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By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 11:14 AM ET
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Years ago I read that the division of productivity gains in the U.S. from WWII to 1973 was 70% labor, 30% capital. Then it reversed to 30% labor, 70% capital. Was, and is, that true? And, if true, how much does that account for the rising inequality of wealth? (Also, while we measure that inequality by income, wouldn't it be more revealing to measure by net worth?)

Posted by: fredbrack | August 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

What creates job growth?

Prof. Brad deLong has a graph on his website showing the sharp decline in percentage of Americans who are working. Stimulus dollars only last so long. What policies will reverse that decline long-term? What can all those people do for work?

Posted by: Francis_L | August 19, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

How would the retirement scene look for people nearing retirement (say, 1-10 years out) had the country adopted Pres. Bush's Social Security privatization plan when it was proposed in 2005?

Posted by: gilroy0 | August 19, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

NPR yesterday had a quote that 63% (I think) of companies surveyed said that thier employees would see an increase in the health insurance deduction from their paycheck for 2011.

Figures are pretty meaningless without any comparison. What was the percentage of companies that actually did increase this in 2010 and 2009?

Posted by: racheljl | August 19, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

How many afghan males will the US have to kill in order to sufficiently weaken the Taliban so that is no longer a threat to its own people or to anyone else? What percentage of the Afghan male population strongly align themselves to taliban ideology?

In WWII, we killed a large number of German males, and after Germany's surrender the number of males who identified as Nazis were sufficiently low so that they were no longer a threat to anyone. There were a few after the war, however, who tried to rally their people or terrorize them into maintaining resistance to the allied occupiers. Luckily for us, the rest of the German people were by then tired of war and turned on the remaining few Nazis and helped us root them out. How many afghans will have to die before a similar thing happens?

Posted by: lauren2010 | August 19, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Can you please explain to me how the heck 30% GOP believe the lie that President Obmama is not a citizen. And even stranger is that the mainstream media keeps giving airtime to this nonsense. Is this just racism or what?

Posted by: paul41 | August 19, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd be interested to see an analysis of what the expected shortfall to state pension funds would be as a result of Bill Gross's mortgage refinancing proposal. I.e. how exposed are state pension funds as investors in mortgage backed securities at this point?

Posted by: jnc4p | August 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Why has Ezra not appeared as a guest judge on Top Chef?

Graph please!

Posted by: chrisgaun | August 19, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if you guys covered this earlier in the week, but any sense of what James Surowiecki idea in the New Yorker piece would look like in a tax plan?

How could a new law get the very rich to pay more in taxes, avoid 'hurting small business owners' and focus the country during the upcoming election?

Here's the article

Posted by: t_fio | August 19, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

A discussion broke out at lunch today about flex-spending accounts. In the new healthcare bill is an item reducing FSA limits to $2500. Of course the right-wing side of the table (most of my colleagues) complained at how the government is taxing them even more to help pay for the un-insured. But isn't it true that most "middle-income" (< $250k) families use these and they'd technically be the ones paying more (if even a little) in taxes?

Posted by: ncgators | August 19, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Can we compare the per capita money each state has received from the stimulus with the unemployement rate of each state? Have we done this already?

I think ProPublcia has stimulus per capita to get you started...this is way better of an idea than the others btw

Posted by: DropItLikeItsHot | August 19, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Today's news includes the fact that 20% of American believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim. Urged along by duplicitious Bushies, at one time up to 46% of Americans believed that Al Queda had a major presence in Iraq and was a reason we undertook the Iraq war. A large percentage of the American population believed (believes?) that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, depite huge amounts of evidence to the contrary. Many people don't believe in evolution, and many more don't believe that global warming is either (a) happening at all, and/or (b) something for which humans are responsible.

So what I would like to know is: what are, over let's say the last 50 years, the 20 biggest lies, falsehoods, distortions, mis-perceptions, etc., that meet all three of these criteria:

(a) have been believed/disbelieved by a significant percentage (>20? 30? 40?) of the American population, despite lots of evidence AT THE TIME and as more or less proven with the passage of time

(b) have been subtlely or directly promoted/encouraged/supported by politicans for personal or party politcal gain

(c) have therefore had a major impact on American policy and action

Rereading my question makes me realize that the answers may be more suited to a book than an article or blog posting! But hey, you asked...

Posted by: Oriole2 | August 19, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Seeing the Pew poll results this a.m. about Obama's religion spurred me to look at the poll for demographics, i.e. age, race, education, etc, to see how or if those factors affected response rates. While on the PEW site, I took note of their broadband survey which caused me to wonder how or if the results of these two surveys and other similar surveys (i.e. TV news network viewing) could somehow correlate.

Can any conclusions, or theories, be drawn from using a combination of the following:

- lack of internet access and/or deeming access as unimportant

- demographics such as age, race, education, region

- news sources read or viewed

- political and policy views

And how would any conclusions break down by demographic group?

Posted by: valkayec | August 19, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Dylan, How about plotting 1) the Social Security revenue expected over the next 50 years or so, and 2) the annual amount that must be issued by the General Fund to redeem SS Trust Fund notes starting when SS begins its negative cash flow (about 2020?) until the Trust Fund is empty (in roughly 2037), and beyond, so as to maintain benefit levels.

I don't know why Paul Krugman (and others) won't quantify this relationship between the Trust Fund and General fund; I think this plot, or something like it, would help.

Posted by: jifster | August 19, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

In your August 9th Research Desk, you wrote that TANF is just 0.7% of total government spending. But most people would say that there are other things that they also consider welfare spending, like Medicaid for the non-working and non-disabled, and food stamps and housing assistance for the non-working and non-disabled (not what the working get of these things).

What is the percentage of government spending for all aid programs for the non-working and non-disabled (not including unemployment insurance, which most people consider very temporary and not welfare, and not including student aid -- just think of things you think most people would consider welfare)?

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | August 20, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know if total asset values have been tracked: I.e. if you took all the real estate in the world at its market value + all stocks + all extant tradeable manufactured goods (used tv's and whatnot, assuming normal depreciation) + all mined natural minerals (commodities in general) * their market prices.

What does this measure most closely track, if anything? Money supply? GDP (inflation or inflation adjusted)? Wage growth (* population)?

If this isn't available or calculable worldwide, is it for the U.S. or any other reasonable subset?

I'm mostly curious about how this compares to wages (mean/median) over time, and how obvious asset bubbles are when looking at a time series.

Posted by: MattSully | August 23, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

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