Blame Technology, Not Longer Life Spans, for Health Spending Increases

“American life spans are rising, and as they are, health care spending is, too. But longevity is not contributing to the spending increase as much as you might think… The real culprit of increased spending? Technology,” Austin Frakt writes for The New York Times.

“Every year you age, health care technology changes — usually for the better, but always at higher cost. Technology change is responsible for at least one-third and as much as two-thirds of per capita health care spending growth. After accounting for changes in income and health care coverage, aging alone can explain only, at most, a few percentage points of spending growth — a conclusion reached by several studies.”

Do Regulations Really Kill Jobs?

Alana Semuels: “In some cases, the politicians do have a point: Regulations that seek to make air and water cleaner can also cause concentrated job losses in certain industries and locations. These losses are painful for the people they affect, who often have a hard time finding new employment, especially in regions where a newly-regulated industry is concentrated.”

“But the idea that regulations stunt job growth more broadly is not supported by research. Many of the academic studies that have explored the question find that regulations don’t decrease jobs in the overall economy. They sometimes reduce jobs in certain sectors, but they create new jobs in others. A factory that makes lead additives for gasoline might be shut down because regulations have banned lead additives. But new jobs will then be created at a factory that makes catalytic converters, which are emissions-control devices for cars. Some workers, then, benefit from regulation, while others lose. That doesn’t mean that the losses aren’t real and painful for the people who held those jobs, but the overall picture is not one that can be accurately characterized by the phrase ‘job-killing.'”

Trump May Be the News Industry’s Greatest Opportunity to Build a Sustainable Model

“As we feel the ever-louder banging on the doors of a free press, we should also hear, weirdly, another knocking. That’s the knocking of opportunity,” Ken Doctor writes for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

“It’s not just the ‘journalistic spring’ that Jack Shafer predicts as the conflicts and controversies of the Trump administration prove fertile ground for investigation. It’s the opportunity to rewrite the tattered social contract between journalists and readers, a chance to rebuild a relationship that’s been weakening by the year for a decade now.”

“My simple proposition: More Americans will pay more for a growing, smarter, and in-touch local news source if they are presented with one. As the local newspaper industry has shriveled, most readers have never been presented with that choice. Rather they’ve had to witness smaller and smaller papers, and then less and lower-quality digital news offerings.”

We Don’t Gradually Glide Into Corrupt Behavior—We Jump Head First

Tom Jacobs: “It is widely believed that losing one’s moral compass is a gradual process. Breaking a small ethical rule gives us license to break a larger one, and then a still larger one, until unethical behavior gradually feels normal.”

“But newly published research asserts this ‘intuitively compelling notion’ is inaccurate. In four experiments, participants were more likely to engage in large-scale unethical behavior if the opportunity came out of the blue, rather than after they had previously given in to minor temptations.”

Federal Policy Will Shift. Not All States Will Shift With It. 

Robert H. Frank: “Bitter divisions about the proper role of government in the United States have always been with us. Within broad limits, our Constitution’s response to this reality has been to empower states to adopt policies tailored to their own constituents’ beliefs and values.”

“So in the wake of an unusually divisive presidential election, vigorous state-level actions to offset specific changes in federal policy are already underway.”

Trump Will Use 4 Real Estate Business Tricks to Rebuild the U.S. 

Jay N. Rollins: “Trump’s real estate background provides him with the outline for how to fix the economy:”

  • “Spend money on the asset using debt”
  • “Make improvements that, when completed, will generate more income (in this case, infrastructure to improve commerce)”
  • “These new improvements will lead to more business, which will generate more cash flow (in this case economic growth)”
  • “The hope is that increased cash flow will outpace the growing debt”

“When it works, it can be very profitable. When it does not work, the project could end up in Chapter 11, like Trump’s New Jersey casinos.”

Why a Wall Won’t Keep America’s Newest Immigrants Out

Washington Post: “…new research suggests that picture of U.S. immigration may be changing fast. Analysis from Jed Kolko, chief economist at job search site Indeed, shows that recent immigrants are much more likely to be highly educated and to have found jobs in industries involving computers, mathematics and science than the immigrants who came before them. If these immigrants are taking jobs from natives, those jobs are increasingly likely to be highly skilled and highly paid ones.”

“Recent immigrants are also much more likely to come from Asia compared with previous waves. Among immigrants who came to the U.S. in the past five years, one-third were born in Latin America, and 12 percent in Mexico. That’s down from previous years: Looking at the U.S. immigrant population overall, half of those 25 and older were born in Latin America and 27 percent were born in Mexico, Kolko says.”

“The decline in immigrants from Latin America has been offset by a surge from Asia. In the past five years, 45 percent of immigrants to the U.S. were born in Asia, especially India, China and the Philippines. Among the overall U.S. immigrant population, those born in Asia make up only 30 percent.”

Researchers Created Fake News. Here’s What They Found.

Neil Irwin: “Some new research from two economists throws at least a bit of cold water on the theory that false news was a major influence on the election result. They offer some hard data on how pervasive voters’ consumption of fake news really was during the 2016 election cycle. The research also reveals some disturbing truths about the modern media environment and how people make sense of the incoming gush of news.”

“That’s a strong indication about what is going on with consumers of fake news. It may be less that false information from dubious news sources is shaping their view of the world. Rather, some people (about 8 percent of the adult population, if we take the survey data at face value) are willing to believe anything that sounds plausible and fits their preconceptions about the heroes and villains in politics.”

Ethics Rules Are National Security Rules

Susan Hennessey: “Readers may be wondering what federal ethics law and policy has to do with national security. The answer is a whole lot. Fundamentally, ethics policies governing the Executive and his cabinet are national security protections. As such, it is important that we recognize the national security implications of the incoming Administration’s positions on ethics.”

“The demand for adequate ethics disclosure and vetting reflects the national security strategy of—as Reagan put it—’Trust, but verify.’ We ask for verification that our government officials are free from undue influence because it goes to the core of basic democratic legitimacy. There should be no questions regarding the purity of the motives of individuals we authorize to place our soldiers, foreign service officers, or intelligence agents in harm’s way. Because of the necessary secrecy that surrounds a great many of these decisions, full vetting and transparency at the outset are critical to ensuring the Executive branch is, in fact, placing country first and also to maintaining basic integrity and legitimacy in the eyes of the people.”

Obama and the Limits of ‘Fact-Based’ Foreign Policy

Shadi Hamid: “The very notion of ‘facts’ has been demeaned by Republicans, and most of all by Team Donald Trump. As Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes put it, ‘There’s no such thing, unfortunately anymore, as facts.’ In response, Democrats have doubled down on their tendency to wield facts as cudgels, demonstrating their righteousness in the process. It would be a loss, though, if this came to be seen as merely another partisan schism. As it turns out, Obama’s foreign-policy legacy can offer an important window into whether facts—and being ‘reality-based’—are quite as critical to real-world policy success as we might like to think.”

“I, or any critic of Obama’s foreign policy, could sit with an Obama administration official, and, even if we agreed on all the facts and specifics of a particular country or conflict, it wouldn’t matter much. Divergences in how people interpret Obama’s legacy have much more to do with fundamentally different starting assumptions about America’s role in the world and even human nature—in other words, the very reasons why we do what we do. In fact, looking back at my own meetings with officials during the Obama era, rarely do I ever recall hearing something and thinking to myself that I had just heard some gross error of fact. This is why I found such meetings so frustrating and circular: The only things we disagreed on were the most important.”

A New Private-Public Partnership to Train Workers

Derek Thompson: “The U.S. government has the money to retrain workers, but not the curriculum. Companies have the expertise to teach relevant skills, but won’t spend the money. So why not bring them together to create a government-backed corporate retraining program, one in which Washington pays companies for only those curricula that raise workers’ wages? That’s the gist of a proposal, ‘Toward a New Capitalism,’ from the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, which was co-chaired by Senator Mark Warner and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.”

“It is called ‘pay for performance.’ Here’s the idea in a nutshell. A young worker comes to Derek’s Factory to make freezers. After a year, I decide freezers are a terrible business, so I spend a couple thousand dollars training the young worker to make dishwashers. If she’s great at it, and her wages rise, the government will pay back Derek’s Factory a certain portion of my training cost. And what if the young worker leaves for Goldberg’s Factory? Doesn’t matter. I still get the same compensation from the government.”