Peter King Still Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About

pkhmm-600x337So, there’s an NBC/Marist poll that’s been floating around out there – maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t – in which 606 adults answered questions regarding the NFL’s and Roger Goodell’s handling of the recent wave of fiascos perpetrated by the league’s talent. One of the questions asks whether Roger Goodell, in light of his mishandling of these events, should resign; 29% of respondents said yes, 43% say no, and the remaining 29% remain unsure.

There’s really only one way to analyze the result here, that 29% of those who took the survey believe that, in light of these most recent domestic violence incidents by players and how badly handled they have been, particularly the Ray Rice incident, Roger Goodell should maybe think about resigning from his current position, that others don’t think he should quit his job, and that a third group haven’t really made up their mind about it. However, you could interpret it differently if you’re NFL Talking Head and Mouthpiece Peter King, who isn’t really a human so much as a boutique transcription service for the NFL. Here’s what you might think if you’re Peter King:

Twenty-nine percent believe Roger Goodell should be forced to resign—which, conversely, could be taken (and I am sure will be by the league) that Goodell has 71% job approval. That’s not what it says, though. The question was whether Goodell should be forced to resign, not whether he is doing a good job at running the NFL.

We should take a moment and note that the poll doesn’t ask whether or not Goodell should be forced to resign, only that it asks whether he should resign, which is an entirely different question. But, let’s get back to Peter King; one could take it that way. Maybe some people will read it as an affirmation and endorsement of Goodell’s performance as commissioner. Completely ignoring what the question itself asks, some observers could totally draw that conclusion. But those who will draw that conclusion are not wise, nor are they even correct.

As for ol’ Pete, though, don’t come looking for him to take up the burning truncheon of simpleton outrage:

I think if you’re waiting for me to call for Roger Goodell to be fired, you’ll have to wait a while. I’m not into mob rule either.

Here’s the thing about writers like Peter King and Phil Mushnick: they have a way of distracting you from the pointlessness of their statements by giving you bad writing. That last sentence, I have no idea what he’s getting at, I don’t know what Peter King means. At first blush, the second sentence makes some sense, in that it could follow from the first. It’s a neat pandering trick he’s doing here: He waves his hands a little bit and hey presto!—”deploying critical thinking faculties in the formation of an opinion” suddenly is synonymous with “deferring to reactionary hysteria.”

This is how Peter King works, in that he can’t conceive of having any original thoughts of his own. If the things he thinks he thinks are not to be rote transcription of inside-NFL talking points, then the only alternative is for them to be rote transcription of outside-NFL conventional wisdom.

Danger of HealthCare Information Technology

Medical Transcription Feeds the Data-Hungry EHRThe changes that have come to the healthcare industry in the United State recently include a program to move all medical records into an electronic format. Implementing the use of Electronic Health Care records, or EHR is an experiment from the Federal Government that will cost about $1 trillion. There are arguments on both sides of the issue. Some think that it is about time we update records so that they are easily searchable and available without the danger of misreading scrawling doctor’s handwriting. On the other side it is expensive and there may be problems with hard drives crashing, issues with file formats, or poor data entry. There also isn’t any evidence that shows Electronic Health Records do anything to help save patients lives. When used properly, with good IT EHR can be a very helpful tool for both patients and doctors. Unfortunately, in the United States it seems that bad health IT is the norm.

Another danger to pushing electronic health records is that it is putting a lot of pressure on, and aiding in the demise of the solo practice. For small practices, the burden of installing the complex and very expensive software system may be too great. It is not only a financial burden, but also a burden on doctor/patient time as they need to go through a computer system to enter all of the information and to learn the new technology. Another issue with the new federal mandate is that they did not require interoperability of systems, so occasionally doctors are not able to share patient records because they are not able to transfer to another electronic medical record system. The Medical Economics magazine published a survey that showed 70 percent of physicians polled did not think that digitizing patient records was worth the cost.

Beyond just the fact that it is expensive and difficult for doctors to implement, it is not helping patients. Doctors now have a decrease in productivity because of dealing with new systems, they sometimes can not use the system effectively to communicate with other doctors and patients are getting less attention from their physicians. The idea of digitizing medical records was a good one, but the roll out has been poor. Everything should have been standardized and adequately subsidized with plenty of physician training before the mandate began. Without that system doctors and patients are in danger.

Grub Hub Going Public

Group-Floor-with-Gavel-e1396640293188Many investors are flocking to the newly available IPO for Grub Hub. One floor manager told his employees at the exchange on Friday that he liked Grub Hub, but he preferred the competitor company Seamless because they were more widely used on Long Island, where he was from. Of course, Grub Hub and Seamless are the same company and so stocks in Grub Hub soared to $26 above the asking price for a 35% first-day boost.

It may be confusing for consumers and traders that Grub Hub and Seamless are owned by the same people, but the CEO Matt Maloney says it is all part of the strategy. When they went public, they wanted to utilize a portfolio approach that had Grub Hub first and still maintained their three other brands: Seamless, Menu Pages, and All menus. After hearing the story of the floor manager, Mahoney said, “If traders on the floor of the NYSE love Seamless, then bless them…We will put dollars behind both, but we will be as strategic as possible. You can see the branding here, there are Seamless logo everywhere.” Even outside the stock exchange Seamless logos appear underneath the newly public Grub Hub signs. “Grub Hub is out national brand, so most markets in the U.S. are under Grub Hub. Seamless we’ve really pulled back to Manhattan” Maloney states.

Originally both companies were separate and planning on going public independently. The two ended up joining forces after they had great success in different geographical areas. With the two companies combined they now have over $1.3 billion in gross food sales per year and delivered food to 3.4 million people in 2013.

Maloney is excited about the future of both companies and has been celebrating Grub Hub going public, “The teams is taking this very seriously, but there is a of excitement.” Maloney promises that the company will continue to grow and improve and being listed on the NYSE is very important to the company.

Janet Yellen: Job Market Needs Low Rates

622x350Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Chair spoke to community development professional in Chicago on Monday, March 31 and made it clear that for the health of the job market we need low interest rates for quite some time to get the market back on track. Even thought the Federal government is scaling back their monthly bond buying purchases later in the year, Yellen stressed that do not have plans to raise the short term rate at any time in the new future. The Fed purchasing the bonds has been in an effort to keep long-term interest rates as low as possible.

Yellen comforting the public in this way has put investors at ease. She was clearly indicating that the Fed does not have plans to raise short-term rates. Many investors feared that this would come up by the middle of next year. Yellen’s remarks indicate that there is more time before short-term rates are affected. The reasoning of the fed may be that a short-term increase would have big consequences for borrowing costs and stock prices. This was Yellen’s first major speech since taking the office of the Federal Reserve Chair and she stated that she thinks, “this extraordinary commitment is still needed and will be for some time, and I believe that view is widely held by my fellow policymakers at the Fed.”

Just after Yellen spoke at the conference stocks began to rise. At the close of the day Monday the Dow Jones industrial average was up 134 points. Yellen also noted during her speech that the U.S. job market is still not improving as fast as it should. Because of this less than stellar recovery the market needs low interest rates to encourage citizens to borrow and spend.

CVS No Longer Carries Cigarettes

rtr2gt28CVS has lost almost $2 billion a year in potential revenue by becoming the first national drugstore chain to voluntarily stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products. The chain made their decision in early February and will institute it by October 1st, 2014. Many state attorney generals have been putting pressure on businesses and CVS was the first major brand to cave. State attorney generals have not tried legal action but this has happened before with another addictive substance, think soda and NYC. Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to limit the size of soft drinks failed because legally he couldn’t dictate what consumers could purchase. The same may be said of cigarettes, however they have a much more adverse affect on health than soda. Regardless of whether the use of cigarettes can be legislated, drug stores are feeling great pressure to stop offering them to customers.

Other pharmaceutical retailers that sell cigarettes and other tobacco products include Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Kroger, Rite Aid, and SafeWay. The Attorney Generals have been putting pressure on each of these chains to stop offering tobacco products in their stores. Each of these companies will lose a great deal of revenue if they stop the sale of tobacco products, so what is the incentive? CVS was happy to lead the charge because they have reaped the benefits of positive press coverage and receiving goodwill from many consumers. Losing tobacco may hurt the company’s annual sales for a while, but they are confident they will catch up again.

The other two major chains, Rite Aid and Walgreens are now in a tough position. If a second chain goes tobacco free they will miss out on the positive press that CVS received because they will be second. Additionally, if two major pharmacies are tobacco free it leaves all of the tobacco business with the third. Either way, there is increasing pressure from possible legislation so someone will have to act soon.

UNC Athlete’s Joke of a Paper – Who’s to Blame?

qtqabrucmtcj6dzna1bpThis past Tuesday, Outside The Lines broadcast a piece regarding an unfolding academic scandal unfolding at UNC which, according to the whistleblower that provided the attached image, has been funneling athletes at the university into sham classes that require minimal effort, work requirements, and low standards for high performance. The web’s big takeaway from the unfolding scandal is based on the essay attached, which reportedly received an A- grade and is, by all accounts, a terrible paper about Rosa Parks.

I’m sure that all of us can agree that this paper, its grade, and the diploma factory that is UNC’s African and Afro-American Studies program are all fronts to allow athletes to circumvent what are generally accepted principles associated with getting a college diploma – hard work, diligent study, and an appreciation of the material which you are learning. How you react to this paper is a reliable litmus test for where you fall in the grander debate regarding college athletics, and the standards that are asked of college athletes required to maintain an academic record consistent with the eligibility requirements associated with the athletic scholarships big-name universities give to their athletes.

This idea can be argued from two sides: one that puts the NCAA system at fault and one that puts the university at fault. On one hand, (many, most?), people will point the finger at UNC for a joke program that’s clearly designed for keeping athletes eligible to maintain their athletic scholarships when they would otherwise most likely fail out. It’s an absolute violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of college sports, and is deserving of strong sanctions from the NCAA. UNC deserves blame for blatantly cheating the system, and on the athletes for skating to a degree without putting in any work, where other college students are putting in much greater work for a much steeper scale of acceptable performance.

On the other hand, the argument could be made that the NCAA system is at fault. That the NCAA’s amateurism model is a joke that invites exploitation of athletes and academics alike, and encourages schools to bend rules to enroll teenagers who everyone knows are there first and foremost for their athletic abilities. They are compensated solely by a college education, which many of them either don’t need, don’t want, don’t qualify for, and don’t know what to do with after they get it. The money is in sports for big-name universities, and to keep that money flowing and the best athletes coming, of course schools are going to pull things like this. The athletes are merely pawns (unfortunately), in a scheme that makes others very, very rich.

Manufacturing in the U.S. is Expanding

iZwj5sNpbKScManufacturing in the U.S. has expanded at a faster pace than originally projected for February. In January, The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose from 51.3 in January to 53.2. Additional figure showed consumer spending climbed more than expected in January. Additional estimates may have been low because of considering home heating bill and households enrolling in the Affordable Care Act.

This pickup in manufacturing may have been even stronger if not for a slight slump in production. The slump was due to a shortage of parts, but this means orders will improve directly, after stockpiles are replenished. Senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc., Russell Price states that “manufacturing remains a bright spot for the economy…there’s still a sizable amount of pent-up demand in the consumer and corporate sectors.”

As far as the Global manufacturing goes, things are mixed. China had a couple factories decline in February and the index from the HSBC showed a seven-month low. In Europe, manufacturing was higher than previously estimated. France had a seven-month high in manufacturing and the index in the euro region rose significantly.

In the U.S., manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the economy. Production has recently been slowed because of inclement weather throughout the country, but should pick up with a high demand for backlogs. Bradley Holcomb, the chairman of the Institute for Supply Management conducted a survey that indicated there was “pretty broad-based optimism” in regard to future orders. Additionally consumer spending has increased more than expected for January. Purchases account for nearly 70 percent of the economy and this also rose.

Specifically, there has been more spending on construction projects, according to the Commerce Department. This marks a housing rebound with home renovating chains like Home Depot and Lowes showing higher sales. Once the harsh winter weather subsides we may feel the full effect of less fiscal restraint and progress in the job market that will boost the GDP.

Big Issues Facing Janet Yellen as New Fed Chairman

opening_remarks03__01__300On February 1st, Ben Bernanke will no longer be the Federal Reserve Chairman, and we will begin the reign of Janet Yellen, the newly appointed Federal Reserve Chairperson. Considering that the Fed just celebrated its 100th birthday and employs more Ph.D. economists than any other institution in the world, you’d think that the Fed would have monetary policy down pat. However, it doesn’t. Yellen herself admits that setting interest rates is often a shot in the dark. “I consider it essential, in making judgments about the stance of policy, to recognize at the outset the limits of our understanding regarding the dynamics of the economy and the transmission of monetary policy,” she said in a 2012 speech at NYU.

Yellen’s humble attitude will certainly well assist her as Chairperson, since just about every single issue she’ll deal with will be wrought with uncertainty. Is the U.S. economy stagnating, or threatening to overheat? How quickly should the Fed taper its purchases of long-term Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities? When should it begin to raise the federal funds rate, which has been nailed to the floor at zero to 0.25 percent since the end of 2008?

These dilemmas are generally looked at through a hawk-vs-dove monetary prism, but they are  deeper and more interesting. The three big questions that Yellen will have to deal with answering will be thus: What is the most optimal amount of Fed control and oversight? How is the best way to manage economic and industry bubbles? What is the right proportion of mystery and transparency the Fed must maintain?

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