Thursday, September 13, 2018

Only dummies use drugs

Forgive the over-simplified heading above.  I have clearly been reading too much journalism. What the article below shows is that illegal drug use is greatest in people who did poorly at school. Sadly, the authors are better at using complicated statistics than they are at thinking.  The BIG determinant of academic achievement is IQ, and yet they do not even mention IQ, let alone control for it.  They have wasted their efforts by that omission.  Low IQ would have caused both the low academic achievement and drug abuse.  The study tells us NOTHING new and skips over what was actually going on.  Sad and pathetic

Academic Achievement and Drug Abuse Risk Assessed Using Instrumental Variable Analysis and Co-relative Designs

Kenneth S. Kendler et al.


Importance:  Low academic achievement (AA) in childhood and adolescence is associated with increased substance use. Empirical evidence, using longitudinal epidemiologic data, may provide support for interventions to improve AA as a means to reduce risk of drug abuse (DA).

Objective:  To clarify the nature of the association between adolescent AA and risk of DA by using instrumental variable and co-relative analysis designs.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This study, assessing nationwide data from individuals born in Sweden between 1971 and 1982, used instrumental variable and co-relative analyses of the association between AA and DA. The instrument was month of birth. Co-relative analyses were conducted in pairs of cousins (263 222 pairs), full siblings (154 295), and monozygotic twins (1623) discordant for AA, with raw results fitted to a genetic model. The AA-DA association was modeled using Cox regression. Data analysis was conducted from October 2017 to January 2018.

Exposures:  Academic achievement assessed at 16 years of age (for instrumental variable analyses), and estimated discordance in AA in pairs of monozygotic twins (for co-relative analyses).

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Drug abuse registration in national medical, criminal, or pharmacy registries.

Results:  This instrumental variable analysis included 934 462 participants (478 341 males and 456 121 females) with a mean (SD) age of 34.7 (4.3) years at a mean follow-up of 19 years. Earlier month of birth was associated with a linear effect on AA, with the regression coefficient per month equaling −0.0225 SDs (95% CI, −0.0231 to −0.0219). Controlling for AA, month of birth had no association with risk of DA (hazard ratio [HR], 1.000; 95% CI, 0.997-1.004). Lower AA had a significant association with risk of subsequent DA registration (HR per SD, 2.33; 95% CI, 2.30-2.35). Instrumental variable analysis produced a substantial but modestly attenuated association (HR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.75-2.33). Controlling for modest associations between month of birth and parental educational status and DA risk reduced the association to a HR of 1.92 (95% CI, 1.67-2.22). The genetic model applied to the results of co-relative analyses fitted the observed data well and estimated the AA-DA association in monozygotic twins discordant for AA to equal a HR of 1.79 (95% CI, 1.64-1.92).

Conclusions and Relevance:  Two different methodological approaches with divergent assumptions both produced results consistent with the hypothesis that the significant association observed between AA at 16 years of age and risk of DA into middle adulthood may be causal. These results provide empirical support for efforts to improve AA as a means to reduce risk of DA.



WH Economic Adviser Explains Why Obama Can’t Take Credit for Recent Economic Boom

Kevin Hassett, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, dispelled the notion that former President Barack Obama can claim credit for the recent U.S. economic boom that has occurred during the Trump administration.

“One of the hypotheses that’s been floating around about the economy lately is that the strong economy that we’re seeing is just a continuation of recent trends. And, you know, since we're the nerds at the White House, we decided that this is a testable hypothesis. And so what we can do is we can go out and we can estimate recent trends -- that is, trends that ran in the economy up to the point of the last election -- and then compare the latest data to the recent trends,” he said.

Hassett showed several slides illustrating economic factors like small business optimism, business investment, structures, and equipment investment. Small business optimism, he illustrated, is at near record high, second only to July 1983.

“And so, I think that if you look at this chart, you can see that the first thing is small-business optimism. The middle chart is the percent reporting now as a good time to expand. The last one is the percent expecting higher real sales in six months. I think if you look at any of those, you'd say, ‘Gee, that doesn't really look like the continuation of a recent trend,’” he said.

Business investment is up more than $300 billion over the trend, Hassett noted.

“And I think that if anyone were to assert that the capital spending boom that we're seeing right now was a continuation of the trend that President Trump inherited, then, well, you know, they wouldn't get a high grade in graduate school for that assertion.

Capital goods orders and shipments are up sharply, Hassett illustrated.

“Durable goods orders, capital goods orders -- it's a key part of the economy, and it's one of the factors that we look at most closely because it characterizes, basically, the good-paying jobs, the jobs that affects normal Americans -- blue-collar Americans,” he said.

“And the first chart is core capital goods orders, and the second chart is core capital goods shipments, and if you look at it, the blue again shows a clear downward trajectory and billions of dollars, and then that trajectory reversed itself completely when President Trump was elected. If you were going to assert that the current good news is just the extension of a recent trend, then you'd just simply be factually incorrect,” Hassett said.

Business conditions have also improved sharply, Hassett noted in his chart presentation. Furthermore, new business applications have surged.

“Now, one of the things that I can remember at the American Enterprise Institute talking a lot about before I came in here was the fact that entrepreneurship in America was falling off, and one of the ways we can measure entrepreneurship is that, if you start a new business, that you have to apply for an ID number -- a tax ID number -- for your business,” he said.

“And so, in this chart, we've plotted the EIN applications for new businesses, and if you look at the blue line, they were heading up because we were at a recovery, but there's clear upward trajectory way above the trend at the end,” Hassett said.

Furthermore, he said, prime-age workers are re-entering the labor force and finding jobs, as illustrated by his chart presentation. There’s also improvement in blue collar jobs, Hassett noted. Additionally, blue collar jobs grew 3.3 percent in the year through July, the fastest pace since 1984.

“The next chart is prime-age workers re-entering the labor force, and again, if you look at the trend, one of the things people said when we put out our growth forecast that said that we'd have 3 percent growth was we said that President Trump's policies are going to bring factories back to the U.S., give you the capital spending boom that you saw in the previous chart, and that was going to bring people back into the labor force at precisely the right time,” Hassett said.

“Once again, you can see that there's clear break in the trend, and so, if you see a break in the trend in the capital spending, the new plant formation that gives blue-collar workers their jobs ... then maybe we see a break in the trend in blue-collar workers employment as well, and so this is employment for people in goods-producing industries,” he said.

“If you look, again, at the blue part on the left, you can see that there's a clear downward trend going on in the growth rate of that for President Obama, and then a clear inflection timed almost precisely, once again, at the election. And the notion, again, that somebody might defensively attempt to assert that this is a continuation of the trend is almost laughable if you look at this chart and, you know, look at the rest of them,” Hassett said.

His final chart showed that the growth of private nonresidential fixed investment Is well above projections. It illustrated what the Congressional Budget Office predicted would happen with capital spending back in 2017, what the CBO said in April 2018, and then what actually happened.

“And so, I would assert that if you look at the collective body of evidence, the notion that what we're seeing right now is just a continuation of recent trends is not super defensible,” Hassett said.

“And I think that -- I know that we're in a political time and passions are high, but, as geeky economists, one of the things we have to do is think ahead to what historians will think when they look back at this time,” he said.

“And I can promise you that economic historians will 100 percent accept the fact that there was an inflection at the election of Donald Trump, and that a whole bunch of data items started heading north. They will, of course, argue for a long time about why that happened,” Hassett said.

“In fact, we provided estimates at the time last fall that said that capital spending this year would go up about 11 percent because of the tax cuts. So far, in the first half of the year, capital spending is up 10 percent, and so you don't have to really reach far for a theory of what happened,” he said.

“President Trump deregulated the economy; we've talked about how that affects growth. The tax cuts have had exactly the predicted effect on the economy that's brought businesses back to the U.S., factories back to the U.S., and created jobs for ordinary Americans. It’s clear in the data that there's been a trend break,” Hassett added.



Doctor Shortages Explode Thanks To ObamaCare — Who Could Have Predicted That?

A year before ObamaCare became law, an IBD/TIPP Poll warned that it would lead to doctor shortages because many would quit or retire early. New evidence shows that our warnings were dead on.

A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That's a 16% increase from their forecast just last year.

Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors (New York University plans to offer free tuition to its med students), but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers.

An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.

Another survey found that nearly two-thirds of doctors feel burned out, depressed or both.

This is already having a significant effect on patient access to doctors. A Merritt Hawkins survey of doctors in 15 metro areas found that "average new-patient physician appointment wait times have increased significantly. The average wait time for a physician appointment for the 15 large metro markets surveyed is 24.1 days, up 30% from 2014. "

Getting a new-patient appointment with a family physician, for example, went from an average 19 days in 2014 to almost 30 days in 2017. To get an appointment for a heart checkup with a cardiologist, wait times climbed from seven days in 2009 to 21 days in 2017. For a well-woman exam with an OB/GYN, they went from 17 days to 26 over those years.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Eight years ago, IBD/TIPP surveyed 1,376 practicing physicians across the country, asking them what they thought about the health reform bill Democrats had been putting together.

The survey found that a surprisingly large share of doctors, 45%, "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passed what ended up as ObamaCare. (To read more about ObamaCare, click here.)

The survey generated plenty of attention — most of it from Democrats and the mainstream media who desperately wanted to get ObamaCare enacted. They viciously attacked the survey, calling it "shoddy," "out of whack," "ludicrous," "not trustworthy," "shabby" and "garbage."

Turns out it was the critics of the poll who were shoddy, out of whack and not trustworthy.

Subsequent surveys proved the IBD/TIPP poll right, including one taken in 2015 by the Mayo Clinic that found 54% of doctors suffering burnout, and a 2016 survey that found just over half say they participate in ObamaCare plans.

Obama Mandates and Doctor Shortages

One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration's "electronic health records" mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care.

It's had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early.

A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs "a complete overhaul," and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.

ObamaCare continued what had been a long and sorry trend in health care. Government-imposed rules designed to fix some problem in the system instead generated mountains of new administrative work.

The result has been that while the number of physicians in the country has climbed modestly over the past three decades, the number of health care administrators exploded.

Driving doctors out of the medical profession and exacerbating doctor shortages was not what Obama promised when he started "reforming" health care. But it is what his heavy-handed government interventions are producing. Don't say we didn't warn you.



The U.S. economy is a gift that keeps on giving

Appalachian Power recently announced utility rate cuts for more than 500,000 Americans. The West Virginia-based energy provider estimates the total rate reduction will come out to roughly $50 million, meaning customers’ monthly bills will decrease about six percent for the average residential account.

What explains the drop? The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last December. Because of its lower federal tax bill, Appalachian Power can afford to slash rates and pass along its tax savings to working Americans who desperately need financial relief.

This story is playing out all across the country. Because of federal tax cuts, more than 665 U.S. employers can afford to help the Middle Class American workers in the form of pay raises, 401(k) increases, bonuses, and other employee benefits. Job creators are also taking advantage of their beefed-up budgets to expand hiring, extending career opportunities to thousands upon thousands of Americans who couldn’t find them years ago.

Appalachian Power’s utility rate reductions comprise only the tip of the iceberg. Wal-Mart issued a $1,000 bonus to employees. Apple will use its tax savings to hire 20,000 new employees, while Kraft Heinz plans to put $1.3 billion toward pre-funding of worker retirement benefit plans. New York-based M&T Bank Corporation focused on bumping up employee paychecks, increasing its base wage from $14 to $16 an hour.

And don’t forget the Republican tax bill’s positive impact on small business, which remains America’s most important employer. The United States is home to more than 30 million small businesses, which employ nearly 60 million workers—half of our private-sector workforce. In fact, small businesses account for 99.9 percent of all U.S. employers.

When they succeed, the U.S. economy flourishes. And they are succeeding!

Because of lower rates and increased deductions, job creators—large and small—now have more resources to invest in business expansion and job creation, bringing undeniable economic prosperity to local communities. The list of tax cut beneficiaries certainly includes America’s largest corporations, but it would be foolish to overlook the likes of neighborhood diners and community banks.

Take it from me: I’m a small business owner. As the president and CEO of Joseph’s Lite Cookies in Florida, I run a family-owned, sugar-free cookie business. We bake more than 12 million sugar-free cookies a day. And thanks to the tax cuts, we’re now experimenting with new product lines including sugar-free pancake syrup.

For years, I sent as much as 50 percent of my business income to the government—federal, state, and local. As the owner of a pass-through small business, my business income was taxed as personal income at the top federal rate of 39.6 percent, on top of the state and local tax burden.

But the future is now brighter—because of our tax savings. Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I not only awarded four-figure raises to key employees, but also purchased new computer systems and created new product packaging for international expansion.

The bottom line is this: When you help job creators, you are helping those who depend on them—not millionaires and billionaires, but everyday Americans in need of a leg up. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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