Thursday, September 29, 2016

Census Bureaucrats and Immigration Laws

I think I stumbled on an interesting bit of bureaucratic history today.  In trying to help a relative decipher a 1910 census listing for a Fanny Cohen in New York City.  The census form is confusing, apparently because it was worked over two or three times.  The initial listing showed her and her parents as being born in Russia, and Yiddish was her first language.

The confusing parts were additional notations, possibly made by the census taker, but more likely done later.  The notes aren't clear.  Our best interpretation at the moment is that they are classifications perhaps required by the Immigration Act of 1924, that is, what was "Russia" in 1910 becomes Poland or Lithuania  after WWI. Because the Act imposed quotas based on the national origins of those already in America, the Census bureau seems to have had to come up with those statistics.

I'm curious whether this is true, and if so how they went about it.  If you have someone going over the 1910 census in 1924, how do they know which part of the Russian Empire, now defunct, Fanny Cohen came from?

Trump's Economist

Prof. Don Boudreaux, of George Mason U. blogs at Cafe Hayek. He seems to be a classical economist, i.e., someone with whom I would agree only once in a blue moon.  Frankly, I don't understand the issue with the Trump economic plan, but I find this pussyfooting around without saying what you really think most distressing: (from an "open letter" to Trump's economist):

"Tipped off by Scott Sumner, I read Trump economic advisor Peter Navarro’s analysis of Trump’s economic plan.  Words fail me.  Nearly everything Navarro writes about trade is not only wrong, but foolish.  A good economist setting out to write a spoof of bad trade analysis could not have done a better job of mimicking complete cluelessness about trade."


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Chinese Exchange Rate

 From Feb 2015 economist:

CHINESE officials tired of defending their exchange-rate policy can at least appreciate the irony in the latest charges levelled against them. For years foreigners [including Donald Trump in the debate on Monday] accused them of keeping the yuan artificially weak to boost exports. Now, domestic critics say, they are doing just the opposite: keeping the currency artificially strong and, in the process, wounding the economy. Some predict China will soon change course and engineer a devaluation. But just as the Chinese authorities did not resort to a big one-off appreciation when the yuan seemed too weak, they are unlikely to embark on a dramatic devaluation now that it is looking strong

Qualifications for President: Not Quite the Most Versus the Least

From a piece challenging Obama's description of Clinton as the most qualified person to be president,  a few sentences:
With the sole exception of Henry Wallace, she is the most qualified person to seek the office since Reconstruction. Moreover, she is the most qualified Democratic nominee since Lewis Cass and since the first American women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. By contrast, Donald Trump, having never held public office nor served in let alone commanded the US military, is the least qualified presidential nominee in American history. However, Trump is tied for this distinction with another dark horse corporate executive. In the 1930s, Wendell Willkie was CEO of the Commonwealth & Southern Corporation, an electric utilities holding company known today as Southern Company (the parent corporation of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power).
 (The analysis is based on different types of positions held and years of service.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Asking [Debate] Questions

This site for submitting and voting on questions from the public for use in the second debate is, on the face of it, a good idea.  But I'm skeptical.  The Obama administration tried something similar.  My impression is they found many, perhaps mostly, crackpot issues--I'm using a broad definition of "crackpot".  It's IMHO a populist idea.  We shall see what questions actually come out of the process, hopefully not the ones with the most vote.

I spent a little time there and voted for one issue (legalizing pot, not because I think it should be, but because it's a valid issue and probably not one which would be asked in the usual way.)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Questions for Clinton Which Won't Be Asked

What one thing did Bill do in the transition to the Presidency or in the organization of the executive branch which you will try to avoid?

Same question but with Obama?

Will you work with your Secretary of State as Bill did with Christopher, as Bill with Albright, or Obama with you?

Questions for Trump Which Won't Be Asked

The White House is smaller and less lavishly decorated than the homes you own and use now. Do you plan to live there when elected or in your homes or the Presidential suite in your DC hotel?

If you live at the White House will you redecorate?

Will your airplane become Air Force 1?  Will you continue to charge the Secret Service for their travel in it?

Do you intend to replace the White House staff with your personal employees?

Will you require the White House staff to sign the confidentiality agreements you require of your employees?

Will you protect the rights of whistle blowers?

Will you paint the White House gold?

Will you convert Camp David to a gold golf course?

Will you tell the IRS to end its audits of your tax returns and then promptly release them?

What arrangements will you make for Presidential records--will you continue to release records of visitors to the White House?

If I Were Clinton

I've never debated, but if I were the Democratic candidate in tonight's debate, I would counter Trump's lies very simply:

"that's wrong".   Repeat over and over as necessary.  Have your staff ready to post documentation on each time you say it.  Then segue into "What I would...(say, do, propose,).

Don't engage in factual disputes, focus on positive plans.

[updated: so much for my advice on debating.  :-( ]

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bambi's Mother Is Dangerous

I apologize, I sullied the reputation of the Internet for factual accuracy by my mistaken post the other day alleging that bees were the deadliest non-human animal in the US. It turns out that's wrong. Bees do kill many more people on average than terrorist (yearly average over the years since 2001).  But it turns out the true villain is that adorable, big-eyed denizen of the edge lands, whose population keeps growing: deer.  I hope the debaters tomorrow night will take a firm position with respect to this growing threat to the lives of our citizens.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Medicare Scams: Braces

I'm old.  I'm on Medicare. I see ads on Accuweather for knee and back braces covered by Medicare.  I get phone calls offering free braces. 

When I google "Medicare scam braces" I get a long list of hits.  Apparently some scams can work by getting access to your Medicare number, then billing Medicare for stuff, which may or may not be delivered, but never is prescribed by a doctor.