Daily Digest 11/27 - The Dwindling Power Of A College Degree, Big Box Brother, Artfully Sheltering Billions In Wealth
- The Dwindling Power of a College Degree
- Black Friday Sales Rise 6.6% to Record: ShopperTrak
- Big Box Brother: While You Shop the Mall, the Mall Shops You
- On Foreign Policy, Ron Paul Is More Mainstream Than His Opponents
- A Family’s Billions, Artfully Sheltered
- Fighting The National Debt, Out Of Their Own Pockets
- Turn On the Server. It’s Cold Inside.
- Concorde: Flight of the Imagination
The Dwindling Power of a College Degree (jdargis)
Over the past four decades, we have experienced the oil embargo, Carter-era malaise and a few recessions. Mixed in were the thrills of the late 1990s and mid-aughts, when it seemed as if you were a sap if you weren’t getting rich or at least trying. But these dramas prevented many of us from realizing that the economic logic was changing fundamentally. Starting in the 1970s, labor was upended by a lot more than just formal government work rules. Increased global trade devastated workers in many industries, especially textiles, apparel, toys, furniture and electronics assembly. Computers and other technological innovations had an arguably greater impact. While factories continue to make more stuff in the United States than ever before, employment in them has collapsed.
Many shoppers were rookies who had never before participated in the busiest shopping day of the year, dubbed Black Friday because many retailers are said to become profitable then. As many as 152 million people were expected to shop at stores and websites on Black Friday, up 10 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
In another column for The Atlantic by Vipin Jain, CEO of the electronics shopping and review site Retrevo.com, we gazed into a future where the mall starts a conversation with your smart phone the moment you walk in. After "checking in" at the door, you would earn reward points to buy merchandise. As you walk through the store, the app would highlight the products it thinks you're most likely to buy. Got a coupon? Just tap your phone (provided its embedded with near-field communication chips) against the product label. "When you check out, reward points and coupons will automatically be applied to your purchase," Jain wrote.
Remember when Paul belonged to the minority in Congress that opposed the Iraq War? Now, 62 percent of Americans say fighting the Iraq war was a mistake. You know the Republicans who criticized President Obama for presiding over the end of America's military presence in Iraq? Well, like Paul (and unlike Obama) 78 percent of Americans support full withdrawal. And in Afghanistan, another country that Paul wants to leave, two thirds of Americans want to see troop levels reduced. "Just one in three Americans believe fighting there is the right thing for the U.S. to do," CBS News found, "while 57 percent think the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan."
A Family’s Billions, Artfully Sheltered (jdargis)
The charitable deductions generated by Mr. Lauder — whose donations have aided causes as varied as hospitals and efforts to rebuild Jewish identity in Eastern Europe — are just one facet of a sophisticated tax strategy used to preserve a fortune that Forbes magazine says makes him the world’s 362nd wealthiest person. From offshore havens to a tax-sheltering stock deal so audacious that Congress later enacted a law forbidding the tactic, Mr. Lauder has for decades aggressively taken advantage of tax breaks that are useful only for the most affluent.
Since President Kennedy signed legislation 50 years ago setting up the little-known program that accepts donations to pay down the debt, about $83 million has been collected, including $2,440.80 from Garcia.
Turn On the Server. It’s Cold Inside. (jdargis)
Two researchers at the University of Virginia and four at Microsoft Research explored this possibility in a paper presented this year at the Usenix Workshop on Hot Topics in Cloud Computing. The paper looks at how the servers — though still operated by their companies — could be placed inside homes and used as a source of heat. The authors call the concept the “data furnace.”
Concorde: Flight of the Imagination (jdargis)
A ban on flights that made sonic bangs, the characteristic double boom created when a supersonic aircraft breaks the sound barrier, had been introduced in Sweden in 1967 when parliament declared that it would prohibit noise that could disturb sleep. It was further evidence of a growing environmental movement. Now the one-time public vision of the future was encapsulated in an advertisement from US anti-supersonic transport groups: ‘airplane of tomorrow breaks windows, cracks walls, stampedes cattle and will hasten the end of the American wilderness’. Scientists who had once heralded a benign, technologically advanced future were now the prophets of doom, environmental ruin and ultimate global catastrophe.
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