Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Bed Sores and Outsourcing

Here is a brief extract from a valuable book that described how outsourcing was losing the sort of crucial healthcare information that can come the supposedly “unskilled workers.”

Appelbaum, Eileen, Peter Berg, Ann Frost, and Gil Preuss. 2003. “The Effects of Work Restructuring on Low- Wage, Low-Skilled Workers in U.S. Hospitals.” In Eileen Appelbaum, Annette Bernhardt, Richard J. Murnane, eds. Low-Wage America: How Employers Are Reshaping Opportunity in the Workplace (Russell Sage Foundation): pp. 77-117.

85: “because food service and housekeeping are not typically seen as distinct sources of hospital success or expertise, some hospital administrators have outsourced these functions or their management to external firms that specialize in these areas.  On the other hand, food service workers, housekeepers, and nursing assistants all have direct contact with patients, and contacts can affect patients’ experiences in the hospital and satisfaction with care.  In response, other hospital administrators have sought to improve employee skills within these jobs and ensure a more stable workforce through more careful selection, cross-training, and work reorganization.”

Bed Sores and the Cultural Revolution

More than three decades ago, I read a book by an English doctor, who described his positive experiences during the cultural Revolution.  Just today, I got around to the New York Times science section from last week in which nursing homes are starting to adopt slightly similar practices in which they distribute responsibility to all levels of caregivers.  The basic difference, of course, is that in the Chinese case all the caregivers were given authority as well as responsibility, while something much different occurs in nursing homes.

What follows is my brief notation from the British doctor’s book and some extracts from the article.

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Repression at University of Missouri, Kansas City

A very troubling report:

More on Labor Markets vs. Family Values

Following up my last post that suggested family stability inhibits labor flexibility, I might mention that in our own recent hiring experience at Chico State, an inordinate number of good candidates proved unemployable because of the need to accommodate a spouse.


In a similar vein, Andrew Oswald showed that home ownership is the most reasonable explanation for differences in unemployment rates between countries.  His scatter graph has a very impressive fit, presumably because people with homes are less likely to pick up and leave for a new job.

Oswald, Andrew J. 1999. “The Housing Market and Europe’s Unemployment: A Non-Technical Paper.”

Economists vs Family (Human) Values?

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers proposed an analogy between the supposed rigidity of European labor markets and the stability of European families:

“The U.S. labor market, like its marriage markets, differs from Europe in having substantially greater “churn”; in any given month in the United States, workers are more likely to be fired than are their European counterparts and those without a match are more likely to be hired. There is an emerging consensus that restrictions on churning in European labor markets yield inefficient labor markets with “too few” job separations. We do not mean to suggest by analogy that Europe is afflicted with too few divorces.”

Stevenson, Betsey and Justin Wolfers. 2007. “Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21: 2 (Spring): pp. 27-52, p. 50.

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A Subprime Primer

Here is a nice power point explanation of the subprime crisis.


Support the Troops, Not!

The mantra about supporting the troops is like the conservatives concerned about the sanctity of life until after the baby is born. The military opposes improving the GI Bill because it gives soldiers and incentive not to reenlist. Even after a soldier leaves, navigating the system is complicated and the ultimate funding is inadequate for a college education, except, perhaps from a mail-order diploma mill. Here is the story from the Boston Globe. Continue reading

A Con Job Versus Wishful Thinking

The absences serious policy discussion in the vacuous election campaign made me think about the CON Job, were con indicates coal, oil, and nuclear. Other than a brief mention of the ridiculous tax subsidies that the cons get, nobody has said anything serious about global warming, which brings me to wishful thinking, where the wish is Wind, Solar, and Hydrogen — assuming that the hydrogen comes from reasonable sources, such as a recent story about using bacteria, instead of nukes, to produce hydrogen.

Economists As Bullying Witch Doctors

Esther-Mirjam Sent has a work in progress regarding how Herbert Simon made an ass of himself in debating with progressive mathematicians, who did not approve of Samuel Huntington joining the National Academy of Sciences. She included two wonderful quotes from one of the mathematicians, Neal Koblitz regarding economist misuse of mathematics.
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Let’s Go Hillary

I think Hillary Clinton will be an excellent candidate. The Democrats managed to lose the last elections with boring policy wonks, devoid of any charm. Now after eight years of George Bush, throwing on election will be more challenging. The Hillary is not just a policy wonk, she is grating and lacks any true commitment except to win at all costs. She probably has more negatives than any first time presidential nominee in my lifetime, with the possible exception of Barry Goldwater, who at least was an authentic person. If anyone is up to the challenge of blowing this election, I think it is Hillary.

More than anyone else, she has the potential of finally proving the emptiness of the Democratic Party to the general public.