November 18, 2007

Top 5 Economic Myths, with Links to Related Posts

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:55 pm

Note: This post has been carried to the top so that tonight’s Pundit Review listeners can immediately see it.

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Tonight on Pundit Review radio, among other things, we covered the Top Five Economic Myths in America today. Thanks to Kevin and Gregg for having me on.

They Five Myths are:

Number 5. The “need” for universal health insurance, or at least near-universal insurance for children.

(8 PM — Question 5 was changed to “insurance” vs. “health care,” because, as Gregg of Pundit Review noted in a column a few months ago [Point 2 at the link], it has been illegal to deny health care to anyone regardless of ability to pay since 1986.)

Universal, government-paid, single-payer insurance is not needed, not wanted (even in uber-liberal Oregon, which rejected it 79%-21% in 2002), hasn’t worked in other countries, and appears to be well on its way to not working in Massachusetts. As to current legislation, the congressional majority has shown that it is less interested in covering those who are currently uninsured than they are in expanding the numbers of people whose health care is paid for by the government. Current federal legislation that was supposedly about health care for poor children, legislation that vetoed by the President, did not focus on ensuring that the children of the working poor would be covered, but rather was all about expanding government-paid children’s health care to families annually earning as much as $60,000, $80,000, or more — and often even to adults. Polling on the topic has been fundamentally dishonest and deceptive.

  • Oct. 17 — NPR et al’s Bull-SCHIP Push Poll (Update: CBS Too)
  • Oct. 10 — SCHIP Income Eligibility: ….. Hey, It Looks Like the Sky’s the Limit!
  • Sept. 21 — Hillarycare II and Coercion
  • March 8 — SCHIP-ping Way Away at What’s Left of the Private Healthcare System (also see underlying post from fellow blogger Porkopolis)

Number 4. America is de-industrializing, and manufacturing is dying.

This is no more true than if someone in the 1950s had decried “de-agrification”; manufacturing has almost never stopped growing, although at a slower rate than overall GDP, because other economic sectors have exploded.

  • Aug. 18 — Myth Busted: “De-industrialization”

The number of people working in manufacturing is going down for the same reason that farm employment fell so dramatically after World War II (from 16% of American workers to less than 2% today) — significant and consistent improvements in productivity. That’s okay, because the employment statistics show that, in general, people who are losing their jobs are finding another job elsewhere, and there is transitional assistance (unemployment compensation, employer severance pay, etc.) during the adjustment period.

Number 3. We are in a recession (not heading for one, actually IN one).

A recession is, by definition, two negative quarters of economic growth. No matter how you feel about the economy, you can’t say it is in a recession until this has taken place, or until you’re sure it will. The economy has expanded during the last 24 consecutive quarters. In the two previous quarters, Gross Domestic Product growth has been an annualized 3.8% (2nd quarter final) and 3.9% (3rd quarter advance, subject to revisions). The manufacturing and service sectors of the economy both expanded in October. Despite all of this, and because of the constant economic gloom and doom spread by Old Media, CNN reported in October that 46% of Americans think we’re in a recession.

  • Nov. 5 — The Economy Is So Bad ….
  • Dec. 2, 2005 — 43% of the Country Believes We’re in a Recession!

Number 2. Most people are just scraping by.

A new report this month from The Conference Board on discretionary income definitively says otherwise. 63.5% of Americans have discretionary income — up from 52% just 3-4 years ago, 52% in the late 1990s, and only 30% or so during the 1980s.

  • Nov. 10 — A Stunning Report on ‘Discretionary Income’ Old Media Uses Its Discretion to Ignore

Number 1. Income inequality is growing, the rich are getting richer, and they aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

A nine-year study of economic mobility just released by the Treasury Department shows that Americans are moving up the economic ladder as fast or faster than they ever have, even from the bottom levels, and that real income gains of 24% during the nine years studied (1996-2005) were over double the 11% achieved during the previous nine years (1987-1996).

  • Nov. 13 — Treasury’s Income Mobility Report Blows Away ‘Mediocre Bush Economy’ and Other Myths
  • Dec. 26, 2006 — Psst: Wages Are Not Stagnant, AND (Gasp!) They Are Outperforming the 1990s
  • May 16, 2006 — The “Evil” Rich are Carrying Us

The Conference Board report just mentioned shows that more people than ever are doing just fine — yet the current congressional majority wants to expand entitlement programs like government-funded health care (e.g., SCHIP) to an ever-greater portion of the middle class — for no good reason.

Is ‘Gang’ Becoming a Politically Incorrect Word in DC?

In a report (“D.C. Poised to Exceed 2006 Homicide Totals”; HT Hot Air) on overall urban homicide, Allison Klein at the Washington Post used a word that I’ve never seen directly associated with criminal activity by groups of people, and she used it twice.

Here’s the first:

The number of killings in the District this year already has reached the homicide count for all of last year, reversing a trend in which deadly violence steadily declined over the past four years.

With six weeks left on the 2007 calendar, the District has recorded 169 homicides.

“There’s a whole lot of things that play into it,” (D.C. Police Chief Cathy L.) Lanier said. “It’s hard to say any one contributing factor is driving the homicides.”

Among her theories: Neighborhood crews are having more violent flare-ups, and criminals are using assault rifles and other guns with more firepower.

Did the police chief really say “crews”? Note that the sentence has no quotations marks.

Here’s the second example:

Assistant Police Chief Winston Robinson, who oversees criminal investigations, pointed to more guns, drug battles and clashing neighborhood youths as causes for the increase.

“A lot of it is neighborhood crews. They go back and forth with each other,” Robinson said. “There’s turf issues, arguments over girls, arguments over something that may have happened that nobody can remember.”

Thirty-eight homicides this year are blamed on arguments.

Clearly, the District’s police chief and her assistant are talking about groups of people who have for decades have been referred to as “gangs.” The word “gang” does not appear in Klein’s online report.

Of the 10 definitions of “crew” at dictionary.com, only two seem capable of describing a criminal gang, and it’s quite a stretch in both cases:

1. a group of persons involved in a particular kind of work or working together: the crew of a train; a wrecking crew.
7. any force or band of armed men.

In both definitions, it would seem that you cannot use “crew” to describe a gang without the use of an adjective describing their activity. The term “neighborhood crews” totally fails to do that; it could just as well be a group of lawn-cutters or landscapers.

Now it gets interesting.

According to this online link, in the November 19 print edition of the Washington Post on Page B01, the article headline became was less specific (“Slaying Toll Already Equals Last Year’s”; note no reference to DC until the subheadline), and the word “crews” was changed to “gangs” in the first instance:

(relevant portion from first example above) Among her (D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s) theories: Neighborhood gangs are having more violent flare-ups, and criminals are using assault rifles and other guns with more firepower.

Well, did the chief originally say “gangs” or crews”? The second use of “crews” was not changed because is was part of a direct quote (i.e., inside quote marks) from the assistant police chief.

What’s going on here? I believe it’s one or more of the following:

  • The DC Police appear to have developed a fondness for the term “crew,” at least if this Google web search on “district of columbia gangs crews” (without quotes) is any indication.
  • The police may have some justification, at least internally, for adopting “crew,” if the gangs themselves are using the term more frequently. But for public or press statements, using “crews” doesn’t seem to be a particularly good idea.
  • The Post’s change from “crews” in the online version to “gangs” in the print edition may indicate that it the paper is having an internal tug of war over which term is correct, or more politically correct.

This bears watching. “Crews” just don’t sound as threatening as “gangs.” Why anyone thinks that it’s a good idea to make gangs seem less menacing is a mystery, as the people they kill are still every bit as dead.

Here’s another interesting edit from the online to the print edition:

(online) The majority of the slayings — 128 — were carried out with firearms, a longstanding problem in the District. Another 21 were done with knives.

(print) The majority of the slayings — 130 — were carried out with firearms. Twenty-one were committed with knives.

Never mind the small numerical change. It shouldn’t go unnoticed that the District’s ban on gun ownership was not cited by the police as a possible element in its high homicide rate, nor was it considered a possibility by Klein or her editors. Those same editors may have edited out the “longstanding” problem with gun murders to avoid having readers think of its “longstanding” and clearly ineffective “ban” on guns.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

BizzyBlog Will Be on Pundit Review Radio Tonight! (111807)

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 10:35 am

I am extremely honored to be appearing this evening on Pundit Review Radio.

Pundit Review Radio is the weekend broadcast home of the Pundit Review blog (or is it vice-versa?). Gregg Jackson and co-host Kevin Whelan have been at it for over three years now. In that time, their Sunday night program on the legendary WRKO-AM 680 in Boston has expanded from one hour to its current three (7PM – 10PM), and they have gained richly deserved respect around both the blogosphere and the radiosphere. Their past guest list is a virtual Who’s Who of conservative thought and milbloggers.

Here’s tonight’s full lineup (times are approximate):

7:00 – 8:20 — Ann Coulter
8:20 – 9:00 — Tom Blumer of BizzyBlog
9:00 – 10:00 — John Bolton

I just hope the other two guests aren’t intimidated by being in the same lineup with yours truly. (/sarc)

Seriously, it is an understatement to say I am not worthy be in said lineup, but I’m going ahead anyway. :–>

The BizzyBlog segment will go over the Top 5 Economic Myths in America Today. I’ve done a post here identifying and describing what they are, with supporting links. If you’re on the home page and it’s before the show, it immediately follows this post. I will bring the “Top5″ post to the top during the show this evening.

You can find the “Listen Live” link near the top left of WRKO’s home page (registration is required, and takes only a couple of minutes). You can call in at 877-469-4322.

I’ll post a podcast link tomorrow as soon as I have one.

Positivity: Artists Create CD to Thank Troops

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:44 am

From the Armed Forces Press Service (HT Michelle Malkin):

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2007 – Just in time for the holidays, 13 major recording artists have created a musical “Thank You” for the troops.

“CD for the Troops” will be available for anyone with a valid military identification card to download at no cost from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service Web site, www.aafes.com, beginning tomorrow.

“We’re thankful to all the artists who have agreed to lend their name and talent to this special CD,” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and community liaison. “To have ‘CD for the Troops’ produced and dedicated in special honor to our active-duty military members and veterans is just another demonstration of the support so many people in our nation have for our troops.”

Mitch Bainwol, chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America, agreed. “This is an historic project. It shows that a music community that has many voices speaks with just one when it comes to support for men and women in uniform,” he said in a news release from the Defense Department’s America Supports You program. “We are proud to come together to help offer a compilation with some of today’s best-selling artists and songs. We hope his album will be music to the ears of our troops.”

America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel serving at home and abroad.

Getting this project, which combined the music of Billy Joel, Brooks & Dunn, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jewel, Josh Groban, Los Lonely Boys, Melissa Ethridge, the Neville Brothers, Sarah McLachlan, the Lt. Dan Band, Montgomery Gentry, The Fray, and Five For Fighting, to troops’ ears took true teamwork. John Ondrasik, the singer-songwriter who performs under the stage name “Five For Fighting,” was intimately involved with making sure that happened.

“Beyond the artists and managers, all the record companies and publishers had to approve free downloads to over 1.5 million potential users,” he said. “(It) also could not have been achieved without the financial, logistical, and emotional support of (the Recording Industry Association of America), AAFES, TriWest Health Care Alliance, America Supports You, Media Base and Sony Manufacturing.”

Ondrasik spearheaded the CD after being asked to write a forward and contribute a song to a compilation of local bands sending music to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I thought it was a wonderful gesture,” he said, explaining his belief that music is a unique medium that can affect morale and mental health. “I started making a few calls to friends of mine, and six months later we have the CD for the troops.”

A staunch supporter of the nation’s troops, Ondrasik said he is grateful for the sacrifices of American servicemembers. He said he knows men and women who made and are making those sacrifices have ensured his family’s liberty and enabled him to pursue music as a profession.

“Let’s be honest, there would be no songs of consequence without the soldiers who allow us a voice,” he said. “I can’t speak for anyone but myself, (but) I think it’s important to recognize that artists from across the political spectrum came together to make this gesture of appreciation and thanks to our troops.”

Go here for the rest of the story.