December 10, 2009

Searching for Christmas (Year 5, Part 2), and the Still-Missing Layoff Stories

This is the fifth year I have looked into how the establishment media treats these two topics:

  • The use of “Christmas shopping season” vs. “holiday shopping season” (the AP photo at right uses “holiday” and not “shopping,” even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
  • The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.

I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year — the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later.

The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.

On November 24 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that references to this year’s shopping season came up with just over 6% of references to the “Christmas shopping season,” while the rest referred to the “holiday shopping season.” That’s a 9-point, roughly 60% drop from just four years ago.

Here are the results of the relevant Google News searches done late last night compared to roughly the same date in 2005

  • “Christmas shopping season”: 2009 – 1,184 (9.4% of total); 2005 – 1,170 (11.8% of total)
  • “Holiday shopping season”: 2009 – 11,360 (90.6% of total); 2005 – 8,730 (88.2% of total)

While the decline in “shopping season” references to Christmas isn’t as steep as it was in the late November comparisons, it’s still 2.4 points, or about 25%.

Meanwhile the media’s relative non-coverage of Christmas and holiday layoffs during what virtually everyone concedes is the worst economy since the post-Carter, early-Reagan era continues to amaze.

Here’s how this year compares to roughly the same time last year and in 2007, when the unemployment rate was over five points lower, and over 7 million more Americans were working (actual searches were all without quotes) –

  • “Christmas layoffs”: 2009 – 1,491 (40.5% of total); 2008 – 6,213 (24% of total); 2007- 1,032 (38.8% of total);
  • “Holiday layoffs” plus “Holidays layoffs”: 2009 – 2,183 (59.5% of total); 2008 – 19,680 (76% of total); 2007 – 1,626 (61.2% of total)
  • Total layoff references: 2009 – 3,684; 2008 – 25,893; 2007 – 2,658.

The search results show that the press has been and continues to be many times more likely to refer to “Christmas” in connection with stories about layoffs than in stories about shopping. This year’s 40.5% layoff frequency for Christmas layoffs is more than quadruple the 9.4% in “Christmas shopping” references.

The number of total layoff references also tells an important tale. This year’s total is down almost 86% from last year, and is only about 40% higher than two years ago. This is not because this year’s economy is 86% better than last year’s or only somewhat worse than 2007′s.

As I said two weeks ago, consider showing posts such as this one the next time someone tries to tell you that establishment media outlets play news about the economy straight regardless of who is in office. They don’t, and it’s really not arguable.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid Links (121009, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:57 am

Climategate: Al Gore Falsifies the Record — Gee, you really want to give the guy even a small benefit of the doubt for intelligence, credibility, intellectual honesty, and sincerity. But when he tells an interviewer that “I haven’t read all the e-mails, but the most recent one is more than 10 years old,” when in fact the most recent e-mail is from last freaking month, and only about 10 days, not 10 years, before Climategate broke, you’ve got nowhere to go but to conclude that he’s running totally empty on the traits just named, and is either delusional or a practiced Big Liar to boot.

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Speaking of Nobel Prize winners who are totally undeserving — when the UK Guardian starts going after President Obama for snubbing the Norwegians, you know he’s got serious problems.

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John Crudele has a cutely titled column about a big jobs problem: “I was a birther before Obama’s certificate questions.”

Since some people including Crudele (correction: not including Crudele — see below), are taking it further than they should, here’s a quick explanation accompanied by some interpretation:

  • For years, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has included an estimate of jobs created by companies and self-employed people it couldn’t locate, and of jobs lost at smaller companies that went out of business and self-employed people who gave up their efforts. That estimate is called the Birth/Death model, and is a legitimate statistical attempt to approximate something that is very real but extremely hard to quantify.
  • Based on past economic behavior during recessions, when shrewd entrepreneurs take the opportunity of a downturn to start up new enterprises and take on new people, BLS, as you can see at the link just identified, has estimated using the Birth/Death model that almost 1.2 million jobs have been created since February.
  • The problem with the Birth/Death model is that it has never encountered anything like today’s POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy. The three individuals just named and their party have done everything they can to take down the economy and keep it there since the summer of last year. The uncertainty overhang they have created, their open hostility to private enterprise, accompanied by the possibilities of punitive cap-and-trade and statist health care legislation, have more than likely kept many would-be entrepreneurs on the sidelines, and have probably caused many other microbusinesses to postpone or cancel new initiatives. If that’s so, most of those 1.2 million jobs have never materialized.
  • Once a year, BLS does a comprehensive review and adjusts data going back about two years. One comprehensive review that I noted back in February 2007 resulted in a net pickup of over 900,000 jobs. One factor in that huge upward adjustment was that entrepreneurs and small businesses continued to respond more positively to Bush 43′s tax and economic initiatives than BLS originally estimated.

(Note: A paragraph about Crudele’s direct knowledge of the job-loss number has been removed because it was incorrect. I regret the error. The figure in question is in the November BLS report; I was not aware that BLS does preliminary comprehensive loss estimate; HT to an e-mailer for alerting me to this.)

Additionally, based on what I’ve described here and absent other real evidence, Sean Hannity told his national talk radio audience a couple of days ago that the negative adjustment that is probably coming is evidence that BLS is (possibly paraphrasing his exact words) “cooking the books.” In doing so, he clearly made a false accusation against professionals who are attempting to do the best they can in a literally unprecedented situation.

As I’ve said before, never in my lifetime and probably never in American history has a political party done all it can — perhaps (moving towards probably) deliberately — to ruin the economy, first for the purpose of winning the presidency, and then for the purpose of rigging the entire political and economic system in an attempt to consolidate permanent power. It’s not at all surprising that BLS’s Birth/Death model would crack under the strain.

Positivity: Right place, right time

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:17 am

From Indianapolis:

Posted: December 6, 2009

Quick action by school nurse and police officer saves teenager with undiagnosed heart condition

Victor Venegas remembers almost nothing about what happened to him last week at Broad Ripple High School — just that he didn’t feel good, his girlfriend was walking him to the nurse’s office, and then he woke up in the hospital.

He doesn’t remember that his heart stopped beating or that his mother panicked when she arrived and saw his face was blue.

And he doesn’t remember the actions of two school employees who saved his life.

“I don’t remember it,” he said by telephone from his hospital bed Thursday. “I was just weightlifting, and my heart started hurting. My girlfriend was walking me to class, and I told her to take me to the nurse.”

He didn’t make it to the nurse’s office, but school nurse Lisa Aughe rushed to him, radioing for help when she saw the 18-year-old having a seizure.

By the time Indianapolis Public Schools Police Sgt. Mark Driskell arrived and called for an ambulance, Venegas had stopped breathing.

It turned out he had a previously undiagnosed heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a defect in the timing of the electrical pulses that regulate the heartbeat.

Venegas had felt out of sorts early Tuesday and wanted to stay home from school, but his girlfriend persuaded him to come so she wouldn’t be at school without him.

In the end, her request probably helped saved his life: Had he had the heart attack at home alone, he likely would not have been able to call for help.

Instead, he was around people who were trained in CPR, including the nurse.

“You could tell he was turning blue,” Driskell said. “I asked if we should start CPR, and she said yes.”

The teen who collapsed in the stairwell is popular with the school staff, who describe him as a funny boy, a wrestler and the kind of guy who helps the younger kids learn to use the weight room.

The principal made an announcement over the PA system, placing the school in lockdown. Venegas’ mother rushed to the school from her job at Lowe’s at Glendale Town Center.

Driskell and Aughe had been trained in CPR, but neither had ever used it before that Tuesday. They say they’re not heroes but that they did what they had to do.

“Call it fate or luck or lot,” Aughe said, “but it is just part of the job.”

When medics arrived, they shocked Venegas’ heart four times with a defibrillator to revive him and took him to St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital.

There, doctors told his parents that if he hadn’t received immediate CPR, he would have died.

“If it wasn’t for them,” said Maria Venegas, his mother, “I would have lost him that morning at the school.” ….

Go here for the rest of the story.