Jobs Report

Yes, we ARE doing better on the economic front. (yeah, I know…Presidents don’t create private sector jobs, etc. I am speaking informally.)

Of course, this rate of job growth is still too slow to make a big dent in unemployment as job growth has to account for both the population growth AND for those who are currently unemployed; that is, this would be a fine number if we didn’t have an unemployment problem. Paul Kruman:

Let me give two back-of-the-envelope ways to think about how inadequate 200,000 jobs a month is.

First, note that there are still about 6 million fewer jobs than there were at the end of 2007 — and that we would normally have expected to have added around 5 million jobs over a four-year period. So we’re 11 million jobs down — and we need at least 100,000 jobs a month just to keep up with working-age population growth. Do the math, and you’ll see that it would take 9 or 10 years of growth at this rate to restore full employment.

Alternatively, note that during the Clinton years — all 8 of them — the economy added around 230,000 jobs a month. As it did that, the unemployment rate fell about 3 1/2 percentage points — which is about what we’d need from here to get back to something that felt like full employment. Again, this suggests that we’re looking at something like a decade-long haul to have full recovery.

So yes, this is better news than we’ve been having. But it’s still vastly inadequate.

So if you think that Krugman is an Obama shill, think again.

Of course, Mr. Willard Romney (aka known as “Mitt” though Willard is his real name) can’t even give the Obama administration for doing anything right. Then again, he is thin skinned.

January 7, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, Barack Obama, economics, economy, Mitt Romney, politics, recession | Leave a comment

8 April 2011 (am)

Workout notes
Simple today: Just three miles of running on the treadmill in just under 30 minutes (I used my home sport-tech, which is manual and only works at a rather steep incline, so my run times are ALWAYS slower on this than on the road). I got to 5K in 30:50 and called it a day.

Weekend plans: longer run tomorrow morning; work the 5 pm to 6 am shift at McNaughton (50 and 100 mile runs) and perhaps get a 10 mile loop on that course.

Health: I added a “pulling” rotator cuff exercise to my routine; it appears to be helping. Why? Some of my rotator cuff irritation is caused by my arm motion when I run or walk fast. This is helping.
Vertigo: much, much reduced, but still there when I get out of bed too quickly, or when I change from supine (even on the incline bench press) to upright and visa-versa. But I can do yoga head-stand again.
Anemia: my blood hemoglobin is back to the mid 14’s; the blood chemistry looks good again.
Weight: in the 192-194 range. That is too heavy for ultras, but I’ve been lifting so…

Note: I’ve been doing squats; and no, I don’t look anything like this:

Forget how heavy the weight is; I don’t look this good with an unloaded bar! 🙂
And it was only recently that I could even squat to this depth at all; the knee flexibility is returning but oh-so-slowly.

Does Bible study promote peace? 🙂
epic fail photos - Probably Bad News: Bible Study FAIL
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Computers and security: It is possible to deduce your location from your IP…to within an astonishing degree of accuracy. This is both impressive….and…pause for thought.

Economy and Politics

Where are the Republican priorities?

The Ryan plan calls for cutting the top marginal rate to 25 percent — lower than it has been at any time in the past 80 years. That in itself should tell you that this is a deeply unserious proposal: anyone who tells you that we have to face hard truths, that everyone must sacrifice, and by the way, rich people will pay lower taxes than they have at any time since the 1930s, is just engaged in a power grab.

Beyond that, has anybody besides Bruce Bartlett noticed that Ryan still hasn’t gotten an independent estimate of the revenue losses from his tax plan? Last summer I pointed out that he was getting a free pass on tax cuts that appeared likely to lose a lot of revenue; his defenders came up with all sorts of excuses about how he couldn’t get anyone to do a proper estimate.

You got it. And no, we will never get out of this mountain of debt without taxing the rich.

My Two Cents on the Government Shutdown
I don’t know if the shutdown will be averted or not. But I am hearing a ton of negativity toward Congress about this (here and here)

But, to be brutally honest, I really don’t blame Congress. Basically the Representatives are doing what they were elected to do, and we have two very different visions for our country. One vision is that the government has a role to play in our collective welfare (well articulated here) and those who want to see the New Deal programs and dismantled and governmental regulations all but eliminated. Now in the 1950’s and the 1960’s, this divide wasn’t so great; Republicans saw a need for such things. Remember it was President Nixon who started the EPA and who fought for affirmative action! How times have changed…

So the squabble really isn’t about money. The Republicans want to dismantle much of our government and the Democrats want to keep it.

Anyway we have these two visions (I can recommend Paul Krugman’s book The Conscience of a Liberal; this is well explained there).

It would be simplistic to say: “ok, let’s split into two countries” because, at its core, it is not really a dispute between the North and South. It is more about “city” vs. “rural”. Just check out these election maps: Illinois is regarded as a “blue” state and Texas a “red state”:

This is Texas from the 2008 election; note that Obama carried Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso and San Antonio (but lost Ft. Worth). Obama got obliterated in the countryside; there were some counties where he didn’t even get 10 percent!

This is Illinois from the 2010 governor’s election:

The margin came from Chicago.

The bottom line: we have two very different groups of people electing very different representatives and any “compromise” will be seen as capitulation. And frankly, I don’t see any possible compromise. We are at a point in our history where we are headed toward a new Gilded Age with out economy barely out of the 1929 levels.

I don’t blame Congress. I blame the American people; collectively we deserve bad government.

Update Dr. Andy directed me toward what I consider a reasonable Republican response. And yes, if my taxes go up, so be it. Of course, Mr. Brooks does talk about Medicare costs and there should be cost control measures but:

Jonathan Chait gets angry at the way Republicans, who claim to care about the deficit, propose saving money by cutting back on expenditures that are needed to control health costs. Indeed. But there’s a larger dynamic at work here than mere stupidity.

Let’s focus, in particular, on the ridicule some of the quoted Republicans heap on “comparative effectiveness research.”

Ask yourself, what do we have to do to control Medicare costs? We can save some money, maybe a lot, by reforming payment systems so that providers are paid for overall treatment rather than on a fee-for-service basis. But over the long term, the fundamental issue is going to be to decide what Medicare will and won’t pay for. We need, as Henry Aaron has often said, to learn how to say no. […]

So how are you going to make decisions about what not to do? Um, you need good information about which medical interventions work, and how well they work: comparative effectiveness research. And no, that information isn’t already out there: doctors know surprisingly little about how effective procedures are relative to one another.

Why, then, are Republicans opposed to this kind of research? Some of it is sheer stupidity and/or anti-intellectualism — hey, those researchers are probably atheistic Democrats, you know.

But you should always remember that the GOP comes to bury Medicare, not to save it. The favored “solution” on the right is to replace Medicare with vouchers whose value will systematically lag behind medical costs; so it will be up to insurance companies and patients to say no. There is absolutely no reason to believe that such a system would work; in practice, it would mean denying adequate coverage to all but the affluent. But that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

This is from Fareed Zakaria:

The President has talked passionately and consistently about the need to tackle the country’s problems, act like grownups, do the hard things and win the future. But he has also skipped every opportunity to say how he’d tackle the gigantic problem of entitlements. Ryan’s plan is deeply flawed, but it is courageous. It should prompt the President to say, in effect, “You’re right about the problem. You’re wrong about the solution. And here’s how I would accomplish the same goal by more humane and responsible means.” That would be the beginning of a great national conversation.


Over the past two years, Ryan has used the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of Obama’s health care plan to criticize it relentlessly. Now the CBO has scored Ryancare, and it is a devastating critique. The main mechanism by which Ryan would cut costs on health care is to limit payments for Medicare and Medicaid. This would save money for the federal government, but it’s not clear at all that it would lower health care prices for seniors or the poor. In fact, last year the CBO studied Ryan’s voucher plan and concluded that it would raise costs because “future beneficiaries would probably face higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare.” In other words, Medicare — the Walmart of American health care — can bargain for lower prices than an individual can.

The theory behind Ryan’s health plan is that if individuals have to pay for their health care, they will shop carefully and drive down costs. But health is an unusual economic good and is unlikely to follow the usual market pattern.

So why do I applaud the Ryan plan? Because it is a serious effort to tackle entitlement programs, even though any discussion of cuts in these programs — which are inevitable and unavoidable — could be political suicide. If Democrats don’t like his budget ideas, they should propose their own — presumably without tax cuts and with stronger protections for Medicare and Medicaid and deeper reductions in defense spending. But they, too, must face up to the fiscal reality. The Government Accountability Office concludes that America faces a “fiscal gap” of $99.4 trillion over the next 75 years, which would mean we would have to increase taxes by 50% or reduce spending by 35% simply to stop accumulating more debt. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will together make up 50% of the federal budget by 2021.

(emphasis mine)

I disagree with the Ryan plan being courageous; raising taxes on the rich OR subjecting CURRENT senior citizens to this Medicare plan would be courageous. But yes, something is going to have to give. Yes, this means RATIONING; note that the sickest 25 percent of the Medicare crowd runs up 85 percent of the cost, and we should see if we are getting the best “bang for the buck” there. For example: is it worth 100,000 dollars of tax payer money to give an 80 year old an extra month in the hospital?

But, as Zakaria says, an honest discussion of these issues by a politician will probably lead to that politician not getting reelected. And THAT is the fault of the American people.

April 8, 2011 Posted by | 2008 Election, 2010 election, 2012 election, Barack Obama, business & economy, economics, economy, Illinois, political/social, politics, politics/social, recession, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, shoulder rehabilitation, sickness, social/political, trains, yoga | 3 Comments