July 26, 2013

Not News: IRS Has Only Provided 0.02% of Documents Requested by House

The establishment press’s general refusal to cover clearly newsworthy developments in the Obama administration scandal involving the targeting of conservative, tea party, prolife and other groups by the Internal Revenue Service has been so negligent and blatant that several leading conservatives, including the MRC’s Brent Bozell and talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, called it out in an open letter earlier this week.

Consistent with the rest of their colleagues, the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, appears to have had no substantive story on the scandal since July 18 — and that one was about primarily Democrats beating the false meme that progressive groups were supposedly targeted similarly. The AP’s negligence extends to the tax agency’s shocking level of non-cooperation with House Ways & Means Committee investigators, as will be seen after the jump.

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More on Ohio’s Employment Situation (Metro Columbus and the Rest of Us)

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:06 pm

I have had some concern raised about that fact that this week’s posts (here and here) comparing Ohio to seven other neighboring and midwestern states ignored the fact that the Buckeye State at least has a low unemployment rate.

Okay, let’s look at that.

I really wanted to find some good news for Ohioans here — or at decent enough news to counter previous posts this week. Unfortunately, I didn’t — unless you live in Metro Columbus, in which case you should be reasonably happy.

State unemployment rates can go down for three reasons:

  1. People get jobs.
  2. People who can’t get jobs leave the state’s labor force.
  3. People who can’t get jobs leave the state.

Unfortunately, Ohio has had a lot more of Items 2 and 3 in some combination than Item 1 — everywhere except Metro Columbus, that is.

Here’s what employment growth looks like during the past two and four years per the Household Survey, which includes self-employed and contract workers not included in the Establishment Survey of payrolls:

OHetcHousholdJobGrowthToJune2013

The Buckeye State is an unimpressive sixth in seasonally adjusted employment growth during the past two years, beating out Indiana and Illinois. It’s the worst during the past four years, but that’s because of awful losses during many of the final 18 months the state was governed by Ted Strickland.

Trouble is, as has been seen in so many other analyses done by yours truly, the vast majority of the gains have been in Metro Columbus.

I had to look at not seasonally adjusted figures for May because the government doesn’t prepare seasonally adjusted figures for Columbus, and June raw numbers for the metro areas haven’t been released yet. So the analysis isn’t completely apples-to-apples, but it’s close and current enough to make the point.

If Metro Columbus and the rest of Ohio were separate states, Columbus’s +2.76% performance would put it near the top of the list of Household Survey job growth performers, while the rest of the state, at +0.26%, would be dead last. (Both percentages will obviously change a bit in June, but not by enough to affect the points being made in this analysis.)

Now let’s look at the unemployment rate, which is one of the Kasich administration’s last refuges of relative positivity.

Since Household Survey Growth hasn’t been very impressive, Items 2 and 3 above (people leaving the workforce and people leaving the state) predominantly explain the relatively low rate compared to other states, as seen in the following table:

OHetcAlternativeUnempRatesToJune2013

If Ohio’s workforce had held steady during the past two years with the same level of Household Survey employment instead of declining by far more (0.83%) than any other state listed, the state’s official unemployment rate would be 7.9% instead of its current 7.2%. If it had stayed the same as it was four years ago, the unemployment rate would be 10.2%, second-worst on the list to Michigan. Much of Michigan’s what-if 11.4% can be attributed to people moving out of the Wolverine State.

Ouch.

It gets worse — once again, except for those in Metro Columbus.

Looking at May’s not seasonally adjusted numbers for the reasons noted earlier, we see that:

  • Ohio’s overall unemployment rate was 6.9%. Metro Columbus had 6.0%; the rest of the state was at 7.1%.
  • Metro Columbus’s workforce has grown.
  • Because of that workforce growth, Columbus’s unemployment rates based on past workforce levels would be ridiculously low. That’s what happens in growing areas, and it makes such comparisons sort of absurd.
  • But such comparisons are not absurd for the rest of the state, because its workforce has contracted — by almost 70,000 in the past two years, and by an astonishing (and depressing) 206,000 in the past four.
  • The unemployment rate in the rest of the state based on its May 2011 labor force would be 8.5% — higher than the current rate in every state listed in the first table except Illinois.
  • The unemployment rate in the rest of the state based on its May 2009 labor force would be 11.4%.

Since the state’s overall population has basically held steady during the past four years, it’s reasonable to believe that most of those who have left the workforce are still in Ohio. Sure, some have retired, and some have moved into Metro Columbus, but that can’t possibly explain over 200,000 “disappearing” workers in the rest of the state. I daresay that many are still on the sidelines waiting for a decent enough economy that will make searching for a job worthwhile. And yes, more than a few may have found that living on federal bennies, off the grid, or with Mom and/or Dad make more sense than formal employment.

Paraphrasing what I wrote yesterday: If this doesn’t demonstrate that Team Kasich needs to reevaluate what it’s doing and how it’s doing it from top to bottom, I don’t know what will. Of course, this assumes that they really care about what’s happening outside of the I-270 beltway. Do they?

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (072613)

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

This open thread will stay at the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

If you are on the front page, click “more” to see today’s items (updated sporadically).
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Positivity: Pope embraces, voices love for drug addicts at Rio hospital

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Rio de Janiero:

Jul 24, 2013 / 04:33 pm

At a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis said his namesake St. Francis of Assisi put his conversion into action when he embraced a man with leprosy, saying this is a model for the life of a Christian.

“This brother, suffering and an outcast, was the ‘mediator of light … for Saint Francis of Assisi,’” Pope Francis said, quoting his recent encyclical, “because in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ.”

“Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope,” he said during his July 24 visit to St. Francis of Assisi Hospital, a center which treats drug and alcohol addiction and is free of charge to indigents.

Earlier, Pope Francis had said Mass at the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and visited a seminary. On returning to Rio de Janeiro and coming to the hospital, he was greeted by the city’s bishop, Archbishop Orani Tempesta, and by the hospital’s coordinator of projects and its director.

Two of the facility’s patients gave their testimony, and gave gifts to Pope Francis before he spoke.

At this “particular shrine of human suffering,” he said “we all have to learn to embrace the one in need” as did St. Francis, who saw that “true joy and riches” are found not in the possession of material things but “only in following Christ and serving others.”

Pope Francis addressed the effort in “various parts” of Latin America to de-criminalize and “liberalize” drug use, saying this “will not” achieve a “reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction,” as is sometimes argued.

The Pope lamented that selfishness often prevails in society, rather than the “attention, care and love” required to fight chemical dependency. Societies need to be courageous, he taught, in acting against drug-trafficking and its attendant violence.

“It is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.