By Derek Melot/Bridge Magazine
* So much for Michigan’s fracking boom. Remember when media outlets – including this one – were full of references to the Antrim shale formation and how the natural gas there would be a big deal. Well, not so much, according to these charts from ProPublica. The wellhead price of gas has dropped by half since November 2007, which kind of explains the trend. (And in our defense, we did update our coverage to report on the slowing pace of gas exploration.)
* Matt Yglesias, saying what needs to be said: “Without the monopoly/universal service obligation, it’s not as if rural dwellers wouldn’t be able to get mail, it’s just that they might need to pay more in recognition of the fact that it’s inconvenient to provide delivery services to low-density areas. Nostalgia-drenched Paul Harvey Super Bowl ads aside, it’s not the case that rural Americans are unusually hard-pressed economically or are disproportionate contributors to the economy. They are, rather, the beneficiaries of numerous explicit and implicit subsidies, of which the Postal Service’s universal service obligation is one.”
* A chart created by the Progressive Policy Institute might cause a little heartburn to groups in Michigan – such as Michigan Future, Inc., and Business Leaders for Michigan – pushing hard for more college graduates right now. No doubt the recession had something to do with the dive in earnings for young college grads in recent years, but the picture is still one of “less bang for your buck.” Then again, BLM and others can note that earning more than $50,000 a year is something most non-degreed folks will struggle to do in the future.
* Michigan is one of several states looking to revamp how it rates teacher quality and performance. But as Bridge reported recently, it’s not as easy as you might think. This Education Week report casts an eye on a basic problem: “The early results offer several possible interpretations. As scholars have pointed out, there is no consensus about the percentage of teachers who should be identified as underperforming or superior in any given year.