Yup, it is on a downward spiral. When actually given a choice (you know, the thing the left claims everyone should have?), many people opt out:
Government figures released Wednesday showed union membership declined from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of the workforce, another blow to a labor movement already stretched thin by battles in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and other states to curb bargaining rights and weaken union clout.
Overall membership fell by about 400,000 workers to 14.4 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than half the loss, about 234,000, came from government workers, including teachers, firefighters and public administrators.
Funny that. We talk about monopolies, but monopolies don’t work when government doesn’t prop them up, and, as pointed out, when government withdraws its sanction and force, when real choice is allowed, people will opt out.
And, of course, it’s not just the government sector where unions are losing members:
But unions also saw losses in the private sector even as the economy created 1.8 million new jobs in 2012. That membership rate fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent, a troubling sign for the future of organized labor, as job growth generally has taken place at nonunion companies.
Unions are an anachronism … they just won’t admit it yet. And, for the next 4 years at least, they’re still going to have political power because of who is in the White House.
But as more and more states become right to work, and the jobless see employers migrating to those states, I think the “market” will take care of itself – if the government will let it.
Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:
The MBA reports mortgage applications rose 7.0% last week, with purchases up 3.0% and re-fis up 8.0%.
The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.6% in November, as home prices continue to rise.
In weekly retail sales, Redbook reports same-store sales rose a weak 1.8% on a year-over-year basis. ICSC-Goldman Store Sales fell -1.5% for the week, the third straight decline, but Year-over-year sales were up a solid 3.2%.
Ok, they’re downbeat according to Gallup:
So what? I mean, this is what I don’t get. The American public just re-elected possibly the worst and most incompetent president in my lifetime (what the hell do you have to do to get fired?), they refuse to make their leaders face up to the realities of the fiscal situation, they give away freedoms like some universities give away condoms and suddenly they’re “downbeat” about America’s future?
They should be downbeat – they as much as anyone have generated the culture that has produced these politicians that they continue to reward with reelection term after term. If you don’t make those who represent you do what they should be doing, if you continue to reward their kicking the can down the road with re-election, why in the hell should they do anything? Especially when those who try “die”, politically speaking.
And, of course, you have the compliant press who has no compunction anymore about pursuing an agenda that supports the premise that there is a free lunch and the rich should pay for it.
I’m fed up.
Can you tell?
Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:
Existing home sales fell 1.0% in December to a worse-than-expected annual rate of 4.94 million.
Chicago Fed National Activity Index fell to 0.02 in December, as growth fell to just marginally above trend.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index plunged to –12 in January, in a decidedly negative report.
I think Philip Klein has the best read on Obama’s second inaugural speech. Oh, it had lots of things to make the left wet itself in joy, but, well, here’s what Klein thinks (he bases his conclusion on 2 lines in the speech):
This brings us to the two lines in Monday’s speech. He declared that, “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.” This is Barack Obama, bold leader speaking (with an extra twist of irony given that the signature legislative accomplishment of his first term was supposedly aimed at containing the growth of health care costs). Then, he said, “But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” Translation: he isn’t going to do anything to seriously reform Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, and wants more economic stimulus spending, too. So, within a breath of calling for hard choices, he rejected the need for them. I can think of no more fitting summation of Obama’s presidency.
I pretty much agree. He’ll talk tough and then go to Hawaii. He’ll claim the desire to do all sorts of things and then hit the links.
Leadership takes another 4 year holiday.
In his case, it might be a good thing, although it means nothing with entitlement reform will happen – again. We’re instead going to play around the edges of immigration, gun control and global warming.
I wonder what Martin Luther King would say on the day a black president is sworn in for his second term – a day that also celebrates King’s birth. You hope he’d be pleased. But my guess is, since he was more concerned with the content of your character than the color of your skin, that might not be the case.
Why? Because of the ongoing assault on our rights. For instance the gun control distraction that involves an Attorney General who is possibly the greatest hypocrite and biggest criminal in Washington.
Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.
Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and “specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”
The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder’s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama’s administration filed what’s called a “motion to stay” the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.
I don’t care what anyone says what happened with Fast and Furious was criminal. And the ongoing cover-up is also criminal. The “most transparant administration ever” is, in fact, the most opaque.
As for the hypocrisy, well that’s easy, especially given Fast and Furious.
Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the government will consider “imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals” while talking about gun control to U.S. mayors.
ERIC HOLDER: And to consider a series of new federal laws imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals.
Who is the biggest “gun trafficker” we know of?
Or here’s what happens when you play the green card and drive up the cost of energy to the point that it is unaffordable:
When the mercury falls, the theft of wood in the country’s woodlands goes up as people turn to cheaper ways to heat their homes. With energy costs escalating, more Germans are turning to wood burning stoves for heat. That, though, has also led to a rise in tree theft in the country’s forests. The problem has been compounded this winter by rising energy costs. The Germany’s Renters Association estimates the heating costs will go up 22 percent this winter alone.
How much carbon is being emitted by wood burning stoves? How about the deforestation?
Gee, nukes don’t sound so bad now, do they?
This week, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss the media and the New Obama Administration.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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What if people could easily function with much less sleep?
Jon M at Sociological Speculation asked that question after observing that “new drugs such as Modafinil appear to vastly reduce the need for sleep without significant side effects (at least so far).” At extremes, as Jon M noted in a follow-up post, modafinil allows a reduction to 2.5 hours a night, but “the more common experiences seem to be people who reduce their sleep by a few hours habitually and people who use the drugs to stay up for extended periods once in a while without suffering the drastic cognitive declines insomnia normally entails.” In fact, alertness is not the only reported cognitive benefit of the drug.
The US brand of modafinil, Provigil, did over $1.1 billion in US sales last year, but for the moment let’s dispense with the question of whether modafinil is everything it’s cracked up to be. We’re speculating about the consequences of cheaply reducing or even eliminating the need for sleep for the masses.
If I can add to what’s already been said by several fine bloggers – Garett Jones at EconLog on the likely effect on wages, then Matt Yglesias at Slate sounding somewhat dour about the prospect, and Megan McArdle at the Daily Beast having fun with the speculation – the bottom line is that widely reducing the need for sleep would be a revolutionary good, as artificial light was.
For a sense of scale, there are about 252 million Americans age 15+, and on average they’re each awake about 5,585 hours a year. Giving them each two extra hours a night for a year would be equivalent to adding the activity of 33 million people, without having to shelter, clothe, and feed 33 million more people.
Whatever objections critics have, sleeping less will be popular to the extent that people think the costs are low. For all the billions of dollars spent trying to add years to their older lives, obviously people would spend more to add life to their younger years. Who ever said, “If only I’d had less time!”?
Consider that the average employed parent usually sleeps 7.6 hours each workday. He spends 8.8 of his remaining hours on work and related activities, 1.2 hours caring for others, and 2.5 hours on leisure and sports.
If he spends more time working productively (i.e. serving others), that’s good for both him and society. The time and effort invested in birthing, educating, and sorting people for jobs is tremendous, so getting more out of people who are already born, educated, and sorted is just multiplying the return on sunk costs.
That’s a godsend for any society undergoing a demographic transition after the typical fall in birthrates, because aside from hoping for faster productivity growth, the specific ways to address having fewer workers per retiree – higher taxes, lower benefits, more immigration, or somehow spurring more people to invest in babies for decades – are unpleasant or difficult or both.
And if he uses extra hours to pursue happiness in other ways, that’s generally fine too. A lot of people may simply get more out of their cable subscription. Others will finally have time for building and maintaining their families, reading, exercising, or learning a skill.
Yes, once a substantial number of people are enhancing their performance, others will likely have to follow suit if they want to compete. But then, that’s also true of artificial light and many other technologies. If people naturally slept only four hours a night and felt rested and alert, who would support a law forcing everyone to sleep twice as long, cutting a fifth of their waking hours so that everyone would slow down to the speed that some people prefer to live their lives?
I don’t think most people have such a strong presumption in favor of sleep. We like feeling rested, or dreaming, but not sleeping as such; a substantial minority of Americans sleep less than advised despite the known costs, and so reveal their preference for waking life over oblivion.