Sunday, March 30, 2014

Do We Really Consider These People Employees?

It's that crazy Arizona again...from CNN:

16 arrested after crowds get rowdy following Arizona's loss to Wisconsin

By Ralph Ellis and Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Sun March 30, 2014

(CNN) -- Police in Tucson, Arizona, arrested 16 people Saturday night after rowdy crowds threw bottles, beer cans and firecrackers at officers following the Wildcats' overtime loss to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin beat Arizona 64-63 on Saturday night and earned a spot in the Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Arizona was the No. 1 seed in the West Region and Wisconsin the No. 2 seed.
About 20 minutes after the game ended, several hundred people blocked a road on the University of Arizona campus, said Sgt. Pete Dugan.
When they refused officers' orders to disperse and began lobbing objects, police used pepper balls and canisters, Dugan said.
Police reported some damage to property.
Those arrested were charged with resisting arrest, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.

Not exactly a Pete Seegar Rally. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I'm Thinking

And that ain't good...I enjoy my family and friends, who are the primary people I interact with...Am I short sheeting them? Should I spend my time teaching my grandchildren to fish, garden, ride a horse, run a tractor or pontificate? Should I get drunk with my buddies or curse the Koch bothers? Everyone but me seems sure of the answers. I guess old fucks is just old fucks...


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Looking Thru A Small Lense

Shooting At A Birds Tale
I am hearing an uncomfortable and persistent message from both sides of the political universe:
This may be true...a cow sucks for transportation but tastes just fine. So what are we to make of this fake equality between prosperity and de-enhancement of personal rights? Does prosperity and its manic pursuit make us richer than inclusion and diversity of wealth and income? Or is our present system of allocation a zero sum game except for the "levitation effect" of opportunity and inclusion? Looking at the data and a few graphs tells a very clear story:


"The figure and its data come from Janet Gornick, the director of a CUNY research centre on international inequality. The dark-blue lines tell a now-familiar tale: America boasts the highest post-tax-and-transfer income inequality of any highly developed country in the world. The metric at play is a number between 0 and 1 known as the Gini coefficient. In a hypothetical country with a coefficient of 0, everyone has exactly the same income, while a nation with a coefficient of 1.0 is home to one fat cat who takes everything while everyone else earns nil. At 0.42, America’s level of post-tax-and-transfer inequality outranks Israel, Britain and Canada, and dwarfs the figures in Japan and Scandinavia."

Now, about that zero sum won't win the Warren Buffet bracket, but the returns could be considerably higher with a tweaked model of our economy. Equality of opportunity and freedom certainly have some non-zero value. The challenge of the working folks is to enhance this value and make it the "point of the spear". Be happy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Who Could Have Guessed We Were at Full Employment?

Who else?

The Evidence:

      Measuring Slack in the Phillips Curve
According to a new paper coauthored by Alan Krueger, the short-term unemployment rate works better than the standard unemployment rate in explaining changes in inflation, and according to this measure, the economy was about at its NAIRU in 2013.  This finding is related to issues I discussed in a recent Times column.   (emphasis mine)

And we get this from his NYT column:
"One possible reason for hysteresis is that the long-term unemployed lose valuable job skills and, over time, become less committed to the labor market. In some ways, perhaps, they should be thought of as effectively out of the labor force...Policy makers at the Fed may have to accept that lower employment is the new normal."
 There are somewhere between 9 and 25 million people in America that know GM is full of shit...maybe more.

Friday, March 21, 2014

We Can Only Hope

From USA Today:

Fred Phelps' death may mean end of Westboro church

"With the death of Fred Phelps, the vitriol-spouting leader of Westboro Baptist Church who picketed military funerals and espoused hatred for gays, the future of his church is hazy.
Phelps, 84, died late Wednesday, according to online postings of his church. The cause of death was not reported.
"It's unclear whether this so-called church will survive the death of its founder," said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has closely monitored the group. "In some ways, it was a cult of personality."

 Perhaps, when enough of the monsters die off, we can get back to a civil conversation about our nations future.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The House Has the Edge

I borrowed this graph from Jared Bernstein over at his On The Economy blog:


There is definitely some correlation with this graph from  Atif Mian and Amir Sufi at House of Debt:

Somebody got screwed...big time.

Not Just Another Graph

From Atif Mian and Amir Sufi at House of Debt via Mark Thoma:

"If you must know only one fact about the U.S. economy, it should be this chart:"


This is actually an offensive situation. There are millions of working folks that could have pointed this out to the pointy heads economists years ago. Now it is all the rage to doctor the patient after she has died. Yup. The fire department saved that foundation.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Joe Stiglitz Is One Smart Feller

From Dr. Joe on the TPP...

"And this brings me to the second point that I have repeatedly emphasized: Trickle-down economics is a myth."


Like A Snowball Headed For Hell...

Paul Krugman explains the price of success, for some.

The Wages of Men

For reference: Here are changes in hourly real wages of men, 1973-2012, at different percentiles of the wage distribution, calculated from Census data by the Economic Policy Institute. As you can see, wages have fallen for 60 percent of men.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Listen Up, Y'all

From Yaleworldfellows:


One of our World Fellows, Carlos Vecchio, is at risk in Venezuela.
Carlos is National Political Coordinator of the Venezuelan opposition party Voluntad Popular (VP). He’s senior deputy to Leopoldo López, who was taken into custody on February 18, 2014 after a week of national protests and demonstrations (many led by VP members), followed by government raids on VP’s political offices. Some serious charges have been leveled against Carlos there is a warrant out for his arrest. With López’s detention, Carlos now serves as the de facto leader of the VP party: this makes him a likely government target. 
We are deeply concerned for Carlos’ safety: he is currently in hiding in Venezuela with limited access to communication. Unlike López, he is not an internationally recognizable figure - media outlets outside of Venezuela have yet to report on his situation. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have released alerts specifically naming Carlos as a government target. The Yale Politic and Yale Alumni Magazine have also written about Carlos’ situation. 
But we worry that his relative anonymity will allow government forces the space and ability to do whatever they will without fear of international repercussion. 
While at Yale, Carlos Vecchio spoke passionately about his tireless efforts to promote democracy in Venezuela: his enthusiasm and depth of knowledge were infectious. He reached across campus to students, faculty and other Fellows – many of whom have rallied around him in this time of crisis – with his pure love of country and genuine respect for democratic ideals.  In Venezuela, Carlos a well-loved political figure and an inspiration to young people across the country. 
This is Carlos at a rally in Venezuela in December, just after he left Yale: 
Please join our efforts to raise global awareness of Carlos’ situation, and support our call for his safety. Along with Yale World Fellows Henrique Salas-Romer (who is helping us from New Haven) and Maria Corina Machado, he has sacrificed much and placed himself and family at great risk to help Venezuela achieve democratic reform.
Maria Corina Machado (a member of the Venezuelan National Assembly and also an opposition leader) has also been vocal throughout the protests. She joined Al Jazeera to discuss the continued protests against the Venezuelan government.
For more information and updates on the situation as we have them, please refer to the list of links and contacts below. Please help us spread the word by sharing this page and other links. We will continue to update this page as we receive news. 

Also, see what Leslie Bull has to say at the Next New Deal:

"Given the recent revolutionary events in Ukraine, it is understandable that much of American media attention on foreign politics is concentrated on that country, and that country alone. But it is important to remember that our myopic focus on just one world event at a time comes with a price: sometimes the other crises in the world that go ignored are actually made even worse because of it. We sometimes forget the power that just paying attention to a crisis can have – without it, those perpetrating the crimes can rest assured that the international community’s eye is elsewhere, and can behave with impunity. In the case of the current unrest in Venezuela, the price of that apathy might just be my friend’s life."

Friday, March 7, 2014

It All Makes Sense, Now

From CBS News:

Tampa family sickened by LSD-tainted beef

J. Scott Applewhite, 

TAMPA, Fla. -- A Tampa Police investigation is underway Friday after an entire family, including a pregnant woman and two young children, were hospitalized as a result of eating LSD-laced meat, reports CBS Affililate WTSP in Tampa.
According to reports, it all began Monday night when 24-year-old Ronnie Morales complained he felt sick after eating dinner.
Morales' girlfriend, 31-year-old Jessica Rosado drove him to St. Joseph's Hospital, but it wasn't long before she too, fell ill. Roasado, who was nine-months pregnant, was rushed to St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, where they safely delivered her baby.
The situation worsened as Rosado's young daughters, ages 7 and 6, also got sick and reportedly began hallucinating.
After being treated, Morales and both children were released from the hospital Wednesday, followed by Rosado and her healthy baby boy on Thursday.
It wasn't clear what caused the mysterious illness until Friday, when officials say they received test results from the medical examiner that pointed to LSD as the meat's contaminant.
Tampa Police are now investigating how LSD could have been in the meat, but Chief Castor did said they know the family is not at fault.
The meat was purchased at a Walmart located at 1501 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. The store has since removed the specific type of meat from their shelves, and released the following statement in regard to the incident:
"Like everyone else in the community, we are deeply disturbed about this situation and we are taking it very seriously. We want answers and we're committed to working with officials to get to the bottom of this.
We know our customers expect safe, quality food and we require our suppliers to meet the highest of food safety standards. It's unclear where and how the food was tampered with or if the tampering occurred after purchase. However, out of an abundance of caution, we have pulled the remaining product from the store.
We have been in touch with our supplier and they tell us they have no reports of similar incidents. We are also reviewing our store's surveillance video to see if we can find any information that might assist in the investigation. At this point, we're not aware of any suspicious activity."
Walmart spokesperson Dianna Gee told CBS News the meat was thin-cut bottom round steak made by a supplier, Cargill.
Cargill told CBS News they have been alerted to the situation and will cooperate with any investigation.