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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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