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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Fighting The Last War
I seem to remember that when George Bush in the Fall of 2000, did what was known as "talking down the economy."
A quote from an article by economist James K Glassman before the Friday job report::

Bush's response to the recession was far from radical. It was classic Keynesian medicine: lower taxes, higher government spending and lower interest rates. There's not much more that public policy can do, which is why the Democrats don't offer remedies, just criticism.

Negative psychology can derail the recovery just as easily as high oil prices. But maybe that's the point. A booming economy is the worst nightmare for Kerry and his pals in the press, so it's hardly a surprise that they're talking it down. It's the only economic strategy they have.

The economy is what it is, but hoping for the economy to tank is a necessary part of the Kerry campaign at this point. If the economy, the War etc can be painted as a glass half empty, they stand a chance. Trouble is, they are fighting the '92 election all over again. I keep expecting to see the old sign "Its the Economy Stupid" behind Tad Devine, the Kerry communications director, when he's interviewed. Trouble is, its not the economy this time. 9/11 changed that. They are truly fighting the last war, both politically, and I'm afraid, militarily.

Jounalism 101:
Journalists know that most people don't read an entire news article. They read the headline, they read the lead, or first few words, and move on to Dilbert and how the pennant race is doing. So, to get the agenda across, they scream a headline to get your attention, then the main point of the story. The further down a fact or quote is, the less it fit with the agenda the jounalist had in mind when he started his story.

Here's an example of this technique.

The employment rate:
The employment rate currently stands at 94.6 percent. While off from the RECORD highs of the 90's, still very close to full employment by economic standards. Jimmy Carter would have given alot for those kind of employment numbers in 1980.

And here is the end of the link from Forbes:

Executive Optimism

``These new jobs are just the beginning of what we believe will be increased and very strong hiring activity for the remainder of the year,'' said Steve Pogorzelski, president of Monster.com North America, operator of the biggest Internet job service. ``That's good news for the economy because it means greater consumer confidence and more consumer spending.''

Chief executives are more optimistic about the economy than they have been for two years, anticipating greater sales and hiring through the rest of this year and into 2005, according to a survey released this week by the Business Roundtable, an industry lobby group. Eighty-nine percent of executives polled predicted sales would rise over the next six months and 40 percent expected payrolls to increase.

International Business Machines Corp., the world's largest computer maker, last month raised its hiring forecast for the year to 18,800 from 15,000. The move will increase the company's workforce to the highest since 1991.

All those optimists must be Republicans..
I do love the ad on the right in the article about helping to dump Tom Daschle though. : -)

Also, the link from an old CNN Money story herald the employment rate in the beginning, but the rest of the story is about the very real possiblity of the Fed raising interest rates at that time due to the TIGHTNESS in the job market. Full employment brings its own problems, but harping on how "bad" things are helps Kerry.

Let's move on to The Gap Between Rich and Poor: from an AP story published in The Seattle Times.
The headline and lead are the agenda:

Gap between rich and poor widening in troubled economy

By Leigh Strope
The Associated Press

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SHINGTON — Over two decades, the income gap has steadily increased between the richest Americans, who own homes and stocks and got big tax breaks, and those at the middle and bottom of the pay scale, whose paychecks buy less.

Even has a nifty little chart with an agenda driven headline of its own.
I mean, if its a chart it must be true, right?
It then has several anecdotal stories of suffering.
In a less than subtle way, it blames the Bush administration for the suffering
of these poor people.

But, the last lines of the story is this, from an economist at Wells Fargo: :

Technology has eliminated many U.S. jobs, as has global competition, particularly from low-wage countries such as China. Highly skilled, educated workers in America will thrive as demand rises, Sohn said, while low-skilled jobs remain vulnerable to outsourcing.

"This really has nothing to do with Bush or Kerry, but more to do with the longer-term shift in the structure of the economy," Sohn said.

Oops. Good thing that was buried at the end, or someone may have actually learned what has caused this gap. Then Bush couldn't be blamed. Can't have that, now can we?

Let's move on to Bankruptcies:
Again, the reasons for this increase are mentioned, toward the end of the story:

Some experts suspect the jump in bankruptcies might be due to people wishing to get their claims filed before a bill potentially got passed into law.

"This could be prodding people who are in financial trouble who may have talked to a lawyer to file now," says David Skeel professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia and author of Debts Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy in America.

It then goes on to talk about how the Stigma of bankruptcy has begin to disappear.
Personal Debt is a huge issue in this country. Americans have borrowed themselves into a hole. But this isn't a fix for the government to make. Its a question of taking responsibility, and, gasp, living within our means on a personal level.

Which brings us to the deficit.
Here, the "journalist" has 12 paragraphs. 9 of them talk about a "record" 364 billion dollar deficit.
But in the middle, is this:
However, Bush administration officials noted that the 2003 deficit represented just 3.5 percent of the country's total economic output, below the 5 percent and 6 percent levels hit in the 1980s during the Reagan administration. The administration prefers to link the deficit to total economic output as a better measure of the country's ability to carry the debt burden.

Using percentages seems reasonable when discussing unemployment numbers. Why is it not reasonable when discussing a wartime deficit? The answer is that viewing the deficit as a percentage is not helpful to John Kerry.
Regardless, here are some of the ideas to bring down the deficit, most of which is due to entitlement programs that Liberals have no desire to cut or change.

Consumer confidence, like employment numbers, is a lagging indicator, and one of the most fickle. Using it as a main barometer for the economy is like using a mason jar to measure the flooding from Hurricane Frances.

Now let's discuss the 45 million uninsured in this country. Its an important discussion, as you may be one of those 45 million if you changed jobs, and didn't have insurance for a day. Here is an important article on this topic from the Heritage Foundation.

The Census Bureau’s statement that its survey “is not designed primarily to collect health insurance data[7] should be accepted at face value: it is an internal recognition that the Bureau’s methodology for this task is flawed.

Public officials should require the Census Bureau to make appropriate methodological adjustments and thus better calculate the number of the uninsured and their durations of uninsurance. Congress and the Administration should take the necessary steps to see that the Census produces this sort of data in a clear, comprehensive, and reliable fashion.

The issue of uninsurance is simply too important for its public face to come from an indifferent and inaccurate survey. Only when the Census Bureau significantly revises its methodology should policy makers and the public trust this dataset as the basis for public policy.

Oops. Using faulty research can get you in trouble in most grad programs. Good thing it doesn't apply to journalists or politicians.

I have great respect for journalists, believe it or not. I simply don't buy the idea that they will present the facts. Most news stories today are agenda driven, both left and right. What irritates me is that they don't make their agenda and world view clear from the start.

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