Adventures in Smarshland

May 17, 2007

Oh Yea

Filed under: Life — Tags: , — smarsh @ 4:43 pm

I passed my exam, which means I am through both Exam P and Exam FM of the actuarial exams. This is of course very good news.

May 14, 2007

A Sufficient Diet

I have studied the issues surrounding low-income communities in America for almost seven years as well as policy prescriptions for better programs to encourage upward mobility. One common misperception is low income families do not have sufficient government assistance to meet basic needs for themselves and their families, which is often perpetuated by the mainstream media. I ran across this NYT article, the gist of which is that Food Stamps do not provide enough for even a subsistence diet. I’ll quote the first line of the Editorial, “If you think people do not go hungry in America, you’re wrong”. It then goes on to say that Food Stamps only cover $1.05 per person per meal. Which assuming three meals a day is $3.15 per day or $1,149.75 per year per person. Ok, so if you really want to know what a bare bones diet costs see the following article. The original research was actually done by my ex-girlfriend’s grandfather. It shows that a minimally sufficient diet for a 154 pound man who is somewhat active can be obtained for $561.43 per year. One assumption is food cost have gone up at the standard CPI adjustment rate, inflating costs to current dollars, which actually would overstate the cost of the food bundle because food costs have gone down in real terms since 1939 when the original research was done. In other words, Food Stamps provide almost exactly twice the amount of money necessary for a sufficient diet that is healthful. What’s the real point of this rant? The NYT didn’t even fact check the first line of an editorial before printing it. Besides, Food Stamps are not the only source of food for low income families, there is also the far more successful WIC program (of which I am a huge fan, but more on that another time). WIC provides about $32 dollars per month, or another $384 per year. It only covers pregnant mothers and children up to 5 years old.

If you think I am incentive to the needs of low-income families I apologize, but our country’s poor actually are pretty well taken care of in term of basic food, clothing and shelter. On the matter of upward mobility, I am very disheartened.

On another note, Steven Levitt, University of Chicago Economics Professor, author of Freakonomics, and prolific blogger, spoke at convocation at Carleton, my Alma Mater. I just downloaded the rss feed of the Convocation series, which you can subscribe to with the following xml: http://apps.carleton.edu/news/feeds/media_files

I find that I only listen to about a quarter of the speeches, which is actually considerably more frequently then when I actually attended the college. That said I’m looking forward to what he had to say.

May 12, 2007

Bike ride and Cramming for Test

Filed under: Athletics,Life — Tags: , — smarsh @ 8:06 pm

Here was the bike ride I did after work on Friday:


Seems like a short ride, 28 miles, but there is 2500 feet of elevation gain and decent so it make for some good gear grinding. After getting some energy out it is on to studying for my Actuarial Exam which is next Thursday. And on that note, it’s time to head back to the studying.

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