood cop-out.
Well here’s my little secret. I’m very close to that sod. I am SO hackable. Hollywood might know something after all.
Anyhow, if I didn’t have a word to rule them all, then I’ll probably end up with this sequence next time I want to check my non-existing bank balance:
Please enter log in name:
Your password has expired. Please enter new password:
Your password requires a minimum of eight characters. Please try again:
Your password requires a capital letter. Please try again:
Your password requires a numeric number. Please try again:
Your password doesn’t allow spaces. Please try again:
Your password requires a symbol key. Please try again:
Your password doesn’t allow subsequent capital letters. Please try again:
That password is already in use. Please try again:
And I’m off to my happy place with my good friend Jack. (which I got on credit.)
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Did you ever notice that whenever a new study regarding health and medical care contradicts conventional wisdom, the new information is generally criticized? Makes you wonder what they will be saying about our health care a hundred years from now. It seems that for every study with one result there is another showing the opposite. How do we know we are actually receiving the best and appropriate health care?
Recently my wife had cataract surgery. As I am prone to do I ask a lot of questions. I asked a nurse how many of these procedures they handled each day. She said one doctor does twenty-two such surgeries in one day.
How was that possible I thought, just do he math. Later I asked another eye doctor if the story could be true. Yes, he said, this doctor is there until seven at night. He also said they set up two operating rooms for the doctor so he can just keep going from one to another. And then he explained that to do this so quickly the doctor placed each patient in a deep anesthesia, far deeper than would be typical for the procedure, and more risky for the patient especially for those in their 80s and 90s. In fact, he said some anesthesiologist wouldn’t work with the doctor. What do you want to bet each of his patients believe he is a great doctor?
The volume of conflicting information, the immense difficulty in defining quality and the propensity for patients to have unquestioning faith in their doctor are the most critical issues facing the health care system, affecting not only quality, but cost as well.
Hey, conventional wisdom bled George Washington to death and as a kid I was basted in baby oil and iodine to “protect” me from the sun. Have you noticed the flood of advertising promoting use of testosterone
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More voters than ever would rather scrap the current Congress than to see it reelected.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just nine percent (9%) of Likely U.S. Voters think it would be better for the country if most incumbents were reelected this November. Seventy-two percent (72%) say it would be better if most of them were defeated instead. Nineteen percent (19%) are undecided.
via 72% Think It Would Be Better if Most in Congress Are Not Reelected – Rasmussen Reports™.
Well, if that’s true, vote them out. It’s really quite simple. However, a better long-term solution is term limits.
Filed under: Politics Tagged: Congress, Term limits
Blast those damn potholes
April 13, 2014 by
We all know about our crumbling roads and bridges. If you listen to the news, you probably wouldn’t drive on a highway or cross a bridge. Ignoring that apprehension I recently drove Interstate 95 from Massachusetts to south Florida and back.
The most exciting part of the drive was staring at the road and weaving to avoid the potholes. I did get a chance to notice one thing though. There was a great deal of construction, not repairing the roads and bridges, but rather widening roads, adding new exit and entrance ramps and my very favorite, tearing down and building new rest areas. There is no doubt all these things are desirable, but com’on guys, priorities please!
What about the crumbling bridges and all the potholes? I already had to replace a wheel, tires and have had two alignments in the last three months. Could it be all this new construction is more lucrative for somebody?
Not to worry, Congress is on top of the situation. According to the Congressional Budget Office, The Highway Trust Fund will be bankrupt next year unless Congress acts. The Trust is the main source of revenue of funds for road repairs and construction. The Trust is funded by the gasoline tax which has not been raised since 1993. It stands at 18.4 cents a gallon. If it had just kept pace with inflation it would be 29 cents in 2014. What to do, what to do?
I have every reason to believe Congress will tackle this funding crisis with the same vigor and forthrightness it has applied to Social Security and Medicare. Problem solved!
Ocean freight company ECU Line Canada Inc. and two of its executives have pleaded guilty to price fixing. They participated in a cartel that fixed surcharges for the supply of non vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) export consolidation services from Canada to various foreign destinations between January 1, 2005 and March 6, 2011. NVOCCs arrange the consolidation [...]
The Litigator – Affleck Greene McMurtry, LLP
Any time you stuff a something into another thing, you’re going to have a pretty good time. This has been proven time, and time, and time again. Also, Puppy Surprise. It’s a weird thing we, the American people, have with things inside of things making both A and B things better as a C thing. It’s like we cannot get enough of everything ever all at once. Case in point? The Turducken. USA! USA! USA!
Patriotism aside/NEVER PUT PATRIOTISM ASIDE, this recipe just makes me super happy. It’s an absolute game-changer with the game being you-having-more-friends. I’ve made it once before but that banana bread wasn’t vegan and honestly, this one is just all around better. Finesse. We can call it finesse. (I mostly just know how to use knives better now.) Some people think vegan baked goods are dry or crumbly or sorta yuck but that’s what makes baking in an apple so successful – it keeps the banana bread extra moist and the boost of baked apple flavor doesn’t hurt either. All around goodness.
Big tip I’m just learning about now that will probably rock your life as hard as it rocked mine: I’ve been making flax “eggs” wrong this whole time. I know! It’s fucking ridiculous! One day you’re living your life thinking everything’s coming up Molly and WHAM you’re sideswiped by a big slap of reality. Thank you Bonzai Aphrodite (that’s a thing I say out loud all the time, sure) for bringing this to my attention. Apparently, if you refrigerate the flax/water mixture for about 15 minutes, it makes for an exponentially better binder. We’ll just refer to it as the Lisa Frank (Egg-less) Binder. Nice.
BANANA BREAD STUFFED BAKED APPLES
Makes 8 game-changers
- 8 apples (Braeburn apples work really well. Granny Smiths do not.)
- 1¾ cups spelt flour
- ¼ cup almond flour/meal
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of vegan butter
- 12 packets of Truvia
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed + 6 tablespoons of water (see below for tips on making your egg-less binder way better)
- 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons Splenda brown sugar blend
some people are calling it dynamite…
Prepare those apples! I used a melon baller because duh I own a melon baller. You can also use a knife. Or your special stabbin’ spoon. Either cut out or melon baller out (technical terms) the stem area. From there, carefully scoop out the insides of your apple. Keep no less than a 1/2″ inch thick wall inside your apple. Also, don’t break through the bottom. I’ve been trying for literally ones of minutes to think of a clearer way to scoop out the apples. I cannot. Godspeed.
Combine your dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk together your water and ground flax. Refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes. It should thicken and get stickier.
Cream your buttery sticks and Truvia with an electric mixer or your own brute strength. Add in the maple syrup. Mix. Add in that mindblowing new flaxseed/water mixture. Mix mix mix. Add in the mashed bananas and almond milk. Mix! Mix in the vanilla. Add the cinnamon and give your batter another go round in the mixer. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture at a low speed on your mixer. Try not to overbeat it. (There are so , so many jokes here.)
Fill your apple with around 70g of your mixture – for me that filled about 2/3 of an apple. Sprinkle 1/4 of a teaspoon of Splenda brown sugar blend on top of the batter in the filled apples. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of that.
Find a baking dish with corners and significant depth (cake pan, roasting dish, loaf pan, other things) and line it with some tin foil or parchment paper. You’re going to want to bake the apples no more than 4 at a time because you’re going to want to place an apple in each corner and I refuse to believe you have a octagonal baking pan.
Bake for 35 minutes or so. Let them cool a bit before diving it. Also, you probably want to cut them in half and eat a half because you’re a lady/will probably end up eating all the damn banana bread stuffed baked apples because daaaaaamn.
They’d also be good on top of vanilla ice cream. But so would my shoe.
NUTRITION (this one’s a doozy): 346 calories . 44g carbs . 15g fat . 6g protein . 8g fiber . 22g sugar
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April 11, 2014 by
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Election Day is November 4th. That’s the day happy and unhappy Americans will elect a new Congress. In advance, Republicans will want to make the Administration look bad and Democrats to make it look good.
But both those goals may be out of the hands of either party (absent some dirty tricks).
There are two important things that will happen around November 4th. The announcement of the 2015 Social Security COLA, if any, and the start of the 2015 open enrollment period for Obamacare exchange plans scheduled for November 15th.
Despite the fact the Administration has nothing to do with the Social Security COLA, it will be blamed if there is little or no increase in the benefits which is a likely scenario based on current inflation.
When it comes to Obamacare, there are two risks. First, if there are substantial increases in premiums, participants will not be happy especially if they are enrolled in high deductible and out-of-pocket cost plans that reimbursed little during 2014, again a likely scenario for many people.
Second, there is the possibility that plans that did not do well monetarily will decline to be offered in 2015 forcing some insured Americans to once again change health benefit plans (and doctors).
To make this almost surreal, the insurance companies are supposed to submit their 2015 premiums by the end of May 2014. Good guessing with that.
Neither of these results are the direct responsibility of the Administration, but of course, the result of the construction of the Affordable Care Act which is a Democratic responsibility.
To mitigate the impact of all this, the Administration could increase the Obamacare individual tax credit subsidies and/or again increase the transition payments to insurance companies designed to offset losses during the first year or two of the Law’s operation. However, taking such action presents an easy target for Republicans.
[Oh wait, there is one more problem. The cuts in Medicare payments to Medicare Advantage plans (Part. C) are likely to result in higher premiums and or lower benefits. The impact on seniors - some 30% of those on Medicare - will be apparent a few weeks before the November election]
Interestingly, these scenarios directly impact two groups of likely Democratic voters; the elderly and the young. Democrats may want to erect an alter to high inflation and low health care utilization for the next seven months.
Filed under: Healthcare, Politics, Social Security Tagged: 2015 Social Security COLA, Election day, open enrollment