Streams

 

Money

The Takeaway

How Much Money is Too Much?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

How much money do you need to have a happier life? New research says you stop getting happier after you reach a salary of $75,000 a year. After that point, according to the study from Princeton, "life evaluations" level off. We look at why this is, and we want to know from you, When has having more money made you LESS happy?

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The Takeaway

'Preservation IVF' and Knowing When You're Really Ready for Parenthood

Monday, September 06, 2010

We’ve all heard of single women in their thirties freezing their eggs for later use. But Gillian St. Lawrence has taken the idea somewhat further.

Gillian is thirty. She’s been happily married for nearly ten years. She and her husband, Paul St. Lawrence, both want children... just not yet. They don’t, however, want to face the potentially lower fertility rates and higher genetic disorder rates that might come if they decide to get pregnant years down the road. They’ve opted to create and freeze five embryos, which they’ll implant in ten or fifteen years, when they feel more ready.

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The Takeaway

Listeners Respond: Getting a New Job...With a Serious Pay Cut

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Yesterday we spoke about the growth in low-wage and low-skilled jobs in the U.S.  Listeners weighed in, sharing their own experiences with taking jobs for which they're either overqualified or underpaid...or both.  

John from New England wrote in to give us this response:

At the present moment I am contemplating a job offer of $37k after negotiating up from $30k. My previous job was $50k. I am grateful for the offer but feel like (at this stage of my career) I should be considering a higher salary rather than a lower one.

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Transportation Nation

Should Transit be Free? Oui, Say French Metro Riders

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(Marketplace) A single ticket on the Paris Metro costs 1.70 euros -- about $2.15 at today's rate of exchange. Not bad as fares go for a major world-class city. But for some Metro riders in Paris, the actual amount isn't really the point. They don't want to pay at all. It's not about skipping out on the fare itself. It's about whether urban transit ought to cost anything to begin with.  From down in the Paris Metro, John Laurenson reports.

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Transportation Nation

How Would You Design an EPA Label?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(Houston, TX - Wendy Siegle, KUHF NewsLab)  If you’re at the dealership and itching to purchase a new car but wish there was an easy way to tell what its environmental impact would be, hold tight. Next year, it could be as easy as checking the window of your dream car for its fuel economy label.

EPA and DOT officials unveiled two different designs this week, both of which contain information on greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. One of the proposed labels would give new cars a letter grade for overall fuel efficiency and carbon emissions, from A down to D (at right).  Gasoline-only autos would score lower than fully electric vehicles and plug hybrids – a proposed change automakers aren’t too happy about.  The second proposed sticker shares the same information as the first (including the number of Co2 grams per mile), but it doesn’t have a letter grade (EPA proposals here). Its design looks more like the current label, centering on how many miles per gallon the car gets, and the estimated annual fuel cost.  The winning design would start showing up on 2012 models.

Federal regulators are seeking public input on the two labels.  What would you put on the label, to tell you what you want to know about a new car?  Help redesign it by commenting at left now.

More from the KUHF NewsLab:

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Transportation Nation

First Steps for Obama's DOT, Seen Through a Bush Administration Lens

Monday, August 30, 2010

President George W. Bush speaks with US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters in the Oval Office of the White House on September 27, 2007.(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

President George W. Bush speaks with US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters in the Oval Office of the White House on September 27, 2007. The meeting was after a summer of long delays and flight cancellations at airports. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

(Transportation Nation)  Mary Peters and Ray LaHood, oddly enough, were both born in places called Peoria. (Peters's birthplace, a suburb of Phoenix, was named for Lahood’s hometown in Illinois.) Until recently, it might have seemed that this was all that the Secretary of Transportation and his predecessor had in common. LaHood, a Republican Congressman, was appointed with little experience in transportation policy, but has been given billions to spend. Peters had worked for twenty years at the Arizona DOT and was the head of the Federal Highway Administration before Bush nominated her to replace Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation in 2006.

Many of the hard issues now facing the Obama Administration—such as crumbling infrastructure, declining gas tax revenues, and disparate opinions on spending priorities—were first recognized during Peters's tenure. The solutions put forth by the Bush Administration were bold and controversial, and Peters took the lead in encouraging highway privatization and more permissive tolling policies. She stood firm with President Bush (and against many influential Congressional Democrats) in refusing to advocate a gas tax increase.

The Obama Administration's focus on "livability" and high-speed rail have been in contrast with the past, and yet lately LaHood has been sounding more like Peters, speaking kindly of tolling and private investment. Transportation Nation's Matt Dellinger interviewed Peters last week.  She talked about the persistent problems with our transportation policy, her reaction to the Obama Administration’s first steps, and what her own future holds after January, when federal law will allow her to lobby the White House and Congress.

DELLINGER: When you were with the Bush Administration, you told me that you felt like the canary in the coal mine as far as the gap in federal transportation funding, the weaknesses of the gas tax, and the need for innovative thinking. What were the first signals that we were headed for trouble? And have things gotten any better or worse since you left?

MARY PETERS: I would say in terms of the status of the federal Highway Trust Fund, from the perspective of the revenue that it's collecting, versus what was expected to be collected, it has gotten worse—due to the recession in part, but also due to the fact that we have more fuel efficient cars and we have more alternative and renewable fuels. And then of course Americans are driving less, especially during the recession and, in the summer of ‘08, the very high fuel prices.  American driving is picking up a little bit, especially through the summer months this year, but by-and-large we're not gaining vehicle miles traveled at the rate that we had in the past and I believe won't in the future. So if anything, yes, it has gotten worse. Now, the reason that I caveat that a little bit is because Congress has elected to put some fairly significant amounts of money into the Highway Trust Fund. Between the summer of ‘08 and February of this year they've put $34.5 billion dollars of General Fund monies into the Highway Trust Fund to maintain its solvency. Absent that, we would be in real, real trouble.

DELLINGER: Generally speaking, President Bush was against using general funds to boost the Highway Trust Fund.

MARY PETERS: He really was. Of course, he did sign off in the fall of ‘08 on the first infusion of money that had to go from the general fund into the Highway Trust Fund, but generally speaking, he felt that the trust fund ought to do what trust funds do: collect revenues from defined resources and operate within the constraints of those revenues. But again, because this came on very suddenly through the summer of 2008 and because the trust fund appeared that it would not remain solvent through September of ‘08, we went to Congress—in fact, just the week before Lehman Brothers failed—and got the first infusion of cash.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Turf Battle

Friday, August 27, 2010

Patrick Arden, an investigative reporter for City Limits Magazine, reports on the city's use of artificial turf and if it's working as planned to save money.

Do you use any of the 204 artificial turf fields in NYC? What about these fields makes them better or worse than natural grass fields?

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The Takeaway

Does Income Inequality Lead to Financial Crisis?

Friday, August 27, 2010

There's long been a growing gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, but some believe that disparity could actually cause more harm than previously thought. A group of economists, sociologists, and legal scholars are saying there may be a correlation between income inequality and financial crises. One possible link between the two, according to David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School could be the fact that Wall Street titans wield power that, in turn, allows them to promote policies which benefit them, but not necessarily the financial system as a whole.

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Transportation Nation

Your Homework This Weekend

Friday, August 20, 2010

It will be one of the biggest global "initial" public offerings ever.  Something so exciting for the bankers and execs who worked on it that they called it  "Project Dawn."  It's also something that many stock market pros think is a political stunt in a market where investors aren't salivating for IPOs, timed to put shares on the market just as Democrats campaign for November votes.  "GM, from bankruptcy under to Bush to IPO under Obama!"

The IPO is also a way for the U.S. and Canadian governments, the United Auto Workers retiree trust fund and others sell their shares to the public.  So, your mission with one of the last warm weekends of August:

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The Takeaway

Markets Take Hit After Jobless Claims Rise

Friday, August 20, 2010

Financial markets took a hit yesterday after jobless claims rose to their highest level since last November. The jobless claims were up 12,000 from the prior week, which indicates that the claims are at 500,000. This increase is feeding concern that the economy is starting to slow down again. Louise Story tells us whether this is yet another looming sign of the feared double-dip recession. 

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The Takeaway

Congress Passes Emergency Funds for Teachers, But Will They Get Their Jobs Back?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Earlier this month, Congress passed $26 billion in stimulus spending, $10 billion of which was aimed at rehiring public school teachers who had lost their jobs because of budget cutbacks. The Department of Education estimates that between 100,000 and 300,000 people in public schools across the country have either been fired or risk losing their jobs because of budget cuts.

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Transportation Nation

What's a Connection to the 'Chunnel' Worth?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Even before the election of David Cameron, the UK has been bracing the austerity measures it must undertake to save the nation's economy.  One of the moves already made is to put Britain's only high-speed rail route -- the railroad connecting London to the tunnel under the English Channel -- up for sale.  As many as six firms have bid on it, reports the Wall Street Journal.  It's everyone from Goldman Sachs to a group of Canadian pension funds.  The price to run it for 30 years?  Could be more than $3 billion. -- Collin Campbell

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The Takeaway

Public Pensions: What Are a State's Responsibilities?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Earlier this year, the Pew Center released a study estimating that there is a one trillion dollar gap between what states had promised workers in retiree pensions and benefits, and the money they currently had to pay for it all.

In an attempt to remedy the gap, lawmakers in Colorado, Minnesota and South Dakota have voted to reduce annual cost-of-living increases on pensions. Not surprisingly, retirees in each state have filed lawsuits.

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Transportation Nation

The Highway Trust Fund: Big Wheel, Keep on Turning

Friday, August 13, 2010

Perpetual Motion by Norman Rockwell(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation)  Stephen B. Goddard, in his (very excellent) book Getting There, aptly compared the Highway Trust Fund to a perpetual motion machine. Devised in 1956 to pay for the Interstate Highway System, the HTF, as it’s often abbreviated, pooled gas taxes and other automobile-related revenues and spit them right back out as construction money for more highways, the presence of which encouraged more driving and therefore more revenue, and so on.  As Goddard tells it, the HTF was more of an engineering marvel than the roads it built: “It satisfied those who wanted spending linked to revenues, those opposed to diversion [of gas tax monies to non-highway purposes], and congressmen, who would now have one less vote to justify at election time.”

The magical self-feeding road beast did its thing for fifty years, but now, as transportation writer Yonah Freemark laid out last week, it’s become a much more complicated mechanism.

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The Takeaway

Grim Numbers Do Not Bode Well for Economic Outlook

Friday, August 13, 2010

With Wall Street indexes down for a third straight day yesterday and poor economic reports in recent weeks, the outlook for global economies does not look bright.

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Transportation Nation

Disability Groups Suing NYC MTA Over Transit Cuts

Monday, August 09, 2010

(New York -- Ailsa Chang, WNYC) Anthony Trocchia used to go to Manhattan every weekend – to shop, go to the movies, people-watch in the park and visit his best friend in the East Village. But since the B39 bus was cut June 27, Trocchia has been to Manhattan only once. Listen here:


"I think about what’s involved,” says Trocchia, “and I say to myself, ‘Well, you know, the movie – I can wait for the DVD, and I’ll get it from Netflix. If I have to do some shopping, --ahh -- there’s, you know, the Internet.”

Trocchia was born with muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair for 30 years.

If he wanted to take the bus into Manhattan now, it would mean taking three separate bus routes that zigzag him from Williamsburg into Queens, over to the Upper East Side and down to the East Village.

It’s been more than a month since the New York City MTA cut 38 bus lines and reduced service on another 76. Now, disability rights activists say they're preparing several lawsuits, because they say, disabled New Yorkers have been hit particularly hard by the cuts.

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Transportation Nation

Report: New Jerseyans to Gain $18B in Property Value from New Transit Tunnel

Thursday, July 29, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation).  A rash of studies (here and here, to list just two) in the last several years keep pointing to the same phenomenon:  homes are worth more near transit.

Now the Regional Plan Association, a New York-New Jersey planning group, has modeled the values of some 45,000 homes and found that New Jerseyans will gain $18 billion in value when the new Trans-Hudson tunnel is complete in 2018.

New Jersey is a transit-rich state, but it's also got the most roads per land mass of any state, and the current Hudson River transit crossings have hit capacity.  The new tunnel will vastly increase transit capacity, enabling huge numbers of New Jerseyans who now drive to take the train.

Plans call for the so-called ARC tunnel -- (short for Access to the Region's Core, very un-catchy) to emerge around Herald Square, near Macy's in Midtown Manhattan. It will be connected via pedestrian-tunnel to Penn Station, and passengers will emerge to a a new river-to-river Bus Rapid Transit line, a bus that will be physically separated from cars.  Under NYC DOT plans, only buses will travel river to river.

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Transportation Nation

New York Gubertatorial Candidates on Transit Tax: One Against, One Would Put it on the Table

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

With all the news of the newNYC MTA fare hike proposals, it's hard to remember last year's effort to bail out the MTA. Richard Ravitch (now the Lt. Governor) had been commissioned by New York Governor David Paterson to develop a plan to bail out the MTA. That proposal included two main sections -- a 0.34 percent tax on employers in the suburban counties surrounding New York, or about $200 per employee making $60,000 a year, and bridge tolls on some East River bridges. For reasons understood fully only by Robert Moses, some New York City bridges across that river are free, others, owned by the MTA, are tolled.

The bridge toll proposal went nowhere. But the tax was passed, and New Yorkers who make even the tiniest amount of freelance income get an unpleasant quarterly reminder from the New York tax department that their MTA mobility tax is due. Not that most New Yorker' love the MTA as it is.

Now a Westchester County newspaper, The Times Herald-Record has asked two of the candidates for governor what they think of that tax (Hat tip: Tri-State Transportation Campaign's Mobilizing the Region blog). Republican Rick Lazio, a former Congressman  says, flatly, he's against the tax. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat  says:

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Transportation Nation

California’s Planning Problem: Errors, Bias and Lying (Pt. 2)

Friday, July 23, 2010

(San Francisco, Califorina - Nathanael Johnson, KALW News)  California's high-speed rail plan is filled with projections: The growth that the train system will bring will create 450,000 jobs.  The route, from Sacramento to San Diego, will carry as many as 117 million passengers.  But the public is weary of projects, like San Francisco's Bay Bridge, which has gone five years past due and more than $5 billion over budget.  So are these planning discrepancies the result of trying to predict the unpredictable, or "strategic misrepresentation?"  An expert opinion, and how this plays into the planning process and its problems.

Part 1 here.  Part 2:

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rise in inflation measure blamed on congestion charge for cars in Singapore (Bloomberg)

Oil field that could match Gulf of Mexico in output sits; blame transportation problems and politics.  (NY Times)

FAA routinely allowed Northwest to avoid penalties, fines for not voluntarily disclosing failures (AP)

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