The Morning Grumpy – 10/19/12

19 Oct

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. With the acquisition of SmartPill by an Israeli firm, the Buffalo Medical Campus will be losing one of its premier tenants. I thought it might be an opportune time to again link to research about the end of the road for public investments in an “eds and meds” economic development strategy.

In the last few decades, as suburbanization and deindustrialization devastated so many cities, they turned to two sectors that seemed not only immune to decline, but were actually growing: universities and hospitals. The so-called “eds and meds” sectors, often related through university affiliated hospitals, became a great stabilizer for many places.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these sectors have come to dominate so many cites’ economic development strategies. It’s harder to find a major city that isn’t touting some variation of a life sciences “cluster” as a strategic industry than one who is, and local medical schools and hospital complexes feature prominently in this.

Yet in reality, over-reliance on eds and meds is problematic. Firstly, these tend to be non-profit, and thus reduce the tax base in cities that are dependent on them.

But for cities hanging their hat on eds and meds growth, a more fundamental problem now looms: these industries are at the end of their growth cycle. Spending on healthcare and college tuition costs has been skyrocketing at rates greater than inflation for years.  Here’s a chart, via Atlantic Cities, showing job creation by sector since 1939:

As the US starts to groan under the weight of spending on health care and higher education, it’s clear that, as a society, we need to be spend less, not more on these items as a share of national output.  Some cities with unique strengths, like Boston, with its many specialized biotech firms, or Houston, with the world’s largest medical center, may thrive in this environment, but the vast majority of cities are likely to be very disappointed in where eds and meds growth will take them.

Honest question, do you think that anyone in a leadership position in this town reads articles like this? Do they incorporate data put forward by think tanks and research firms like this into our regional strategy? Or do they simply march headlong on the same path until they hit a brick wall? I’m not proposing that we abandon our current direction, but there is a great amount of research and data available in economic development circles that this “eds and meds” cycle is coming to a close and that progressive and innovative cities are already looking for the next big thing. It might be time to call Pat Whalen or Matt Enstice and get an interview.

2. ZeFrank with the absolute best analysis of Tuesday’s Presidential debate. Who gets tired of debate analysis? Not me, especially when it’s this awesome.

3. Red state moochers, this is what is called political cognitive dissonance.

Among states that voted Republican in the last three elections, all but one gets more money back from the federal government than it pays in taxes. For most Democratic states, it’s the opposite. Looked at this way, the red states are the moochers and the blue states are the makers.

Yes, it has been this way for quite some time. The anti-government tea party red states receive more in federal spending than they contribute in taxes.

While up here in progressive blue state America, we get back less than we put in. And to top it off, we get better results with less federal money.

By nearly every measure, people who live in the blue states are healthier, wealthier, and generally better off than people in the red states. It’s impossible to prove that this is the direct result of government spending. But the correlation is hard to dismiss. The four states with the highest poverty rates are all red: Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas. (The fifth is New Mexico, which has turned blue.) And the five states with the lowest poverty rates are all blue: New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont, Minnesota, and Hawaii. The numbers on infant mortality, life expectancy, teen pregnancy, and obesity break down in similar ways. A recent study by researchers at the American Institute for Physics evaluated how well-prepared high schoolers were for careers in math and science. Massachusetts was best, followed closely by Minnesota and New Jersey. Mississippi was worst, along with Louisiana and West Virginia. In fact, it is difficult to find any indicator of well-being in which red states consistently do better than blue states.

If the red states don’t want the money, we’ll gladly take it up here.

4. A brief history of the land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant by Nina Paley. 

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

A guide to who’s-killing-who viewer’s can be found here:

5. How Mitt Romney made millions off the auto bailout and how Mitt’s hedge fund donors made billions.

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

Dirty politics, man.

Fact Of The Day: The man who created the 5 Hour Energy drink, Manoj Bhargava, is worth 1.5 billion dollars.

Quote Of The Day: “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” – Richard Dawkins

Video Of The Day: How a slinky works…in slow motion. I could watch this all day.

Song Of The Day: I’m closing out Rolling Stones week with the criminally underrated single, “Salt Of The Earth”. Keith took over lead vocals on this one and it’s a beautiful tribute to the working man.

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15 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 10/19/12”

  1. Jesse Griffis October 19, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    On #1, it’s too bad politicians can’t help themselves and they just have to try to centrally plan stuff like this (the fact they can’t come up with original ideas just compounds the problem). But they need their ribbon cutting ceremonies, so here we be.

    “Well, our regulations and plans didn’t work – let’s add some new ones!” – Every government everywhere

    • jameshorn October 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      if we didn’t lie, cheat, and steal at every opportunity we wouldn’t need regulation-  nearly every business everywhere

  2. Paul Buckley October 19, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    #1) It’s Pat Whalen, not Tim Whalen.  Honest answer to honest question:  Of course there are those in leadership positions who read these articles; don’t act so naive.  

    • Chris Smith October 19, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Typo on the Whalen thing, I’m sure Pat would find it a slur to be called Tim.

      On my being naive, I’ve asked the Mayor and other elected officials if they read these types of documents and studies and the answer has usually been, “no”. If they do read them, how are they incorporated into our strategies? We’re not the most nimble of brain in this region and I rarely see changes in efforts or designs. I think it’s an honest question that deserves an answer.

  3. Jesse Griffis October 19, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    On #3, it’s a little specious to just quote the raw numbers. I reckon at least some attention should be paid to what we’re paying for and what we’re getting out of it.

    Also, it might be interesting to see a poll where you ask the red staters if they’d take less back if they had less taken. I think we’ve already seen evidence of this in polls showing that the majority wants smaller government that does less, in general. The trouble is, of course, when it’s your ZOMG CRITICAL program that’s being cut…….

    • BlackRockLifer October 19, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      The red staters aren’t paying their share as it is, if they paid even less in taxes their state and county government would simply ignore their needs as has been the history, especially in the deep south.   The federal government is the only equalizer between them and a third world status, be careful what you wish for. 
      I don’t believe the majority wants smaller government, I suppose that depends on how the question is asked. I think it is clear the majority wants basic economic fairness, not the current system that distorts government to enable the wealthy. Most want the government to advocate for the average citizen and would support more government if that was the goal. 

  4. Jim_Holstun October 19, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    On #4: this video encourages the racist vision of “those crazy old Levantines, always killing each other, whatever can we do with them? It’s been the same since time began!” The problems are

    –they’re no crazier than anybody else.
    –women and children have been and are still being killed.
    –they’re frequently being killed with our weapons, which we give/sell to Israel.
    –it’s not all about killing–it’s also about exploitation and land theft.
    –it hasn’t been just this way since time began; the contemporary problem began with the First Aliyah, and kicked into overdrive in 1948. And it can be fixed.

    • Alan Bedenko October 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Clearly, the Jews have had it so easy, everywhere. 

      • Jim_Holstun October 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

         Why Alan, what a foolish thing to say. Of course the Jews haven’t had it easy elsewhere. They were subject to vicious progroms in Eastern Europe, expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella, killed by the millions by Hitler, subject to vicious discrimination, mainly in European countries and North American, but elsewhere as well–even in Buffalo, of course. Whatever could make you say that the Jews have had it easy, everywhere? And “clearly” too! I just don’t understand you. Why do you wish to deny the history of Jewish suffering? Of course, there’s no contradiction at all between this history and the history of Palestinian suffering during the past 120 years or so. Somebody who actually studies both may actually even be able to understand both better.

        Frankly, I think this little cartoon is viciously Jew-hating as well as viciously Palestinian and Muslim-hating.

      • Alan Bedenko October 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

        I think it’s humorously pacifist. It’s idiotic that so many people have died over a spit of sand. Israeli Arabs are the freest Arabs in the region. The instances of Jews being allowed freely to live in Arab countries is somewhat limited.

      • Jim_Holstun October 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

         It’s not humorously pacifist, but deeply racist, to suggest that people of a certain area are mad-dog murderers. Everyone there hasn’t died just over a “spit of land.” Quite a few there have died because they have simply tried to assert their human rights to live, cultivate their fields, stay in their own houses. Check out “Iman al-Hams,” for instance–she didn’t die for a “spit of land,” but because she was trying to walk to school.

        Your claim about Israeli Arabs is nonsensical and deeply ignorant of the many ways in which they are subject to Israeli Jim Crow (inability to buy land, for instance, or to marry and live with whom they will), and of the flawed but non-racist democracy in Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, etc. Yes, Jews in some Arab countries have been subject to second-class citizenship and some persecution, even expulsion but Investigate the Golden Age of Spain under Arab rule, to what European Jews suffered during Baltic and Ukrainian pogroms and the Shoah.

      • Alan Bedenko October 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

        Almost all land in Israel is state-owned. Most Jews can’t own land, either. I don’t think things there are as black-and-white / good vs. bad as you suggest they are.

      • Jim_Holstun October 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

        God, could you please deal with what I say rather than with this childish rephrasing? I didn’t use the terms “good/bad” or “black/white.”  Andrew Jackson: “The ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears wasn’t just right/wrong, good/bad. There were some nasty Cherokee, you know–and some of them were spousal abusers!” Really, there’s no need to regress to third grade just because we’re talking about something you’re not up on.

        With some small exceptions,  the Jewish National Fund will only rent, lease, or sell land to Jews. The Palestinians–whose land was stolen by the Jewish National Fund, and whose land they are still stealing in East Jerusalem–are out of luck.

        Meanwhile, does the story of Iman al-Hams connect with you at all, or give you second thoughts? No, I didn’t think so.

        I’m done. Return to your received wisdom, and be happy.

      • Alan Bedenko October 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

        Yes, tragic stories connect with me. But you seem to only have tragic stories wherein one side is a victim. Maybe you think the missiles that get indiscriminately hurled into Israeli territory, or the suicide bombings from the aughts didn’t murder innocent Israelis.

        Or, perhaps, you don’t think there’s such a thing as an innocent Israeli.

      • Jim_Holstun October 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

        Yet once more, and even more foolish. Ah, yes, the Hamas sparklers again (funny how the Israeli missiles and gunships and white phosphorus and cluster bombs and DIME experimental explosives never get a mention, though they murder so many more). The 2009 Israeli massacre in Gaza was preceded by months and months of a scrupulously observed Hamas truce, and repeated Israeli violations. This drove the Israelis crazy, so they sent a death squad into Gaza to kill some Palestinians, provoke some response, and provide an excuse for the ensuing turkey shoot.

        “Or perhaps you don’t think there’s such a thing as an innocent Israeli.” Can you present an argument without this sort of foolishness? Really, give it a try,  just for variety’s sake. Really, instead of mouthing conventional racist Zionist myths, read a little first.

        What about the Cherokees, Alan? They killed some white people too! And
        how about that Nat Turner–hey, all the suffering wasn’t on the side of
        the slaves. He killed white babies! Hey, stop talking so much about the
        Trail of Tears and slavery. It wasn’t just one side who were victims.
        White people are victims too!


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