Generational Tech Habits

1. It rarely occurs to me to pause a live show if I have to step out of the room for a moment. My kid does it regularly.

2. At just about any given time, I’m carrying 3 or 4 cameras. It rarely occurs to me use them.

Though, I am getting better. For example, when we ‘whiteboard’ in a meeting, rather than copying what we wrote on the whiteboard into my notes by hand, I regularly take photos of the whiteboard.

Another example. Recently I was on vacation, jogging on the beach and I received a text from a friend, “Where r u?“.  I snapped a photo of the beach and waves rolling in and sent it to him. His response, “Nice. I guess you won’t be available for lunch today then.

 

Twofer

We get two good opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal today.

1. Student Loan backfire: Default rates don’t lie.

Whereas credit scores used to be similar for young people with or without student-loan debt, New York Fed economists find a divergence after 2008. “By 2012, the average score for twenty-five-year-old nonborrowers is 15 points above that for student borrowers, and the average score for thirty-year-old nonborrowers is 24 points above that for student borrowers,” they note in a recent report.

If I were running for office, I would promise to give student loan borrowers more loans to help pay off their loans.

2. Michael Saltzman gives an economics lesson to VP Joe Biden.

Advocates of a higher minimum wage arbitrarily selected 1968 as the historical reference point. It’s no wonder: That’s when federal minimum wage hit its inflation-adjusted high point.

How about picking other arbitrary years to track the minimum wage and inflation? If you used 1948 instead of 1968, the minimum wage’s inflation-adjusted value would only be $3.81 an hour. If you chose 1988, the adjusted minimum wage would be $6.50 an hour.

And, if we pick a time before the minimum wage existed, it would be $0. What a distraction. I wish I lived in a world where when someone suggested raising the minimum wage to ‘help’ someone (get votes), everyone just laughed at them.

Trends

Here’s another one from the radio. Two engineers paid off their $100k debt and were letting out their debt-free shout on the Dave Ramsey show.

Dave asked what kind of debt it was. Well…some credit cards, medical bills, but 70% was Sallie Mae.

Dave responded it seems I’m hearing more and more about that these days. I use to hear about credit card and car debt, mainly. But, now it’s not uncommon for me to hear someone with $100k of debt say that 70% of it is Sallie Mae.

It’s a good thing that these two folks were engineers. At least they earned a degree in something that pays well.

But, they probably aren’t any better engineers than the engineer I worked with when I was first out of school who earned his engineering degree at a small, 2-year engineering school that no longer exists and likely did not require the equivalent of $35k in loans to pay tuition back then. I thought things were supposed to get cheaper, not more expensive.

“What does being conservative mean?”

I heard a teenager tell Mark Levin, on his radio show, that his Mom asked him this question and he couldn’t give a good answer. The teen wanted to know how Mark would answer.

Mark said a lot. But, I don’t think it would make much sense to non-conservatives. It started off something like, “A conservative believes in individual sovereignty…[I zoned out]…he doesn’t believe in no-government, they’re not anarchists, but a limited constitutional republic…[I zoned out, again]…”

First, I liked hearing this question being discussed. I think questions like this are asked too infrequently. But, yawn. There has to more compelling answer for those who don’t consider themselves conservatives.

Any ideas?

Good Point

Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit, sums up Matt Ridley’s last Wall Street Journal column nicely: “Science is about evidence, not consensus.

Jobs Report and Sequester Cuts

I watched the opening of SNL last night, which must have aired originally in February or March, because the first sketch was a President Obama impersonator explaining what will have to be cut from the budget due to the sequester.

My favorite mock cut was the astronaut who said they will no longer have visors in their space suits, so they’ll just have to hold their breath when they do space walks.

That also reminded me of a Wall Street Journal article (though I’m not sure is the original article that I read) this week that made a good point that the jobs report is pretty good a few months after the gloom and doom that was supposed to follow the sequester spending cuts.

(As a side note to WSJ.com editors, it is extremely tough to find an article that is more than day or two old. It’d be nice, especially for the opinion section, if you just had a calendar archive that listed links to the articles that ran on certain days.)

 

What’s a bubble?

The recent Forbes Investment Guide included this article about how big money is buying foreclosed homes, fixing them up and renting them out. I think it’s a great example of a capitalism at work fixing a mess (junked out homes) created by bureaucrats trying to get votes by helping everyone ‘realize the dream of home ownership‘.

It also raises good questions about whether this is creating another bubble as the big money buying of residential property is pushing up prices and the investors are once or twice removed from the transaction.

Could be. We’ll see. Most markets have transient phases before settling into steady state. Attractive profits attract investors. That pushes up demand and prices to the point where a few marginal players drop out, and prices and demand drop some.

I’m not sure I’d call that a bubble. That’s business a usual.

I’d be more concerned about a bubble if the third (or fourth) party investors were investing in properties not because of the economics of the individual deals, but rather, on the hope that someone else would bail them out if they make bad decisions.

I think politicians will be less likely to want to bail out these investors, who were chasing profits rather than the ‘dream of home ownership’.

Happy Independence Day

flag

I thought it might be good to take a portion of the Declaration of Independence each Independence day and translate it into today’s lingo. Here’s the first paragraph:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Translation:

Dear Rulers: We don’t like the decisions you’ve been making. We’re going out on our own. But, because we are a polite sort, we’re going to let you know why we feel this way.

 

The difference between poverty and destitution

Dan Mitchell comments and expands on Thomas Sowell’s latest column. Both are well worth reading.

I just had to include this passage from Sowell:

“Poverty” once had some concrete meaning — not enough food to eat or not enough clothing or shelter to protect you from the elements, for example. Today it means whatever the government bureaucrats, who set up the statistical criteria, choose to make it mean. And they have every incentive to define poverty in a way that includes enough people to justify welfare state spending. Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight. But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers’ money.