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Thanks TxDoT

Our thanks to the kind folks at the Texas Department of Transportation who featured an excerpt of our research paper, Our Legacy of Neglect: The Longfellow Bridge and the Cost of Deferred Maintenance in the Winter edition of Horizon Magazine.

Counterintuitive Healthcare Cost Data

It has been the conventional wisdom that small businesses are getting killed on healthcare costs and we’ve heard anecdotal evidence to support this when we’ve presented our research on the various costs associated with doing business in Massachusetts. But Charlie Baker at Harvard Pilgrim begs to differ, and he’s even got internal Harvard Pilgrim data to prove it. He notes: Small businesses, on average, had lower medical claims expenses per member than larger businesses, and lower health insurance premiums(!). In fact, much lower. On average, per member premiums for small businesses were 10 percent lower than the premiums paid by larger businesses, consistent with claims costs that were also about 10 percent lower. Why? Mr. Baker explains: I think it […]

The Sage of Omaha on Executive Compensation

Today’s Globe contains news of potential inquiries by Congressman Barney Frank’s Financial Services Committee looking at the ‘perverse incentives’ (love that term!!) in executive compensation and how that may have contributed to some of the inordinate risks afflicting many financial firms. At the end of the day, this space believes that the oversight of executive compensation lays with an engaged board of directors that properly aligns the interests of executives and shareholders. Warren Buffett has written early and often on this topic. This quote from a 1985 letter to shareholders (which should be required reading for everyone interested in the markets) brings up the key issues behind that misalignment: Ironically, the rhetoric about options frequently describes them as desirable because […]

From James Joyce to Grand Theft Auto

I’ve been reading David Boaz lately, so I’m in a bit of a Libertarian mood to begin with, but, even if I weren’t, I would still have raised an eyebrow at Mayor Menino’s latest crusade. Not satisfied with a ban on trans fat, he is now going after violent video games. Now, I’m not a gamer, nor am I a big junk food fan, but I have to stand up for the rights of the people out there who do like trans fats and Grand Theft Auto. There is an argument to be made for a local, state or federal ban on trans fat. In a society in which most of us don’t buy our own health insurance, I suppose […]

This is not a Freudian slip

The charming head of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO tells you exactly what he thinks about checks and balances on political power in today’s Globe: I’ll be profoundly disappointed if we win the debate [on casinos] on the merits, but still lose the point. I don’t want to see that happen in my State House, in my Democratically controlled State House no less. [Emphasis added] It is not the first time I’ve heard this sentiment from Mr. Haynes, but it is the first time I’ve seen it on the record.