Sunday, May 31, 2015

Wrap Up for May '15

May...a month of historic floods in Texas. There are still areas in the local park which have basically turned into wetlands in recent months! Of course, one good thing about parks, is that people can more easily adapt to changing conditions in weather and whatever else Mother Nature decides to dish out. Unfortunately, the same isn't always true for private property. People still build extensive structures in places where the survival of buildings is questionable, at best. Why is this practice encouraged, when beautiful but challenging areas could be approached on different terms? From a recent article about the Texas floods:
Cities in Texas are already curbing development along waterways, while other areas are increasingly taking steps, especially in terms of building codes. But the current floods point to a need to inject fresh energy into efforts, some say.
Perhaps there are learning curves and collective memories involved. This video about future restoration along the Blanco River in Wimberley, suggested that some environments would thrive better, if allowed to heal on their own. Coastal areas particularly call for more flexible options, or - at the very least - carefully placed bets. For instance, Hurricane Carla quickly changed the ways that people chose to build along the Texas coast, when I was quite young.

On a smaller scale, there is much that individuals can do for their own property as well. Of course, local education would need to play active roles in the ways water management is approached, because the effects don't just stop at one's property line.

"My sense is that over time, hospitals will become places that you go only to get really specialized, really hi-tech care". I definitely look forward to this approach. Speaking of healthcare, there is still a lot of overkill in the marketplace.

Megan McArdle explains that new starter homes have hit a dead stop.
Builder Online asks: Are start up homes history?

In 80 years, views about happiness have changed.

Ross Douthat: Two Premises on Poverty and Culture "The modern welfare state has not succeeded in producing clear improvements in opportunity, mobility and human flourishing."

When planning goes wrong: Tax increment financing as the new urban renewal has some definite drawbacks, according to Scott Beyer.

More than just jobs in driving will be affected by the rise in automated cars.

Market Urbanism takes a closer look at the concept of an attractive city.

A lack of children or other family members, could cause a rise in what is also referred to as elder orphans.

"It's not about the schooling, it's about experiences." The Rise of Alt-School and other Micro-Schools

John Stuart Mill's thoughts on conformity and individualism are still timely.

While I have not been able to keep up with all the discussions re Romer and "mathiness", here are some of the recent posts:
Simon Wren-Lewis - Consensus in macroeconomics
Stephen Williamson - Don't get mathy with me or I'll give you a good shunning
Two from Dietz Vollrath, Mathiness versus Science in Growth Economics, and  More on mathiness
A well thought out response to Vollrath from Romer:

Yichuan Wang takes a closer look at debt to GDP ratios.

Are women more "philosophical" about a lack of success, money or resources after a certain age? After all, differences in longevity can be sharp, given differences in income. Whatever drives these results, they may give women who have limited economic access more hope about living a long life, should they desire to do so - even in "hard times".

Ricardo Hausmann has written some good posts, but he "nailed it" with a Project Syndicate article regarding the central flaw of educational goals. This post deserves to be read in its entirety. Here is part of the summary for which I can only say "bravo":
...Evidently, "something in the water", other than education, makes people much more productive in some places than in others. A successful growth strategy needs to figure out what that is.
Make no mistake: education presumably does raise productivity. But to say education is your growth strategy means that you are giving up on everyone that has already gone through the school system - most people over 18, and almost all over 25. It is a strategy that ignores the potential that is in 100% of today's labor force, 98% of next year's, and a huge number of people who will be around for the next half-century. An education-only strategy is bound to make all of them regret having been born too soon. 
This generation is too old for education to be its growth strategy. It needs a growth strategy that will make it more productive - and thus able to create the resources to invest more in the education of the next generation. Our generation owes it to theirs to have a growth strategy for ourselves. And that strategy will not be about going back to school.
Education is one of the most vital aspects of life. However, it is nothing short of a travesty to be tossed out to the curb upon graduating from high school, as now happens far too often. When communities devote the vast majority of their resources to maintain local schools for their young, too few options remain for those who choose to stay afterward. Education not only needs to be approached as a lifelong experiential product, but also as means to provide practical solutions for everyday needs. Everyone should have the freedom to offer services, skills and knowledge for local community, for the full extent of a lifetime.

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