Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chart Rundown 10/29/11

This is going to be short and sweet as I will be revamping my blogs. Yes, again. :)  At any rate, I will be moving everything to WordPress, I believe. And I am now planning to start from scratch with past blogs which haven't been read anyway, posted if they are relevant and if I enjoy re-editing them. So, all this stuff will disappear.

So, short and sweet. Here are two charts that tell the story. How well are we doing?  I have been obsessed with economics from the beginning of this awful thing. But one thing I can truly be proud of saying long ago, this is a paradigm shift.

Look, the economy is back, well, to what it was just before we had those minor problems with bank malfeasance.

However, this rebound in GDP comes with a figure of 8 million people still unemployed. We are outputting goods and services at the rate of 2007, after 4 lost years, and we are putting out all this production with 8 million fewer people. Actually, that is wrong 8 million fewer Americans. Job outsourcing continues.

And THE chart, the real chart, that deserves to be emblazoned on every billboard that is blank from lack of advertisers is this one:

Jobless recovery. Them: doing fine. Us: not so good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Black Casino Goers are "Aborigines" - AL Senate sponsor of Alabama's Immigration Law

I really need to take a shower after documenting this filth. Judge Myron Thompson basically cofirms that Senator Beason is a racist in open court in this:

Then from Wikipedia:

Speaking on illegal immigration at a 2011 Cullman County Republican fundraiser, Senator Beason urged Republicans to "do what has to be done" and "empty the clip" of their guns into illegal immigrants.[8][9] Beason urged fellow Republicans to "solve the problem" before immigrants could have children because "[when immigrant] children grow up and get the chance to vote, they vote for Democrats.”[9] This remark brought criticism towards Beason as the comments were made in the wake of the shooting of United States U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords outside of Tucson, Arizona a month earlier. Shortly after the comment was published his office was flooded with angry calls denouncing the remark. He later apologized stating, "he was not urging violence against immigrants, but using an analogy."[10]
Many speculate that Beason may challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus in a 2012 primary for Alabama's 6th congressional district. Others, closer to him, speculate he may run for Governor in 2014 or 2018.[11]

Yes it is all embedded in filthy racism. Now for that shower.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mad Money

Jim Cramer, from the financial show Mad Money, has been on CNBC radio in the morning when I come to work. It adds a little knowledge to the mix which often seems like a discussion between a group of the Fox friends minus much of the bias. That said, there is still plenty of bias. The talk this morning in my 15 minute commute was of Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan. I believe the concept is that we start a national sales tax of 9 percent and the lower income tax and corporate tax to 9 percent. I only have to be mildly correct to know that a 9 percent sales tax would hit everyone who purchases more, rather than plays with their money like the rich. Sales taxes are always regressive and would obviously benefit the rich considerably, who even after all the generous income tax breaks they get, pay less than us, but more than 9 percent. And of course the rich purchase less things so they wouldn't be bothered much by the sales tax. Again, I don't know about the details but would they pay a 9 percent capital gains tax as well?

The interesting thing this morning about the discussion was that Jim Cramer said that Cain was at least playing up to the rich constuency of all Repupblican candidates but he had learned when he studied law in law school and had mainly studied tax law, that a sales tax was a regressive tax.

I often marvel every morning about how strange it is that these financial people have the jobs they do with their lack of knowledge, but Jim Cramer had the knowledge. Of course, anyone who took an introductory economics course of any kind should have this knowledge of sales taxes being regressive. The thing I find fascinating is that Jim Cramer had to pull out his educational credentials to present this obvious fact to his colleagues. In other words, he was warning them not to argue against him because he knew. But the deal is every one of them should know, it is their job to know things like that.

I truly do not have the credentials they do and barely understand the concept of standard deviations and the like, and certainly not how it applies to a certain stock. They are all very smart, but sometimes surprisingly dumb. You see, there is a further problem with Cains concept of taxes that wasn't even mentioned as the CNBC folks mulled it over. The problem right now is income inequality. That much is obvious and being accepted more and more. This income inequality causes a lack in demand, when added to our monumental problems, won't let us crawl our way out of the unemployment problem we have. The simple easy to understand problem with Cains tax structure is that it would move the burden of taxes onto consumption. In other words, people would be taxed if they spent money. DEMAND would be taxed heavily. Unless Cain has an entirely new economic system planned other than the capitalistic one we use now, this would be devastating to an economy already short on demand.

Cain's tax plan is a nightmare on a purely economic basis.

But really, I don't know, I didn't study tax law in college.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chart Rundown – 10/11/11

  (I’m used to posting charts one at a time, but have decided it is just too time consuming. So…)

This is the latest update of the chart showing the unemployment trend like no other chart can. This is unsustainable for our country. And jobs bills? Don't bet on that one.

This is the average duration of unemployment or how long people remain unemployed:

The gray areas are the post WWII recessions. The average unemployed person has been out of a job for over 40 weeks and the trend is straight up. There is no recession or post-recession period that comes close to this.

This next chart also shows the difference in the previous recessionary periods and this one:

I have posted this one over and over, the trend doesn't seem to change significantly. This is really rediculously awful because there needs to be a drastic increase here. This chart shows how fundamentally different our problem is currently from what it was in other recessions. It shows that the current recession is most similar to one other recession (that was not so severe but was just as long lasting.) This was the 2001 recession which was the most recent one on the chart besides our own. I have pointed this out each time this chart comes out because the lesson that seems obvious to me is that our economy seems fundamentally different in the more recent recessions. This holds true even in the 1990 recession, the next most recent. The fact that the red line is so far below the other lines and doesn’t seem to be improving enough to be significant is the reason for the drastic look of the first chart. We’re down and not going up, and likely headed into a “double dip.” This is just considering unemployment; many large companies are making record profits with minimum tax. Without considering unemployment as a factor there isn’t even such a thing as a recession.
In my mind, the reason things are now different than in previous recession or post recessionary periods of unemployment is the historical quick recoveries. The fact that our recovery isn’t even kicking in after almost a trillion dollars in stimulus is that a systemic problem is now playing itself out. I think that is a foregone conclusion I also believe personally that this problem involves but is not limited to the decimation of our manufacturing base over time and the outsourcing of jobs by still extant larger companies to other countries. Cheap labor is the competitive edge for companies and they don’t find it here in the USA. They are not patriotic enough to, by themselves, begin efforts to make American workers preferential over their cheap foreign labor making them so much money.
Well, that was plenty on that. I feel just slightly terrified. :) But just one more to illustrate the "double dip" which shows up obviously in house prices:

chart of the day, case-shiller july 2011

How about something interesting but not so serious? Check out the following chart of the revenue Apple is making just from iPhone. If you know that iPhone might be stalling a bit when compared to phones operating on Google’s Android, and that Android is gaining market share, this could be a little bit of a concern for Apple. Apple is on top of the world but is highly vulnerable if they do not keep iPhones cheap enough and good enough, or should I say great enough in Apple’s case. There may be no danger here but Apple's apples (umm eggs) are mainly in one basket, the iPhone.

The next chart shows how Apple is making its iPhones cheap enough while they are obviously great enough:

Apple also achieves a greater dollar subsidy from its carrier partners for iPhone purchases. The 16GB iPhone 4S subsidy is estimated to be $450, while most competing devices are estimated to garner less than $350.”
So carriers are willing to subsidize iPhones on a higher level for some reason. Let’s just say iPhones are great and in demand. But what I don’t understand about the statistics is whether carriers will pass this extra cost on to iPhone users or all users in general. At any rate, let’s just assume ignorance on my part and my unwillingness to read past the chart part of the article. :) Anyway, Apple is getting real money for their equipment.
This next chart shows Android growing in market share as an Operating System while Apple holds its own and other OS fall by the wayside. Basically Apple sells equipment and makes a pretty penny, Google sells an OS, so in some ways it is the same historical battle carried on with Microsoft. I could be wrong, but that is the way I understand it. Anyway, the next chart shows market share of OS and recent trends.

And here is a chart I absolutely love and find so appropriate:

Regardless of what happens in the future, Steve Jobs saw this happen in his lifetime.
Warning: this is my own commentary to go along with these charts so take this with quite a few grains of salt. I have read no expert analysis to know what I am talking about and am just making my own logical inferences from charts which to me are as fun as figuring out a new level of Angry Birds.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I have been thinking and blogging for a while about about income inequality and the ransacking of our nation by the mortgage lenders. How much longer could this tragedy go on without people noticing? 

Apparently, they noticed:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slip Slidin' Away - Paul Simon

Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

I know a man
He came from my home town
He wore his passion for his woman
Like a thorny crown
He said Dolores
I live in fear
My love for you's so overpowering
I'm afraid that I will disappear

I know a woman
Became a wife
These are the very words she uses
To describe her life
She said a good day
Ain't got no rain
She said a bad day's when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been

And I know a father
Who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons
For the things he'd done
He came a long way
Just to explain
He kissed his boy as he lay sleeping
Then he turned around and headed home again

God only knows
God makes his plan
The information's unavailable
To the mortal man
We're working our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we're gliding down the highway
When in fact we're slip slidin' away

Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

Monday, October 3, 2011

Consumer Sentiment Ahead of Christmas

Rut Row Rorge

Immigration law effects- video- Baldwin County:

Immigration law worries area farmers:

You gotta love the opening of this news story saying that, gosh, WE might pay higher prices for LOCAL produce, as if that were somehow the problem we should be concerned about. No mention of how the farmers will survive while we and citizens of other states, of course, will simply chow down on produce from Peru, or irony of ironies, Mexico.

Flying to My Home - Paul McCartney

Flying to My Home - Paul McCartney

The sun is fading in the west
Out where the cattle roam
I'm like a bird at the end of the day
Flying to my home
I'm flying to my home sweet majesty
I'm flying to my home

The sky is like a painted flag
Above a sea of chrome
I've got a woman living in my life
Living in my home
I'm flying to my home sweet majesty
I'm flying to my home

I haven't been back for so long
I don't know if I'm going to recognise it
They gave the old place a new face
And I'm going to take some time
To size the situation up

I haven't been back for so long
I don't know if I'm going to recognise it
They gave the old place a new face
And I'm going to take some time
To size the situation up

The sun is fading in the west
Out where the cattle roam
I've got a woman living in my life
Living in my home
I'm flying to my home sweet majesty
I'm flying to my home...

     I am always happy to see Linda in a video.these days. I miss her. You can feel that love in the lyrics and see that love in the video. Nice.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

While I was away at play... home deteriorated.

Christian Science Monitor:

San Francisco Chronicle: 

I'm starting to wonder about things like poisoning trees. That really put the cap on things for me for some reason. It was happiness for the people around me for a great accomplishment, then hate filled opposition. And I'm wondering in general about people hating each other over, yes, particularly sports but also anything else that makes them feel a part of a group that needs to hate another group. I'm wondering about politicians representing only the rich, who use hate filled issues like this immigration law to divide us from our best interests. It has been ever so... And I'm wondering about the investment banks trying to absolve themselves with a measly $25 billion from crimes that would put any of the rest of us in jail. There is one particular thing that has happened in the last few days that makes all of this hit home like a ton of bricks.

I'm old and I'm tired.

I'll try to lighten up but... it doesn't help. Things just get worse.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hey Bulldog!

"Hey Bulldog"

Standing in the rain
Doing it again
Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles
What makes you think you're something special when you smile?

No one understands
Jack knife
In your sweaty hands
Some kind of innocence is measured out in years
You don't know what it's like to listen to your fears

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me, if you're lonely you can talk to me

Big man (Yeah)
Walking in the park
Frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is measured out in you
You think you know me but you haven't got a clue

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me, if you're lonely you can talk to me

Monday, September 19, 2011

CNN's Abysmal Coverage of 9/11 Memorial

CNN's coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 looked pretty incompetent. Ten years ago CNN was live on the air showing the events as they unfolded. It was unscripted television. Live, on the air, the second plane hit the building. All of it was made to order for CNN's style: point and shoot. I remember when the first tower collapsed. It wasn't clear in their shot. It was just a lot of smoke. CNN didn't quickly report that it had collapsed. I was looking at the top, blue sky. Still, it felt like I needed some kind of confirmation of such a huge event. I think I remember them talking about explosions and smoke. Then it came. I had seen what I thought were people jumping earlier without CNN telling me. It's very easy to forgive mistakes in coverage of something fluid. "It appears to be..." is appropriate and verification is obviously important.

 The first words from CNN at the beginning of the ceremony are incorrect, "Let's listen in as the haunting sound of bagpipers go by the reflecting pool..." says Anderson Cooper as the who knows where they are from bagpipers play a drum march. No bagpipes. Reading the side of the base drums are the only clue we get. Yet "they" are referenced walking past the memorial. No bagpipes being played, just drums. The ceremony is announced that will include "some entertainment" like "eggo ma (?) will be here" and the names read. I never saw this guys name in print but he seemed like a classical sort of guy by his name. Apparently we will see "some politicians" but not with "political remarks." But didn't I just see the President and maybe a former President walk by? Who knows? If I'm tuning in late, I am completely lost lost by now. "The bagpipers" later play their bagpipes along with their drums but they are never announced. That little bar at the bottom does it's work every now and then. Rudolph Guliani? is not announced, you hopefully, just know. President Obama is not announced, Mayor Bloomberg does make the blue bar at the bottom of the screen in the last 6 words of his comments. No name readers are ever credited as they read off the names of the dead. No research is done for any of this. Nothing is set up so that they can display the family member's names. A mysterious cellist plays in the background, perhaps that "eggo" guy. I didn't really catch his name back when he was one of the "entertainment."

Then the reading of the names is turned down in volume and the viewer hears "So you have watched until the beginning of the reading of then names and, eh eh eh, and Anderson, it's hard to say you love this part of it..." Love this part??? This lady who we must know by her voice, is clearly as unprepared as is Anderson Cooper. They weave words together on the spot, and rely on interviews with others who actually made the effort to be prepared about what they are going to say like Drew Griffin from CNN, with a special on CNN to pitch, who actually made the blue bar. I'm not saying this needs to be scripted like a Thanksgiving Parade, just competently researched.Then the viewer is back to the names for a moment of silence. So far the silences are ironically handled the best. A camera flashes around and I think I see President Bush in the blur. Yes, that is the voice of Bush. We are watching the monument or buildings or long shots. But finally he appears on the screen too quickly for the blue bar guy. The pool cameras seem to know what they are doing finding Peter Negron's name on the monument as his boy speaks just before CNN can find the boy's name for the blue bar. You can imagine CNN's director saying, wait, what was that guy's name, how do you spell it? And then I wonder if the anchors just missed Bush and Obama because the only announcement of them was of "some politicians." I guess "some politicians" need no introduction.

Wolf Blitzer is stationed at the Pentagon with statistics with lots of numbers and dutifully announces all of the politicians who will be there. Wolf is used to reporting like this: blunt, deadpan, but he gets the facts right. Then we go back to New York, the blue bar awakens for a moment to introduce who is speaking "Ari Fleischer" and then "John Miller"  and Mary Matlin. Did someone get to the blue bar guy and give him a good shake? Here we find out there is a way to do a spit screen to show us more than one thing at a time. A general discussion takes place that could be done any day, on any show. I really could go on, but I know you would prefer me not to.

James Taylor sings and we barely get a 5 10 second glimpse of him at tbe beginning of the song. The camera's appear to be covering the action in the scene of panning across the skyline of New York. Odd views of people standing are patched together. When Paul Simon sings later, instead of showing the emotion in his eyes as he sings "Sounds of Silence" probably for the first time on his own, I don't know. We see a few seconds of him here and there. The blue bar guy is awake enough to introduce him and we get treated to a collage of pool feed shots designed to make this appear as a music video. The power of Pual Simon's song was amazing when I later viewed it on a Facebook feed from an international channel. CNN likes to show the skyline.

I admit I saw this abysmal coverage coming early on before the official ceremony began when the President and the first lady, and the former President and first lady stood at the monument in silence. They turned and to shake hands with people that were lined up behind them. There was surely some way to get advance notification of events and people but CNN covered it there was a pregnant moment of silence as the two Presidents coming down the line shaking hands with the unknown people before us: "I... I'm assuming, Anderson, that what we are looking are the two, one former President and the current President, greeting some of the family members that have been involved, and a lot of them have been, in putting, not only..uh..just this day, but this site back together again and that balance you talked about earlier." Anderson interrupts: "that's -intelligible- Lee Ioppi(?) one of the fathers of the firefighters lost..." Thankfully Anderson Cooper recognizes someone and we don't have to work totally on assumptions. This was a planned ceremony, that went off beautifully. CNN's hack job made it appear amateurish.
I'm saddened because I really would like CNN to be the news organization it thinks it is, but it is lazy. With the alternative for viewers being Fox News (who showed pretty much every moment of Paul Simon's emotional song, albeit on a split screen) I really really don't want CNN to be lazy but they have been from the beginning. This was a giant ratings day and they couldn't even do it competently. They had forever to prepare, forever to get the details they needed to do a good broadcast. Possibly the director of the show was having a mental breakdown, but I doubt it.

CNN has pretty much always been a point and shoot network, and if they want to be anything else, they need to fire the director who liked to see the skyline of New York over events actually happening and get someone competant. They probably need to hire a few real newscasters who get what's happening in front of them. Soon I will have a Television Blog and show some CNN stuff that will help in an understanding of where CNN was pre-Gulf War as opposed to where it is now. News lost, personalities won.

I guess my dissapointment with CNN comes from a lot of different angles. CNN developed the idea of covering an event unedited, live. It was fresh but seemed to only work when there was actually a live event to cover. So they changed. Fox News came later claiming CNN had lost this live stuff somewhere along the way and came on blazing (with very little money, like CNN in the early days) and showed things unedited and live. I remember it as being refreshing having two channels to choose from. CNN had gone for less news in favor of nightly segments of opinion or Larry King. When an event was large, these shows would still air but they would have them change format to fit the event. Fox used the slogan "We report, you decide" to describe their new way of doing things, actually CNN's old way. They wouldn't provide commentary like CNN and would just report the news. Yes this is completely ironic and I was surprised to know they still use that slogan once in a while. It's more like "We decide what the news is, comment on it, and you follow."

CNN is much different. They are as incompetant as they ever were. One very obvious veteran news anchor reported the news at some morning hour. It was actual news. When I finally find the video I'm thinking of, you will see (if you follow my TV blog when I get time to do this) how he clashed with the new idea of pretty faces and news as entertainment. He was old and ugly, demanded verification, thrrew fits in the newsroom, and wanting to be the journalist he had always been. He did not fit into the world of news on the cheap, designed for maximum ratings at minimum cost. Entertainment. Of course Fox's short skirted women are the epitome of this, but CNN was the first to go the way of the local news smiley faces. They blazed the trail that Fox followed as it did less news and more right wing opinion.

There are a lot of right wingnut types where I live and they often call CNN the "Communist News Network." Actually, they are too incompetant to hold an agenda. In the spirit of how we percieve Communists as been inefficient and covering up things with gloss, I must agree.

Money is Printed and Gold Falls? Hmmm

The big news of the day: The worlds big central banks (The Fed, ECB, SNB, BOE, and BOJ) have all joined hands to provide liquidity to parched banks.As some might say: money printing! Well, despite the common belief that there's a connection between liquidity pumping and gold rising, today that's not happening, and in fact gold is tanking, falling well below $1800 (it was above $1900 recently).Whatever benefit gold gets from easy money was cancelled out by a brief removal of the "fear" premium.  --Business Insider, 9/15/11
I think this is more extraordinary than BI thinks. The arguments for buying gold are continuously advertised by gold brokers as: "They are printing money and the world economy will soon collapse. All your savings in fiat currency will be wiped if you don't buy gold, and we have the best prices. Trust no one but us." Remember when countries acted in unison to start selling oil stockpiles? They were attacking oil speculation in a coordinated way. Remember when suddenly all the banks raised the rates on loans for silver? They were attacking silver speculation in a coordinated way. Gold speculation? Hmmm.

Now we see a coordinated activity to pump the much needed money into the system. Stimulus is of course what is missing in our current race to see who can be more frugal-- as a double dip recession is forming! It is insanity and the big guys know it. So, government action being all but impossible in the USA, this is obviously the only course of action. They know there has to be a way to get that money out there circulating and creating demand. The way is decidedly not in putting money into gold where it might not rust but sits doing nothing. It IS in printing money, which seems to be easy everywhere--Tea Parties be damned.

Investing in gold seems less like a smart move even when "they are printing money..." because the second part of the pitch is "...the world economy will collapse." Printing money is actually the right thing to do in a world wide recession where other options are off the table. The world economy is then less likely to collapse.

For those who said the Fed had run out of bullets, can we re-examine now?

I have been talking off the top of my head when I would tell people that we need to print money everywhere, like we are actually now doing, much to my surprise. I had odd reasoning, and I don't know much about things. This post is way, way over my comfort level because I am not particularly well grounded in economics. But I have been wondering for a while just what would happen if every single country printed money at the same rate.

What exactly would happen? Inflation or deflation of a currency is usually measured relative to another country's currency. They would all grow the same. So the international problems with inflation in trade would not be tough. I'm guessing that inside a given country, prices would eventually go up as more money was spent. That however is exactly what we want-- more demand. The drop in value for money in savings would result-- thus more demand. Spend it now before prices go up.

It took me by surprise when gold fell the day they decided to let the world know they were going to print money. Now that I think about it, it is not surprising at all. 1) there is more risk that the world can mount a coordinated attack on gold speculation, foreshadowed by silver and oil actions. 2) the banks finally are worried enough, or influenced by leaders enough, that they do the right thing by printing money in a coordinated way (coincidentally or shamelessly before an American election year.) Gold speculators themselves ran for the hills even though they previously claimed they were logically buying it because of the increase in printed money. That is extraordinary because it reveals that the pessimists really do feel that printing money might just work. "A brief removal of the fear premium" hardly states it well. However briefly, they believed it was the right thing to do, all their previous advice to the contrary.

Apple Eats Blackberry for Lunch

Up until recently, Blackberry was keeping up. This year, not so much...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Could anything be odder than the DAWG coach? Why yes.

The CNN intro to the debates:

It's kind of hard to get through the entire field of candidates like this. Press "pause" somewhere, it only gets worse. CNN is slightly...insane.  It is much easier to get through the Storage Wars intro CNN must have used as inspiration:

Moral of the story: news is entertainment to CNN. Trust them and FOX Noise to shape your future at your own risk.

Hmmm... I like cats as well as dogs... I must be a loser.

Must make Russell Athletic proud to be a sponsor.

All in one pretty package this guy wraps up the entirety of the preeminant unimportance of sports to our culture. You gotta get a little choked up:

Chantecler Variety

Consumers Believe No One

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is Social Security an Issue?

If so, I know which party continously seems to talk about radically modifying what I have paid into all my life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

One More Pop Wisdom Myth Many People Carry to the Voting Booth

Popular wisdom: the federal government is growing bigger and bigger and this is our problem. Except that it actually grows smaller and smaller. Further the best times for our economy were back when it was big.

Just like the best times in our nation's economic history were when we taxed the rich, so the best times were when we spent that money investing in things that were good for everyone, for society, for our nation.

Not so today. In Milton Friedman we trust. We believe that government is wasteful, that paying for government should be done by borrowing, and fear that government is growing voraciously when it is shrinking. Shrinking the good that government does as well.

(Oh, notice the census spikes every ten years. Cool!)

(Also, the gray areas are recessions by the technical definition of such.)

Friday, September 9, 2011

THE Depression Chart - latest update

Five observations (some repeats):

1. The magnitude of the job loss continues to be astounding.
2. The latest numbers of no job growth show the possibility of a downward trend gets more real.
3. The 2001 recession, the only one that even comes close to the long lasting job loss of this one, is also the most recent. This points out that structural problems in our economy are at work having built up over time.
4. The idea that we are no longer in a recession relates to the fact that we were not technically in a recession throughout most of the Great Depression.
5. This chart which month after month shows the actual depression will no doubt be in history books if and when we recover, in it's final form.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Romney's Twilight Zone, "Too Much Information" part 3

Romney's job plan was unveiled today. I think, it is a little milquetoasty but hey, that's really what I want in a Republican candidate. I'm all for sanity.
  • Lowering tax rates for businesses and middle-class housholds. Romney said lowering corporate taxes will help lure firms to invest in the US, while eliminating capital-gains and dividend taxes for households earning less than $200,000 will encourage saving.
Lowering taxes for the middle-class households doesn't really create jobs, nor does personal savings create jobs. Capital-gains and divident tax cuts also do not honestly create more for saving than increasing interest rates, or increasing wages. But, it is, of course, good news for people who are in the investment industry. And good news for the rich who, even though their capital gains taxes won't be cut, they won't be raised from historically low levels anyway. If these tax cuts were truely geared towards a redistribution of income from those who don't spend money on the economy but play with it, then it might do some good. I really honestly need a little more assurance that it won't be another cut where the rich increase their share of the pie yet again. I don't trust you guys anymore, sorry. And there is nothing about raising capital gains taxes on the rich, of course. It is just all magically paid for I guess. But if it means cutting government, the cuts are coming from social programs that monetarily benefit those who are not wealthy, and that hardly would boost savings rates of the middle class. It is all doublespeak for failed policies of the past.
Lowering corporate taxes is truly the oddity here. Lure firms to the U.S.?  Come on. Why don't we just give tax breaks to those willing to locate here like state governments do all the time? Why do things that way? It would be much more cost effective without paying businesses who are doing great right now. Well, take a guess who wouldn't get more tax breaks that way. And that makes me feel even more suspect of "lowering taxes for the middle-class."

I often wonder why the concept of cutting capital gains taxes and dividend taxes plays well with those who can't afford to "play" the stock market. Last time I sold stock I was expecting the income to be taxed at my income tax bracket. It was incredibly low, before Romney helps me. I was happy but I knew that the amount of stock I "play" with is insubstantial compaired to the wealthy.  It bugged me that others got so much more benefit out of something that was brand new to me, but I was indeed happy to pocket the money I didn't really deserve.
  • Reducing government regulation, including a rollback on Obama's health care law. Encouraging domestic energy production.
I'm wondering if a reduction in government regulation will include the banks that caused this economy with the freedom they used to bankrupt us, AND still have, basically. Any more reduction of government regulation and we might not exist anymore. Again, American multinational corporations of all kinds are doing great. They don't need more freedom, they are doing well. That said, Obama has been working on reducing regulations that are ineffective. Again, I don't trust you Republicans who seeem to think deregulation is just a way to reward your political donors. Encouraging domestic energy production: I guess this means more subsidies for the oil companies who are already raking it in from record profits in addition to the subsidies they have now. This is shameful. Encouraging "production" means relying on the same companies that produce now. Oil.
  • Promoting US exports.
This screams milquetoast. Of course we all want to increase exports. How? We export our jobs now. Our big companies rely on this cheap labor from overseas to exist. How much more can we promote exports by just promotion.
  • Streamlining the federal government, so that rising national debt doesn't hobble the nation's potential growth.
Streamlining government. I like that word "streamlining." I see this vision of a sleek 1950's car going down the road. Cutting government is already a plan in place and oddly it is already hooked to the rising national debt. Does this mean even these austerity measures are not enough? This of course is the worst idea imaginable and not only does Romney appear to want more of it, but the amount of reduction we already have in the works will most likely stagnate the economy for years to come. We are in a depression. If streamlining meant to actually fix the government and make it like a sleek car, I' would be all for that. But no, what it really means is reduce the national debt during a depression without help from the low taxed people with all the money mulitplying like rabbits in their gold and bank accounts, where it sits. It means cutting Medicare and Social Security and probably not Defense. And EVERYBODY knows that the sliver of government that is discretionary is dinky small.

Yes, I still cross over parties and vote for Romney in the primary because, honestly, the only thing we have going for us here is that there will be a whole multitude of people who have no reason to vote in the Democratic primaries and who do have a reason to vote in the less extreme on the other side. Milquetoast is better than going past the twilight zone into the darkness.

Man's Fears and the Summit of His Knowledge, or Too Much Information Part 2

These two graphs I came across today serve to disprove their own points. It is sad that there is so much disinformation.

I listen to business stuff everyday on CNBC radio. I find it interesting to know these things. Oh, it is much too much too much, but I am me. :)  My wife puts up with me. I'm fine.

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.   - Twilight Zone Season 1 Intro. - Rod Serling

I submit for your approval:

This pretty chart was found in an article praising the growth of productivity in the United States. Hurray!!!  It is astounding, that straight upward slope at the end...  that is, until one realizes that the reason for it is that there are so few actual workers doing the jobs IN America for American companies. And American companies are making record profits off these kinds of strategies. Productivity increases a lot when unemployment is high and the jobs are performed by subsistence workers in other countries. It's easy to see that productivity per U.S. worker would increase rapidly if the number of workers went down and the number of workers not even counted in the graph are in other countries. So, another thing I studied in school, productivity, is basically a meaningless concept for our outsourced times and less than meaningless for the average unemployed person. Could it be that the statistical meaning presented in this chart is simply there because it includes the productivity of American workers but excludes the productivity of those in other countries which make this possible? I don't know if I'm right here. It seems too obvious. At any rate, it's a win-win for American worker statistics for anyone who wants to misrepresent.  But... if we are in that zone of twilight info....

Next, signpost up ahead:

Now this one is an absolute sparkling gem of Twilight from the Romney camp (oh, yes, he STILL has my vote in the primary over.. well... others who scare the tea plum pudding out of me.)   This chart looks really good. It looks as if it proves a point. Just above the most "sticky out" and startling point of the graph are the words: "The Obama Recovery." Do you see the problem? Check the dates. See it?

2007 - a year of absolute "end of the world looking" job figures.  Gosh, remember the month after month slide? Also, 2007 is not a year Obama was even a twinkle in the eye of a policy. He was actually undergoing a fight to calm fears over whether he would be able to answer his telephone in the middle of the night and abject fear over what would happen to a couple of cute rich kids if he became President. What would happen to these poor sleeping kids? Nothing, their Dads wouldn't lose their tax breaks, no problemo.

Yet, there it is labeled "Obama Recovery."  It doesn't even include the positive 2010 numbers. Now that being said, yes this is a fairly jobless recovery, as was the last recovery from recession, only much much worse this time. Factors causing job loss and lack of job growth are of course the same factors causing the productivity chart to rise, and many many other factors that make our current economic system a shambles.

While I criticize all the politicians, including Obama, for not putting more money into the economy for stimulus, Mitt Romney's party (he's the guy that still stands behind that ill considered chart even after the obvious is pointed out by numerous critics) seems heck bent on cutting government spending or cutting stimulus. Sorry, there are economic rules here that will act like they always have. If we don't stimulate the economy and work towards a long range government agenda of producing jobs, we will not have a lot of jobs and the jobs we do have will be the McJobs we have seen growing for decades. And the concentration of wealth in the hands of the wealthy is the underlying cause of it all. I have to always repeat this ultimate cause of our problem.  It is the new paradigm. Because, this is the real information.... that there is not too much of.

Oh, yes, a smiley goes a long way sometimes to help soften the blow. So...   :)

The Definition of "Too Much Information" :)

Presidential Debates more than a year ahead of time:
Kinda like stepping around dog poop to mow the yard, or schedule a speech on Jobs. :)  

Monday, September 5, 2011

One Step Closer to Switching to Vote in the Republican Primary for Mitt

One concept that has always seemed odd to me is the criticism of puting one's finger up to test the wind. I sincerely hope the cruise ship captain in my near future watches the wind.

Boston Globe: Romney Appearance Draws Tea Party Protest

I'm kinda wondering here if the Tea Party actually doesn't say anything but "no."

Friday, September 2, 2011

I AM awesome. :)

I left my Facebook account open on a public computer and someone wrote "I am awesome" as a status. I have seen much worse things done to Facebook accounts so this was just funny to me. Truth is the best defence anyway. :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Corporate Efficiency, Yea!!

I can't get the Angry Birds game off my mind. I feel so accomplished when I help them burst the pigs and they all say "Yea!!!"

Corporations are making record profits very efficiently, that is, without hiring people in the USA.

Tax the rich and the corporations more?  I wouldn't think about it. Look, they ARE the USA.

Look at that, they are so efficient and wonderful. Record profits! And each one of us working so much more productively with outsourcing! 

Ok, my sarcasm alert went off. I apologize.

But keep in mind, "Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised by the outcome."  a paraphrase of George Will. One of my favorite sayings, one of my least favorite sayers. :)

Double Dip Post of the Week

The double dip is obvious in this chart.

Yes, there is a scratch on this blog causing it to skip and repeat, but that is only because of the scratch on the economy causing it to skip.

This is a depression, not a recession, in terms of jobs. The growth rate and signs of progress in FDR's day form what we now think of as the Great Depression. Jobs and income equality should be the measure not GDP growth. By the historical GDP measure we are doing fine but are possibly going into another recession, In real terms, we have never gotten out of this awful thing! "We still can't find jobs!!! AHHHHHH!"  There is no "double dip" there is only one large dip with aberrations. And now we are tightening government spending.

Please, someone, call CNBC and tell them. They will listen to reason, surely. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Texas Tea Irony

Exxon-Mobile has formed an "alliance" with Russia's largest oil producing company, the state owned Rosnef. Such news should rightfully send shivers down the spine of Michele Bachman who after all believes that we all fear the "rise of the Soviet Union [sic]." But I do want to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she accidentally referred to Reagan's "evil empire" instead of the Russia that is our friend and ally. And I do want to believe that she was talking about the rise of Russia in terms of economic power. But if Fox News, the mouth organ of the right, readily broadcasts that Warren Buffet is a socialist because Buffet wants a more progressive income tax can I really stay away from outlandish stereotyping and be relevant?

How can a Tea Party Republican contender not now jump in there and address Exxon-Mobile's red commie leanings? Part of the financial agreement appears to be in giving the Soviets, umm Russians, properties off the coast of Texas to practice deep water drilling on. The big picture here is that soon enough the Arctic will be free of ice and the Russians have property rights in the area. In exchange for some of the properties of Exxon-Mobile, notably some in deep water drilling areas, the Russians give Exxon the right to explore off their Arctic coast, a deal the Russians formerly were trying with BP. Is it cold in here? I felt a shudder. Sure the environmental risk screams out for our attention here but a Bachman administration may stereotypically have connections in this area as evidenced by recent remarks about God trying to get the attention of her political foes with a hurricane and an earthquake. Gosh, I'm being unfair in this stereotype, because she later said, "Of course I was being humorous when I said that. It would be absurd to think anything else." So you have to guess she would be awesome at a post-Katrina Press Correspondents' Dinner.

I feel guilty about stereotyping to be relevant, but I guess I feel that candidate Bachman should publicly put her foot down over the continuing tax breaks to oil companies like Exxon-Mobile if she also logically considers the possibility that Exxon is treasonous in providing the Ruskies with the opening we have denied them for so many years, the power to build large threatening structures along our southern border. :)

"We're in the news BUSINESS..."

AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

The Irene story can be summarized as "looks like a big storm is coming" then "looks like we overestimated the danger." But that story loses ratings as it goes. So the second half never materializes very fully.

Salon reports:
Link: Why TV news is addicted to weather porn

While it is good to be safe, of course no one listens after the first big storm of the season that the media hypes. These television jerks who "warn" us like they are agents of the government need to be guided by something other than the moral values of free enterprise. It's like the little boy who cried wolf taking money from Pfizer.

The streaking video that is linked to in the article will be a Daily Show moment for sure. Streaking in this context actually has a reason to exist. But I'm afraid that when we need real weather information we are fed the same reality show atmosphere that doesn't save many lives.

"We're in the news business," [Chuck] Scarborough [WNBC] said wryly. "We deal in doom."

...and deal with doom without foresight or concern.

What Does this Say About the GOP?

If the polls are down for Obama but one reason is that he doesn't fight the GOP hard enough, what does this say about the GOP?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cost of Income Inequality

I've been a bit lazy but mindful. Facebook is making me lazy but I am always mindful of the original long form blogging that I have committed to. I look for little snapshots and try to understand them in a broader context. For instance, the food stamp chart above suggests an alarming expense that is part of the hidden depression problem. The growth of economic inequality costs us huge amounts of money in the form of food stamps and unemployment expenditures. These are the props that keep us from sliding ever downward. I don't wish to denigrate the human toll of the "downturn" but should we look at this from only a cost perspective, keeping the rich from paying taxes is costing us an arm and a leg. The increased unemployment taxes needed around the country (Hawaii has raised this tax on businesses 600%) to keep up with the burgeoning problem of keeping everything churning along seems to me to be unsustainable.

Revenue loss from just the top 1% is taking it's toll on our coffers:

The first column is the effective tax rate paid by the richest of the rich. It dives ever downward. The second column shows the money taken in from this group. The next column shows the amount we would have taken in had the rich not received all the tax breaks since 1986. The last column shows the lost revenue. This is not a cumulative total, it is yearly. We dig deeper and deeper so some billionaire can have a few extra billion a year.

The costs of unemployment benefits will no doubt cause employers to think twice about new hires which cost more unemployment tax than ever before.

Finally, here is a opinionated list of problems I read recently that I thought  was particularly relevant:

Can the US resolve these issues?

1) An excess credit problem, left over from the 2000s Housing boom and credit bubble — being solved v e r y s l o w l y through deleveraging and passage of time;
2) Slowing economy and high unemployment (including increasing High School drop out rates creating a structural employment problem);
3) Crumbling infrastructure: Electric Grid, Bridges, Tunnels, Roads, Naval Ports, Airports;
4) Medical Costs that are double the rest of the industrialized world’s yet produces worse results.
5) Systemic deficits caused by unfunded tax cuts, unfunded entitlements, and a military bigger than the next 20 countries combined, (plus a lack of fiscal discipline);
6) A wholly dysfunctional electoral process, including corporate control of what was once a democratically elected legislative branch;
7) Increasing wealth and income inequality (Historically not a long term positive for social unrest and political legitimacy)
8) An overt hostility to empiricism and science (which helped create most of our wealth) and an embracing of “magical thinking”
9) An intellectually bankrupt political class married to outmoded, disproven, fantasy based economic ideas.
OK, I had a bad day. :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Goodnight Irene! *

That is extrodinarily big. "Don't need a weatherman..."

But the Weather Channel's frank statement, anyway:
"Dangerous surge, winds, and widespread destruction are likely on the East Coast."

Let's hope people leave when they are told to leave.

*Pun bound to make the rounds of us older folks. The newsmedia might just use it to display night pictures etc, just for the sake of the pun. Don't forget. You heard it here first. And yes it is cheesy when talking about people's lives with puns, but it will happen. News IS entertainment in the USA.

Mrs. Dorothy Burson

My recent posts were in honor of my good friend's mother.... all the music and flowers were the best I could do here to honor her life in the way I can. Her life was celebrated by friends and family today. I have my little odd moments when I want to do something and cannot. So I posted what I thought was respectful and what she would truly enjoy.  In this process, I was trying to figure out what she and I have in common, that made her so special to me. She reminded me so much of my own mom. Her interest in her son (and daughter and grandson) was paramount. She would talk politics so well, it would surprise you every time. She showed a big interest in the Beatles because her son had a great interest. In this respect, since my friend and I have had this lifelong interest in common, his mom reminded me so much of my own late mother who also shared this love for what I loved.

I thought about what I could portray in photographs that would be a suiting end to this portion of my blog. I had a thought of posting a picture of the pizza parlor which had recently become the common place to meet her and her son to eat. I certainly will never go in that building again without her foremost in my mind.

Knowing how kind she was and what a realistic sharp mind she had, I thought about something in the middle of the service that would have put a smile on her face in the right circumstances. It is one of those little things that make you think about life with all it's imperfections and yet with all it's humor and kindness.

The people gathered would repeat a prayer that Mrs. Burson had cut out of a newspaper. But in the little booklet that was given us, there was a typo. I'm sure Mrs. Burson, with her good natured wit, would have had a smile on her face as the entreaty of our heavenly Father "And hel[sic] me when I falter" was noticeably spoken a little less clear as people faltered on the words. She would smile and probably laugh that kind laugh I remember.

There is so much to remember about Mrs. Burson. I loved her very much and I will miss the mother who raised my best friend.

One last song that will now, as I post it here, always make me remember Mrs. Burson and her love for dogs and pets.

Martha My Dear
(listen to the lyrics about Paul's love of his pet dog, Martha)

I always thought he must have had to leave the dog a lot because of his busy life and was entreating Martha to remember him, to not forget him.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Taxes, A Summary for an Old Friend

Please, please, Randy T., feel free to comment on any blog entries I have posted. I have posted most of this before with commentary. I get no feedback because either no one reads me, or no one that reads me understands me. :) My wife thinks I am obsessed. :)

The following chart is the most famous and most posted chart.

I don't do math if I don't have to, Randy. I do like charts. They help me see things clearer. Look at the huge amount of the Bush tax cuts here, as opposed to the new spending of Obama (the Obama figure is projected over an 8 year period, which probably won't happen.) The only basic flaw in logic here is that Obama has not had 8 years to make decisions that might cost more money. But it puts to rest the notion that Obama is a big spender so far. We have actually had too little stimulus. Unemployment insurance has saved us from another Great Depression but we can't count on handing out money like this forever.

 Please look at the non-defense discretionary spending comparisons. They are the only real place to cut spending other than defense, or social programs. Social programs won't happen from either party, sorry. I remember a line from Oliver North's hearings when Lt. North was hinting that the American people were wrong and that was why Reagan had to start a shadow government. The congressman questioning North said something like, "The American people have the democratic right to be wrong."

I am in favor of more taxes across the board, much later. We have to pay for our government, but until the unemployment rate is back to a manageable figure, the rich will just have to pay the share they haven't been paying since 1980's Reagan tax cuts. That moment in history marks the beginning of our increase in debt.  You can follow that putting these two charts together:

The chart above shows the tax rate for the affluent. If trickle down really worked then, the debt wouldn't be gong up at precisely the time we cut taxes for the rich. See below:

Notice that the debt goes up for the first sustained period with Reagan's tax cuts. Then it goes down for a sustained period with Clinton's tax increases (even though they were small). To put a little perspective, some of this was Bush senior's tax increase, the little two year sliver before Clinton. Of course, the debt goes up tremendously at the end. This is our current crisis, where we lose tax revenue across the board, and simultaneously have to stimulate the economy with bailouts and stimulus. The following chart puts taxes and expenditures on the same chart using share of GDP as the gauge. Notice where expenditures are paid for (Clinton with his tax increases) and notice Obama's leveling off. Also notice how tax receipts are at their lowest, as a percent of GDP, right now.

Income inequality that has increased to levels not seen since 1928 is the real cause of the downfall of our nation. Concentrating wealth into the hands of the ultra rich causes a lack of demand.

This graph is a little tricky. the first part shows the population broken down into 20 percent segments. The second part, breaks down the top fifth to show that the top 1% are actually the one's gaining.

The lack of economic activity because of the lack of demand because of the concentration of money to the top 1% of the people IS our problem.

Here is the state of the recovery of employment. The people without jobs are NOT where taxes are coming from: