Monday, May 9, 2011

The BLS and Economic Propaganda: What's the Real Unemployment Rate?

The fact is, employment fell by 190,000 according to the Household Survey and another 131,000 people dropped out of the labor force last month or the unemployment would have been even higher. Fewer people (131,000 to be precise) wanted a lob and looked for jobs in April than in March. The Obama administration as well as mainstream media wants to play job numbers both ways, that is to say they want to use the Household Survey when it suits their purpose and the Establishment Survey otherwise. Regardless, close scrutiny of the details in the report shows the headline numbers were far worse than they looked. I commented on that in my Friday post BLS Jobs Report: Nonfarm Payroll Headline Number Looks Good, Beneath the Surface, Awful where I said ... In the last year, the civilian population rose by 1,817,000. Yet the labor force dropped by 1,099,000. Those not in the labor force rose by 2,916,000. In January alone, a whopping 319,000 people dropped out of the workforce. In February another 87,000 people dropped out of the labor force. In March 11,000 people dropped out of the labor force. In April, 131,000 dropped out of the labor force. The 4-month total for 2011 is 548,000 people dropped out of the labor force. 
Reported by Jack Gregson


Back in 1965, the United States of America enjoyed the status of being the largest lender nation in the world.  Today, America suffers the enigma of being the largest debtor nation on the planet. 
The U.S. government borrows in excess of $2 billion a day to float its false economy where manufacturing has been shipped off to China and every other country in the world.
Today, our $800 billion a year military budget wastes untold amounts of money that does nothing to keep Americans safe or secure.   In a definitive statement, retired Army combat veteran Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich wrote a book: Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.
In it, Bacevich said, “America uses its military power for global power projection and global interventionism and has since the Truman administration. The US spends $800 billion annually, as much or greater outlays of treasure than is spent by all the rest of the world combined for military spending.”
The military industrial complex rules our U.S. Congress like Indiana Jones whipping a mouse into submission.   At this time, 572,000 military personnel reside on 761 bases in 39 countries around the world according to Bacevich.  Costs: into the trillions of wasted dollars over the years.
And while every state in the Union runs in red ink, the Pentagon burns through $12 billion every 30 days in three wars that have absolutely nothing to do with our defense, safety or security.   The same could be said for the 35,000 troops stationed in Korea for 50 years: no use, no need and no purpose under the sun.
The U.S. Government bleeds the American people to an ugly financial death.  It has run up a $14.4 trillion debt that will ultimately collapse the entire monetary system within the United States.
How about foreign aid?  We give Israel over $3 billion annually and have done so for the past 40 years. We give Pakistan from $2 to 3 billion annually. We give Egypt money in the same vicinity.  All for what?    Pakistan allowed bin Laden to live in a luxury compound with his three wives for the past five to 10 years.  You say, “But nobody knew.”  In a pig’s eye!  People listen, people see, people talk! 
Remember Marcos in the Philippines?   His wife bought 3,000 pairs of shoes from U.S. taxpayer coffers from foreign aid.  Egypt’s Mubarak stashed his aid money in Swiss bank accounts.  Too bad cancer will take away his pleasures, but you better bet somebody will be spending that money.
Foreign aid takes money from poor people of a rich country and gives it to rich people of a poor country.  It never reaches the poor of a poor country! 
How about the $1 trillion spent by the Drug Enforcement Agency on the War on Drugs for the past 40 years?  Has it stopped one kid from smoking crack, snorting cocaine or stopped any addict from shooting up heroin?  Not one!  What has it done?  It’s put 38 million Americans into prison at U.S. taxpayer cost over the past 40 years.  We’ve built more new prisons than new colleges.  You almost can’t stop laughing if you aren’t crying from the insanity of it all.
With that $14 trillion debt, Americans pay $600 million in interest every day to maintain it. Think how that money would benefit our schools, communities and infrastructure maintenance instead of going into the pockets of the bankers.
At the same time, our Congress blows all our money in various ways, every single state in the Union runs in red ink.  Ironically, Nevada just sent the incompetent U.S. Senator Harry Reid back to Washington DC while his state wallows in $45.2 billion debt.  Same for McCain of AZ, Schumer of NY, Udall of CO, Boxer of CA, Feinstein of CA, Levin of MI and the list dribbles down the line.  (Source: Marsha Mercer, Going Broke, AARP, May 2011)
Does anyone realize that if that idiot of a senator along with the other 99 idiots voted our military to pull out of those three inane wars, Harry could pay off his state’s debt within four months?  (4 months x $12 billion=$48 billion)  From there, we could pretty well pay off every state’s debt within the past decade of wars. 
But instead, the American people sit blithely by watching their sons and daughters suffer death (4,400 young, innocent and na├»ve kids), amputations (thousands) and horrific emotional and mental instability into the hundreds of thousands—without standing up or speaking out.  Just like Vietnam and Korea!
How many of you have called your senators and house member to demand they withdraw from all three wars.  I’m betting less than one percent.  That’s why those wars continue because of our national apathy.  The money makers count on it count on it as mentioned in Bacevich’s book.
How long will those wars go on and how long will our government continue to drive this society into unfathomable debt?  Answer: until our whole system collapses like a deck of cards in Hurricane Katrina. 

APNewsBreak: Gingrich announcing 2012 bid on Wed.

Newt Gingrich (AP photo)
Newt Gingrich (AP photo)
ATLANTA – A spokesman for Newt Gingrich says the former House speaker will announce Wednesday he is running for president.

Rick Tyler said Gingrich will make the announcement by Facebook and Twitter. He will give an interview to Fox News later that night.

Gingrich will offer his first speech as a presidential candidate at the Georgia Republican Party Convention on Friday.

Gingrich has made no secret of his White House ambitions. He's been raising money and assembling a campaign team for months.

Getting into the race marks a comeback attempt by the former Georgia congressman who stepped down from the House in 1998 after four tumultuous years as speaker. He had led the GOP to their first majority in the House in 40 years.

by SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press

Home Prices Crash in Spite of Stimulus, ALG Warns of double-dip housing recession

May 9, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today issued the following statement on the Zillow, Inc. report of a 22 percent increase in negative equity, a measure of homeowners owing more than their properties are worth and an increase in foreclosures for the first quarter of 2011:

“Zillow’s data confirms what Case Shiller reported two weeks ago, with home values plummeting to their April 2009 lows and foreclosures once again rising in the first quarter of 2011. We are in a double-dip housing recession. Zillow does not foresee any bottom in housing until 2012, at the earliest. The irony is that we would have already hit the bottom if government had just got out of the way, even if it meant that institutions that bet poorly on housing failed.

“Instead, we wasted more than $2 trillion on the faulty premise that the government could somehow stop the housing bubble from deflating. All of the ‘stimulus’, bailouts, foreclosure ‘prevention’ programs, and homebuyer incentives have failed at their stated objectives. We should have done nothing and let the chips fall where they may, and we’d already be in an economic recovery. Instead, we just have prolonged the recession, created slow-growth stagflation, and added trillions of dollars to the national debt unnecessarily.

“Once and for all, government must get out of the way, and allow this market correction to work itself out. No more ‘stimulus’. No more bailouts. No more foreclosure moratoria. Just get out of the way.”
Get permalink here.

Is it Jimmy Carter All Over Again?

By Bill Wilson
It feels like we've been here before.
The malaise-filled economic train wreck of the Carter years has risen zombie-like from the ash heap of history to inflict its special brand of pain and suffering.

On May 6, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that unemployment rose from 8.8 percent to 9 percent in April. That includes a 205,000 increase in joblessness in the household survey.

Coupled with slowing growth, increasing inflation, and a continued recession in housing, not to mention the spiraling $14.333 trillion national debt, the economic storm clouds emerging on the horizon for 2012 are dark indeed.
Specifically, growth has slowed down to 1.8 percent in the first quarter, and inflation is up over the past year, with producer prices up 5.8 percent and consumer prices up 2.7 percent. Making matters worse, home prices are again on the decline as foreclosures rose 6.53 percent in March.

Fiscally, when Obama’s first budget was enacted, the national debt stood at $11.909 trillion, and it has already increased by $2.4 trillion. By November 2012, the gross debt will be over $16.627 trillion according to the Office of Management and Budget, meaning he will have been directly responsible for a gargantuan $4.718 trillion increase. That’s a 39 percent run-up in just four years!
Get full story here.

Obama Judicial Nominee Goodwin Liu Steps Into The Team Obama Spotlight

Video by Frank McCaffrey
Get permalink here.

Sen. Vitter Channels Reagan and Inspires Tea Party in Battle Against Federal Bureaucracy

By Kevin Mooney

Just prior to the one year anniversary of the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has announced the he will introduce the Agency Moratorium Act. The legislation would require congressional approval for expansion of federal regulations restricting energy exploration on federal lands and the Outer Continental Shelf that could provide domestic natural resources and generate revenue to the federal treasury that could be used to pay down the deficit.

In many respects, Sen. Vitter has picked up on one of the unfinished elements of the Reagan Revolution. Although the former president successfully expanded the private sector, he could never persuade lawmakers in either party to roll back the federal bureaucracy and eliminate federal agencies.

Sen. Vitter’s actions in this area should also inspire Tea Party activists who have expressed concern over the actions of runaway federal agencies. The transgressions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) figure prominently into the equation and are already the subject of pending legislation. Vitter is aiming for the Interior Department and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation, which have both worked against the economic interests of the Gulf region.
Get full story here.

Krugman: The Unwisdom of Elites -

Paul Krugman on 
The Unwisdom of Elites - "What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?

The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.

So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street."

AP NewsBreak: Iowa GOP donors court NJ's Christie

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some of Iowa's top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run. The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012.

Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor's chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press. The get-together is set for the governor's mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31.

The meeting speaks to what some Republicans nationally say is a lack of enthusiasm about the emerging roster of contenders. It's also unusual because candidates typically court Iowans, who get the first say in presidential nominating contests, and not the other way around.

Christie, who was elected in 2009 and has drawn national attention for his tough talk and battles with Democrats, has explicitly and repeatedly rejected the idea of running for the White House. Yet that hasn't deterred these Iowans.

Read More..

On Bin Laden's Lingering Face

ID_IC_MEIS_BINLA_AP_001Morgan Meis being characteristically wise, over at The Smart Set:
The most surprising thing about the death of Osama bin Laden was his funeral. Islamic law declares that a person must be buried within 24 hours of death. "We are ensuring that it is handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition," Time reported a U.S. official as saying, "This is something that we take very seriously. And so therefore, this is being handled in an appropriate manner."
Bin Laden was buried at sea, presumably so that there will be no burial site, no country that owns him, no place on Earth could be associated with him ever after. The sea gets him, being the only place capacious enough to take on the burden. There is dignity in having done it this way. Not dignity for him, but dignity for us. It is understandable that people want to celebrate the death of a man who scared us, who was the author of a traumatizing act of violence, who plotted the deaths of thousands and dreamed of the deaths of thousands upon thousands more. But I am not sure that celebrating death ever does anything very good for the one who celebrates.
I shuddered for the souls of the men at Saddam Hussein's execution. The footage is, now, widely available on the Internet. It was captured surreptitiously on a cell phone video camera. Saddam is brought into a dingy room in what looks like a basement. He is bustled toward a noose and begins praying. Some of the people standing below begin to shout. They are calling out, "Muqtada," in reference to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia religious and political leader. Saddam says the name Muqtada back to them and then asks, "Do you call this courage?" Another person yells at Saddam to go to hell. He replies, "the hell that is Iraq?" Then he goes back to praying. All of a sudden, the trap door beneath Saddam opens and he plummets. He is gone. It is impossible to watch that footage without feeling that Saddam stole his dignity back in those final moments. The people in the room gave Saddam the opportunity to do it. They gave him a moment to be the honorable one in death. It lessened those men, those witnesses. They became small in the face of the ultimate thing, the death of a human being.
The last few days have seen a lot of talk about whether or not it is appropriate to celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden. I would phrase the question in a different way. What does it do to one human being to celebrate the killing of another human being, whatever the circumstances? What happens inside you, how does it make you feel? Is that something you want to feel? Is it a way you want to be?


Latest Employment Data: Good or Bad?

Each month here on the Blawg, we update all the latest employment indicators in the handy box to the right within nanoseconds of their release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s the latest . . .
Employment Situation Up

According to the government’s official figures, total nonfarm payroll employment was up 244,000. The private sector added 268,000 jobs — the most in years and above the 200,000 figure economists say is needed to sustain growth.

Since a recent lull in February 2010, total payroll employment has grown 1.8 million, with private employment up 2.1 million.

Where were the job gains? Here you go:
  • Retail (up 57,000) (general merchandise, electronics and appliance stores)
  • Professional & business services (up 51,000) (management, technical consulting and computer systems design)
  • Leisure & hospitality (up 46,000) (food and beverage services)
  • Health care (up 37,000) (ambulatory care and hospitals)
  • Manufacturing (up 29,000) (machinery, metals and computer/electronics products)
  • Mining (up 11,000) (support activities)
Unemployment Up  (Barely)
The unemployment rate edged up slightly from 8.8% to 9.0% but is still 0.8% below November’s level. The number of unemployed rose to 13.7 million.

Unemployment remains far beyond the 6% rate considered “full employment” by most economists.
Labor Force Participation Virtually Unchanged

Many economists feel that the unemployment rate is somewhat misleading due to what the data omits. Instead, some rely more heavily on overall labor force participation and the employment-population ratio. Labor force participation remained unchanged at 64.2% for the fourth consecutive month. The employment-population ratio was down a hair to 58.4%.

Another number examined by economists is “discouraged workers” (those not currently seeking employment because they believe no work is available). That number was 989,000, up 7% over last month but down 208,000 from a year ago.
Employment Outlook Positive

My favorite indicator — ManpowerGroup’s quarterly Employment Outlook Survey — is +8% and positive in all 50 states and all 13 industry sectors. ”Nearly all of the key data points in our survey show that employers are positive, but hiring plans are still reserved due to their continued ability to manage the slowly increasing demand with the existing workforce,” said Jonas Prising, Manpower president of the Americas. “In the U.S., we are holding on to hard-won job gains and waiting for the time when the growth in demand for goods and services will require more substantial workforce additions.”

What Does This All Mean?

Jobs up. But unemployment’s up, too? What does that mean?
“The edged up unemployment rate from 8.8 percent to 9.0 percent, while important, is not as strong of an indicator at this point in the in economic cycle as new jobs created,” said Jeff Joerres, ManpowerGroup’s Chairman and CEO. “An improving labor market leads to increased individual confidence, and therefore, more job seekers. This means it’s possible that we could see the unemployment rate continue to inch up before heading back down.”

ManpowerGroup continues to report on the talent crisis affecting organizations worldwide through its annual Talent Shortage Survey. Look for the 2011 report in coming weeks.
Stay tuned for more.

(Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Wall Street Journal, ManpowerGroup)


Greek debt pile opens new Euro crisis chapter

A new chapter in the Euro sovereign debt saga is beginning to unfold, after the shared currency had its most severe weekly drop since late last year, and one of its worst two-day since its birth. The free-fall came after Germany's Der Spiegel reported an incendiary article on Greek Government hypothetical and improbable exit from the eurozone.

The line in the German media article that buttered the speculators’ bread and set the fire into the market read: “Spiegel Online has obtained information from German government sources knowledgeable of the situation in Athens indicating that Papandreou’s government is considering abandoning the euro and reintroducing its own currency”.

Twelve dead and churches burnt in Cairo

Eight Egyptians were killed, and a church set on fire, after violence erupted between Muslims and Christians in Cairo.
May 9, 2011
Catholic Church News Image of Twelve dead and churches burnt in Cairo
Eight Egyptians were killed, and a church set on fire, after violence erupted between Muslims and Christians in Cairo.

Officials said the two groups clashed in the north-western district of Imbaba after Muslims attacked the St Mena Coptic church to free a Christian woman they alleged was being held against her will because she wanted to convert to Islam, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

A parish priest, Father Hermina, said the fatalities were among Copts who died when ”thugs and [Muslim fundamentalist] Salafis fired at them” in the late afternoon attack.

Outside the church, military police parked armoured cars to keep the Muslim protesters from the church and fired their guns into the air as the two groups hurled stones at each other. The Muslim protesters threw firebombs, one of them setting an apartment near the church on fire.

Father Hermina and witnesses said the Muslims tried to storm the church earlier in the day, claiming the Christians were holding a Muslim woman.