1) The Atlanta Braves are World Series Champions!
Buzz’s Thoughts: I instantly became a Braves fan when we moved to Atlanta when I was 9. To see them win the World Series, after losing players like Marcel Ozuna, Mike Soroka, and then Ronald Acuna, all for the bulk of the 2021 season is remarkable. Fans like me will remember this magical run for a long, long time.
2) Are autonomous trucks the answer to the truck driver shortage? Last week I attended a presentation that included a startling fact: In metro-Atlanta right now there are 32,146 job postings for tractor-trailer truck drivers. That’s an astounding number, especially since the American Trucking Association recently said they expect this year there to be an 80,000 person shortage of truckers in the entire U.S. - an all time high. The ATA estimates there will need to be an additional 1 million drivers over the next nine years to replace those retiring.
Ryder, the logistics and transportation company, worked with Georgia Tech to develop what they’re calling an Autonomous Transfer Hub Network (ATHN). The ATHN would combine…
autonomous trucks on highways with conventional trucking operations for the first and final miles. The team then introduced optimization models for routing and dispatching and evaluated the proposed autonomous network by comparing it with existing operations under various assumptions. The analyses indicate the ATHN with optimization technology, can reduce costs by 29% to 40% for a large network (depending on the price of autonomous trucks as well as the direct and indirect cost of operating them).
Buzz’s Thoughts: Such a network could, in addition to increasing efficiency and cutting costs, help offset the looming shortage of truck drivers. If only this system were in place now, to help get the supply chain moving more quickly…
You can read the full Ryder/Georgia Tech white paper here.
3) The Great Resignation Is Well Under Way. For the past several months, the number of people leaving their jobs has grown rapidly. In September alone, 4.4 million of us quit. Economists debate the causes, but the resignations seem to be impacting many job sectors. This chart, compiled by journalist Felix Richter, underscores the magnitude of the issue.
Buzz’s Thoughts: Clearly something is happening here, and smarter minds than mine will have to figure it out. However, this could force big changes in our economy, as employers try to meet demand with fewer, or perhaps, shorter term, employees.
4) Does American really need another university? A group of academics think we do and have started The University of Austin. Pano Kanelos, former President of St. John’s College explains:
The reality is that many universities no longer have an incentive to create an environment where intellectual dissent is protected and fashionable opinions are scrutinized. At our most prestigious schools, the primary incentive is to function as finishing school for the national and global elite. Amidst the brick and ivy, these students entertain ever-more-inaccessible theories while often just blocks away their neighbors figure out how to scratch out a living.
Author Malcolm Gladwell applauds and thinks “Young Leftists Should Go to the University of Austin:”
If I were a high school senior, looking for a college to go to, my first choice would be... the University of Austin.
In. A. Heartbeat.
Now why do I say that? My ideological leanings are to the left, and the people behind the University of Austin seem to be mostly conservative in orientation. And I don’t know for sure that the University of Austin will succeed in being less expensive or less exclusive than our existing top private colleges. So it seems like a bad fit, right? Why would I go to a school backed by Steven Pinker? I can’t stand Steven Pinker! The answer is because our definition of “fit” is all wrong.
Gladwell goes on to say 18 year old conservatives should go to a left-leaning college, while left-leaning 18 year olds should go to the University of Austin, which he think will lean right.
Buzz’s Thoughts: I’m not sure The University of Austin will be a “conservative” university. However, I agree with Gladwell’s underlying thought: we should have our thoughts challenged and our arguments sharpened, and you don’t get that by surrounding yourself with like-minded people. However, it’s very easy, given the political leanings of most college professors, for conservatives to gain that experience, much harder for progressive students. If Austin can fill that void, more power to them.
5) The Build Back Better mess. Even as President Biden signs into law the so-called BIF (bi-partisan infrastructure bill), the nation turns its lonely eyes to the BBB (Build Back Better framework). Well, maybe not the nation, but certainly the DC Political Class is wondering is the BBB will get across the finish line, and what will be in it if it does cross the finish line? Previous episodes have talked about the job-killing proposals said to be in the framework, but Mark J. Warshawsky, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, looks are other things in the BBB framework, and declares it all a hot mess.
Along with the blow-out spending and a general sloppiness in form and substance unbecoming to public consideration of major changes, this legislation is worrisome for its directions. It replaces private and local efforts with federal government direct interventions in many key areas of life: child care, youth education, farming, manufacturing, transportation, business and household investment, and health insurance benefits. It ramps up an already divisive and likely counterproductive focus on equity and justice. As Senator Manchin has stated many times, we should pause our consideration of this massive, complex, subject-to-fraud, and confused legislation and develop instead a bipartisan package to focus on sensible approaches to consensus high-priority areas.
Buzz’s Thoughts: With inflation rising to levels not seen in decades, and elections in Virginia and New Jersey foreshadowing a banner 2022 for Republicans, it makes little political sense for Democrats to continue their pursuit of this massive legislation. But hey, they likely won’t listen to me.
6) Georgia Center for Opportunity: Recidivism declining in Georgia:
In Georgia there has been a reduction in the rate of ex-offenders returning to prison. In the most recent report from the Georgia Department of Corrections, 25.3 percent of those released from all facilities (private, state, inmate boot camps, county, transition centers) in state FY 2018 were reconvicted for a felony after three years. That number dropped from 27.7 percent previously. In the last few years, the growing number of ex-offenders returning to a life in prison has become a more widely recognized issue among policymakers and organizations. We believe the percentage is slowly dropping due to the Second Chance program, and organizations like GCO working to help ex-offenders find stable employment, and the elimination of policy barriers that keep this population from working.
Even so, recidivism rates are still too high. Each number—each piece of data—is a person seeking direction and purpose to succeed and be self-sustaining.
Buzz’s Thoughts: This is a positive trend, but much work remains to be done. Policy makers should continue to make the path back to work easier for returning citizens.