Archive for October, 2012

Paying for What Was Free: Lessons from the New York Times Paywall

October 31, 2012 Comments off

Paying for What Was Free: Lessons from the New York Times Paywall

Source: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking

In a national online longitudinal survey, participants reported their attitudes and behaviors in response to the recently implemented metered paywall by the New York Times. Previously free online content now requires a digital subscription to access beyond a small free monthly allotment. Participants were surveyed shortly after the paywall was announced and again 11 weeks after it was implemented to understand how they would react and adapt to this change. Most readers planned not to pay and ultimately did not. Instead, they devalued the newspaper, visited its Web site less frequently, and used loopholes, particularly those who thought the paywall would lead to inequality. Results of an experimental justification manipulation revealed that framing the paywall in terms of financial necessity moderately increased support and willingness to pay. Framing the paywall in terms of a profit motive proved to be a noncompelling justification, sharply decreasing both support and willingness to pay. Results suggest that people react negatively to paying for previously free content, but change can be facilitated with compelling justifications that emphasize fairness.

See: For New York Times readers, fairness matters when it comes to paying for content (EurekAlert!)

U.S. Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

October 31, 2012 Comments off

U.S. Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Source: Brookings Institution

Significant congressional efforts to address climate change have failed, and the issue has received almost no attention on the 2012 campaign trail. In spite of these facts, federal regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigate climate change are real and growing in importance.

Without the benefit of new legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized rules under the Clean Air Act affecting motor vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions from power plants. After surviving a number of legal challenges, these rules will remain in place and grow in importance in coming years. In this research note, Philip Wallach surveys the development of U.S. climate change policy and assesses where GHG regulation can and should go from here.

Wallach provides a detailed analysis of how the Clean Air Act was reinterpreted to apply to GHG emissions, examining the statute’s legislative history and the environmentalist lawsuit brought to force its application to GHG emissions, which culminated in the Supreme Court ruling that the agency must take action. He then examines the policies that have resulted, including ambitious new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks and stringent emission requirements for all new power plants, as well as not-yet-promulgated rules that the statute seems to require.

He explains why the Clean Air Act is an awkward tool for addressing the problem of climate change, arguing that a straightforward application of the Act’s requirements would require extremely burdensome regulations producing little social benefit.

Because of these difficulties, Wallach argues that future lawmakers should look for opportunities to clean up this increasingly messy policy area—emphasizing that congressional inaction has now become a recipe for wasteful regulation. He highlights one possibility that should be especially attractive in the current fiscally-challenged political moment: a grand bargain instituting a carbon tax in exchange for payroll or income tax reduction coupled with a narrowing of EPA’s mandate to regulate GHG emissions.

New From the GAO

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New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Medicare: Higher Use of Advanced Imaging Services by Providers Who Self-Refer Costing Medicare Millions. GAO-12-966, September 28.
Highlights –

2. Food Safety: FDA Can Better Oversee Food Imports by Assessing and Leveraging Other Countries’ Oversight Resources. GAO-12-933, September 28.
Highlights –

3. Department of Homeland Security: Taking Further Action to Better Determine Causes of Morale Problems Would Assist in Targeting Action Plans. GAO-12-940, September 28.
Highlights –

Hoboken Lonely-Hearts Leader of Swinging-Single Cities

October 31, 2012 Comments off

Hoboken Lonely-Hearts Leader of Swinging-Single Cities

Source: Bloomberg

Hoboken, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, tops Bloomberg’s Swinging Singles ranking of large U.S. cities with wealthy one-person households.

In a municipality where 25 percent of workers are in real estate, insurance or finance, more than half of Hoboken’s population live alone, twice the U.S. average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Single men ages 15-64 have median income of $94,500, 61 percent above the national level. Women in that category earn $77,600 on average, 2.5 times the norm.

Arlington, Virginia, on the Metro rail line to Washington, ranked second among cities of at least 50,000 where the richest men and women live alone. Other Swinging Singles cities include Redmond, Washington, the home of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT); Newton, Massachusetts; Bowie, Maryland; Bolingbrook, Illinois; and White Plains, New York.

S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): An Introduction

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S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): An Introduction

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (also called S-adenosyl methionine, S-adenosylmethionine, SAMe, or SAM-e in the United States or ademetionine in Europe, and also often abbreviated as SAM and AdoMet) is a chemical that is found naturally in the body. SAMe is sold in the United States as a dietary supplement. This fact sheet provides basic information about SAMe, summarizes scientific research on safety and effectiveness, and suggests sources for additional information.

Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities

October 31, 2012 Comments off

Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities

Source: National Science Foundation

As part of our mandate from Congress, the National Science Board (Board) supervises the collection of a very broad set of policy-neutral, quantitative information about U.S. science, engineering, and technology, and publishes the data and trends biennially in our Science and Engineering Indicators (Indicators) report. The data in Indicators reveal some trends that raise important policy concerns that the Board then conveys to the President, Congress, and the public in the form of a “companion” policy statement to the Indicators report.

In the 2012 edition of Indicators, the Board reported a substantial decline over the last decade in per student state appropriations at the Nation’s major public research universities. This companion report to Indicators, Diminishing Funding and Rising Expectations: Trends and Challenges for Public Research Universities, highlights the importance of these universities to state and national economies, rising public expectations for university education and research, and the challenges posed by recent trends in enrollment, revenue, and expenditures.

The Nation’s public research universities play a vital role in preparing the next generation of innovators—educating and training a large number of science and engineering students at the undergraduate and graduate levels while maintaining relative affordability. They perform over half of all academic research and development, are contributors to state and local economies, and provide numerous public services. In the wake of increasing enrollment and costs and declining per student state appropriations, the Board is concerned with the continued ability of these institutions to provide affordable, quality education and training to a broad range of students, conduct the basic science and engineering research that leads to innovations, and perform their public service missions.

In future editions of Indicators, the Board intends to expand the treatment of higher education institutions while providing greater depth of analysis specific to public research universities. The 2014 edition of Indicators will include consistent, policy-neutral information that policy-makers can use in considering whether these universities can meet local, state, and national demand for the type of skilled S&E workers and transformative research necessary to fuel economic growth and to address societal challenges.

Beyond Guns and God: Understanding the Complexities of the White Working Class in America

October 31, 2012 Comments off

Beyond Guns and God: Understanding the Complexities of the White Working Class in America (PDF)

Source: Public Religion Research Institute

From press release:

Less than two months before Americans go to the polls to elect their president, a new national survey released today upends commonly held-beliefs about white working-class Americans. The report, “Beyond God and Guns: Understanding the Complexities of the White Working Class in America,” highlights the significant divides among white working-class Americans along the lines of region, religion, gender, and age.

“Both the right and the left operate with stereotypes about white working-class Americans,” noted Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey. “The left has argued that white working-class Americans vote entirely on the basis of religion and traditional values and ignore their own economic interests, while more recently the right has argued that their problems are rooted in a lack of religious engagement and a weak work ethic. Neither side is right.”

The survey dispels five commonly held myths about the white working class. Contrary to popular belief, white working-class Americans do not have a strong affinity with the Tea Party movement, nor are they politically animated by culture wars issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. Rather, white working-class Americans are no more likely than white college-educated Americans to say they consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement (13 percent vs. 10 percent). And only 1-in-20 white working-class Americans say that either abortion (3 percent) or same-sex marriage (2 percent) is the most important issue to their vote.

The survey also demonstrates that white working-class Americans have not abandoned traditional religiosity and a strong work ethic, and shows that white working-class Americans do not blindly vote against their economic interests. Similarly, white working-class Americans do not embrace unfettered free market capitalism, but rather display a strong strain of economic populism.