Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Piketty’s Charge

And the battle rages on … Paul Krugman  responded in Sunday’s New York Times to an accusation by Chris Giles of the  Financial Times, that conclusions presented in Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century are not supported by the data. Krugman asserts that Giles is misunderstanding (misrepresenting?) the nature of the data and the arguments involved. While Krugman takes pains not to accuse Giles of being a mouthpiece of the wealthy,  he does call upon those who criticize what he calls the consensus about growing wealth disparity to ask themselves their motives.  I suspect that this will not be the last volley in this economic Gettysburg — which represents a much larger historical struggle about wealth and justice in America.

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Data. Lots of it.

Did you know that one easy way to get quick access to lots of free government data on many subjects is through the US Census Bureau homepage?  Just go to the Bureau’s page via our Database A-Z list (or go to their URL directly) and then click on ‘Index A to Z’ in the upper right. You’ll get a prodigious alphabetical list of topics for which statistics are available, ranging from Advance Monthly Retail Sales to Child Support to Health Insurance to Small Business Statistics. The Census site is not just about people — it can be a shortcut to finding data you need without trying to figure out what part of the Government provides it.

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Obama’s Campaign = Big Data Win (& Plug for Academics)

Yesterday’s WSJ article reiterates how Obama won his re-election campaign – it was all about the # crunching. NYTimes and CNN also reported on the “academic ‘dream team'” that fought & won using brains well-versed in social & data science. Set up news alerts on your topical interests using Factiva.

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Bernanke Before and After

It’s often said that professors live in ivory towers, so it was refreshing to see an opposing view in the New York Times this week— from a Nobel laureate in Economics, no less.  Paul Krugman argued Tuesday that Ben Bernanke put forth better ideas as a professor than he does as the fed chair.  Read the article and decide for yourself.

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Daniel Bell (1919-2011)

Just reading of the passing of Daniel Bell, influential sociologist, cultural commentator and author, who has died at the age of 91.  I’m always impressed by the number of intellectuals who came out of City College in New York in the ’30s  — reads like a Who’s Who of American 20th century political thinkers.  Even down to the famous cafeteria mentioned in Bell’s  New York Times  obit,  where different political junkies sorted themselves out by affiliation in different parts of the room.  Especially like Bell’s account of his bar mitzvah;  it reads like a joke by Woody Allen  —  who, incidentally, also attended City College for a time.

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Cup of Hot Priced Chocolate

On a cold rainy day like today a nice hot cup of coco would be the best thing. International news has been weighted with news about political unrest in the Ivory Coast. Many people probably think that problem is thousands of miles away? Well it’s actually impacting the price I pay for my hot chocolate. Cocoa prices have been rising as the situation in the Ivory Coast intensifies. The Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa in the world at 46%. Both sides in the conflict are beginning to come together as noted in the Blood Chocolate article published by Business Insider. That being said this comes after the price of cocoa has risen drastically over the past few months. Read more on the impact of cocoa on western Africa in the new book Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa.

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Business of Corrections

It is widely known that some laws are drafted by special interest groups, at times law makers don’t have the time, staff or background knowledge to compile a law that covers everything that needs to be addressed. NPR in an investigative report on the background behind the Arizona Immigration Law has surfaced the fact that a report entitled Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act eventually became Arizona Senate Bill 1070 on immigration. The report was written by a private company in the corrections field named Corrections Corporation of America and in market research CCA sees the potential for rapid large scale growth in immigrant detention which is overseen by the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. You can read more about NPRs findings and how they unraveled who was involved in drafting Bill 1070 in the report Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law.

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