QUOTE OF THE DAY
Reason: Obama's Warmed-Over Collectivism
Much of President Barack Obama's mercifully brief second inaugural address yesterday was familiar to anyone who has been listening to his rhetoric and policy ideas since 2007.
Once again, the president rejected the false choice between "caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future," a formulation that simultaneously waves aside the relentless growth of entitlement spending (from 37 percent of federal outlays today to a projected 50 percent by 2030) and valorizes Washington's other frequently wasteful expenditures as transactions from which we can expect net financial returns.
Once again, he has made the factually dubious claim that future "economic vitality" depends not only on "sustainable energy sources" that will "power new jobs and new industries," but on making damned sure that America leads the world in this sector. "That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared," he added, oddly.
National Post: Capitalism’s new saviors
For the better part of a decade, I have been a cast member of CBC’s Dragon’s Den and ABC’s Shark Tank. Today, both of these television shows enjoy tremendous popularity in North America, but it was not always that way.
At a media event years ago, I sat with other cast members of the then-newly launched Shark Tank. In the audience there were about a hundred journalists. When it came time for questions, there were none. To the entertainment industry, business was boring and no one cared.
Two week ago, in Pasadena, California, I sat on the same panel. The size of the press pool in attendance had tripled, and a moderator was required to control the stream of questions. They wanted to know how a reality television show based on starting a business could possibly become the number-one show in America on Friday nights. Why would family viewers by the millions, many as young as 10 years old, be drawn to such a subject? What had changed?
America has changed.
Chicago Tribune: Illinois sets $500M bond sale
Illinois will sell $500 million of general obligation bonds on Jan. 30 in its first deal since a state legislative session ended this month without any resolution to a huge unfunded public pension liability, a state official said on Tuesday.
John Sinsheimer, the state's capital markets director, said the 25-year bonds to fund capital projects should benefit from the light supply of deals so far in 2013. However, he added the new bonds could be hurt by inaction on pension reform.
Governor Pat Quinn, who has pushed for action on pensions, has warned that the state could pay higher borrowing costs for its ongoing multibillion-dollar capital program if rating agencies continue to pound Illinois' credit rating lower.
Reuters: Flu-conomics: The next pandemic could trigger global recession
A high body count is not the only meaningful number attached to a pandemic. The potential cost of a global outbreak of the flu or some other highly contagious disease, however ghoulish to calculate, is essential for government officials and business leaders to know. Only by putting a price tag on such an occurrence can they hope to establish what containing it is worth.
The financial damage by itself can be devastating. The expense of major epidemics is evident every time a health agency totes up the cost of treating infected people — the outlays for drugs, doctors' visits, and hospitalizations. But that spending is only the most obvious economic impact of an outbreak.
Consider the effect on international airlines. During the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which began in southern China and lasted about seven months, business and leisure travelers drastically cut back on flying. Asia-Pacific carriers saw revenue plunge $6 billion and North American airlines lost another $1 billion.
US News: High school grad rate highest since '76
The nation's high school graduation rate is the highest since 1976, but more than a fifth of students are still failing to get their diploma in four years, the Education Department said in a study released Tuesday.
Officials said the steady rise of students completing their education is a reflection of the struggling economy and a greater competition for new jobs.
"If you drop out of high school, how many good jobs are there out there for you? None. That wasn't true 10 or 15 years ago," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The national dropout rate was about 3 percent overall, down from the year before. Many students who don't receive their diplomas in four years stay in school, taking five years or more to finish their coursework.
Some 3.1 million students nationwide earned their high school diplomas in the spring of 2010, with 78 percent of students finishing on time. That's the best since a 75 percent on-time graduation rate during the 1975-76 academic year.
The only better rate was 79 percent in 1969-70, a figure the department wouldn't vouch for.
MLive: Right to work works for Black Americans
Unfortunately for union propagandists, U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that Americans of all races are “voting with their feet” in vast numbers against compulsory unionism. This is actually true to an even greater degree of black Americans.
From 2000 to 2010, the black population of the U.S. increased by 12.3 percent, or 4.27 million. But 70 percent of the overall increase occurred in the 22 states that had right to work laws on the books at the time, even though slightly fewer than half of all black Americans resided in them in 2000. (Since Indiana and Michigan became the 23rd and 24th right-to-work states in 2012, they are counted as forced-unionism states in this analysis.)
In other words, from 2000 to 2010 right-to-work states’ black population increased by 17.4 percent, well over double the 7.6 percent increase for forced-unionism states as a group. The 9.8 percentage point advantage in black population growth in right-to-work states even outpaced the 9.0 percentage point edge right-to-work states registered in white population growth.
And it’s no wonder: When 2011 disposable personal income (personal income minus taxes) data, as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), is adjusted for differences in living costs, the disposable income per capita for right-to-work states in 2011 was more than $36,800, roughly $2,200 higher than the average for forced-unionism states. Meanwhile, total private-sector employment in right-to-work states went up by 10.3 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared to a gain of just 1.9 percent for the non-right-to-work states.
WSJ: The Mickelson Vote
California golfer Phil "Lefty" Mickelson says he will no longer publicly criticize the government for taking most of his paycheck. That's a shame. But even if it's now socially unacceptable for high achievers to suggest they should keep the fruits of their labor, that doesn't mean they will keep supplying that labor.
After a brilliant round Sunday at a tournament in La Quinta, California, Mr. Mickelson hinted that new tax burdens might drive him out of the state, out of professional golf, and perhaps even out of the country. "There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn't work for me right now," he said. "So I'm going to have to make some changes."
Winnipeg Free Press: Canada's Publicly Funded Doctors Unavailable After Hours
Manitobans not only rank "dead last" in access to doctors after hours, but the impact on the province's emergency rooms is compromising a system where traditional, lengthy doctor-patient relationships are badly in need of a checkup, according to a high-ranking medical spokesman.
Findings from the 2012 Commonwealth Fund international health-policy survey show not only does Canada lag behind other countries in rapid access to doctors outside working hours, but Manitoba ranks at the bottom compared to other provinces.
"That isn't satisfactory," said Dr. Michael Moffatt, a Winnipeg pediatrician and member of the Health Canada Council, which released the report. "The public actually owns the system, and they should be getting better service."
Moffatt said doctors have "drifted away" from feeling responsible for their patients on a 24-hour, year-round basis, adding emergency rooms have become a "default system" for both physician and patient. Between 85 and 90 per cent of patients who visit emergency rooms have personal doctors, he said.
CARTOON OF THE DAY