November 30, 2010

Rush Rips AP’s Misnamed Wiseman As ‘Ignoramus’ Over Perils of Letting Unemployment Benefits Expire

APabsolutelyPathetic0109In no uncertain terms, Rush Limbaugh (link will become unavailable in seven days) ripped into an Associated Press report today on the alleged perils of allowing unemployment benefits to expire for what the Labor Department says is nearly 2 million unemployed:

I have not had one class in economics since high school in the 1960s — not one — and I understand more about this through my own self-education than these wizards at the AP. And I’m still convinced they just repeated it. They just printed a fax from Pelosi’s office or whatever. … After 23 years and we still get trash like this in our major, #1 wire service. I guarantee you whoever wrote this story is an absolute, abject ignoramus. I don’t know about you, folks, but I don’t like being surrounded by stupidity.

The chief ignoramus in question whose name Rush didn’t have is the misnamed AP Economics Writer Paul Wiseman, with the ignorant assistance of Christopher Rugaber. Behold their ignorance:

Cut-off of jobless aid would lower economic growth

If Congress lets unemployment benefits expire this week for the long-term unemployed, they won’t be the only ones to feel the pain. The overall economy would suffer, too.

Unemployment benefits help drive the economy because the jobless tend to spend every dollar they get, pumping cash into businesses. A cut-off of aid for millions of people unemployed for more than six months could squeeze a fragile economy, analysts say. Among the consequences they envision over the next year:

- Annual economic growth could fall by one half to nearly 1 percentage point.

- Up to 1 million more people could lose their jobs.

- Hundreds of thousands would fall into poverty.

“Look for homelessness to rise and food lines to get longer as we approach Christmas if the situation can’t be resolved,” says Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

… That (unemployment) money ripples through the economy, into supermarkets, gasoline stations, utilities, convenience stores. That allows those businesses to hire more people, who, in turn, spend more money.

The Congressional Budget Office says every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates up to $1.90 in economic growth. The program is the most effective government policy for generating growth among 11 options the CBO has analyzed.

Well, if that’s the case, everyone should get unemployed and start collecting benefits. Economic growth will be off the charts. Give me a break.

Seriously now (take notes now, Paul and Chris), very few if any businesses will make decisions to “hire more people, who, in turn, spend more money” based on a temporary extension of unemployment benefits. They’ll only decide to do so when it becomes clear that overall conditions have significantly improved or very shortly will improve, and if real improvement seems like it is or shortly will be long-lived. Until then, they’ll either try to get by with the staff they have and if necessary bring in temporary help to get through the somewhat busier times.

Extending unemployment benefits may or may not have the “multiplier effect” cited, but its effect on hiring is minimal at best, and the supposedly disastrous consequences for the economy by not extending benefits simply aren’t credible. In fact, you could argue that ending unemployment benefits will motivate some (emphasis some) some who have been sitting on the sidelines to find work at some of the unfilled jobs that are out there (yes, there are some, even in this economy), thereby adding to GDP and possibly creating genuine economic growth.

The report Rush cited really represents what AP has come to stand for: Absolutely Pathetic.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Quick Econ Items

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:56 pm

The fun really starts tomorrow, when the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index comes out. In fairly quick succession during the rest of the week, we’ll see car sales, the ADP Employment Report, Initial Unemployment Claims (likely very incomplete because of the holiday week), the government’s Employment Situation Report, and ISM’s Non Manufacturing Index.

But there are a few preliminaries of note that most readers probably missed during the past week.

Item 1 (shhh, don’t tell anyone) — The Fed downwardly adjusted its growth expectations and significantly raised the gloom level for unemployment:

The economy will grow only 2.4 percent to 2.5 percent this year, Fed officials said Tuesday in an updated forecast. That’s down sharply from a previous projection of 3 percent to 3.5 percent. Next year, the economy will expand by 3 percent to 3.6 percent, the Fed said, also much lower than its June forecast.

… Fed officials project that unemployment won’t change much this year, averaging between 9.5 percent and 9.7 percent. The current unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. Progress in reducing unemployment has been “disappointingly slow,” the central bank said, according to the minutes of its Nov. 2-3 meeting.

… The jobless rate will be 8.9 percent to 9.1 percent in 2011, Fed officials predict. That’s much worse than June’s projection of 8.3 percent to 8.7 percent.

Implications:

  • The Congressional Budget Office’s projection that tax collections will somehow rise by 22.5% during fiscal 2011 seems ever more unlikely, no matter how the 2011 income tax impasse works out, especially given that October 2010 was only about 7.5% ahead of October 2009.
  • Spending on unemployment- and low income-related benefits won’t come down by as much as expected.

Item 2 (it gets worse) — The folks looking at tax proposals going forward think the Fed is being wildly optimistic about unemployment. In an AP report excerpted at this BizzyBlog post last week, Jeannine Aversa writes that no matter which of the three major scenarios are chosen (taxes go up for everyone, taxes don’t change from 2010 levels, taxes go up for those earning about $250,000) next year’s unemployment rate will be 9.9% or 10.0%. What do these people know that the Fed doesn’t?

With this news, you can double down on the implications described in Item 1.

Item 3 — As described in this BizzyBlog critique of AP’s coverage of the related news, actual new home sales (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) came in at 23,000 in October, tying the lowest month on record (the other two are August 2010 and December 1966). Further elaborating, based on the graphic at the link:

  • After actually outpacing 2009 during the first four months of the year, new home sales from May through October 2010 of 150,000 trailed the same six months of 2009 by a startling 28%, and the same six months of 2008 by 38%. The housing market is intensely worse than when the recession was officially in gear.
  • This year’s new home sales are a cinch to come in below last year’s since-records-kept (almost 50 years) low of 375,000. It’s on track to come in at about 325,000 — maybe. On an annualized population-adjusted basis compared to any year before 2008, this is by far (and by “far” I mean by well over 50%) the worst new housing market since World War II.

How the housing market will get better while unemployment remains at 9% or 10% is a mystery.

Item 4 — 2nd Quarter GDP was revised upward from 2.0% to 2.5%, annualized. That’s nice, but as noted last week, the comparable figure during the fifth quarter of the Reagan recovery in 1984 was an annualized 8.5%.

There is also a new item today that the press is trumpeting as some kind of good omen. But wait until you get to a later paragraph:

Americans’ confidence in the economy rose to a five-month high in November, showing increased optimism for the first half of next year.

The report offered some comfort to the nation’s retailers during the holiday shopping season, but shoppers still remain downbeat as they grapple with a high unemployment rate. Moreover, the latest report on housing, released Tuesday, showed that home prices weakened in September.

The Conference Board, a private research group based in New York, said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 54.1 in November, up from a revised 49.9 in October.

… One component of the index, how Americans feel now about the economy, rose to 24.0, up from 23.5. The other gauge, which measures how American feel about the economy over the next six months, rose to 74.2, up from 67.5 last month.

In other words: Things really, really, really stink right now (pre-revision, October’s “now” number was 23.9), but they’re going to get a bit better/less bad in the first six months of 2011 (a level of 90 is considered indicative of a healthy economy).

It would be nice to think that the improvement, such as it is, occurred because the GOP took the House in the midterm elections. But the vast majority of people responding to surveys like these tend not to think in those terms, and the Conference Board’s press release doesn’t allude to them.

In SW Ohio, Low Rent In Indian Hill Now Affects Sharonville…

Filed under: Activism,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 10:07 am

About a year ago, the following piece about the Miami Valley’s resident late-term abortionist, got lost in the BizzyBlog coffers…I chalk it up to mom-heimers.

Low Rent In Indian Hill

Late-term abortionist Martin Haskell murders children by day and plays “high society” with his wife Valerie in Indian Hill (Note the Vic Wulsin [misspelled "Wuslin"] & John Glenn connections in that last link).

I love the part where “the noble” Valerie pretends to care about children [whose mothers somehow evaded her husband] while serving on the Board of Directors of the Indian Hill Public Schools Foundation.

“Poor” Indian Hill liberals…this is just further proof that all the money in the world can’t buy you wisdom, class or decent neighbors (Indian Hill is where the Haskells reside *).

This link from the article puts to rest the facade that only rich “conservatives” are racists…

* – As of the 2000 census, the last time measured, Indian Hill had the 20th highest per-capita income of any place in the United States with a population of 1,000 or more. No other place in Ohio was in the top 80.

I went digging for this thanks to Tom’s forward (and phenomenal memory). Turns out that the City of Cincinnati doesn’t have much for this pig either, so he’s moving to a location in Sharonville where I guess he thinks he might be able to gain some marketshare from the competition…50 ft. from the front door of Liberty Sharonville Pediatrics.

Here is part of the release from Operation Rescue (Cincinnati Enquirer link added):

Sharonville, Ohio – One group of Ohio pediatricians are very upset with their new neighbor. Late-term abortionist Martin Haskell has closed his Cincinnati, Ohio, abortion clinic and reopened in the community of Sharonville, about twelve miles to the north – right next to Liberty Sharonville Pediatrics. In fact, parents will now have to enter a common driveway and pass by Haskell’s surgical abortion mill in order to get the Pediatrician’s office.

Dr. Steve Brinn, M.D., was so upset that he wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Cincinnati Inquirer (sic) on Saturday, November 27, 2010, expressing his opposition to the abortion business.

“Imagine our shock and disbelief, when we learned that an abortion clinic was opening in the building 50-feet from our front door. Why would a clinic performing abortions be so insensitive to a group practice treating children for 31 years?” wrote Dr. Brinn.

He continued, “To have a group of OB/GYN doctors terminating fetuses just outside our door, to force our mothers and their babies drive through a common driveway, driving by the front of an abortion clinic, in order to park in our lot to have their babies cared for is an atrocity. We are here to prevent infant diseases, and they are here to end infant lives. We may not have the legal right to get them to move but we will do anything in our power to vocalize our personal disgust with their mission.”

Haskell’s long-term legal woes stem from the fact that he has never had the mandatory ambulatory care license, and/or [hospital] transfer agreement. In other words, he doesn’t have the necessary equipment/expertise to deal with the many risks involved in his butchery nor does any hospital deem him qualified enough to treat patients in their facility. What he HAS had however, is a federal judge in Columbus (mentioned in report links above and below), who has granted him a “variance” from the law.

Quite ironically, that Federal Judge (Marbley) was appointed by Bill Clinton at the behest of none other than John Glenn, the staunch pro-abortion recipient of Haskell’s political donations. The judge also sits on the Board of Advisors of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, oh, and is Secretary and Member on the Board of Trustees of Children’s Hospital! Oh yes, that’s EXACTLY who I want as a “Trustee” of Children’s Hospital..someone who believes in, ergo grants exceptions to late-term abortionists so they can keep murdering, er, children. Clearly they took all the logic requirements out of this guy’s copy of the bar exam…

Again, the three-piece report on this pig is here. The rest of the Sharonville “Grand Opening” is here.

Lucid Links (113010, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:03 am

Via Chris J. Kobus at Pajamas Media: “Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf Actually Get Only 23, 25 MPG.” That’s after figuring in the fuel burned to recharge the batteries converted to gas equivalent usage.

Kobus calls it “fraud.” I call it incomplete disclosure. The cars’ stickers ought to be able to present the “true” MPG, but then, with equal or greater prominence, the equivalent MPG after considering the use of other resources to recharge, or an estimated annual cost to recharge if driven, say 10,000 miles. The electric cars definitely shouldn’t get a free ride for the rest of the energy they really use.

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Related to the previous item, found at the Associated Press: “Utilities thrilled and worried about electric cars” (interesting alternative title at a Portland, Maine paper — “Opportunity Has Power Industry Scrambling”).

Plugged into a socket, an electric car can draw as much power as a small house.

The surge in demand could knock out power to a home, or even a neighborhood. That has utilities in parts of California, Texas and North Carolina scrambling to upgrade transformers and other equipment in neighborhoods where the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are expected to be in high demand.

Uh, just wondering, folks. What fuel is going to be used to meet the additional demand?

C-C-C-C … coal? As I noted in July 2008, environuts at supposedly “mainstream” groups like the Sierra Club are pushing for “an end to conventional coal.”

N-N-N-N … Natural gas? Pennsylvania and neighboring states, including a portion of New York, have “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas” on their hands in what’s known as the Marcellus Shale deposits. The New York Times has editorialized that the Empire State’s portion should be “permanently off limits to drilling.”

If they don’t get the fuel to support expanded electricity use, neighborhoods with a fair number of electric cars will see brownouts and/or rationing and/or restrictions on when people can recharge (i.e., only during off-peak hours).

Way to go, enviros.

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In Chicago, where the dead wake up every couple of years to cast election ballots, some of them apparently spend the rest of the time getting free Windy City transit system rides. Isn’t that amazing?

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Are many listed Chinese companies thinly disguised scams? It’s worth asking, given this item at Zero Hedge. I don’t understand how informed investors can feel comfortable putting money into a company whose fortunes depend on the whims of an authoritarian government, unless they treat it as entirely a gamble. So-called “fundamentals” are irrelevant.

As long as the U.S. and other governments own what amounts to a de facto controlling stake in this company, it will also be nothing but a pure gamble for investors.

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Despite its fundamentally seditious nature, the Wikileaks cable dump nonetheless has some interesting revelations that seriously damage memes repeated ad nauseam by the anti-Israel crowd. Among them is proof that the Israelis weren’t paranoid at all in monitoring “relief workers” during the Lebanon conflict in 2006“Hezbollah Smuggled Weapons in Ambulances.”

That sheds additional light on these related BizzyBlog posts during that time:

  • August 24, 2006 — “Zombietime Exposes the Red Cross Ambulance Hoax (and Even More Fauxtography Examples)”
  • August 27 — “Who Won the Recent Middle East (Propaganda) War?”
  • August 31 — “The Lack of Contrition Gives Away Their Agenda”

We also must not forget the Arab-state paymaster arrangements the Associated Press and likely many other news services had at the time, and more than likely still have (the bills must be paid, y’know). These arrangements explain why you can never, ever take news emanating from the Middle East at face value.

Positivity: The Original Hammerin’ Hank

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

Via David G. Dalin at the Weekly Standard last month (HT Powerline):

Oct. 23, 2010

When he died in 1986 at the age of 75, Hank Greenberg was widely acknowledged to have been the greatest Jewish player in the history of baseball. His achievements were beyond merely great—they were monumental. He played in the major leagues from 1933 to 1947, but lost four and a half seasons to military service in World War II. And yet, as the baseball historian Robert W. Creamer has noted, “in that brief period he established himself as one of the best of all power hitters, possibly the best after Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.”

… From 1937 to 1940, Greenberg averaged 148 RBIs a year and 43 home runs. More than just the sum of his individual statistics, Greenberg led the Detroit Tigers to four American League pennants and two World Series titles over the course of his career.

… For American Jews during the 1930s, as Edward S. Shapiro put it, “Greenberg’s struggle against anti-Semitism was their struggle, and his victory over hatred and injustice was theirs also.” In 1956, he became the first Jewish player enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Today, as we approach the centenary of his birth, it is appropriate to remember the extraordinary life and legacy of Hank Greenberg, the greatest Jewish-American sports hero of all time.

… he accepted an offer from the Tigers and after three years in the minor leagues began his major league career in Detroit in 1933.

His impact was almost immediate. During the 1934 season, Greenberg hit .339 and drove in 139 RBIs while leading the Tigers to the pennant. But for the many Jewish baseball fans who regarded him as a role model, his most significant contribution may have been the decision that earned him an iconic niche in American Jewish history. In the heat of the pennant race, with the Tigers leading the Yankees by four games, Greenberg’s club was scheduled to play the Boston Red Sox on September 10, which was when Rosh Hashanah fell that year, the Jewish New Year. Nine days later, on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the Tigers were to play the second-place Yankees in what was sure to be one of the decisive games of the pennant race. Greenberg was torn about whether or not to play, even though he was not a religious Jew. Baseball fans and rabbis alike debated whether Greenberg should be in synagogue on the Jewish High Holy Days, or in the Tigers’ lineup. To the disappointment of some Jews, Greenberg succumbed to the pressure of the Tigers’ management, who demanded that Greenberg not abandon his teammates in the heat of the pennant race, and played on Rosh Hashanah. His two home runs beat the Red Sox 2-1.

There is little question that anti-Semitism played a part in Greenberg’s failure to break Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1938. Statistics show that Greenberg walked in at least 20 percent of his plate appearances in September 1938, suggesting that many of those were intentional passes to prevent him from breaking Ruth’s record. Over the years, sports writers and baseball fans alike have remained convinced that Greenberg’s pursuit of Ruth’s record was undermined by pitchers who refused to give Greenberg a decent pitch to hit. For the many anti-Semites in the stands, the press box, and between the foul lines, it was inconceivable, and unseemly, that a Jew should break the Babe’s record.

The 1941 season was historic, with Joe DiMaggio hitting in 56 straight games and Ted Williams batting over .400, while Hank Greenberg went to war. The Tigers first baseman was coming off a banner 1940 campaign, having led the American League with 41 home runs and 150 RBIs, while batting .340, and was once again voted the American League MVP. He hoped to match or better those numbers in ’41, but only 19 games into the new season, Greenberg’s baseball career was interrupted when he was drafted into the Army Air Corps, the first American League player to be drafted into the military in World War II. Although he missed most of the historic 1941 baseball season and found his salary cut from $55,000 a year to $21 a month, Greenberg was never bitter or resentful. … on December 5, 1941, Greenberg, age 30, was honorably discharged.

… Two days later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting Greenberg to reenlist, the first major league player to do so. Greenberg was widely admired for his patriotism, especially since at age 30 he was exempt from military service.

… For American Jews, as for many baseball fans generally, Greenberg took on almost epic proportions: He served in the military for 45 months, longer than any other major league player, missing almost four complete seasons, and half of another, before returning to the Detroit lineup on July 1, 1945. Never one to disappoint his fans—and the stands were filled to capacity that day to welcome him back—Greenberg hit a home run. Even more dramatically, he hit a ninth-inning grand slam to win the pennant on the last day of the season, and finished his shortened 78-game season with a .311 batting average, before leading the Tigers to victory over the Cubs in the 1945 World Series.

… Over the years, baseball analysts and fans alike have wondered what sort of statistics Greenberg might have compiled had he not sacrificed four and a half seasons, at the peak of his career, to serve his country. Had he matched his extraordinary accomplishments of the 1937-1940 seasons, when he averaged 43 home runs a year, he would have concluded his career with well over 500 home runs and more than 1,800 RBIs. In so doing, he would have become only the fourth baseball player of the pre-1950s era to join the 500 home-run club, a sure ticket to baseball immortality, a measure of fame that Hank Greenberg, the “Jewish Babe Ruth” and one of the greatest power hitters in the history of the game, richly deserved.

Go here for the full story.

Greenberg’s career stats are here. It’s also reasonable to believe that Greenberg’s baseball career might have lasted beyond 1947 if he hadn’t gone four years virtually without picking up a baseball bat.