Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Best of BeeLine-2016

When you publish almost 120 blog posts in a year, some are going to be more popular than others with readers, some are going to be remembered more fondly by the author and some should undoubtedly have never been written in the first place.

Here is a Top 10 List for the Best of BeeLine for 2016. The first 5 were the most popular posts I wrote during the year based on the number of views. The second 5 are those posts are a few of my personal favorites.

If you missed reading these "favorites" the first time around, here's another opportunity to get to "the shortest route to what you need to know" to start 2017 off right.

January 1, 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of BeeLine. In those six years I have written 719 blog posts. BeeLine also saw more readership in 2016 than ever before thanks in part to the interest in the election. The months of October-December, 2016 had the most views of any quarter in BeeLine history. However, the interest in BeeLine seems to extend beyond the election considering that December, 2016 was the third highest single month for readership in those six years!

If you enjoy BeeLine, please pass a recommendation on to your friends and family. I enjoy writing it but it is a lot easier to sit down, research and write when I know more are reading what I write.

If you want to make sure you don't miss a post, consider putting yourself on the BeeLine email list. You will receive an email the first thing in the morning when I post a new piece. You can sign up in the upper right hand corner on this page. You will receive a follow-up email (from FeedBurner) that you will need to confirm to begin delivery.

Thank you to all my loyal BeeLine readers and Happy New Year to each one of you!

The Best of BeeLine-2016

Most Views

Has The Fourth Turning Brought Us Trump?

Could a book written in 1997 predict the emergence and election of President-elect Donald Trump? I showed how Trump fit the Presidential profile that voters were looking for in a "Crisis" period we are in. It turns out I was right.

200 Years of History?

The Democrat party states on its website that "for more than 200 years, our party has led the fight for civil rights". That might be persuasive to a potential voter who has never opened a History textbook but it bears no resemblance to the truth.

Trump: Closing the Sale

My advice to Donald Trump on what he should do to "close the sale" with voters heading into the first of the three debates. He did not follow my script to the letter but he did what he had to do to win in the end.

How a Supermarket Visit Brought Down the Soviet Union

You might have heard that the Soviet Union collapsed because it could not compete with the defense spending of the United States. However, the real catalyst may have actually been a visit to a Houston supermarket by Boris Yeltsin in 1989.

Debt and Destiny

How much debt does the United States have and who is it owed to? A revealing look at the federal debt and what it means for our destiny.

My Personal Favorites

Context on Guns

Putting gun violence in the United States in context. Context is truly everything when assessing anything.

The Renter Generation

Millennials don't want to "own it", they would rather "rent it". Housing. Cars. Relationships. They like flexibility and are uncomfortable with commitment. They even seem willing to "rent" their vote for short term interests rather than their long term future.

Tax Times Two

You pay taxes but do you have any idea how many people are being supported by your tax dollars? In effect, every private sector American worker is working for themselves... and someone else.

Pointing to Change

If you are still having a tough time understanding how Donald Trump won the Presidential election, look at these 10 charts that highlight major indicators over the last 8 years. They all were pointing to change.

Who Wants A Used BlackBerry?

BlackBerry did not change and adapt to the new world it found itself in. In many respects, the story of BlackBerry is symbolic when compared to one of its most ardent devotees---Hillary Rodham Clinton. Nobody wants a used BlackBerry. This blog post asked the question of why would anyone vote for Clinton? It would be like buying a used BlackBerry.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hillbilly Heaven and Hell

Hillbilly Elegy has been riding near the top of the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list for 21 weeks.

It is the true life story of a young Yale law school graduate who grew up in a poor, white family with Appalachian roots in a Rust Belt town in southwestern Ohio. It is a story that is both sobering and inspiring at the same time.

The book was a thoughtful Christmas gift from close friends and it had special significance to me as I lived and worked in the same town that author J.D.Vance grew up in----Middletown, Ohio--- for 13 years.

When I picked up the book I must admit I did not know what an elegy was. For those who are similarly unaware of the difference between an elegy and a eulogy here is how it is explained at

It is common to see both of these words used during a funeral, but eulogy vs. elegy have different meanings. An Elegy is a mournful poem or song written about someone who has recently died. A Eulogy is a laudatory speech or written tribute praising someone who has recently died.

As I read the book I kept coming back to why Vance had chosen that title. An elegy is clearly considered to be more a work of art than a eulogy and therefore would seem to be more appropriate in the title of a book. The more important difference, however, is that Vance is mournful in the book. First of all, to his late grandmother who was the one steadying influence on his life. However, throughout the book you also see him mourning what has happened to the Rust Belt but also the fatal flaws in the Appalachian culture and lifestyle that has exacerbated their economic plight in America.

At the center of all of this is the Appalachian "culture of honor" that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his book, "Outliers". People from the Appalachian region have a reputation as hard workers who don't readily take hand-outs and are fiercely loyal to the people they are close to. However, it also means that they are also all too "willing to fight in response to even the slightest challenge to their reputation"  and "a world where a man's reputation is at the center of his livelihood and self-worth." This can and does often manifest itself with disastrous consequences in personal and work relationships.

Vance's life story began when his newly married teenage grandparents left the hollers of Jackson, Kentucky in search of a better life. His grandfather found work in Middletown, Ohio at the Armco Steel plant right after the war. Armco was the same company that I spent over 20 years of my life working for. His "Papaw" worked in the steel mill. I worked in the Corporate Tax department.

Middletown Works
Owned by AK Steel (formerly Armco Inc.)

As Vance points out in the book, there was a class divide in Middletown between white and blue collar workers. However, that divide was in no way as large as what he later found when he went to law school at Yale in New Haven or lived in Washington, DC or San Francisco. Middletown was a city of about 50,000 people and we all shopped in the same stores, we ate in the same restaurants and our kids played together in the same Little League and youth soccer leagues. You find far less class interaction in most coastal cities.

The big difference in the life of J.D. Vance and my kids (who were just slightly older) was what happened in the home. Vance was constantly uprooted as his mother went through a series of bad relationships. During his school years he had as many as eight "stepdads" of one form or another. He was shuttled from one home to another. His mother struggled with drug addiction and anger issues. The only steady influence was his "Mamaw" who was a consistent source of love and support to J.D. although she was not anything like the grandmothers that my children knew. Unlike Mamaw they did not carry a gun and say to their grandchildren, "You know I love you but I'm just a crazy bitch" or "I'm sorry I'm so damned mean."

All of this is summed up by the many contradictions that Vance lists in the Hillbilly culture. The family loyalty, the glorification of self reliance and the respect for their roots all make their world a little slice of heaven in some respects. However, the walk does not often match the talk according to Vance.

They know they should not spend to improve their status, but they do it anyway. They end up mired in debt and in bankruptcies.

They choose not to work when they should be looking for a job.

Sometimes they get a job but it will not last because of tardiness or laziness. When they lose their job they convince themselves it is due to some perceived unfairness.

They did not study in school and know that it is one of the reasons they cannot get ahead but they don't make their children study when they are parents.

They may have had to suffer abuse as a child with a parent who had an addiction problem but they also succumb to addictions as parents themselves. The cycle continues from generation to generation.

Of course, Vance says "we" rather than "they" when he writes about these problems. He is the first to admit that the demons of his life continue to chase him despite his new station.

Even after you read the story of J.D. Vance you have to marvel at how he succeeded where so many others failed.

You see the small signs here and there in the book of things that made a difference along the way as he was growing up. The consistent support from his grandmother. A protective older sister. Religion. An interest in reading. A curiosity about exploring new things. Several supportive teachers. A job as a cashier in a local supermarket. Work at a country club.

A huge factor was his decision to forego college right after high school to enlist with the United States Marine Corp for a four-year hitch. He realized that he was not ready for the challenge of college at that time nor to take on the necessary student debt. Therefore, he gained added maturity, discipline and perspectives before he entered college at Ohio State University in addition to GI Bill benefits.

Choices do make a difference in people's lives. Vance made good choices.

From there it was on to Yale Law School and a world far, far removed from anything he ever thought possible. It truly was the difference between heaven and hell for the self-described Hillbilly.

When reading Hillbilly Elegy I could not keep from thinking about the similarities in this book to those of Barack Obama when he wrote Dreams from My Father shortly after he graduated from Harvard Law School.

In both cases you have young men in their early 30's writing memoirs. Both graduated from elite law schools. Both were products of broken homes. Both had no father and a largely absent mother in their lives. Both had grandmothers who stepped in to provide needed stability and support in their lives.

Who knows whether J.D.Vance will accomplish anything as extraordinary as Barack Obama did in being elected President of the United States.

However, he has already accomplished far, far more than most would ever dream of. In that respect, this is a a great story that demonstrates that the American Dream is still alive. Unfortunately, this story also shows that too many are also living an American Nightmare.

Vance struggles to provide the answers to solving the problems that he identifies. I can't fault him for that. Millions of people with good intentions and billions of dollars have also failed.

In the end, Vance suggests it is probably not the big government programs that matter the most but the small interactions from people that care that can make a difference. He quotes a friend who worked in the White House for a time and cares deeply for the plight of the working class.

The best way to look at this might be to recognize that you probably can't fix these things. They'll always be around. But maybe you can put your thumb on the scale a little for the people at the margins.

Vance admits that there were many thumbs on his scale from a range of people.

Think about that in 2017. Lend a hand (or thumb) when you can for someone who could use some help. It might make all the difference in the world for someone.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Falling, Christians Rising

You have to wonder how much longer Christmas will be celebrated in Europe.

This week's terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin killed 12 and injured 56.

Who would have thought a decade or two ago that a nativity scene would need armed guards?

Heavily-armed police guard the nativity scene at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England
Credit: David Parker, Daily Mail

There are now close to 50 million Muslims in Europe. About half of those are in the EU countries that include Germany, France, Sweden etc.

Paris is now the home to more than 2 million Muslims.

There are more than 1 million Muslims in London. The mayor of London is a Muslim and Mohammed is now the most popular name in the United Kingdom.

Muslims made up about 6% of the population of Germany even before it starting welcoming hordes of Muslim refugees. In 2015, an estimated 1 million Muslim refugees entered Germany. I could not find a reliable estimate for the total in 2016 but arrivals of refugees by sea alone has exceeded 300,000.

Let's put that number in context.

There are less than 1.5 million Jews in Europe. By comparison, there were almost 10 million Jews in Europe in 1939. Do you begin to get a better idea of why there is little support for Israel in Europe or the United Nations anymore?

There are an estimated 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States.

The other striking fact about the numbers of refugees in Europe is the proportion of them that are male. A UN report stated that 75% of the Muslim refugees last year were "young, fit, males." Only 12% were children and 13% were female.

As Mark Steyn observed in looking at those statistics,

"That's not the demographic distribution of fleeing refugees, but of an invading army."

Indeed, that is the problem in Europe. Demography is destiny. Europe's destiny is being determined right now. The Europe we have known in our lifetimes increasingly looks like it will be a distant memory in the not too distant future.

Based on current trends, it is only a matter of time before Europe will be subsumed by the Muslim invasion. How long it will take may depend on how long it takes to get more Muslim women to join the Muslim men in Europe.

On the other side of the world there is something just as startling occurring.

The rise of Christianity in China.

A church service in China
Credit: Jason Lee, Reuters

Religion was outlawed in Communist China during the ruling tenure of Mao Tse Tung. The People's Republic of China is still officially an atheist nation but the role of religion has been changing rapidly in that country since the death of Mao in 1976.

China only had 1 million Christian Protestants in 1949. By 2010, it had 58 million Protestants. Professor Fenggang Yang, a professor at Purdue University and an expert on religion in China, predicts that in less than ten years China will have more Protestants (160 million) than there will be in the United States.

Yang further predicts that by 2030 "China's total Christian population, including Catholics, would exceed 247 million, placing it above Mexico, Brazil and the United States as the largest Christian congregation in the world."

All of this has not gone unnoticed by the Communist Party in China where Christians are now said to outnumber members of the party. This is more than a little troubling to the Communist leaders.

This has led Chinese authorities to begin new crackdowns on the churchgoers by passing laws that criminalize Christians if they do not pledge allegiance to the state.  The government is also dictating that all religions have to become "Chinese" to try to bring them under state control. This seems directed at the astounding Protestant church growth. The Catholic Church long ago entered into a doctrine of appeasement with the Chinese government so it is not the thorn in the side that the Protestants are.

It will be interesting to see what the next couple of decades bring. Nobody knows for sure where it all leads. In Europe or in China.

However, it appears there will far fewer Christmas celebrations in Europe and far more in China than we have become accustomed to.

Merry Christmas to all...wherever you are!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Electoral College Elucidation

The electoral college meets today to cast its votes for President of the United States.

There seem to be many Americans who do not understand the logic behind the electoral college and the genius of our Founders in devising this system of electing our President.

I still recall my son coming home from school some 20 years ago with a homework assignment from his 6th grade teacher asking him to write a letter to Congress asking that body to vote for a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college and replace it with a popular election vote . She had taken it upon herself to have the entire class take this project on as a way to "teach" them about the U.S. Constitution.

Needless to say, this was not teaching. It was her attempt to indoctrinate her students with her point of view. I was not pleased and I sent a note back to her telling her that my son would not participate in the assignment. In my view, the electoral college was just fine. After all, our country is called "The United States of America" for a reason.

It might be time for a little electoral college elucidation for those not familiar with all the other reasons why we don't use the popular vote for President/Vice President.

Our founders had very good reasons to adopt the electoral system of electing our President/Vice President instead of by popular vote.

Article 2, Sec.1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the method of choosing electors.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Our founders were very distrustful of a full democracy. That is why they established the constitutional republic that we have.

The reason was simple. A democracy can be very susceptible to the whims and impulses of the general public. A democracy is also likely to run roughshod over minority rights. These concerns were at the heart of almost every decision made in writing our Constitution.

I have written about this previously, including one of my favorite blog posts of all time, "Improper and Wicked Projects". If you have not read it before, you should. It might actually shock you on how well our Founders understood human nature.  Power, politics, greed, fallibilities, bias, conflicting interests, oppression. There is nothing going on today that they did not anticipate.

Because of theses concerns it made sense to place an intermediary group of electors between the popular vote and the election of the President in order to protect against these risks. It was also important that this group of electors would be independent of any pre-established body like the legislature.

Alexander Hamilton wrote Federalist Paper #68 that explained the reasoning behind "The Mode of Electing the President".

It seems a little ironic today with all the outpouring of love for Alexander Hamilton by the liberal left (largely based on the popular Broadway play), and its criticism of the electoral college process, that Hamilton was the chief defender of the electoral college in the Federalist Papers.

It is also ironic that Hamilton stated that the electoral college method laid out in the constitution was probably the least criticized section in the entire document as ratification was being discussed by the various states. This is how he began Federalist Paper #68.

THE mode of appointment of the Chief Magistrate of the United States is almost the only part of the system, of any consequence, which has escaped without severe censure, or which has received the slightest mark of approbation from its opponents. 

This is how Hamilton went on to explain the key points of the electoral college system.

First, he explained why it was important for the people to have a vote in the process even though that role would only be to delegate the final choice to an independent body free of conflicts. Note also that no elected official may serve as an elector. The electors were also expected to apply discernment and reason to their choice. This is the argument that the anti-Trump people use in trying to get the Trump electors to vote for someone else and be so-called "Faithless Electors".
It was desirable that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any pre-established body, but to men chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.

The electors would, as is the case in other aspects of our republican government, provide an additional level of discernment and investigation as well as insuring that the vote is not a pure popularity contest but one in which a majority of the union of states is supportive of. They wanted to insure that the President was elected by the United States, not just the people from several states with large populations.
It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. 
Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.

Our founders were particularly concerned about the danger of the legislature being too beholden to one of their own and any possible corruption in the election of the President as well as possible influence in the election by foreign governments. This is another reason for the electoral college and the focus on the decentralization of the vote by each state's electors rather than by popular vote or by a vote in the legislative body as would be the case in a parliamentary system.
Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. 
The business of corruption, when it is to embrace so considerable a number of men, requires time as well as means. Nor would it be found easy suddenly to embark them, dispersed as they would be over thirteen States, in any combinations founded upon motives, which though they could not properly be denominated corrupt, might yet be of a nature to mislead them from their duty.
The concern was so great about the centralization of power and the risk of pressure being brought to bear on the electoral body that the Constitution even requires that the electors meet in their respective states rather than in one central location. There is little doubt that the Founders would be horrified of the attention and abuse the electors are receiving from anti-Trump liberals leading up to the electoral vote. Everything they did was to prevent something like this as explained below.

Article 2, Sec. 1, Clause 3

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot...

Again, there was a rationale for this by the Founders as well. They believed that having the electors vote at one time and in one place for the President presented too much risk for turmoil.

And as the electors, chosen in each State, are to assemble and vote in the State in which they are chosen, this detached and divided situation will expose them much less to heats and ferments, which might be communicated from them to the people, than if they were all to be convened at one time, in one place.

It is clear that one of the reasons that the Founders preferred the electoral college was that they were concerned that the people of the 18th century would not have a good sense of the character and qualifications of the candidates for President. Most would never see or hear the candidates in person. They could not truly judge their suitability in an age with no radio, television or internet. That is why it made sense to have the added comfort of electors who might know the candidates better to insure that the President is up to the job.

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. 

Of course, in the media age of today this no longer is the issue it was in the 18th century. Candidates are in the public eye and are subject to constant media scrutiny. Voters do not have the same reason to not know who they are voting for. This is where the argument for the anti-Trump forces that want to cite Hamilton in encouraging "Faithless Electors" falls apart.

If this was the only reason for the electoral college there would be a good argument to disband it and move to a popular vote.

However, the bigger reason for the electoral college involves the issue of decentralization and the importance of state rights in our governance. After all, as I told my son's teacher 20 years ago, we are The United States of America for a reason.

We are hearing a lot today that the electoral college is unfair because it diminishes the large states like California and New York and provides advantages to smaller states. However, this was also the case in 1787 as it is today. In fact, small states actually had bigger advantages at the beginning of our nation than they do today.

For example, California and New York (per the 2010 census on which current electoral votes are determined by) have a population of about 57 million. That is 18.4% of the total population and provides 84 electoral votes out of 538 electors (15.6%). However, Wyoming and the District of Columbia barely have 1 million in population between them (3/10 of 1% of total U.S. population) but they each get 3 electoral votes (1.1% of the total for their combined 6 electoral votes out of the 538 total).

However, in the first U.S. census (1790) after the Constitution was ratified, the two largest states in the union, Virginia and Pennsylvania had about 33% of the population and had 36 of 132 electoral votes (27%) in the Presidential election of George Washington in 1792 . On the other hand, Rhode Island and Delaware similarly only had 3/10th of 1% of the total U.S population at that time but their electoral votes were equal to about 5% of total electoral votes.

It should be noted that one of the reasons that Virginia was hurt in its allocation of electoral votes was because the Founders penalized states that had slaves. States with a slave population (the only state with no slaves counted in the 1790 census was Massachusetts. New York had 21,000 slaves, almost as many as Georgia's 29,000) were only given credit for 3/5 of this population for purposes of seats in the House of Representatives and the electoral college.

You get a real sense of why the Founders designed Constitution the way they did when you see the 2016 election results presented this way.

Or this way in a county by county graphic. Trump won 2,626 counties. Clinton won 487.

They wanted a President of the United States of America. Not of two or three large states. Or a dozen big cities.

The electoral college makes sure that this is what happens.

In 2016 we are seeing what our Founders were thinking in 1787. Again, there was almost nothing they did not anticipate.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Tale of Two States

Would you rather live in California or West Virginia?

California is the state with thousands of miles of oceanfront property, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Aerial view of San Francisco, CA

West Virginia is the state with thousands of miles of twisting roads through mountainous terrain, shuttered coal mines, the Kanawha Valley, Charleston, Huntington and Morgantown. Charleston, the largest city in West Virginia, has a population of just over 50,000. Charleston would not be anywhere near the top 100 cities by population in California.

Aerial view of Charleston, WV

You would think that California's natural advantages would see people flocking to the Golden State.

You would also think that people could not get out of the Mountaineer State fast enough in the wake of the Obama administration's war on coal and the economic challenges facing the state.

If you think that you would be wrong.

For the ten year period 2005-2014, California saw a net migration loss (more people moving out of the state than moving into the state) of 1.3 million people. That ranks California 49th out of 50 states on that measure.

On the other hand, West Virginia saw a net migration gain of 16,719 people over the same period. The number is not large but it still ranks West Virginia 24th out of the 50 states.

What is more surprising (and perhaps is the reason for the net migration numbers) is that West Virginia actually had greater cumulative growth in the state's GDP over the same period (+50.4%, Ranking 10th) than California did (+40.3%, Rank 22nd). This is despite the fact that West Virginia's coal industry was under attack during those years while California was the home to innovations such as the iPhone, Twitter and Uber during that same period?

How do you explain it?

Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Miller attempt to do so in their annual Rich States, Poor States:ALEC-Laffer State Competitive Index which ranks that states on various economic policy variables.

California ranks 46th out of the 50 states on the study's economic outlook index.

California ranks 50th (worst in the U.S.) in a number of categories.

Top Marginal Personal Tax Rate.
Personal Income Tax Progressivity.
Average Worker's Compensation Costs.
Right to Work State.

It ranks 49th in state minimum wage and 47th in the state liability survey (which measures judicial impartiality and tort litigation treatment).

West Virginia has a lot of room to improve on the index but its economic outlook rank is still 12 spots better than California.

What is particularly interesting in looking at the study is that if you look at the top 25 states in terms of economic outlook, 21 out of the 25 states with the most positive economic outlook rankings voted for Trump. This included all of the top 12. Only 4 voted for Hillary.

On the other hand, 17 out of the bottom 25 voted for Clinton including all of the bottom 10.

Could it be that West Virginia might have a better handle on its economic future than California?

Could it be that the voters in Trump states might have better judgment on what the country needs than do the voters in the Clinton states?

This study says that this just might be the case in both instances.

(Hat tip to reader JWA for referring me to the Rich States, Poor States study.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Where Cash Is Not King

Just over a year ago I wrote about Venezuela on the eve of its national elections. This is how that post began that was titled "Viva or Hasta La Vista, Venezuela?"

Venezuela is holding National Assembly elections today. At stake are all of the 167 seats in its legislative body.

The big question is whether the people of Venezuela will reject the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela which has been in power for the last 17 years.

During that time Venezuela has become an economic basket case under the leadership of socialists Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.

Inflation is rampant. The most basic necessities are not available in stores. A country with the largest oil reserves in the world  (yes, it passed Saudi Arabia on that score in 2012) is running a government deficit of 14% of GDP proving once again that the problem with socialism is that you soon run out of spending other people's money.

Despite the large oil reserves, Venezuela is actually producing 25% less oil than it did when the socialists took power. Even worse, oil exports (critical for the hard currency to buy imported goods for its people) are only 50% of what they were in 1999.


Economic mismanagement. No protection of private property rights. Massive subsidies for oil locally to keep those Venezuelan voters happy. Therefore, there is less to export and sell.

The price of gasoline for locals? 1.5 cents per gallon. Of course, you can get to the grocery store very cheaply if you can afford a car but it is unlikely anything will be on the shelves when you get there.

Right after I wrote that, the voters in the national election voted out the ruling majority United Socialist Party of Venezuela, but the head of the party, Nicolas Maduro, still is President. His term does not expire until 2019. The Socialists also continue to control most local offices, the Supreme Court and the military, so any changes are slow in coming to Venezuela.

The opposition National Assembly is attempting to recall President Maduro in a referendum but Maduro's electoral officials are blocking the efforts claiming fraud in obtaining the requisite signatures.

It is a sad state of affairs in what was once the most prosperous country in South America. It also shows how hard it is to turn things around once the socialists are entrenched in a country. 

Inflation is now out of control in Venezuela. It has officially entered the hyperinflation realm.

The price level is doubling every 17.8 days.

As bad as this is, it could get even worse.

Economist Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University is an expert at analyzing and tracking inflation around the world. He was one of the originators of the Hanke-Krus Hyperinflation Table that captures all of the major hyperinflation periods since the 18th century. Of note, almost every episode of hyperinflation has been experienced in the last 100 years. Most have been in the last 30 years. Do you think there is some type of correlation here with the amount of government meddling with monetary policy?

These are all of the episodes of hyperinflation that have exceeded what Venezuela is experiencing right now.

The textbook case that I always remember hearing about regarding hyperinflation was Germany in the 1920's. The most memorable story I recall from my Economics courses was of the man who needed a wheelbarrow to haul all the paper money required to buy a loaf of bed. He put the wheelbarrow down and turned to open the door to the bakery. When he turned back all of the money was in a pile on the was the wheelbarrow that had been stolen!

It was much worse in Germany in 1922-3 than it is in Venezuela today. Prices were doubling in 3.7 days back then. However, in 1946, Hungary prices doubled in a mere 15.0 hours. They doubled in 24.7 hours in Zimbabwe in 2007. 

This is a chart that Hanke developed to show the fall in the value of Venezuelan currency on the black market exchange compared to the official exchange rate that the government is rather unsuccessfully trying to control.

What are people doing in Venezuela to attempt to protect what wealth they have? They sure do not want to hold paper currency.

It seems that those that can are investing in the Venezuelan stock market. It is up almost 10-fold since January 1, 2015.

Stock certificates may also be paper instruments but they represent shares of ownership in real things of value---real estate, oil and mineral reserves, manufacturing plants and machinery. Those that have held these assets in times of hyperinflation have been those that have survived periods like we are seeing in Venezuela. Those who have relied on paper (or promises) backed by corrupt governments have been devastated in the past. It is happening before our eyes in Venezuela. It will undoubtedly happen again to those that do not hold their leaders accountable.

It is also worth remembering these words of Steve Hanke as he calculates the new inflation rate in Venezuela.

Venezuela, welcome to the record books. You have now entered the inglorious sphere of hyperinflation. It is a world of economic chaos, wrenching poverty, and death. Its purveyors should be incarcerated, and the keys should be thrown away.

The people of Venezuela thought they were going to get a free lunch when they turned their country over to the socialists led by Hugo Chavez. They are now realizing that there is no free lunch. The price they are paying for that mistake has come due. And it is horrific.

May it be a lesson to all of us.

(Hat tip on this piece to PowerLine).

Keep on Trucking

What is the most common job in America?

Planet Money looked at Census Bureau data for every state to determine what the most common job was in every state. For this purpose, they excluded two "catch-all" categories--"managers not elsewhere classified" and "salespersons not elsewhere classified" to arrive at the answer.

Truck Drivers.

Here is a map showing the most common job in every state.

In 29 states truck driver is the most common job. Nothing is even close to it.

The Most Common Job in Each State

Primary school teachers are the most common job in six states.

Secretaries are the most common in five states and software developers the most common in four states.

Why are there so many truck drivers? Planet Money explains.

What's with all the truck drivers? Truck drivers dominate the map for a few reasons.
  • Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in China can't drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can't drive cars (yet).
  • Regional specialization has declined. So jobs that are needed everywhere — like truck drivers and schoolteachers — have moved up the list of most-common jobs.
  • The prominence of truck drivers is partly due to the way the government categorizes jobs. It lumps together all truck drivers and delivery people, creating a very large category. Other jobs are split more finely; for example, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers are in separate categories.

Political pundits like to refer to the middle of the country as "flyover" country. Looking at the most common jobs in those states today it would seem a more apt description would be trucking country.

A few interesting observations of my own from the data.

  • The most common job in the District of Columbia? LAWYER.
    • I am an attorney but this ought to tell you something about what is going in Washington, D.C. when we hear calls to drain the swamp.
    • What is more interesting is that in 1996 the most common job in D.C. was JANITOR. I kid you not.
  • Primary School Teacher is the most common job in Florida despite having the highest percentage of its population age 65+. 18.7% are senior citizens.
    • In fact, only 15.1% of the population of Florida is between the ages of 5-17. That ranks 47th in the U.S. The national average is 17%. Utah has the highest percentage of school age students--22.2%. D.C has the lowest---10.9%
    • Primary school teachers are also the most common job in four other states that have low percentages of school age children---Massachusetts (44th), Rhode Island (46th) and West Virginia (tied with Florida for 47th). What is going on with that?
    • Alaska is the only state where primary school teacher is the most common job and has a relatively young school age population (ranks 5th).
    • (all population and student data from NEA 2015 Ranking of the States)
  •  States in which that state is the only one to have this most common job.
    • Hawaii--Cook
    • Nevada--Retail Clerk
    • Arizona--Customer Service
    • New York--Nursing Aide

You get a sense of how the economy of the United States has changed by looking at this map of the most common jobs by state in 1978 and comparing it to the current map above.

The Most Common Job in Each State

A break down of the most common jobs by state in 1978.

Secretary--21 states (now 5)
Machine Operators/Factory Workers--11 states (now 0)
Truck Driver-- 9 states (now 29)
Farmers--8 states (now 2)

You can go to this link to look at an interactive map of the most common job in each state for all years between 1978-2014.

The changes over the last 35 years have been pretty dynamic and have been largely driven by productivity advances (farming), technology (secretaries, software development), globalization (machine operators), economic demand (trucking) and a federal bureaucracy that is intent on legislating, regulating and stipulating almost every facet of American life (lawyers in DC).

Do we dare consider what these maps might look like in another 10 years? 35 years?

Will we still be able to keep on trucking?

By the way, Friday's headline on

Autonomous Trucks and Commercial Vehicles Will Be in Service Faster Than Many Predict

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Right Stuff

John Glenn, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, and the first American to orbit the earth in space passed away today. Glenn was the last of America's first group of astronauts to leave this earth for good. He was 95 years of age.

I grew up at the same time the American space program was growing up. I remember looking at the night sky in 1957 to see the Soviet Union's Sputnik I satellite and wondering why the United States had not accomplished that first.

I remember poring over this Life magazine issue in 1959 which profiled the first seven American astronauts and reading about John Glenn who hailed from another small Ohio town like I lived in at the time.

A couple of years later I remember the shock when hearing that the Soviets had put Yuri Gagarin into space and safely brought him back to earth after a full orbit around our planet.

The United States got Alan Shephard into space on a sub-orbital flight a month later in 1961 and followed with another sub-orbital flight with Gus Grissom in charge but it was clear we were behind the Soviets.

John Glenn did not make his first orbital flight until February 20, 1962--10 months behind the Soviets.

All through the early 1960's the Soviets kept beating the Americans in the space race. They did the first interplanetary fly-by (Venus), they were the first to have a crewman spend an entire day in space, they did the first space walk and they were the first to accomplish a soft landing on the moon. In between all of that they also put the first woman into space.

It appeared that the United States would never catch the Soviets. We were always behind.

However, beginning in the period 1965-66 the United States space program started to gain momentum with its Gemini program. At the same time, the Soviets seemed to not be advancing on the same arc any more.

It all culminated in the United States successfully landing two men on the moon in July, 1969. one of which was another Ohioan---Neil Armstrong. However, in many respects to those of us who witnessed it, the December, 1968 space flight from earth that circled the moon with Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders on board was just as impactful. This was the first time man had left the earth's orbit and totally escaped the earth's influence.

It was almost too much to believe especially when you consider that it had been just over 60 years since another two Ohioans, Wilbur and Orville Wright, had first demonstrated powered flight with a man onboard.

I still remember looking up at a full moon on Christmas Eve on 1968 thinking that there were three human beings orbiting that faraway orb that evening. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life.

The crew of Apollo 8 also returned with images of the first Earthrise. This is a picture taken by William Anders on December 24, 1968.

 A similar image formed the basis for this commemorative stamp honoring the mission.

Yes, a first class stamp was 6 cents. Yes, God was mentioned on a U.S. government issued stamp. Yes, times really have changed.

Despite all of the American success in reaching the moon, I have always wondered what happened to the Soviets? Why did they falter when they appeared to have everything going their way early in the space race? It is something I have always wondered about.

I got the answer recently when I read the book "Two Sides of the Moon" which details the cold war space race from the perspectives of two who were right in the middle of it---U.S. astronaut David Scott and Soviet cosmonaut Alexi Leonov.

Scott and Leonov were on different sides of the race to the moon but they eventually became good friends when they were brought together in the planning for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project that culminated with U.S. and Soviet crews doing a joint flight project. They later collaborated on the book to provide their unique insights of what was going on inside each program and what each was thinking about their adversary. It is a fascinating retrospective on the space race.

In the book I also got the answer to my question of why did the Soviet space program stall on the way to the moon? And is often the case, it came down to one man making the difference.

For the Soviets that man was Sergei Korolev. Korloev was the leader behind the Soviet space program. He is considered the father of practical astronautics by many. He was considered so valuable to the Soviets that he was officially only referred to as the "Grand Designer" within Russia for fear that he would be the subject of possible U.S. assassination attempts. It did not come to that with Korolev. Instead, he died on an operating table for what was thought to be a fairly routine surgery to remove an intestinal polyp. He was only 59 when he died in early 1966 exactly at the time that the United States was gaining momentum in space.

The Soviet space program would never recover from the loss of Korolev on its mission to the moon. They had great engineers and cosmonauts but Korolev's successor was, according to Leonov, "hesitant, poor at making decisions and reluctant to take risks."

I don't know how many times I have seen it in my life. You can have the greatest technology. A great team. Fantastic financial support. However, if you do not have that one person with the vision, the vitality and the tenacity to see it through, you will not succeed.

It takes "the right stuff" as author Tom Wolfe would put it.

In space... or in leadership on earth.

Sergei Korolev. The Grand Designer. A man with the right stuff that you never heard of. A man who made a world of difference when he was alive. And might have been the key difference in the United States winning the space race when he was no longer alive.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Name Nerd

I have to admit that I am a name nerd.

I have always enjoyed names. In fact, as a kid I used to develop football rosters where I made up all the names on a mythical college team I had created---Ohio Tech University. My roster included hometowns as well. I also "recruited" nationwide much before it was in vogue. I would come up with a cool sounding name and then flip open a road atlas to determine which state my player was from. Notre Dame had nothing on my recruiting footprint.

Soon after I started dating my wife I had to test her on the "name" thing.  I was not looking to name my children John, William, Mary or Elizabeth. I was interested in something more unique and memorable for my progeny. Thankfully, she was of similar mind. We had both boy's and girl's names that we liked even before we got engaged. However, that did not stop me from pouring over baby name books once we were expecting some seven years later.

A lot has changed in the baby name business in the last 30 or 40 years. The most important change has been the accessibility of information on the internet. Instead of relying on a dog-eared baby name book of 1,000 names, that did not give you much more than the meaning behind the name, you can now peruse 10,000 names at the click of a mouse. You can also learn exactly how popular the name is, what other people think of it on 7 dimensions (strong? sexy? sophisticated? smart?) and other people's experiences with the name.

It is almost too much to take for a self-professed name nerd.

Especially with no one to name. That privilege has now fallen to my children who rightfully have their own ideas on what they want to name their children.

My daughter just went through the whole "name" thing recently and she passed this excellent blog post to me on "How to Name a Baby" from Tim Urban at

Tim has a lot of great tips and info in his blog on naming a baby but what I really enjoyed were some of the insightful charts and graphics he used. I thought I would share a few of his in addition to a couple of my own. I can't resist a good name or a good chart. There is little doubt this will be one of my favorite posts of all time

A lot of the cool insights you can get about baby names is from a tool called Voyager that is part of the Baby Name Wizard website. This tool allows you to graph the popularity of a given name over time.

For example, my name Scott looks like this.

Tim Urban would call Scott a "name fad". You can tell it is a name fad if it looks like a witch's hat.

Witch hat or not, my youngest daughter named her first-born Scott after me. Smart move in my book. How can you go wrong with a family name? Well, it is possible. My father's first name was Hector. That name went back centuries in my father's family back to England. Thank goodness my mother vetoed that idea. Scott is #322 for popularity now. It was #15 in the 1960's.

How about a "name fad" for a girl?

Jennifer. #1 girls name in the 1970's. Now #220.

Or fad names. Different decades.

Historically, family names have been the predominant means of naming a baby.  That is one of the reasons that if you went back to the 1880's, one in every four boys was named John, William, James or George. One reason--they did not have access to baby name books or the internet. What was the one book people had? Yes. The Bible.

Let's look at William. William is probably the most enduring boys name out there. It was #2 in the 1880s,  #4 in the 1920's, #7 in the 1960's and was still #5 in 2014. It has fallen on the chart because names are much more dispersed than they use to be so it is not used as much. However, it has consistently been one of the top 10 names for boys for over 130 years.

This supports the point Urban makes that there used to be a lot more conformity in names than there is now. In 1950, only 5% of parents picked a name that was not in the Top 1000 baby names. In 2012, 27% of parents were completely weird and picked a name outside of the Top 1000. That is why William is still a top 10 name even though it has fallen in overall usage.

Of course, those names, once in circulation, begin to become more and more popular as the name is heard by more people. What begins as weird becomes cool with time. I first became aware of this baby name phenomenon when I read "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner who dedicated an entire chapter to names. Here is what they wrote about name patterns.

There is a clear pattern at play; once a name catches on among high-income, highly educated parents, it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder. 
It isn't famous people who drive the name game. It is the family just a few blocks over, the one with the bigger house and newer car. 
Parents are reluctant to poach a name from someone too near---family members or close friends---but many parents whether they realize it or not, like the sound of names that sound "successful". 
But as a high-end name is adopted en masse, high-end parents begin to abandon it. Eventually, it is considered so common that even lower-end parents many not want it, whereby it falls out of the rotation entirely. The lower-end parents, meanwhile, go looking for the next name that the upper-class parents have broken in.

If you want stark facts on the change in name patterns consider this chart. Every green name is more popular than every red name of the list. Coming to a school near you are a lot more Paisley's, Lyric's, Gunner's and Gael's than will be children named Philip, Keith, Kelly or Courtney.

You will notice from that there is not one name on the list above that begins with the letter "F". It seems that names like Frank, Fannie, Fred, Freda, Florence and Floyd are completely out of favor. The most popular female name now that begins with "F"? Faith. For a boy? Francisco.

However, "I" names have made a comeback. Isabella or Isaac lead the pack.

On the other hand, I have a feeling that this "I" name could be soon falling out of favor. ISIS.

The girl's name Isis has already dropped 757 spots just since last year on the baby name popularity list.

Of course, many times all it takes to bring a name back is to have a century or so pass so that it no longer bring back memories of your father's friend or your grandmother.

Which name is #1 or #2 on most names for girls right now? Emma.

The other trend is that names have become much more uni-sex, in particular the use of what have traditionally been male names being co-opted for use by the other sex.

Lynn is a good example. Does anyone remember Lynn Swann? You are unlikely to see another Lynn catching touchdowns for awhile. In fact, you are not likely to find any girl Lynn's either looking at the graph below.

Madison is another male name that has been taken over by the girls. Madison has been a Top 10 female name since the 2000's but is now beginning to fall. It was exclusively a boys name until the 1970's.

A closer look at Madison on the male side. Fair popularity in the 1880's. Made a comeback in the 1980's and 1990's before it was totally snuffed out by the girls in the 2000's.

What about those names that my wife and I talked about when we were dating?

Our first born girl (born in 1979) has a name that did not hit the Top 1000 until 2012. We still think she might be NAME ZERO with the name (and spelling) we gave her which relates back to the idea we had when we were dating. We know at least three people personally who have used "our" name.

Our second born girl (born in 1981), whose name we did not have picked out when we were dating, still has a name that is not in the Top 1000.

Our son (born in 1983) was ultimately given the name we were talking about in 1972 when we were dating. Our frame of reference at that time was that we knew almost no one with that name. Look at the 1950's where our schoolmate names came from in the graph below.

However, during the 1970's the name became more and more popular. During the 1980's it was the #17 most popular name. We hesitated when it came time to name him as we saw the trend changing but we stuck with it. After a decade, it just did not feel right to abandon it for a passing name fad.

Even name nerds can only take so much after awhile.

After all, it is just a name. It is the person that name comes to represent is what gives it true meaning.

All I can add to this is that I am glad I am not in the miniature license plate name business.


Too much risk for inventory obsolescence.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ohio Recount

Much has been made of Jill Stein's efforts to recount the vote in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Her effort in Wisconsin is costing $3.5 million. Three days of recounting have occurred in which about 1/5 of the counties have been tabulated. Clinton has picked up the grand total of 3 votes on Trump.

Stein did not post a $1 million bond in Pennsylvania which would allow her to attempt to continue to contest the results through the Pennsylvania judicial system. She may attempt to file in federal court tomorrow.

In the meantime, the recount in Michigan is stalled in the courts where the State Attorney General is arguing that the recount is "expensive and frivolous" and should not be allowed to go forward.

With all of this going on, I thought I would do my only type of recount in my home state of Ohio.

As I have written before, the vote in Ohio was particularly interesting this year when you consider that Obama won Ohio by almost 5 points in 2008 and 3 points in 2012 only to see Trump win the state by over 8 points in 2016. That is a double-digit move towards Trump.

How did it happen?

This is how the Ohio election map looked by county in 2012. Obama in blue. Romney in red.

Obama won 17 out of Ohio's 88 counties in 2012 including all the big, urban counties that included the cities of Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron and Youngstown. He won 6 counties with margins of over 60% of the vote.

Credit: Wikipedia

The 2016 map looks like this. Clinton won only 8 counties of 88 counties, and only two---Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), by over 60%. In the meantime, Trump turned 9 counties into the GOP column and expanded the GOP margins in just about every other county.

Credit: Wikipedia

I thought I would take a more granular look to get a better idea of what was really going on at the precinct level to understand the results.

To do that I looked at the numbers in 6 inner city precincts in Cincinnati (Hamilton County) that I wrote about after the 2012 elections. These were essentially African-American precincts.

In the 2012 election these six precincts voted for Obama over Romney 99.5% to .5%! You read that right. Obama beat Romney by 99 points in these precincts.

Did Trump make any headway with these voters in 2016?

Here is a comparison of the results. (all of the voter data below are from the individual county election results that are available on the internet).

Trump was still drubbed but he got 2.2% of the vote compared to the .5% that Romney received.

However, Hillary was hurt the most by the lack of turnout in these precincts. Overall, her vote total in these six precincts was down 31% compared to what Obama did in 2012. Trump actually increased his vote total in the precincts over Romney from 22 votes to 59 votes! That is a 168% increase if you want to have some fun with the numbers

One of the reasons I looked at the data for 2012 was I was curious why the African-American vote was so monolithic despite that fact that there is such diversity of opinion among human beings on so many issues. Yes, I understood the historical and cultural significance of Barack Obama on the ballot. That may explain the turnout in 2008 and 2012 but the black voter trends to the Democrats are much bigger than that and have been so for a long time.

I continue to find it mind boggling whenever I look at exit poll data regarding the votes of black voters. It is as if there is no other candidate than a Democrat on the ballot. I am not sure Putin or Castro ever received such overwhelming majorities of votes in any "election" they participated in.
It defies all logic that any one group of people could vote in such a monolithic manner when you look at the diversity of issues involving politics. Issues like abortion, national security, tax policy, immigration, foreign policy, jobs policy and the like.
You don't see it in any other demographic group so why do we see it with African-Americans?

By comparison, I looked at vote totals in one of America's richest enclaves---The Village of Indian Hill in suburban Cincinnati. This would be considered the bastion of wealthy, white, privileged Republicans in Cincinnati. In fact, the zip code that includes Indian Hill donated more money to Romney than any other in the entire state of Ohio 2012 and is the epitome of the "Establishment" that we hear so much about.

As you might expect, Romney carried Indian Hill's six precincts with 75.5% of the vote in 2012. However, that is still a lot less than the 99.5% that Obama got in the inner city. Trump won the vote total in Indian Hill but he only got 62% of the vote in Indian Hill---almost 14 points lower than Romney's total.

Indian Hill is a real life example of how Trump had difficulty with college-educated, high income voters compared to GOP candidates in the past.

However, Hillary's failure to turn out black voters combined with the overwhelming response of rural and blue collar voters turned the tide for Trump in Ohio.

You see that in looking at two counties in Ohio---Erie and Trumbull counties---which have been reliably Democrat in the past but turned to the GOP with Trump. Both would be considered blue collar, "rust belt"counties.

Trumbull County (Warren is the county seat) saw Hillary lose 23,000 votes compared to Obama while Trump was adding 6,000 votes compared to Romney---a shift of almost 30,000 votes. This is a country that Obama won with more than 60% in 2012 and yet Trump totally turned the tables in 2016.

In Erie (county seat Sandusky), Clinton lost over 5,000 votes compared to Obama while Trump was adding over 2,000 more to the GOP ledger compared to 2012. 

It is one thing to look at a red and blue chart.

It is another to see the votes up close and personal.

No matter how you recount the Ohio election results you still have to be impressed with what Donald J. Trump was able to do at the polls in a state that was considered a "swing" state.

Indeed, it did swing. Almost all in his favor. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Odds and Ends

Now that the Presidential election is over it is a little more challenging to find BeeLine worthy material to share with you.

Here are a few odds and ends to share with you that alone would not make for very substantive blog posts but I think will still be worth a few minutes of your time.

Jill Stein 

Jill Stein raised $3.5 million for her candidacy as the Green Party candidate for President. She initially stated that she needed $2.5 million in donations to fund a recount of the Presidential election results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. As the money started flowing in so did her estimates of what she needed. As of Wednesday, she has raised $6.7 million and the amount she says she needs is going up with it. (now it's $9.5 million).

It does make you wonder where all the money has come from for what appears to be a fool's errand. In fact, she did not even comply with the rules or the deadline in Pennsylvania which would be the most critical state to turn against Trump if any of this would make a difference.

I guess we really know what the Green Party stands for now, don't we? What other reason is there for Stein to be doing this? And if liberals would really like to make a difference to the tune of almost $10 million, how about donating it to inner city program for children in those three states. They could use the help.

Carrier and Ford

Donald Trump is still 50 days away from being sworn in as President but he has already fulfilled two of his more high profile campaign pledges. Carrier and Ford have already announced that they will keep jobs in the United States instead of moving them to Mexico as they had previously promised.

I guess President-elect Trump does not understand that politicians are only supposed to promise stuff...not actually do it.

What did Barack Obama say about Trump during the campaign on this issue? This is what our current President said in Elkhart, Indiana during a PBS NewsHour Townhall when campaigning for Hillary in June.

“When somebody says … that he’s going to bring all these jobs back. Well, how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do?” he asked.
“There’s no answer to it. [Trump] just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, how — what — how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.”

The magic wand? I guess it was something President Obama did not have or did not care to use.

Vicious Cycle

In addition to job losses in middle America we also have a significant problem with underemployment in our economy. There is little doubt that this was a significant reason that Trump won the Presidency.

Patrick Cox of Mauldin Economics put together a nice summary of how our expectations and technology are combining to provide us with unintended consequences that are making the problme worse. He observes that we are in a vicious cycle of our own making that has many American workers in a rat race to nowhere.

Cox does not have the answer but he thinks that "our twisted ideas about money, work and education are the real problems" behind this situation.

The crazy expectations we put on our children (and ourselves) have consequences:
  • Too many people go to college because they think it is essential to career success.
  • Excess supply of college-educated people drives down wages.
  • Low pay plus student debt obligations make them look for the lowest price in everything they buy.
  • This reduces wages for the less-educated people who sell everyday goods and services.
  • Worker productivity falls as low wages discourage the more qualified workers.
  • Eventually, robots become the most cost-effective labor.
  • More people go to college to get ahead of the robots.

Worth thinking about.

The Internet Minute

Finally, speaking of technology, I came across this interesting chart in The Daily Shot that shows what happens in an internet minute.

150 million emails sent every minute.

69,444 hours of NetFlix viewed.

20.8 million WhatsApp messages.

Every minute!

No mention of BeeLine.

I appreciate the competition I am up against.

I hope the minutes you spend reading my blog are well worth your time. I do try to make sure this is the shortest route to what you need to know.