Penny-sucking economics – part 1

      No Comments on Penny-sucking economics – part 1

The comic books of my youth often had a section in the back advertising the opportunity to purchase something wondrous for only one dollar plus a self-addressed, stamped envelope. While these offers were usually disappointing once received, I remember my first get-rich idea was to try to get one million people to send me a dollar. It turns out that… Read more »

When debt is not debt

      No Comments on When debt is not debt

This post is a basic “explainer” reminding readers of a problem endemic in the popular press when it discusses debt of various kinds, and as we watch our government’s deficits explode after the ill-advised tax reductions of 2017. There is are fundamental economic differences between consumer debt, business debt and government debt, and yet most people do not make that… Read more »

Net metering and the politics of utility pricing

      No Comments on Net metering and the politics of utility pricing

I think it is safe to say that most utility executives detest net metering, in which any excess electricity generated by solar panels and other home-based “green technology” is “bought back” by the electric utility at the same rate charged to that home for using electricity. I sat on a “green innovations” committee for my small Iowa town for a… Read more »

The anniversary of a big experiment in randomness

      No Comments on The anniversary of a big experiment in randomness

December 1, 2018 is the 49th anniversary of a major sociological experiment in randomness conducted by the United States government, and it is one that changed the fates of hundreds of thousands of young men and their families. On December 1, 1969, the first televised Selective Service draft, also the first nationwide randomized draft since World War II, was conducted… Read more »

David’s Bridal gets milked to near-death

      2 Comments on David’s Bridal gets milked to near-death

At the outset, I will admit that I have never gone into a David’s Bridal store, but there are commonalities in its announcement of entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that closely mirror other dominant retailers recently in trouble like Sports Authority, Toys-R-Us (both now defunct) and Guitar Center (still around but struggling). Most news stories about these firms focus on the changing… Read more »

Listen to the actuaries if not the scientists

      1 Comment on Listen to the actuaries if not the scientists

While I still don’t understand why most Republicans continue to see science and scientists as the enemy, especially in the area of climate change, let me suggest that if you don’t want to hear what the scientists have to say, would you perhaps listen to the actuaries instead? I’ve known a number of actuaries over the years, and I have… Read more »

Are there viable alternatives to the university diploma?

Are there viable alternatives to the credentialing/degree system widely employed in American higher education? Is there innovation in the wings that both enables a more cost-effective education credentialing process and also puts at risk scores of traditional educational institutions? That is the subject of this post. In earlier posts I have been exploring the financial implications of “free college for… Read more »

Voting is (unfortunately) just an ‘ordinary liberty’

In the mess around apparent voter suppression and messy counts endemic to this past midterm election, a fundamental misunderstanding of our constitutional rights is played out frequently by media commenters who ought to know better. In brief, the U.S. is not quite the democracy that you likely thought it was, and perhaps it is time that we did something about… Read more »

Education and the ‘third rail’ of athletics

      3 Comments on Education and the ‘third rail’ of athletics

The prior post in this series on the math of “free college for all” was about the application of the “fixed-cost dilemma” to higher education funding, which unavoidably skews the financial choices made by college and university administrators based on the accounting treatment of fixed versus incremental costs in their institutions. There is no better place to look at this… Read more »

The “Big-box Challenge” and why Lowes is closing stores

The big-box hardware retailer Lowes has announced that it will soon close 51 “underperforming” stores. The financial comparison of Lowes with its competitor Home Depot provides an interesting look at what I call the “Big-box Challenge,” the risky financial bet that has been a boon to many chains, but at the same time has dragged others, like Borders bookstores and Sports… Read more »