July 28, 2006

Column of the Day: On the Devolution of NOW

Filed under: General,Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 2:08 pm

Charlotte Hays, senior editor at the Independent Womens Forum, attended the 40th birthday celebration of the National Organization of Women (NOW) in Albany, NY last weekend.

It was such an inconsequential event that Hillary Clinton didn’t deign to be there.

Here’s Hays on what has happened:

NOW is to young women today as the suffragettes must have been to NOW founders–deserving of respect, but oh so old. NOW’s irrelevance was further emphasized by a film celebrating its “40 fearless years.” It honored past presidents with recognizable names like Betty Friedan and Molly Yard. Each new face on the screen generated wild applause. Nostalgia is to be expected at a birthday party, but what of the future? Eleanor Smeal, another former NOW president, gave a rousing speech insisting that the “best is yet to be.” Looking ahead, Ms. Smeal called for . . . passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Yes, that Equal Rights Amendment, the one Phyllis Schlafly defeated in 1982.

….. A member of the Veteran Feminists of America, a NOW offshoot, spoke of the days in the 1960s when NOW could call the New York Times and, instead of requesting a meeting with top brass, simply dictate the time and place–and know that reporters would show up. Those days are gone. The reason may be that there are now many other organizations with similar agendas. But some of the decline is simply that there is no new blood there. One of the founders, a former holy terror, who was instrumental in the creation of Catholics for a Free Choice, currently devotes herself to animal rights. “Help the animals,” she stood up to say, apropos of nothing, after one of the sessions.
It is hard to say how big NOW’s influence is today. The organization currently claims 500,000 members. But who knows? Muriel Fox, a NOW founder, admitted at the meeting that the organization fudged its numbers upward when dealing with the press in the early days.

There’s no new blood and litle influence at NOW because:

  • First, the feminist agenda hasn’t been updated in at least 20 years.
  • Second, NOW long ago allowed itself to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Look at the agenda items on its home page, and try to tell me I’m wrong.
  • Third, and this should not be underestimated, NOW leaders defended (and did not merely tolerate) the conduct of Bill Clinton that led to impeachment, when it would not have tolerated similar conduct by virtually every other man on earth.

It didn’t have to be this way. The legitimate interests of women around the world have been ill-served by NOW for well over a generation.

Wizbang Weekend Carnival participant.

Preliminary 2nd Quarter GDP Growth Comes in at 2.5%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:56 am

That’s what the Bureau of Economic Analysis says.

The key factor in the overall second-quarter growth result was that Uncle Sam was spending less (yes, you are reading that right):

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter primarily reflected downturns in PCE (personal consumption expenditures) for durable goods and in equipment and software, decelerations in exports and in PCE for nondurable goods, a downturn in federal government spending, and a larger decrease in residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports, an acceleration in PCE for services, and an upturn in private inventory investment.

….. Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 3.4 percent in the second quarter, in contrast to an increase of 8.8 percent in the first. National defense decreased 1.0 percent, in contrast to an increase of 8.9 percent. Nondefense decreased 7.8 percent, in contrast to an increase of 8.5 percent. Real state and local government consumption expenditures and gross investment increased 3.0 percent, compared with an increase of 2.7 percent.

That’s a 12.2% downward swing (from plus 3.4% to minus 8.8%) in the federal government element of GDP, which is roughly 20% 7% of all consumption (transfer payments like Social Security and welfare are excluded). Also note that the state/local government element didn’t change much. So for overall GDP growth to have come in at 2.5%, the rest of the economy (i.e., the private sector) had to have chugged along pretty nicely at a 5%-plus at a bit over 3% (see Update below) growth rate. Not stellar, but given the oil-price situation, I’ll take it.

I suspect that the two revisions that will take place in August and September will move 2nd quarter GDP growth closer to 3%.


UPDATE: An early AP report starts thusly, and quotes overall government spending stats instead of just the federal element –

The economy’s growth slowed sharply in the second quarter, logging just a 2.5 percent pace as consumers tightened their belts and spending on home building dived. Inflation, however, shot up.

….. Government spending also was more subdued, growing at a pace of just 0.6 percent in the second quarter, compared with a 4.9 percent growth rate in the first quarter.

Very “clever,” reporting by AP, which chose to report the change in consumption by all governments (federal, state, and local) instead of the element (federal spending) that had the big change.

Even using the AP’s diluted numbers — If the increase in government consumption was only 0.6%, and ALL government consumption is about 20% (7% federal and about 13% state/local) of all consumption in the economy, how much did the other 80% of the economy have to grow? Answer: 3%.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (072806)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:34 am

Free Links:

  • The Toledo Blade objects to a per-mile tax on driversYou won’t believe why.
  • The Big Oil profit-per-second calculation I noted in a New York Times piece at yesterday’s AM-Coffee post (third item) is all of a sudden pretty popular. Here’s what I received in a CNN e-mail yesterday:

    $10.36 billion dollars in three months. That’s about $1,317 a second. That’s a lot of money … enough to drive a Hummer H3 from Los Angeles to New York three times, at current gas prices. It’s what ExxonMobil reported this morning for last quarter’s profit. Our energy writer was groaning this morning about writing the story. That’s because nobody who reads it will be happy. There’s the obvious and usual criticism of Big Oil and ungodly profits and exploitation and yaddayaddayadda. But then there are also those who write in to say this is a company reaping a proper investment after years of work and that we’re “sensationalizing” their windfall. Whatever. $1,317 a second is still pretty impressive.

    What’s even “more impressive” is the over $78,000 per second our federal government spends with it’s $2.466 trillion dollar budget (2005 figure, according to the 2006 CIA Factbook, which is downloadable as a Zip file at this link).

  • Google, which I am sure is sensing major pressure over this, comes clean over clicks:

    For the first time, the Internet search giant is disclosing to advertisers the number of bogus clicks it detects but doesn’t charge for.

    Google hopes the disclosure will ease advertisers’ concerns and blunt critics who say the company isn’t doing enough to address the problem. Advertisers have sued the company, which is awaiting approval for a $90 million click-fraud settlement that opponents say lets the company off too easy.

    Click fraud poses a big risk to Google’s $6 billion-a-year advertising business, because advertisers can’t be sure that someone is looking at their ad.

    A company that buys an ad on Google or its partner sites pays each time someone clicks on their advertised link.

    Fraudsters undermine this system by repeatedly clicking on an ad or using a computer program to do it. The fake clicks create bogus traffic and burn through ad budgets.

    ….. Google contends it does a good job of detecting fake clicks and that fears are overblown. The company blames inflated estimates on firms that promise to root out the problem and get refunds for advertisers.

    “These reports have flawed methodologies,” said Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google’s business product manager for trust and safety. “They also have a financial incentive.”

    Whatever the reality, Google added to the debate by refusing to provide its own figures, with the excuse that fraudsters could use the information to mount further attacks.

    Google said the new information it is releasing to advertisers will break out the number of clicks it deems “invalid” on their regular statements. This includes clicks that are accidents or arise from a few situations other than fraud.

    Because Google automatically excludes these clicks, many advertisers had little or no idea how many bogus clicks the company was filtering out – until now.

    Speaking of pressure, I would guess that Yahoo! and others are now under the gun to do something similar.

  • People who are into Legos, and that includes a lot of adults these days, should be pretty excited about this.

Positivity: 16 Year-Old Helps Save 31 from Blaze

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

On the Isle of Man, an island off the West Coast of England, a teenager saved dozens from being trapped by a fire:

July 24, 2006
MODEST teenage ‘hero’ Steffan Hoy has played down his role in saving 31 people from a serious blaze.

Steffan, 16, raised the alarm as flames ripped through the Adelphi Hotel, in Douglas, in the early hours of Friday morning.

He ran through the hotel knocking on doors to wake sleeping guests.

Steffan, who lives across the street from the Adelphi, called the fire brigade and set off the alarm at the hotel, in Stanley View, where 13 holidaymakers were staying.

He also activated the alarm at a neighbouring property.

Before firefighters arrived on the scene he had started the evacuation of residents and he, along with another man, used fire extinguishers to soak an oil tank at the back of the Adelphi, in an attempt to prevent it catching fire.

Civil Defence emergency planning officer Martin Blackburn – called to the scene to find alternative accommodation for the hotel’s guests – said Steffan was the ‘hero of the moment’.

The sentiment was echoed by hotel owner Lenny Carr. But Steffan, a lighting technician at the Villa Marina, said: ‘I just reacted on instinct. I just did what anyone should do really.’

He explained he was watching a film at home in Waverley Terrace when he heard a fire alarm coming from the Claymore House Apartments, next door to the Adelphi.

He shot across the road and activated the Adelphi’s alarm.

‘I then ran through the building, knocking on doors to make sure everyone would get out,’ said Steffan, who has just finished his GCSEs at St Ninian’s High School.

He said it was difficult to breathe because of the smoke. ‘Some of the guests were shocked, but some gathered they needed to get out,’ he said.

All escaped unharmed.