Tuesday, March 29, 2011

10 Ex-Chairs: Unsustainable Budget Deficit a Threat to US

Ten ex-Chairs of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, including those who served under Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama, state:

As former chairmen and chairwomen of the Council of Economic Advisers, who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, we urge that the Bowles-Simpson report, “The Moment of Truth,” be the starting point of an active legislative process that involves intense negotiations between both parties. 

There are many issues on which we don’t agree. Yet we find ourselves in remarkable unanimity about the long-run federal budget deficit: It is a severe threat that calls for serious and prompt attention.
While the actual deficit is likely to shrink over the next few years as the economy continues to recover, the aging of the baby-boom generation and rapidly rising health care costs are likely to create a large and growing gap between spending and revenues. These deficits will take a toll on private investment and economic growth. At some point, bond markets are likely to turn on the United States — leading to a crisis that could dwarf 2008.

“The Moment of Truth” documents that “the problem is real, and the solution will be painful.” It is tempting to act as if the long-run budget imbalance could be fixed by just cutting wasteful government spending or raising taxes on the wealthy. But the facts belie such easy answers.

The commission’s recommendations for slowing the growth of government health care expenditures — the central cause of our long-run deficits — are incomplete. It proposes setting spending targets and calls for a process to suggest further reforms if the targets aren’t met. But it also lays out a number of concrete steps, like increasing the scope of the new Independent Payment Advisory Board and limiting the tax deductibility of health insurance.

To be sure, we don’t all support every proposal here. ...

Yet we all strongly support prompt consideration of the commission’s proposals. The unsustainable long-run budget outlook is a growing threat to our well-being. Further stalemate and inaction would be irresponsible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day!


Links of Interest

Been sitting on these for a few days thinking I would write up something about one or the other. But, facing the truth, I have to say I don't have time to write an essay on them right now. So, I shall tuck them into this cubbyhole for future reference.

Hope. Change. Nixon. Don Surber notes some similarities, and that others are noting them as well.

The Leiter Side of Union Thuggery. James Taranto takes on unions and a pro-union philosopher.

The Limits of Common Sense. A follow up post by Taranto. (Mug tip here to Instapundit.)

Longhorns 17, Badgers 1. Iowahawk puts the funny down for a post to teach Paul Krugman about statistics and education (and why education outcomes in non-unionized educational systems are as good as or better than those in unionized systems). He follows up with answers to questions about statistics and methodology in Badgering the Witless.

And an interesting reprint of an article on cultural revolution in the art world (or, at least, a revolutionary group): Adieu to the Avant-Garde.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Will College Pay Off?

I've always been told that college graduates earn more than those who only finish high school, but after I got my BA I began to wonder. Surely, which major you pick plays a big role in how much you earn, right? There is also the issue of causation. Does earning the degree cause the rise in pay, or do the qualities that helped you earn the degree pay off?

Here's a snippet from the WSJ's Mary Pilon on the topic:

One problem he sees with the estimates: They don't take into account deductions from income taxes or breaks in employment. Nor do they factor in debt, particularly student debt loads, which have ballooned for both public and private colleges in recent years. In addition, the income data used for the Census estimates is from 1999, when total expenses for tuition and fees at the average four-year private college were $15,518 per year. For the 2009-10 school year, that number has risen to $26,273, and it continues to increase at a rate higher than inflation.

So, there's a different problem altogether. Income estimates should certainly take major into account, and unless we track some other factors, it should be noted that this data is merely correlative.

Check Your Charity

Andrea Coombes offers some useful advice for checking out charitable organizations before donating. Very timely, too. In addition to many practical tips for detecting fraud, she offers the following websites:

Whether you plan to text your donation or mail a check, make sure the charity is an established organization. Go to sites such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance to vet the charity.


File any fraud complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center . Known as IC3, the Center is a partnership of the FBI, National White Collar Crime Center and Bureau of Justice Assistance. Also, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 to report the fraud.