Chicago’s quality of life, by the numbers

I note that according to HeyJackass (which Second City Cop calls “the ONLY trusted source for actual crime numbers” – and do read the comments there, too), Chicago has passed another grim milestone for 2019. Five-hundred-plus homicides in a year . . . The latest mass shooting in Chicago says a great deal about why the numbers are so high.  Note that the gathering concerned was to honor – HONOR!!! – the memory of a thug and criminal who tried to carjack a vehicle, and was shot in the attempt.  Congratulations to the shooter, and thank you for removing a menace from the streets of Chicago.

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“Government employees multiplying like rabbits”

That’s the title of a thought-provoking article at BizPacReview.  Here’s an excerpt. By 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated there were 80% more people employed by government in America than those employed in the manufacturing sector. And federal, state and local governments employed about 21 million people. By October, 2019, this number had risen to 24,421,000 government workers, if we include the 1.4 million military employees. Of this amount, 17.3% worked for the federal government, 21.9% worked for state government, and 60.8% were employed by local governments. The expanding federal government helps to explain why this country is running a federal

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Meal delivery services: all hat and no cattle?

In Texas, an expression I’ve often heard is that someone is “all hat and no cattle”.  It means that someone is full of grandiloquent talk, but lacks the accomplishments or assets to lend substance to their words. I’ve long felt that services such as Grubhub, Doordash and their ilk are pretty much “all hat and no cattle” in business terms.  They don’t add even one cent of value to the goods they deliver.  Their entire business model is based on providing convenience for a price, but that’s an entirely dispensable benefit.  If I’m short of cash, there’s nothing stopping me cooking

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America’s food chain: interesting – and vulnerable?

The University of Illinois has just produced the first high-resolution map of the food supply chain in the United States.  It’s eye-opening in many ways.  Fast Company reports: Our map is a comprehensive snapshot of all food flows between counties in the U.S.—grains, fruits and vegetables, animal feed, and processed food items. . . . This map shows how food flows … in the U.S. What does this map reveal? 1. WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM Now, residents in each county can see how they are connected to all other counties in the country via food transfers. Overall, there are 9.5

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A grim lesson in retirement reality for US states

I’ve warned before about pension shortfalls in the USA, particularly in government pensions.  I’ve also warned about the dangers of too much debt, whether governmental, corporate or personal. Puerto Rico has just become a case study in what happens when the two problems intersect. When [Puerto Rico] declared bankruptcy in 2017, it was the biggest bankruptcy case in US history … So there’s been more than two years of negotiation between bondholders and all the various officials, pensions, unions, etc. And on Friday they announced the deal. Bondholders will take a huge cut of more than 60%. But, as part of

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Again I say: if you live in Illinois, LEAVE!!!

We’ve spoken more than once about Illinois’ financial woes in these pages, and Chicago’s in particular.  Now comes news that the situation is far worse than previously reported, because generally accepted accounting principles were not followed. The State of Illinois recently reported its biggest annual financial loss ever. Instead of clear reporting on that, we’ve seen perhaps the most glaring example yet of how the state’s finances can be misunderstood, misreported and intentionally distorted. The loss of $47 billion for the state’s 2018 fiscal year, shown in audited financial statements released late last month, is an astonishing number. For some perspective,

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In the history of shopping, Amazon.com isn’t as new as it seems

Being an immigrant, I wasn’t as familiar with US economic history as I was with that of other countries and regions.  Therefore, I found this article, comparing Amazon.com with a much earlier vendor, very interesting. The history of US consumerism starts with the Sears Roebuck mail order catalog. Yes, the very same Sears that is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy today. But 125 years ago the company was every bit the disruptive innovator. A brief summary of how that happened: Mail order became viable in the late 1800s because of the expansion of the US rail system, post office regulations that allowed for

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Unintended consequences – the Cobra Effect

I was amused to read this article at the Foundation for Economic Education’s web site. In colonial India, Delhi suffered a proliferation of cobras, which was a problem very clearly in need of a solution given the sorts of things that cobras bring, like death. To cut the number of cobras slithering through the city, the local government placed a bounty on them. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable solution. The bounty was generous enough that many people took up cobra hunting, which led exactly to the desired outcome: The cobra population decreased. And that’s where things get interesting. As the cobra

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Karl Denninger’s Presidential platform – there’s some good stuff here

The inimitable Karl Denninger has published what he’d do if he were drafted to be President.  Based on what I see there, I’d draft him tomorrow!  Examples: 100% E-Verify now.  All employers have six months to comply for existing employees, all new hires must have it run.  Liability is personal and cannot be thrown off on a staffing company or other scheme.  All 941s (quarterly withholding filings) must include E-Verify control numbers on them.  Congress will receive a bill on my first day in office to upgrade failure to include same on 941s, hiring or paying people without reporting accurately on same, or any

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So why are they still charging fees?

It seems some American universities and university systems can only be described as “stinking rich“. There are 195 countries in the world, and over half of them are poorer than Harvard University. The Ivy League institution’s 2018 endowment was $38.3 billion, according to Stacker. This amount exceeds the wealth of any of more than half of the 195 countries around the world. . . . Campus Reform reached out to Harvard for a breakdown of funding allocation and to see what the school thought of the college vs. countries statistic, but received no comment in time for publication. With a

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