‘Public goods’ made America great and can do so again


The formal definition of a public good is that it’s something that is nonexcludable and nonrivalrous. That’s a fancy way of saying that everyone can take advantage of it and that one person’s use doesn’t reduce its availability to others.

Setting aside for a moment natural public goods, the ones provided by the government have been on the decline. U.S. public capital investment, net of depreciation, fell to just 0.4 percent of GDP in 2014 from 1.7 percent in 2007 and about 3 percent in the 1960s.

Why Can’t We End Spam? Ask An Economist. | JSTOR Daily


If we follow Rao and Reiley, and assume an average transaction value of $50, then $438,000 represents 8,760 transactions — which, with a conversion rate of 0.00001%, reflects the results of something like 8.7 billion emails. It sounds like a lot of email, but if Krebs’ information is correct, it only take a week for Levashov to generate that kind of volume.

When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Certainty – The New York Times


"While FEMA does pay to elevate risky houses, it struggles to keep up with demand: Wetlands Watch compared the number of people on the FEMA waiting list in Norfolk with the number of houses raised in a year, and concluded that it would take 188 years to complete them all. By then, of course, waters would be far higher."

Science Isn’t Broken | FiveThirtyEight


The scientific method is the most rigorous path to knowledge, but it’s also messy and tough. Science deserves respect exactly because it is difficult — not because it gets everything correct on the first try. The uncertainty inherent in science doesn’t mean that we can’t use it to make important policies or decisions. It just means that we should remain cautious and adopt a mindset that’s open to changing course if new data arises. We should make the best decisions we can with the current evidence and take care not to lose sight of its strength and degree of certainty. It’s no accident that every good paper includes the phrase “more study is needed” — there is always more to learn.

‘The fear is real’ Congress could enact Trump-level budget cuts – FederalNewsRadio.com


A majority of federal employees who took a Federal News Radio survey said they believe Congress will make good on President Donald Trump’s proposed civilian agency cuts for fiscal 2018. And while the looming threat of cuts has put a damper on workforce morale, most respondents plan to stay on-the-job at their federal outposts.

Putting federal spending in context | Pew Research Center

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/04/what-does-the-federal-government-spend-your-tax-dollars-on-social-insurance-programs-mostly/When thinking about federal spending, it’s worth remembering that, as former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically “a gigantic insurance company,” albeit one with “a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.” In fiscal year 2016, which ended this past Sept. 30, the federal government spent just under $4 trillion, and about $2.7 trillion – more than two-thirds of the total – went for various kinds of social insurance (Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment compensation, veterans benefits and the like). Another $604 billion, or 15.3% of total spending, went for national defense; net interest payments on government debt was about $240 billion, or 6.1%. Education aid and related social services were about $114 billion, or less than 3% of all federal spending. Everything else – crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, national parks, foreign aid and much, much more – accounted for the remaining 6%.

Sample Size Calculator – SurveyMonkey


How many people do you need to take your survey? Even if you’re a statistician, determining sample size can be tough. To make it easy, try our sample size calculator. We give you everything you need to to calculate how many responses you need to be confident in your results.

Wynton Marsalis Gives 12 Tips on How to Practice: For Musicians, Athletes, or Anyone Who Wants to Learn Something New | Open Culture


Practicing for countless hours before we can be good at something seems burdensome and boring. Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to stories of instant achievement. The monk realizes satori (and Neo learns kung fu); the superhero acquires great power out of the blue; Robert Johnson trades for genius at the crossroads. At the same time, we teach children they can’t master a skill without discipline and diligence. We repeat pop psych theories that specify the exact number hours required for excellence. The number may be arbitrary, but it comforts us to believe that practice might, eventually, make perfect. Because in truth we know there is no way around it. As Wynton Marsalis writes in “Wynton’s Twelve Ways to Practice: From Music to Schoolwork,” “practice is essential to learning music—and anything else, for that matter.”