November 21, 2012

Positivity: Pre-Thanksgiving Perspective

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 11:00 pm

Note: A slightly different version of this post originally went up in November 2007, and has turned into a BizzyBlog tradition.

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I saw this about halfway through this post at Obi’s Sister. It was written to make a political point, which is fine, but it also makes a universal one (paragraphing added by me):

A neighbor (say her name is Mary) sees her other neighbor (say her name is Nancy) and decides to make her a pie. She bakes a lovely pie the next day and takes it next-door. Nancy is overwhelmed that her neighbor would be so thoughtful and thanks her profusely.

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy thanks her again, but with less enthusiasm.

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy just says “Thanks.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says, “Thanks, and you’re a day late this time.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says “Thanks, but next time, can you make a cherry pie instead of apple? I’m getting tired of apple.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says “You know, if you put a little less sugar in the crust and didn’t handle it so long, the crust wouldn’t be tough.”

The next week, Mary has lots to do and forgets to make her pie. When she walked by Nancy’s house, she stuck her head out the door and yelled, “Hey! Where’s my pie?”

How quickly gratitude turns into a jaded sense of entitlement.

…. Why don’t we go back to the original idea? Simple people, pioneers really, expressing their pure and heartfelt gratitude …. A humble heartfelt thanksgiving. Not a holiday, but a state of mind.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns, Sending a Letter Full of Howlers the Press Will Likely Let Slide

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from office today. The timing of the Democratic congressman’s resignation (even beyond it taking place on Thanksgiving Eve) is convenient, coming just two weeks after his reelection and prior to what in apparently an imminent indictment. The former enables Democratic Party kingpins in Chicago and its south suburbs to ensure that the seat stays with someone they like and can control (a general election situation with a preceding mini-primary might have been more problematic), while resigning before an indictment makes it likely that Jackson will be eligible for a congressional pension he might have lost had he still been in office when charged.

We are told that Jackson is too distraught to get through a publicly spoken resignation and that he cancelled a conference call with his staff. His resignation letter (original here; Washington Post transcription here) to House Speaker John Boehner, our best potential window to his current state of mind, reveals a man who is utterly full of himself and his wonderfulness. In the process of building this monument to himself, Jackson delivered several self-evident falsehoods the press would never let a Republican in a similar position get away with making without sharp criticism. Since it’s a public document, the letter follows the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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AP Story on Hobby Lobby Ruling Misdirects to Avoid Facing When Life Begins

In his Monday evening coverage of a federal judge’s refusal to grant retailer Hobby Lobby injunctive relief from ObamaCare’s mandate that it “provide insurance coverage for the morning-after and week-after birth control pills,” the Associated Press’s Tim Talley “cleverly” recast the government’s argument over what constitutes an abortion (the government says that the morning-after pill isn’t an abortifacient, when it really is) into one over when “pregnancy” (instead of life) begins. The company faces fines of $1.3 million per day (not a typo) starting on January 1 if it does not comply.

Several paragraphs from Talley’s writeup will illustrate the misdirection (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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Wise Stewardship Pays Off as Ohio’s Jobless Rate Falls Below 7 Percent

Filed under: Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics — Tom @ 11:05 am

JohnKasich2012Best in the Rust Belt.

This post went up earlier this morning at Watchdog.org.

The Kasich administration’s mostly wise fiscal stewardship continues to pay dividends to Ohio workers, who prefer jobs over unemployment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday thatOhio‘s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in October, marking the first time that figure has been below 7 percent since August 2008. BLS data also show that the Buckeye State added 13,900 seasonally adjusted jobs, bringing total job additions during calendar 2012 to 97,600, one of the best performances in the nation.

Ohio’s results are all the more impressive when one looks at how it measures up to its immediate neighbors and fellow Rust Belt member Illinois. The unemployment rates and jobs added this year in Ohio and the six other states, sorted from the lowest to highest unemployment rate, are:

  • Ohio: 6.9 percent; 97,600 jobs; 1.9 percent workforce growth;
  • West Virginia: 7.5 percent; 13,200 jobs lost; 1.7 percent workforce contraction;
  • Indiana: 8 percent; 55,400 jobs; 1.9 percent workforce growth;
  • Pennsylvania: 8.1 percent; 39,400 jobs; 0.7 percent workforce growth;
  • Kentucky: 8.4 percent; 29,500 jobs; 1.6 percent workforce growth;
  • Illinois: 8.8 percent; 36,600 jobs; 0.6 percent workforce growth;
  • Michigan: 9.1 percent; 11,800 jobs; 0.3 percent workforce growth.

Every state listed, except Ohio and West Virginia, had an October unemployment rate that exceeded the national rate of 7.9 percent. Unfortunately, West Virginia has been losing jobs because of the Obama administration’s well-documented war on coal; sadly, that also has affected the Buckeye State, or its numbers would be even stronger.

Though Indiana’s unemployment rate is high, it has come down from 8.9 percent, a change that could be attributed to the Hoosier State joining the ranks of right-to-work states earlier this year.

Pennsylvania’s and Kentucky’s high unemployment rates can be blamed partially on the war on coal. The Keystone State‘s percentage workforce growth is especially anemic when one considers that its oil and gas industry has been doing quite well and hiring plenty of workers in the process. Meanwhile, the Bluegrass State‘s workforce growth appears acceptable at first glance, but should be much higher given its legions of unemployed.

That leaves the economic basket cases, Michigan and Illinois.

Michigan suffered mightily during the past decade under Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Its unemployment rate peaked at 14.2 percent in August 2009, and was still 11.2 percent when Republican Rick Snyder took office in January 2011. Snyder’s fiscally sensible policies took the state down to 8.3 percent this spring, but it has since spiked dangerously upward, possibly because Snyder has, like so many other Midwestern governors before him, become too receptive to raising taxes.

Though Illinois’ performance this year is slightly better than Michigan’s, its nearly two-year record since it passed massive income tax increases in January 2011 is far worse. The Illini State‘s unemployment rate is only 0.7 points lower than it was at the end of 2010, while the state has added only 68,000 jobs.

Why has Ohio outpaced these other states? First, Gov. John Kasich put the state’s fiscal house in order. Despite inheriting a potential $8 billion budget shortfall from predecessor Ted Strickland when he took office in January 2011, Kasich and the General Assembly balanced the state’s budget without raising taxes. He also hung out the “open for business” sign and made it a priority to keep employers in the state while encouraging out-of-state companies to expand or relocate.

There have been failures, most notably the attempt to rein in public-sector unions. There are also potential policy blunders he must avoid to keep the momentum going, particularly his ill-advised scheme to heavily tax the state’s growing energy industry. But on balance, Team Kasich has done well.

One thing I don’t expect to see is complacency. Kasich would be the first to say the state’s unemployment rate needs to drop by at least 2 points before he’ll be even remotely satisfied. Sadly, he’s largely at the mercy of the politicians in spending-addicted Washington, D.C., in improving things much further.

NYT v. Rush Limbaugh on Thanksgiving

NYT Link

Critical issue: Did William Bradford’s Pilgrims go capitalist before or after the first Thanksgiving? Answer: Actually after, but that doesn’t alter the lesson of prosperity.

The historical record says yes, and I’ll link to Rush’s site today after he covers it.

UPDATE: I don’t need to wait that long, as a Rush link from 2007 works (additional paragraph breaks and bolds added by me) –
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Unemployment Claims: 410K SA; NSA Claims 10% Below a Year Ago

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:49 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending November 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 410,000, a decrease of 41,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 451,000. The 4-week moving average was 396,250, an increase of 9,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 386,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 397,671 in the week ending November 17, a decrease of 80,872 from the previous week. There were 440,157 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

The upward revision to last week was 12,000 (from 439K to 451K).

There was a big change in the year-to-year seasonal factors used, from 112.7 for last year’s comparable week to 97.1 this year. It’s hard to imagine why there would be such a big difference from one year to the next, as both weeks involved were the last full week of business before the Thanksgiving week. If last year’s seasonal factor would have been used on this year’s raw number, seasonally adjusted claims would have come in at 353,000 (397,671 divided by 1.127, rounded), which would have made it a pretty decent week. It will be interesting to see if anyone in the press picks up this odd swing in seasonal factors.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112112)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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