Jobs, one percent, twenty percent and all that…

Workout notes 10K run (ok, roughly 6.4 miles or 10.4 km) in 1:05:55; compare to 1:03 in December. Then again it was just over freezing (30’s F; perhaps 2-3 C) and rainy and my glasses fogged up all over the place. Time to try a new anti-fog product.

Then I ate a quick breakfast and lifted weights. I felt low on energy but did ok anyway (due to slowing the pace down)
rotator cuff
circuit 1: rows, curls, pull downs; one warm up set for each then 2 x (10 x 230 row, 10 x 160 pull down, 10 x 50 curl)
circuit 2: mixed sit ups (8 x 20) with 10 x 135, 4 x 170, 4 x 170 on the bench.
circuit 3: mixed sit ups (above) with 10, 10, 6, 6 pull ups (last two were with a shoulder friendly grip)
circuit 4: mixed sit ups with incline press: 7 x 135, 6 x 135
circuit 5: mixed hip hikes with two sets of 15 x 40 lb. dumbbell military presses.

I cheered on the triathletes (university had an indoor tri going on) and talked to a young woman who wondered if it was ok for her to run on the track. I told her that “the tired runners would like to have someone to chase”.


Note how President Obama really tried to counter “we are just bailing out the gamblers and slackers” argument.

Here are some “smart” kids (just ask their parents!)

Jobs and the economy

Even Paul Krugman (a very vocal critic of the Obama administration) sees reason to be cautiously optimistic.

But we must remember that job growth has to account for not only population growth but also for those who are currently unemployed who are still looking for work; at this rate we won’t have unemployment licked for 7 more years.

Robert Reich weighs in on this issue.

Willard “Mitt” Romney and the poor
Needless to say, people who see things my way are skeptical that Mr. Romney cares that much about the plight of the poor. Charles Blow:

a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last month pointed out that Romney’s budget proposals would take a chainsaw to that safety net. The report points out that cuts proposed by Romney would be even more draconian than a plan from Representative Paul Ryan: “Governor Romney’s budget proposals would require far deeper cuts in nondefense programs than the House-passed budget resolution authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan: $94 billion to $219 billion deeper in 2016 and $303 billion to $819 billion deeper in 2021.”

What does this mean for specific programs? Let’s take the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, since “food stamps” have been such a talking point in the Republican debates. The report says the Romney plan “would throw 10 million low-income people off the benefit rolls, cut benefits by thousands of dollars a year, or some combination of the two. These cuts would primarily affect very-low-income families with children, seniors and people with disabilities.”

Does that sound like a man trying to “fix” our social safety nets? Absolutely not. Romney is so far up the beanstalk that he can no longer see the ground.

Then let’s take the fact that a report last month by the Tax Policy Center found that his tax plan would increase after-tax income for millionaires by 14.5 percent while increasing the after-tax income of those making less than $20,000 by less than 1 percent and of those making between $30,000 and $40,000 by less than 3 percent.

For a man who’s not worried about the rich, he sure seems to want them to rake in more cash.

And of course, Paul Krugman. Krugman noted that Mr. Romney had claimed that the very poor have safety nets and that he would fix those as needed:

Mr. Romney was denying that the very programs he now says take care of the poor actually provide any significant help. On Jan. 22, he asserted that safety-net programs — yes, he specifically used that term — have “massive overhead,” and that because of the cost of a huge bureaucracy “very little of the money that’s actually needed by those that really need help, those that can’t care for themselves, actually reaches them.”

This claim, like much of what Mr. Romney says, was completely false: U.S. poverty programs have nothing like as much bureaucracy and overhead as, say, private health insurance companies. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has documented, between 90 percent and 99 percent of the dollars allocated to safety-net programs do, in fact, reach the beneficiaries. But the dishonesty of his initial claim aside, how could a candidate declare that safety-net programs do no good and declare only 10 days later that those programs take such good care of the poor that he feels no concern for their welfare? […]

So Mr. Romney’s position seems to be that we need not worry about the poor thanks to programs that he insists, falsely, don’t actually help the needy, and which he intends, in any case, to destroy.

Still, I believe Mr. Romney when he says he isn’t concerned about the poor. What I don’t believe is his assertion that he’s equally unconcerned about the rich, who are “doing fine.” After all, if that’s what he really feels, why does he propose showering them with money?

And we’re talking about a lot of money. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Mr. Romney’s tax plan would actually raise taxes on many lower-income Americans, while sharply cutting taxes at the top end. More than 80 percent of the tax cuts would go to people making more than $200,000 a year, almost half to those making more than $1 million a year, with the average member of the million-plus club getting a $145,000 tax break.

And these big tax breaks would create a big budget hole, increasing the deficit by $180 billion a year — and making those draconian cuts in safety-net programs necessary.

Which brings us back to Mr. Romney’s lack of concern. You can say this for the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive: He is opening up new frontiers in American politics. Even conservative politicians used to find it necessary to pretend that they cared about the poor. Remember “compassionate conservatism”? Mr. Romney has, however, done away with that pretense.

Remember that it is almost an article of religious faith among conservatives that government programs that help the poor are just enabling underachievement and slacking.

One percent versus twenty percent

David Brooks (correctly) notes that there is a big gap between the middle classes (the upper part anyway) and the lower classes. He also attempts to argue that this is a bigger problem than the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent. Alas, the economic numbers don’t bear that out; if you look at the growth of the economy you see that the economy grew by much less if we negate the gains made by the upper 1 percent:

The CBO inequality report confirms what independent studies have been saying: the rise of the top 1 percent has absorbed a large fraction (almost half, by my reckoning), of economic growth, leaving a much smaller pie for everyone else. If we look at Gini indexes, a measure of overall inequality, CBO has calculated them both with and without the top 1 percent:

About 45 percent of the growth went to the top 1 percent.

February 4, 2012 Posted by | Barack Obama, economy, job, Mitt Romney, political/social, politics, running, weight training | Leave a comment

4 September 2010 (am)

President Obama talks about what he is doing for the economy.
Robert Reich talks about our current economic situation:

Face it: The national economy isn’t escaping the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. None of the standard booster rockets are working. Near-zero short-term interest rates from the Fed, almost record-low borrowing costs in the bond market, a giant stimulus package, along with tax credits for small businesses that hire the long-term unemployed have all failed to do enough.

That’s because the real problem has to do with the structure of the economy, not the business cycle. No booster rocket can work unless consumers are able, at some point, to keep the economy moving on their own. But consumers no longer have the purchasing power to buy the goods and services they produce as workers; for some time now, their means haven’t kept up with what the growing economy could and should have been able to provide them.

1. The Origin of the Crisis

This crisis began decades ago when a new wave of technology — things like satellite communications, container ships, computers and eventually the Internet — made it cheaper for American employers to use low-wage labor abroad or labor-replacing software here at home than to continue paying the typical worker a middle-class wage. Even though the American economy kept growing, hourly wages flattened. The median male worker earns less today, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.

But for years American families kept spending as if their incomes were keeping pace with overall economic growth. And their spending fueled continued growth. How did families manage this trick? First, women streamed into the paid work force. By the late 1990s, more than 60 percent of mothers with young children worked outside the home (in 1966, only 24 percent did).

Second, everyone put in more hours. What families didn’t receive in wage increases they made up for in work increases. By the mid-2000s, the typical male worker was putting in roughly 100 hours more each year than two decades before, and the typical female worker about 200 hours more.

When American families couldn’t squeeze any more income out of these two coping mechanisms, they embarked on a third: going ever deeper into debt. This seemed painless — as long as home prices were soaring. From 2002 to 2007, American households extracted $2.3 trillion from their homes.

Eventually, of course, the debt bubble burst — and with it, the last coping mechanism. Now we’re left to deal with the underlying problem that we’ve avoided for decades. Even if nearly everyone was employed, the vast middle class still wouldn’t have enough money to buy what the economy is capable of producing.

He argues that “shared prosperity” is the only way to come back (another tax cut for the wealthy isn’t going to help) and gives specific suggestions on how to do it. And why the hell not; this is not the time to worry about the debt. There is plenty to do:

(you get sent to youtube so you have to watch the commercial)


Evolution in action! A lizard is seen in making the transition from laying eggs to giving live birth (different groups of the same kind of lizard, of course).

Not to be juxtaposed with an article on evolution but…well, this is an example of a Darwin award candidate.

More science/health: you can delay dementia but you can’t stop it. 😦

September 4, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, Barack Obama, Democrats, economy, evolution, job, nature, political/social, politics, politics/social, science, Spineless Democrats, Transportation | Leave a comment