Can’t Put Down Your BlackBerry?

It’s a known affliction, especially once summertime hits: the dad or mom at the beach, with the kids in tow, struggling to read the BlackBerry screen in the glare of that damn sun, then tapping out a reply with sandy thumbs. No wonder they call it a CrackBerry. According to Joe Sharkey in today’s New York Times (it’s just a squib, so there’s no link) the Sheraton Chicago Hotel understands this affliction well — and offers to confiscate a guest’s BlackBerry upon arrival and return it once the vacation is over. Kind of like duct-taping your refrigerator shut when you start a diet …

… in other Times miscellany: a brief article the other day about the problem with business meetings — i.e., they waste time and produce little — with the surprising fact that women spend only 2.28 hours per week in meetings, compared to 4.34 hours for men. Personally, I hate meetings. One reason I left my job at the N.Y. Times after 5 years was because, as much as I admired and enjoyed many of the people in the back-to-back-to-back meetings, it was too hard to get any actual work done. I would sometimes look around, watch 20 talented and well-compensated people spending an hour batting around ideas, perhaps 2% of which would come to fruition, and mourn the loss of 20 man-hours and what could have been accomplished individually during that time …

… and Daniel Altman explores an interesting angle of the immigration debate: the performance of second- and third-generation members of immigrant families. It’s a bit of a regression-to-the-mean story: in working-class immigrant families, the next generation climbs the socioeconomic ladder pretty well; among high-education immigrant families, the next generation often achieves less than the parents. What Altman’s article doesn’t address is the tax contribution of those future generations …

…. but that’s precisely the question asked about a different policy issue by William Ledger, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield in England. Ledger wanted to know the long-term tax effects of British policy to provide free fertility treatments to all couples. As Reuters reports, the benefit could far outweigh the costs. Ledger “looked at the average cost of producing a baby through in-vitro fertilization and the benefit to the government over the person’s lifetime. He and a group of mathematicians and economists used a modeling exercise and calculated that for the average 13,000 pounds ($23,960) it costs to produce a child through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) the government would recoup 143,000 pounds in taxes alone.”


angelofthenorth

The problem I have with the Ledger research is that I'm not sure if they've controlled for certain variables. Those that are trying for a baby through IVF are likely to be in their thirties, professionals, and very highly motivated.

If IVF were more widely available, would those benefits remain, or would they wind up with the crack dealer problem?

Oh, and one question... If women were paid a sum of money for waiting till 25 in order to have their first child, what sum of money would be necessary in order to encourage teenagers to delay reproducing?

www.acsh.org

William Ledger's modeling exercise is faulty.

While the government may recoup 143,000 pounds in taxes for a cost of only 13,000 pounds in IVF costs, what about other costs- such as socialized health care?

It may still be economically beneficial to provide "free" fertility treatments to all couples- but this model is so lacking in relevant information as to be meaningless.

And why not have means (and parental ability) testing? Should the governent give free treatments to the wealthiest- who can pay for it easily? And will the government sponsor it for it for potentially unfit parents? People often say you need to take a test to drive a car, but anyone can have children. Perhaps this is an opportunity to require at leaset some minumum requirements for those seeking tax-payer sponsored fertility treatments.

epersonae

"the surprising fact that women spend only 2.28 hours per week in meetings, compared to 4.34 hours for men"

I wonder if this is a (happy?!) side-effect of the glass ceiling. My observation is that the higher you are in any particular organization's heirarchy, the more likely you are to spend more time in meetings.

fewer women in high-ranking positions = less time spent by women in meetings?

Paul Turnbull

Meetings: The trick with meetings is that too many and you're wasting time, too few and your organization can lose productivity. In my department of 7 IT staff we find that we need to have a meeting every week or two or we lose track of what's happening in the department. Then jobs that need to be done fall by the wayside because nobody realises that nobody is handling them. On the flip side, having a staff meeting when everybody already knows what they need to do just wastes time.

Fertilty: With the fertility study I think to you need to ask what the purpose of a policy is before you can evaluate its cost/benefit. Is the British policy to provide free fertility treatments intended to increase tax revenue over the life of the children produced through it? If not then this study doesn't provide any information on whether or not the policy is working or not. All it evaluates is the cost and not the intended benefit.

As for means testing, I'd say why not just do we do here in Alberta for adoptions. People looking to adopt are required to take a parenting course. The assessment of my co-worker who went through it is that it is quite good. In fact I wish they'd make it available to any prospective parent who was interested. I think I could have used it. :)

Read more...

Princess Leia

No, I can't put down my BB and how dare you ask!

Don't even have a super-high powered job --it's just that in general, the BB makes easier to negotiate all the work stuff and the mommy/family stuff. You can even check your email abroad -- I was emailing from la playa de Mazatlan last Thanksgiving. How cool is that? They need to make a BB/iPod combo...

... and yes, I'm totally addicted. The ushers at mass have even threatened to take it away from me.

StCheryl

Re the Blackberry: My husband (a creative, non-corporate type) routinely used to threaten to throw my bbry out the window when he caught me checking it on weekends and evenings. However, having it enabled me to run a major piece of litigation, while taking care of a toddler, then preschooler, with very rigid daycare hours. Like Princess Leia, I was able to check email and use it as a phone in Europe. On the other hand, I was laid off in January and have not missed my bbry since then while doing consulting projects. I hope I don't have to have one on my next job.

Meetings: I just finished a consulting project at a large financial institution which seems to have become addicted to the meeting culture. No one was ever available to answer questions during the normal work day, because everyone was always in meetings. This is not an exaggeration. I could never figure out how anyone got any work done -- perhaps they didn't, and that was why they had to hire me.

IVF: Calculating the tax benefits is insufficient. What about the effect on the women's productivity as a result of being poisoned by the fertility drugs? What about the effect of the ecological/carbon fuels footprint of the additional babies? You could get the same tax effect by liberalizing immigration laws so that immigrants feel freer to pay their taxes in full. Or -- dare I say it? -- making the tax laws fairer so that capital and wealth are taxed similarly to labor.

Read more...

dvrravi

we all have objects by which we carry on our daily routine - and henceforth become a part of our persona.the early hunter had his sharp rock , the king his crown and the warrior his sword.what is supposed to be a tool has now become a symbol , but it's just a passing phase for the moment a new gizmo is released , the blackberry will be forgotten.

about the IVF:it would be less time consuming , and more cost effective - if the british government made the immigrants ADOPT.atleast here one can be assured of having a baby and you don't have to wait for nine months either.

porkypine

Meetings: After sitting through numerous pointless and frustrating meetings at a previous job, I tried to make things better by inviting Dr. John Tropman, a meetings “expert” and professor at the University of Michigan, to speak to my organization. He had a fairly interesting and useful structured set of ideas to make meetings quicker and more effective. While his presentation was well-attended, unfortunately it was the meeting “victims” who attended, instead of our managers who clearly had the problems running effective meetings. Suffice it to say, nothing changed, I left, and I imagine the boring and unproductive meetings persist to this day.

prosa

Meetings: one factor behind the gender difference might be that women are less likely to be nonconformists when it comes to "corporate culture," more obedients in other words, and therefore aren't as willing to worm out of attending meetings.

angelofthenorth

The problem I have with the Ledger research is that I'm not sure if they've controlled for certain variables. Those that are trying for a baby through IVF are likely to be in their thirties, professionals, and very highly motivated.

If IVF were more widely available, would those benefits remain, or would they wind up with the crack dealer problem?

Oh, and one question... If women were paid a sum of money for waiting till 25 in order to have their first child, what sum of money would be necessary in order to encourage teenagers to delay reproducing?

www.acsh.org

William Ledger's modeling exercise is faulty.

While the government may recoup 143,000 pounds in taxes for a cost of only 13,000 pounds in IVF costs, what about other costs- such as socialized health care?

It may still be economically beneficial to provide "free" fertility treatments to all couples- but this model is so lacking in relevant information as to be meaningless.

And why not have means (and parental ability) testing? Should the governent give free treatments to the wealthiest- who can pay for it easily? And will the government sponsor it for it for potentially unfit parents? People often say you need to take a test to drive a car, but anyone can have children. Perhaps this is an opportunity to require at leaset some minumum requirements for those seeking tax-payer sponsored fertility treatments.

epersonae

"the surprising fact that women spend only 2.28 hours per week in meetings, compared to 4.34 hours for men"

I wonder if this is a (happy?!) side-effect of the glass ceiling. My observation is that the higher you are in any particular organization's heirarchy, the more likely you are to spend more time in meetings.

fewer women in high-ranking positions = less time spent by women in meetings?

Paul Turnbull

Meetings: The trick with meetings is that too many and you're wasting time, too few and your organization can lose productivity. In my department of 7 IT staff we find that we need to have a meeting every week or two or we lose track of what's happening in the department. Then jobs that need to be done fall by the wayside because nobody realises that nobody is handling them. On the flip side, having a staff meeting when everybody already knows what they need to do just wastes time.

Fertilty: With the fertility study I think to you need to ask what the purpose of a policy is before you can evaluate its cost/benefit. Is the British policy to provide free fertility treatments intended to increase tax revenue over the life of the children produced through it? If not then this study doesn't provide any information on whether or not the policy is working or not. All it evaluates is the cost and not the intended benefit.

As for means testing, I'd say why not just do we do here in Alberta for adoptions. People looking to adopt are required to take a parenting course. The assessment of my co-worker who went through it is that it is quite good. In fact I wish they'd make it available to any prospective parent who was interested. I think I could have used it. :)

Read more...

Princess Leia

No, I can't put down my BB and how dare you ask!

Don't even have a super-high powered job --it's just that in general, the BB makes easier to negotiate all the work stuff and the mommy/family stuff. You can even check your email abroad -- I was emailing from la playa de Mazatlan last Thanksgiving. How cool is that? They need to make a BB/iPod combo...

... and yes, I'm totally addicted. The ushers at mass have even threatened to take it away from me.

StCheryl

Re the Blackberry: My husband (a creative, non-corporate type) routinely used to threaten to throw my bbry out the window when he caught me checking it on weekends and evenings. However, having it enabled me to run a major piece of litigation, while taking care of a toddler, then preschooler, with very rigid daycare hours. Like Princess Leia, I was able to check email and use it as a phone in Europe. On the other hand, I was laid off in January and have not missed my bbry since then while doing consulting projects. I hope I don't have to have one on my next job.

Meetings: I just finished a consulting project at a large financial institution which seems to have become addicted to the meeting culture. No one was ever available to answer questions during the normal work day, because everyone was always in meetings. This is not an exaggeration. I could never figure out how anyone got any work done -- perhaps they didn't, and that was why they had to hire me.

IVF: Calculating the tax benefits is insufficient. What about the effect on the women's productivity as a result of being poisoned by the fertility drugs? What about the effect of the ecological/carbon fuels footprint of the additional babies? You could get the same tax effect by liberalizing immigration laws so that immigrants feel freer to pay their taxes in full. Or -- dare I say it? -- making the tax laws fairer so that capital and wealth are taxed similarly to labor.

Read more...

dvrravi

we all have objects by which we carry on our daily routine - and henceforth become a part of our persona.the early hunter had his sharp rock , the king his crown and the warrior his sword.what is supposed to be a tool has now become a symbol , but it's just a passing phase for the moment a new gizmo is released , the blackberry will be forgotten.

about the IVF:it would be less time consuming , and more cost effective - if the british government made the immigrants ADOPT.atleast here one can be assured of having a baby and you don't have to wait for nine months either.

porkypine

Meetings: After sitting through numerous pointless and frustrating meetings at a previous job, I tried to make things better by inviting Dr. John Tropman, a meetings "expert" and professor at the University of Michigan, to speak to my organization. He had a fairly interesting and useful structured set of ideas to make meetings quicker and more effective. While his presentation was well-attended, unfortunately it was the meeting "victims" who attended, instead of our managers who clearly had the problems running effective meetings. Suffice it to say, nothing changed, I left, and I imagine the boring and unproductive meetings persist to this day.

prosa

Meetings: one factor behind the gender difference might be that women are less likely to be nonconformists when it comes to "corporate culture," more obedients in other words, and therefore aren't as willing to worm out of attending meetings.