“Basic Fairness Is Probably Written into Our Genetic Code”

(p. C2) Basic fairness is probably written into our genetic code. Human societies depend on the expectation of reciprocity: We assume that a neighbor will collect our mail if we’ve mowed their lawn, or that drivers will take turns braking at stop signs.
Fundamental as this trait might seem, however, its evolutionary origins are hazy. Previous research has shown that chimpanzees–one of our closest relatives–are less motivated by fairness than by what they immediately stand to gain from a transaction.
A new study shows that chimps can go beyond such reflexive selfishness and cooperate, even if it costs them something. But they don’t just give up what’s theirs, even to their kin. They are particular about when they will share some of their food, according to research led by University of Vienna biologist Martin Schmelz and just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Like many of us, the team found, chimps keep score: They’re most likely to allot treats to a partner if that chimp helped them first.

For the full commentary, see:
SUSAN PINKER. “MIND AND MATTER: What Chimps Understand About Reciprocity.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., July 22, 2017): C2.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 21, 2017.)

The full academic article that is summarized above, is:
Schmelz, Martin, Sebastian Grueneisen, Alihan Kabalak, Jürgen Jost, and Michael Tomasello. “Chimpanzees Return Favors at a Personal Cost.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no. 28 (July 11, 2017): 7462-67.

Disney Stories Give Happiness to the Poor

(p. 1B) If the arts community had been blossoming in north Omaha when Adrienne Brown-Norman was growing up there in the 1960s and ’70s, she may never have moved to California and become a senior illustrator for Disney Publishing Worldwide.
. . .
“Of course, though, I would not ever have met Floyd.”
That would be her husband, Floyd Norman, the now-legendary first African-American artist at Walt Disney Studios.
Floyd Norman, 82, began working for Disney in 1956 and was named a Disney Legend in 2007.
. . .
The Normans recently collaborated with legendary songwriter Richard Sherman (“Mary (p. 5B) Poppins”) on a picture book called “A Kiss Goodnight.”
The book tells the story of how the young Walt Disney was enchanted by fireworks and subsequently chose to send all of his Magic Kingdom guests home with a special kiss goodnight of skyrockets bursting overhead.
. . .
Walt Disney later picked Norman to join the team writing the script for “The Jungle Book.” Disney had seen Norman’s gags posted around the office and recognized a talented storyteller.
“I didn’t think I was a writer, but the old man did,” Norman said. “Then I realized that maybe I am good at this.”
Norman named “The Jungle Book” as his favorite project, because he worked alongside Disney.
. . .
“What I learned from the old man was the technique of storytelling and what made a movie work,” Norman said.
“I had an amazing opportunity to learn from the master. If you were in the room with Walt, it was for a reason. There are a lot of people who wanted to be in that room but didn’t get an invitation.”
. . .
One day at the studio the Normans recall pausing to watch the filming of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the story of Disney’s quest to acquire the rights to film “Mary Poppins.” Norman had worked on the movie and was interested in seeing Tom Hanks’ portrayal of his old boss.
“Tom Hanks rushed from his trailer in full costume to meet Floyd, shouting, ‘Where is that famous animator?’ ” Brown-Norman said. “You don’t expect a man like Tom Hanks to come running up. Then Tom wouldn’t let us leave. He wanted to know more about Walt, and if he was getting it right.”
. . .
“What I enjoy is the love of Disney that made so many people happy,” [Floyd Norman] said. “Maybe they were poor. Maybe they were in a bad home, but they tell me Disney stories gave them an escape. They gave them happiness, and that’s what I like.”

For the full story, see:

Kevin Cole. “Legendary Animator Spread Love of Disney.” Omaha World-Herald (Mon., Aug. 7, 2017): 1B & 5B.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed name, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “During Native Omaha Days, Disney’s Floyd Norman and Adrienne Brown-Norman reflect on careers.”)

The book mentioned above, co-authored by Sherman (and illustrated by the Normans), is:
Sherman, Richard, and Brittany Rubiano. A Kiss Goodnight. Glendale, CA: Disney Editions, 2017.

Health Innovations Launch Where Regulations Are Few

(p. A15) One type of mobile device that is likely to appear first in the Far East and be widely adopted there is the digital stethoscope. This device is able to detect changes in pitch and soon will be able to detect asthma in children, pneumonia in the elderly, and, in conjunction with low-cost portable electrocardiographs, cardiopulmonary disease.
An additional advantage is that this part of the world–particularly India and Africa–has limited regulation, which makes it much easier to launch these kinds of health-care tools. In India and much of Africa, there are few government drug agencies or big insurance companies to throw up barriers.
Companies that make medical devices and their accompanying smartphone apps could establish themselves almost overnight. Then, once they have built a large, profitable base of users, they could consider jumping through the legal and regulatory hoops to bring the technology to developed countries.

For the full commentary, see:
Michael S. Malone. “Silicon Valley Trails in Medical Tech; With smartphones everywhere and little regulation, India and Africa are set to lead..” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., July 24, 2017): A15.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 23, 2017.)

How to Use Dyslexia and ADHD to Become a Better Leader

(p. R7) Leading a company without using email, reading memos or going to endless meetings sounds like a pipe dream. But it’s a reality for Selim Bassoul, chief executive and chairman of Middleby Corp., the Elgin, Ill., kitchen-supply maker with such popular brands as Viking and Aga Rangemaster.
Mr. Bassoul, 60, has dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conditions that weren’t diagnosed during his childhood in Lebanon, when he initially struggled in school. Years later, when he was a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a professor suggested he get tested, he says.
. . .
WSJ: What are some ways that having dyslexia and ADHD affects your leadership style?
MR. BASSOUL: Dyslexia has forced me to be quite conceptual, because I’m not good with detail. I think in general rather than in specific [terms]. That allows me to step back and take in the big picture rather than get bogged down in details. Because of my weaknesses and handicaps, I’ve learned other ways to accomplish the same goal at faster speed.
As a dyslexic you have no choice but to rely on others for help with detail and tactical tasks. You become a great judge of character. You have to select the best team around you.
Then you have ADHD, which makes you restless but it can also be a huge motivator for action. It prompts you to go out of the office and into the field. You find yourself constantly on the front line. I don’t like to be confined to the office. I hate meetings. I am constantly visiting customers, our field offices, our manufacturing plants. I know the operations of my customers better than them, which helps create solutions for them prior to them knowing what they need.

For the full interview, see:
Rachel Emma Silverman, interviewer. “How a Chief Executive with Dyslexia and ADHD Runs His Company.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., May 17, 2017): R7.
(Note: ellipses added. Bold and italics, in original. The italics question is from the WSJ interviewer.)
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date May 16, 2017, and has the title “How a CEO With Dyslexia and ADHD Runs His Company.”)

Regulations, Not Robots, Cause Slower Job Growth

(p. A19) Some anxious forecasters project that robotics, automation and artificial intelligence will soon devastate the job market. Yet others predict a productivity fizzle. The Congressional Budget Office, for instance, expects labor productivity to grow at the snail’s pace of 1.3% a year over the next decade, well below the historical average.
There’s reason to reject both of these dystopian scenarios. Innovation isn’t a zero-sum game. The problem for most workers isn’t too much technology but too little. What America needs is more computers, mobile broadband, cloud services, software tools, sensor networks, 3-D printing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and, yes, robots.
For the sake of explanation, let’s separate the economy into two categories. In digital industries–technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services–productivity grew 2.7% annually over the past 15 years, according to the findings of our report, “The Coming Productivity Boom,” released in March. The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries–health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail–where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period.
Digital industries have also experienced stronger job growth. Since the peak of the last business cycle in December 2007, hours worked in the digital category rose 9.6%, compared with 5.6% on the physical side. If health care is excluded, hours worked in physical jobs rose only 3%.
What is holding the physical industries back? It is no coincidence that they are heavily regulated, making them expensive to operate in and resistant to experimentation. The digital economy, on the other hand, has enjoyed a relatively free hand to invest and innovate, delivering spectacular and inexpensive products and services all over the world.
But more important, partially due to regulation, physical industries have not deployed information technology to the same extent that digital industries have.

For the full commentary, see:

Bret Swanson and Michael Mandel. “Robots Will Save the Economy; The problem today is too little technology. Physical industries haven’t kept up.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., May 15, 2017): A19.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 14, 2017.)

Illegal Immigration Hurts Low-Wage U.S. Workers

(p. C1) Research published a decade after the Mariel boatlift, as well as more recent analyses, concluded that the influx of Cuban migrants didn’t significantly raise unemployment or lower wages for Miamians. Immigration advocates said the episode showed that the U.S. labor market could quickly absorb migrants at little cost to American workers.
But Harvard University’s George Borjas, a Cuban-born specialist in immigration economics, reached very different conclusions. Looking at data for Miami after the boatlift, he concluded that the arrival of the Marielitos led to a large decline in wages for low-skilled local workers.
. . .
(p. C2) Dr. Borjas, who left Cuba in 1962, when he was 12 years old, has long challenged the idea that immigration has few downsides. One of his studies in the early 2000s analyzed decades of national data to conclude that immigrants generally do push down wages for native workers, particularly high-school dropouts.
One Sunday morning in 2015, while working on his book, Dr. Borjas recalls, he decided to revisit the Mariel boatlift. He focused on U.S.-born high-school dropouts and applied more sophisticated analytical methods than had been available to Dr. Card a quarter-century earlier.
Dr. Borjas found a steep decline in wages for low-skilled workers in Miami in the years after the boatlift–in the range of 10% to 30%. “Even the most cursory reexamination of some old data with some new ideas can reveal trends that radically change what we think we know,” he wrote in his initial September 2015 paper.
. . .
Dr. Borjas has spent decades swimming against the tide in his profession by focusing on immigration’s costs rather than its benefits. He said that he sees a parallel to the way many economists look at international trade. Long seen as a positive force for growth, trade is now drawing attention from some economists looking for its ill effects on factory towns. “I don’t know why the profession has this huge lag and this emphasis on the benefits from globalization in general without looking at the other side,” Dr. Borjas said.
. . .
Dr. Borjas’s research, including his recent work on Mariel, has found fans on the other side of the debate. When he testified at a Senate hearing in March 2016, then-Sen. Sessions welcomed his rebuttal to Dr. Card’s paper. “That study, I could never understand it because it goes against common sense of [the] free market: greater supply, lower costs,” Mr. Sessions said. “That’s just the way the world works.”
. . .
Dr. Borjas welcomes what he calls a more realistic approach to immigration under the Trump administration. “If you knew what the options are, who gets hurt and who wins by each of these options, you can make a much more intelligent decision rather than relying on wishful thinking,” he said. “Which is what a lot of immigration, trade debates tend to be about–that somehow this will all work out, and everybody will be happy.”

For the full commentary, see:
Ben Leubsdorf. “The Immigration Experiment.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., June 17, 2017): C1-C2.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 16, 2017, and has the title “The Great Mariel Boatlift Debate: Does Immigration Lower Wages?”)

The book by Borjas, mentioned in the passage quoted above, is:
Borjas, George J. We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.

U.S. Has 250,000 Less Jobs Due to Obamacare

(p. A15) Democrats loudly complain that people will lose health insurance if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. They never mention those who lose jobs because the ACA remains.
The ACA includes a penalty on employers that fail to provide “adequate” insurance for full-time workers. Thanks to the ACA, hiring the 50th full-time employee effectively costs another $70,000 a year on top of the normal salary and benefits.
. . .
In partnership with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in March 2017 I was able to commission Hanover Research to survey small businesses nationwide regarding their hiring and compensation practices. The result was a sample of 745 small businesses, representing every major industry and together employing almost 50,000 people.
. . .
Many businesses, when they do not offer coverage, keep their payrolls just below 50 full-time employees and thereby narrowly escape the ACA’s penalty. This pattern is not visible among businesses that offer coverage.
When we followed up, the businesses employing just fewer than 50 often said the ACA caused them to hire less and cut hours below the full-time threshold. The penalty caused payrolls to shrink or prevented them from growing.
Nationwide, we estimate the ACA-inspired practice of keeping payrolls below 50 has cost roughly 250,000 jobs. This does not count jobs lost when businesses close (we didn’t survey closed businesses) or shrink because of other ACA incentives.

For the full commentary, see:

Casey B. Mulligan. “How Many Jobs Does ObamaCare Kill? We surveyed managers at small businesses and put the count at 250,000.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., July 6, 2017): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 5, 2017.)

“90 Is the New 65”

(p. A15) In this era full of baby boomers caring for frail parents, we’ve seen plenty of documentaries, plays and memoirs about dementia, infirmity, loss. But in the HBO documentary “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” Carl Reiner and friends take up another side of the phenomenon of longer life spans: the many people in their later years who are still sharp and vigorous and engaged.
The film, . . . , doesn’t pussyfoot around when setting its bar; no “life after 65” theme here. Mr. Reiner is interested in people 90 and above.
. . .
There is chagrin on occasion; no one likes the condescension that is often showered on people of this age.
“I think the culture stereotypes everything,” Norman Lear says. “Because I’m 93 I’m supposed to behave a certain way. The fact that I can touch my toes shouldn’t be so amazing to people.” (Mr. Lear is now 94.)
. . .
. . . there is plenty of life yet in the population born before the Great Depression. Now the broader culture needs to consider how to change its preconceptions if 90 is the new 65.

For the full review, see:
NEIL GENZLINGER. “Life Goes On (The 90-and-Up Crowd.” The New York Times (Fri., JUNE 5, 2017): C7.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date JUNE 4, 2017, and has the title “Review: ‘If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast’ Finds Vigor After 90.”)

“Inexorable” Trend Toward Remote Work

(p. B1) When Dell recently surveyed its 110,000 employees about their work habits, it discovered something surprising: While only 17% of Dell’s employees were formally authorized to work wherever they prefer, 58% were already working remotely at least one day a week. That’s good news, says Steve Price, chief human resources officer at Dell. In 2013, the company had said it wanted half its employees to work remotely for at least part of their week… by 2020.
. . .
. . . , data indicates that the remote-work trend in the U.S. labor force is inexorable, aided by ever-better tools for getting work done anywhere. Surveys done by Gallup indicate that in 2016, the proportion of Americans who did some or all of their work from home was 43%, up from 39% in 2012. Over the same period, the proportion who only work remotely went to 20% from 15%. Amazon.com , American Express , UnitedHealth Group , and Salesforce.com allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time.
. . .
(p. B4) . . . nearly every company that employs knowledge workers is still learning which jobs can best be done remotely, as the tools to accomplish remote work become increasingly powerful.
. . .
To understand the issues, it’s helpful to look at a company that has always been almost entirely remote. Automattic, maker of WordPress, the content-management system that powers 28% of all websites, has 558 employees spread across more than 50 countries, up from 302 in December 2014.
. . .
With teams that may be spread across a dozen time zones, Automattic relies on Slack for synchronous communication, Zoom for weekly video conferences and its own internal system of threaded conversations for documenting everyone’s work and for major decisions.

For the full commentary, see:
Christopher Mims. “More Workers Have Out-of-Office Experience.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., June 5, 2017): B1 & B4.
(Note: ellipsis inside the first quoted paragraph, in original; other ellipses, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 4, 2017, and has the title “Why Remote Work Can’t Be Stopped.”)