Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Infrastructure in the US

I thought this was a great passage from a piece by Stephen Smith:
"The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is spending $3.8 billion on a single subway station at the World Trade Center designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect known for his costly projects. If New York could build subways at the prices that Paris and Tokyo pay, $3.8 billion would be enough to build the entire Second Avenue subway, from Harlem to the Financial District. "

Smith lays part of the blame at excessive outsourcing.  I think there is a lot of truth to this.  One reason public managers rely on outsourcing as much as they do in the public sector is that they are trying to get around personnel restrictions: 1. the municpality/state/federal pay scale may not be competitive for certain fields (IT comes to mind); 2. it is much easier to fire contractors than civil servants (especially unionized civil servants).  The latter reason is unfortunate because when you pay for that flexibility the cost is very dear.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note and a Note on Names

The Verge has a review of Samsungs latest and greatest tablet-the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.  I never understand why manufacturers have some of these awful names.  The Note part I get.  The big feature of this new Tablet is stylus integration.  Why Galaxy?  Why not just call it the Samsung Note?   Then Samsung would have two  tablet product lines, the Samsung Tab and the Samsung Note which would be differentiated by the presence of a bundled stylus.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thoughts on Ryan VP

Ryan is a marginally better pick than the typical republican VP pick from a base broadening perspective as he is a young white male as opposed to an old white male.  This pick represents either foolishness or confidence on the part of Romney.  Ryan is energetic, charismatic, and has a great command of policy (which amazingly very few politicians do).   In terms of what he brings to the table from an electoral standpoint, my guess is the following:
-firms up the base, the ryan budgets have been bold political documents that slaughter many sacred cows (thus why they are political documents as opposed to public law)
-I think he will appeal to moderates for whom medicare isn't yet on their mind (under 50)
-I think he might move the needle a bit with women (he is good looking)
What  does he take off the table-
-Scaring people about medicare
-Dampens support amongst old white people, see the point immediately above

Ryan and Obama have both proposed taking an axe to medicare.  Their methods of doing so, IPAB v. shifting to a premium support model/competitive bidding, is very different.  But in the end, both are proposing similar cuts and and the same growth rates for Medicare (GDP +.5%).  Going after Obama on Medicare would have been very cynical but probably quite successful.  Picking Ryan takes this option off the table.  It's a good thing for the country regardless of the outcome.

Ryan has also proposed block granting medicaid.  I don't think this will move the needle.  People that oppose this weren't voting for Romney.  People that support it are already voting for Romney.   People that haven't thought about it won't spend the time to think about it now.

Ryan might make Wisconsin competitive.  I doubt it but he might.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Thoughts on the Future of Higher Ed

From somebody who is smarter than me and a much better writer: http://benjaminlima.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/massive-online-learning-and-the-unbundling-of-undergraduate-education/.

Give it a look.

Belated Thoughts on the Olympics Twitter Expulsions

I don't believe that athletes should be expelled from the olympics for saying offensive things.  Many of these athletes are young and foolish but nonetheless have made a tremendous personal sacrifice to make it to the olympics and this sacrifice should not be negated by an idiotic tweet. I think public censure is sufficient punishment by itself.