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Submission + - Something "Unexpected" Happened When Seattle Raised The Minimum Wage

schwit1 writes: The latest research comes from the University of Washington which researched the impact of Seattle's recent minimum wage hike on employment in that city (as background, Seattle recently passed legislation that increased it's minimum wage to $11 per hour on April 1, 2015, $13 on January 1, 2016 and $15 on January 1, 2017). "Shockingly", the University of Washington found that Seattle's higher minimum wages "lowered employment rates of low-wage workers" (the report is attached in its entirety at the end of this post).

Yet, our best estimates find that the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance appears to have lowered employment rates of low-wage workers. This negative unintended consequence (which are predicted by some of the existing economic literature) is concerning and needs to be followed closely in future years, because the long-run effects are likely to be greater as businesses and workers have more time to adapt to the ordinance. Finally, we find only modest impacts on earnings. The effects of disemployment appear to be roughly offsetting the gain in hourly wage rates, leaving the earnings for the average low-wage worker unchanged. Of course, we are talking about the average result.



More specifically, we find that median wages for low-wage workers (those earning less than $11 per hour during the 2nd quarter of 2014) rose by $1.18 per hour, and we estimate that the impact of the Ordinance was to increase these workers’ median wage by $0.73 per hour. Further, while these low-wage workers increased their likelihood of being employed relative to prior years, this increase was less than in comparison regions. We estimate that the impact of the Ordinance was a 1.1 percentage point decrease in likelihood of low-wage Seattle workers remaining employed. While these low-wage workers increased their quarterly earnings relative to prior years, the estimated impact of the Ordinance on earnings is small and sensitive to the choice of comparison region. Finally, for those who kept their job, the Ordinance appears to have improved wages and earnings, but decreased their likelihood of being employed in Seattle relative other parts of the state of Washington.

Still not convinced? How about a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco that finds that "higher minimum wage results in some job loss for the least-skilled workers—with possibly larger adverse effects than earlier research suggested."

Submission + - Bill Gates's Net Worth Hits $90 Billion (bloomberg.com)

schwit1 writes: The net worth of the world’s richest person Bill Gates hit $90 billion on Friday, fueled by gains in public holdings including Canadian National Railway Company and Ecolab Inc. Gates’s fortune is now $13.5 billion bigger than that of the world’s second-wealthiest person, Spanish retail mogul Amancio Ortega, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At $90 billion, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder’s net worth is equal to 0.5 percent of U.S. GDP.

Submission + - U. of Chicago researchers use data to predict police misconduct (chicagotribune.com) 2

schwit1 writes: In two Loop office buildings about eight blocks apart, a pair of University of Chicago research teams are analyzing big data to answer a thorny question that has become especially charged in recent months: Will a police officer have an adverse interaction with a citizen?

The team from the university's Crime Lab is in the first stages of working with the Chicago Police Department to build a predictive data program to improve the department's Early Intervention System, which is designed to determine if an officer is likely to engage in aggressive, improper conduct with a civilian.

The other team, part of U. of C.'s Center for Data Science & Public Policy, is expected to launch a data-driven pilot of an Early Intervention System with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina by the end of the summer. The center is working on similar efforts with the Los Angeles County sheriff's office and the Nashville and Knoxville police departments in Tennessee.

I am not hopeful seeing how a recent Chicago crime predictive program failed.

Submission + - Massachusetts to tax ride-hailing apps, give the money to taxis (reuters.com)

schwit1 writes: Massachusetts is preparing to levy a 5-cent fee per trip on ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft and spend the money on the traditional taxi industry, a subsidy that appears to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee. "I don't think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors," said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas.

Submission + - McMaster University Researchers develop a new way to purify carbon nanotubes (phys.org)

schwit1 writes: Researchers at McMaster University have cleared that obstacle by developing a new way to purify carbon nanotubes — the smaller, nimbler semiconductors that are expected to replace silicon within computer chips and a wide array of electronics.

"Once we have a reliable source of pure nanotubes that are not very expensive, a lot can happen very quickly," says Alex Adronov, a professor of Chemistry at McMaster whose research team has developed a new and potentially cost-efficient way to purify carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes — hair-like structures that are one billionth of a metre in diameter but thousands of times longer — are tiny, flexible conductive nano-scale materials, expected to revolutionize computers and electronics by replacing much larger silicon-based chips.

A major problem standing in the way of the new technology, however, has been untangling metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes, since both are created simultaneously in the process of producing the microscopic structures, which typically involves heating carbon-based gases to a point where mixed clusters of nanotubes form spontaneously as black soot.

Only pure semiconducting or metallic carbon nanotubes are effective in device applications, but efficiently isolating them has proven to be a challenging problem to overcome. Even when the nanotube soot is ground down, semiconducting and metallic nanotubes are knotted together within each grain of powder. Both components are valuable, but only when separated.

Submission + - Chicago's Experiment in Predictive Policing Isn't Working (technologyreview.com)

schwit1 writes: Struggling to reduce its high murder rate, the city of Chicago has become an incubator for experimental policing techniques. Community policing, stop and frisk, "interruption" tactics — the city has tried many strategies. Perhaps most controversial and promising has been the city’s futuristic "heat list" — an algorithm-generated list identifying people most likely to be involved in a shooting.

The hope was that the list would allow police to provide social services to people in danger, while also preventing likely shooters from picking up a gun. But a new report from the RAND Corporation shows nothing of the sort has happened. Instead, it indicates that the list is, at best, not even as effective as a most wanted list. At worst, it unnecessarily targets people for police attention, creating a new form of profiling.

Submission + - The Big Driver of Mass Incarceration That Nobody Talks About (the-american-interest.com) 1

schwit1 writes: If you follow media coverage of America’s mass incarceration problem, you are likely to hear a lot about unscrupulous police officers, mandatory minimums, and drug laws. But you are unlikely to hear these two words that have probably played a larger role in producing the excesses of the American criminal justice system than anything else: plea coercion.

The number of criminal cases that actually go to trial in America is steadily dwindling. That’s because prosecutors have so much leverage during plea bargaining that most defendants take an offer—in particular, defendants who are held on bail, and who might need to wait in jail for months or even years before standing trial and facing an uncertain outcome.

We reported last week on a study from Columbia showing that all things being equal, defendants in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia who were made to pay bail are much more likely to plead guilty. Since then, a separate study from researchers at Harvard, Princeton and Stanford has come out that reaches a similar conclusion. . . .

Of course, bail remains a vital tool for judges, and some defendants are too dangerous to be let out before their trial, period. But there are ways we might be able to reform the pre-trial detention system so as to reduce the number of defendants who simply resign themselves to a guilty plea out of desperation since they can’t come up with the money to buy their temporary freedom. For example, the average amount of money bail assessed should be reduced (it has risen exponentially over the last several decades) and courts should experiment with ankle bracelets and home visits to monitor defendants rather than holding them in a jail cell before they have been convicted of a crime.

The focus on policing and minimum sentences and drug laws in the public discourse is all well and good. But if they are serious about making our justice system more fair and less arbitrary, criminal justice reformers should devote more of their efforts to reforming what happens in the period after arrest and before sentencing. That’s an area where big progress can be made with relatively straightforward, and politically palatable reforms.

Submission + - Recording Industry: Copyright Terms At Life+50, instead of Life+70 is too costly (techdirt.com)

schwit1 writes: Okay. I've heard lots of crazy arguments from the record labels, but I may have found the craziest. We've discussed how ridiculous it is that the TPP includes a provision saying that every country that signs on must make sure the minimum copyright term is life plus 70 years. This will impact many of the countries that negotiated the agreement, which currently have terms set at life plus 50. This was a key point that the recording industry and Hollywood fought hard for. When even the Copyright Office recognizes that life plus 70 is too long in many cases, the legacy industries recognized that getting copyright term extension through Congress in the US might be difficult — so why not lock stuff in via international agreements?

And, of course, the USTR was fine with this, because the USTR goes along with basically everything that Hollywood asks for. But here's the crazy part: having gotten such a ridiculous thing, the recording industry is whining about its own victory. As Kimberlee Weatherall points out, the recording industry in New Zealand is bitching about the fact that the change doesn't go into effect immediately because it's "too costly" for copyright holders.

That's because the TPP has a "phase-in period" that allows countries to adjust and gradually move copyright terms upwards. But the record labels are having none of that:

Meeting before a parliamentary committee this week, Recorded Music chief executive Damian Vaughan said his advocacy group supports an article in the TPP deal that standardizes the terms of protection of a work to the life of an author plus 70 years. (New Zealand is one of several participating nations that currently has a term of 50 years after death.) However, Vaughan thinks a proposed phase-in period for nations upgrading to 70 years is unnecessary and a costly burden for rights holders.

"It's not making copyright simple or easy to understand to the music user or the public whatsoever," he said, according to RadioNZ. "It is making the process significantly more complicated, and it's the rights organizations and the copyright holders who will be forced to administer this We note the cost we incur will be far higher than any perceived cost savings."


Submission + - Could Less Gassy Livestock Be a Cash Cow? (bloomberg.com)

schwit1 writes: The hamburgers and cheese that come from U.S. cattle may be favorite fare at many summer cookouts, but the methane the same cows produce is significantly less appetizing.

That's especially the case for sustainable investors looking for a low-emission place to park their cash. "Enteric fermentation," or livestock's digestive process, accounts for 22 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, and the manure they produce makes up 8 percent more, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Adding some Beano to their diet won't cut it?

Submission + - Russian Doping Whistleblower's Website Account Compromised (theregister.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: A phishing attack on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) website may have compromised the location of Yuliya Stepanova, a former Russian runner who became a whistleblower when she disclosed state-sponsored athlete doping in that country. For her own safety, Stepanova left Russia following the disclosure.

Submission + - Cisco Systems to lay off about 14,000 employees (crn.com)

schwit1 writes: Cisco Systems is laying off about 14,000 employees, representing nearly 20 percent of the network equipment maker's global workforce.

San Jose, California-based Cisco is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, the report said, as the company transition from its hardware roots into a software-centric organization.

Cisco increasingly requires "different skill sets" for the "software-defined future" than it did in the past, as it pushes to capture a higher share of the addressable market and aims to boost its margins, the CRN report said citing a source familiar with the situation.

Submission + - Obamacare enters the death spiral? (nytimes.com)

Bruce66423 writes: There was a lot of concern when Obamacare was established that the sick would receive mandatory coverage, raising rates for the wider population rapidly. This now appears to be happening with rate rises in excess of 20% being sought by insurance firms and non-profits insurance providers collapsing.

"“Studies concluded that the market would stabilize after absorbing the pent-up demand from the previously uninsured population,” testified Eric Galvin, the chief financial officer of ConnectiCare Insurance Company. But, he said, “rather than stabilize, that cost has continued to skyrocket, and we see no end to that higher level of spending.”

“There were close to 250 individual A.C.A. policyholders in Pennsylvania who incurred over $100,000 each in claims and then canceled coverage before the end of the year,”

Those of us who know the history of the NHS in the UK are smiling at the repeat of the lesson then; it was widely assumed when it was implemented in 1948 that demand for medical services would decline after the stock of unaddressed illnesses had cleared. Instead the government was forced to increase funding rapidly in the first few years, and has been rationing, to a greater or lesser extent, ever since.

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