Corpse Disposal and Anime Girls: Japan’s Market Responses to Aging, Loneliness, and Economic Downturn

Two unique services in Japan highlight the unexpected impacts of longevity in times of economic insecurity. A corpse disposal and home renovation service exclusively for the bodies of the elderly who died unnoticed and decomposed for extended periods. A virtual smart home assistant in the form of a cute girl who will affectionately text you throughout the day to play the role of someone waiting at home for you. Just what has brought people to be so lonely to be able to fade away en masse unnoticed or pursue alternative forms of social connection? Through technology and economic development humans Continue reading Corpse Disposal and Anime Girls: Japan’s Market Responses to Aging, Loneliness, and Economic Downturn

Is Marriage Worth Saving?

Marriage has long been argued as essential for building a family and properly raising children, yet, as this New York Times article discusses, more and more American children are born to unmarried parents, and consequentially, many are raised by single parents. Today, nearly 40% of new mothers aren’t married, and there is a clear racial disparity; “one in five white children, one in four Hispanics and one in two blacks live without a father at home.” Since the 1960’s, the U.S. Government has promoted marriage and two-parent families, and still does today, but it seems to not have an effect Continue reading Is Marriage Worth Saving?

Analysis of Obama’s Free Community College Proposal

It’s safe to say that almost everyone agrees that the price of higher education in the United States is far too high. Although 44% of college students opt to attend a more affordable community college, tuition prices have been steadily increasing over the years due to a lack of state funding. In fact, according to College Board, the price of going to community college for two years has increased by 250% in the past 30 years. As you can see in the chart below, there is a primarily negative correlation between changes in education spending and changes in tuition costs: Continue reading Analysis of Obama’s Free Community College Proposal

Poverty, Equitable Taxation, and the Earned Income Tax Credit

Along with his proposal to raise the minimum wage, President Obama is trying to tackle poverty with a broad expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC program essentially gives those earning around and below the federal poverty line ($12,566 a year) a tax credit when they file their taxes. In 2012, it helped lift 6.5 million Americans, including 3.3 million children, out of poverty. President Obama is currently proposing a $60 Billion expansion of the tax credit’s benefits over 10 years. The program’s expansion will in part help to provide greater benefits to childless workers. Currently, the Continue reading Poverty, Equitable Taxation, and the Earned Income Tax Credit

Looking Closer at the US Farm Bill: Food Stamps

    In the most recent US Farm Bill signed by President Obama, Food Stamps are set to be cut $8 billion over the next decade. This comes after a discontinuation of the $5 billion a year increase in funding that was allocated because of increased need during the recession. Also known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the program provided assistance to 46.8 million Americans in 2013, a full 15.1% of the US population. Supporters of the recent cuts argue that programs like SNAP create a “dependence” on government and reduce incentives to work, while opponents point out that without SNAP, an Continue reading Looking Closer at the US Farm Bill: Food Stamps

Fast Food Wages Part II

This post is a follow up to Tom’s contribution on November 5th about “Why Fast Food Wages Really Matter,” where he pointed out that “over 50% of fast food workers are enrolled in at least one public assistance program.” A few months ago, McDonald’s—the prototypical fast food industry player—posted some advice to employees on their website: “If you’re hungry, break your food into pieces. You’ll eat less and still feel full.” In the same vein, McDonald’s has also encouraged employees to consider food stamps to supplement their pay. These observations raise Tom’s question all over again: “Is that really worth Continue reading Fast Food Wages Part II

Why Low Fast Food Wages Really Matter

According to an article in Business Week, over 50% of fast food workers are enrolled in at least one public assistance program, a substantially higher proportion than any other industry. The low wages paid to these workers cost American taxpayers an average of $7 Billion a year. Is that really worth a Big Mac that’s a buck cheaper?