Unexpectedly Intriguing!
12 November 2007

We just received a neat endorsement from Captain Capitalism: "You Will Visit Political Calculations"! Our favorite excerpt:

... it's one of those web sites where you'll lose yourself for about 3 hours because of all the cool and different things you can calculate based on some models he's programmed

Three hours sounds about right. As a start, that is! If you let us, we might just hook you in for a lot longer than that....

What makes Political Calculations unique in the world of blogs is the majority of our posts are focused on answering questions for which we don't already know the answers. We then do our best to answer those questions using all the problem solving skills we've gained over the years. Along the way, we create tools to help answer them and what's more, we post them here so you can see how we got to the answers we found.

What's really cool is that the tools we build can answer a lot more than just our own questions. You can change the input factors to better agree with how you see things, to update them with the latest data available to make the answers as relevant to the world today as possible, or if you just want to make one of our tools solve a problem that directly affects your life. And they're always capable of answering our favorite question: "What if ...?"

So, in that spirit, here is a list of all our tools to date (or their latest incarnation if we've updated them) and the questions we've attempted answering over our history, all presented in our dynamic table format (click the column headings to sort the table by category, tool title or date.) We hope you have at least a few hours!...

Political Calculations' Tool Index
Category Tool Question/Comment Date Posted
Economics Ahead of the Fed: Setting the Federal Funds Rate Where will the Federal Reserve set interest rates next? 2007-10-30
Life The Moby Quotient Has your favorite musical artist sold out? 2007-10-22
Life Should You Quit Your Job? A "Geek Logik" tool for finding out if you should quit your current job? 2007-10-22
Economics The Business of Bootlegging How much money is there in the black market for cigarettes? 2007-10-16
Health Colon Cancer and Bad Genes If you have colon cancer, what are the odds that its genetic? 2007-10-10
Life Is Your Personal Grooming Adequate? A "Geek Logik" tool for finding out if you need to do something about your hygiene! 2007-10-04
Economics Gains and Losses in the US Job Market What's the overall gain or loss of jobs in the U.S. this month? 2007-10-01
Life Should You Lie? A "Geek Logik" tool for determining when it might be okay to lie. 2007-09-25
Real Estate Austan Goolsbee, Fish Slapping, and Setting the Post Bubble Price of Your House In the after-the-bubble real estate market, where should you set the price of your house to sell it quickly? 2007-09-24
Health Redefining the Health Care Debate - Part 1 How much should a country (or state) expect to spend on health care per person given its national income per person? 2007-09-12
Life Should You Apologize? A "Geek Logik" tool for finding out when (and how) you should say you're sorry! 2007-08-28
Economics Estimating the Natural Rate of Unemployment Given current economic conditions in the U.S., how much natural unemployment should there be? 2007-08-21
Life Should You Start or Stop Procrastinating? A "Geek Logik" tool for finding out if you ought to get something done now or if you can put it off for later! 2007-08-14
Environment Tangerines by the Gallon Does it really make economic (or environmental) sense to buy your produce locally? 2007-08-07
Business Liquidity Does that business have enough cash to stay afloat? 2007-07-31
Life Should You Say It on the Grapevine? A "Geek Logik" tool for working out when you should pass along that bit of juicy office gossip or keep it to yourself. 2007-07-26
Public Policy What If We Bought Cars for the Poor Instead of Light Rail? Which makes more sense: spending money on light rail systems or buying fuel efficient cars for the poor? 2007-07-16
Environment Earth Live: Walk, Bike or Drive? A "Geek Logik" tool to answer the question of how you should get where you need to go! 2007-07-12
Life How Many Beers Should You Have at the Company Picnic? A "Geek Logik" tool to help you know when you should say when around your co-workers! 2007-06-21
Environment Valuing the Lives of Hypermilers How much are those people who drive way too close behind big trucks on the highway really saying their lives are worth? 2007-06-19
Economics Comparing the U.S. Distribution of Income by Age Group How has the distribution of income for different age groups in the U.S. changed between 1995 and 2005? 2007-06-05
Investing Investing and Income Taxes in 2007 Should you invest in a taxable or a tax free investment vehicle in 2007? 2007-05-17
Life How Many Cups of Coffee Should You Drink this Morning? A "Geek Logik" tool for calculating your optimal caffeine consumption. 2007-05-14
Life Should You Buy Something (or Not?) A "Geek Logik" tool to help you decide if you really ought to buy that item that caught your eye. 2007-05-03
Investing How Much Should You Invest in a Stock? How much of your portfolio should you put into a single stock? 2007-04-25
Life Are Your Too Good for Your Job? A "Geek Logik" tool to help decide if you should be looking for something else to do for a living! 2007-04-18
Real Estate The Simple Way to Decide to Rent or Buy Which makes more sense: renting or buying a home? 2007-04-16
Taxes Income Tax: The Original Form 1040 How much would your taxes have been back in 1913? How long would it take you to do them? 2007-04-10
Math Running, Gunning and Weighting for Averages Got a bunch of numbers for which you need to find the average? 2007-04-03
Life Should You Go to the Doctor? A "Geek Logik" tool to decide if it's time to go see your doctor. 2007-03-14
Life Should You Call in Sick? A "Geek Logik" tool for determining when it's okay to call in sick to work! 2007-03-13
Environment The Miracle of Carbon Offsets What percentage of the annual budget of the U.S. government would it take for the U.S. to buy its way into full compliance with the Kyoto Protocol? 2007-03-12
Life The Odds of Winning and the Magic Jackpot What are the odds of winning the lottery? And what does the jackpot need to be to make it worth the cost of a ticket? 2007-03-06
Economics Projections of Poverty Where will the poverty threshold income level to be set this year? And next year? 2007-02-21
Life Picking the Right Date for Valentine's Day A "Geek Logik" tool for choosing who your best date will be for the most romantic holiday of the year! 2007-02-14
Public Policy Approximating Social Security's Rate of Return If Social Security was a real investment, what rate of return would you receive from it? 2007-01-30
Public Policy Presidential Pretensions If you were the President, what would be the impact of raising the minimum wage in the U.S.? 2007-01-25
Life Five More Minutes? A "Geek Logik" tool to find out if you really should hit the snooze button. Again…. 2007-01-23
Economics Estimating the Distribution of U.S. Hourly Wage Earners How many people make at least X amount of dollars per hour in the U.S.? 2007-01-16
Life Should You Keep Your New Year's Resolution? A "Geek Logik" tool for determining how locked in you are to that New Year's resolution! 2007-01-09
Personal Finance Your 2007 Paycheck How much will Uncle Sam be extracting from every one of your paychecks in 2007? 2007-01-02
Personal Finance Chopping Time Off Your Loan If you wanted to pay your loan earlier by a set amount of time, how much would you have to increase your regular payment? 2006-12-18
Health "Fighting Malaria with Math" How public health officials can get the most bang for their buck in fighting the scourge of the third world. 2006-12-07
Investing The S&P 500 at Your Fingertips What rate of return could you have received from an investment in the S&P 500 index between any two months since January 1871? 2006-12-06
Personal Finance Paying Your Loan Off Early If you increased your payment by a certain amount, how much earlier could you pay off your loan? 2006-12-05
Business Converting Amazon Ranks to Book Sales What does a given Amazon ranking mean in terms of number of book sales? 2006-12-04
Economics Odds of Recession and Bond Yield Spreads For a given Federal Funds Rate, what does the bond yield spread have to be for there to be a given probability of recession? 2006-11-29
Economics Mapping Inflation Extremes Since 1913 What's the best, worst and average rate of inflation for any given period of time in the U.S.? 2006-11-13
Investing Lemony Snicket and the S&P 500 If you actually and consistently got the worst recorded rates of return for the S&P 500 throughout your lifetime, how much would the total of your investments be worth? 2006-10-25
Business The Minimum Wage and Small Business If your business relies upon minimum wage workers, what will be the impact of a hike in the minimum wage to your business? 2006-10-07
Life The Lottery Winner's Dilemma If you won the lottery, should you take the payout as a lump sum now, or take a bunch of smaller payments over a long period of time? 2006-09-21
Politics Projecting 2006 U.S. Senate Elections Who will win a senate seat in 2006? 2006-09-12
Real Estate How Much Equity Is in Your Home? If you're thinking about refinancing, it helps to know the answer to this question! 2006-08-14
Real Estate Real Estate Investing: The Capitalization Rate Which loan option and property should you consider when investing in real estate? 2006-07-18
Personal Finance Refinancing: Does Home Loan Consolidation Make Sense? Should you consolidate your home equity loan and your mortgage? 2006-07-10
Personal Finance Refinancing: How Much Will You Save in the Long Run? If you refinance at a higher payment today, will you save money in the long run? 2006-07-06
Economics Consumption vs Income Taxes Which is better for encouraging personal savings - a consumption tax or an income tax? 2006-06-27
Personal Finance Refinancing: Time to Break Even If refinancing your loan costs more money up front but gives you a lower payment, how long will it take to break even? 2006-06-26
Investing Predicting Bankruptcy How likely is it that a publicly traded company is undergoing financial distress? 2006-06-01
Real Estate The Money Factor in Leasing What is the money factor and what does it mean for your lease? 2006-05-22
Investing S&P 500: Best, Average and Worst Returns Since 1871 What is the best, worst and average rate of return ever recorded for the S&P 500? 2006-05-16
Personal Finance Should You Trade in Your Gas Guzzler? Does it finally make sense to trade in that old car for a newer, more fuel-efficient model? 2006-04-26
Public Policy Determining Equivalent Teacher Pay If teachers only work 6 hours a day for 8 months a year, how does their pay compare to someone who works full time 12 months a year? 2006-04-19
Economics Reckoning the Odds of Recession What are the odds that the U.S. will be in a recession 12 months from now? 2006-04-10
Environment Are Compact Fluorescents a Bright Idea? If you swiched your light bulbs from incandescents to compact fluorescents, does it make economic sense? 2006-03-06
Health How Many Cans of Diet Soda Can You Drink Safely? If you can't get enough of that artificially sweetened liquid, this tool can help you find out where to draw the line! 2006-02-21
Public Policy What If the Death Tax Were an Income Tax? How much would your annual income tax change if you effectively paid your estate taxes on the installment plan? 2006-02-13
Math Running Numbers for Reporters Most reporters have no real ability or feeling for what numbers mean - our tool is designed to help! 2006-02-01
Taxes Exploiting the Child Interest Income Credit How much could you save on your tax bill by taking advantage of the child interest income tax credit? 2006-01-25
Investing Predicting the Rate of Return for an I-bond Where will the U.S. Treasury set the I-bond interest rate next? 2006-01-11
Business Guesstimating the Cost of Corporate Credit What does it mean when a business has its debt rating increase from BBB+ to AAA-? 2006-01-09
Personal Finance Employee Stock Purchase Plan Returns Does it make sense to buy your company's stock through an ESPP? 2005-12-23
Investing Calculating Return on Invested Capital What is ROIC, how do you figure it out and why should you use it when choosing your investments? 2005-12-02
Public Policy Estimating the U.S. Population How much will the population of the U.S. be in the future? What was it in the past? 2005-11-18
Investing Changing Value in the Stock Market If your stock went up by a nickel per share, what does that mean to your bottom line? 2005-11-11
Business How Much Is that Idea Really Worth? How much potential does your idea for a new product or service really have? 2005-10-18
Personal Finance Paying Off Your Credit Card Bill How long would it take to pay off your credit card if you only made the minimum payments? 2005-10-14
Personal Finance Is It Worth the Drive? Should you drive further to save a few cents per gallon when it's time to fill you tank? 2005-09-14
Real Estate Projecting U.S. Median Housing Prices A pre-bubble look at the long term trend in U.S. housing prices! 2005-08-30
Investing Mapping Stock Market Extremes What's the best and worst rate of returns for a range of holding periods for an investment in the total stock market? 2005-08-05
Politics Projecting the Growth of Pork How much political pork will be packed into the government budget of the future? 2005-08-03
Personal Finance Your Thrift Savings Plan Portfolio If you work for the government, what can you expect the future value of your TSP portfolio? 2005-08-02
Personal Finance Are You Wealthy? How much wealth do you have to have to be considered wealthy at your age? 2005-07-25
Personal Finance Do Hybrids Really Save Money? Thinking about getting a hybrid car? Will you really save money once you factor in all your costs? 2005-07-08
Personal Finance Your Student Loan What will your student loan payments be? 2005-07-06
Personal Finance Paying Off Your Loan How much will your loan cost you? And how much will it take to pay it off at a certain date? 2005-07-01
Personal Finance Saving for College How much do you need to save to cover the cost of going to college? 2005-06-08
Personal Finance Revisiting the Lottery What does the jackpot need to be to be able to justify buying a ticket? 2005-06-01
Personal Finance Your Education and Your Earnings What path can you expect your earnings to take throughout your life? 2005-05-24
Public Policy Slashing Social Security Benefits How much can you expect your "promised" benefits to be slashed when the Social Security trust fund runs out of money? 2005-05-02
Taxes How Much Do You Pay in Gas Taxes? How much tax money does the government take from you each year when you add up all you pay at the pump? 2005-04-29
Economics Average Wages in the U.S. What was the average wage in the U.S. in the past? And what can we expect in the future? 2005-04-27
Investing Lemony Snicket vs. King Midas What's the absolute best and worst you could get from your investment in the total stock market? 2005-04-26
Health The Cost of Risk vs Benefit When is a medical test with low odds of detecting a condition justifiable? 2005-04-21
Investing Your Investment Portfolio What value will your investment portfolio have in the future? 2005-04-19
Politics Truth and the Time to React Using the math of physics, we fact check an anti-US reporters claims. 2005-04-15
Health Estimating Your Life Expectancy How long can you expect to live? 2005-04-12
Life Will You Be Checking Any Bags Today? How much will it cost for you to bring those oversize or overweight or additional bags with you? 2005-04-11
Investing Annuity Payments What stream of income can you expect in retirement after investing in an annuity? 2005-03-28
Politics Calculating Election Accuracy How accurate is the vote count in the last election? 2005-03-17
Investing Investing: How Long/ How long will it take to make a million dollars? Ten million dollars? 2005-02-25
Politics The President's Plan for Social Security and You Would you have come out ahead with the plan President Bush initially proposed for reforming Social Security? 2005-02-11
Investing Investing: Rate of Return If you initially invested P dollars, which is now worth F dollars, over T years, what rate of return did you get? 2005-02-08
Investing Investing: Future Value How much will your investment be worth in the future? 2005-02-04
Politics Recounting the Odds How likely is it that the results of an election changed by so much during a recount of the votes? 2004-12-29
Politics Simple Majority Win How far away is a political candidate from victory in an election? 2004-12-14
Life MSM versus Blogger Influence How much readership does someone in the MSM have compared to a blogger? 2004-12-10

All in all, not too bad - this past year, we've averaged roughly one new tool per week, which accounts for around 20% of all we do.

But that other 80% is a whole other post altogether - we've tied up enough of your free time as it is!

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About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations

Thanks in advance!

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