Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Payroll Coasting

A picture of coasting:

Total nonfarm private payroll employment 04/2002 to 07/2017

What was the question we collectively were asking ourselves? Perhaps, "Hey, what would happen if -- before really fully recovering -- we stopped pushing the economy back towards health as soon as we pulled it out of actively crashing?"

If we aim a car up a very slight incline and get going pretty fast and don't hit the brakes, it'll keep going at a fairly steady pace for a while even after the driver's foot leaves the accelerator. Not forever. But for a while.

Realistically, the foot isn't all the way off the pedal. It's more like we've cut back on the gas after quickly getting up to speed on the on-ramp.

We're way below speed limit though. Was that the plan? Why did that seem like a good idea?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How Necessities Have Eaten America's Personal Discretionary Spending Capacity

The Rent Is Too Damn High

A Business Insider article tells us "How America's spending habits have changed since 1941".

Spending "habits"? How about how costs have changed?

Seriously, who really believes that Americans want to allot such large portions of our income to housing -- whether rent or mortgage -- and transportation? Let's not forget about debt service, largely for housing and for investing in education to get jobs. And how many wouldn't want to be able to spend more on clothing, food & dining, and personal care?

New headline: how necessities have eaten America's personal discretionary spending capacity.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

There Is No Fuzz On that

"There is no fuzz on that."

James Comey former FBI director: The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It's not a close call. That happened. That's about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it's so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

If that's not conservative enough, what is?

If that's not conservative enough, what is?

I've yet to read a single positive analysis of the House's Obamacare bill. Try going 2 a conservative source? Open up your reading habits 2 include those w/ whom u would naturally dismiss. I'm the editor of the National Review Online.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What Drove the 2016 Election Results

Already, this is too easy to forget.

We've covered that Republican turnout was actually low. Not by much, but slightly below trend. Meanwhile Democratic turnout -- although not high enough to win the crucial red states -- was fairly good nationwide, if down somewhat from the previous peak. It just wasn't quite good enough in a few keys states. Why? Was there some winning over of voters on a policy issue? No, most folks who voted stuck to their usual party. So how did it happen? Largely, the voter data shows it hinged upon that just barely enough-to-swing-it previously Democratic-leaning voters didn't vote in 2016. While voter data alone can't tell us exactly what drove that swing, it shows that the question of the election was what kept just the critical number of voters in the key states from showing up.

Aside from rather successful Republican voter suppression efforts with voter ID laws, Matthew Yglesias performed a solid analysis of how the story rolled. In short, it was the emails. As Yglesias puts it, "Indeed, research from Gallup indicates that emails dominated what voters heard about Clinton all throughout the campaign."


That's it. That's ultimately the issue on which the 45th Presidency turned. The choice of which email server to use. Not jobs. Not healthcare. Not taxes. Not immigration. It's the emails.

Yes, arguably, the Democrat's candidate might have been able to win despite the email issue had she been more charismatic, better able to inspire even more people to look at her carefully developed set of sensible policy approaches. That it was the emails does not defend the performance of the candidate who merely won the popular vote. While the campaign platform may have been solid and the campaign pitched those policies enough to earn a sizeable majority of the popular vote nationwide, the 2016 Clinton campaign failed to make it about all those thoroughly thought-out policies in enough states. Crucially, she failed to make it not be about the emails in key swing states.

But any "might have" doesn't change what it was about. Where the votes counted, it was about the emails. If there was anything the 2016 election can be said to be about: the overriding mandate from the electorate was, "do not use a private email server as a public servant".

Let's not forget that. No matter how tempting it might be to forget.

Meanwhile, if there's a lesson for future campaigns, it would seem to be this: pick a candidate far too charismatic to have their message drowned out by some flap about what server they used for their email.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Republican Senators Terrified of 1986 Letter

The letter that Republican Senators of the 115th Congress couldn't stand to hear read by Senator Warren follows. It happens to be a letter that Republicans of 30 years ago could stomach and found compelling. But in 2017, they can't stand to hear it.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Conspiracy Theorist In Chief


The Washington Post reports that the 45th President appears to be getting many of his ideas in what's happening in the world from the InfoWars conspiracy theory site. Or rather, it should perhaps be said that they've joined others in noting this state of affairs, including CNN, NPR, and The New Yorker.

That crazy uncle or grandpa who rattles off conspiracy theories and makes family gatherings uncomfortable? There appears to be one sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office.

So much has already been horribly bungled by the Conspiracy Theorist In Chief.

https://twitter.com/StateOfThought/status/827144787941814272
It is not too soon to consider impeachment. Enough time has passed. A serious case has been made based on the foreign-emoluments clause. A serious case can be made based on gross incompetence. And a serious case can be made based on profoundly questionable mental health and inadequate reasoning capacity.

It is, as Theodore Roosevelt said of then-President Wilson, "even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else."

And the truth is that it's time for Congress to begin impeachment hearings regarding the 45th President.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reagan On Religious Discrimination

"We must never remain silent in the face of bigotry. We must condemn those who seek to divide us. In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. We have no place for haters in America -- none, whatsoever."

-- President Ronald Reagan


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Week One for the 45th

One of the most important duties of any head of state obviously would be serving as the nation's chief diplomat.

If one were trying to go down in history as our worst President ever, it would be very challenging to get a faster start at it than by pissing off two of our three largest export markets before even making it through the first week on the job.

As individual countries go, our 2nd and 3rd largest export markets are Mexico and China. Together, they buy almost a quarter of our total exports.

Thanks to our current President's "diplomacy", our 3rd largest export market has found it necessary to move their nuclear missiles within striking distance of us ... ya' know, just in case. And the citizens of our 2nd largest export market have begun a large-ish boycott of American companies.

So it's been a stellar week for America, right?

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Reasonable Degree of Confidence

Bertrand Russel said that "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts." Sure. But that doesn't mean the wiser people can't be confident the fools are fools ... and wrong.

When we say that tariffs are a bad idea, it isn't for lack of real world experience. We've seen what happens with tariffs. There may not be clear certainty on what exactly would be the ideal economics policy mix for any point of time. That doesn't mean there's any lack of clarity that adopting tariffs would be the path of fools and/or fanatics. We know enough about economics to recognize the gaps in our knowledge; but also to know what's reasonably certain. And it is reasonably certain that proposing tariffs betrays an entirely simplistic failure to understand much about economics, one might call it having a grade-school understanding of economics. Not even up to the level of Econ 101, where a whole different set of simplistic misunderstandings thrive.

When climate scientists say that anthropogenic climate change is a thing. A real thing. In the really, real world. That it's happening. Do they have doubts? Sort of. They clearly have doubts about exactly where on the range of projections the actual course of temperatures will plot in future graphs of the past. But they have a high degree of certainty that it can reasonably be expected to be within a certain range. They understand the gaps in their knowledge, the variables that could cause various differences within the projected ranges. But they also know enough to know that the people who reject the whole set of ranges just don't know what they're talking about. To wit, that they're fools.

When those with experience like Madeleine Albright say that being anti-immigrant isn't consistent with the best interest of that nation, it's with an understanding of the challenges involved. But it's also from knowing that those who would coarsely implement a blanket closing of the door from an entire country don't have a good grasp of the known repercussions. Immigration experts may be all too aware of the gaps in their capacity to achieve perfection with immigration policies and screening methods, but they're also aware that simplistically just barring the door to all comers would -- quite clearly -- be far worse than accepting the imperfections of our best available procedures that keep the door open.

There's profound difference between being uncertain as to what's perfect and being less than certain as to what's clearly wrong. Wiser people are full of doubts as to what's perfect. But wiser people tend to be quite certain that the fools' plans are at least worse and often flat out entirely wrong. There's another term for having "alternative facts"; it's called being wrong (or outright lying, in the case of those who know better).

We need to stop letting that which is clearly wrong go as if it were merely a difference of opinion rather than a flat out failure to have sufficient grasp of the subject.

Even with recognition of what we do not know, we can be fairly certain of that.