Unemployment Below 9% – April Fool!

 
 
 
 
 
The media gleefully report unemployment is 8.9%. To believe that number requires a willing suspension of disbelief. It is more instructive to look at the level of employment (rather than unemployment) as that number cannot easily be massaged. In February 2011 there were 108.3 million private sector jobs; this is lower than June 1999 when there were 108.6 million. There are fewer jobs than 11-12 years ago despite population growth of 31 million. Shadowstats.com calculates the February 2011 unemployment rate at 22%.
 

 “There were more private sector jobs in 1999 than in 2011 despite the population increasing by 31 million during that same 11-year period. The true current unemployment rate could be above 20%.”

The Labor Force Participation Rate (percentage of adults with jobs or seeking them) is at the lowest point in 25 years and declining. If the LFPR was the same as before the recession, current unemployment would be 11.5% or 29% higher. There remain 7.5 million fewer workers than in 2007. In recent months the economy has been adding 135,000 jobs – 100,000 of which are needed merely to keep up with new people entering the work force. This means only 35,000 jobs actually reduce the unemployment rate. At this  pace it would take until 2030 to reabsorb the folks thrown out of work.
 
 More and more displaced workers (nearly 4 million) have filed for disability, pushing SSDI (Social Security’s disability fund) to the brink of insolvency. SSDI could run out of cash in only 4 years. Those that are eligible are applying for early social security benefits. This, along with SSDI, is a double whammy to the economy as it loses legions of productive workers while funding disability and social security benefits from a shrinking pool of workers. While I do not take schadenfreude at the Obama administration’s travails and my comments are  intended to be analytic rather than censorious, they serve as a riposte to the media’s love affair with the current administration.
 

The New Call of the Liberal: “All Aboard”

 
Trains are deeply embedded in progressive DNA – probably taking up an entire chromosome or two. I can talk to my liberal friends about many things, but when the conversation turns to anything dealing with trains (intercity, commuter, light rail, it matters not) their genetic structure catapults them into a catatonic state and they begin to recite their mantra – all aboard – all aboard – all aboard. I understood this was due to their aversion to cars, fossil fuels and global warming combined with their desire to emulate Europe. 
 
Recently, thanks to George Will, I have come to understand liberals’ irrational attraction to trains  is due to something even more primal – their desire for collectivism and their aversion to individualism. The following is from George Will:
 
“Generations hence, when the river of time has worn this presidency’s importance to a small, smooth pebble in the stream of history, people will still marvel that its defining trait was a mania for high-speed rail projects. This disorder illuminates the progressive mind. . . .  They say they embrace rail for many reasons – to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, reduce congestion and rationalize land use. The flimsiness of each reason points to this conclusion: the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.
 
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, whenever and wherever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they – unsupervised, untutored and unscripted – are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which makes them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.”
 

Media Watch: Of Birds and Men

 
The media poster child for the BP oil spill is an oil-soaked bird; they undoubtedly went to great trouble to find the most pathetic looking photo extant. And if there was no photo of a BP bird that fit the bill, they went to their files. Such is it that an oil-soaked pelican has come to symbolize the greed and depravity of the much reviled oil industry. The actual number of birds killed in the BP disaster was in the low thousands; the Audubon Society estimated 2,300. 
  
“A few thousand birds were killed in the BP disaster whereas
up to 400,000 are killed every year in wind energy turbines.”
 
Every year in America between 200,000 and 400,000 birds are killed in power generating wind turbines. Why are these birds never shown by the media? Could it be because wind energy is a media-favored activity whereas oil drilling is held in contempt? According to media logic, 2,000 bird deaths caused by BP are a front-page disaster symbolizing corporate greed plundering the earth, whereas 400,000 dead birds in wind turbines are ignored as necessary collateral damage by a green-energy public utility, i.e. the ends justify the means.
 
There is something even worse than wind energy for birds – cats! Those folks who think about such things estimate that 250,000 birds are killed each and every day by cats; that’s just under one hundred million (100,000,000) bird deaths a year. 

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