January 25, 2015

Recovery Watch: Homeless Problem in LA Growing

As President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown continue to extol the wonders of the alleged economic recovery of nation and the Golden State, respectively, stories of significant growth in homelessness continue to rain on their parades. The latest example comes on the heels of reports on Seattle’s burgeoning problem and the city’s apparent willingness to allow officially sanctioned outdoor encampments to serve as a “temporary” (yeah, sure) solution.

In a Saturday item in the Los Angeles Times about the expansion of “homeless camps” outside of what had been known as the LA’s “skid row,” Times reporter Gale Holland apparently learned not to repeat a revealing disclosure she made in a December Times report covering the situation in San Jose. Her coverage was remarkably vague, failing to provide specifics I believe she could have relayed with little effort, especially given that homelessness and poverty is her assigned beat. Excerpts follow the jump.



Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (012515)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: Pro-Life Sign of the Day

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

In Washington on Thursday (HT Daily Signal):


January 24, 2015

Memo to People Who Called Us Paranoid About the Government Taxing Savings Plans

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:40 pm

We weren’t paranoid — just good predictors and assesors of the other side’s lack of character and integrity.

Oh, and you guys were either dissembling, or hopelessly naive.


Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (012415)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: RIP, Ernie Banks

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Chicago — my first sports idol as a kid and a lifelong hero has passed away:

Ernie Banks dies at age 83


“Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks, the Hall of Fame slugger and two-time MVP who never lost his boundless enthusiasm for baseball despite years of playing on losing Chicago Cubs teams, died Friday night. He was 83.

The Cubs paid tribute to Banks on the Wrigley marquee Friday night:


The Cubs announced Banks’ death, but did not provide a cause.

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time,” Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a statement released by the team. “He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known.

“Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie’s life in the days ahead.”

Though he played in 14 All-Star Games from 1953 to ’71, Banks never reached the postseason, and the Cubs finished below .500 in all but six of his seasons. Still, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, the first year he was eligible, and selected to baseball’s All-Century team in 1999.

Banks’ infectious smile and nonstop good humor despite his team’s dismal record endeared him to Chicago fans, who voted him the best player in franchise history.

One famous admirer, “Saturday Night Live” star Bill Murray, named his son Homer Banks Murray. Former major league outfielder Dale Murphy, in a tweet Friday night, said: “Did a card show w Ernie Banks. He drove the promoter crazy! Spent time/talked with every person. After an hour had signed maybe 15.”

Banks’ No. 14 was the first number retired by the Cubs, and hangs from the left-field foul pole at Wrigley Field.

“I’d like to get to the last game of the World Series at Wrigley Field and hit three homers,” he once said. “That was what I always wanted to do.”

News of Banks’ death quickly spread throughout the sports world Friday night, with major league teams, former greats and current players taking to social media to express their condolences. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

More stories about Banks’ career are here (video at link), here (tributes), here, and here (original scouting report indicating that his attitude was “very good”).

So many athletes ultimately disappoint those who idolize them, but not Ernie Banks, who always had a heart of gold and an iron will.

Quote of the day: “Heaven-sent and now heaven-bound. Thanks, Mr. Cub!”

January 23, 2015

Re: ‘Deflategate’

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 11:46 pm

Given the team involved and their history, I certainly understand the suspicions.

But the following quote made me entertain another possibility I have heard no one bring up:

“I did not believe what (New England Patriots quarterback) Tom (Brady) had to say. Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it, and I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL who, on his own initiative, would deflate a ball without his starting quarterback’s approval,” (former NFL quarterback Mark) Brunell said.

Well, what would cause an equipment manager to do such a thing — something he knows is against the rules but would benefit his team’s quarterback — “on his own initiative”?

Hint: It’s green, and it would come from people who would financially benefit from the Patriots beating the Colts by more than the point spread.

This could hurt the NFL the way the Black Sox Scandal hurt baseball 95 years ago.

Maybe the reason no one is mentioning what I believe is a pretty clear possibility is that they’ve been told not to.


Pass the Smelling Salts: AP Uses the Term ‘Radical Left’

In a report on the upcoming Greek elections, an unbylined Friday afternoon Associated Press report dusted off words seldom seen in their dispatches, using the term “radical left” twice and the word “radical” separately once for good measure.

The almost never seen terms — virtually invisible in decades of descriptions of longtime radical leftists like Fidel Castro, the late Hugo Chavez or lefty legends like the late Che Guevera — appeared in describing the party and policies of Greece’s Syriza party and its leader, Alexis Tsipras. Syriza and Tsipras appear to have winning momentum going into Sunday’s balloting. Excerpts follow the jump:



DOL, AP Spin Today’s Glum (For Organized Labor) Union Membership Report

Someone looking at the annual “Union Members” report released this morning by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics would logically conclude that 2014 was a year organized labor would rather forget.

While average nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by over 2.32 million from 2013 to 2014, union membership only went up by 48,000, or about 2 percent of the nationwide increase. Additionally, the private sector’s 41,000-person pickup in union membership was only 1.6 percent of its total 2.55 million increase. Yes, that means that public-sector union membership increased a bit while public-sector employment declined by 226,000. Of course, no such decidedly negative nuggets made their way into Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s press release or Tom Raum’s Associated Press report, excerpts of which follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):



Not News: Fewer Than 0.5% of Americans Live in Fully Recovered Counties

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:22 am

In his State of the Union address — perhaps, based on the recommendations for government involvement and control he made therein, better described as his Statist of the Union address — President Obama referenced the “growing” U.S. economy at least three times, but “recovery” only once. Specifically, he claimed that “thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives.”

The recovery, which Obama acknowledged is still in progress over 5-1/2 years after the recession officially ended, has a great deal more “touching” to do. On January 12, the National Association of Counties released a detailed study which most of the press ignored, but which would have been front-page and broadcast-leading news in a Republican or conservative presidential administration. The NACo report showed that only 65 of the nation’s 3,069 counties have fully recovered from the recession. That’s bad enough, but even with that ugly statistic, the results involved are worse than they appear.

Eric Morath’s coverage of the report at the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog missed a key point, namely how sparsely populated the 65 fully recovered counties are:

Of More Than 3,000 U.S. Counties, Just 65 Have Recovered From Recession, NACo Says

… The 2014 County Economic Tracker shows that 65 of the nation’s 3,069 counties have met or surpassed prerecession levels in four measured categories: jobs, unemployment rate, economic output and home prices.

The recovered counties are largely located in energy-rich areas and have small populations. Of the 65 recovered counties, 24 are in Texas and 16 are in North Dakota. The others are generally in the middle of the country, including nine in Minnesota and eight in Kansas.

None of the recovered counties has more than 500,000 residents.

Actually, only 15 of the counties are in North Dakota. Far more important, a detailed look at 2013 Census data using the bureau’s interactive tool indicates that none of the recovered counties has more than 200,000 residents:


Also, as seen above, 34 of the counties, or over half, have populations of under 10,000.

The 65 fully-recovered counties represent just over 2 percent of all U.S. counties, but their total population of under 1.4 million is less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s total. This means that 99.56 percent of Americans live in counties which have not fully come back to where they were in 2007.

But the Obama administration and its press acolytes continue to crow about the economy. Unreal.

A crowning irony is that if the Obama administration’s environmental zealots had their way and had stopped hydraulic fracturing, the number of fully recovered counties today would be likely have been cut by more than half from the already absolutely abysmal total.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (012315)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: Hundreds of Thousands of Pro-Lifers March for Life, Mourn 57 Million Abortions

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

1/22/15 2:55 PM

Hundreds of thousands of pro-life people turned out for the annual March for Life in Washington, braving cold temperatures to take a stand for the right to life of unborn children. While marchers mourned 42 years of legalized abortion, many sounded a hopeful theme for a pro-life future and think the decision will eventually be reversed.

The Roe v. Wade decision, handed down on January 22, 1973, overturned pro-life laws offering protection for unborn children in most states across the country, and made abortions legal and virtually unlimited. Almost 58 million unborn children have been killed in abortions since.

Polling data shows Americans are pro-life and few agree with Obama’s unlimited abortion position. Pope Francis sent out a tweet praying for the marchers.

As with other recent marches, the number of young adults and high school and college students impressed organizers and provided another reason to be optimistic. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 22, 2015

As National Press Mostly Snoozes, Add Seattle to the List of Cities Where Homelessness Is Rising

A week ago, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat, called homelessness in his city and the rest of King County a “full-blown crisis.”

Based on the numbers presented in coverage of the area’s situation, we can certainly add the Emerald City to the list of areas where homelessness has been on the rise. Odds are that many readers here didn’t know that, because the national press hardly ever pays attention to homelessness when a Democrat occupies the White House. Now imagine the firestorm which would erupt if a Republican or conservative proposed the “solution,” however allegedly temporary, Murray is advancing (bolds are mine):



More on the ‘Myth’ of ‘No-Go Zones,’ Which Were Recognized Even Before the 2005 European Riots

Earlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the establishment press’s apparent determination to punish anyone who dares to mention the existence — in their view, the “myth” — of “no-go zones” in France and other European countries.

The tactic seems to be working. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, who criticized CNN for allowing guests to use the term and failing to challenge them after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, is now praising the network, particularly Anderson Cooper, for backing away, even though one of those guests was a “former CIA official” who, it would seem, would have been asserting his position about their existence based on job experience and other acquired knowledge. Before the term completely disappears down the memory hole, readers should be reminded that it was being used even before the 2005 riots in Europe.



A Badly Needed Economics Lesson

Henry Hazlitt’s vital lessons explained on PJTV.


This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday.


How serendipitous it is that PJTV has begun 2015 with a series of videos covering Henry Hazlitt’s marvelous book, “Economics in One Lesson.”

Its arrival comes just as Obama administration apologists celebrate the alleged wonders of our current economy. Later, I will provide one example showing how suspect those claims likely are.

PJTV’s effort includes an installment on each of Hazlitt’s original 24 chapters. Short of reading and absorbing the content of the book itself, its series may be the best 90 or so minutes one will ever spend learning how societies genuinely advance their living standards, and how governments almost invariably work to slow or stop that onward march. It’s perfectly suited for otherwise very busy people who only can carve out a few minutes a day from their daily pursuits, including the millions who are working multiple part-time and temporary jobs in this allegedly marvelous economy just to makes end meet.

Keynesian naysayers will immediately try to pounce on PJTV’s supposedly misplaced priorities. After all, a skeptic’s book originally published almost 70 years ago can’t possibly have any current relevance. We’re all so much smarter now, right? Wrong.

Since the advent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, Keynesian thought has held sway with rare exceptions in economics courses throughout the land. As has been the case in so many other areas dominated by leftist dogma, real-world failures to achieve predicted outcomes have only caused its adherents to double down on their nonsense, mount ever more absurd arguments, and turn up the shrillness of their attacks on opponents.

Keynesians desperately in search of good news after the awful recovery from the nation’s most recent recession — a recovery publicly and explicitly directed by their disciples — want the public to believe that the U.S. economy’s recent performance, at long last, vindicates their precepts.

We’re supposed to forget that their recipe gave us a four-year post-downturn performance that was arguably worse — that’s right, worse — than the four years following the Great Depression’s 1993 crater. We’re not allowed to notice that the 20 percent ramp-up in federal spending supposedly required to enact their precious stimulus plan in 2009, originally sold as a “temporary” two-year maneuver, has instead morphed into what they hope is a permanent floor in the size and scope of the federal government upon which they build an even bigger leviathan.

We’re supposed to discount as unimportant the $6 trillion in deficits and the $7.5 trillion increase in the national debt seen during Barack Obama’s presidency. We’re supposed to believe that the $4.5 trillion in Federal Reserve electronic money creation known as “quantitative easing,” without which an otherwise broke government could never have financed its profligacy, won’t badly hurt us down the road.

Through the first quarter of 2014, during the first 4-3/4 years after the recession’s official end, this unprecedented spending and borrowing binge got us real average annualized economic growth of … wait for it … 2.1 percent. By contrast, during the 1980s recovery, the government under President Ronald Reagan faced far more challenging conditions, including sky-high inflation and interest rates, than Team Obama did in early 2009. Despite that, and while mostly making economic policy choices directly opposed to what Keynesians would have recommended, annualized growth averaged a stunning 4.8 percent.

But now, all is supposedly well. The government estimates that the economy grew by an annualized 4.8 percent during last year’s second and third quarters, finally accomplishing for two quarters what Reagan’s economy did for almost five years. The U.S. economy added a seasonally adjusted 2.95 million payroll jobs in 2014, the largest pickup since 1999. The unemployment rate is “only” 5.6 percent, which, thanks to convenient bar-lowering and likely statistical manipulation, is what the economic elites now believe is “full employment.”

It would be nice to think that what has finally happened is that the private sector has finally figured out how to maneuver its way around the latest round of government encroachment. Sadly, business birth and death statistics shatter that illusion.

Last week, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, noted that the number of new business startups has trailed the number of failures for the past four reported years. That has never happened since such measurements began in the 1970s. The margin is not narrow: “Four hundred thousand new businesses are being born annually nationwide, while 470,000 per year are dying.”

Such conditions would lead one to question how the economy can be growing so robustly. Hazlitt has at least part of the tragic answer in his book’s Chapter 8: “Spread-the-Work Schemes.”

Though the chapter focuses on labor union make-work and featherbedding practices, which “always raises production costs,” and end up resulting “in less work done and in fewer goods produced,” the principles involved have direct application to how the Obama administration has imposed its will on the nation’s economy. It has done so by creating make-work schemes, at the very least within Obamacare and the government’s regulatory apparatus.

Obamacare’s onerous electronic recordkeeping and reporting requirements on doctors and medical providers have quietly created an entire new industry of “medical scribes.” According to Politico, “About 100,000 of these glorified typists are expected to be working for doctors by 2020.” Though there’s no reason to question the work ethic of the individuals involved, the fact is that these people clearly add little or no value to the healthcare delivery system.

In early December, Labor Secretary Tom Perez bragged: ”At the beginning of this administration, there were 730 investigators in the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. Today, we’re over a thousand.” The idea that the there are thousands and thousands of employers out there brazenly violating minimum-wage laws is patently absurd. These new workers will at best add no value to anything. At worst, over time, as a friend of mine who has fought the government has long pointed out, they will dream up new ways to harass law-abiding businesses.

In each instance and likely dozens of others, the new make-work hires are of course counted as employed, and are naturally getting paid and spending most of their take-home pay. Their consumption is treated as part of gross domestic product. So the real question isn’t whether GDP is being artificially inflated by make-work hiring; it’s only how much artificial GDP inflation is occurring with no accompanying genuine increase in standards of living.

This is just one real-life application of Hazlitt’s clearly explained economic principles. Surely dozens of others await those who subscribe to PJTV’s important series.