Land O Links

* Indiana is looking at a $500 million budget surplus. Iowa is looking at $800 million. Michigan's Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that the state will carry about $500 million in its budget stabilization, or "rainy day," fund into the 2013-14 fiscal year. Something to keep in mind as legislators begin budget negotiations in a couple of weeks.

* The land of opportunity is looking less fertile for those at the lower end of the economic scale: "Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees ... Now the gap is 45 points." 

* A bird watcher makes the case for more hunting: "The way I see it, humans are the top predator around here, and we have an ecological obligation to act like it. Which means killing deer, especially the young ones and the does. In other words, for food. The reason the venison we had last week was so exceptionally scrumptious was because it came from a 2-year-old antlerless animal, just the kind you'd select if they were farm-raised."

* Plastics? High tech? Health care? What's an aspiring young capitalist in Michigan supposed to do to best achieve the American Dream? How about college textbooks? Mark Perry of the University of Michigan-Flint shows how textbook prices have increased more than 800 percent in the last 30 years.

* Being an American isn't a particularly healthy endeavor: "The findings were stark. Deaths before age 50 accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in life expectancy between males in the United States and their counterparts in 16 other developed countries, and about one-third of the difference for females. The countries in the analysis included Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Germany and Spain."

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