Income distribution, education, health care, and oil prices.

David Henderson rushes in where few right-of-center economists dare to tread. He talks about the income distribution.

The average number of earners per family for the top quintile is 2.16, almost three times the 0.76 average for the bottom quintile.

He has the temerity to suggest that high earners work hard.

For higher education, Kevin Carey and Frederick M. Hess suggest indentured servitude.

What if, instead of borrowing, students could arrange for investors to pay their college bills in exchange for a fixed percentage of their future income… Students would shift the financial risk to lenders who could pool that risk and then package their students bonds into bundled securities that could be sold on the open market. Regulators and investors would set bond parameters—the period of repayment and percentage of earnings—based on certain key criteria. For example: a student with a 2300 SAT score, straight A’s, and an aptitude for computer programming could expect favorable terms, just as he or she would be more likely to receive a scholarship or merit aid today.

Of course, lenders would also be interested in… separating the value added by a given institution from the attributes of its entering students.

If I were an investor in this market, I would be inclined to make Black Swan style bets. Philosophy majors, for example. Sure, a lot of them will end up as pathetic adjunct professors. But some of them will eventually apply their intellect and creativity to business.

I would not invest in any student whose major is something that ends in “studies.”

On health care, Michael Leavitt says,

I believe the key to health care reform in our nation is Medicare reform. Successfully changing Medicare will trigger the rest of the health care sec­tor to follow. That would be better news if changing Medicare were not so politically and bureaucratical­ly complicated.

As the famous Pogo cartoon strip put it, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Having essentially admitted that government is the problem, not the solution in health care, he goes on to offer solutions that strike me as lame.

On oil prices, Ariel Cohen and Owen Graham say,

Massive infrastructure and construction projects generate a heightened demand for oil in China and India, as they did in the United States in the last century and Germany and Japan after World War II.[2]In terms of vehicles on the road, China will surpass the United States by 2015, becoming the largest automotive market in the world.[3]Rising demand, however, is not isolated to East and South Asia.

The oil thirst is mounting in the Persian Gulf and within other major oil-exporting nations due to booming construction projects, growing populations, and government fuel subsidies, which are increasing demand for gasoline.

…Equally important, plans to increase supply through exploration and production between now and 2030 are being frustrated by heightened political risks and mismanagement, including anti-competitive national energy policies in the oil-producing countries.

My question is, how is this news? Did we not know six months ago that India and China were growing? Did we not know six months ago that the oil supplying countries are not exactly models of capitalist efficiency? Yet six months ago, oil prices were a lot lower than they are today.