Best and Worst: crunching numbers

Wallet Hub is a website designed to make money selling advertising opportunities to lawyers and financial advisers. In order to get itself some publicity, somebody over there has taken to crunching data to generate lists ranking cities and states by various metrics. Last week, the Review Journal reported on Wallet Hub’s recent study ranking Nevada a hard place for working mothers. Wallet Hub’s study is here. Without offering by-city detail, Wallet Hub ranked Nevada last in child care, well in professional opportunities, and near the bottom for work-life balance.

Wallet Hub’s “child care” rank is based on day care quality, child care costs as a percentage of median salary, number of pediatricians per 100-thousand residents, and public school quality.

Their “professional opportunities” rank is based on Gender Pay Gap (Women’s Earnings as a Percentage Of Men’s) and the percentage of executives who are women.

The “work-life balance” metric is based on a Parental Leave Policy Score, and half-weight rankings for the length of the average woman’s workday and average commute time.

For four of these nine sub-metrics, the top and bottom five are listed; Nevada only shows up on one of those lists, as fourth from the bottom in the ratio of child care costs to median salary.

Wallet Hub attributes its sources as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child Care Aware of America, U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and National Partnership for Women & Families, but does not include links to any specific data, so drilling down is not easy. Wallet Hub notes that its methodology rewards states run by Democrats and punishes states run by Republicans.

Wallet Hub offers other interesting studies as well: best cities to start a small business (Las Vegas ranks #10 out of 150, Reno ranks 55th); best & worst cities to work for a small business (Las Vegas ranks # of 100, Reno was not included) and most and least financially literate states (we’re 49th of 51).

National Teacher Appreciation Day

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day.

So as I was headed into my early voting location for the special election in 2012 (the Vons at Rampart and Charleston) who should be walking out but my high school government teacher, whom I had not seen since high school. We had a fun chat, for sure!

Thanks Sally, and all your co-workers too! I’m a little thankful for the topics you taught, and deeply grateful for teaching me how to learn anything I want.

Drug War Won?

I was intrigued when I read the article this morning about Maryland’s Governor. We agree on one of the fundamental problems facing America – a shrinking middle class. We disagree on economics – he thinks that a strong middle class makes an economy become healthy, and that raising the minimum wage even higher will help foster a strong middle class. I think it’s the other way around – a strong middle class is produced by a healthy economy and a steady government, and that one of the reasons our current economy has become so unhealthy is due to too much unsteady government, and that raising the minimum wage even more will further damage the economy (See NESD one-pager).

But I found his recanting of Baltimore’s drug war under his leadership the most interesting:

He said Baltimore, for example, was ravaged by drugs back in 1999 when he was elected mayor. He cleaned up the city, closed down drug markets and expanded drug treatment programs as part of a campaign called “Believe.”

There’s an implication here that he made a difference in the Drug War. Traditionally, governments spend a lot of money fighting the drug war, without changing the problem. Here was the success that has been alluding us. So I did a little research.

Alas, not all observers credit Governor O’Malley with having engineered a successful approach on prohibiting people from consuming drugs. Here’s a Google search for “Baltimore Heroin Problem” which, as you can see, is full of recent news about Baltimore’s severe drug culture.

Darn, I thought we had something there. That would have been a best practice worth replicating!

This is a very serious societal issue, one that government seems ill-equipped to influence. What we need is a scientific breakthrough to allow us to shut down whatever brain process drives addiction.