QUOTE OF THE DAY
AP: School Choice Goes Hollywood to Reach Main Street
The movie "Won't Back Down" starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis was a box-office dud, barely earning $5 million and disappearing from theaters soon after its September 2012 release.
But the film's creators, and a cadre of influential admirers, have more than ticket sales in mind. They hope the classroom drama about two single moms in Pittsburgh trying to save their kids' failing inner-city school also sparks a wave of activism while igniting widespread legal changes to give parents more control over how their children learn.
"Won't Back Down" is the centerpiece of a national six-month, U.S. Chamber of Commerce tour of major cities and state capitals, including Albany, N.Y, Indianapolis, Phoenix and San Diego. Business leaders and education reform groups want to leverage the film's message into broader policy changes modeled on California's 2010 "parent trigger" law, which allows a simple majority of petition-signing parents to fire principals, boot out poor teachers, take over failing schools and convert them to public charter schools often operated as private businesses.
The private screenings allow the business group's Institute for a Competitive Workforce and lobbyists from organizations such as StudentsFirst, the education reform group created by former Washington, D.C. superintendent Michelle Rhee, to woo state lawmakers over beer and finger sandwiches, as was the case recently in Jefferson City.
Businessweek: America's Moving: Hello Texas, Bye-Bye Wyoming
If America’s moving patterns can be considered an accurate economic indicator, then Atlas Van Lines, one of the nation’s largest movers, has some good news: The U.S. economy is rebounding.
Atlas Van Lines has been collecting data on the origins and destinations of interstate moves for 10 years. According to its 2012 study, there are more “balanced” states in the Midwest than in recent times. (For a state to be considered balanced, nearly as many people have to move into the state as leave.) That hasn’t been the case for the last few years as more people have left Midwestern states in search of jobs.
Jack Griffin, president of Atlas World Group, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the shift from more people leaving Midwestern states “is a promising sign that the economy could be stabilizing.”
Southwestern and Mid-Atlantic coastal states are still popular destinations: Texas and New Mexico continue to attract new residents, as well as Virginia and North Carolina.
For the seventh consecutive year, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of inbound moves, 63 percent. North Dakota and North Carolina were right behind the nation’s capital as a prime destination. Wyoming, at 59 percent, had the highest percentage of residents moving out, followed by Nebraska and New York.
Technori: Why Startups Have the Power to Lead America’s Innovation Revolution
We’re living in a golden age of tech-focused entrepreneurship right now. Not since the industrial revolution has there been a more perfect opportunity for innovators and inventors to create something remarkable. At the same time, non-entrepreneurs (the old school model) are fighting with everything they have to preserve the status quo. Old models are always resistant to change, not just because they want to preserve their power, but because they can’t innovate fast enough to keep up with the entrepreneur. For example, you’ll never be able to stream all the movies you want to watch on Netflix, because the physical media/mail model creates an artificial scarcity of movie discs. That’s a deal that works out better for the movie studios Netflix contracts with. The “new” perspective (that of a technology-powered innovator), is that the means to stream all of those movies (and actually, any movie ever made) not only exist, but are likely cheaper than physically mailing discs across the United States. Yet, we’re still using the post office and not ISPs to route those movies.
The late Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz faced criminal charges for illegally distributing academic journal articles—journals that have fought as hard as they could to be treated like print-only publications in an age where no one really accesses academic journals in print form (unless you buy the PDF online, and then print it yourself). And I could just mention the phrase “music industry,” and you would probably be able to draw your own conclusions about old-model barriers to content-access fighting new innovation. But that’s the nature of the old models trying to maintain their status quo. If we’re talking about content, the go-to tactic in the digital age is to put artificial barriers to reproduction, even though digital files cost nothing to reproduce.
Of course, access to data, content, and information is just one of several battlegrounds between the status quo and the entrepreneur, but I think it’s the best way to illustrate my point. Where the status quo exists, it exists defensively, fighting to preserve itself as best as it can. But that’s where you, the brilliant entrepreneur, come in. The opportunity is in innovation. Innovation comes from solving a problem—removing unnecessary barriers.
But, innovation always begins with disruption.
Washington Times: As ‘Obamacare’ health exchange deadline passes, 26 states opt in with feds
The backbone of President Obama’s health care law is taking shape, with 26 states choosing to let the federal government run the online insurance markets mandated by his signature reforms instead of keeping the job in-house or partnering with the feds.
The Department of Health and Human Services had encouraged states to run their own markets, or “exchanges,” that help the uninsured find coverage. Only 17 states and the District of Columbia took on the task, while seven states decided to split the duty with the Obama administration, according to a breakdown by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The exchanges, which are designed to let those without employer-based insurance compare and buy plans with the help of tax credits, are a crucial part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed in 2010 and largely was upheld by the Supreme Court in June. States that wanted to run a partnership exchange with the federal government had to let HHS know by late Friday, ending months or even years of debate among governors and state lawmakers.
Their discussions marked one of two major decisions under “Obamacare.” Whether or not to expand Medicaid within their borders is the other, and it remains a source of contention in state capitals across the country.
The Obama administration says it will be ready to run exchanges in more than half the states, even though a bevy of Republican governors and lawmakers flouted their intentions by saddling them with the task.
American Thinker: Obamacare 'sticker shock' coming soon
We've seen health insusrance rates rise up to 20% in recent months for many plans. But this is just a drop in the bucket compared to what will happen when Obamacare is fully implemented.
Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It's not our fault.
The nation's insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Obama's health-care law.
Insurers point to several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide. Also, their costs will increase because they will be barred from rejecting the sick, and they will no longer be allowed to charge older customers sharply higher premiums than younger ones.
Supporters of the law counter that concerns about price hikes are overstated, partly because federal subsidies will cushion the blow.
The insurers' public relations blitz is being propelled by a growing cast of executives, lobbyists, conservative activists and state health officials. They increasingly use the same catchphrase - "rate shock" - to warn about the potential for price surges.
Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini invoked the term at his company's recent annual investor conference, cautioning that premiums for plans sold to individuals could rise as much as 50 percent on average and could more than double for particular groups such as the young and healthy.
American Thinker: Obama's Minimum Wage Increase Fallacy
In Tuesday night's (February 12, 2013) State of the Union show, er, speech, Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama said:
We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day's work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That's wrong. That's why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.
Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.
Obama called for raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, and to index the minimum wage to inflation. Sounds great! In ObamaWorld, in a static economy where the economy will not react to a minimum wage increase, what Obama proposes would be fine. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), we don't live in a static economy; rather, we live in a dynamic economy that will react to a minimum wage increase. So, with that bit of economic reality that seems to be lost on Obama's economic advisers (perhaps it's not lost -- it's the only they can sell their ideas to low-information voters), let's examine what will occur if the minimum wage is increased:
Jobs will be lost. 10.6 percent minimum wage increase in 2009 resulted in the loss of 600,000 teen jobs in six months, even with a 4 percent economic expansion. A 10 percent minimum wage increase resulted in a 4.6 percent to 9.0 percent drop in teen employment in small businesses, and a 4.8 percent to 8.8 percent drop in hours worked by teens in the retail sector. The same study showed an increase in unemployment of 2.7 percent to 4.3 percent, and 5 percent for low-skilled employees most affected by minimum wage increases. So, the job-destroying effects of a minimum wage increase falls particularly hard on low-skilled workers. Why focus upon teen employment? Because teens comprise the bulk of minimum wage earners. And most minimum wage earner do not work full-time.
The economy will suffer (even more, if it can). This video (at the 1:15 through 1:31 point) says that increasing the minimum wage will slow the economy because manufacturers have less to reinvest. There is a condition where raising the minimum wage -- a monopsonistic situation -- (1:41 point) can benefit the economy. But monopsonism refers to the situation in which there is only one buyer, hardly the case in the U.S. labor market (although the federal government is trying to achieve that situation). So we are left with a minimum wage increase harming the economy.
It's rather ironic that Obama chose to cite poverty of a full-time worker. That is because only about 38 percent of those earning minimum wage work full-time. That percentage was true in 2005. Can anyone cite a source that suggests a substantial percentage change since then? So, using 2005 percentages, 53 percent of those earning [minimum wage] or less per hour are between the ages of 16 and 24. Those earning the minimum wage, ages 16 to 24 years, had an average family income of over $64,200 (2005 dollars), while those over 24 had an average family income of over $33,600. Further proof that a minimum wage increase will not help the group Obama cites. Also, consider that even in 2005 dollars, average family income of minimum wage earners far exceeds the amount Obama cites, $14,500.
And, as William Dunkelberg says, "About 60 percent of the officially poor don't work, so the only thing raising the minimum wage does for them is to make it harder for them to get a job if they ever decide they want one." Dunkelberg continues, "It is estimated that less than 15 percent of the total increase in wages resulting from an increase in the minimum will go to people below the poverty line and less than a third of those receiving the minimum wage are families below the poverty line." "Don't work" means that they don't work full-time. Did Obama somehow miss this little fact?
Of those making minimum wage, 16.9 percent of those aged 16 to 24 lived at or below the poverty threshold, while 22.8 percent that were 25 or older lived in similar circumstances. Of those making minimum wage, 64.7 percent of those aged 16 to 24 had a household income above 200 percent of the poverty threshold, while 44.8 percent that were 25 or older lived in similar circumstances. These percentages are particularly damning to Obama.
Carpe Diem: DC street food scene explodes with almost 200 food trucks
The food trucks (about 20) and people were lined up today at Farragut Square in DC during the lunch hour, enjoying the great food and the 57 degree weather with lots of sunshine (see photo above). I checked out the Pinup Panini food truck for the first time (excellent!), which is one of 171 food trucks in the DC area now listed at the Food Truck Fiesta website, with 11 more food trucks listed as “coming soon.” The DC food trucks are booming and increasing like shale oil in North Dakota and Texas, and will soon number more than 200!
CARTOON OF THE DAY