Less Global Warming Since 1990 than IPCC Predicted

(p. C3) Though temperatures have increased, the rise is not accelerating and has fallen short of the most authoritative projections. In 1990, the first assessment report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that temperatures would rise at the rate of 0.3 degree Celsius per decade, equivalent to 3 degrees Celsius (or 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) a century. In fact, temperatures have risen since 1990 at between 0.121 and 0.198 degrees Celsius per decade, depending on which of the best data sets is used–that is, at a third to two-thirds of the rate projected by the IPCC.
. . .
Over the past several decades, the world has been getting slowly warmer, slightly wetter and less icy. It has also been no stormier, no more flood-prone and a touch less drought-prone. And sea level continues to creep slowly upward.

For the full commentary, see:
Benny Peiser and Matt Ridley. “Bad Weather Is No Reason for Climate Alarm.” The Wall Street Journal Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018): C3.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 12, 2018.)

Decline in Startups Reduces Labor Market Dynamism

DynamismDeclineGraph2018-03-02.pngSource of graphs: online version of the NYT commentary quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) . . . a broad sweep of statistics reveals a peculiar weariness spreading through the economy. Belying breathless headlines about the fabulous opportunities that technology is about to bestow on society, it suggests that many rich market democracies have lost much of their dynamism. Their companies are getting old, and their labor markets are getting stuck. Productivity growth has slumped. And many workers in their prime are peeling off from the labor force.
. . .
(p. B4) . . . , the economy’s ability to generate and support new businesses — agents of creative destruction that bring new products and methods into the marketplace — appears to be faltering across the world. In the United States, the rate of company formation is half what it was four decades ago. And it is slowing in many industrialized countries.
. . .
In a study published on Tuesday [February 6, 2018] by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, Jay Shambaugh, Ryan Nunn and Patrick Liu explore what economists have figured out about the American economy’s inertia and the fallout for wages and living standards.
The evidence paints a distinct picture of decline: Fewer start-ups mean fewer new ideas and fewer young, productive businesses to replace older, less productive ones. Researchers have found that the decline in companies entering the market since 1980 has trimmed productivity growth by about 3.1 percent.
The dearth of new businesses is also cutting off one of the main paths to workers’ advancement: the outside job offer. Changing jobs allows workers to shift to positions in which they are more productive, and better paid. But labor market fluidity — job switching, creation and destruction — has been declining since the 1980s.
Clear though the pattern may be, the researchers acknowledge that we haven’t yet figured out what is holding the economy’s dynamism back. “This is one of those big, economywide trends,” Mr. Shambaugh told me. “There is room for a lot of stories.”

For the full commentary, see:
Porter, Eduardo. “ECONOMIC SCENE; What to Worry About: Decrease in Start-Ups Is a Sign of Stagnation.” The New York Times (Wednesday, February 7, 2018): B1 & B4.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date FEB. 6, 2018, and has the title “ECONOMIC SCENE; Where Are the Start-Ups? Loss of Dynamism Is Impeding Growth.”)

The paper by Shambaugh, Nunn, and Liu, that is mentioned above, is:
Shambaugh, Jay, Ryan Nunn, and Patrick Liu. “How Declining Dynamism Affects Wages.” In Revitalizing Wage Growth Policies to Get American Workers a Raise, edited by Jay Shambaugh and Ryan Nunn, Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 2018, pp. 11-23.

Blockchain May Bring Property Rights to the Poor

(p. A15) The great economic divide in the world today is between the 2.5 billion people who can register property rights and the five billion who are impoverished, in part because they can’t. Consider what happens without a formal system of property rights: Values are reduced for privately owned assets; wages are devalued for workers using these assets; owners are denied the ability to use their assets as collateral to obtain credit or as a credential to claim public services; and society loses the benefits that accrue when assets are employed for their highest and best purpose.
. . .
Fortunately there is a new technology that could make a global property-rights registration system feasible. Patrick Byrne, an e-commerce pioneer and the CEO of Overstock.com, has committed a professional staff and significant resources to modernizing the collection and maintenance of property-rights records on a global scale. Blockchain is an especially promising technology because of its record-keeping capacity, its ability to provide access to millions of users, and the fact that it can be constantly updated as property ownership changes hands.
If Blockchain technology can empower public and private efforts to register property rights on a single computer platform, we can share the blessings of private-property registration with the whole world. Instead of destroying private property to promote a Marxist equality in poverty, perhaps we can bring property rights to all mankind. Where property rights are ensured, so are the prosperity, freedom and ownership of wealth that brings real stability and peace.

For the full commentary, see:
Phil Gramm and Hernando de Soto. “How Blockchain Can End Poverty; Two-thirds of the world’s population lacks access to a formal system of property rights.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, Jan. 26, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 25, 2018.)

Rival Retailers Failed in Effort to Cut Off Ikea’s Supplies

(p. B5) Ingvar Kamprad, born on a farm in the rock-strewn Swedish region of Småland, got his start as a merchant at around age 5 by buying matches in bulk and reselling them to neighbors.
He went on to pull off a rare feat: Creating a global retailing powerhouse, the furniture chain IKEA, with over 400 stores, in a business that generally has defied globalization. IKEA’s furniture has delighted bargain seekers for decades and made millions of dorm rooms and first apartments habitable, despite maddening the many customers who found the assembly instructions baffling.
. . .
One of his most successful notions was that furniture could be shipped and warehoused much more cheaply in disassembled form.
. . .
Rival retailers in Sweden, shocked by IKEA’s low prices, pressured furniture makers to cut off supplies to Mr. Kamprad’s company. That served only to make IKEA stronger as Mr. Kamprad found he could buy furniture much more cheaply from Polish plants. The search for foreign suppliers also helped IKEA turn itself into an international company.
. . .
Mr. Kamprad remained a penny-pincher, flying economy class and lecturing his employees that waste was sinful, according to “Leading by Design,” a 1999 biography by Bertil Torekull.

For the full obituary, see:
James R. Hagerty and Saabira Chaudhuri. “IKEA’s Founder Dies at 91.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, January 29, 2018): B5.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Jan. 28, 2018, and has the title “Ingvar Kamprad Built Global IKEA Chain From a Single Furniture Store in Sweden.”)

The autobiography of Kamprad, mentioned above, is:
Kamprad, Ingvar, and Bertil Torekull. Leading by Design: The Ikea Story New York: HarperCollins, 1999.

Occupational Licensing Hurts Military Spouses

(p. A15) Heather Kokesch Del Castillo launched a dietary advice business in Monterey, Calif., in 2014. The business grew and Ms. Del Castillo eventually established a nationwide client base as a “health coach.” But when her husband, who is in the Air Force, was transferred to a base in Florida, her business hit a roadblock. A Florida Department of Health investigator showed up at the door of their new home with a cease-and-desist letter and a $750 fine.
After nearly two years of operating her business in Florida, Ms. Del Castillo learned that she had run afoul of a law requiring any person offering dietary advice to possess a state-issued license. Qualifying for that permit requires a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, a 900-hour internship, a passing grade on an exam administered by the state Commission on Dietetic Registration, and a $355 fee. A licensed dietitian had tipped off the Health Department that Ms. Del Castillo was giving unauthorized advice. She retained the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm, to fight the law that stripped her of her livelihood.
State licensing laws pose a particular burden on military spouses like Ms. Del Castillo. About 1 in 4 Americans need licenses to perform their occupations. In some states, florists, taxidermists and even fortune-tellers need licenses to operate. Far too often, these licenses serve less as safeguards of public health and safety than as barriers to entry. In many cases, the state-appointed boards that issue licenses are stocked with industry insiders seeking to restrict competition.
. . .
Military spouses were 10 times as likely to have moved to a new state in the past year than the average American, according to a combined 2012 study by the Treasury and Defense departments. Surveys suggest that anywhere from 35% to 50% of military spouses work in professions that require licensure, and nearly 75% of them would need to be relicensed upon transferring to a new state. Perhaps as a result, the unemployment rate for military spouses is 16%, while the national unemployment rate is only 4.1%

For the full commentary, see:
Shoshana Weissmann and C. Jarrett Dieterle. “Why Do You Need a College Degree to Give Diet Advice?; State licensing laws overly burden military spouses, who move frequently only to find they can’t work.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, February 1, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Jan. 31, 2018.)

New York City Mayoral Health Regulator Shook Salt onto His Saltine Crackers

(p. A17) Purring in the mild winter day, a small armada of S.U.V.s was parked Thursday morning along 42nd Street outside the New York Public Library. Inside was Mayor Bill de Blasio, at an interfaith prayer breakfast that went on for quite a while.
By divine right of mayoralty, or someone, 13 vehicles waited at the curb in a no-standing zone, among them four black S.U.V.s (three Chevy Suburbans and one Yukon XL) an ambulance, a huge E.M.S. vehicle and a police school safety van. The engines on those big boys were running while the mayor was inside, for about two hours.
At least one of the S.U.V.s had Taxi and Limousine Commission plates. It may not have been part of the official mayoral entourage, but its dashboard was anointed with the holiest of government oils: a police placard giving it license to park where unblessed mortals cannot.
One day earlier, Mr. de Blasio announced that the city would sue five big oil companies for the hardships and costs inflicted on New York by climate change.
. . .
Hypocrisy is more widely practiced by humans than any creed. Mr. Bloomberg’s health department wanted restaurants to cut sodium from their recipes but he was known to shake salt on slices of pizza and saltine crackers.

For the full commentary, see:
JIM DWYER. “Battling Climate Change From the S.U.V. Back Seat.” The New York Times (Friday, January 12, 2018): A17.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date JAN. 11, 2018, and has the title “About New York; Battling Climate Change from the Back Seat of an S.U.V.”)

FDR’s Coast Guard Denied Entry to Future Medical Visionary

(p. B12) Dr. Arno G. Motulsky, a former refugee from Nazi Germany who became a founder of medical genetics, recognizing the connection between genes and health long before mainstream medicine did, died on Jan. 17 [2018] at his home in Seattle.
. . .
“It was his vision to study how heredity could be involved in practically everything,” Dr. Francis Collins, a geneticist and the director of the National Institutes of Health, said in an interview. “The relationship between heredity and the response to drug therapy — nobody was thinking about that until he started, 60 years ago. He anticipated it decades before science made it possible to get the answers that he dreamed of.”
As technologies emerged to decode DNA, the fields that Dr. Motulsky helped originate came to the forefront of medicine, leading to improved diagnosis and treatments for a host of diseases.
. . .
Dr. Motulsky’s path to prominence began in harrowing fashion. He had been one of more than 900 Jewish refugees aboard the German liner St. Louis, which reached the Miami coast in 1939 but was turned away by the United States and sent back to Europe.
. . .
His parents tried to leave Germany with him and his younger siblings, Leah and Lothar, in 1939, before war broke out in Europe. In an account he gave to the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics in 2016, Dr. Motulsky said his family had hoped to join his father’s brother in Chicago but headed for Cuba instead after hearing that a United States quota system was causing long delays in granting visas.
His father left first. His mother followed soon afterward, taking young Arno and his brother and sister with her aboard the St. Louis in Hamburg on May 13, 1939, bound for Havana. But Cuba refused to accept the refugees, as did other Caribbean countries.
“We asked to land in America, but were denied,” Dr. Motulsky said. “When we sailed close to Miami, U.S. Coast Guard cutters and planes shooed us off.”
Its passengers filled with dread, the ship headed back to Europe on June 6.
“Miraculously, a few days before we would have arrived back in Germany, four other countries — England, France, Holland and Belgium — each agreed to take one-fourth of the passengers,” Dr. Motulsky said.

For the full obituary, see:
DENISE GRADY. “Arno Motulsky, a Founder of Medical Genetics 60 Years Ago, Dies at 94.” The New York Times (Tuesday, January 30, 2018): B12.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date JAN. 29, 2018, and has the title “Arno Motulsky, a Founder of Medical Genetics, Dies at 94.”)