Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forDecember, 2006 | back to home

29 December 2006
Filed under:Current Affairs (US) at11:06 am

A post I never got around to making from January…
The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town

The good news:

A recent study by Ann Huff Stevens, a labor economist at the University of California at Davis, compares the careers of older men in 1969 to those of older men in 2002, looking at how many years members of each group spent working at the job they held the longest. In 1969, the average was 21.9 years; in 2002, it was 21.4 years. In 1969, slightly more than half of the men had held one job for at least twenty years, and the proportion was almost identical in 2002. In the same vein, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that median job tenure among all workers over the age of twenty-five has fallen only slightly since the early eighties. And a 1999 study of fifty-one major corporations found that the percentage of employees with more than ten years of service increased in the nineties.

The bad news

The percentage of companies that offer health benefits to their employees has dropped thirteen per cent in the past five years, and even employees who are covered now generally pay more of their own costs. With pensions, the shift has been fundamental: defined-benefit plans, in which companies guarantee a set payout to employees, have been gradually replaced with defined-contribution plans


Meanwhile, the risk exposure of anyone unfortunate enough to lose a job has soared. People who are unemployed stay unemployed, on average, about fifty per cent longer now than they did in the seventies, and only about half as many receive unemployment insurance as did so in 1947. Furthermore, the explosion in health-care costs means that the consequences of forfeiting company health insurance are graver than ever. So even though incomes have risen over the past three decades, they fluctuate much more than they once did. Economists estimate that income volatility is about twice what it was in the early seventies.

Even after a burst of growth in the late nineties, the average household income is only slightly above where it was in 1973.

26 December 2006
Filed under:About this blog,Weblogs at8:05 pm

Please change your reader so it points to http://feeds.feedburner.com/Blogorg
. If this doesn’t mean anything to you don’t worry – just keep reading as normal…

23 December 2006
Filed under:Best of blog.org,Interesting facts at4:45 pm

In my undergraduate studies one of the courses that most influenced my later thinking was an introduction to moral reasoning. I came out of it a committed utilitarian which only made life more difficult as given my favoured position in society – especially given global economic inequality. In principle I still believe I am morally obligated to give all but the bare minimum of what I own to help those in greater need elsewhere, but few of us can manage that.

So I was pleased to see one of the most well-known contemporary utilitarians, Peter Singer, writing a piece to help us figure out what it is reasonable to give: What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You?

He points out that even if only the top 10% of the US population (those on at least $92,000) gave a sizeable (10%+) proportion of their income annually (sums he implicitly contends they would not miss) that in itself would provide 8x the shortfall in the amount needed for the world to reach the UN’s millennium development goals. It certainly gives me something to shoot for once I am no longer a student.
See also this blog post of mine about Singer and Zell Kravinsky.

21 December 2006

A while ago I read in The Economist (registration required to read) that,

Transport is the only sector of the economy in which carbon emissions have risen since 1990. It is also the only one in which they are expected to be above that year’s level in 2020″

but “petrol is now 7p per litre cheaper in real terms than it was in 1999” (thanks to the government’s capitulation to petrol protesters). Seems to me there’s an obvious step the government could take. It turns out “Lowering the motorway speed limit to 60 mph, for example, would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by around 18%.”

(In a reversal of the usual practice I am stepping up my posting frequency over the Xmas holidays by posting old posts I drafted but forgot to post!)

18 December 2006
Filed under:Useful web resources,Weblogs at3:22 pm

It recently published a puff piece (sub required to read) about Vox – the new platform from Six Apart. I am happy with wordpress but this does look like the free personal weblogging service I have long hoped they would produce with a laundry list of good features like LJ-style privacy controls and integration with flickr and youtube. One blogger thought it was still too hard to use for ‘regular folks’ but it has to be easier to use than LJ. More blogging about Vox here

I do wonder why it is I haven’t heard more about Vox on the blogs I read. Is it because Vox is aimed at personal bloggers not professional ones?

Filed under:Travel,Useful web resources at1:49 pm

As you will note from the little rubik’s cube-like display of recent pictures at the right I am a long-time and very satisfied Flickr user but there were always three things that put me off.

  • If you wanted to share pictures with selected people they had to get a Flickr account as well
  • The free account limited you to uploading just 20Mb a month and
  • The free account only let you make three “sets” of photos and only displayed the most recent 200 photos.Well in the last few weeks two of those three problems have been fixed. Flickr has instituted a “guest pass” so you can invite people to see your private pictures via a simple email, and more recently they upped the upload limit for free members from 20Mb to 100Mb. If they would just deal with problem 3 there would be no reason not to get a free account. As it is if you have $25 a year to spare Flickr does seem to me to be the best web photo sharing application around.