Via Investor’s Business Daily
“Believe it or not, the federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II.
In fact, outside of that post-WWII era, the only time the deficit has fallen faster was when the economy relapsed in 1937, turning the Great Depression into a decade-long affair.”
A new study, just published in the journal Social Science Research, finds a link between Tea Party affiliation and racial bias, especially against Blacks. “The findings suggest that, among conservatives, racial resentment may be a more important determinate of membership in the Tea Party movement than hard-right political values.”
Major highlights of the study include:
- Racial resentment and political conservatism are both key predictors of Tea Party Movement (TPM) membership.
- TPM members have even higher levels of racial resentment than very conservative non-TPM members.
- Conservatives who evinced greater levels of racial resentment were substantially more likely to claim TPM membership than were other conservatives.
Tope, Daniel, et al. (2014).Anti-Minority Attitudes and Tea Party Movement Membership. Social Science Research. Available online 19 October 2014, doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.09.006
Via Real World Economics
Back in August, James Surowiecki observed that the lack of an Ebola treatment was disturbing but predictable.
When pharmaceutical companies are deciding where to direct their R. & D. money, they naturally assess the potential market for a drug candidate. That means that they have an incentive to target diseases that affect wealthier people (above all, people in the developed world), who can afford to pay a lot. They have an incentive to make drugs that many people will take. And they have an incentive to make drugs that people will take regularly for a long time—drugs like statins.
This system does a reasonable job of getting Westerners the drugs they want (albeit often at high prices). But it also leads to enormous underinvestment in certain kinds of diseases and certain categories of drugs. Diseases that mostly affect poor people in poor countries aren’t a research priority, because it’s unlikely that those markets will ever provide a decent return. So diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, which together kill two million people a year, have received less attention from pharmaceutical companies than high cholesterol. Then, there’s what the World Health Organization calls “neglected tropical diseases,” such as Chagas disease and dengue; they affect more than a billion people and kill as many as half a million a year. One study found that of the more than fifteen hundred drugs that came to market between 1975 and 2004 just ten were targeted at these maladies. And when a disease’s victims are both poor and not very numerous that’s a double whammy.
In addition, NIH’s purchasing power is down 23 percent from what it was a decade ago, and its budget has remained almost static . Scientists at NIH say they would be a lot closer to a vaccine if not for cuts and government shutdowns.
Environment Prosecutions Decline Under Obama
Via: Transactional Records Access Clearing House
The number of federal prosecutions for environment-related offenses continues to fall. The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during the first nine months of FY 2014, the government reported 271 new prosecutions in this category. If such prosecutions continue at the current rate, there will be a total of 361 environment prosecutions for the full year. This would represent a decrease of 19.6 percent from the 449 reported in FY 2013, which was already a marked drop from the 612 defendants prosecuted in FY 2012.
The result of this two-year decline would be a projected total for FY 2014 that falls well under half of the 927 environment crime prosecutions in FY 2007, a peak that occurred near the end President George W. Bush’s second term.
What effect do voter ID laws have on voter turnout? The U.S. Government Accountability Office provides an answer.
“GAO’s analysis suggests that the turnout decreases in Kansas and Tennessee beyond decreases in the comparison states were attributable to changes in those two states’ voter ID requirements,” the report said.
It estimated that reductions in voter turnout were about 2 percent greater in Kansas and from 2 to 3 percent steeper in Tennessee than they were in the other states examined. The four other states, which did not make their voter ID laws stricter, were Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, and Maine.
According to researchers at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, “the overall rate of illegal immigration is incredibly low—in 2013, the number of people apprehended at the United States-Mexico border was 64 percent less than 2004. Preliminary estimates for 2014 show that the total for this year will also fall far below the number of apprehensions a decade ago.” Continue reading –>
A new report from OECD signals growing concerns for expanding income inequality across the globe.
“The increase of income inequality on a global scale is one of the most significant – and worrying – features of the development of the world economy in the past 200 years,” according to the report’s authors.
The first neuroimaging study designed to examine how the brain responds to the distribution of income in different situations has been completed by Cappelen et al. (2014). As such, it’s the first study to examine the neuronal basis for equity theory.
The present paper reports results from, to our knowledge, the first study designed to examine the neuronal responses to income inequality in situations in which individuals have made different contributions in terms of work effort. We conducted an experiment that included a prescanning phase in which the participants earned money by working, and a neuronal scanning phase in which we examined how the brain responded when the participants evaluated different distributions of their earnings. We provide causal evidence for the relative contribution of work effort being crucial for understanding the hemodynamic response in the brain to inequality. We found a significant hemodynamic response in the striatum to deviations from the distribution of income that was proportional to work effort, but found no effect of deviations from the equal distribution of income. We also observed a striking correlation between the hemodynamic response in the striatum and the self-reported evaluation of the income distributions. Our results provide, to our knowledge, the first set of neuronal evidence for equity theory and suggest that people distinguish between fair and unfair inequalities.
Cappelen, Alexander W. et al. (2014). Equity theory and fair inequality: A neuroeconomic study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.