March 15, 2011

Omitted Fact From AP Story on Newspaper Revenues: 2010 Online Ad $ Less than 2007

No one can fairly accuse whoever wrote the Tuesday evening report on 2010 newspaper industry revenue of looking through rose-colored glasses. The same cannot be said of John F. Sturm, President and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, whose press release today reads as follows:

Quarter after quarter, newspaper advertising has shown signs of a continued turnaround and an essential repositioning. Buoyed by online growth and moderating print declines, these figures point to a continually improving advertising environment for newspapers, with encouraging trends as we progress further into 2011. Online revenues increased 14 percent in last year’s fourth quarter, with 12 percent of all newspaper ad revenues generated from digital platforms.

Newspapers – in print and digital form – remain the largest source of original, high-quality news and information in the United States, reaching nearly two-thirds of all adult Internet users and attracting more than 164 million people who read a newspaper in print or online each and every week.

Despite one half-decent quarter, Sturm’s characterization of the “environment” as improving is deliberate, he surely can’t say that total revenues are improving:

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How Long Will the AP and the Establishment Press Downplay Consumer Czar Liz Warren’s Financial System Shakedown?

You begin to get an idea of how poorly served the news-consuming public is by the Associated Press when you compare its “reporting” on Obama czar Elizabeth Warren’s appearance tomorrow before the House Financial Services Committee to an information-packed editorial — yes, an editorial — in the Wall Street Journal this morning.

You can read all of the over 750 words in the unbylined AP report without learning that Ms. Warren and various state attorneys general are attempting to shake down the banking system for $20 billion. You would think from the wire service’s selective content that it’s only Republicans who have opposed and continue to oppose the broad, unchecked authority her brainchild, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will have over U.S. banking policy and practices. It ain’t so.

Here are key paragraph’s from the AP’s 5:32 p.m. report (saved here at my host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):

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Before the Madness Begins …

Filed under: General — Tom @ 3:08 pm

march_madness… It’s time to discuss what I believe would be the preferred four-step formula for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Note that this is for the current format; I wrote up my suggestions for the 96-team format that is still “always on the list of topics” in “Merit-Based March Madness” last year.

In that year-ago column, I wrote that last year’s run to the finals by Butler “makes a powerful argument for keeping March Madness as it is.” It turns out that it’s not powerful enough. This year’s whining by a bunch of mediocre teams who should be ashamed that they’re complaining, while major conferences have been allowed way too many pathetic entries, calls for an immediate move to a more merit-based approach.

That four-step approach would work like this:
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This Is What Tyranny Looks Like: The Government’s Foreclosure Mess Shakedown

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:43 am

I’ll let the Wall Street Journal’s editorialists explain (tyranny and lawlessness indicators in bold):

The new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website proclaims that no financial company “should be able to build, or feel pressure to build, a business model around unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices.” How ironic, then, that the bureau itself is trying to extend its reach by extorting billions of dollars from private mortgage servicers, regulating their business by fiat, and stalling a U.S. housing market recovery.

This brouhaha started last year when mortgage servicers—J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and other banks—were accused of mishandling foreclosure documentation. The feds have been investigating, and it turns out that most of the infractions were technical while very few borrowers lost their homes without cause. But state Attorneys General and White House special assistant Elizabeth Warren have spotted a political opening to smack the banks one more time and dole out $20 billion to potential voters in 2012.

They’ve sent a proposed 27-page “settlement” to the banks that would, among other things, force mortgage servicers to submit to the bureau’s permanent regulatory oversight; impose vast new reporting and administrative burdens; mandate the reduction of borrowers’ mortgage principal amounts in certain circumstances; and force servicers to perform “duties to communities,” such as preventing urban blight. We warned during the Dodd-Frank debate that the new consumer bureau would become a political tool for credit allocation, and here we already are.
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SB 5: Putting Taxpayers in Control (Robert Roll Column)

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Rob Roll @ 10:30 am

The inevitable question came within the first minute of my first class of this quarter: What did you do over break? Well, I took part in one of the most transformative debates in recent memory.

Being a resident of suburban Columbus, I am only a short drive away from the Ohio Statehouse. Also being the political junkie I am, I decided to take a venture to the center of Downtown to see our government in action. When I got there, the place was packed with 2,000 protesters. They were there protesting Senate Bill 5.

For those of you who are not regular consumers of news, Senate Bill 5 was a bill in the Ohio Senate that would strip most collective-bargaining power from public-sector unions. The 2,000 people at the statehouse protesting were mostly teachers, firefighters, police officers, prison guards, and other public employees trying to dissuade the legislature from passing the bill. At the end of the day, however, the Ohio Senate did what was right and passed the bill.

Before I explain why SB 5 will be beneficial to all Ohioans, let me be clear: I respect the right of employees in the private sector to form unions, to collectively bargain, and to strike, if necessary.

We cannot, however, compare the rights of private-sector unions to the rights of public-sector unions. In the private sector, the union negotiators meet directly with management to try and work out a deal. In the public sector, the taxpayers are management. The taxpayers elect the Governor, Senators and Representatives to serve as their emissaries in union negotiations. The problem is that, more often than not, the taxpayer’s emissary has a conflict of interest. Unions are heavily involved in the political process. Every election cycle, unions give millions of dollars to politicians to help get them elected. For example, since 1989, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a public sector union, has given over $43.3 million to political campaigns. This campaign cash causes politicians of both parties to agree to labor contracts that are not in the best interest of the taxpayers. The politicians know that if they vote against a generous contract for government employees, then not only will they cease to receive campaign cash from the unions, the unions will spend copious amounts of money to defeat them in their next re-election bid. The unions’ prodigious ability to dole out campaign cash is what creates a conflict of interest.

Another difference between private-sector and public-sector collective bargaining is that private companies can go bankrupt; governments cannot. Unions in the private sector know that they must be reasonable in their demands and must negotiate in good faith. If the private-sector unions get too sweet of a deal, then the company may go under, leaving the unions members without a job. That situation is a lose-lose for everyone. Because governments cannot go bankrupt, public sector unions have no real incentive to negotiate in good faith. What ends up happening is that the politicians must agree to a generous contract or face a politically suicidal government work stoppage, giving the public sector union a win at the expense of the taxpayer.

Not only does Senate Bill 5 rein in collective bargaining for public-sector unions, it has the chance to completely change the way government works. Included in SB 5 is a provision that all public workers, from teachers to paper-pushers, will be paid based on a merit-pay system. In short, the better you are at you job, the more you will be paid, which it just the way it should be. No longer will government employees get a raise by just subsisting another year on this earth, they must now earn their raises based on how good they are at their job. It is easy to see the benefits to this system. Workers in the Department of Taxation will now have an incentive to process your return in 5 days instead of 7. Teachers will now have incentive to make sure students understand concepts, not just memorize them. Politicians like to talk about running government more effectively, I can think of no better way of making this happen than by instituting merit pay, which is what Senate Bill 5 does.

Those who are opposed to SB 5 say that unions are necessary to “protect the workers from being exploited” and any effort to reign in collective bargaining is “an assault on the middle class.” The thing is that unions are not needed to protect workers from exploitation; the miraculous free market can do that. Let us take teachers for example. If a teacher thinks that she is underpaid and his or her working conditions are terrible, she is free to leave that school district and teach somewhere else. On the other side of the equation, school districts are always competing against each other for good teachers and will therefore increase teacher salaries and improve working conditions in order to attract the best teachers. It is this competition that protects workers from exploitation. Ohio has over 600 public school districts, so competition for teachers is alive and well. The same goes for firefighters, policemen and any other public employee.

As for the claim that any effort to rein in collective bargaining rights is “an assault on the middle class”, the true assault on the middle class comes from the ever-increasing taxes that are required to pay for the lucrative contracts public-employee unions get for their members.

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Robert Roll is a freshman majoring in Finance at Ohio Northern University, and the blog owner’s nephew.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Why It’s Bad Business to Hire the Long-Term Unemployed’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:37 am

It’s here.

My submitted column title and headline and subhead were briefer than what you’ll see at the link:

Unemployed Need Not Apply
Thanks to Obamanomics

I suspect, based on discussions I’ve had with others on the topic, that it will generate more than a little discussion and perhaps a bit of good old-fashioned rancor.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Thursday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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Key graphic: I decided not to link to the following in the column, so I’ll show it here –

SeasAdjUnemp1981to2011

The two paragraphs from the column supported by the graphic are as follows (bolds are mine, and didn’t appear as such in the column):

In the 1980s, in the wake of a recession and economic conditions that were in many ways more severe than the 2008-2009 “Great Recession,” President Ronald Reagan chose the path of tax cuts and regulatory restraint. As a result, seasonally adjusted unemployment, which peaked at 10.8% in November 1982, the last month of that recession, fell almost continually during the following two years to 7.2%, and kept falling. Meanwhile, economic growth exploded. Employers hired the unemployed because there was no other way to meet the burgeoning demand for their companies’ goods and services.

By contrast, during the first 20 months after June 2009, the end of the most recent recession, unemployment rose from 9.5% to 10.1% several months later, and stayed virtually stuck at that level for a full year. In recent months, the unemployment rate has finally come down to 8.9%. But that’s largely because there are hordes of potential workers who are so discouraged that they’ve stopped even looking; thus, they aren’t included in the official unemployment statistics. As for economic growth, it’s been anemic compared to other post-recessionary periods, and through six quarters is less than half of that seen under Reagan.

The employer instinct favoring the currently employed over the unemployed, particularly the long-term unemployed, has always been present. It’s when an economy is in a long-term funk that it becomes especially problematic. We’re in such an economy — thanks to Obamanomics.

Go to PJM for the whole column.

Positivity: Doctors describe Giffords’ recovery as ‘remarkable’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From CNN on March 11:

A doctor treating Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords described her condition as “quite remarkable and better than we expected” during a news conference Friday in Houston, Texas.

Giffords has shown “better movement and better speaking,” while enduring three hour daily rehabilitation sessions, according to Dr. Gerard Francisco.

“She is already speaking in full sentences,” said Dr. Dong Kim, who indicated Giffords is walking and has demonstrated “a good memory span.”

Her spokesman said Thursday that her progress has been significant enough that Giffords plans to attend next month’s launch of space shuttle Endeavor which will be commanded by her husband.

But her doctors would not confirm Giffords’ planned attendance.

“If the goal is for her to witness the launch in April, then our number one concern is that it will be safe and appropriate to do that,” said Francisco.

He added that “it’s still too early” to know.

After spending the days after the shooting at his wife’s hospital bedside, Capt. Mark Kelly decided in February that he would continue his assignment as the mission commander.

At the time, Giffords’ spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the Arizona Democrat “fully understands” that her husband is flying the shuttle and supports his decision.

“I have every intention for her to be at the launch,” Kelly said then.

On Thursday, Karamargin said that Giffords is well enough to make the trip from Texas to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Endeavor is set to lift off April 19 from Kennedy Space Center, according to NASA’s website. It will be the final mission for the Endeavour, and the second-to-last one for the entire space shuttle fleet.

Giffords has been at a Houston hospital — not far from where Kelly does most of his training at Johnson Space Center — since January, when she was moved there from University Medical Center in Tucson.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Overnight Engine-Starter: Guess How the AP’s Scott Bauer Answered His Own Question About Wis. Dems

You knew, based on his track record of biased and inaccurate reporting during the Badger state standoff that Scott Bauer’s Thursday attempt to explain the state’s situation and events occurring up to that point (“Key questions surrounding Wisconsin union fight”) wouldn’t exactly be fair and balanced.

But it’s Bauer’s answer to one of his own crafted questions that revealed as much as anything I’ve seen in the past few weeks about where he’s really been coming from.

The question is:

So when the Democrats come back to the Capitol, what’s to stop the Republicans from passing almost anything they want?”

What do you think Bauer’s answer was? The answer, and a link to the AP item, are after the jump. No fair Googling or search for an answer.

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