US posts largest trade deficit since 2008

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Economike
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anon -

anon -

I substantially agree with you, especially that EITC is an effective anti-poverty measure. (That was a meaningful reform, come to think of it.)

Just to be clear, when I wrote that "at lower levels" minumum wage laws are "inconsequential" I did not mean to imply that they're better than doing nothing. I think any minimum wage is to some degree destructive, although the damage is hard to measure at small incremental changes.

mainemom
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push for universal pre-K -

push for universal pre-K - which has a large body of evidence of efficacy and is essentially a transfer to working parents.

A large body of poorly designed studies, according to Russ Whitehurst, who has spent his career advocating for early childhood education.

The best that can be said about public funding of "pre-K" is that when targeted narrowly at the lowest income households, public funding of high quality programs can have a positive effect that lasts longer than a year or so.

Here's just one source to back up my assertion:

Does Pre-k Work? It Depends How Picky You Are
Russ Whitehurst, with Brookings at the time

"This study provides the strongest evidence available on the greater return on investment of targeted preschool interventions in contrast to universal programs in which money is spent on all children,"

"Not one of the studies that has suggested long-term positive impacts of center-based early childhood programs has been based on a well-implemented and appropriately analyzed randomized trial, and nearly all have serious limitations in external validity. In contrast, the only two studies in the list with both high internal and external validity (Head Start Impact and Tennessee) find null or negative impacts, and all of the studies that point to very small, null, or negative effects have high external validity. In general, a finding of meaningful long-term outcomes of an early childhood intervention is more likely when the program is old, or small, or a multi-year intervention, and evaluated with something other than a well-implemented RCT. In contrast, as the program being evaluated becomes closer to universal pre-k for four-year-olds and the evaluation design is an RCT, the outcomes beyond the pre-k year diminish to nothing.

"I conclude that the best available evidence raises serious doubts that a large public investment in the expansion of pre-k for four-year-olds will have the long-term effects that advocates tout.

"This doesn’t mean that we ought not to spend public money to help families with limited financial resources access good childcare for their young children."

anonymous_coward
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@mainemom:

@mainemom:
1) your link is broken
2) I did some googling anyway to see what this guy is saying and he is advocating what I suggested earlier, boosting EITC. As we've noted before, this is mostly a non-starter because voters are too dumb and have too short an attention span to understand what it does. (Could be that it just needs better marketing, a name that's catchier than a FLA. Who knows.).
3) There's a rebuttal to his study here: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/opinion/sunday/does-pre-k-make-any-di... if you're interested.
4) (I found the article you were trying to link) He doesn't say that we shouldn't have universal pre-K, just that he is calling into question the statistical interpretations of the studies:
"This doesn’t mean that we ought not to spend public money to help families with limited financial resources access good childcare for their young children. After all, we spend tax dollars on national parks, symphony orchestras, and Amtrak because they make the lives of those who use them better today. Why not childcare?

It does mean that we need public debate that recognizes the mixed nature of the research findings rather than a rush to judgment based on one-sided and misleading appeals to the preponderance of the evidence."

I am all for correct statistical studies. Let's have more! Let's drop some cash on a randomized study here in Maine, why not?

Economike
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Hmmm. If we're thinking

Hmmm. If we're thinking about fantasy reforms that will never gain political support, my preference would be to eliminate the entire federal Department of Education and let the federal system work as intended. Let the states experiment. I'm hoping some states will essentially privatize their systems.

http://www.aei.org/events/is-education-worth-it/

Matt
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Because the track records of

Because the track records of for-profit colleges and de Vos’s long distance clown diploma programs have shown that privatization is the way to go.-

Economike
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Because the track records of

Because the track records of for-profit colleges and de Vos’s long distance clown diploma programs have shown that privatization is the way to go.-

This is a strawman argument, if we wish to dignify it as an argument.

If - and I mean "if" as a counter-factual hypothetical - government didn't have a virtually monopoly on K-12 schools, you and I don't know what resources would arise to fill the need for education. The result would undoubtedly be a combination of government and non-profit, in addition to private for-profit. The U.S. spends $15,000 per capita on K-12, more than any other nation. How much of that is deadweight cost?

Matt
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It’s not a straw man argument

It’s not a straw man argument at all. There’s actually data to refer to.

Private industry can often do things better and more efficiently. It can also do things worse, or half ass—especially when there’s a giant vat of federal $ to draw from.

Public education exists for the masses, no matter their social background or parental income bracket. You get rid of it, and you instantly head in the direction of the “haves” enjoying access to quality education and the “have nots” losing it.

Toolsmith
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Pay For should not mean No

Pay For should not mean No Choice. Provide the money as a voucher, allow choice of any school. The miserable results from the current public schools should disqualify them from any government enforced monopoly.

Whatever complaints about private or charters may be, you cannot do worse than current public results.

Economike
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Public education exists for

Public education exists for the masses, no matter their social background or parental income bracket. You get rid of it, and you instantly head in the direction of the “haves” enjoying access to quality education and the “have nots” losing it.

Matt -

In reality, public education already fails the "have-nots." That's why the "haves" can afford good schools by moving to expensive neighborhoods.

Please pay attention. When I wrote - in response to an invitation to suggest politically infeasible reforms - that I hope some states would privatize education, I did not write that I hoped all education would be privatized. Also, privatized is not equivalent to exclusion. In the U.S., distribution of food is privatized. That doesn't mean that "have-nots" don't eat.

Imagine, just for fun, that all the resources currently allocated to K-12 public education suddenly became available for completely redesigned uses. Would you build brick-and-mortar institutions where all children were required to sit like factory workers on an assembly line for twelve years?

pmconusa
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Education in its simplest

Education in its simplest form is the learning of the language. That is words and the context in which their meaning is evident. Before formal education for the masses it was conducted by the church where the language was learned both at home and in the church with the bible being the main source book for words and their context along with learning right from wrong. It was Thomas Jefferson who championed education for the masses, not to insure all learned the language but to weed out those who had limited potential to advance civilization, both scientifically and culturally. What he didn't like about the teaching in the churches was the dogma that came along with learning the language.

That said, the public schools are failing today because learning the language is no longer central to its goals, it is the dogma of the Progressives. The children who can advance in language learning are held back by the unsupportable belief that we are all alike. Their competition, the press, TV, radio, magazines and now the internet make learning the language much more rapid while the schools hold them back to a rigid timeline more attune to the 1700s and 1800s, before the advent of modern day media. Particularly frustrating to those of us on the outside looking in is the fact that children are no longer necessary to gather the crops in summer but we still stop school for those several months only because we always did.

Children can learn the language faster now than ever before and the only reason for the school system is the diploma one receives at the end which is the credential needed to enter the workforce. It and the college diploma are meaningless when there are more people entering the job market than leaving it or jobs being created. Employers have the pick of the litter and essentially that piece of paper is meaningless because what people are being hired for is their ability to show up on time, put in their 8 hours learning the "trade" be it physical or mental and not be concerned about vacation, parental leave, retirement plans and health care or that the people who hire them are evil.

We have been throwing money at this system for decades and it keeps getting worse. It is the epitome of the definition of insanity. The alternative is no better because we still cannot get over the hurdle of more job seekers than jobs because the system we have adopted to manage our economy requires one to work in order to survive and that system has always been doomed to fail as it has through the ages.

Matt
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Economike—

Economike—

Your “pay attention” quip is pejorative BS. If you are hoping that “some states” will privatize, and you think that public education is horrible, it’s pretty obvious what you ultimately would like to see happen.

You want to compare education to eating? Really? That’s your analogy? Sure, let’s flesh that out.

1. If you have plenty of money, you can eat at top notch restaurants, or go shopping at Whole Foods or whatever other specialty market, and purchase the best meat, veggies, and whatever else that is available. If you end up malnourished, or fat, it’s because you’re a moron, or have no self control. Every opportunity to be healthy has been afforded you.

On the other side of the coin, if you are a kid growing up in a family of five, with a breadwinner parent who’s been laid off, or is nonexistent, or what have you, you are probably eating a pretty poor selection of foods—dollar menus stuff, cheap carbs, etc.—and you may not even be getting enough of those.

If your concern is that poor kids are not getting a quality education but that privatization will improve that, a food system analogy is about the worst analogy you could make. But I think you are exactly right! The wealthy will continue to dine on filet, and the poor will scrounge from the offal pile. You think the system we have now is bad? Lol.

Toolsmith says give everyone $ and let them pick which school to go to. I might get on board with this if any student could go to any school they wanted to. But the reality is that schools select their student body. Make a school take all comers, and the reality is that the private or parochial school with the great test scores starts to see results that look a lot like your average public school outcomes.

Toolsmith
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In reality, public education

In reality, public education already fails the "have-nots." That's why the "haves" can afford good schools by moving to expensive neighborhoods.

In reality, public education fails EVERYONE. Once it adopted progressive dogma as its principal goal, it ceased to be an educational system. Those in wealthy districts get better facilities, but not better results. We've tossed billions into this morass, and it only gets worse.

Since education isn't the goal, that result is to be expected. We've got kids now who scream that the current resident at 1600 on a certain avenue is "literally Hitler", and 60% of them (according to a just-released study) have no idea what the Holocaust was about. What do they think Hitler means? Just curious.

Economike
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Matt -

Matt -

I seem to have provoked your indignation.

What's pretty obvious is only what I wrote, not what you extravagantly conclude I would like to see happen.

OK. You don't like my comparison between provision of food and education because wealthy people command better choices. But, to repeat myself, with our current system of public K-12 education, wealthy Americans already command far better choices in education. As you might say, kids in wealthy suburban neighborhoods get the filet and kids in poor, primarily urban or fringe rural, neighborhoods scrounge from the offal pile.

But what about no choice for poor kids? In practice, the American educational system is already privatized, with parents buying better schools through proxy, i.e. the purchase of residential real estate. Ironically, the U. S. spends more than $15,000 per K-12 student annually, more than any other nation, and this amount doesn't include the deadweight cost of moving across town to enroll Dick and Jane at Extracurricular Middle School, the one with a great art program, a hockey team, and no crime.

What do you think? Do you heartily endorse public education as it is?

Bear in mind that "private" doesn't equate to "exclusive" or "for-profit" or even "expensive." I think there are lots of (politically unpopular, I admit) ways to improve educational outcomes for everyone. As I asked - Imagine, just for fun, that all the resources currently allocated to K-12 public education suddenly became available for completely redesigned uses. Would you build brick-and-mortar institutions where all children were required to sit like factory workers on an assembly line for twelve years?

Toolsmith
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Most of what I've seen from

Most of what I've seen from private schools has to do with how much better students do once they leave the public schools and go to a private school. Those schools are actually *trying* to teach, and the result is improvement in results. It looks to me like the public schools have just given up teaching altogether. Even when I was in school, the results were worse year after year.

As I said, I don't anticipate perfection. The scores may indeed come down as the mix changes. Private schools should accept those who want to go there. But I am convinced they cannot do worse than what we have now.

Bruce Libby
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While I am sure that this

While I am sure that this thread is all related on some level but for now I offer a prize
from the past.
This wins an award for the most hijacked thread of recent times.

Two questions :
What is the trade deficit !
What would happen if it was lower?

Economike
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Bruce -

Bruce -

I don't think "hijacked" is apt.

The person who initiated this thread asked for additional, possibly off-topic, ideas.

Personally, I don't mind wandering threads.

The trade deficit is the difference between the value of imports and the value of exports, in the national account. It is equal to the capital surplus, which is the value of investment by foreigners in the national economy.

A trade deficit makes little difference in any given period of time. "Trade deficit" isn't necessarily harmful. What would happen if it were lower depends on why it trends lower.

Bruce Libby
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Thanks

Thanks

Toolsmith
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The definition of trade

The definition of trade deficit assumes a zero-sum game. When the value of imports exceeds the value of exports, then money is what is being exported.

Think of it as "adding liquidity", with the U.S. Dollar functioning as a global central bank. :)

anonymous_coward
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@Economike: "Hmmm. If we're

@Economike: "Hmmm. If we're thinking about fantasy reforms that will never gain political support, my preference would be to eliminate the entire federal Department of Education and let the federal system work as intended. Let the states experiment. I'm hoping some states will essentially privatize their systems."

Wasn't "Race to the Top" supposed to try and spur competition at the state level (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_Top)? I mean, it was done in a big-budget liberal way, but I did like the idea of a competition (so you get more "stuff done" for the dollars you spent, since even the losers are working towards a goal).

(Full disclosure, I did not follow that program very closely and have no idea if it actually worked or not.)

One thing I would worry about is, what happens to the really poor, shitty states? Does a poor state like Mississippi just cut educational spending because they don't have the tax base of a NY/CA/TX?

How can we craft federal public policy so that the poor states don't get left in the dust? (Not advocating for the current system, which is clearly broken, just wondering how that would work in your scenario.)

Economike
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One thing I would worry about

One thing I would worry about is, what happens to the really poor, shitty states? Does a poor state like Mississippi just cut educational spending because they don't have the tax base of a NY/CA/TX?

anon -

My short answer is "I don't know." I do have a few thoughts.

1. Does the current system of federal funding serve to equalize expenditure among the states?

2. How important is federal funding to actual results? A cursory web search suggests it amounts to roughly 12-16% of elementary funding nationwide. Is that funding effective, or does it arrive wrapped in red tape?

3. A quick web search reveals that Utah and Idaho, for examples, spend less per capita than Mississippi. I don't get the impression that Utah and Idaho students are underserved by lack of school funding. Nationwide, school funding is all over the place, with the low range around $6,000 and the high around $20,000. Even accounting for tax base and cost-of-living, that's a big difference.

4. Within wealthy states, there's a wide variance in per capita expenditure among school districts, with (surprise!) the wealthier districts spending much more than the poor districts.

5, It's an elusive task to tease out hard data regarding educational outcomes. However, looking at the range of state expenditures, it's intuitively evident that expenditure is not closely proportionate to results.

pmconusa
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There is no such thing as

There is no such thing as capital surplus. When we export goods we are transferring goods, not capital to foreign entities. Foreigners are investing in the U. S. so they can repatriate profits, which are not considered part of trade, just as the transfer of dollars by illegal aliens working in the U. S. A lower deficit simply means we are exporting less, but we keep importing more because whatever the U. S. produces, outside of some services that can only be performed in the U. S. can be produced more cheaply elsewhere. The upshot is we are becoming less self sufficient in what really counts.

The real problem is in the export of our agriculture, which is what countries such as China, and many other industrial and third world countries require because they no longer produce enough food to feed their populations. We import enough food to feed over 75 million of our population while at the same time export enough to feed nearly 400 million. To top it off we have to subsidize these exports to keep those who own the land from converting it to more profitable uses. To compound the lunacy, we export wheat, which has nearly 5 times the fuel value of that which we import. Corn we mostly feed to animals or use to make ethanol. The remainder goes to feed Latin Americans, particularly Mexico. There are only two countries in Latin America that are self sufficient in food. It is why those who are being denied their fair share of their country's supply are trying to migrate here. Before this century is over our own population will be such that they will consume what is now exported, then what. I explain it all in my books and have excerpted them on this blog but have been declared an nut case by those who haven't even read them. Fortunately I won't be around when I can say I told so.

anonymous_coward
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@Economike: Yeah I don't have

@Economike: Yeah I don't have any answers, either. My last deep dive was on health care, I guess this could be my next one.

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