Monthly Archives: October 2012
The following US economic statistics were announced today:
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index dropped more than a point to 92.8, which is generally regarded as a recessionary reading.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports a year-on-year sales growth rate of a below trend 1.6% in the latest week. ICSC-Goldman reports slightly better sales, with weekly sales growth at 0.2%, and year-over-year growth at 2.8%.
Funny stuff. All of us out here who have been questioning the accuracy of various presidential polls and being called “poll truthers” (lord help you if you question the establishment or authority) now see a poll that favors the GOP candidate being called into question by none other than the Washington Post.
The Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press released a poll that puts Mitt Romney in the lead for the first time in their polling (Rasmussen also released a poll with Romney in the lead).
The Pew poll keys off the first debate, Romney’s big win and says:
In turn, Romney has drawn even with Obama in the presidential race among registered voters (46% to 46%) after trailing by nine points (42% to 51%) in September. Among likely voters, Romney holds a slight 49% to 45% edge over Obama. He trailed by eight points among likely voters last month.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 4-7 among 1,511 adults, including 1,201 registered voters (1,112 likely voters), finds that 67% of Romney’s backers support him strongly, up from 56% last month. For the first time in the campaign, Romney draws as much strong support as does Obama.
“Likely voters”, as we’ve mentioned in the past, is the key demographic. Forget registered voters. Among likely voters, Pew is recording a 12 point swing. That’s pretty significant. You can hit the Pew link to go through all the particulars.
So what’s WaPo’s disagreement with the poll? Well they don’t really “disagree” so much as imply there might be a problem with the poll’s makeup (you know, the same thing we “poll truthers” have been talking about for months):
That pesky party ID question: The Pew sample for this poll was 36 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent. That’s a major shift from the organization’s September poll which was 29 percent Republican, 39 percent Democratic and 30 percent independent. In the 2010 election, the electorate was 36 percent Republican, 36 percent Democratic and 27 percent independent, according to exit polling. In 2008, 39 percent of the electorate identified as Democrats while 32 percent said they were Republicans and 29 percent said they were independents.
So in this poll, Pew was R+5. That’s different than the D+8 they ran in September. There’s you 12 point shift. Of course in 2010, they were completely wrong calling the D/R split even. Republicans ran a historic blow out during that election taking 60 seats in the House. In 2008, they were probably slightly undercounting self-identified Democrats. But not this time as Pew points out in their survey. Enthusiasm among GOP voters is up. It isn’t up among Democrats. And that, one supposes, is the Pew justification for plussing the GOP on this poll.
September polls are notoriously inaccurate. Polling companies, at least those who want to continue to be taken seriously, refine their models as they approach an election. This poll appears to be an example of that. As should be obvious to anyone who pays attention, the excitement, support and enthusiasm Obama enjoyed in 2008 doesn’t exist in this election, at least not anywhere to the degree it did then. That means the ratios have changed. Whether or not R+5 is the correct weight polls should give the GOP vote remains to be seen, but it certainly makes a lot more sense than D+8, the number we “poll truthers” were questioning all along.
Or perhaps it could be called the wages of the liberal cant (Camille Paglia):
Capitalism has its weaknesses. But it is capitalism that ended the stranglehold of the hereditary aristocracies, raised the standard of living for most of the world and enabled the emancipation of women. The routine defamation of capitalism by armchair leftists in academe and the mainstream media has cut young artists and thinkers off from the authentic cultural energies of our time.
Thus we live in a strange and contradictory culture, where the most talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges possible. In the realm of arts and letters, religion is dismissed as reactionary and unhip. The spiritual language even of major abstract artists like Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko is ignored or suppressed.
Thus young artists have been betrayed and stunted by their elders before their careers have even begun. Is it any wonder that our fine arts have become a wasteland?
I’ve truly never understood how one does what is routinely done by those who denounce Capitalism – live on and enjoy it’s benefits while calling for its destruction. I don’t see how anyone who would describe themselves as intelligent could live with the contradiction.
Unless, of course, they have a completely twisted and warped understanding of what Capitalism is. And, frankly, that’s precisely from what most of them suffer. They’re spoon fed this ignorant pap without opposition. They get the one side. They have Capitalism defined and characterized as something it’s not and leave believing that definition to be true.
Obviously that mischaracterization would fall mostly within liberal academic pursuits I’m guessing (because they’re unlikely to be pursuing business or economic courses in those pursuits, and thus would never be exposed to what Capitalism is really). So Paglia’s point makes sense. These students are indeed “indoctrinated”. I don’t know how else you describe “teaching” with no balance, with no valid opposing view presented, as anything but indoctrination.
Of course, she describes the result of such a twisted orthodoxy. Art which must conform to the orthodoxy and, as a result, is mostly rejected by the vast majority of the real world. It has gone from being “edgy” and “out there” or a “comment on our culture/society/whatever” to being another example of the same old thing – bashing what others hold sacred or dear. They can’t imagine why others don’t like it or want it.
Of course, when it doesn’t sell, well, that’s Capitalism’s fault.
And why shouldn’t these enlightened few demand subsidies for their “art?” After all, we have no taste and certainly don’t have the intelligence to discern what is or isn’t profound. We owe them such support.
Capitalism? Well that stands in the way, doesn’t it? It requires they produce something of value to others, not just of value to themselves, doesn’t it.
Down with Capitalism.
It’s worse than you thought and, of course, worse than they projected. Here’s the updated deficit spending chart:
Check out the gray “actual” numbers for the last two years. There is nothing trending down. Reminds one of the promises about unemployment and the “stimulus”, doesn’t it?
As for your part, well, nothing unexpected there – you’re and your kids and their kids are on the hook for a lot more than projected as well:
Yup, let’s give him 4 more years, shall we? I’m sure his administration could change the direction of this chart as well. We could “unexpectedly” owe $40,000 each by the time that term finished up.
Obviously it must be me, because I cannot figure out why anyone would contemplate giving such an abject failure another 4 yearshot at making their lives even worse. It’s time for a little accountability.
Seriously – I believe in second chances, however I don’t believe everyone deserves one. Barack Obama is one of those who doesn’t deserve a second chance.
This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the election.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.
Excuse me while I ramble.
–Are the unemployment numbers “cooked”? Well, let’s put it this way, the math required to make such a drop possible doesn’t seem to be supportable. IBD did a little of it for us:
The economy created just 114,000 jobs in September, yet the number of people employed somehow rocketed up by 873,000 and the number of unemployed plummeted by 456,000.
Point? There weren’t 873k jobs created in September. But the BLS did manage to find 360k new jobs that somehow weren’t counted, according to them, between March of 2011 and March of 2012. How convenient.
There may very well have been 456k who were dropped from the unemployment rolls. In fact, there may have been more. But the combination of the two numbers is a 1.3 million job swing. That “swing” is what it would take to drop the unemployment rate that much. Now it is entirely possible 456k or more were dropped from the unemployment rolls. It’s that first number you need to question.
–Have you ever seen a more pathetic performance by a side that lost a debate? Instead of admitting their guy sucked that night, it turned into a “he lied” or “he cheated” montage that seemed as though every pundit on the left, both on line and off line got one of two alternating sets of talking points.
Look, Obama was terrible that night. Like I said, I’ve gotten the distinct impression that Obama loves the perks of the office, but isn’t real crazy about the job. He loves to campaign, but as political Barbie would say, “governing is hard.” He has no problem accepting accolades, but simply doesn’t believe he should have to do anything to earn them. And finally, he’s worse than a 3rd grader about trying to blame everyone or everything else for his shortcomings.
That all caught up with him the other night. For the first time in his life, he had to stand there and face the music about his record. He was shown how much of a failure he was in no uncertain terms and, frankly, I think he was stunned into a lethargic performance.
2nd debate? Oh he’s going to be a tiger in that one, but will it matter? Over 50 million tuned in to watch this last one. My guess is they’ll be lucky to get half that for the second (I think the VP debate – the anticipation is just, well, overwhelming – will draw more viewers). The 1st debate was the critical debate. That is where the undecided went to decide. Mitt Romney got to talk with them unfiltered by the media. And of course, the media then had to deny that was the “real” Mitt Romney because they had spent so much time over the intervening weeks building a different one in their narrative.
–Is there more of a scandal right now (Fast and Furious is an ongoing one) than the Benghazi Consulate murders? We’re fed a line about the attack there being about a video when those of us with more than two brain cells to rub against each other knew, upon hearing even the sketchy early details, that it had nothing to do with a video. For heaven sake it was 9/11 on the year that Osama bin Laden had been killed. AQ was going to do something and like all organizations with even semi-competent leadership they knew to pick on a place that was incredibly weak. Thus Benghazi.
We get all sorts of denial from the administration, sticking with the narrative about the video, while it became more apparent as every new detail leaked out that it was anything but a spontaneous demonstration. Finally, when they could deny it no more, they sorta, kinda admitted it was a terrorist attack. Well some of them did. Others weren’t sure.
Benghazi had asked the State Department a reported 13 times for extra security … and been denied. It was about as secure as your house. It was full of sensitive information. And all of that has to be assumed to have been compromised (why such information was kept in such an unsecure location remains a mystery, because the media won’t ask).
Finally, the administration sends in the FBI, weeks after the incident and the FBI team stays there a total of 12 hours. 12 freakin’ hours. You think that bunch is at all interested in getting to the bottom of this?
And don’t forget, this next debate is going to be about how strong Obama is in foreign affairs.
His Middle East initiatives have crashed and burned, China’s feels it can bully our ally Japan and Russia is all but thumbing their nose at us as pertains to Iran, and this is his strong point?
Hate to see his weak point …oh, wait … we’re living it.
Here are a few fast facts (from BankruptingAmerica.org) to put today’s absurd announcement into persepctive:
- The real unemployment rate stayed at 14.7%. This includes the underemployed and those who have given up looking for work.
- 23 million Americans are still looking for work. In January 2009, that figure was 22 million.
- Of the 12.1 million Americans unemployed, more than one third (4.8 million) have been looking for work for over six months.
- 802,000 Americans have stopped looking for work
- In January 2009, the average amount of time spent unemployed was 19.8 weeks. Today, the amount of time has doubled, rising to 39.8 weeks.
- Nearly one in six Americans are living in poverty, the highest number in two decades.
- Manufacturing employment edged down in September by -16,000 jobs.
If you’re wondering why the drop, it simply means another massive group of Americans have come to the end of their extended unemployment benefits and are no longer counted.
In reality, the only numbers that count are listed above. The labor participation rate essentially remains unchanged. Those who are celebrating 7.8% are only fooling themselves. Those who are unemployed certainly know who they are and when it comes time to enter the voting booth and pull the lever aren’t going to be thinking about this “improved number”. They’re going to be dealing with the fact they don’t have a job.
Wonder who they’ll blame?
Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:
The Monster Employment Index fell three points in September to 153, indicating a slowdown in inline recruitment.
The Employment Situation report indicates that 114,000 net new jobs were created in September. The unemployment rate fell 0.3% to 7.8%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.3%, while the average workweek increased by 0.1 hours to 34.5 hours. The drop in the unemployment rate is statistically questionable, as it indicates that 873,000 people found jobs in a month when only 114,000 net new jobs were created. That just didn’t happen. We’d have noticed if a million people went back to work in a single month. Finally, payrolls for the last two months were revised upwards substantially, with last month’s payroll jobs revised from 96,000 to 141,000, and July revised up to 181,000 from 141,000. So, the last month before the election, we get a seemingly improved employment report, but expect a massive revision to today’s report next month, as this month’s household survey is clearly a statistical outlier. The U-6 unemployment rate—the broadest measure of unemployment and underemployment—stayed steady at 14.7%.
Ye olde “a picture is worth 1,000 words”:
IBD has the article. One of my favorite myths is the Bush “tax cuts” (tax rate) and deregulation cause the recession. Yeah, not so much:
It’s a standard Obama talking point. But it’s not true. Bush’s tax cuts did not cause the last recession.
In fact, once they were fully in effect in 2003, they sparked stronger growth — generating more than 8 million new jobs over the next four years, and GDP growth averaging close to 3%.
Those tax cuts didn’t explode the deficit, either, as Obama frequently claims. Deficits steadily declined after 2003, until the recession hit.
Nor was Bush a deregulator. Conservative Heritage Foundation’s regulation expert James Gattuso concluded, after reviewing Bush’s record, that “regulation grew substantially during the Bush years.”
Even the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, gave Obama’s claim three out of four “Pinocchios,” saying “it is time for the Obama campaign to retire this talking point, no matter how much it seems to resonate with voters.”
What did cause it? What we’ve been saying since it happened, that’s what:
The housing bubble. And that, in turn, was the result of a determined federal effort to boost homeownership by, among other things, pressuring banks to lower lending standards.
So while the rest of the surrogate media “fact checks” Romney, here’s a basic fact check on Obama. And yes, if you’re still wondering … he’s full of it.
“Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions.”
Ronald Reagan — Address to students at Moscow State University, May 31, 1988
Remember the Orange Revolution? Believe it or not, it’s still pretty darned important.
We’re knee-deep in a presidential election. The European Union is witnessing a slow-motion meltdown. Syria is quickly becoming a bloody nightmare, while North Africa seethes under the vicissitudes of the Arab Spring. Iran marches closer to nuclear arms, and perhaps war with Israel. And Sino-Japanese relations threaten to simmer out of control. So why care about the Ukraine?
The simple answer is because Ukrainians have had a taste of freedom, and liked it, and we should encourage that journey towards liberalization to continue. We have an interest in such development – via free and fair elections, open markets and greater legal protections in its reformed court system – because this is how individuals become personally invested in the growth of the nation, and thus how liberty spreads. As President Reagan emphasized in 1981, “only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free.” The more societies like that in the world, and especially in the Eurasian region, the better. And this is exactly where Ukraine is poised to go.
Unfortunately, we may be taking steps to discourage further liberalization in the form of a Senate resolution essentially demanding that Ukraine act exactly like a western democracy immediately or face consequences. The reality is that the former soviet republic of nearly 50 million souls is at a crossroads. Will they continue to move towards alignment with the West, or turn back towards familiar haunts in Moscow?
To be sure, the current government has expressed great interest in being integrated into the European Union, going so far as to ink an Association Agreement in March:
The Association Agreement creates a framework for cooperation and stipulates establishing closer economic, cultural, and social ties between the signees. Moreover, Brussels officials expect the document to promote the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Ukraine.
This first step to entering the EU (which still needs to be ratified) requires a concrete demonstration from Ukraine that it is moving towards “an independent judicial system, free and fair elections and constitutional reform.”
These are exactly the sorts of reforms that serve to expand liberty. Indeed, as Ukraine has liberalized over the past two decades since independence, it has since fits and starts of great economic growth and expanded prosperity. For example, between 2001 and 2008, the economy expanded at an average rate of 7.5%, and despite a severe downturn in 2009, it has continued to grow with exports increasing by 30% in 2010 alone. Indeed, Ukraine is ranked by CNBC.com as the second best country for long-term growth in the world, right behind the Philippines. Ukraine has also begun to institute judicial reforms that promise to train better judges, hold them accountable, and strengthen the fairness of the system that has long been burdened with rampant corruption and cronyism. And for the first time ever, outside election observers will be allowed to monitor the parliamentary elections this month.
Yet, these necessary and welcome reforms lie on a fragile bed.
Ukraine has been moving toward a market economy since it declared independence in 1991. The way has been extremely difficult and bumpy. Twenty years after the beginning of market reforms, Ukraine is still struggling to build a strong, transparent, and sustainable economic system that can provide the Ukrainian people with economic prosperity and social security.
Moving towards greater integration with the West, via the EU, will strengthen that bed. Demanding that Ukraine act as a long-established western democracy right now, today, only serves to further weaken it :
Economics 101 defines the problem of scarcity as unlimited wants with limited resources, and, to paraphrase George Shultz, the laws of economics apply as much in foreign policy as they do at home. While it may be rhetorically satisfying and politically convenient for Americans to assert an equal commitment to every priority in Ukraine, ranging from democratic development to removal of weapons-grade uranium, the reality is that some priorities are achievable, at an acceptable cost and within a realistic timeframe, while others are not.
If we cannot advance all of our values and all of our interests all of the time, then we are left with the necessity of ranking our national priorities. While it is clearly important that Ukraine put an end to politically motivated prosecutions, it bears asking whether resources and attention from Washington that have been focused exclusively on this issue are crowding out other compelling U.S. national interests.
The Orange Revolution was not a battle or a war. It was, and is, a movement. Our national interests will always be aligned with fostering greater liberty, which is what the Orange Revolution movement is all about. Instead of throwing up roadblocks in the Senate, we should be helping build road signs that lead towards further peace, prosperity and freedom.