2012 April 30 Monday
Germany Brain-Draining Southern Europe

Tyler Cowen sees economic activity concentrating into a smaller number of locations in the United States and perhaps Europe as well.

Note that highly productive economic activity seems to be concentrating itself in the United States, in a smaller number of locations. Perhaps the same is happening in Europe too. That’s hardly Spain’s biggest problem right now, and migration can in some ways be a blessing for an economy with high unemployment. Still, when the debt overhang is so high, this is troubling news too.

Tyler was responding to an NY Times piece on how Germany is brain-draining southern Europe. What I wonder: Will language barriers within Europe cause a greater migration of higher IQ than lower IQ workers? Will Germany become a focus place for high IQ laborers (with Britain perhaps getting them too due to widespread English fluency by the most educated)? Will the geographic distribution of laborers by IQ become greater in Europe than in the United States? Will this provide a competitive advantage for the European nation-states which currently have the highest living standards?

One way to think about the flat labor force since in the United States (in spite of continued growth of work age people) is that economic activity isn't just concentrating into a smaller number of locations. Economic activity is also concentrating into the hands (or, rather, the minds) of a smaller fraction of the population. This trend will continue.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 30 09:27 PM  Economics Labor
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2012 April 29 Sunday
Oil Prices Pull In Social Security Financial Exhaustion Day

Social Security will run out of money sooner because high oil prices are here to stay. So the Social Security trustees are coming around to my point of view. Ah, that sense of satisfaction. But they still have a way to go. When world oil production starts declining the big entitlements programs will run out of money much sooner than the trustees expect.

The trustees of Social Security reported this week that absent reforms, the system will be able to pay full benefits until 2033 — versus 2036 in last year’s report — and three-fourths of benefits after that. One of the reasons for the grim new projection is the increase in oil prices, which the trustees assumed are here to stay and will exert a drag on the economy and worker pay for decades to come. Less pay means less tax revenue for the system.

The editorial writers of the NY Times think smaller tweaks can avert the day of reckoning. But they are still thinking with outmoded assumptions about the potential for economic growth. Innovations are not happening fast enough. Plus, we've got demographic problems. Pew's look at household wealth by race provides evidence for another reason why America is going to become a poorer place: the growing ethnic groups are poorer. So average household wealth is likely to go down along with tax revenues. The demographics of Texas and California show us where the nation is going. We will be poorer.

So I repeat what has become my standard advice: Get ready for harder times. Develop more skills. Spend less. Save more. Buy stuff that lasts longer. Consider moving to an area with more opportunities for advancement.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 29 09:12 AM  Economics Entitlements
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2012 April 28 Saturday
Financial Return Of Medical Degree Negative For Women?

At least for primary care physicians women work so fewer hours than men that they fail to recoup the costs incurred by going thru medical school.

We find that the median female (but not male) primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant. This result is partially due to a gender-wage gap in medicine. However, it is mostly driven by the fact that the median female physician simply doesn’t work enough hours to amortize her upfront investment in medical school. In contrast, the median male physician work many more hours, easily enough to amortize his up-front investment.

There's another consequence of more female doctors: the average slot in medical school taken by a woman generates much fewer hours of patient care services delivered as compared to the case where the same slot was given to a man instead. So the effective supply of doctors has gone down as a result of higher percentages of female doctors in many countries. This is a well recognized problem.

With many women seeking part-time work, new organizational challenges are emerging, including the possibility that some countries will need more doctors. France and Germany, for instance, have warned about future shortages, as older male doctors retire and are replaced by women working part-time. The German Medical Association has called it an urgent threat, particularly in rural areas. In France, some doctors are trying to set up a pilot project for a “maison médicale,” or House of Medicine, where part-time doctors can parachute in to offer different disciplines.

If all physicians were women the result would be like taking away a quarter of the doctors.

This looming shortage is forcing into the open a controversy that has been cautiously debated in hospitals and medical practices for some time: Are women doctors part of the problem? It's not the abilities of female doctors that are in question. It's that study after study has found women doctors tend to work 20% to 25% fewer hours than their male counterparts.

We need to automate much of the diagnostic work of medicine. Expert systems could do a better job in many cases. We could give blood, urine, and other samples at a pharmacy to have them sent off for lab tests. The test results could be uploaded to diagnostic systems running on servers. Visits to physicians could happen only when expert systems flagged a problem, suggested follow-up tests and produced a preliminary diagnosis.

The return on investment to the individual physician is even worse if we consider the subsidies that go into training doctors. Medical doctor Karen Sibert argues we can't afford to subsidize training of people who are only going to work part time.

Medical education is supported by federal and state tax money both at the university level — student tuition doesn’t come close to covering the schools’ costs — and at the teaching hospitals where residents are trained. So if doctors aren’t making full use of their training, taxpayers are losing their investment. With a growing shortage of doctors in America, we can no longer afford to continue training doctors who don’t spend their careers in the full-time practice of medicine.

I figure we'll continue to be unrealistic about this topic because Western nations have decided to waste a lot of resources maintaining various fictions about human nature.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 28 08:52 PM  Economics Health
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2012 April 23 Monday
Net Immigration From Mexico Halted?

Multiple causes have led to at least a temporary end to net immigration from Mexico. Is this a temporary shift? Bigger border barriers and even more deportations could make it a permanent shift.

A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center.

It looks to be the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent.

Letting in large numbers of low skilled workers just to cut wages for already poorly paid jobs such as gardening and roofing was always a bad idea. It becomes a worse idea every year as more low skilled jobs get automated out of existence. Gone are the days when many large industrial behemoths employed tens and hundreds of thousands of workers each to do simple tasks in factories. Computer controlled devices make continual in-roads into work formerly done by manual laborers.

What are we going to do with the descendants of these immigrants as demand for manual laborers continues to decline? They do very poorly in school. In an economy where mental work plays a growing role the smartest continue to become more valuable relative to rest.

We face a big problem with declining labor force participation, especially with black males. This problem has been made worse by letting in large numbers of illegal immigrants to compete at lower wage levels.

Immigration restrictionists can take credit for pushing for policy changes that helped lead to a stop in net immigration from Mexico. Both tougher border enforcement and more deportations helped stop the immigrant influx.

The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.

We should have an immigration policy that lets in only the most highly skilled.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 23 10:24 PM  Immigration Demographics
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2012 April 14 Saturday
US Federal Health Care Costs To Rise Faster

It was never going to happen that more people would get more health care for less total money. So Obama's supposed reform to cut total health care costs was a fraud as a cost cutter and its main aim was to shift money away from net taxpayers toward poor people. A nation which is already on a reckless fiscal course will go even deeper into debt due to Obama's health care program.

President Obama’s landmark health-care initiative, long touted as a means to control costs, will actually add more than $340 billion to the nation’s budget woes over the next decade, according to a new study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing.

The study is set to be released Tuesday by Charles Blahous, a conservative policy analyst whom Obama approved in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. His analysis challenges the conventional wisdom that the health-care law, which calls for an expensive expansion of coverage for the uninsured beginning in 2014, will nonetheless reduce deficits by raising taxes and cutting payments to Medicare providers.

I am pessimistic about US economic growth and innovation over the next 10 years. A number of fundamentals have shifted against a fast rate of innovation. Plus, demographic changes due to aging and immigration are making for a less skilled labor force as well as a declining ratio of net taxpayer workers to everyone else. So I think official projections of future deficits are excessively optimistic. We need to collectively act like we are poorer than we've thought ourselves to be. But our elites remain in denial about our limits to growth.

Debt accumulation can be managed as long as strong economic growth is the norm. But debt servicing becomes a big problem if economic growth remains weak and becomes a huge problem under conditions of sustained economic contraction. We are most at risk of an extended period of economic contraction once Peak Oil hits. That's probably later in this decade.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 14 10:10 PM  Economics Health
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2012 April 07 Saturday
Muslim Brotherhood Promoting Moderate Image In DC

Hey, we are really very charming. If they sent the right guys over they might really be very charming.

Members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood began a week-long charm offensive in Washington on Tuesday, meeting with White House officials, policy experts and others to counter persistent fears about the group’s emergence as the country’s most powerful political force.

But what is a moderate, centrist Muslim viewpoint?

“We represent a moderate, centrist Muslim viewpoint. The priorities for us are mainly economic, political — preserving the revolution ideals of social justice, education, security for the people,” Sondos Asem, a member of the delegation, said Tuesday in an interview with reporters and editors of The Washington Post.

In Egypt to be moderate means to be moderate by Egyptian Muslim values. Well according to a Pew poll 84% of Egyptian Muslims favor death for apostasy (leaving Islam). That is what it means to be moderate in Egypt.

About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor making this type of punishment the law in their countries, as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan. When asked about the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion, at least three-quarters of Muslims in Jordan (86%), Egypt (84%) and Pakistan (76%) say they would favor making it the law; in Nigeria, 51% of Muslims favor and 46% oppose it.

These numbers illustrate how the American Left's embrace of multi-culturalism is intellectually and morally bankrupt. All the different religions and value systems of the world are not compatible. Many cultural and religious differences matter a great deal.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 07 06:39 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2012 April 06 Friday
Heartiste: Why Beta Males Pedastalize Women

Betas have too little experience with women to see their darker aspects.

Why do so many betas harbor gauzy delusions about female sexual nature? Why are monogamously inclined traditionalists, manginas and white knighters so quick to sanctify women and paint their misbehavior in rose-colored hues while simultaneously offering unconditional support and shitlapping amen choruses for women when they accuse men of committing a litany of hackneyed misdeeds?

I’m here to provide what I believe is the most parsimonious answer to this riddle:

Beta males are rarely in a position to witness the worst of women.

This is so true. A beautiful girlfriend from hell did much to rewrite my software for evaluating women. Getting propositioned by young married women and other experiences with women have made additional contributions to my much altered view. If I could only tell my adolescent self what I had to learn the hard way...

I am struck by how many myths about human nature survive and how many different people see it in their interest to promote assorted myths. Take marriage for example. Some married people encourage other people to get married basically in order to validate their own choice. Some do not want to admit to themselves how dissatisfied they are with their mate and their lot in life. They'd rather see everyone stuck in the same boat because they want more company for their misery.

You are better off knowing the truth. The more accurate your model of humans becomes the more possible it becomes to make sense of the world. One needs to be a genius to rationalize huge falsehoods with the world as you experience it so that you can make good decisions for yourself and yet still maintain the falsehoods. A correct model of the world lowers your cognitive load substantially. The behavior of others becomes much less surprising. Misunderstandings happen less often. Dealing with others at work and in your personal life becomes easier the more you understand the implications of everything from differences in cognitive ability to the differences in mating strategies of men and women (e.g. why women want the confirmation of other women for their choices whereas men make up their minds about love interests on their own).

Movies, TV shows, and most of what passes for mainstream media discussions of human nature make you you less able to understand the world. You've got seek out the best heterodox writers if you want to understand human nature.

By Randall Parker 2012 April 06 07:39 PM  Human Nature Sexual Politics
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