Thursday, January 29, 2015
Welfare Drug Testing
By Kendrick Greenwood
Should people receiving welfare be drug tested? There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this heated debate within the past few years, specifically in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker has been pushing towards “applicants for food stamps, unemployment benefits, or Medicaid would all be required to pass a drug test under Walker’s coming budget proposal” (rhrealitycheck.org, Wilson). Although this seems like a fair proposal to reduce the likelihood that the money taken away from taxpayers and received from the applicants are being put to good use and being used to help them get back on their feet, versus being used for habits that possibly got them in that position in the first place.
Despite the hard efforts of Scott Walker to push for a drug testing policy, there are others who believe that it is a waste of time to drug test all applicants. Some researchers believe that drug testing would be a waste of time because in Florida, only “2.6% of applicants tested positive”, which is indeed a small number (Time.com, Cunha). But looking at the big picture, “Florida has an illegal drug use rate of 8%,” mathematically speaking which means that that “small” 2.6%, is in actuality over a third of the total illegal drug users in the entire state. And it is guaranteed that there were some applicants who tested negative by either being lucky or cheated the system. There are others who also feel that it would be a waste of money to drug test all welfare applicants, but isn’t it a waste of money giving money to someone to purchase drugs? I’d much rather prefer my money goes to drug tests to prevent this kind of exploitation, instead of letting someone expect to do nothing with their lives and get free money from the government, in which they then use to get into habits they obviously can not afford.
In Economics, there is a term that is taught which describes that a person can make a choice, but in return they lose the opportunity of the alternative. This is commonly known as “Opportunity cost”. This strongly applies to welfare drug testing, due to if a person chooses to take the opportunity to receive financial aid, then they give up the luxury of being able to spend on things that they want than what they need. Perhaps the reason a person even needs to apply for welfare was due to drugs, so why would the government give an addict free money, that’s like giving a dog a bone and expecting him to not chew it, just illogical reasoning. To ensure that the individual plans to actually use the money to help them out the hole they dug themselves into, all they must do is simply pass drug tests. That’s it, not asking for something irrational. As a taxpayer: would you rather have welfare recipients spend all of “their” money freely or see that all welfare recipients passed their drug testing and are spending money for legitimate purposes?
Couwels, John. "Federal Judge Temporarily Bars Florida's Welfare Drug-test Law - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/25/us/florida-welfare-drug-tests/>.
Cunha, Darlena. "Why Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is a Waste of Taxpayer Money." Time. Time, 15 Aug. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <http://time.com/3117361/welfare-recipients-drug-testing/>.
Rector, Robert, and Katherine Bradley. "Reforming the Food Stamp Program." The Heritage Foundation. 25 July 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/07/reforming-the-food-stamp-program>.
Wilson, Teddy. "Scott Walker: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is a Jobs Measure." RH Reality Check. 23 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/01/23/scott-walker-drug-testing-welfare-recipients-jobs-measure/>.
By Noah Lyons
Bringing in a whopping one and a half million dollars a day, Clash of Clans is left as the top grossing ios game of 2014. As a 4.5 star rated game on both android and apple devices, Clash of Clans is bringing in over 100,000 downloads per day, but why? Because the game was made to be super addictive, and indeed it is. People devote hours and hours into this game per day and some even spend their actual money on the game. Upgrading can take up to two weeks to complete and the people who are impatient can go about and spend their money to buy gems. Gems range in prices from $4.99 all the way to $99.99. The price of gems has inflated though, going from the original $49.99 for 14000 to $99.99 over a period of time. Supercell stated that of the millions of people who play Clash of Clans, only about 10% have ever spent any money on the game. That 10% are youtubers or the top ranked players of the game.
There was a test done that shows that it would cost a total of $6620 US dollars to fully max a base with all troops and defenses while using gems and the thing that really blows my mind is that there are people who actually do this. Supercell has sucked players into believing that gemming is the way to go, because without it Clash of Clans can take months and years to fully max a base. Supercell makes just shy of one billion dollars per year and that is from Clash alone, they have multiple popular games out that are also quite popular. The supply of gems you are capable of getting for free is low, because the only way of getting them other than paying for them is cutting down trees and rocks or completing achievements that aren’t easy to complete. One of the main reasons gems are such an importance to the community is for the builders, which go in this order. Builder 1 is free, Builder 2 is 250 gems, Builder 3 is 500 gems, Builder 4 is 1000 gems and the 5th is 2500 gems. Builders are a necessity to the game, because without them the progression from town hall 1 to town hall 10 could be 10 times longer.
In my opinion, spending money on the game is not worth it, but as a sucker who fell into supercells trap I can’t say anything because I have spent around $25 on the game. The purchase seemed worth in the heat of the moment because I wanted my 3rd builder and needed to max out my walls, but looking back on it I realized that it wasn’t worth it because I could have spent that money on something else, such as food.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Written by:Kaitlin Beattie
Happiness and Economics
Many argue that money and happiness have an implicit relationship, sure at face value it seems logical that the more money people have the happier they will be. But there are underlying facts that these two objects, one tangible and one intangible, may be more intertwined than we had originally perceived. Money often times is used as a status and provides implications of power and wealth. In today’s materialistic society it seems that people can never have enough objects, technology and gadgets. As a society we live off of the principle of scarcity - we are never fulfilled by what we have and we continue to desire more limited resources. So does the amount of wealth we possess truly indicate how happy we are?
Studies do show that money and economics are closely related, an article from The Atlantic entitled “The 10 Things Economics Can Tell us About Happiness” suggests that not only money but the principles of economics may be some indicators of happiness. (To read the full article go here). Before looking at the facts, let’s look at the at a graphic created by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that shows the relationship between the GDP per capita in 2003 and the mean happiness of people in their respective countries.
When given the data it is to be noted that there are anomalies to the data but overall there is a positive correlation between the amount of money you make and your mean happiness. But the relationship isn’t as simple as if you make more money you will have more happiness. Even an article on NPR states that happiness is not everything and there are other economic ideas we also have to be worried about. (If you want to read the full article is it at this website).
In fact, there are other factors that contribute to your happiness and subjective well-being.But before we see these facts, it is also important to note that there are confounding variables to each argument that can be made about the aforementioned correlation. We cannot simply ascertain that because we make more money we are happier, for example the countries that are some of the happiest also have the most economic, societal and personal freedom meaning they are democratic nations. So that questions the confounding nature of money and institution type. Which could suggest that governments with a laissez faire approach could have happier people.So money might not be the only contributing factor to happiness.
Studies also show that happiness and money have a complex relationship, for example people seem to report being happier the more hours they work. As many people move from part-time to full-time jobs their level of happiness seems to go up, so as people make more money they become happier. But this is associated with a lot of trade-offs, in order to work more people have to give up a lot more too, which eventually could be a source of unhappiness. The idea of money and happiness becomes more complex when the data shows that working too much will make you miserable. But go figure, overtime hours actually create higher job satisfaction (Thomson). So many sets of data contradict other sets or even the same data which means that we cannot assume that money and happiness aren’t not solely related to each other, there are other variables that contribute to subjective well-being.
Another thing that makes people miserable is income inequality, those countries with a high gini-coefficient (the measure of distribution of income in a country 0 is perfect equality and 1 is maximum inequality) are much more miserable than countries with lower rates of income inequality. When there is inequality there are people experiencing extreme poverty and extreme wealth, which causes a wide range in levels of happiness. It is also important to note that countries with a higher GDP per capita also report increased levels of happiness. Although this data may be accurate it does not explain the anomaly of Bhutan, where the economy is based off of happiness instead of money - so there is no GDP. So how do we account for and explain the wide array of results we find in different sets of data.
The video link here also reaffirms that some research conducted how higher income and subjective happiness may not be as closely linked as they seem. Professor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell from the video, disc000usses her belief that happiness in economics is actually closely related to the changes in a persons income over time.
One last point that I found interest amid my research about economics and happiness, was a study conducted by Michael Norton through TED talks. (You can watch the video at this link) So rather than trying to find the connections between how much money you make and your happiness, Norton decided to go about this idea by conducting an experiment about happiness and the way you spend your money. His results concluded that spending money on other people became more happy than spending money on themselves. It was interesting to see how people’s moods and happiness change when you spend money on someone else rather than yourself.
Money gives you choices, you are able to decide where to allocate the money that you have - you are able to buy goods or services, you are able to spend money on other people, you are able to save the money or you are able to donate your money. And while money can be contributed to happiness to a certain extent, money does not in fact equal happiness. And while we can’t assume that the data provided is always accurate due to the fact that too many other factors play a role in the data that people gather, we can note though that happiness is now an emerging topic in economics.
"Bhutan's New Prime Minister Says Happiness Isn't Everything." NPR. NPR, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.
Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada . "The Economics of Happiness." Barcelona GSE . , Barcelona . 28 May 2008.
Norton, Micheal . "How to buy Happiness." TEDxCambridge. TED talks. , Cambridge . 24 Apr. 2012. Lecture.
"The Joyless or the Jobless." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 25 Nov. 2010. Web. 27 Jan. 2015.
Thompson, Derek. "The 10 Things Economics Can Tell Us About Happiness."The Atlantic.
Atlantic Media Company, 31 May 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/05/the-10-things-economics-can-tell-us-about-happiness/257947/>.
Friday, January 9, 2015
Cyber Athletes: The Next Generation Pro Athletes
Some of us may recall back to the 2012 Summer Olympics when South African runner, Oscar Pistorius, otherwise known as “The Blade Runner”, stunned audiences with his outstanding performance in the 400 meter dash. If you are unclear of who we’re talking about, he was the runner with prosthetic legs (see picture). Since that time, however, the now 23.5 billion dollar industry has seen rapid improvements to the quality and implications of prosthetics (Sandford) and the economic impact it will have in the sports industry.
One event that holds high anticipation for disabled athletes is the Cybathlon. Aimed to take place next year (2016), it is looking to be a highly attended and viewed event. This would be the Olympics for people with prosthetics or robotic attachments. This is not to be mistaken for the Paralympics, which is for disabled athletes as well. The significant difference is the permission of robotic attachments. Athletes are allowed to use such devices as a powered suit in a race to make them faster or jump higher. This could prove to be a major attraction to people all over the world.
As advertising and public knowledge begin to grow a general interest in what these people are capable of will bring many viewers. As the interest of this new industry expands, its growth will increase rapidly leading to faster improvements and an expanding market for these products. It will be interesting to see how this flows into everyday life. There are possibilities in professional sports, in law enforcement, and especially in the military.
As the demand for this upcoming technology increases the prices will rise as well. Corporations will see that there there is a greater marginal benefit and turn from producing other products and expand their production and increase their supply. As profits grow the government tax income will grow as well. Thus leading to more money to spend.
There are many positive externalities to come from the growth of the industry. More jobs will be created for production and development of improvements. New education programs specific to work in the prosthetic industry could be developed. The need for disabled parking spaces and wheelchair ramps could soon diminish. There is a vast list of possibilities that could come from the expansion of prosthetics. It will be interesting to see what comes out in the future.
Monks, Kieron. "Beyond Pistorius: Rise of 'cyberathletes' Could Change Sport as We Know It." CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
Sandford, Tom. "The $23.5 Billion Industry You'll Feel Good About Investing In." Prosthetics Technology. Investment U, 9 June 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
January 6, 2015
Economy vs. Alien Fish
There is something lurking in the woods, the lakes, crawling into the country unstopped by any borders. It is invasive species! Many people have heard of at least one of these species, Asian carp, you’ve seen the videos of these fish jumping right out of the water as boat go by (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdcQ56OpxNE), some even ending up in the boat.
Easy fishing, and carp is edible, as the fish is eaten in european and asian and even parts of the U.S, so the fish should add profit, and should create a new market for fishermen that what a show and a large amount of fish. That is false because carp are bottom feeders and if they grow up in polluted rivers will taste awful, it definitely doesn’t help that, while they are large in numbers, they are not an easy catch, and when they jump out of water have been known to hit people in the head. Not to say all carp is bad, there are many positive externalities with the carp that many people eat and live here naturally, the negative externalities come from Asian carp; meaning the bighead carp, the black carp, the grass carp, and the silver carp. These four fish were introduced to the U.S. in hope that they would help control weeds and parasites in fish farms, sadly this backfired because these fish escaped to the wild by jumping over low dams and swimming out during floods. After they escaped they began to out-compete other fish, driving out native species. “Experts are worriedthat if these fish get into the Great Lakes, they may negatively affect the area's $7 billion/year fishing industry” but even if the great lakes stay carp free “ 31 states and 40% of the continental United States“ will have these fish invade their waterways and can cause an economic contraction.
Of course carp aren’t the only problematic fish that has crossed into our country, heading down south to the land of sunshine, to find a monster living in it’s waters. Snakeheads, not only are these fish odd balls but horrific too (this video is not for the weak of heart or animal lovers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_BwXjegQVc).
There are plenty of invasive species of reptiles in Florida, but none can really compare to these fish, not in danger leaves, but in stop them. Snakehead has an odd ability that they can walk on land to other water sources, the fish is mainly harmless at these time, and due to the large amounts of ponds located in the state these fish have lots of places to go. The reason that they are a problem is that one, people don’t really eat them, and two, they have attacked people before. These little monsters are extremely territorial and will attack if threaten, this has caused fear and panic for people and made this animal into a horror show.Why does this matter, though?
The reason that this little fish matters is due to costs it has on the environment and economy, these animals have no natural predators here and, as mentioned before, will attack other animals no matter their size or looks. These puts a damper on the economy because it costs people money to get rid of fish, get patched up if hurt by a snakehead, a majority of americans don’t even eat snakeheads, leaving this fish to to have no economic benefits whatsoever.
- "The Northern Snakehead: An Invasive Fish Species." The Northern Snakehead: An Invasive Fish Species. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
- United States. National Park Service. "Asian Carp Overview." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, 4 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
- "Snakehead Fish." Snakehead Fish. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
- "Two Rivers Fisheries Opens in Wickliffe; Will Export Asian Carp." Lane Report Kentucky Business Economic News Two Rivers Fisheries Opens in Wickliffe Will Export Asian Carp Comments. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
- Asian Carp Jumping, Part 1. 2008. Film.
- Giant Snake Head Destroys Fish. 2009. Film.
By Ryan Harris
Putin Bans Bacon
What is the world coming to when a leader bans bacon imports? In retaliation to foreign sanctions, Vladimir Putin has just recently banned a variety of Western food imports. Russia’s president has dug himself, and the rest of his nation into a pretty deep hole. After his involvement and conflict in Ukraine, Putin has stirred up unrest throughout the entire world. Many are considering his most recent actions and decisions to be undemocratic. People may still support or follow Putin, but this population is diminishing. The time has come for this man to be removed from office and replaced by a more justified official.
Earlier this year, Putin decided to invade Ukraine. He began by seizing full military control of Crimea: a peninsula between Russia and Ukraine that is Pro-Russian. After this, he proceeded to fund Ukrainian rebels with weapons and tools. He supplied these rebels with surface to air missiles, which ultimately lead to the destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Many nations throughout the world considered these events to be completely out of hand, and have responded with sanctions against Russia including the ban of business transactions with some major Russian companies, travel restrictions for specific individuals, a ban on Russian bank loans, and many more. Putin is now being pushed against a wall and believes it is necessary to answer these sanctions with a number of bans that hurt every nation’s economy, including his own.
Once again, this entire conflict really comes down to one major thing: bacon. Putin has basically formed an invisible “Berlin Wall” around his own country by banning food imports from every nation that has placed a sanction on him. A list of the nations banned are the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Before we know it, we will have to air drop bacon care packages onto countless innocent, pork-starved Russian bystanders.
Where does this stand in the global economy? The trade barriers established in 2014 have had a wide array of effects on foreign and domestic consumers and producers. Some people have seen good outcomes, but most have seen bad outcomes. Many major companies in these banned countries have just lost a major client. As a result, jobs will be lost. Because Japan may no longer export copious amounts of seafood to Russia, its people are at risk of growing obese. Amidst this chaos, the United States has discovered the advantages of producing its own oil.
For the last seven decades, Russia has had its fair share of bad leaders. Russia has an incredible amount of potential and promise. I genuinely believe that one day Russia will settle down and make great progressive contributions to the world, but in order to do so, change needs to happen. The only thing standing between Russia and a prosperous future, is Vladimir Putin. You can invade a country, you can undermine democracy, but you’re crossing the line when you ban bacon. Enough is enough Russia. Vladimir Putin’s got to go.
Video link: <iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="512" height="288" src="http://video-api.wsj.com/
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russia-bans-food-imports-in- retaliation-to-western- sanctions-1407403035>.. <
"Russia Sanctions: 'Ill-Planned, Ill-Timed and Foolhardy'" CNS News. Web. http://cnsnews.com/
commentary/kenneth-kopf/ russia-sanctions-ill-planned- ill-timed-and-foolhardy>.. <
"Why Did Russia Invade Ukraine? Because The West Is Weak." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. http://www.forbes.com/sites/
realspin/2014/03/03/why-did- russia-invade-ukraine-because- the-west-is-weak/>.. <
"Russia's Putin Issues Retaliatory Ban on Food Imports - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network. Web. http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/
06/world/europe/russia- ukraine-crisis/>.. <
"International Sanctions during the 2013–15 Ukrainian Crisis." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
International_sanctions_ during_the_2013–15_Ukrainian_ crisis>. . <