November 19, 2007

Direct Link to Nov. 18 BizzyBlog Pundit Review Radio Interview

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:12 pm

Thanks again to Kevin and Gregg for having me on last night.

Here’s their post containing two different audio segments of our discussion, which went from David Cay Johnston’s weak economic writing in the New York Times, to RomneyCare, to abortion in RomneyCare, to health care/health insurance in general, to the Top 5 Economic Myths.

It seems like it went well; Gregg and Kevin both communicated post-appearance superlatives. Given the people who came before and after me, I’m flattered. You can decide for yourself.

I’ll post a podcast link here when I have one.


UPDATE: Here’s the Pundit Review link to their interview of former UN Ambassador John Bolton. It is a must-hear, if only to get Mr. Bolton’s perspective on Colin Powell.

The Top 5 Myths about the US Economy

I thought it would be a good idea to carry the content of yesterday’s related post forward, and then to add more links and enhancements.

I put the original post together in advance of my appearance last night on Pundit Review Radio.

Here goes.


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

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 national 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. This is part of an agenda to create a government-run, coercive system. Polling on the topic has been fundamentally dishonest and deceptive.


Myth 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.

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.


Myth 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 most recent 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.


Myth 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 — a big improvement over just 3-4 years ago. The percentage of Americans with discretionary income was in the 50s during the three previous periods reported (1997/199, 2002, and 2003), and in the low 30s during the 1980s. About twice as many Americans, percentagewise, have discretionary income compared to a quarter-century ago. Some “scrape.”


And the Number 1 Economic Myth in the America Today Is ….. Income inequality is growing, the rich are getting richer, and they aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.

FACT: Income inequality is actually leveling off — The Census Bureau’s Gini coefficient, their official measurement of income inequality, has risen from .462 to .470 from 2000 to 2006 (a higher figure means increased inequality; 2006 figure is from Page 5 of latest Census Bureau report [PDF] on income and poverty). During the 1993-2000, the index went up by .029, or more than three times as much.

FACT: American workers and families on the whole are actually movin’ on up — 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. Real income gains of 24% during the nine years studied (1996-2005), most of which probably took place in the final 3-4 years, were over double the 11% achieved during the previous nine years (1987-1996). Wages are not stagnant, AND (surprise!) wage growth is outperforming the 1990s.

FACT: The rich are reporting more income, and paying more in taxes than ever — As of a couple of years ago, the richest 0.1% of Americans, representing about 136,000 tax returns (out of a total of 136 million), paid 15% of all federal income taxes. The bottom 50% of tax returns, netted together, pay virtually nothing. The people in the bottom half can’t possibly make the argument en masse that paying nothing is “fair,” so they’d be we’ll-advised to stop yapping about how the other half carrying all of the weight is “unfair.”

Couldn’t Help But Notice (111907)

The assertion I made last Friday (first item at link) is worth repeating, in light of this: Now I’m really starting to wonder if the list of audience questions for Hillary Clinton that aren’t planted is shorter than the list of those that are.


Speaking of plants — “….. planting kids in front of trucks carrying military equipment or pouring concrete on railroad tracks isn’t winning over people in the Pacific Northwest …..” Gosh, I would hope not.


John Fund has the latest on where the Divisiveness Movement, masqerading as “diversity,” has taken us:

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee, is dumbstruck that legislation he views as simple common sense would be blocked. He noted that the full Senate passed his amendment to shield the Salvation Army by 75-19 last month, and the House followed suit with a 218-186 vote just this month. “I cannot imagine that the framers of the 1964 Civil Rights Act intended to say that it’s discrimination for a shoe shop owner to say to his or her employee, ‘I want you to be able to speak America’s common language on the job,’ ” he told the Senate last Thursday.

But that’s exactly what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to do. In March the EEOC sued the Salvation Army because its thrift store in Framingham, Mass., required its employees to speak English on the job. The requirement was clearly posted and employees were given a year to learn the language. The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job. It said that the firings violated the law because the English-only policy was not “relevant” to job performance or safety.

….. Sen. Alexander says that if that’s the case, “thousands of small businesses across America will have to show there is some special reason to justify requiring their employees to speak our country’s common language on the job.” He notes that the number of EEOC actions against English-only policies grew to some 200 last year from 32 a decade ago.

Over in the House, Democratic Hispanic congresspersons are holding up legislation unless what Alexander wants goes away. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is siding with the anti-assimilation extremists.

The issue of whether requiring English to be spoken on the job is reasonable should bubble up to, and be asked of, Democratic presidential candidates. Will it happen?


About Christmas-season spending: Maybe you knew this, but I suspect most people don’t –


The Ad Age link also notes that the growth of gift-card giving means that the reality is even better than it looks (bold is mine):

Consumer research also has gotten dicey as people buy more gifts that aren’t always counted in holiday-sales data. “The whole gift-card craze has lengthened the time the season’s revenue is realized,” said Phil Rist, exec VP-strategic initiatives at Ohio-based Big Research, which has a contract with the NRF. “And if the gift card is for a movie theater or a day spa or iTunes, those aren’t traditional holiday retailers.”

The National Retail Federation is predicting a 4% sales increase this year (before considering inflation).

Update: More on gift cards

Gift Card Boom

New research shows that 57% of consumers plan to buy gift cards, while 88% of buyers said they will purchase two or more gift cards this holiday season. Nearly 19% said they would purchase more than six gift cards this holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation annual “Gift Card Survey,” sales will total $26.3 billion this holiday season, compared to $24.8 billion in 2006. Additionally, the average consumer will spend $156 on gift cards this year compared to $146 during the 2006 holiday season and $117 for the 2005 holiday season.

About Bull-SCHIP and Nationalized Healthcare: See, A Bunch of People Told You So

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government,Wide Open — Tom @ 6:10 am

Here’s one of ‘em, from the aptly screen-names “dgreatone”, at the now-dormant Wide Open blog on September 26 (misspelling corrected):

Of course, the SCHIP is one of many attempts to nibble around the edges and gradually move the nation from private health care to government healthcare. After all, how many government programs are doing it “for the children”?

Jeff Coryell, one of the four Wide Open bloggers, begged to differ in a subsequent comment:

However, I obviously disagree that SCHIP is bad or that it is a step toward “socialized medicine.” It’s about covering kids who don’t have insurance coverage now, not supplanting private insurance.

Not quite, Jeff.

Former Iowa Governor and early presidential race dropout Tom Vilsack, one of Hillary Clinton’s earlier endorsers, let the cat out of the bag, as Michelle Malkin notes (audio is at link):


“I think there is going to be a commitment to universal coverage. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be a sector by sector process. I think you either need to go in whole hog or not. We tried to sort of squeeze the middle here with doing children and doing seniors, and trying to squeeze it. If anything happens, it would more likely look something like this: you would extend eligibility for children from 200% of poverty to 300% of poverty, and create resources to insure the parents of those children.”

I must ask Jeff and others who argued similarly: Did you know this, or were you fooled? If the former, why were you pretending? If the latter, how does it feel to be duped?

Positivity: Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark’s bait

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Monterey, California:

A pod of bottlenose dolphins helped protect the severely injured boarder
Updated 9:57 a.m. CT, Thurs., Nov. 8, 2007

Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark — a monster great white that came out of nowhere — had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone.

That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life.

“Truly a miracle,” Endris told TODAY’s Natalie Morales on Thursday.

The attack occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 28, just before 11 a.m. at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif., where the 24-year-old owner of Monterey Aquarium Services had gone with friends for a day of the sport they love. Nearly four months later, Endris, who is still undergoing physical therapy to repair muscle damage suffered during the attack, is back in the water and on his board in the same spot where he almost lost his life.

“[It] came out of nowhere. There’s no warning at all.

Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark,” Endris said. “It just shows you what a perfect predator they really are.”

The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn’t get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. “The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso — sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth,” Endris said.

That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected.

The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris’ right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark’s grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go.

The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore.

Our finned friends
No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

A year ago in New Zealand, the group reports, four lifeguards were saved from sharks in the same way Endris was — by dolphins forming a protective ring.

Though horribly wounded, Endris said he didn’t think he was going to die. “Actually, it never crossed my mind,” he told Morales.

It did, though, cross the minds of others on the beach, including some lifeguards who told his friend, Brian Simpson, that Endris wasn’t going to make it.

Simpson is an X-ray technician in a hospital trauma center, and he’d seen badly injured people before. He had seen Endris coming in and knew he was hurt.

“I was expecting him to have leg injuries,” he told Morales. “It was a lot worse than I was expecting.”

Blood was pumping out of the leg, which had been bitten to the bone, and Endris, who lost half his blood, was ashen white. To stop the blood loss, Simpson used his surf leash as a tourniquet, which probably saved his life.

“Thanks to this guy,” Endris said, referring to Simpson, who sat next to him in the TODAY studio, “once I got to the beach, he was calming me down and keeping me from losing more blood by telling me to slow my breathing and really just be calm. They wouldn’t let me look at my wounds at all, which really helped.

A medivac helicopter took him to a hospital, where a surgeon had to first figure out what went where before putting him back together.

“It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” Endris said.

Six weeks later, he was well enough to go surfing again, and the place he went was back to Marina State Park. It wasn’t easy to go back in the water.

Go here for the rest of the story.