Chart above (click to enlarge) is from a new program called MapLand, which works with Excel to create graphs, just trying it out for the first time. Notice that Michigan (6.9%) and Mississippi (6%) are the only states with unemployment rates at 6% or higher.
1. Supply and Demand for NYC Parking Spaces, The Price Is Right at $225,000, NY Times
2. Going to the Mall for an Eye Checkup, Starting at $55, WSJ
3. Pirated Music Helps Radio Develop Playlists, The Upside of Illegal Downloading, WSJ
4. Can’t Sell Your House? Try Raising the Price, Expensive Homes Are Selling, NY Times
Larry Elder on Sicko:
First, a lack of health-care “insurance” does not mean a lack of health care. Many emergency rooms, by law, provide medical care to anyone who walks in, whether an illegal or legal resident of this country.
Second, when Michael Moore asserts that 50 million Americans lack health care insurance, he most assuredly includes some of the estimated 11 million to 20 million illegal aliens living here. Of people born in America, 86% have health-care coverage. For non-citizens, only 57% have health-care insurance.
Now examine those who lack health-care insurance.
Nearly half go without health insurance only for four months or less, usually while between jobs. Others with employment could easily add health-care insurance through their work for a very small premium, and elect not to do so. Many without health-care insurance consist of young people (18 million uninsured are between the ages of 18 and 34) who consider themselves — given their youth and good health — unlikely to face large health-care costs.
Over 14 million of the uninsured, according to the Census Bureau, live in households earning $50,000 or more annually. Over 7 million are in households earning more than $75,000 a year. These people could afford health-care insurance, either out-of-pocket or by making minor adjustments to their lifestyles. A small number of the uninsured include criminals. Should taxpayers provide health care for them, as well?
Labor cost per hour, wages and benefits for hourly workers, 2006.
Ford: $70.51 ($141,020 per year)
GM: $73.26 ($146,520 per year)
Chrysler: $75.86 ($151,720 per year)
Toyota, Honda, Nissan (in U.S.): $48.00 ($96,000 per year)
According to AAUP and IES, the average annual compensation for a college professor in 2006 was $92,973 (average salary nationally of $73,207 + 27% benefits).
Bottom Line: The average UAW worker with a high school degree earns 57.6% more compensation than the average university professor with a Ph.D. (see graph above, click to enlarge), and 52.6% more than the average worker at Toyota, Honda or Nissan.
Many industry analysts say the Detroit Three, and especially Ford, must be on par with Toyota and Honda to survive. This year’s contract, they say, must be “transformational” in reducing pension and health care costs.
What would “transformational” mean? One way to think about: “transformational” would mean that UAW workers, most with a high school degree, would have to accept compensation equal to that of the average university professor with a Ph.D.
Carpe Diem visits, by time zone, from the blog Sitemeter, showing that about 2/3 of the traffic comes from Eastern and Central time zones, and about 85% from the U.S.
Economist Brad Shiller writing in today’s WSJ:
“The federal minimum wage went up on July 1 and hardly anyone noticed. And why should they have? The federal minimum had been stuck at $5.15 since 1997, while average hourly wages had risen nearly 40%. Even entry wages at McDonald’s had crept above $7 in the decade of legislative inaction. So the bump from $5.15 to $5.85 was largely a nonevent.
It’s no wonder, then, that few workers noticed, much less celebrated last week’s hike in the minimum wage. The only people celebrating are the politicians who are already proclaiming how they helped the poor, low-income worker.”
For 20 years The Economist magazine has published its “Big Mac Index.” Since Big Macs are sold in about 120 countries, they can be used as a yardstick to compare currency values (see chart above, click to enlarge).
According to the 2007 Big Mac Index, the world’s most undervalued currency (vs. the dollar) is China’s yuan, where a Big Mac sells for the equivalent of only $1.45 (vs. $3.41 in the U.S.). On the other hand, Norway’s krone is the world’s most overvalued currency – a Big Mac in Oslo will set you back almost $7, more than twice the U.S. price. For 2007, there are 33 currencies like the Chinese yuan that are undervalued, and 13 currencies like the Norwegian kroner that are overvalued.
The Big Mac index has its limits. Burgers can’t be traded across borders to arbitrage price differentials, and McDonald’s doesn’t even sell beef burgers in some countries like India.