February 3, 2006

Quick Technical Update

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:27 pm

Apparently the site has been very slow for several hours, which I have just determined is because of the Alliance’s RSS feed. It has been turned off until I know that it won’t be disruptive again, which may be a while. Speed is now back to where it should be.

Apologies to all who have had to endure 30-60 second or longer waits. I just loaded the home page from a cleared out browser in 8 seconds.

Mark Steyn Skewers the UN and Suggests an Alternative

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:54 pm

The problem with Steyn is that it seems unfair to do an excerpt. So the obvious suggestion is “read the whole thing.” And his alternative, while it won’t be appreciated by One World Government types, is bold and daring, and I wish we’d put it into place.

This is from his speech at a Hillsdale College event in December, published in abridged form in the February 2006 issue of Imprimis (even the excerpt is long, but it’s worth every word):

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AP Reports Very Good Jobs News, Then Gets In Its Obligatory Digs

There is seemingly no business-news lemonade that The Associated Press won’t try to spin into lemons.

Today’s un-bylined story on new jobs and unemployment was heavily biased, even by the “standards” of The AP, which seems to have totally lost its ability to report a business news story straight. Three of the last five paragraphs excerpted read like a Democratic National Committee (DNC) press release (the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] announcement is here; bolds are mine):

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers stepped up hiring in January, boosting payrolls by 193,000 and lowering the nation’s unemployment rate to 4.7 percent, the lowest since July 2001.

….. Although the 193,000 gain in payroll jobs in January fell short of the 250,000 new jobs that economists said to anticipate before the release of the report, it still marked a sturdy showing and was the biggest increase in jobs since November.

Moreover, job growth in December turned out to be stronger than previously thought. Revised figures showed payrolls expanded by 140,000 — an improvement over the 108,000 new jobs first estimated a month ago. Employment was revised up for some previous months as well.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent in January, from 4.9 percent in December.

…..

(Now to the DNC press release language)
Despite good news on some economic matters, Americans still feel anxious about the economy, polls indicate.

President Bush, coping with relatively low job-approval ratings, is seeking to ease those fears. In his State of the Union address as well as subsequent speeches Bush has been talking about ways to make the country more competitive and is pushing plans to deal with pocketbooks issues, such as high energy prices and rising health care costs.

Bush also is calling on Congress to make his tax cuts permanent. Democrats, however, contend the tax cuts mostly helped the wealthy and are a big reason why the government’s balance sheets are bleeding red ink.

(AP returns to reporting facts.)
Employees’ average hourly earnings climbed to $16.41 in January, up 0.4 percent from December. That increase was slightly larger than the 0.3 percent rise that economists were expecting.

(AP then creates one more reason to worry.)
While wage growth is good for workers, a big pickup if sustained — would be troubling to investors and economists who fret about inflation……

This is all so typical:

  • It would have been nice to tell us the effect of all upward revisions, or to have given us some indication of the bigger picture. It wouldn’t have been that difficult, and wasn’t (see the Update below).
  • They just won’t let us forget that we’re “anxious,” and that Bush has “relatively low approval ratings,” will they? Of course — You guys are telling us that all the time, even in what was supposed to be a give-it-to-me-straight story on jobs and employment!
  • Finally, leave it to AP, which has carried numerous reports about flat wages, etc. over the past few years, to react to rising wages as a inflation-stoker over a 0.1% difference from expectations.

The data was released at 8:30 AM Eastern Time. The AP link is as of 8:37. Who doubts that the job-approval and tax-cut paragraphs were drafted ahead of time and planned for inclusion regardless of what the BLS new release was going to say?

___________________________

UPDATE: For the truth about jobs created in the past three months, go to this link at the BLS. Next, in the very first row (“Total non-farm”), put a checkmark in the “Seasonally Adjusted” column. Then scroll all the way down to the very bottom left of the page, and click on the “Retrieve Data” dialog box. You will see that:

  • The January 2006 total employment figure, the basis for reporting the 193,000 increase, is 134,564,000.
  • October 2005′s revised figure was 133,877,000.
  • The economy added an impressive 687,000 jobs in the past three months (by subtracting October from January). That’s an average of 229,000 per month.

“Somehow,” AP missed that.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Threefer Madness for the S.O.B. Alliance

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 8:27 am

The heartiest of welcomes to the following new S.O.B. Alliance members:

  • Cleveland’s Courageous Conservatism — Courageous is quite the conservative, and appears to have quite a dislike for Instapundit, which I’m sure I’ll understand, if not agree with, in due course.
  • Lincoln Logs — Linc is from Marietta, had some influence on the Joy Padgett-Terry Anderson Ohio House race in that area, and appears to have earned some disdain from the whiny, elitist left as a result (congrats on that).
  • Kettering’s Return of the Conservatives — The blog is heavy on pictures, pithy in its commentary, and high in substance. Darth Dilbert’s motto: “Sith Happens.” Yeow.

May the blogforce be with all of you.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (020306)

Free Links:

  • AMD v. Intel Update: This was mentioned here in July, and now there’s a major development in Japan — “Intel got thumped in Japan for violating the nation’s anti-monopoly statutes. The Fair Trade Commission of Japan (JFTC) found that Intel coerced system makers into limiting or eliminating AMD processors in their products.” Point 1: Contrary to the spin in press reports about AMD’s suit in the US, it shows that AMD is not hallucinating. Point 2: Intel tried to stop the Japanese courts from releasing the detailed results of its investigations, and failed. Intel is trying to do the same thing with the lawsuit in the states. As Tom Yager states at the link: “Our need to know trumps Intel’s need for secrecy.” I hope the US courts agree.
  • Mark one Senator down in the “totally doesn’t get it” column — That would be our good friend “Waste Ted” Stevens of Alaska, who threatened to resign last October (and unfortunately didn’t) if he didn’t get his infamous $230 million “Bridge to Nowhere.” KTVA in Alaska (HT Club for Growth) reports that “Alaska Senator Ted Stevens says there is no need for earmark reform. What is needed, the senator says, is a better public understanding of how the process works.” I hope “Waste Ted” goes on a barnstorming tour to explain it all to us, because if the public REALLY understands how it works right now, most of the wastrels in Congress won’t get re-elected this November.
  • Eye-popping stat: 813 million cell phones were shipped last year, up from 713 million in 2004. Nokia (32%) and Motorola (18%) have half the worldwide market.
  • DSL competition heats up — AT&T announces a plan for $13 per month for a year, and $30 per month after that. As noted here in October, high-speed Internet usage in the US lags other countries, but at these prices the catch-up may be just around the corner.
  • More evidence that the fourth quarter economy was screwyProductivity declined 0.6%. Maybe we should start blaming blogs, like this guy did. But new job claims fell (followed by that magic word) “unexpectedly.” The four-week average was the lowest in 5-1/2 years.
  • Could telecoms choke the Internet? In a Biz Weak piece, a Google Vice President and leading computer scientist expresses that fear. Of course, he would have a lot more sympathy if his company wasn’t choking Internet access in worse ways in China. Despite that, the argument is a good one: If the telcos like Verizon hoard their bandwidth and leave the crumbs to other ISPs, it could slow access and impede development. It seems to me that the networks themselves should be spun off from the telcos as independent companies. These new entities would allocate their resources based on price, and would have incentives to expand capacity as needed to keep up with demand.
  • Internet Censorship news
    – RConversation’s latest multilink post
    Politicos Attack Tech Firms over China, in hearing the firms wouldn’t attend, and that got much less press coverage than those involving the oil companies. Hmm.
    – Instead, the tech firms struck back by telling the US government it should be doing more to force China to loosen up. Good idea — let’s make a competition out of it. But guess who goes first? Yeah, the people helping China go backwards in human rights, and that’s NOT Uncle Sam.

_______________________

UPDATE: On the “Waste Ted” Stevens item above (2nd item), Don Luskin is a bit less diplomatic than I was: “If the public had an ‘understanding of how the process works’ he’d be out on his ass in the snow in about three seconds.”

Positivity: Elderly Man Survives Four Days in Woods

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:11 am

He had no food. He credits his military training for helping him make it through:

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