Category Archives: Politics vs. math

Revisiting the “political restaurants”

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Markov Defections

A recent state legislature election in Virginia piqued my interest because it featured a candidate rematch of a contest that I featured in the first post of this blog almost two years ago because of its interesting mathematical implications. That 2017 House of Delegates vote ended in a tie, and it was resolved months later literally by drawing lots. The… Read more »

The probability of “Deep State” and other conspiracies

The recent $450,000 defamation judgement against a conspiracy theorist who targeted the parent of a Sandy Hook massacre victim reminded me that crazy conspiratorial thinking is often not a harmless exercise. Instead, the social media memes that spread unfounded rumors and plots can cause real damage. The grieving Sandy Hook parents, for instance, have received a steady flood of hate… Read more »

Bending the odds with social policy

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Anisela-and-Roberto

I became familiar with the work of two of the most recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics about seven years ago when I started volunteering with Outreach International, a non-profit organization that works in ten countries around the world to help communities find sustainable solutions to end extreme poverty. Nobel awardees Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo wrote an… Read more »

The bottom-up capitalism of Elizabeth Warren

I have lived and worked in Europe in past years, and we still visit regularly. Contrary to the views of Americans who never have traveled there, “classic capitalism” is alive and well in small communities across supposedly “socialist” northern Europe, and they are often far healthier than many U.S. communities of similar size. Small-business entrepreneurship is commonly evident and the… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 2

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In a prior post I introduced my view that we are not paying enough attention in the healthcare discussion to the top-line “giant cash suck” that causes U.S. healthcare costs to be over twice the per-capita level of many countries that achieve true universal coverage while delivering equal or better outcomes. In this second part, I will explore where much… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 1

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Michigan

What do the great cathedrals of Europe, the Las Vegas “Strip” and an impressive new hospital in economically-challenged northern Michigan have in common? They all answer the question, “Who controls the big cashflow here?” I have been struck in awe visiting many Old Europe cathedrals, but I also have been troubled by the “real history” of the stark contrast between… Read more »

The helpless gun violence theodicy of “thoughts and prayers”

In a recent post I looked at the theodicy expressed or implied by people as they sought to explain some “larger meaning” in hurricanes and other natural disasters. Theodicy is literally “the justice of God,” or figuratively the broader question of “Why do bad things (or good things) happen in this world?” That latter interpretation has come to include both… Read more »

How credit card debt makes income inequality worse

Debt leverage

Debt financing is commonly called leverage for a good reason: The lever is one of the classic “six simple machines” we learned about in school. Using a long stick and a fulcrum, a lever trades distance moved for force, enabling the lifting of a heavy object, or, in a financial example, the purchase of a new car with little money… Read more »