July 2nd, 2015
I was thinking about the whole thing with the Greek default on my way in to work today.
According to Forbes, Greek debt costs them about 20% in annual interest charges and is 175% of their GDP (and that works out to 475% of their annual government revenue.)
UK and Germany pay 5% or less on their debt for comparison.
As I understand it, the interest charged is based on the probability that the debtor will default and be unable to pay their debt, and Greece's high interest rate is based on the probability of it's defaulting.
In other words, the banks, if they were doing their job correctly, have already planned for the possibility of Greek default, and have either insured against the loss, or can absorb the loss based on the interest payments that they have already collected and similar interest payments from loans that have not defaulted.
As far as Greece is concerned, bankruptcy will mean that they pay an enormous fee on any borrowing, if they can get it at all.
But right now, they pay 20% interest on 475% of their annual government revenue. Quick calculations indicate that they are paying 95% of their revenue into debt service. Now the numbers are likely a bit lower, since not all their debt is at 20% or higher, but a significant amount of the government revenue goes towards debt service.
If they default, they won't be able to borrow money, but with (conservatively) more than 75% of their revenue tied up in debt service currently, if they default, they won't need to borrow money. They can run the same services that they do now, with money left over.
So defaulting should be better for Greece, and should be accounted for by the banks.
What am I missing that makes this a crisis?
March 4th, 2015
Where Have All The Teachers Gone?
Been saying this for years now...
This is the canary in the coal mine.Sent from my SM-N900T using Tapatalk
Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation's largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It's down sharply in New York and Texas as well.
In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.
"The erosion is steady. That's a steady downward line on a graph. And there's no sign that it's being turned around," says Bill McDiarmid, the dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education.
Why have the numbers fallen so far, so fast?
McDiarmid points to the strengthening U.S. economy and the erosion of teaching's image as a stable career. There's a growing sense, he says, that K-12 teachers simply have less control over their professional lives in an increasingly bitter, politicized environment.
The list of potential headaches for new teachers is long, starting with the ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you've got the makings of a crisis.
The job also has a PR problem, McDiarmid says, with teachers too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media.
"It tears me up sometimes to see the way in which people talk about teachers because they are giving blood, sweat and tears for their students every day in this country. There is a sense now that, 'If I went into this job and it doesn't pay a lot and it's a lot of hard work, it may be that I'd lose it.' And students are hearing this. And it deters them from entering the profession."
While few dispute the shortage itself, Benjamin Riley, head of the group Deans for Impact, a new consortium of 18 reform-minded deans of colleges of education, thinks it's not yet clear why potential teachers are turning away.
"The honest answer is: We don't know. There is nothing that has been done rigorously, in a way that's empirically defensible saying, 'We know this is why the number has dropped,' " Riley says.
Isabel Gray is a senior art history major at Millsaps College in Mississippi. She is passionate about exploring a career in K-12 teaching. But, as graduation nears, she's also having second thoughts about a profession that, she feels, is obsessed with testing and standards.
"You want to find the right balance between being a really good teacher and still meeting those standards and not just teaching toward the test, really retaining that material and not just being taught, you know, testing strategies. And it's hard to find that balance. And there's just so much that's changing" in education, she says.
The teacher employment picture is, of course, local and regional. One part of a state may have too many elementary teachers, while another may have too few. And the gaps vary by specialty — with many places facing serious shortages in areas including science, math and special education.
Riley worries there may be a national mismatch that few are looking at deeply.
"The question, and one that needs to be empirically investigated, is 'Are we overproducing certain kinds of teachers school districts aren't looking for and under-producing certain types of teachers that schools and other types of employers are desperately looking for?' "
There are, of course, alternative teacher certification programs across the U.S. including Teach for America. But TFA, too, has seen large drops in enrollment over the past two years.
One possible path out of this crisis is to pay teachers more.
But, across the country, proposals to boost pay or give teachers merit pay have stalled or been scrapped altogether.
An analysis just out from Georgetown's Edunomics Lab argues that boosting class size for great teachers would save money that could then be funneled into bonuses for those educators taking on a larger load. The savings would come largely from a reduction in the overall teaching force, angering teachers unions and their allies.
Riley says his group, Deans for Impact, is all for giving teachers a raise — if it's tied to better training that leads to higher graduation rates and other improved student outcomes.
"If we could really take control of the profession and increase the rigor such that teachers are effective from Day 1, I think that will prove to the public at large that this is an investment worth making, and one worth increasing."
In spite of all the noise and politics, surveys show that public school teachers still believe it's an incredibly satisfying job helping children learn.
January 8th, 2015
I want to tread carefully here, and avoid overstepping forum boundaries.
But I have a proposal I think is worthy of debate.
We are all aware of the Paris murders at Charlie Hebdo...and their relation to the satire towards Islam.
Other violence has been done previously in many instances towards those who fail to exhibit proper respect to the Muslim icons of Koran, Mohammed etc.
And I don't denigrate those who find solace in Islam as a "religion of peace"
I think we as a civilization need to begin a systematic program of desensitization on these issues
and go forward full force in every venue to voice our complete DISRESPECT and utter hatred of Islam, the Koran, Mohammed etc.
Not because we actually hate them, but so that radical Muslims will become used to such statements and cease their violence;
since the wave of disrespect will become too much to respond to.
I hope I haven't violated forum rules by raising this proposal.
But I am serious and I think it may be a method of pushing back against the "walking on eggshells" approach to Muslim violence towards those who find fault or satire in that faith.
By: First Man
December 7th, 2014
Now we've got ourselves a conversation, First.
Acting under color of law is not the antithesis of negligent or malicious, First. In other words, acting under color of law does not preclude doing so in a negligent or reckless fashion.
So that isn't an argument in favor the police; I'm not trying to be an asshole, but this just doesn't make sense. Beyond that, whether an act is reckless is a determination made by a jury, not the Grand Jury.
Again, this is progress. It no doubt started as a half-nelson and no doubt turned into a chokehold. And that chokehold, according to your naked eye, as well as a medical examiner cause the death of Eric Garner. Those are the facts.
The "thrashing" (massively overstated though it may be) is an argument that is appropriately made at trial after a finding of probable cause. In other words, you're making an argument that is not the function of the grand jury. That's why we have trials.
You're talking about asphyxiation. I understand that Eric Garner did not asphyxiate. But I also understand that the hold in question killed him. That's all that matters for liability purposes, First, not how it killed him, but that it killed him.
"Thug" comment aside, what you've done here is make a conclusion on the ultimate criminality, or in your view, lack thereof of the officer's action. That is not what a grand jury does. It determines whether there is probable cause, that test is nearly identical to the standard warranting an arrest (very, very low standard).
So the problem here, First, is that a GJ suddenly becomes very, very stringent in determining PC when a cop is a putative defendant, and incredibly lax when it comes to, well everyone else (including and especially people of color). If this is John Q. Citizen and Jack Q. Citizen, we've got ourselves an indictment and a trial. Think about it, First, if an average citizen put another in a chokehold and he died as a result of that, is there any part of you that doubts that that person would be arrested? That's the standard we're talking about. And who knows what happens at a trial, but the point is we'd get one. That's why folks are pissed, and they're right to be. And you're right, people are emotional; and the reason why is the facts of this case are outrageous. The facts.
On edit: I want to be clear on what I mean when I say the hold 'caused' his death. In order to be criminally culpable, the act in question has to be both the cause in-fact (the literal cause) and the proximate cause (the legal cause) of death. The point in posting about the eggshell skull rule was to point out that one is still legally responsible for their negligence or reckless, or even intentional behavior even if such behavior would have killed/injured someone absent a pre-existing condition that was not known to the defendant. It's undisputed that the hold killed Garner, that is, it was the cause in-fact. In order for the hold not to be the legal cause of his death there would have to have been some intervening factor that essentially would negate the fact that the defendant's action would have killed Garner. It's important to note that there is no evidence of that. The only thing left is an argument similar to what First was saying, that Garner's movement caused his death. The thing is, as I've mentioned, that's an argument you make during a proceeding where witnesses and competing evidence are weighed and an ultimate determination of guilt or innocence is determined. A trial. There is no excuse for a no-true-bill here.
November 24th, 2014
I'm not much on sources say, but this time I'll make an exception, since more than one news outlet is reporting this.
Grand jury reaches decision in case of Ferguson officer
A grand jury has reached a decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson, Mo. police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager sparked days of turbulent protests, sources close to the process said.
News conferences are being prepared by the county prosecutors’ office and the Missouri governor, sources said. Those news conferences will likely come later today.
September 23rd, 2014
While researching something for a book I was writing, I stumbled upon a concept god had for the people of Israel. Not only did he tell his people to keep the sabbath day holy, but God commanded his people to rest the land every seven years. A sound environmental message to keep the land productive. And after seven times seven years, was to be the year of Jubilee. A time when not only the land to be given a rest, but a time when slaves were to be set free and all debts were to be wiped clean. A time when the poor burdened by debt could start over. This was discontinued once the temple had been destroyed.
During the time of Jesus when Israel was occupied by the Romans and wealthy merchants had the people bound by debt.
Jesus seems to be talking more than just forgiving people, he also talked about forgiving the poor of their debts. In the Lord's prayer it takes about the forgiveness of debts, not just the forgiving of sins. Jesus seemed to be talking about reinstating the jubilee.
If anyone needs a Jubilee, we as a nation needs a jubilee.
September 21st, 2014
There are more than 7 billion people on Earth now, and roughly one in eight of us doesn't have enough to eat. The question of how many people the Earth can support is a long-standing one that becomes more intense as the world's population—and our use of natural resources—keeps booming.
This week, two conflicting projections of the world's future population were released. As National Geographic's Rob Kunzig writes here, a new United Nations and University of Washington study in the journal Science says it's highly likely we'll see 9.6 billion Earthlings by 2050, and up to 11 billion or more by 2100. These researchers used a new "probabalistic" statistical method that establishes a specific range of uncertainty around their results. Another study in the journal Global Environmental Change projects that the global population will peak at 9.4 billion later this century and fall below 9 billion by 2100, based on a survey of population experts. Who is right? We'll know in a hundred years.
Population debates like this are why, in 2011, National Geographic published a series called "7 Billion" on world population, its trends, implications, and future. After years of examining global environmental issues such as climate change, energy, food supply, and freshwater, we thought the time was ripe for a deep discussion of people and how we are connected to all these other issues—issues that are getting increased attention today, amid the new population projections.
After all, how many of us there are, how many children we have, how long we live, and where and how we live affect virtually every aspect of the planet upon which we rely to survive: the land, oceans, fisheries, forests, wildlife, grasslands, rivers and lakes, groundwater, air quality, atmosphere, weather, and climate.
World population passed 7 billion on October 31, 2011, according to the United Nations. Just who the 7 billionth person was and where he or she was born remain a mystery; there is no actual cadre of census takers who go house to house in every country, counting people.Instead, population estimates are made by most national governments and international organizations such as the UN. These estimates are based on assumptions about existing population size and expectations of fertility, mortality, and migration in a geographic area.
We've been on a big growth spurt during the past century or so. In 1900, demographers had the world's population at 1.6 billion, in 1950 it was about 2.5 billion, by 2000 it was more than 6 billion. Now, there are about 7.2 billion of us.
In recent years we've been adding about a billion people every 12 or 13 years or so. Precisely how many of us are here right now is also a matter of debate, depending on whom you consult:The United Nations offers a range of current population figures and trends, the U.S. Census Bureau has its own estimate, and the Population Reference Bureau also tracks us.
The new UN study out this week projects that the world's population growth may not stop any time soon. That is a reversal from estimates done five years ago, when demographers—people who study population trends—were projecting that by 2045, world population likely would reach about 9 billion and begin to level off soon after.
But now, the UN researchers who published these new projections in the journal Science say that a flattening of population growth is not going to happen soon without rapid fertility declines—or a reduction in the number of children per mother—in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa that are still experiencing rapid population growth. As Rob Kunzig wrote for National Geographic, the new study estimates that "there's an 80 percent chance . . . that the actual number of people in 2100 will be somewhere between 9.6 and 12.3 billion."
A History of Debates Over Population
In a famous 1798 essay, the Reverend Thomas Malthus proposed that human population would grow more rapidly than our ability to grow food, and that eventually we would starve.
He asserted that the population would grow geometrically—1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32—and that food production would increase only arithmetically—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. So food production would not keep up with our expanding appetites. You might imagine Malthus' scenario on geometric population growth as being like compound interest: A couple have two children and those children each produce two children. Those four children produce two children each tomake eight, and those eight children each have their own two kids, leaving 16 kids in that generation. But worldwide, the current median fertility rate is about 2.5, (or five children between two couples) so, like compound interest, the population numbers can rise even faster.
Even though more than 800 million people worldwide don’t have enough to eat now, the mass starvation Mathus envisioned hasn't happened. This is primarily because advances in agriculture—including improved plant breeding and the use of chemical fertilizers—have kept global harvests increasing fast enough to mostly keep up with demand. Still, researchers such as Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Ehrlich continue to worry that Malthus eventually might be right.
Ehrlich, a Stanford University population biologist, wrote a 1968 bestseller called The Population Bomb, which warned of mass starvation in the 1970s and 1980s because of overpopulation. Even though he drastically missing that forecast, he continues to argue that humanity is heading for calamity. Ehrlich says the key issue now is not just the number of people on Earth, but a dramatic rise in our recent consumption of natural resources, which Elizabeth Kolbert explored in 2011 in an article called "The Anthropocene—The Age of Man."
As part of this human-dominated era, the past half century also has been referred to as a period of "Great Acceleration" by Will Steffen at International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. Besides a nearly tripling of human population since the end of World War II, our presence has been marked by a dramatic increase in human activity—the damming of rivers, soaring water use, expansion of cropland, increased use of irrigation and fertilizers, a loss of forests, and more motor vehicles. There also has been a sharp rise in the use of coal, oil, and gas, and a rapid increase in the atmosphere of methane and carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases that result from changes in land use and the burning of such fuels.
Measuring Our Rising Impact
As a result of this massive expansion of our presence on Earth, scientists Ehrlich, John Holdren, and Barry Commoner in the early 1970s devised a formula to measure our rising impact, called IPAT, in which (I)mpact equals (P)opulation multiplied by (A)ffluence multiplied by (T)echnology.
The IPAT formula, they said, can help us realize that our cumulative impact on the planet is not just in population numbers, but also in the increasing amount of natural resources each person uses. The graphic above, which visualizes IPAT, shows that the rise in our cumulative impact since 1950—rising population combined with our expanding demand for resources—has been profound.
IPAT is a useful reminder that population, consumption, and technology all help shape our environmental impact, but it shouldn’t be taken too literally. University of California ecologist John Harte has said that IPAT ". . . conveys the notion that population is a linear multiplier. . . . In reality, population plays a much more dynamic and complex role in shaping environmental quality."
One of our biggest impacts is agriculture. Whether we can grow enough food sustainably for an expanding world population also presents an urgent challenge, and this becomes only more so in light of these new population projections. Where will food for an additional 2 to 3 billion people come from when we are already barely keeping up with 7 billion? Such questions underpin a 2014 National Geographic series on the future of food.
As climate change damages crop yields and extreme weather disrupts harvests, growing enough food for our expanding population has become what The 2014 World Food Prize Symposium calls "the greatest challenge in human history."
September 5th, 2014
this has gotten a little bit of discussion in the media, but perhaps not enough..
it's something that was first stated by obama, and then most directly stated by biden.. when you do something to us (americans), we will first tend to our own, and then look to kill you. some good, honest, and well-deserved vengeance.
a bit nationalist, maybe even ultra-nationalist. then again, and given our enemy, so what?
does ISIS actually create these beheading videos with the intent of scaring americans, and leading them pressure the government to appease their demands? do militant islamists/terrorists understand that out of all the groups out there that we (as americans) don't like, we like them the least - to the point where we more or less believe they need to be killed, rather than appeased or negotiated with, or anything in between? if anything, this only makes us want to bomb them even more, and exterminate them as we would cockroaches or other vermin.
we'd like to see muslim countries and people step up to beat back this virulent ideology, and those who are infected by it. but, expecting them to get with the program is also something that we have very little faith in. we also owe these people nothing whatsoever, and we've given far too much.
it's time to mow the lawn..
While President Obama admits “we don’t have a strategy yet” and continues to send mixed messages about his ultimate objective in dealing with ISIS, one message from the American people is very clear:
They want war with ISIS. By a 4-1 margin.
August 19th, 2014
St. Louis Cops Shoot and Kill Man in Incident Near Ferguson
Two St. Louis city police officers shot and killed a man who came within several feet of them brandishing a knife on Tuesday in a confrontation a few miles from the turbulent suburb of Ferguson, authorities said.
The man, 23, had taken energy drinks and a package of pastries from a nearby convenience store, Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters. He said that the man was “acting erratically, walking back and forth, up and down the street.”
The chief said that the officers repeatedly ordered the man to drop the knife. The chief said the man answered: “Shoot me now. Kill me now.” He said the man moved toward one of the officers and came within 3 to 4 feet.
“One of the witnesses described it as a suicide by cop,” Dotson said.
August 18th, 2014
Very bad news, despite the little silver lining (in boldface below). In the Los Angeles Times written by Jim Puzzanghera:
More than a third of American adults have no retirement savings, and 14% of those ages 65 and older also haven’t put money away yet, according to a new study.
The low savings rate for people at or approaching retirement age is alarming, said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, which conducted the survey. The results were released Monday.
About a quarter — 26% — of those ages 50 to 64 haven't started saving for retirement, the survey said; the figure was 33% of people 30 to 49 years old.
36% of adults have no retirement funds saved
More than one-third of Americans haven't begun saving for retirement, a study says.
Overall, 36% of those 18 years or older have not started saving for retirement, according to the survey of 1,003 adults.
“They still have time to start, but they still have to save so much as a percentage of their income to make up for the years they weren’t saving that it puts them in a tough spot,” McBride said.
Savers have been hurt in recent years by historically low interest rates caused by the Federal Reserve’s attempts to stimulate the economy after the Great Recession.
The survey's findings were not all bad, McBride said. It indicated that younger people are starting to save earlier than in past generations.
Twice as many adults who are 30 to 49 years old started saving when they were in their 20s instead of waiting until their 30s, the survey said. Seniors were just as likely to have waited until they were in their 40s to start saving as they were to have started in their 20s, McBride said.
Greater awareness of the financial problems of Social Security is a main reason younger people have started earlier on their retirement plans, he said. Automatic enrollment in 401(k) plans also has helped people to start saving earlier.
This is the reason companies had pensions. Pushing savings on to the individual to handle will cause more harm to the society. Ultimately society will have to handle those who were unfortunate, unlucky, made risky choices etc.
“The burden for retirement savings is increasingly upon us as individuals, and people are aware of that,” McBride said.
Still, 69% of those 18 to 29 years old have no retirement savings, according to the survey.