Wednesday, November 25, 2009

so quit whining about taxes already

Tax Burdens, Around the World

Think you pay a lot of taxes in the United States? Try moving to Denmark.

Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development today released new data on tax burdens in its 30 member countries. Across the organization, over all tax revenue totaled an estimated 35.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2008, down half a percentage point from 2007. The organization expects that tax burdens will fall further in 2009.

Denmark had the highest total tax revenue as a percentage of G.D.P., at 48.3 percent, followed by Sweden at 47.1 percent. Turkey and Mexico had the smallest tax burdens, at 23.5 percent and 21.1 percent.

In the United States, tax revenues represented 26.9 percent of total output last year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1 toyota = 30 vacations

economics at its most basic [ht: them]

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Has this ever happened to you? It can be a scary thing. What would you do in a situation like this? Think about it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

conservative lightbulb jokes

Q: How many Obama voters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. Hoping that it would change is quite enough.

Q: How many autoworkers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 17 at GM, Ford and Chrysler; 1 at Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.

Q: How many Chicago pols does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: F--- you, what am I gettin' outta this?

Q: How many Democrats does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: It's burnt out on the Republican side, so we're not changing it.

Q: How many MSM journalists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: No need, Obama is the Light.

Q: How many Congresspersons does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, but they'll allocate a few billion to achieve change under the Obama Stimulus Bill.

Q: How many Daily Kos bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: It was Bush's fault the bulb burned out; it'll get fixed by itself when he leaves office.

Q: How many Minnesota Canvassing Board members does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Depends. They'll only change it if it looks like a vote for Coleman.

Q: How many Oprah Winfrey fans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: The bulb's not so light these days.

Q: How many Cubans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: There have been no lightbulbs since the USSR collapsed.

Q: How many North Koreans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: What's a lightbulb?

Q: How many Hollywood celebrities does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Six to make movies about evil lightbulb companies, twelve to lecture about the unequal distribution of light on late night talk shows and nine to get caught with drugs hidden in cartons of lightbulbs.

Q: How many Obama appointees does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: His team is currently in the process of finding someone from the Clinton Administration who knows how.

Q: How many Caroline Kennedys does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: She's never thought about it but now that you mention it, she'd love for someone to change it for her.

Q: How many President Elect Obamas does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: The bulb is a lot more burnt out than we thought. Clearly, the bulb has deteriorated. It might not be changed as quickly as we would like.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

cruel to momma or cruel to babies? your call....

A very interesting post on the pros and cons of farrowing crates for pigs. They are considered inhumane in the popular press but then there is another side to the argument which you don't see. See Crate Expectations.

who pays the highest effective tax rates? the poor of course!

The Dead Zone: The Implicit Marginal Tax Rate - Clifford F. Thies - Mises Institute

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

gimme that ol' time recess'n

The artist has a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. [ht: him]

wronging rights: outsourcing that is very cool and helps the extremely poor

From wronging rights:

So This Seems Pretty Cool:
iPhone App to Train Refugees to Do Outsourced Tech Jobs
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Samasource, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that "leverages technology to create jobs for the next billion," has partnered with CARE International on an innovative project that combines job training with job access for refugees in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp.

CARE has equipped two technology centers in the camp with broadband links, computers, and other infrastructure. They've selected a small group of refugees who will be trained in "marketable computer and research skills," and partnered with outsourcing organizations to provide jobs. For now, that will be Dolores Labs, which "takes short simple tasks such as translation, transcription, or content moderation and serves them to workers in real-time, creating an on-demand, 24/7 workforce."

Samasource has also developed an iPhone app, Give Work, which allows fancy people with fancy phones to help with the refugee workers' training. As far as I can tell from their website, it works like this: the refugee trainee is given an "outsourced" task, such as checking the copyright restrictions on an internet-sourced photograph. The same task goes out on the Give Work network, where several iPhone users can also select it, and do the task themselves, creating a kind of crowdsourced accuracy measure of the task's "right" answer. The refugee trainee's results are compared to the crowdsourced answers. Once the refugee has developed a consistent track record of correct answers, he or she will graduate to paid outsourced jobs.

A few reasons why I think this is cool:

1. It's not a "traditional craft." Seriously, I have had it up to here with the idea that making baskets/beads/carvings/blankets/weavings is the way out of poverty for people in the developing world. The weird Noble-Savage overtones leave a bad taste in my mouth. So does the emphasis on work for poor people that is aesthetically pleasing to the wealthy. It's all a bit Marie-Antoinette's-shepherdesses for me.
2. It's a skill with positive externalities. I don't know how long this project or its jobs will last, but the skills this will give refugees will continue to have value even if the specific jobs evolve over time. The technical stuff will be good, but I think that the experience with Western consumer culture will be even better. The training program will expose the refugees to the way the iPhonerati approach and solve problems, which should make them more able to participate in the outsourced service economy in other ways as well. That's a tremendously valuable skill set, one I'd take over basket-weaving any day.
3. It's cheap in the right ways. For all that the iPhone thing is a little bit gimmicky, it's a great use of technology. Getting free feedback from lots of people will not only save the cost of hiring trainers, it will also provide better quality feedback than one or two people could.
4. It's about jobs, in refugee camps. Among the many, many, many things that I think are terrible about the "herd them into camps and leave them there forever" model of refugee-hosting, walling refugees off from legitimate jobs is one of the worst. So any program that takes the international job market directly into a refugee camp is on my good list until further notice.

I don't have an iPhone, so I can't try this app out for myself. Do any intrepid readers want to take Give Work for a spin and report back?

Follow-up post here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

more than a slum...a home

A photo essay in Foreign Policy. [ht him]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

my 10-month-old puppy -- all 100 pounds of him

The above was taken today just after Koufax's weigh-in at the feed store. The following was taken four weeks ago.

the 'benefit' of somalia's pirates

By Channel 4 News [Updated 25 October 2009]

The increasing levels of piracy off the coast of Somalia have caused an unexpected spin-off, raising the levels of fish in the sea.

Fisherman in Kenya have reported bumper catches of shark and shellfish because commercial fishing boats from China and Japan have been scared away.

Now the fishermen are able to catch up to £200 worth of fish per day in an area where the average daily earnings are less than £5.

The massive factory trawlers which used to drain their fish stocks have been scared away and that means there is a huge bounty for local fishermen as well as helping to restore the health of the marine eco-system.

[ht them]

Friday, November 6, 2009

economists on jeopardy

This is so sad....

[ht him]