August 2, 2008

Slide of the Night for TIB Radio Show

This slide reveals a level of financial negligence that is beyond shocking:

ReservesAndRoyalty0708.jpg

It needs elaboration, but it gives you an idea of the kind of money that Congress has kept locked up for years.

It’s being discussed on TIB Radio tonight, and will also be addressed here at BizzyBlog next week.

Speaking of AP: Looking at the Subscriber Newspaper Mini-Revolt

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 11:28 am

Yesterday, Newsosaur, in a read-the-whole-thing post (including the comments), noted that “Displeasure with the cost and limitations of AP (Associated Press) coverage has caused editors in Ohio and Montana to create alternative online exchanges to share stories and by-pass the 162-year-old news co-operative.”

One e-mailer thinks this is the “beginning of the unraveling” of AP.

I think not. Here’s the e-mail I sent back to him:

Gotta think more about this, but it may be that AP isn’t that worried about limited access to local and state news.

They have a near-monopoly on:
- National (including WH, Congress, Wash bureaucracy).
- Business info and reports coming out of Washington.
- International (not as strong).

AP is dropping all of this content directly into Google and Yahoo nearly instantly, and thus going around all of their members (people don’t have to go to members’ web sites to read AP news). My guess is that AP is getting what in essence amounts to a lot of “protection” money from the search companies, as the alternative — to get sued for lifting their content — would seem to be a nasty one, and AP would appear to think they would prevail.

So they may say “Who cares?” to missing out on most local and state news.

Unfortunately (as I see it), people pay relatively little or no attention to local and statewide news. Of course, much of this is because Washington controls so many things.

If AP felt they had to do something to get around member freeze-outs, they could solve most of their “problem” by beefing up resources in the 50 state capitals (probably the 15-20 biggest states would be enough).

Also, how hard would it be to enlist an army of contractor-stringers, likely many from the ranks of those let go by the newspapers, who would only get paid when they generate usable local news?

The infighting will be interesting to see, but I think AP holds a lot, if not most, of the cards.

Tom

I think AP’s control of the situation is growing, and not diminishing.

This is not good news. If you doubt, read about the wire service’s news brainstorm, “Accountability Journalism,” at this Pajamas Media column by Steve Boriss (“AP’s New ‘Accountability Journalism’ Is a Sham”). You may not have thought it possible, but the bias and agenda-driven news reporting from the Associated Press are on the verge of getting even worse.

AP’s 3-Million Job Gap

Note: This was originally posted at Pajamas Media on Thursday under the title “AP Plays Fast and Loose with Jobless Numbers.” It was written before Friday’s Employment Situation Report (ESR) was released by Uncle Sam. New information reflecting Friday’s ESR has been added.
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Even casual followers of news about the US labor market during the past five months “know” that the economy has lost a lot of jobs.

Those who have read or heard excerpts or snippets from dispatches written by the Associated Press’s Jeannine Aversa during that time (chances are good that they have, because of the wide distribution of AP’s reporting) also “know” that employers have been “slashing” jobs and handing out stacks of “pink slips.”

February’s Employment Situation Report (ESR) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the economy had lost 63,000 jobs inspired Aversa (bolds are mine throughout this column) to write that:

Dangerous cracks in the nation’s job market are deepening. Employers slashed jobs by the largest amount in five years …..

After the March ESR, Aversa told us that:

Workers’ pink slips stacked ever higher in March as jittery employers slashed 80,000 jobs …..

When the April ESR initially showed a lower-than-expected 20,000 jobs lost, Aversa wrote:

Businesses are handing out pink slips as they cope with an economy that is teetering on the edge of a recession, or possibly in one already.

For May’s ESR, which showed another 49,000 jobs lost, she switched her focus to the unemployment rate:

Pink slips piled up and jobs disappeared into thin air in May as the nation’s unemployment rate zoomed to 5.5 percent in the biggest one-month jump in decades.

….. Help-wanted signs are vanishing along with jobs …..

After yet another reported reduction in June, this time by 62,000 jobs, Aversa reached the peak of her 2008 histrionics:

….. (there is) a storm of pink slips drenching this year’s July Fourth holiday for more than 60,000 Americans ….. leaving thousands more worried about the future.

Indeed, there’s no denying that from February through June (after subsequent revisions), the BLS has reported that the economy lost 362,000 jobs (Note: this graphic changed after the July ESR was released on August 1; May’s seasonally adjusted loss was revised to 47,000 , and June’s to 51,000; the revised 5-month job loss is now 336,000):

BLSsaJobLosses0208thru0608

That’s not good at all. But you would think from Aversa’s accumulated five months of overheated reporting that bodies of the hapless, helpless unemployed are strewn everywhere.

Clearly, that’s not the case. But why is that?

What if I told you that Aversa’s “slashing” and “pink slip” assertions are not only exaggerated, but false?

BLS, in the left box below, estimates that the economy actually added 2,712,000 jobs from February through June (Note: After upward revisions to May and June in the August 1 ESR totaling 70,000, the revised number of jobs added from February through June is now 2,782,000):

BLSnotsaJobLosses0208thru0608

How can that be? Here’s how.

You see, the primary job pickup or loss number BLS reports is “seasonally adjusted” (the box on the right). Seasonal adjustment is a perfectly valid and useful statistical technique for averaging out reported results in situations where actual month-to-month changes vary widely. The labor market is one of those situations.

But as you can see from the not seasonally adjusted figures in the box on the left, the monthly job increases during February through June of this year, while positive, have been substantially less than those seen in 2005, 2006, and 2007. After the statistical smoothing done during the seasonal adjustment process, these less-than-stellar performances during 2008 have caused BLS to report seasonally adjusted job losses.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, after an all-time record of 52 consecutive positive months, the economy has indeed lost jobs for six months in a row. Analysts are predicting that this job-loss streak will reach seven when BLS releases its July ESR Friday morning (Note: That indeed occurred, as the ESR showed 51,000 jobs lost).

But please note: What obviously has not occurred on an overall basis is the “slashing,” “stacking of pink slips,” and “vanishing jobs” Jeannine Aversa has obsessed over for the past five months. Seen over that period of time, the difference between reality and the AP reporter’s gloomy portrayals could not be more stark.

As Friday’s report looms, you can see from the not seasonally adjusted chart above that July has historically been a month when the economy sheds a lot of jobs. The vast majority of this occurs in the “Local Government Education” category. In other words, even though most teachers and other school workers choose to receive their pay over 12 months, they aren’t actually working during the summer, and are reported that way.

Though it’s not expected, if July’s overall job loss is less than it has typically been, BLS may actually report an increase in seasonally adjusted jobs.

Aversa’s reporting has been disgraceful. She has repeatedly misrepresented seasonally adjusted results as what is actually occurring on the ground. In the past five months, she and her wire service have misled readers, listeners, and viewers of news outlets that use its information to believe that a collective 300,000-plus fewer people are working. But the government estimates that over 2.7 million more people had jobs in June than did five months earlier. Again, this is not good enough in comparison to prior years. But it is what it is, not what Jeannine Aversa and her editors say it is.

That this 3 million-job gap between perception and reality exists, complete with demonstrably false reports of “pink slips” strewn everywhere, is nothing short of journalistic malpractice — and yet another reason why the near monopoly the self-described “Essential Global News Network” has over initial event reporting must somehow end.
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UPDATE, Aug. 5: Kurt Brouwer at The Fundmastery Blog looks at the long-term big picture, calls out the pink-slip surge lie (which the AP’s Jeannine Aversa of course repeated in her coverage of July’s ESR), and wonders what all the hyperventilating is about. So do I.

Positivity: Quite by accident

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:50 am

From Colorado:

Friday, July 11, 2008

By chance, liver recipient connects with grieving mother who fulfilled her daughter’s wish to be an organ donor.

What do you do when your best friend, your only child, the baby who came from inside you and grew into the woman with the Julia Roberts smile is killed in an accident and even the gaping hole in your heart isn’t deep enough to store all your tears?

What do you do when you wake up in a hospital and they tell you that you’re no longer dying? That you will be able to feel sunlight on your face and hug your loved ones?

What do you do when you’re aware that your salvation was a young woman you never knew and never will know, a woman who died and left behind a piece of herself to keep you alive?

What do you do when you’re Melody Connett and you desperately want to reach out to the stranger your daughter saved? Just talk to her, just huddle with the hope that your Jill lives a little bit through her. What do you do when that stranger won’t acknowledge your letters?

What do you do when you’re Carole Pirri and every time you try to write back to the mother of the girl who saved your life you start to sob and put down your pen because you feel so horribly guilty? Because you know that girl was so young and you’re pushing 58 and, oh God, how will her poor mother feel about that? How will she feel if she finds out that your daughter, your best friend, is still alive?

For five years, the intense trauma of a life stolen and the intense gift of a life saved were the themes that connected and separated two women. Then, one day — July 15, 2007 — luck and fate combined to toss them into each other’s lives and create a bond that goes beyond friendship.

And this is how it happened. …..

It’s long, but read the whole thing here.