Saturday, September 29, 2012

Apologies to Ben Franklin---No, sir, we cannot keep our Republic but thanks for trying. See chart here of voters not likely to vote if the weather is bad...

Let me express the sentiment of the worst Americans in the country:

"Nahhh, I am not going to vote. I can't decide who I want to vote for ("who's running again?) plus I hear it is going to rain.  Think I will just stay home, lay on the couch, eat some Cheetos and watch Jerry Springer re-runs. Yeah, that's what I gonna do." Go 'Merica...

Apologies to Ben Frankin---no, sir, we cannot keep our Republic but thanks for trying....

Source: The Weather Channel

The increase in usage of Smartphones by parents is causing more children to go to emergency rooms for injuries. This is not a good trend and a nice expample of an unintended consequence that has a real cost to society

An interesting study in whether "correlation is causation". 

The Perils of Texting While Parenting

This article in the WSJ suggests that there has been a significant increase in the number of children requiring hospital visits for "non-fatal" injuries since 2007, due to the increase usage of Smartphones. 

This comes after a decade of DECLINE in the number of non-fatal injuries.
"Nonfatal injuries to children under age five rose 12% between 2007 and 2010, after falling for much of the prior decade, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on emergency-room records.  
The number of Americans 13 and older who own a smartphone such as an iPhone or BlackBerry has grown from almost 9 million in mid-2007, when Apple introduced its device, to 63 million at the end of 2010 and 114 million in July 2012, according to research firm comScore. "
The article stops short of making a direct correlation.
"Childhood-injury specialists say there appear to be no formal studies or statistics to establish a connection between so-called device distraction and childhood injury. "What you have is an association," says Dr. Gary Smith, founder and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Being able to prove causality is the issue.... It certainly is a question that begs to be asked." 
 However, data from the CDC might shed some light in the relationship.
""Statistics from the government's Consumer Product Safety Commission, which tracks injuries by product type, show children are getting hurt more during activities and at ages that would seem to warrant close supervision. Injuries involving playground equipment among children under five jumped 17% between 2007 and 2010, after trending down the previous five years, the commission said. Injuries involving nursery equipment such as changing tables were up 31% among children under five over that period, after declining over five years. Injuries involving swimming pools climbed 36% in that age group after a slight increase over the prior five years.""
Next time you are at a playground or in a Chuck E. Cheese, look around at the parents. 
What are they doing??  Makes you think...
Here are the graphs that accompanied the article:


Thursday, September 27, 2012

THE source of Middle Class income stagnation in the US in one easy graphic...

Ok, maybe not the source, but this HAS to be strongly considered.

Employer contributions to a workers heathcare plan are considered a "non-wage" form of compensation. The employee does not pay it, the employer does.

As you can see from this graphic, not only has the employee portion of their healthcare premiums increased significantly since 2000 (which they pay out of there earned income/wages), but the employer contributions on behalf of the employee (which the employee NEVER sees) has also increased dramatically. 

Source: Wall Street Journal
More of the firms money that goes into non-wage benefit compensation is not available to give raises or to hire more people.

Each employee becomes more expensive in wage + non-wage compensation.  Firms hire fewer workers "at the margin" and/or there is less money available for employee compensation.

A source (not necessarily THE source) of income and employment stagnation in the last 12 years for the Middle Class?

Seems somewhat reasonable to me. What do you think? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Opportunity Costs of Cell Phones---entertainment, movie, restaurant spending down. TANSTAAFL..Sigh...

Excellent example of Opportunity Costs---if you spend money on one thing you cannot spend it on something else.  Pretty elementary, but important to understand when you look at the "unseen" effects of those decisions on the industries that are potentially hurt:

Cell Phones Are Eating the Family Budget
"Government data show people have spent more on phone bills over the past four years, even as they have dialed back on dining out, clothes and entertainment—cutbacks that have been keenly felt in the restaurant, apparel and film industries."

"Melinda Tuers, an accounting clerk at a high school in Redlands, Calif., said she already pays close to $300 a month for her family's four smartphones. She and her husband have cut back on dining out, special events and concerts to make room for the bigger phone bill."

"But some question where the money for that data will come from. Americans spent $116 more a year on telephone services in 2011 than they did in 2007, according to the Labor Department, even as total household expenditures increased by just $67.

Meanwhile, spending on food away from home fell by $48, apparel spending declined by $141, and entertainment spending dropped by $126. The figures aren't adjusted for inflation."

Here is a nice graphic to illustrate the trade-offs, resulting in Opportunity Costs, people are making over time:

Source: Wall Street Journal

Nice graphic showing US exports of grains compared to other geographic areas. Our "BreadBasket" produces, well, lots of bread...

Productivity in the US agricultural sector is amazing.

This graphic shows how much, in millions of tons, the US Exports in various grains (corn, rice, barley, wheat, oats, etc) compared to the the next 4 largest competitors.

Keep in mind this is not total production, but just that part of domestic production that is sold to foreigners.   In the case of the US, we use about 2/3 of our land to produce grains for domestic consumption and 1/3 of the land is used for the export of grains.

Source: Big Picture Agriculture.
Our exports alone equal (approx) the exports of the European Union, Canada, Ukraine and Australia COMBINED. 

US farmers are pretty good at combining the economic resources of Land, Labor, and Capital (physical capital and technology) to produce food---for our own citizens and the rest of the world as well.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nice graphic showing the component costs of the new i-Phone 5. How cheap it is to make is a testament to the global supply chain...

A breakdown of the cost of the component parts of the new i-Phone. 

The first graphic compares the new version with the previous version. 

The second one is the cost of the components according to the number of Gigabytes.

Remember, these are just component parts, not other costs such and R&D, marketing, transportation, on and on...

Source: Wall Street Journal

Source: isuppli

Nice Cartoon and explanation using Solar Panels to illustrate a concept called "Conspicuous Conservation".

This cartoon illustrates a concept I heard discussed in a Freakonomics Podcast: "Conspicuous Conservation and The Prius Effect"---It means people tend to purchase/consume a good or service primarily if others see them (or are overtly aware) do so. 

A good deal of satisfaction ("Utility")  derived from consuming the good/service comes from the recognition or affirmation of others. 

This may not matter much in most cases. So what if you want to be known as environmentally aware? You have done a good deed and others explicitly  know about it.  No harm, no foul, right?

In the Podcast mentioned above, the researchers give an example of how this can actually be inefficient and detrimental.

In Southern California people are getting lots of solar panels installed on their homes. Good thing.

However, in many cases installers recommended, for maximum efficiency and sun exposure, the solar panels be installed on a section of the house that was not visible from the street. 

The homeowners protested and had them instead install them on the front of the house, presumably so their neighbors, and others, would see them.

Not efficient, but "Conspicuous".

I highly recommend this podcast found HERE.
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