The Official Unemployment Rate is, Well, Bogus

For lack of a better word:

The U.S. jobs report, a key measure of how well the economy is doing, has gotten increasingly less accurate in the past 20 years. The fix for that problem could be in a surprising place: Twitter.

Those are the conclusions of two separate reports out this month. The first report, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the unemployment number released by the government suffers from a problem faced by other pollsters: Lack of response. This problem dates back to a 1994 redesign of the survey when it went from paper-based to computer-based, although neither the researchers nor anyone else has been able to offer a reason for why the redesign has affected the numbers.

What the researchers found was that, for whatever reason, unemployed workers, who are surveyed multiple times are most likely to respond to the survey when they are first given it and ignore the survey later on…

This works out to an under count of the unemployed and/or an over count of people not in the labor force – the bottom line is that the official unemployment rate doesn’t really reflect the unemployment picture. This is something we’ve known for a while just by the labor force participation rate: if we are in a recovery, it should not be going down. The fact that it is down means that something is off – and calculations of unemployment based upon, say, a 2007 level of participation would still likely have the official rate in double digit territory. But now we see that aside from that, the basic survey is just flawed.

I’ve long had grave doubts about the whole methodology we use to judge the state of the economy.  We aren’t quite as bizarre as Spain, which is apparently set to use transactions in, shall we say, ladies who work in a very specialized form of entertainment, as part of their GDP, but we’re close. To me, there is something absurd in counting government spending as part of GDP, let alone counting what a lonely man blows a hundred bucks on. Real economic strength should be judged by what we make, mine and grow.

If the economy is improving, we’ll see it in statistics of corn production, gasoline refined, tons of iron ore mined, and things like that. These things can’t lie and they can’t be fudged. Did we, or did we not, produce more steel in July of 2014 than in June of 2014? July of 2013? July of 2004?  If the answer is “less” then that would be a bad indicator.  It still might be partially explained by other factors (maybe we’re more efficient in our use of steel, for instance), but the bottom line is that if the production is up, then things are better than if production is down…because people don’t produce for customers that don’t exist. I want to know the measure of production for real goods that people use – I want to know what it is last month, the month before that, the year before that and ten years before that…this way I can see how things are going in both the short and long term; and no need to seasonally adjust: each July will be pretty much like all other Julys. Just tell me what was made, mined and grown – I’ll then see for myself if things are worse, better or just the same…and that will also inform me of what the employment picture is like. If we’re producing less steel, it is a cinch that we’ve got less steel workers, and so on.

We don’t need to know how many people are working in the legal industry – it produces no wealth. Don’t need to know how many people are working in the tourist industry – it also produces no wealth, once you understand that wealth is not a casino mogul in Vegas raking it in hand over fist, but a farmer in the midwest growing corn. The reality is that the entirety of our economy – all of that government and law firms and casinos, etc – is dependent upon the ability of the United States to make, mine and grow things. If we don’t make, mine and grow enough things, then the economy is doomed, no matter how much money the Fed prints to keep things going for years after the economy collapsed. So, let’s start counting what matters and see what our economy is actually like – it’ll tell us what we need to do.

 

A Progressive (Sorta) Figures it Out

But cut him some slack on being 7 years or so later than the non-Progressives – after all, he’s a highly respected and credentialed academic and so his knowledge of reality is on the low end of the scale. Anyways, Cornel West has some gripes about The One:

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair…

Brother Cornel’s real problem is that he, himself, is shackled to Progressive thought as much as Obama is. It never occurred to Professor West that the reality is that Progressives are the Ruling Class.  And as such, they defend the status quo because any change to that means Progressives will be out of power and out of wealth. People like West think they are still out there getting ready to storm the barricades of the Ruling Class never realizing that they are the merest tools and foot-soldiers of the Ruling Class.  The Ruling Class likes people like West – they provide a patina of intellect to a class of people who are only in it for the money, power and fame. They also cook up arguments which allow the Ruling Class to pretend they are on the side of the people.  If West were to actually sit down and think about it all, now that he’s seen Obama for the fraud that he is, then he’d also start to realize that his Progressive ethic is the foundation of the fraud (seen more clearly in the way West – and the rest of the left – turn reality on ts head and find themselves on the side of bloodthirsty tyrants in Hamas vs the liberal democrats of Israel).

I actually have all sorts of sympathy for Mr. West.  He’s sincere. He really believes what he believes.  He really wants justice and mercy and equality to prevail – but he’s also been suckered his whole life by a left wing narrative and he’s so far proven himself incapable of breaking out of it, even when the stark, cruel truth is right in front of him. If he’d just realize that Obama hasn’t conned people any more than Reid or Pelosi or Sharpton or Jackson or Biden or Clinton (both of them), etc, etc, etc then he’d be on the route to being useful in the fight for liberty and justice for all. Solzhenitsyn noted this problem with Progressives in his Gulag Archipelago. Writing about the true-blue communists that Stalin, in his humor, raked in along with the “kulaks” and “wreckers”, Solzhenitsyn noted this inability to draw conclusions.  The communists remained convinced that the communist system was good; that Stalin was good – they couldn’t go from Step A to Step B and realize that if a gross injustice is carried out under the authority of those who claim to be for justice, then maybe they aren’t telling the truth. West is still stuck in the rut – certain that Obama is a fraud, he can’t go past that and realize that Obama is just one of many frauds…and maybe, just maybe, some on the right are better allies?

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some blind people on the right, as well – but they are only a small minority compared to the blind on the left. In reality, you have to be a bit blind just to be of the left. You have to ignore some basic facts about humanity and history in order to really think, for instance, that a set of bureaucrats in DC could, say, craft a health care system for all Americans. But I still take it as encouraging that someone like West has at least partially awakened – and it makes me hopeful that maybe over 2014 and 2016 we can do some genuine good…that we can really get some hope for change.

A Lesson from Ferguson: Our Criminal Justice is Broken

This is just astounding:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Was Brown stopped just so the police could write a revenue-generating ticket?  That is something we need to determine as the investigation goes on – regardless of how the shooting is ruled or what happens to the police officer.

It has been growing on me for years now that we are massively over-law’d in the United States. There are too many laws, too many fines – and the police and prosecutors have too much discretion in deciding whom will enter the meat grinder of our criminal justice system.  Of course, as long as you have money, you’re going to be ok – OJ Simpson, after all, got away with double murder because he had the scratch to hire an all-star defense team. But for some poor body in the inner city who gets pulled over for a traffic violation or gets picked up for minor drug possession?  Forget it: he’s screwed…and once the criminal justice system gets hold of him, it won’t let him go.  Remember, if you don’t appear in court (and maybe you don’t because you have a job you can’t get out of – or have children you can’t find a sitter for and the judge won’t let you bring them into court), you get a warrant for your arrest…and if arrested, you’ll get more fines on top of the original fine.  And if you can’t pay, then you just get in more trouble.

Things like this really make me wonder – do murders go unsolved because there’s no revenue upside for the city?  Are high crime areas ill policed because the cops are out writing tickets? Last time I got a ticket (figured that STOP meant Short Tap On Pedal) the officer was about 20 minutes writing me up.  Twenty minutes he wasn’t out patrolling the streets. He writes 10 tickets per shift and how much time does that leave for the actual job of the police?  Additionally – when we hear someone has a criminal record, does that mean he’s a murderer, or just someone who got busted for pot?

We really need to rethink this – most importantly, the fact that the revenues from fines goes to the municipality which issued the ticket. There’s just too much incentive for cash-strapped cities and counties to see fines as a means to revenue rather than a tool for law enforcement. Maybe make fewer fines and more community service, instead?  I don’t know, but we need to think about this – and I think we might have a situation where the poor, especially the urban poor, are caught in a bind.

I Think it is Time We Go to War

The brutal murder of James Foley puts things in very stark relief. This is ISIS and it explains the sort of people who have gone to war with us – they are not just cruel, but glory in their cruelty. There is no act of barbarism they will not commit, and then brag about committing it. These are not people amenable to reason; not people we can negotiate with; not people we can share the world with.  They are enemies of the human race, plain and simple – and the sooner they are dispatched into the hereafter the better it will be for everyone.

If we can’t fight people who do this sort of thing – and this is after they have massacred thousands of foreigners and engaged in all manner of savagery – then we can’t fight anyone. Fight these ISIS barbarians. Kill them. Let them know that there is no safety for them against an aroused United States of America. Bomb them when we can get them in our bomb sites; send in troops when we’ve got a fair prospect of killing a lot of them. Arm anyone we reasonably think will go about the process of killing them for whatever reason they think best. No Geneva Convention. No Gitmo. No trials in the United States.  Just fight them and kill them until they are destroyed.

Sure, it won’t solve the whole problem. It won’t create peace and justice in the Middle East – but wiping out ISIS will do the world a favor, not least the Muslim world…and doing so will provide a useful lesson to those who seek the death of Americans: you can go just one step too far, and then all bets are off and there’s no bag limit.

Ferguson: Everything Has Gone Wrong

We have to leave aside, for now, any exact judgement on the precise events – there are lots of stories circulating about who did what to whom, but until it is all sorted out during the investigation(s), none of us can say who is at fault.  What we can say, however, is that unarmed men – as a rule – shouldn’t be shot and killed by the police. We can also say that when people get outraged over a police shooting, looting stores is NEVER a proper response. We can also say that when the police, in response to the looting, come into a neighborhood dressed up like an occupying army, it won’t do much to improve community relations.

The mess in Ferguson is explicable to me only in the context of the overall decline of our civilization which is revealing itself both in our increasingly anti-social behavior (the looting, eg) and the incapacity of our governments (local, State and federal) to properly govern. The behavior of the police in a civilized nation should be that which makes it enormously unlikely that an unarmed man – even if engaged in criminal activity – will be shot by the police. The behavior of the citizens shouldn’t be – no matter what the provocation – to turn to criminal activity as an allegedly political statement against injustice. That we frequently get un-armed men (and often completely innocent people, into the bargain) shot by the police and that we also frequently get looting and other anti-social behavior from the citizenry should be setting off alarm bells.  But here’s the real problem – it doesn’t.  People seem to accept that the cops will do wrong and that people, in response, will go on and do wrong, as well. Lawyers will then sue and settle everything up for a money payment and the national narrative will move on to the Next Thing. We can’t go on like this, good people – our civilization is dying and it will die completely unless we start to get a grip on this.

There are myriad causes which can be asserted for the decline of our civilization – but fundamental to it is the decline of Judeo-Christian theology in the public square. As the public square has been taken up by various secular fads, Judeo-Christian theology has been increasingly marginalized.  But here’s the kicker: it was precisely the Judeo-Christian theology which made for a civilization in which laws would be obeyed, manners would be observed and public decency upheld. There never was a time when there was a moral policeman on every block making certain that everyone kept up to scratch, but our ideals were based on Judeo-Christian theology and so most everyone, most of the time, kept their end up. Replace that with consumerism, money-grubbing, hucksterism (political and religious), narcissism and all the other nonsense we’ve fed on, and this is what you get…police forces which don’t know how to police (but which can, indeed, kill) and citizens who so lack a sense of justice that they can’t even have a political demonstration without looting a store.

We are not, at this point, all gone.  We do have many people who still know how to act – who can govern or hold political demonstrations without devolving into looters of one sort or another. On the other hand, there are these looters in Ferguson – who are doing no differently, in effect, than the Occupy movement…or the anarchists who periodically protest outside globalist-elite gatherings. But the fact must be faced that a very large portion – and perhaps a majority – simply does not know how to act, whether they are acting in government or acting in the capacity of citizens. What difference between a pack of looters at a Wal Mart and a police force which seizes property on the flimsiest of pretexts? At bottom, both involve people stealing – the one under the cover of law, the other under the cover of political protest. We’re not, as I said, all gone – but we’re going.

Unless and until we accept that we can’t survive as a people who condone immoral behavior, we’re doomed. I’m not demanding that each and every one of you attend Mass or go to a synagogue this week, but if you want to live in a free and civilized nation, then you’d better act as if you do go every week. None of us are innocent; all of us fail – but the ideal still has to be held up and at least some attempt must be made to adhere to it. The fact that you are living in the West and have this ability to live pretty much as you please is based upon  the Judeo-Christian ideal that each human being is uniquely valuable and has the sovereign power to make his or her own choices.  That ideal doesn’t really exist anywhere else. It was built up, painfully, over many centuries as people came to a fuller understanding of God and man’s relationship to God. It actually peaked between the 12th and 15th centuries…its been rather downhill since then; for the ideal, I mean. Starting in the 16th century, people started questioning that whole notion of free will and a personal God. There has been pushback since the first questioning of the ideal (which is why we’re not completely gone, yet; part of the pushback, by the by, was the Declaration of Independence), but the general trend has all been towards fatalism, the supremacy of the group, the hopelessness of life, the pursuit of purely worldly pleasure and the rest of the claptrap we’ve been laboring under…and which makes for the situation we see in microcosm in Ferguson: police who can’t police and citizens who can’t act like citizens…because both are confused and don’t know what they are supposed to be doing. Think of how many news stories you’ve seen in just the past year which demonstrate that people don’t know how to act – and government doesn’t know how to govern. Most of these don’t involve people heading out to do a malevolent act – most of them are merely the result of people behaving stupidly because they honestly don’t know there’s a sensible alternative.

In the long run, I don’t know how all this will come out. I’m pretty confident that at least a veneer of civilization will remain until I’m safely in my grave. But I think it would be rather a good thing if our civilization was around 100 years from now – and 500 years from now, too.  But it won’t be around 100 years from now unless people make a conscious decision to rebuild it and maintain it. If you can’t at least – even if grumblingly – accept free will (and thus personal responsibility) and the need for public decency (sorry, guy with underwear hanging out), then we’ll never get anywhere. What price are you willing to pay for civilization?  That is what it comes down to – and if you won’t pay it, then you won’t have it.

 

 

Tell Them Lies…. Tell Them Lies…. Tell Them Lies….

Tell the people what they want to hear….

…in 2004 when Senator obame said encouraging words:

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is a United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America, There is a United States of America.”

he repeated this promise to unify us many times. After his Iowa caucus victory he said:

You [voters] said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and anger and pettiness that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division. And instead make it about addition; to build a coalition for change that stretches through red states and blue states.”

We see this was another set of lies as he uttered statements as “get in their faces…”, “…ride in the back of the bus…” And proceed to divide us along racial, sexual, religious and political lines time and again. These lofty statements that had the mindless drones chanting “Yes we can” and “hope and change” to near orgasm and to some fainting orgasm.

…after the Democrats criticized Bush from going on vacation (to which the man took several “vacations” at his home in Texas) and after criticisms of playing golf (to which Bush NEVER played golf again while soldiers were in harm’s way), SENATOR obame gave the people what they wanted:

“The bargain that any president strikes with is, you give me this office and in turn my, fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure is gone,” Obama said. “I am giving myself to you.”

Obama went on to say that “the American people should have no patience for what’s going on in your head because you’ve got a job to do” and that people should only run for president if they’re willing to make that sacrifice.

http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/11/flashback-obama-promises-no-vacations-for-himself-as-president-video/

Let’s see… several vacations after still promising “I will not rest until…..” and over 150 rounds of golf while soldiers were put in harm’s way with strangled rules of engagement by this bungling idiot. Some sacrifice…. a look at the White House calendar shows obame’s typical day does not begin until 10:00 am. … some sacrifice.  Nothing should surprise anyone after the lies told during obamacare debate and the failed rollout.

Then the whopper Reid told a few weeks ago (give them what they want to hear):

“The border is secure.”

James O’Keefe proved that the progressives are lying through their teeth.  He snuck in from Mexico to the United States dressed as a terrorist.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2721991/The-border-fence-joke-Filmmaker-crosses-US-Mexico-dressed-Osama-bin-Laden-Border-Patrol-says-once.html

Speaking of Reid, there are more than 300 bills (55 introduced by Democrats) that have passed the House and are waiting action in the Senate. Reid refuses to do anything with them, but yet obame and Reid say the Republicans are the obstructionists – and we have mindless drones who will regurgitate it without question – a few of them can be found at the other blog.

http://lynnjenkins.house.gov/press-releases/jenkins-352-bills-are-sitting-on-harry-reids-desk-awaiting-action/

What we all knew about obamacare from the debate, the speeches, the passing and the rollout:

Barney Frank: “They Just Lied to People”

I am still waiting for my $2500 reduction and savings.

Clinton lowered the boom. Pointing out that obame’s “foreign policy” (I guess not having one is in effect a policy) is responsible for the rise of ISIS.  Definitely, the crisis in Iraq is his responsibility.  He pulled out before Iraq was ready so he could check the box next to that promise (again, tell them what they want to hear).  Now, innocent men, women and children are being murdered for their beliefs.   ISIS has told them to “convert or die”.  Their blood is on obame’s hands – and the sacrifices by our men and women in the military are now worthless.

Progressives – what a collection of worthless individuals.  To them, no sacrifice is too great as long as someone else does the sacrificing.

 

Some Random Thoughts Part II

Mary Katherine Ham over at Townhall wrote a piece on this very good blog article from the Village Voice. I have no idea who Andrew W.K. is and I will wager to say that he and I are diametrically opposed on the political issues, but on this subject, he and I are in 100% agreement. I am sure all of us have family members with opposing political views, but at the end of the day, we realize that while we disagree, we still love and cherish their presence in our life. Here are a few excerpts and comments from the article that I particularly liked:

The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen.

The following excerpt really resonated with me as a conservative. This is an issue many of us here have repeatedly spoken on, and that is the desire of the power elites to keep the general populace at odds with each other. I don’t overlook the GOP’s culpability in this area, but I think that the Democrats, and particularly the Obama Administration, have excelled at this over the last few years::

People and systems craving power take advantage of this desire and pit us against each other using a “this or that” mentality. The point is to create unrest, disagreement, resentment, and anger — a population constantly at war with itself, each side deeply believing that the other is not just wrong, but also a sincere threat to their very way of life and survival. This creates constant anxiety and distraction — the perfect conditions for oppression. The goal of this sort of politics is to keep people held down and mesmerized by a persistent parade of seemingly life-or-death debates, each one worth all of our emotional energy and primal passion.

This in no way means that we must compromise our principles and firm political beliefs, but we must always remember that we are all children of God and that we all face our own daily challenges of life and as a Christian and one who worships the life of Jesus Christ, it’s the right thing to do:

We must be tireless in our efforts to see things from the point of view we most disagree with. We must make endless efforts to try and understand the people we least relate to. And we must at all times force ourselves to love the people we dislike the most. Not because it’s nice or because they deserve it, but because our own sanity and survival depends on it.

I know Andrew is writing this article solely for Americans, and our political environment, so I keep the following sentence in perspective:

And if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner where we must kill others in order to survive, we must fully accept that we are killing people just as fully human as ourselves, and not some evil abstract creatures.

I will only say however that if we do find ourselves pushed into a corner by radical jihadist factions, I am not sure I agree that they are as fully human as we are. Just saying. I hope everyone has a great weekend.