Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: January 7, 2011

December Unemployment

The employment numbers from this morning are no cause for any sighs of relief, yet.  The number of persons employed increased faster than the increase in population–which seems to be unusually small compared to recent months.

In any event, according to my calculation method, this is where we stand (all numbers in thousands):

DECEMBER 2010
Civilian Non-Institutional Adult Population:
238,889
Average Labor Force Participation Rate: 66.2%
Proper Labor Force Size: 158,145
Actually employed: 139,206

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 13.6%

The labor force participation rate continues to decline, coming in at 64.3% this month, a 30-year low.  The actual size of the labor force was 153,690.  Using the historical average participation rate of 66.2%, that means the current labor force is running with about 4.45 million fewer workers than it should.

This month’s non-farm payroll increase of 103k new jobs is really just a drop in the bucket. We would need 11 million jobs created to get the unemployment rate back to 5%.  Even if there were no increase in population at all, we would need to create 300k new jobs per month for 37 months to get those 11 million jobs back. The only possible bright spot is that, this year, the first of the baby boomers hit 65 and begin retiring. So maybe the actual labor force participation rate is due to naturally drop, as is the size of the labor force.

All we have to do, then, is figure out how to pay social security to more retirees with a shrinking labor force.  That should be fun.

House Judiciary Committee to investigate DoJ issues surrounding New Black Panther voter intimidation case

Jennifer Rubin reports that the House Judiciary Committee under new Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has issued its first oversight letter to the Department of Justice.  Subject?  The New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case as race based enforcement guidelines within the DoJ.

To quote the letter:

"Allegations that the Civil Rights Division has engaged in a practice of race-biased enforcement of voting rights law must be investigated by the Committee."

Indeed.  He gives Holder and DoJ until the 21st to respond to a list of questions including whether Julie Fernandez of DoJ "explicitly or implicitly direct Voting Section staff not to enforce any section of any federal rights statute" or "not to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act."   This question stems from the claim by J. Christian Adams that Fernandez  directed DoJ attorneys "not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims."

With an all Democratic Congress, DoJ was able to weather the storm these revelations brought as Democrats successfully blocked any attempts to look into the matter officially.  That has obviously changed.

Rubin makes some observations about the letter:

The letter is noteworthy on a number of levels. First, administration flacks and liberal bloggers have insisted that the New Black Panther Party case is much to do about nothing. But as Smith has correctly discerned, the issue of enforcement or non-enforcement of civil rights laws based on a non-colorblind view of those laws is serious and a potentially explosive issue for this administration. Second, Holder’s strategy of stonewalling during the first two years of Obama’s term may have backfired. Had he been forthcoming while Democrats were in the majority, he might have been able to soften the blows; Smith is not about to pull his punches. And finally, Smith is demonstrating the sort of restraint and big-picture focus that is essential for the Republicans if they are to remain credible and demonstrate their capacity for governance.

Bingo on all three.  A worthy issue to investigate, a worthy reason to investigate and it will indeed play to the benefit of Republicans and detriment of Democrats – particularly Holder – but also those who tried to wave it away as “no big deal”.

~McQ

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GOP plans on reining in the EPA

Between screaming birthers, edited Constitutions and not-yet members of the House voting, the House of Representatives under GOP rule got off with some fits and starts.

However, there was something of note besides the mostly symbolic attempt to repeal ObamaCare  (something that the CBO says would “cost” us about 230 billion  – well at least until they further revise it down to nothing after it fails), something of actual importance seems to be emerging:

Dozens of Republicans used the opening day of the new Congress on Wednesday to introduce legislation that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions.

48 Republicans and one Democrat (Boren- OK) are co-sponsoring the effort (that one Democrat makes it a “bi-partisan” effort under the definition of the term last Congressional session /sarc).    Read the next part carefully:

The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to declare that greenhouse gases are not subject to the law, according to a brief description in the Congressional Record.

What that’s not saying is “greenhouse gases are not subject to the law” – it is saying greenhouse gases are not something that the Clean Air act has the jurisdiction to legislate.  What Congress is trying to say to the EPA is “you stay out of the greenhouse gas business until we pass a law authorizing you to be in it”.

This is actually good news for the taxpayer.  If passed it will prevent EPA from unilaterally imposing emissions standards and defacto taxes on emitters via fines and fees.  The EPA’s primary targets would have been large emitters like power companies.  And any “fees” charged would have gone directly to power customers.  Effect?  It would have hit those who can afford it least the hardest.

Of course, the other good news is the incoming GOP majority is less enthralled with the pseudo-science of climate change and thus less likely to impose economic penalties than was the former Congress.  So we should see some backing away from the former trend of trying to tie energy and climate change together.  Or as the Hill notes:

While GOP leadership’s specific legislative approach to attacking EPA remains to be seen, the quick introduction signals that blocking climate rules is plainly on the agenda for the new GOP majority.

That gets a hearty “good” from me.

This also signals – or at least I hope it does – some intent on the part of the House to do some regulatory oversight.  You know, actually make the bureaucrats justify their regulations and their existence.  If you want an area that is fat for reduction, many of the bureaucracies are a wonderful place to start.

~McQ

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