August 10, 2007

Econ 101, Hey! High Schoolers Do Pretty Well on Biz-Econ Assessment

Headline and sub-headline in today’s OpinionJournal.com:

The Kids Are All Right
Economic literacy test: High school seniors beat Congress.

Excerpts (bold is mine):

Since its founding in 1969, the NAEP has become something of an annual exercise in American educational masochism. Last year, only 54% of students met NAEP’s “basic” standard–the equivalent of a passing grade–on the science test. The previous year tested history; a mere 47% passed. But when knowledge of economics was tested this year, well, let’s just say the supply curve shifted. NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.

….. The depth of knowledge shown by ordinary seniors suggests that they have been able to absorb basic economic truths from their daily experiences. Now, if this wisdom can only survive four years of instruction by your average college faculty.

It also helps that the high schoolers are too young to have much exposure to, or interest in, the economic pablum and partisan distortion regularly disseminated on the evening newscasts, on most cable TV shows, and by egghead economic and business reporters at outfits like the Associated Press (two of many examples here and here) and MarketWatch (“best” examples here and here).

Some of the questions on the assessment are here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

July Federal Budget Results, and Previewing the Year-end

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:15 pm

The July 2007 Monthly Treasury Statement results are in:

UStreasRecsOutlys0707

I predicted (second item at link) that revenues would come in 5%-7% ahead of last year, and the result was close to the high end. While outlays were also up about 7%, it could have been worse, because last year’s spending number was the lowest in the entire fiscal year.

Yours truly’s prediction that the budget deficit might come in at $150 billion or lower appears to be a realistic possibility. That would be roughly 40% below last year’s $248 billion — an achievement that fulfilled the Administration’s 2003 promise to cut the budget deficit in half by the time the president leaves office three years early. August and September of 2006 had a net surplus of $8.6 billion.

There is good reason to believe that the surplus in the final two months of fiscal 2007 will be at least $7.3 billion, which is what it will take to slide under $150 billion.

The final two months’ surplus could plausibly end up much higher than that $7.3 billion. It will largely depend on the estimated taxes paid on September 15 by those who don’t have their taxes withheld — corporations, the self-employed, contractors, many retirees, and others. So far this year fiscal year, non-withheld tax payments, especially by individuals, have ballooned to $400.6 billion through August 8 (in Table II of the report), up 12.8% from $355.2 billion at of the same date last year.

The other wild card is whether the final two months’ outlays only go up by a few percentage points from last year. It may be that the other party in control of Congress could cause spending to spike by encouraging sympathetic bureaucrats to spend any budgeted amounts they haven’t yet used up.

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Friday Snark: Can’t resist adding this — This means, as Rush said on his broadcast on August 3, that the only place in Washington where revenues are going down is at The Washington Post.

A (Slightly Tardy) Happy 2nd Anniversary to NewsBusters!

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 12:37 pm

Two year ago on August 9, Media Research Center launched NewsBusters:

In August of 2005, with the guidance of Matthew and Greg Sheffield, the creators of RatherBiased.com, the MRC launched the NewsBusters blog to provide immediate exposure of liberal media bias, insightful analysis, constructive criticism and timely corrections to news media reporting.

Four months later, the first BizzyBlog entry cross-posted to NewsBusters appeared. That’s when NB really started growing (/kidding).

Way to go, folks. Don’t. Let. Up.

Rush’s (and BizzyBlog’s) See I Told You So: GLOBALONEY Exposed (UPDATE: ClimateAudit.org DDOS Attacked)

So, as Rush says in a monologue that should be saved to the hard drive, there really is man-made global warming (HT Michelle Malkin) — only it’s “made up” by the globalarmists.

Here is the Rush excerpt, with a link to the Daily Tech blog post and graphic added by me based on sorting the newly-published NASA text file:

But the bottom line of this is that 1998 is no longer the hottest year on record in the 48 contiguous US states (1/11/08 clarification). Four of the top ten hottest years on record are from the 30s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939 while only three of the top ten warmest years on record are from the last ten years, ’98, 2006 and 1999.

Top10Temps

Well, you might say, “So what? What does this matter, Rush?”

Well, when 1934 was the hottest year on record, and NASA may know about it and doesn’t correct the data, and when a guy named James Hansen involved in all this, who is a political activist, then you have to figure there is a reason why they want 1998 continue to be reported as the warmest year on record. ….. So ladies and gentlemen, what do we have here? We have proof of man-made global warming. The man-made global warming is inside NASA. The man-made global warming is in the scientific community with false data. This is irresponsible. This is supposedly scientific data. It is unchallengeable. It is inarguable. And it’s bogus. I don’t know how long they’ve known it. I don’t know if they intend to correct it or not. I doubt you’ll hear anything about this, other than this program. The Drive-By Media, this is not going to interest them. “Oh, Rush, irrelevant footnote. Everybody knows that global warm(ing) is happening out there.” All right, well, you see how this works.

Rush is right, of course — as is yours truly when using the terms “globaloney” to describe the pseudo-science behind “climate change,” and “globalarmism” to describe the enviro-hysteria and misguided public-policy prescriptions arising from that hysteria.

There are many offensive aspects to all of this. Here are just a few:

  • DailyTech’s Michael Asher notes that NASA’s Hansen and a colleague, Reto Ruedy, refused to provide Steve McIntyre of climateaudit.org (whose site is down at the time of this post; see Update below) with the algorithm they used — “….. so McKintyre reverse-engineered it. The result appeared to be a Y2K bug in the handling of the raw data. McKintyre notified the pair of the bug; Ruedy replied and acknowledged the problem as an “oversight” that would be fixed in the next data refresh.” McIntyre should send NASA a bill for his time.
  • More on point, Hansen has been a cable news fixture and a raving loony about globaloney since the late-1990s, if not earlier. He is the same guy jerk who has accused the Bush administration of trying to censor his globalarmist views. Occam’s Razor tells me that Hansen has known about the changes, didn’t tell anyone, and held out as long as he could by making it as difficult as possible for outsiders trying to monitor his work. Yet he has the nerve to claim that (from the UK Telegraph, but not a direct quote) “the public had been sheltered from findings about the potential risks of climate change.”
  • NASA may have fixed and republished the underlying data, but, as a DailyTech commenter noted, it (along with its partner Worldbook) hasn’t changed information schoolkids would see. It’s worse than that: NASA still has an unrevised feature page from early 2006 telling us that “The year 2005 was the warmest year in over a century,” and that the five warmest years since the 1880s were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003, and 2004. You see from above that 2005 isn’t even in the top 10 (it’s actually the 17th warmest year).

This is scientific malpractice and full-bore propagandism writ large. In a sane world, James Hansen would be fired and his “scientific” career finished. Instead, he’ll continue to be the hero of those whose “belief” in globaloney has nothing to do with science.

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UPDATE: This is from Benny Peiser’s usually-daily CCNet e-mail. Peiser has apparently received an e-mail from ClimateAudit.org: –

CLIMATE AUDIT WEBLOG UNDER ATTACK

Dear CA reader

CA has been knocked off the internet by a DDOS attack. We are going to move the CA domain to a temporary page while I move the CA files and databases to a new server behind a much better firewall.

Its obvious that someone can’t take constructive criticism.

We should be back in a few days. If someone would like to spread this information around to various blogs ….. I’m sure Steve (McIntyre) would appreciate it.

John

Charming.

UPDATE 2: Hansen is still at it

The storm, which gathered strength over Pennsylvania, drenched New Jersey and then pounded the city at sunrise Wednesday was strong but not particularly rare for a hot summer day, said Jeff Warner, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Climate scientist James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, agreed: “You cannot blame a single specific event, such as this week’s storm, on climate change,” he said.

“However,” he added, “it is fair to ask whether the human changes have altered the likelihood of such events. There the answer seems to be ‘yes.’”

Globaloney, Jim.

UPDATE 3: And now, some science (HT Rush) –

The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville’s Earth System Science Center.

That was not what he expected to find.

….. “Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don’t believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade. Without that knowledge, we can’t predict future climate change with any degree of certainty.”

Spencer and his colleagues expect these new findings to be controversial.

“I know some climate modelers will say that these results are interesting but that they probably don’t apply to long-term global warming,” he said. “But this represents a fundamental natural cooling process in the atmosphere. Let’s see if climate models can get this part right before we rely on their long term projections.”

Read the whole thing.

Positivity: Jeremy Hernandez

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:38 am

From Minneapolis:

08/04/2007 08:46:33 PM CDT

Through the screams of terror, Jeremy Hernandez remained calm.

There were 60 some students and adults on the leased First Student bus as it headed home Wednesday after a fun, but tiring, day at a water park.

As the bus carrying the group from the Waite House Community Center crossed the Interstate 35W bridge in a southbound lane at 6 p.m., the structure collapsed. The bus dropped about 30 feet.

Kids screamed. Some had injuries. As the disaster engulfed them, Hernandez was determined he wasn’t going to die, nor would he let any of the children.

Springing from his seat in the back of the bus, the 20-year-old from South Minneapolis kicked open the rear emergency door and fought his way through debris to clear a path. With adrenaline shooting through his veins, he began plucking screaming children out of the bus. He handed the kids to Good Samaritans who had gathered on the concrete above to help.

“I thank God he was there with us on the bus to protect us,” Monica Segura said of Hernandez.

Segura, 19, worked with Hernandez at Waite House in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, one of six neighborhood centers operated by Pillsbury United Communities.

“We’ve had first-aid training, but you never hear what to do if the bridge falls off,” she said, which makes Hernandez’ actions all the more remarkable.

Until recently, Hernandez was an automotive student at Dunwoody Institute. He didn’t have enough money for tuition, so he dropped out. He got a job as a gym coordinator at Waite House. He said the kids he works with are family to him.
“They are like my brothers and little sisters. They are part of me,” said Hernandez, the fourth child in a family of six.

Now, the wiry Hernandez is celebrated as a hero.

Go here for the rest of the story.