Mark J. Perry is concurrently a scholar at AEI and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan's Flint campus. He is best known as the creator and editor of the popular economics blog Carpe Diem. At AEI, Perry writes about economic and financial issues for American.com and the AEIdeas blog.
1. Chart of the Day (above) shows the annual average of the market capitalizations for Amazon and Wal-Mart from 1997 (when Amazon went public) through May of this year. It took 18 years for the market value of Amazon to match Wal-Mart in 2015, and then less than two years for the market cap of Amazon to rise to twice the value of Wal-Mart this month! That’s a pretty strong hurricane-force gale of Schumpeterian creative destruction in the retail sector, which I described recently as the “continual innovation and technological progress in a market economy that disrupts and eventually destroys existing industries and firms, and replaces them with new firms providing consumers with new, cheaper and better products, goods and services.” Of course, Wal-Mart isn’t in any danger of being destroyed or replaced anytime soon, but there’s still a lot of turbulence in the retail sector, and it’s going to intensify going forward.
3. Charts of the Day II and III (above) show the annual incarceration rates in the US from 1925 to 2015 using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (here and here). Note in the top chart the huge increase in the male incarceration rates following Nixon’s declaration in 1971 that the US would pursue a “War on DrugsOtherwise Peaceful Americans Who Choose to Ingest Intoxicants and Weeds Currently Proscribed by the Government.” The bottom chart shows the YUGE gender incarceration rate gap favoring women in the US – men are incarcerated at a rate about 16 times greater than for women. It’s also the case that in 2015, nearly 93% of prisoners were male, which means there were 1,307 men in prison for every 100 women. And then we wonder why the labor force participation rate for men ages 25-54 has declined from almost 96% in 1971 to about 88.5% today? There’s that whole “finding a job” problem once you have a felony drug charge on your record….
5. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) Agrees with Sen. Rand Paul. In a recent speech, the former San Francisco district attorney described Sessions’ tough approach to drugs as taking us back to the Dark Ages.
“I saw the war on drugs up close, and let me tell you, the war on drugs was an abject failure,” Harris said. “It offered taxpayers a bad return on investment, it was bad for public safety, it was bad for budgets and our economy, and it was bad for people of color and those struggling to make ends meet.”
The California senator also wants to decriminalize weeds and said that California needs federal help dealing with international criminal organizations and human trafficking, “not going after Grandma’s medicinal marijuana.” Kudos to Sen. Harris for opposing Jeff Sessions’ “crimes against humanity.”
7. Yes, There’s a Gender Pay Gap …In Favor of Women. From the New York Post:
The Census reports that “the average adult woman in the US is more likely to be a college graduate than the average adult man.” Moreover, today’s young, childless female city-dwellers with college degrees are out-earning their male counterparts by 8 cents on the dollar. Their higher incomes may be why they are less likely (29%) to be living with their parents than single men (35%).
Wow, that means young men have to work until about February 1 to earn the same income as their female counterparts. Equal Pay Day for Men?
Here’s a quiz. To the nearest whole number, what percentage of the world’s energy consumption was supplied by wind power in 2014, the last year for which there are reliable figures? Was it 20%, 10% or 5%? None of the above: it was 0%. That is to say, to the nearest whole number, there is still no wind power on Earth.
As for resource consumption and environmental impacts, the direct effects of wind turbines — killing birds and bats, sinking concrete foundations deep into wild lands — is bad enough. But out of sight and out of mind is the dirty pollution generated in Inner Mongolia by the mining of rare-earth metals for the magnets in the turbines. This generates toxic and radioactive waste on an epic scale, which is why the phrase ‘clean energy’ is such a sick joke and ministers should be ashamed every time it passes their lips.
It gets worse. Wind turbines, apart from the fiberglass blades, are made mostly of steel, with concrete bases. They need about 200 times as much material per unit of capacity as a modern combined cycle gas turbine. Steel is made with coal, not just to provide the heat for smelting ore, but to supply the carbon in the alloy. Cement is also often made using coal. The machinery of ‘clean’ renewables is the output of the fossil fuel economy, and largely the coal economy.
10. Video of the Day (below) is Trailblazers: The New Zealand Story produced by Free to Choose Media and featuring Johan Norberg. Here’s an overview:
At one time, New Zealand had the most government-controlled economy that existed outside the Iron Curtain. The government impacted every aspect of a person’s life. Government permission was even required to subscribe to an overseas magazine since it was considered an economic import. By 1984, New Zealand was in serious financial crisis and unable to borrow any more money. Finance Minister Roger Douglas, a member of the left-leaning Labor Party, took office the midst of this chaos, implementing a dramatic change in government thinking. He instituted the most radical economic liberalization reforms, dubbed “Rogernomics,” ever seen.
The reforms resulted in hardship on the road to recovery, but most say the end results have been worth the efforts. New Zealand has since emerged as a world leader in economic freedom. Our new documentary, Trailblazers: The New Zealand Story, explores this transformation, introducing us to the bold politicians who stayed the sometimes-bumpy course, as well as many of the extraordinary people who’ve built new lives for themselves, their families, and their fellow Kiwis by seizing the economic opportunity that resulted.