February 22, 2015

The Economy’s Worst 8-Year Run in 62 Years

With two more rough years on the horizon.

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This column went up at PJ Media Friday evening and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Saturday.

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A couple of publications have noted that 2014 was the ninth consecutive year during which the U.S. economy grew by less than 3 percent.

They’re being too kind. Last year was the eighth year in a row of sub-2.5 percent growth, following four straight years (2003-2006) of higher growth.

It’s hardly a coincidence that the first year of that awful 2007-2014 streak just so happens to have been the same year that the Democratic Party took legislative control in Washington.

The nation’s political and media elites were quite pleased with themselves when the November 2006 elections brought about that result, largely because their daily hostility to all things Republican and/or conservative contributed mightily to it. They were absolutely ecstatic when Barack Obama, Mr. Perfectly Creased Pants, won the November 2008 presidential election and took office in January 2009.

As will be seen shortly, the former event marked the beginning of the U.S. economy’s worst eight-year stretch since 1945-1952. Obama’s presence in the Oval Office until January 2017 virtually ensures that we’ll have at least two more years of the policies which brought on that miserable result.

Raising the minimum wage was a key agenda item for new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority leader Harry Reid after their party took over Congress in 2007. The resulting effects on overall employment have been gruesome, to the point where the people who arbitrarily determine such things have absurdly decided, in the interest of covering their tracks, that the 4.5 percent unemployment rate seen during the middle of the past decade is no longer achievable, and that “full employment” is really a rate of 5.5 percent.

The higher minimum federal wage, and the even higher hourly minimums seen in many states and cities, have been especially disastrous for the very people supposedly targeted for help. Since the end of 2006, the seasonally adjusted black teen unemployment rate has risen by 5.5 points to 29.7 percent; that rate got perilously close to 50 percent during the recession. The only reason that the number of unemployed black teens is barely higher now than it was eight years ago is that far fewer of them are even bothering to look for work, and therefore aren’t considered part of that statistic. The average black teen labor force participation rate during 2014 of 27.2 percent was 6.8 points lower than that seen eight years earlier; the 2014 average employment-population ratio of 18.2 percent was 5.9 points lower.

Not satisfied with the number of job prospects they have already ruined for those who most need their first gainful employment opportunity, President Obama continues to push for a minimum-wage increase to $10.10 per hour, while leftist fever-swamp cities like Seattle are heading towards hourly rates as high as $15. More unemployment and more of the harmful effects of idleness await.

Congressional actions hostile to the economy during 2007 and 2008, poorly resisted by President George W. Bush and the Republican congressional minority, were bad enough. After Obama sewed up the Democratic presidential nomination in the spring of 2008, he and his party worsened matters. Their hostility towards developing energy resources and their intent to impose tax and regulatory overkill if elected became readily apparent, sending the economy into a far bigger swoon than the housing bubble alone would have caused. Thus was born the Pelosi-Obama-Reid (POR) economy.

When I first recognized the rapidly deteriorating situation, I asked:

In this business climate, are you going to hire more people? Replace employees when they leave? Expand your business?

As anyone could have predicted, the answers were “No,” “No,” and “Heck no.”

During the presidential transition, Obama let his community organizer mask slip on a few key occasions, inflicting further serious damage. One such incident occurred when he supported union workers illegally occupying a bankrupt company’s plant by telling reporters: “They’re absolutely right.” I wrote at the time that Obama’s statement of solidarity “set off alarms in the offices of entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and investors everywhere.” In the first full month after the sit-in, the economy shed more jobs than in any other month since such records have been kept.

Two years of Democratic control of Congress followed by six years of Obamanomics have given us the worst economic performance in 62 years:

8yearGDPgrowthPostWW2to2014

The 1952 result contains four difficult years of transition to peacetime following World War II; two minimum wage increases during that period may also have held the economy back. After that, the economy stayed generally healthy over long-term periods for over 50 years, until 2006. Even someone not conversant with economic policy can recognize that something has gone terribly wrong since then.

The already awful 9.99 percent result for 2007-2014 seems destined to drop a bit further. The latest estimates for fourth-quarter economic growth are coming in at an annualized 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent, far lower than the 2.6 percent the government reported in late January.

They are dozens of contributors to the current malaise, but three of them capsulize the horrid situation:

  • The Obama administration has spent six years passive-aggressively dithering over approving the 1,200-mile Keystone Pipeline — even though the nation currently has 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines in place functioning virtually without incident.
  • Operators of certain legal but politically incorrect businesses have seen their banking relationships terminated by financial institutions intimidated into their decisions by the government’s Operation Choke Point. This is a development which one observer correctly noted should be “terrifying to business owners in every industry.”
  • The administration has been operating a “shadow immigration system,” which during the past six years has issued 5.5 million work permits to non-citizens. No wonder legal U.S. citizens aren’t impressed by the government’s reported job-growth numbers.

Thus, agenda-driven regulators are deliberately holding up economic progress and bullying existing businesses, while illegal competition undercuts citizens who want jobs. It’s utterly amazing that the U.S. economy is growing at all. Given a recent report that “fewer native-born Americans are working today than were at the end of 2007,” perhaps the “U.S. citizen economy” really hasn’t.

Madnesses such as those just described, and so many others, will continue as long as Congress is unwilling to fully exercise its power of the purse. Unless we see a miraculous change in outlook, that’s not going to happen.

Prepare for two more very rough years.

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Lenovo’s Consumer Betrayal: A National Security Betrayal Too?

Via Zero Hedge, covered in several other places:

Lenovo Group, the largest computer manufacturer in the world, has made a rather stunning admission that they have been pre-installing tracking software on their PCs.

The tracking software is made by a company called Superfish, which apparently paid some “very minor compensation” to Lenovo for putting the software on people’s computers.

The Superfish program is a total disaster.

It has image recognition algorithms which essentially monitor what a user is looking at… then suggests relevant ads based on what it thinks you might like.

This is not only REALLY high up on the creepy scale, it also completely destroys Internet security.

the tracking software basically fools a web browser into believing that a connection is secure when it’s not… all for the purpose of pushing more ads in your face.

This scheme is so powerful that even if users uninstall the Superfish software, the security breach still remains.

This is so flagrant I have to imagine that even the NSA is shocked.

After its initial approach of being completely unapologetic and dismissal, Lenovo is now groveling for forgiveness.

Sadly, I think there’s reason to doubt that it’s only about ads.

Yes, Lenovo is majority publicly-held. But it’s also a China-based company. It’s not unreasonable to expect that it would be receptive to “requests” for “cooperation” from the Chinese government run by the Peoples Army to engage in security-related mischief that goes well beyond ad placement.

One clue that there may be a lot more to this than meets the eye is the defiant “initial approach” noted in the final excerpted paragraph.

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Ten Years Ago Today, BizzyBlog Began

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:25 am

This post will stay at the top on Sunday.

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Ten years ago today, I launched this blog.

The intent was to use it as an adjunct to a training business.

It has evolved into the hub of a personally rewarding and at times influential alternative career.

To all who have visited, from those who have been here virtually from the start to relative newbies: Thanks for visiting, reading, commenting, linking, and caring.

In fact, “thanks a million” is insufficient, given that the site has had over 1.4 million page views since I began using Google Analytics on June 11, 2007, and probably over 1.6 million since inception. Thanks to all who have read my columns and posts at NewsBusters, PJ Media and elsewhere; the number of page views at those two just-named sites has surely been a large multiple of those occurring here.

What follow are the titles and brief descriptions of the first day’s posts.

“Rollout day” on February 22, 2005 was unusual in that it was a test-post day with multiple entries. Most of the very early days had only one post, and — gasp! — some days even had none. I was just getting used to this cute little program called WordPress:

  • Social Security Point of the Day (SSPOD) — The point was that the higher your average annual earnings while working, the less your benefit is as a percentage of your working-career income. Sadly, that’s still true.
  • Corporate Outrage–Would Someone Please Fire Me? — This was about HP CEO Carly Fiorina, whose reward for mismanaging one of the world’s great companies was a $42 million golden parachute. Fiorina is now considered an influential Republican said to be thinking about running for President. There’s a reason the GOP is often called the Stupid Party.
  • Quote of the Day — “Sometimes it’s really hard to see the forest for the sleaze.” *
  • Marvel of the Day — about Quill, the office supplies mail-order/online giant, now a part of Staples.
  • Card Sharks on the AttackMy attack was on the idea that a creditor could raise your interest rate because you’re late paying someone else. That is among many horrid practices which should never have taken hold, and which ultimately partially contributed to today’s climate of over-regulation and micromanagement of the card industry and financial institutions in general by the federal government.

* – Not much has changed, has it? (except that there’s a lot more of it)

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Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022215)

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.

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Positivity: George Washington and a Little-Known Turning Point in American History

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

georgewashingtonThis post is a Washington’s Birthday BizzyBlog tradition.

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Few know that George Washington singlehandedly prevented a soldiers’ revolt in 1783.

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(from historyplace.com)

At the close of the Revolutionary War in America, a perilous moment in the life of the fledgling American democracy occurred as officers of the Continental Army met in Newburgh, New York, to discuss grievances and consider a possible insurrection against the rule of Congress.

They were angry over the failure of Congress to honor its promises to the army regarding salary, bounties and life pensions. The officers had heard from Philadelphia that the American government was going broke and that they might not be compensated at all.

On March 10, 1783, an anonymous letter was circulated among the officers of General Washington’s main camp at Newburgh. It addressed those complaints and called for an unauthorized meeting of officers to be held the next day to consider possible military solutions to the problems of the civilian government and its financial woes.

General Washington stopped that meeting from happening by forbidding the officers to meet at the unauthorized meeting. Instead, he suggested they meet a few days later, on March 15th, at the regular meeting of his officers.

Meanwhile, another anonymous letter was circulated, this time suggesting Washington himself was sympathetic to the claims of the malcontent officers.

And so on March 15, 1783, Washington’s officers gathered in a church building in Newburgh, effectively holding the fate of democracy in America in their hands.

Unexpectedly, General Washington himself showed up. He was not entirely welcomed by his men, but nevertheless, personally addressed them…
(more…)

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February 21, 2015

Saturday Night (Pointed) Humor: Cavuto Admits That It’s All Fox News’s Fault

Thursday on his Your World show, host Neil Cavuto went after the Obama administration’s near obsession with the coverage it gets on Fox News.

While Team Obama can count on the Big Three triumvirate of ABC, CBS and NBC to toe the line, promoting its points while generally avoiding damning information, Fox has generally remained fair and balanced, an approach which has clearly gotten under their ultra-thin skins.

(more…)

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Shhh! Downward Revision to Fourth-Quarter 2014 Growth Is Very Likely

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:55 am

On February 12, in a report on inventories, the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger referred to an economist who believed, in Crutsinger’s words, “that the economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate in the final three months of the year (2014).” That result would be a fairly significant downward revision to the 2.6 percent rate the government estimated in late January.

The next day, Macroeconomic Advisers, a leading economic research firm which describes itself as “independent with no loyalty to any political ideology,” estimated that the economy, as measured in its Gross Domesitic Product, “declined by 0.6% in December, and growth for November was revised down by three-tenths.” Since then, though they may be out there somewhere, I haven’t seen AP or other major news outlets make any reference to analysts’ revised fourth-quarter estimates.

(more…)

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Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022115)

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.

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Contemptuous, and Contemptible, Kasich: “he called opposition to Common Core ‘a runaway Internet campaign.’” (HT Education Freedom Ohio).

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Positivity: Toronto man finds stranger who saved his life twelve years ago

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Toronto:

Published on Sat Feb 07 2015

In 2002, Mark Henick let go of the rail on a Cape Breton bridge, attempting suicide. A stranger pulled him back. Henick now knows his name: Mike Richey

In 2002, when Mark Henick stood on the edge of a Cape Breton overpass and let go, a stranger reached out and saved him from taking his own life.

Last week, after launching a social media campaign to find the man, Henick received an email from Mike Richey, the man he remembered from that night at the overpass — fixated on Henick’s fingers, watching for the moment he feared was coming, when the teen let go and “leaned forward into nothing.”

In a moving video shared online, Henick, 27, and now a mental health advocate, reads the first email he received from Richey.
(more…)

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Latest PJ Media Column (‘The Economy’s Worst 8-Year Run in 62 Years’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:00 am

This post will stay at the top on Saturday.

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It’s here.

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

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Here’s the column’s core graph:

8yearGDPgrowthPostWW2to2014

You have to go back to the early-1950s to find 8 years of real economic growth worse than what we saw in 2007-2014.

Additionally:

  • The 2007-2014 figure is virtually destined to come down a tiny bit because of impending downward revisions to the initial fourth-quarter annualized GDP result of 2.6 percent. Barring a big upside data surprise in the next few business days, 2.0 percent seems to be pretty much the best hope. 1 percent or lower is not at all out of the question.
  • It wouldn’t surprise me if the comprehensive revision coming in late spring may reveal that the heady results of 2Q14 and 3Q14 (annualized 4.6 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively) were overstated.
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February 20, 2015

Waiting For Retractions: FBI Says Arrested Colorado Springs Bomber Did Not Target NAACP

Earlier today, Thaddeus Murphy was charged in U.S. District Court in Colorado in connection with an attempted January bombing in Colorado Springs.

The targeted building houses that city’s chapter of the NAACP, a barber shop — and, apparently at one time, a tax accountant’s office. Quite a few people leaped to the conclusion that the bomb had to be meant for the NAACP, even though, as syndicated columnist and area resident Michelle Malkin noted last month, “The NAACP office is located on the opposite side of the building” from where the explosion occurred. The Criminal Complaint filed today indicates that the NAACP was not the target. The long vacant accountant’s office was.

(more…)

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AP Avoids Dem Affiliation of Indicted NY Speaker Sheldon Silver For 9 Paragraphs

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted on Thursday on charges of “honest services mail fraud, honest services wire fraud and extortion” involving almost $4 million in alleged bribes and kickbacks

It took Larry Neumeister and Jennifer Peltz at the Associated Press nine paragraphs to tag Silver as a Democrat. It also seems likely, based on this unbyline shorter WGY/AP story time-stamped at 1 p.m., almost six hours before the time stamp on the two reporters’ evening story, that the wire service kept Silver’s party affiliation completely out of its early breaking news stories, i.e., the ones which would have quickly made it to the airwaves.

(more…)

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Goldman Sachs: The World’s Economy Is In Contraction

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:13 am

What?

Do you mean to tell me that cheap oil and trillions upon trillions of dollars of government stimulus and deficit spending aren’t working?

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UPDATE, 11:45 A.M.: Related, but tying back to fourth quarter GDP, which seems destined to fall sharply from its originally reported annualized 2.6 percent —

Monthly GDP declined 0.6% in December, and growth for November was revised down by three-tenths. The decline in December reflected a sharp deceleration in PCE and a large decline in net exports; nonfarm inventory investment declined somewhat.

Unfortunately, I could not determine Macroeconomic Advisers’ original or resulting November values.

If Macro Advisers is right, then to even hold a 1.6% annualized result, October and November need to have advanced by a half-point each, or (ignoring compounding) an annualized rate of 6 percent each month. That would net out to +0.4 percent for the quarter (0.5 + 0.5 – 0.6), which would annualize to +1.6 percent.

That doesn’t seem likely. Again if Macro Advisers is right about December, a 1 percent or lower reading (which even then would require a quite robust 0.425 percent raw advance in both October and November [5.1 percent annualized]), is not at all out of the question.

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022015)

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.

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Positivity: ”God wanted me to live’: Missouri teen’s ‘miracle’ recovery after underwater for 15 minutes’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Lake St. Louise, Missouri (video at link):

Feb. 7, 2015 at 9:54 AM ET

A 14-year-old Missouri boy who fell through an icy lake and was underwater for 15 minutes, with no pulse for nearly 45 minutes, has made a “miraculous” recovery, doctors said. Now, John Smith says he’s fortunate to be alive.

“There’s no really any explanation but how God wanted me to live for a reason so i’m alive now,” John told TODAY.

The eighth-grader was walking over an ice-covered Lake St. Louise with two friends when the trio fell through the ice. While one of the teens was able to swim back to shore, and another clung to the ice, John fell through the water and was submerged for more than 15 minutes before paramedics arrived.

First responders conducted CPR for 15 minutes before doctors at SSM St. Joseph Hospital West continued for another 27 minutes, NBC affiliate KSDK reported. After John didn’t have a heartbeat for 45 minutes, doctors said they called his mom, Joyce, so she could say goodbye.

“He was gone,” said Dr. Nancy Bauer, who treated John at the Missouri hospital. “I’ve never felt someone so cold in my life.”

As doctors were telling Joyce in the trauma room about the condition of her son, the distraught mom said she started praying.

“A few seconds later, we had a heartbeat,” Bauer said. “It gave me goosebumps.”

The next morning, John opened his eyesand was able to move his feet. SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center PICU described the story as “a miracle.” “I remember everybody just kind of started crying,” she said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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