US fails to support single mothers

In this article in The Nation, Greg Kaufman draws on a large body of research that shows that single mothers (and their children) living in the United States are far worse off than single mothers in other high-income countries. Income support and other forms of poverty alleviation are particularly weak for working single mothers and for those single mothers who are temporarily unemployed.

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Unburnable Fuel

The Economist came out with a very interesting and insightful article the other day. It pointed out that oil and other fossil fuel companies may be way over-valued. This is because companies are valued based on their reserves and markets treat them as if all their reserves are to be burned. However, this is not compatible with current climate change mitigation goals. Gas and oil companies have many more reserves in the ground than what is needed to warm the planet well beyond 2 degrees celsius, the near universally agreed danger mark. Therefore, in order to avoid the costs of burning this fuel is to leave some in the ground, but the risks of burning are not being calculated into company valuations. The Economist says that government-owned companies would be in the best position to act upon this in order to coordinate climate mitigation goals but they are doing just the opposite and providing a larger share of energy than private companies. It seems like a problem in which poor information among other things means that the market will not create an efficient outcome and for which there is no easy solution (at least that I can see.)

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Raising income taxes to encourage economic growth

This seemingly counter-intuitive argument is made by Andrew Fieldhouse in his article “How High Should Top Income Tax Rates Be? (Hint: Much Higher).” The article shows how little influence the majority of economists have had on recent fiscal policy. The article does not argue that higher tax rates do not have a negative impact on behavior, but that top tax rates are very low historically and they are well below the level that discourages economic activity by those at the top of the income scale. Fieldhouse argues that the negative impact of cutting spending in recent years has been greater than would be the impact of an equivalent increase in tax revenue from those in the highest income bracket.

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Fiscal policy is blamed for slowing the economy

The Fed and the Gov are at it again. The two butt heads admit policy regarding the sequester. The Federal Reserve cautions that tax increases coupled with spending cuts are restraining economic growth. Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, said he viewed the Fed’s more forceful remarks on the issue as criticism of Congress’ fiscal policies. “The Fed noted that the private economy is pushing ahead, but it is the government that is putting roadblocks in the way,” Naroff said. “That was as clear a shot at Congress as I have seen the Fed take.” As Naroff notes, since the recession the economy has been growing positively. Equity has been up and companies continue to generate signifigant revenue. However, with constant impending fiscal policy companies and investers are hesitant to spend when they are unsure of the fiscal future and how it will affect their business and spending. This is stagnating national economy in a time when it is prime to prosper.

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Minimum Wage vs. Employment

This articles discuses the ever present issue of minimum wage. In light of President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, author Robert Taylor voices his opinion on its negative impact on employment. Ultimately, he makes the argument that an increase in the minimum wage will lead to a decrease in hiring by companies. Taylor argues strongly against the intervention of government in dictating minimum wage and policies of a free market. As Taylor writes, in the free market, demand is a function of price; the higher the price, the lower the demand. By creating a price floor with minimum-wage laws, governments make it illegal for anyone to hire anyone else below an arbitrary amount. Taylor then makes a compelling argument that, wages, like prices, are not arbitrary numbers but are the result of millions of individuals’ economic choices in the marketplace and their subjective values they place on services and products. If the state, using the threat of force, bars wages below a certain arbitrary number (in Obama’s case, $9 per hour), the individuals who would add value at $6, $7, or $8 but not at $9 are prevented from being hired. This is an interesting point, but also seems to ask the question of whether this numbers are actually arbitrary as Taylor suggests or the result of market factors like inflation.

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As Pollution Worsens in China, Solutions Succumb to Infighting

This article proclaims that China is facing very serious pollution problems that are greatly affecting the health of their citizens. With China’s projected continual economic growth it is expected to have an increase in coal consumption and automobile sales, which will worsen the already severe pollution problems. The government has attempted to improve solution slightly, but have felt pressure from corporations to delay efforts to reduce coal consumption and pollution.  Specifically oil companies and power companies have been influencing these environmental policy debates and laws. These posses the question of how much pollution is worth the continued economic growth. Personally I believe that the government should institute pollution permits that can be bought and sold by companies and would regulate the amount of pollution a company could produce. If these regulations are enforced strictly this would help reduce pollution and provide incentives for companies to decrease pollution.

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Wide-reaching implications from Washington Sequester

I found this article to be very interesting. It provides examples of how the inability of those in Washington to come to an agreement is beginning to have an impact. This shows the trickle down effect and how those not directly involved with the sequester and other financial woes in Washington are starting to feel the crunch. Many believe that the sequester has been slowing down growth in the country.

here is the article:

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U.S. to Defend Age Limits on Morning-After Pill Sales

This article states how the Obama administration has recently taken actions eliminating the ability for women/girls/children under the age of 15 to purchase morning after pills-a form of birth control. In recent history the bill was banned for sale to young women without a prescription by the secretary of health and human services. This ruling ignores the FDA’s stance on the drug who believes it should be available everywhere and for everyone. The issue is being evaluated further by the FDA and members of the Justice Department. The decisions made on this policy will have many ethical implications. How do you feel about this topic?

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RAND Report Reducing Traffic Congestion In Los Angeles

City’s populations are growing at a faster rate than ever, especially in Southern California particularly Los Angeles as a result of economic growth. With more people traveling in and out of the city each month, traffic is continues to worsen in Los Angeles. For the majority of the last decade Los Angeles has been the most congested city in America. With that being said, citizens of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas drive more miles per year than any other area in the United States. This article provides policy recommendations to attempt to reduce congestion in Los Angeles. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. The demand for road space is much larger than the current supply that is being offered. One might think that expanding roadways around LA would simply increase the supply therefor reducing the demand. However, LA’s roadways are by far the most elaborate in the country already and there is little, if any, room to expand. 13 other recommendations are provided in the article, the most effective I believe would be to increasing “congestion pricing” which will charge drivers for traveling during peak hours on the most LA’s most congested roads.

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Preschool Funding Drops

Financing for preschool has dropped by $548  million dollars (roughly 10%) in the year 2011-2012. This is a discouraging statistic since education, especially at such a young age, is crucial for development. The United States are already falling behind other developed countries in terms of education so you would think that there would be increased funding of education so that the U.S. can remain competitive with other countries. Furthermore, the secretary of education said that children from low-income families start kindergarten an average of 12 to 14 months behind children from wealtheir families in language development and pre-reading skills. This statistic is also discouraging because it suggests that the people who need the most help in the country (less priveledged/poverty stricken) are not getting the help. It would also suggest that the lack of funding may cause an increase in inequality which is not a good thing considering the U.S. has a high rate of inequality based on the Gini Coefficients we have learned about in class.

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