Monday, November 29, 2004

A Backup Solution for Idiots

It wasn't too long ago that I backed up all my schoolwork on 3.5" floppy disks. Not the most elegant solution but it worked. Now though, I have - in addition to my Word documents - digital photos, videos, spreadsheets and a couple hundred megabytes worth of email (pretty much every non-junk email that I've received or sent since 1998, actually). That takes up a lot of space and I want to keep a good backup without a hassle.

I'd bet that my situation is pretty common now. That's why I'm convinced that Mirra is a product who's time has come. It's a simple backup solution that sits on your network and constantly backs up all your files with a minimum of effort required. It also has some handy features such as saving multiple versions of documents so you can revert to a prior version and enabling remote internet access to your files.

They're still a little pricey (the 80gb version is $399) but, on the whole, reasonable and I'm sure the price will come down soon.

Nature > Nuture

This study of adopted children has fascinating results. Apparently, parents transmit income and education characteristics to adopted children much less than to their biological offspring. But smoking and drinking behavior transmits at similar levels. That's fascinating. Perhaps parents, on the margin, should focus more on teaching their kids good behavior rather than on educational issues?

(Check out the income effects graph on MR.)

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Wonders of Technology

Modern technology allows Walmart to know that, before a hurricane, beer will be the best-selling item and strawberry Poptarts will sell 7x their normal rate.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Social Security Reforms Getting Press

Laurence J. Kotlikoff, chair of the BU Economics dept, has an article in the Post today outlining a simple (sounding) 3 step plan to revamping the social security system.

  1. Replace the payroll tax with a retail sales tax. This shifts the tax-burden from a wages-only basis to an all-income basis which means it should be less regressive in the long-run.
  2. Phase out current Social Security system. I.e., eliminate it for those not already retired or close to it.
  3. Institute mandatory savings account that are invested in global indices.

It makes a lot of sense which means that it would probably never fly. I'd also be concerned about adding a new tax. The payroll tax would have to be abolished first because I think there would be a real danger that otherwise both would end up sticking.

Edward Prescott, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics, also writes on SS reform in the WSJ. He also favors individual accounts. Here are some interesting quotes:

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