At times NobodyisFlyingthePlane will be a diatribe about the current state of affairs in the US and the world at large, at other times it will be an evidentiary discussion of the problem, and most of the time it will just be a collection of links I wanted to share.
NobodyisFlyingthePlane when small towns nationwide have and use military equipment. These programs need to stop.
NYTimes: Get the Military Off of Main Street
NobodyisFlyingthePlane. Right wing nuts from the West want their fires put out, but dont want to fund the federal government’s efforts to prevent forest fires. Worse, they declaim loudly that climate change is a hoax, merely smoke and mirrors.
Smoke and ashes out West.
NYTimes: Fools at the Fire
Great article on other paths to success outside the typical college track. We need to focus much more on how these paths can be increased and strengthened. Pushing every kid towards college is not the answer.
Americans have a host of postsecondary options other than a four-year degree—associate degrees, occupational certificates, industry certifications, apprenticeships. Many economists are bullish about the prospects of what they call “middle-skilled” workers. In coming years, according to some, at least a third and perhaps closer to half of all U.S. jobs will require more than high school but less than four years of college—and most will involve some sort of technical or practical training.
Will these be just jobs—or real careers? Is the system preparing enough Americans to fill them? Are there adequate opportunities for training? Do we do enough to steer young people toward technical training?
The first requirement of any upward path is entry ramps at the ground level.
The second requirement of any good upward path is for training to lead to a job.
A third requirement of a good career path is that it must be aligned with economic needs.
Many high schools and community colleges teach job skills, but too many of them use outmoded techniques and equipment or steer young people to industries that aren’t growing. The best way to stay current is to partner with an employer, who can offer advice about what’s in demand, help design curricula, lend equipment, even—like JV—provide training.
Like construction, nursing is a time-tested path to the middle class, and it has many of the same hallmarks: easy on-ramps, goal-oriented job training and a series of ascending steps, with industry-certified credentials to guide the way.
Rolls Royce has developed plans for ships with no crews. This seems like a great idea, but the article focuses on all the hazards. There are tons of way to test this new tech without endangering anyone, they just seem short on ideas. How about a ship which can accommodate a local Pilot when it gets to port? How about test boats with crew accommodations to allow for human intervention should it be required.
Minnesota has it figured out.
“energy consumption is growing more slowly than Minnesota’s robust economy, and greenhouse-gas emissions have basically been level since 2000.”
“We’re going to push the utilities harder than they want to be pushed, but we want them to make money while they’re doing it,”
Energy conservation doesn’t have to come at the expense of profit. Utilities world wide could learn a lot from those in Minnesota. They’ve been cleaning up their act for years and still profiting. The key appears to be flexibility in how the utilities go about improving.
while the state oversees the utilities’ renewable energy and carbon-reduction goals, the market largely chooses how they are met.
This article echos the discussion in a previous post about using peoples’ reputations to encourage or shame them into doing the right thing. This article mentions water use shaming in California. It seems that calling out people in particular and in general for wasting water for things such as their lawns has a positive effect. Unfortunately its not enough to resolve the issue in the deeply under resourced and dry West.
See the previous post and link to an article about public reputations and energy conservation here.
NYTimes: Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use
An older article, but a really good look at the problems with our economy 3 years later. By comparing the Great Recession to the Great Depression the author lets us see some of the deeper problems we are facing.
He discusses our inherent advantages over others:
This country continues to have advantages that no other country, including China, does: the world’s best venture-capital network, a well-established rule of law, a culture that celebrates risk taking, an unmatched appeal to immigrants. These strengths often give rise to the next great industry, even when the strengths are less salient than the country’s problems.
While pointing out the weaknesses endemic to our current economy
Even before the financial crisis began, the American economy was not healthy. Job growth was so weak during the economic expansion from 2001 to 2007 that employment failed to keep pace with the growing population, and the share of working adults declined. For the average person with a job, income growth barely exceeded inflation.
In particular, three giant industries — finance, health care and housing — now include large amounts of unproductive capacity. Housing may have shrunk, but it is still a bigger, more subsidized sector in this country than in many others.
Health care is far larger, with the United States spending at least 50 percent more per person on medical care than any other country, without getting vastly better results. (Some aspects of our care, like certain cancer treatments, are better, while others, like medical error rates, are worse.) The contrast suggests that a significant portion of medical spending is wasted, be it on approaches that do not make people healthier or on insurance-company bureaucracy.
In finance, trading volumes have boomed in recent decades, yet it is unclear how much all the activity has lifted living standards. Paul A. Volcker, the former Fed chairman, has mischievously said that the only useful recent financial innovation was the automated teller machine. Critics like Mr. Volcker argue that much of modern finance amounts to arbitrage, in which technology and globalization have allowed traders to profit from being the first to notice small price differences.
IN the process, Wall Street has captured a growing share of the world’s economic pie — thereby increasing inequality — without doing much to expand the pie. It may even have shrunk the pie, given that a new International Monetary Fund analysis found that higher inequality leads to slower economic growth.
The common question with these industries is whether they are using resources that could do more economic good elsewhere. “The health care problem is very similar to the finance problem,” says Lawrence F. Katz, a Harvard economist, “in that incredibly talented people are wasting their talent on something that is essentially a zero-sum game.”
In the short term, finance, health care and housing provide jobs, as their lobbyists are quick to point out. But it is hard to see how the jobs of the future will spring from unnecessary back surgery and garden-variety arbitrage. They differ from the growth engines of the past, which delivered fundamental value — faster transportation or new knowledge — and let other industries then build off those advances.