Comments: The Huffing Wolf Challenge

"The Wolf that cried wolf"

it could be a parable for our times, if certain parties ever learned from their experiences.

but since they don't, maybe we should publish a collection entitled "Stuck on Stupid" instead? %-)

Posted by redc1c4 at October 19, 2007 12:11 PM

I think Wolf is nuts. But I was thinking of your prescription, and how she doesn't put her money where her mouth is, nor will she pay a price in the likely event that she is proven wrong. I wonder... what would you prescribe for:

1. folks who insist that Islamofascism is the gravest threat civilization ever faced but will do nothing or virtually nothing advance the cause of civilization other than talk about it
2. folks who warned us about how Clinton would ruin the economy, and then told us how GW was going to do even better. Do they owe the rest of us anything for the mediocre economy we've had since 2001, or should they bear extra responsibility for paying off the national debt?

Posted by cactus at October 19, 2007 12:29 PM

Me personally... I'm still waiting for Baldwin et. al. to pack up and get the f*ck out of the US... we'd be much better off and the toxicity that is Hollywierd might come down a few notches... then again, with the exception of Venezuala I can't think of a place that any of them would be welcome, to include Wolf... lets face it... by placing that much "Suck" in one place, you risk forming a Black Hole of Talent that could very well mean the end of the earth as we know it.

Posted by Big Country at October 19, 2007 12:36 PM

I'm sorry, cactus, but I'm having trouble following you. What would be "advancing the cause of civilization," by your definition?

I work in RTP, the largest research park on this planet, and know for a fact quite a few people from varying nations who work here that view Islamofacism as a very real threat. I would like for you to explain how the people working for these companies, investgating everything from technology to medicine to pharmacy, aren't doing more to "advance civilization" than just about anywhere else you can name. Or would you prefer these doctors and researchers to stop trying to cure cancer and MS or build smaller, smarter computers, and enlist so that they can huff up the side of a nameless mountain in Pakistan to put a bullet in a member of Osama's fan club?

I'd also like to know what country you live in, that you have a "mediocre economy."

We've had 49 consecutive months of job growth, the longest uninterrupted expansion of the labor market in U.S. history. Real after-tax per capita income has increased by 12.5% since Bush took office, and real wages have jumped 2.2 % a higher average rate than in all of the 1990s. Export have increases, the trade deficit has been reduced, the GDP is powering along at 3.8% after six consecutive years of growth, even including 9/11.

Those of us here in the U.S. are in the middle of a thriving economy, that is, in just about every way, better than what Clinton presided over. I'm sorry things aren't going so well wherever you are.

(BTW, to be fair to Clinton, Bush, and the 41 other Presidents before them, Presidents typically have a only a nominal impact on the economy, for good or for ill.)

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 19, 2007 01:07 PM

Come on CY, if cactus feels like we have a mediorce economy, then -- by God -- we have a mediocre economy.

After all, what is more important in all this? Your facts or his feelings?

Posted by Mark L at October 19, 2007 01:37 PM

"What if Wolf is just peddling fear for profit? Shouldn't she be held accountable?"

Being a babbling fool with a national soapbox is punishment enough.

Posted by Ken McCracken at October 19, 2007 01:42 PM

CY,

Since you mention unemployment...

The unemployment rate is low today because since the Welfare Reform Act took effect, when people hit the limit, there's no point in reporting to the unemployment office that you're looking for a job. The unemployment rate counts those who are looking.

Thus, a better measure is the employment to population ratio - also reported by the BLS. That is... the ratio of the population who have a job, which is not dependent on people who don't have an incentive to report they're looking in order for the number to make sense.

Click here. Note that the BLS now has a nifty graphing function. Take a look at what's happened to that since 2001, or take the longer view and include data going further back.

"BTW, to be fair to Clinton, Bush, and the 41 other Presidents before them, Presidents typically have a only a nominal impact on the economy, for good or for ill."

Why do you say that?

Mark L...

The heck with my feeling, or yours for that matter. The federal agency that keeps track of GDP and so forth is the BEA. Click here, then go to table 7.1 for real GDP per capita. Feel free to figure out for yourself - no need to trust me - how growth has looked since GW took office, as compared to, say, the previous administration. I could tell you, but you wouldn't believe me.

And the Census keeps track of real mean and median income. No need to trust what I feel. Check it out yourself.

Posted by cactus at October 19, 2007 02:17 PM

Let's go with it. Let's also add the proviso that, should we not have a western-civilization-ending showdown with Islam, everyone who has made money pandering to that demographic must also return what they've earned.

Posted by nunaim at October 19, 2007 02:50 PM

Cactus, I see you're over on the other side of the street playing. Welcome, as an avid reader of Bob and you.

Bob, Cactus is a writer over at Angry Bear and has done extensive work in collecting and graphing much Econo-data. Some of his interpretations/conclusions can be left of center, but that's no surprise and even no indictment.

Posted by CoRev at October 19, 2007 03:02 PM

Well, Bob, the "Fundamentalists" have been making a pretty good living over the past few years writing about Armegeddon, it was just a matter of time before the Leftys got in the game.

Posted by jj at October 19, 2007 04:35 PM
The unemployment rate is low today because since the Welfare Reform Act took effect, when people hit the limit, there's no point in reporting to the unemployment office that you're looking for a job. The unemployment rate counts those who are looking.

Thus, a better measure is the employment to population ratio - also reported by the BLS. That is... the ratio of the population who have a job, which is not dependent on people who don't have an incentive to report they're looking in order for the number to make sense.

You feel that employment to population is a better measure. Care to explain why, other than it makes Bush look bad?

Posted by Mark A. Flacy at October 19, 2007 06:07 PM

Mark Flacy,

I tend not to pick series based on who they make look good or bad. It just so happens that Bush doens't look good on a lot of things, but maybe that has something to do with a) the amount of time he spends on vacation and b) the amount of time which he doesn't spend on vacation that he spends mountain biking. But that's neither here nor there.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' glossary, the unemployment rate is defined as "the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force."

Now, to be unemployed, one has to have "made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week." Otherwise, even if you're jobless - you're not considered unemployed. Assuming you're not retired or studying, they figure you don't want a job or at least are discouraged from looking for one, in which case, by definition, you're not unemployed.

Anyway, how do they know if a person made specific efforts to find employment? Well, he/she has to tell them, them being the unemployment office or the welfare office, which pass on the information to the BLS who in turn adds it all up. But if you put a time limit on how long a person can receive benefits, say, a few years, and person runs through those few years, what incentive do they have to show up at the unemployment office and declare or even prove they were looking for a job?

Anyway, the limit on unemployment compensation, I believe, is 26 weeks, and the lifetime limit on welfare is 5 years. A lot of people hit that limit a while back. Which means that the unemployment rate no longer means what it used to mean.

As to to the employment to population ratio... that's just the ratio of people per job. Ideally, one would look at the working age population, but I don't think the demographics have changed enough nor in a way that would be relevant in explaining what we've seen happen in the last few years.

Posted by cactus at October 19, 2007 06:45 PM

In other words, cactus, you are arguing the economy is bad because you feel it is bad. Since statistics don't back you up, by gum, why them statistics just gotta be wrong. They just gotta.

It's okay. We understand. We do. Really.

Posted by Mark L at October 19, 2007 07:46 PM

Cactus,

But if you put a time limit on how long a person can receive benefits, say, a few years, and person runs through those few years, what incentive do they have to show up at the unemployment office and declare or even prove they were looking for a job?
Doesn't this class fit the definition of non-working individuals who don't want a job? Discouraged maybe if we interviewed them, but definitely without a job and seemingly uncaring about it.

Posted by CoRev at October 19, 2007 08:19 PM

Cactus, do your figures include those people who have left a job working for someone else to open their own business and work for themselves?

Just askin'...

Posted by C-C-G at October 19, 2007 08:51 PM

Mark L,

I linked to the data. I can't imagine you looked at it or that you understood it or you wouldn't have written what you wrote.

CoRev,

That's the problem, isn't it? Motivations and constraints being what they are, at this point you can't tell the two groups (those that want jobs and those that don't) apart because you took away the mechanism that used to be useful for sorting one group from the other.

Posted by cactus at October 19, 2007 08:55 PM

Okay so Blackwater is going to help Bush become a dictator? Guess I better get that resume in the mail ASAP. Want to make sre I'm on the winning team and all that. Think they're still paying top dollar @ Blackwater?

Posted by Stacy at October 19, 2007 10:56 PM

Oh, and cactus, we've got an older population. Could be they just decided to retire. But hey, you can spin it to "Bush Bad!" and that's all that matters.

Posted by SDN at October 20, 2007 08:14 AM

SDN,

The same BLS link also gets you a graph for the series in the 16 to 19 year old age group. The pattern seems to be the same... so either:

1. what we're observing is, indeed, as you say, folks retiring; presumably, since 16 to 19 year olds are following the same pattern, we can conclude that 16 to 19 year olds are also choosing to retire
2. the patterns we're observing are due to something other than people choosing to retire

Considering that, given the other links (to real GDP per capita and real median income) seem to indicate that things aren't going so great for most people, I wouldn't bet on large numbers of 16 to 19 year olds deciding to its time to take that gold watch. But you can spin it that way if it gets you to the "Bush good" outcome you're after.

FWIW... there is data out there. Its easy to find. And it contradicts a lot of what you believe.

Posted by cactus at October 20, 2007 03:25 PM

SDN,

A follow-up. Here's data on the US population, by age group for the years 2000 to 2004 from the Census.

If you do the math... sum up the population 20 to 65, and divide through by total population...

2000: 59%
2001: 59.3%
2002: 59.5%
2003: 59.7%
2004: 59.9%

Put another way... over the same time that the employment to population ratio dropped, the working age population as a percentage of the total increased.

Posted by cactus at October 20, 2007 03:51 PM

Cactus, I ask again:

Does your data account for people who are no longer employed by someone else because they are now employed by themselves?

Your reluctance to answer that question speaks volumes.

Posted by C-C-G at October 20, 2007 08:28 PM

I'm willing to bet Wolf $10,000 that there is no coup. Surely she's willing to take my money if she's so sure of herself.

Posted by Purple Avenger at October 21, 2007 01:20 AM

C-C-G,

Its not my data. I linked to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government agency that computes data on employment, unemployment, and for whatever reason, the CPI and inflation. As to your question, from their glossary, the definition of employed persons:

"Persons 16 years and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family..."

So yes, it includes work people did as business owners. Pretty much everyone except prisoners or members of the military, but they're not counted in the employment to population ratio anyway. (You may recall Reagan tried to have the "noninstitutional" removed from the definition in order to make the figures better back in 84, if memory serves.)

As an aside, I believe the business figures are way overstated right now. (I can get into a discussion of the business births-deaths model they use, which is a pet peeve of mine, if you'd like, but I think its enough to point out it isn't transparent.)

Posted by cactus at October 21, 2007 07:30 AM
Cactus, I ask again:

Does your data account for people who are no longer employed by someone else because they are now employed by themselves?

Your reluctance to answer that question speaks volumes.

Well, yes--volumes about your unwillingness to read or understand what people post here. Yet again.

Posted by nunaim at October 21, 2007 07:58 AM

Seems to me you have two potential trends working to deoress the EP ratio, an aging population and 16-19 year olds electing to stay in school. Making college more affordable has been a major platform issue for the Dems, presumably because this is a big part of their base, so this is hardly a surprise. A choice to stay in school is also a factor of economic alternatives and a lot of people have speculated that competition from low wage immigrants has led that younger cohort to delay entering the workforce.

Posted by daleyrocks at October 21, 2007 05:38 PM

daleyrocks,

The population may be aging, but from 2000 to now, the working age population as a share of the total has increased, not decreased. (See numbers provided upthread based on data from the Census, linked to upthread.)

Posted by cactus at October 21, 2007 06:01 PM

cactus - I'm aware of the increase. The BLS database is currently not available - the flag on it indicates possibly due to updating. My understanding of a drop in the EP over the past five or six years can be explained by the two factors in my comment, which you did not address. The 16-19 age cohort is part of working population.

Posted by daleyrocks at October 21, 2007 08:11 PM

I think we are all missing the point here, and that point is that Naomi Wolf is a raving loony.

Posted by Techie at October 22, 2007 10:28 AM