Archive for the ‘NPR’ tag
This morning on NPR I heard a story on the construction industry in Texas.
Wade Goodwyn was rolling along in his raspy monotone about how the home building industry is booming again in Texas, but wasn’t necessarily a boon for the laborers. He had quotes from a homebuilder who said he couldn’t find American workers, who said he worried about the future of the construction industry thanks to the lack of interest from American students.
Who said he would get priced out of the market if he did everything by the book.
And sitting there in my car, waiting to head into the office, I thought, “Gee, that’s the same thing I hear from landscapers all the time.”
And then comes Trent. This guy, who wouldn’t give his first name to NPR for fear of the government coming down on him, hires guys he knows to be illegal, classifies then as subcontractors and then pays them all cash – about 70 bucks a day.
What happens then just isn’t his concern.
Trent says he doesn’t know if any of his guys are paying taxes. “That’s their business,” he says. “If I were to speculate, I would probably say they are not paying their Social Security [taxes]. I would also say that they’re probably not filing their income tax returns on a regular basis.”
He goes on to say that even with his bargain basement labor rates, he still gets underbid. Now, I don’t doubt that, especially in the DFW market, but his justification leaves a bit to be desired:
“If there wasn’t such a readily available supply of laborers that are looking for work in my exact line of business, then I would say I am doing wrong and that I should play by the rules,” Trent says. “I don’t feel as though I’m doing anything wrong.”
Translation: But, Mom! Everyone else is doing it!
To willfully circumvent the spirit of the law is just as bad as violating the letter, and this landscaper is putting a lot of people at risk. To blame your competition or the market for your own decision to flout the law is shameful. That’s no way to run a business, and no way to improve an industry.
Thankfully, landscaping doesn’t top the BLS list of deadliest jobs, but it still ranks pretty high. According to the most recent data, landscape services saw a 25% jump in fatal injuries from 2010 to 2011. According to the report:
Fatal work injuries in the professional and business services sector were up 16 percent, led by an increase in fatalities in landscape services to 167 in 2011 from 133 in 2010.
Image via NPR.
- What’s college for if not pranking the administration with bat guano?
- “Biomechanical trebuchets.” (via: New York Botanical Garden’s Tumblr)
- 4 leading botanical gardens to create first online catalog of all plants. (via @BatesNursery)
- Why efficiency won’t solve our water problems. (via @waterguru2)
- How to: reboot a terrible voicemail. (via @jasoncupp)
- Above: Environmental Business Award winner Mark Halla explains why and how he built a wind turbine at his Minnesota headquarters.
It’s no surprise to anyone who works outside that the weather has been weird, and it’s getting weirder.
Nationwide, average temperatures have been getting warmer for years. We’ve got about two weeks’ worth of warmer days now than we did in the 1900s, with the west coast getting warmer than the east coast.
But why is this happening? Robert Krulwich, NPR science correspondent, in a review of “Global Weirdness,” a new book that examines worldwide climate change, explains why this is good for some and bad for others:
But what if we check out a smaller region, say the Sonoma/Napa wine country in California? There the data say, “The growing season has lengthened by a full 66 days, from 254 to 320, since 1950 — much to the delight of winemakers in the region.”
So this warming trend is welcome — if you grow grapes. But if you are a winter wheat farmer, and you need cool winter temperatures for your wheat to grow — then this is not a happy development.
Now comes the big question: Why is this happening? The Climate Central folks don’t jump to any quick conclusions. “Natural variations in climate account for some of these changes,” they say.
But here’s a clue: daytime has always been warmer than nighttime, (obviously, because the sun is up). But that difference is narrowing. The first frosts usually come at night, and sub-freezing nights are rarer now. Why would the nights be getting warmer?
You can read the full story here to find out.
Here’s our weekly digest of interesting stuff from the web. Have a great weekend!
- Google offers great benefits, including paying your family after you die.
- Weekend read: “The Art of the Sale.”
- Hipsters continue summer tradition of renting lawns.
- Landscape lighting as high art.
- How not to ask for customer feedback. (via @Bader_Rutter)
- Now this is a fifth room.
- Above: 5 ways to save fuel. (via Wright Mowers)
Related to yesterday’s post about how much we make, today we bring you this chart that explains how we spend it.
But poor families spend a much larger share of their budget on basic necessities such as food at home, utilities and health care. Rich families are able to devote a much bigger chunk of their spending to education, and a much, much bigger share to saving for retirement. (The retirement line includes contributions to Social Security and to private retirement plans, by the way.)
You can read the full story here.
From the great Planet Money bog at NPR comes this chart breaking down what Americans make annually:
Some takeaways: Almost one household out of every four (24.9 percent) makes less than $25,000 a year. About one in three households (30.1 percent) made between $50,000 and $100,000. One in five households (19.9 percent) made more than $100,000 a year.
The income part of the data excludes dividends, capital gains and income from real estate, like rent payments. The benefits part includes food stamps or subsidized housing. Many of these government subsidies are targeted at poorer households.
Click through to get a state-by-state breakdown.
Here’s our weekly update on cool stuff we found online. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!
- NPR gets really NPR-y with a story on how sound can impact plants.
- Which metro areas in the U.S. are recovering fastest. (via @UrbanLandInst)
- An apples-to-apples spreadsheet for your favorite property manager or HOA.
- Seth Godin makes the case for follow-up calls.
- A new international competition will award 15,000 Euros to the best sustainable landscape design. (via The Dirt)
- Above: Chris Heiler and our own Carolyn LaWell discuss the changes Facebook made this week and what they mean to small business owners.