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progree

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Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 03:45 AM
Number of posts: 1,315

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No more print magazines, what do I do?

First it was PC Magazine that went from print to digital only. Then Newsweek, and now PC World. And numerous smaller publications have done so, like my city's Crime Watch newsletter.

I'm getting old. I LOVE TO READ IN BED! And it's how I fall asleep. I hate reading long articles and books on my computer screen at a desk.

When PC World recently went all-digital, I signed up for the Zinio subscription service and Zinio Reader for reading downloaded magazines offline on my Windows 7 PC. But that royally sucks:

I cannot underline or highlight, I cannot annotate, I cannot copy and paste anything. What worthless crap.

Whereas in a print magazine I underline and annotate. I underline some really key things darker and harder. I put a star or two in the margin for a really key key thing. Sometimes I use different colors. And I do that all FLAT ON MY BACK IN BED. And though with a print magazine I can't copy and paste electronically either, I do type a few sparse notes on some key articles, and clip the article and file chronologically.

I have not explored any e-book readers or tablets. I know with a Kindle, for example, one can underline and annotate, but don't know if I'd be allowed to do that on my PCWorld subscription from Zinio (probably not)

I have similar issues with books too, but let's make that a separate posting.

Anyone else having trouble coping with the modern world?

Thanks for any insights.

I wonder what the "crazy" ants think of us. 400 ppm CO2 etc. Population video:

The dramatic dot video of population growth. A world map beginning in 1 A.D. with 1 dot = 1 million people
http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_main


It is about 6 1/2 minutes long but you can skip the first 2 minutes -- the actual dot stuff begins at 2:00 and ends at 5:42. At 5:00 have reached about 1600 A.D. while the population is still quite modest outside of India and China. (So if you are in a time bind, you can start at 5:00 and watch just the last 42 seconds) "As the film neared present day and the dots started flying onto the screen, there were audible gasps, wide staring eyes, and mumblings of "no way" and "I knew we were growing but not THAT much."

Not another head tax - the most regressive tax of all

According to a Pioneer Press article:

“A group of lawmakers will take a second look at a controversial bill to impose a $5 surcharge on homeowners and vehicle insurance policies, raising about $23 million annually for police and fire pensions.”


More at: http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_22768070/insurance-surcharges-boost-pension-plans-gets-second-look?source=rss

======================================================================

Taxing each household the same amount (similar to a head tax) is far more regressive than even a sales tax. Yes, I know, it's households, not people, but it's close. And yes, I know only homeowners pay the homeowner insurance surcharge, but virtually all economists believe that in the long run in a market economy, homeowner costs and taxes are paid mostly by the renters in the case of rental property. And yes, the poorest of the poor probably don’t have a vehicle. But it is still a VERY regressive tax.

In Golden Valley, we’ve been recently hit with new $24 / year surcharges on our electric bill and another $24/year on our gas bill – another similar head / household tax. (I know that's not the legislature's doing, but its an illustration of how our elected officials are adding and increasing the most regressive taxes).

And then don’t get me started on the sales tax increases – the next most regressive tax after head / household taxes. The sales tax on services, besides being extremely regressive, is mostly a tax on local labor.

In an age when inequality is soaring through the roof, I am shocked and horrified that a Democratic governor and legislature seems to be doing all it possibly can to make the situation worse.



We're half way to replace electoral college with national popular vote, MN may join that effort

This from state Senator Ann Rest, DFL, New Hope

S.F. 585 would add Minnesota to a national compact of states agreeing to elect the President of the United
States by a national popular vote as opposed to the current Electoral College system. If enough states adopt
this compact to account for 270 of the nation’s electoral votes, they would effectively be able to enforce
the new process. Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia have agreed to the compact, accounting
for approximately a quarter of the Electoral College votes.


Source of above (no more info on this topic, the above blurb is the whole thing) : https://www.senate.mn/members/newsletter/1051_Rest_Ann/CapitolUpdate07February232013.pdf

=================================================
The above says the proposal already has about a quarter of the electoral votes. Once we reach 270 -- half of the total electoral votes, then that will be enough to choose the president no matter what the other states do with their electoral votes (The ones agreeing to this compact will assign all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote). Anyway, since the proposal has got 1/4 and needs 1/2, that's why my title line says that the proposal is half way there (1/4 is half way to 1/2 -- maths is hard).

So anyway this looks like something that could happen. Compared to what we have now (winner take all in all states except Nebraska and Maine), it might not make much practical difference. But if the RepubliCONs succeed in changing some blue swing states that they control from winner-take-all to allocating electoral votes by congressional district, then it will be a big, big difference. If the RepubliCONs had had their way on this in 2012, Romney would be president by 16 electoral votes, instead of losing by 126 electoral votes and by 3.7% of the national popular vote ( https://www.freespeech.org/text/rigging-democracy )

Great stuff. There's also that at-night lighted version - Overpass Light Brigade

The overpass light brigade http://overpasslightbrigade.org/
Their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/OverpassLightBrigade
Their tumbler page -- 4 pages of photos: http://overpasslightbrigade.tumblr.com/







This by the way, is the freeway blogger's website for anyone hunting for the URL - lots of great pictures: http://www.freewayblogger.com/

Voting Rights/Voter ID - heartening to see so many "getting it"

I know very few to none who are in the area will see this in time (on edit - the event was Oct 11), I wouldn't have bothered posting except it was nice to see such a widely diverse group of sponsors that are involved. To me, this amendment is the most important constitutional amendment on the ballot because if we have strict voter ID (and that's what the constitutional amendment calls for), then the civil rights of EVERYONE, and ALL progressive causes will be negatively impacted by the disproportionate disenfranchisement of progressives.

=============================================================
Voting rights 10.11 6:30pm

Voices for Voting Rights Red Carpet Event
Public Event • By Organizing Apprenticeship Project
Thursday, October 11, 2012
6:30pm until 8:30pm at PARKWAY THEATER
4814 Chicago Ave. South, Minneapolis

VOICES FOR VOTING RIGHTS
A Red Carpet Event and Film Screening.
...Come hear the voices of multiracial, multicultural leaders in our communities who are standing up for voting rights.
...
...Eat popcorn and enjoy artistic performances as well as the screening of several short social justice films featuring local celebrities.
...Dress to impress (optional)
...VOTE NO on VOTER ID (mandatory).

Contributing Partners:
African American Leadership Forum
Be the Vote Coalition 2012
CAPI
Community Action of Minneapolis
Centro Campesino
Color the Vote
Lao Family Community
Main Street Project
Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota
Organizing Apprenticeship Project
Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
Somali Action Alliance

Economy facts with official sources, rev 8/2/14. Reference for discussions with persuadables

A short summary of the jobs report that came out on 8/1/14 was added to the bottom of this page, EF-0. All 9 pages (EF-0 through EF-8) were last updated 7/4/14.

NEXT UPDATE OF *ALL* PAGES IS SATURDAY September 6. All 9 pages are updated every 2 months. A summary of the latest month is done monthly at the bottom of this EF-0 page.



Almost all sections have where to find the official numbers, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Treasury.gov, or widely trusted non-partisan sources.

{#} EF-1. Job Loss and Creation - Payroll Jobs. At the bottom all post-WWII presidents with completed terms are compared

{#} EF-2. Unemployment Rate, Labor Force Participation Rate, Unemployment Insurance Claims

{#} EF-3. Recessions and Expansions - Official (NBER.org). Also GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

{#} EF-4. U.S. Stock Market as measured by the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Avg

{#} EF-5. National Debt. Budget Deficits and Surpluses

{#} EF-6. U.S. Dollar Index (DXY). Oil Prices

{#} EF-7. In Progress (mostly Dem presidencies v. Repub presidencies. Also Inequality)

{#} EF-8. In Progress - Some canned excerpts to use in the message board wars

I use facts from these in mixed message boards and in comments on news articles such as at news.yahoo.com. Be aware that I have included a few statistics that are not so pleasant as far as Obama's record, ones that anyone debating with others should be aware of because occasionally you will see these points or they will come back at you with these statistics (forewarned is forearmed).

Here's another major major economy resource: CabCurious' "Factual talking points on the economy" - lots of very interesting graphs - take a "scroll" through them. http://www.democraticunderground.com/125170175


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Beware the tricks of the economic pundits out there, such as right-wingers slamming any gains the economy is making under Obama (that said, I don't deny the economy is wobbling s-l-o-w-l-y forward -- thanks in large part to Republican obstructionism in Congress, and Republican policies in the many states they control). Such tricks of the polemicists include:

(1). Highlighting adverse one-month or other short-term changes in some highly volatile component, and making it seem like it's the story of the whole Obama administration's job record such as, for example, the monthly changes in the civilian labor force, age 16+, seasonally adjusted. Here for example are the monthly changes for 2012 in thousands: (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000?output_view=net_1mth ):

Jan Feb Mar. Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct. Nov Dec
401 498 -15 -246 381 188 -164 -301 349 489 -228 206 (thousands)


Needless to say, our good friends on the right highlight the drops in the months when it drops, and make no mention of the rises when it rises. This is also known as cherry-picking the bad statistic of the month.

(2). Cleverly mixing seasonally adjusted data with unadjusted data (without making that clear of course) Or using exclusively seasonally unadjusted data if that paints the picture they want to paint

(3). Cleverly mixing statistics from the household survey (CPS) and the establishment survey (CES) (without making that clear of course). The CPS survey of households ( http://www.bls.gov/cps/ ) produces the unemployment rate, the labor force participation rate, the number employed, and innumerable other statistics. The CES ( http://www.bls.gov/ces/ ), a completely separate survey of businesses, produces a number of statistics, most notably the headline payroll jobs numbers (widely regarded as a better indicator of job changes than the CPS's Employed number because of the larger sample size among other reasons). Because of statistical noise and volatility, these 2 surveys often come up with seemingly incompatible results. Needless to say, right-wing polemicists mix and match statistics from both surveys to produce nonsense.

(4).Cherry-picking the start and end points of some data series
This is a generalization of item (1.) except that instead of highlighting the latest month of an adverse statistic, they may pick another starting point that is an outlier. For example in October 2013, someone mentioned that the latest U-6 unemployment measure is no better than it was in March 2013, 7 months ealier. True, but March was at a noisy zag low; its clear to see from the graph that there is a downward trend, not a 7-month plateau. U-6: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709

Here are the 2013 values (the 2012 values are all above 14.4% BTW, it was 15.1% in January 2012)

Jan Feb. March Apr. May. June July Aug. Sept Oct.
14.4 14.3 13.8 13.9 13.8 14.2 13.9 13.6 13.6 13.7 (2013, U-6 in percent)
. . . . . . ^-the cherry-picked low starting point the RW'er chose


(The U-6 unemployment rate (sometimes dubbed the underemployment rate) is now (July 2014) 12.2% by the way, down 0.5% in the last 4 months and down 1.7% in the last 12 months. It is the broadest measure of unemployment that the BLS produces -- it includes part-time workers wanting full-time positions. It also counts as unemployed any jobless person who wants a job and has looked for work at any time in the past 12 months (whereas the headline U-3 unemployment rate counts those who have looked any time in just the last 4 weeks).

It's like global warming when the righties always pick 1998 -- an anomalously hot year because of a strong El Nino -- as their starting point to argue that there has been very little warming since.

That is why seeing the whole data series is so important, and not just accepting the time period and the statistic that a right-wing polemicist dishes out. However, finding the data series number is often quite a challenge, and something that in my experience involves a large bag of tricks. It is my intent to write more about how to find the data series you need. But for now, if there is one trick to mention, this one is the most helpful: http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=ln

(5). Using government statistics and trickery (see above techniques) to make some point, and when you call them on it, they tell you they don't trust government statistics

----------------------------
As for postings by DU members, always check the source of the article they posted, for example one perhaps unintentionally posted a bunch of crap from a right-wing polemicist (Peter Morici) http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251259885#post3 (that's post #3 -- interestingly the poster was PPR'd about 4 months later). Note that sometimes the publication might be an OK mainstream source, but you should still check out the author.

END of "Beware the tricks" lecture
########################################################################


General notes from previous deleted job summaries - to be reorganized and refiled

I'm working on the wages things brought up in earlier DU posts -- for now, See: Real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) average weekly earnings, all employees (total private), 1982-1984 dollars, Seas Adj: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000012
And of production and non-supervisory workers: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031

Note on statistical noise: As an example: payroll jobs increased by 113,000 in January 2014 in the establishment survey. But according to the household survey, employment that month increased by 638,000. Just goes to show how wild the statistical noise is, and not to get excited one way or another with any one month's particular numbers.

On statistical noise, I found this BLS technical note on sampling error -- http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.tn.htm . Based on what it says, there is a 90% probability that the payroll jobs increase in January was in the interval 113,000 +/- 90,000 jobs -- that is somewhere between 23,000 jobs and 203,000 jobs. And a 10% chance that it is outside this interval.

And in the Household Survey, there is a 90% chance that the monthly unemployment change is +/- 300,000 of the stated number, and that there is a 90% chance that the unemployment rate is about +/- 0.2% of the stated number.

The above only covers sampling error. There are also many other sources of error (search the above link for "non-sampling error")

The individual components that go into these numbers have an even larger sampling error. As explained above, right-wingers love to find the aberrant statistic or two of the month and make it out to be the story of the Obama administration, rather than one month's number in a very statistically volatile data series.

Recent topic updates

4/6/13: There has been a recent decline in the federal workforce. This has brought the total federal workforce to below where it was when Obama took office. So if some rightie is telling you that Obama has been expanding the federal workforce, point them to EF-1 below.

4/6/13: Note much new material has been added on the national debt, such as which percentage is foreign owned, the increase in the national debt / GDP ratio since 2000, the interest on the national debt, and the average maturity of the interest on the marketable portion of the national debt (only 4.5 years in Dec 2011). See EF-5 below.

8/3/13: Added section to EF-5: Deficit Projections - FY 2013 deficit projected to be less than half what Obama inherited

11/9/13: Notice extensive revisions to EF-5 National Debt, Budget Deficits and Surpluses. Besides the usual monthly updates, the Fiscal Year 2013 results are in (Fiscal Year 2013 ended September 30, 2013). Anyway, federal spending in FY 2013 was 64 B$ LESS (1.8% LESS) than in FY 2009 (the last Bush budgeted year). Federal spending as a percentage of GDP dropped substantially during those 4 years -- from 24.46% of GDP to 20.49% of GDP (calculations below). Something to keep in mind when some rightie rants and raves about the socialist Obama spending us into the poor house. Oh, and the FY 2013 deficit at 680 B$ is less than half the FY 2009 deficit of 1,413 B$.

1/11/14 - I've added some discussion of the impact of the boomer retirements on the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in EF-2. Yes, lately, older Americans have a higher LFPR than in the recent past (its been on a general rising trend since 1985), but still their LFPR is much lower than that of the age 16+ population overall. Since the elderly share of the 16+ population is rapidly rising, this exerts downward pressure on the overall 16+ population LFPR. The net effect is that the latter effect (the very-low-LFPR elderly as rising share of the 16+ population) overwhelms the effect of the rising elderly LFPR, with the net result that the overall LFPR goes down.



Recent job summaries


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6/7/14 - Good (but not great) jobs report this month - 217,000 net new payroll jobs. The last 3 months have averaged 234,000 / month, an improvement from the 150,000 jobs/month average of the preceding 3 months (the latter is only a little above the 130,000/month that is required in order to "tread water" -- to keep both the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate the same). Over the past 12 months, job growth has averaged 197,000 jobs/month.

We've also, at long last finally broken through another barrier in May -- we have recovered the payroll jobs lost during the recession. For the first time, there are more payroll jobs now than there were at the pre-recession peak in January 2008. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001

Unfortunately the working age population has also grown substantially since then. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 7 million more jobs are needed in order to cover the population growth during that time in order to return us to the peak pre-recession job conditions -- as I understand it, to the same unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate as back then, with adjustments made for retiring baby boomers (those who would have likely retired even with job market conditions as good as they were during the peak).

Realize though that the pre-recession peak was the result of a super-bubble created by reckless lending and people collectively using their home equity as an ATM machine to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars per year. So I'm not sure that's a good point to use as a basis of their "missing workers" calculation (see next paragraph).

For more on the Economic Policy Institute's figures and "missing workers" projections, see http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/ and U.S. News & World Report's reporting of it -- http://news.yahoo.com/missing-workers-mean-no-time-celebrate-jobs-data-162600773.html

From the Bureau of Labor Statistic's household survey - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm - The unemployment rate stayed unchanged at 6.3%. This was due to the increase in jobs being partly offset by reentrants to the labor force -- unemployed people who were not actively seeking work in April (thus not being counted as unemployed) but resumed their job search in May (thus being counted as unemployed). In this paragraph, "actively seeking work" means having looked for work sometime in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Also from the household survey - the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) remained unchanged in May at 62.8%, sitting at the same multi-decade low first reached in October 2013. It is down 0.6 percentage points from a year ago. The labor force increased by 192,000 people last month (that increased the LFPR by about 0.03%, but that's not enough to bump up April's 62.8% LFPR to 62.9%).

The number of employed people in the household survey (this is a different survey than the one that produces the much more reliable payroll jobs report discussed a few paragraphs above) grew by 145,000 in May, and by 548,000 over the past 3 months, and 1,895,000 over the past 12 months. (Note that in April, it fell by 73,000 -- just goes to show how volatile and statistically noisy this survey is, and not to make a big hoohah about any one month's number, as many reporters and pundits did).

########################################################################

7/3/14 - Great jobs report this month - 288,000 net new payroll jobs. And April and May were revised up by a combined 29,000. So we've got 327,000 more new jobs than in last month's report. In the last 4 months we've added more than a million jobs -- 1.019 million, an average of 255,000/month.

Some key numbers from the Household Survey (note the Household survey is different from the Establishment Survey that produces the payroll jobs of the previous paragraph). See Table A-1 for the main Household Survey numbers - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

Over the last month:
+81,000 Labor Force (employed + jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
+407,000 Employed
-325,000 Unemployed (jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
-0.0% Labor Force Participation rate (still stuck at 62.8%, a multi-decade low first reached in October)
-0.2% Unemployment rate (from 6.3% to 6.1%). Is Unemployed (as defined above) / Labor Force

Over the last 3 months:
-533,000 Labor Force
+479,000 Employed
-1,012,000 Unemployed
-0.4% Labor Force Participation rate
-0.6% Unemployment rate

Over the last year:
-128,000 Labor Force
+2,146,000 Employed
-2,273,000 Unemployed
-0.7% Labor Force Participation rate
-1.4% Unemployment rate

In June, The U-6 "underemployment rate" fell to 12.1%, the lowest since Oct 2008. (In the U-6 statistic, they count as unemployed a jobless person who has looked for work sometime in the last 12 months. Unlike the headline unemployment rate U-3 statistic where they don't count any jobless people who haven't looked for work in more than 4 weeks)

Some other highlights:

# Number of Americans out of work for at least 27 weeks: 3.1 million, lowest since February 2009.

# The median duration of unemployment fell to 13.1 weeks from 14.6 weeks in May, the lowest in more than five years.

# The number of long-term unemployed has dropped by 1.2 million over the past year to just under 3.1 million. That is half what it was three years ago.

Aberrant statistic of the month - part time jobs

You may have read that most of the new jobs created in June were part time (see Table A-8, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t08.htm
). Or even that full-time jobs were lost, so that all of the job gains were from part-time jobs (see Table A-9, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t09.htm )

Note that most of the statistics from the Household Survey -- from which both the Table A-8 and Table A-9 numbers come from -- are highly volatile from month to month. This month it seems the righties are picking on the June part-time jobs monthly change over May as the statistic of the month that demonstates the hollowness of the "Obummer" economy.

I had some issues with a couple of such posts, see:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025189920#post34
and
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025189459#post48
for my dissection of both the Table A-8 part-time numbers and the Table A-9 part-time numbers.

As I said, there is a lot of volatility (mostly from statistical noise) in these numbers from month to month, and post48 above talks about that the most. This month to month variation dampens out over longer periods of time (one month it zigs, one month it zags, but over time, the zigs and zags average out and one gets a better picture of the real underlying trend).

Over a one year period (easily available from the Tables), it turns out that using the Table A-8 numbers, that new part-time jobs were 9.1% of the total new jobs. And using the Table A-9 numbers, new part-time jobs were 0.5% of total new jobs.

Here's another very similar kerfuffle I had about the part-time numbers about a year ago. Part time jobs supposedly increased more than total jobs, so full time jobs supposedly fell. They also mixed statistics from two separate surveys (the Household Survey and the Establishment Survey) which is always a big no-no. It also notes that over the past year (April 2013 vs. April 2012) (the post was written in May 2013) that part-time jobs increased only 60,000, while the total Employed increased 1,645,000 -- so again, over a year's time frame the percentage of new jobs created that was part-time was miniscule. http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022801053#post78

# Part-time workers for Economic Reasons (Table A-8 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12032194

# Part-time workers for NonEconomic Reasons (Table A-8 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12005977

# Full-time workers (Table A-8 numbers -- No such in Table A-8, sorry. I don't know any full-time worker statistic that is compatible with the two Part-time statistics above. I'd guess that full-time workers = "Employed" minus the sum of the above two part-time worker categories. "Employed" is available in Table A and Table A-1, and here: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12000000 )

# Part-time workers (Table A-9 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12600000

# Full-time workers (Table A-9 numbers) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12500000

And no, the Part-time workers for Economic Reasons (A-8) PLUS Part-time workers for NonEconomic Reasons (A-8) does not equal Part-time workers in Table A-9. (The A-9 numbers each month are roughly about 1 million more than the sum of the corresponding two A-8 numbers). I frankly can't explain the differences.

Here's some more battles over the job numbers in the past couple of days -- destroying common myths that are out there:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025189459#post17 - Myth: They don't count the long-term unemployed in the unemployment rate - Not true: as long as a jobless person tells the Household Survey surveyor that (s)he wants a job and as long as (s)he has looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks (in the case of U-3, the headline unemployment rate) or in the last 12 months (in the case of U-6, the sometimes dubbed "underemployment rate") than (s)he is counted as unemployed.

While I was at it, in the same post I destroyed another myth: People who run out of unemployment insurance benefits are not counted as unemployed in the unemployment rate statistics.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025189459#post29 - Myth: wages are about the same as 30 years ago, meanwhile the cost of living has gone way up. -- No, not according to the BLS statistics anyway. Average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees have gone up about 2.45-fold during those 30 years, a little bit more than inflation. It's ahead of inflation by about 7% over these long long 30 years (equivalent to a growth rate of inflation-adjusted earnings of just 0.23% / year ( 1.0023 ^ 30 = 1.07 where "^" is exponentiation)).

In fairness, realize that this statistic -- although EXcluding generally high-earning supervisory and management and business owners and self-employed -- and although it does INclude many millions of generally low-earning and modest-earning blue collar and pink collar workers -- it is not a statistic of just low- and moderate- wage workers. It also includes highly paid professionals -- doctors, lawyers, and engineers, for example -- whose salaries are converted to dollars per hour.

Understand that I'm not saying the economy is great. Its been a slow slow recovery from the pit of hell that Bush left us. (In all but the first year or two, the Republicans in Congress have obstructed everything Obama has tried to do to move the economy forward). It is still a weak economy, and the modest 6.1% unemployment rate doesn't adequately reflect the weakness of the labor market - an opinion I share with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

It's just that I'm tired of seeing the same damn myths posted over and over again that people heard or read from some polemicists, and never attempt to check out.


I would just as eagerly destroy myths that the economy is really doing way better than some statistic indicates, but I've never seen that kind of myth. All the myths I know of are some variant of some XYZ statistic understates how bad the economy is.

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8/2/14 - Great jobs report this month - 209,000 net new payroll jobs in July. And May and June were revised up by a combined 15,000. So we've got 209k + 15k = 224,000 more new payroll jobs than in last month's report. In the last 4 months we've added more than a million jobs -- 1.040 million, an average of 260,000/month.

Another great thing: there was no one-month statistical aberration that the righties can make into a humongous deal -- like a big one-month jump in part-time jobs relative to full-time jobs, or a one-month surge of people leaving the labor force. Most of the one-month change in the Household Survey statistics is statistical noise, but that doesn't stop the righties or their DU allies from trying to make it look like the story of the Obama administration.

(This month the labor force increased by a healthy 329,000 and the number of part-time workers who want full time jobs FELL by 33,000 (good). Total part-time workers increased by 52,000 -- a rather large percent of the increase in total Employed (52/329 = 15.8%) but apparently not enough for the righties to make it into a big news story. (Over the past 12 months, part-time workers decreased by 114,000 while total Employed increased by 2,067,000).

Some key numbers from the Household Survey (note the Household survey is different from the Establishment Survey that produces the payroll jobs of the first paragraph). See Table A-1 for the main Household Survey numbers - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

Over the last month:
+329,000 Labor Force (employed + jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
+131,000 Employed
+197,000 Unemployed (jobless people who have looked for work sometime in the last 4 weeks)
+0.0% Employment-To-Population Ratio (it's at 59.0%)
+0.1% Labor Force Participation rate (at 62.9%, it is just 0.1% above the multi-decade low first reached in October)
+0.1% Unemployment rate (from 6.1% to 6.2%). Is Unemployed (as defined above) / Labor Force
-33,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
+52,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)

Over the last 3 months:
+602,000 Labor Force
+683,000 Employed
-82,000 Unemployed
+0.1% Employment-To-Population Ratio
+0.1% Labor Force Participation rate
-0.1% Unemployment rate
+46,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
+773,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9) (WOW! A very statistically noisy data series)

Over the last year:
+330,000 Labor Force
+2,067,000 Employed
-1,737,000 Unemployed
+0.3% Employment-To-Population Ratio
-0.5% Labor Force Participation rate
-1.1% Unemployment rate
-669,000 Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons)
-114,000 Part-Time Workers (Table A-9)

Part-Time Workers Who Want Full Time Jobs, as % of All Employed
July'13 Mar'14 Jun'14 July'14

5.7% 5.1% 5.2% 5.1%


Some other highlights:

# In June, The U-6 "underemployment rate" fell to 12.1%, the lowest since Oct 2008. In July, it edged up 0.1% to 12.2%. (In the U-6 statistic, they count as unemployed a jobless person who has looked for work sometime in the last 12 months. Unlike the headline unemployment rate U-3 statistic where they don't count any jobless people who haven't looked for work in more than 4 weeks)

# Average hourly earnings: up by 1 cent to $24.45 in July, Past 12 months: up by 2.0% (Table B-3)

# Average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees up by 4 cents in July to $20.61, Past 12 months: up by 2.3% (Tables B-8)

########################################################################
FFI on the most recent jobs report, straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age (household survey) http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

Several graphs of the key economic stats -- http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cps_charts.pdf

The whole enchilada -- including all 16 "A" tables (the household survey) and all 9 "B" tables (the establishment survey) http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

The Council of Economic Advisors' Take on the Jobs Report http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/08/01/employment-situation-july

Romney justifies virtually no job growth at his 3 1/2 year point in Mass.

Probably your crazy uncle is telling you that he's tired of hearing "Oblamer" blame Bush for the poor state of the economy and essentially zero job growth since he took office (since January 31, 2009 thru August 31, 2012, under Obama 261,000 jobs have been lost, although he is in positive territory in private sector jobs).

Your crazy uncle also pooh poohs you when you tell him that in the last 30 months, under Obama 4.6 million private sector jobs and 4.1 million total jobs (actually civilian non-farm payroll jobs), have been created, telling you that you are cherry-picking Obama's best months blah dee blah.

# Payroll Jobs: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001
# Private Sector Payroll Employment: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000001

Well, Romney in his June 24, 2006 press conference (nearly 3 1/2 years into his governorship of Massachusetts), blamed the economy he inherited for his woeful job record over his entire term, and touted the 50,000 jobs created since the turnaround. Exactly the sort of argument that the righties are criticizing us for making regarding Obama.

Transcript and press-conference video (1:50): http://www.youtube{DOT}com/watch?v=ArRj-dQXX3Y
(replace the {DOT} with . in the above URL. I don't know why it is fighting with me)


TRANSCRIPT:"You guys are bright enough to look at the numbers. I came in and the jobs had been just falling right off a cliff, I came in and they kept falling for 11 months. And then we turned around and we're coming back and that's progress. And if you are going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should have immediately turned around, well that would be silly. It takes awhile to get things turned around. We were in a recession, we were losing jobs every month. We've turned around and since the turnaround we've added 50,000 jobs. That's progress. And there will be some people who try and say, 'well Governor, net-net, you've only added a few thousand jobs since you've been in.' Yeah but I helped stop, I didn't do it alone, the economy is a big part of that, the private sector's what drives that -- up and down -- But we were in free fall for three years. And the last year that I happened to be here, and then we turned it around, as a state, private sector, government sector, turned it around. And now we're adding jobs. We wanna keep that going, to the extent we can. We're the, you know, we're one part of that equation, but not the whole equation. A lot of it is outside of our control, it's federal, it's international, it's private sector. But I'm very pleased that over the last a 2, 2 and a half, years we've seen pretty consistent job growth. 50,000 new jobs created, some great companies, we just had, last week, Samsonite announced their headquarters moving here. Companies outside Massachusetts moving in to Massachusetts. That kind of commitment, that kind of decision, says something about what they feel about the future of our state."

Well, then I wondered, is 50,000 jobs so great for a state the size of Massachusetts? Using July 2011 data, Massachusett's share of the USA population is 6.587 Million / 311.6 Million = 2.1139%. (It would have been better to dig up population numbers more around the 2003-2006 time frame but I doubt that the percentage would be more than slightly different). So on a per-capita basis, 50,000 jobs in Massachusetts is equivalent to 50,000 / 2.1139% = 2.366 Million nationwide jobs.

I'm assuming since the press conference was held in June 24, 2006, that the 50,000 jobs is through the end of May 2006 since they wouldn't have end-of-June numbers in yet.

Well, Obama in a similar point of his presidency -- the end of May 2012, had presided over the creation of 3.744 Million jobs.

So on a per-capita basis since their respective job turnaround points, Obama's job creation record is 3.744 / 2.366 = 1.58 X better (58% better) than Romney's.

And since Romney is "very pleased" with his job creation record in Massachusetts since the turnaround, he should be 1.58 times "very pleased" with Obama's record.


(Note that since Obama took office January 20 (2009) and Romney took office January 2 (2003), I could have moved Obama forward by a month to the end of June. If so, Obama's job creation record through the end of June 2012 is 3.819 Million jobs, and his per-capita record is 3.819 / 2.366 = 1.61 X better (61% better). But I'll settle for the end of May figures. )

The background behind the 5% effectiveness / 95% ineffectiveness claim (LONG dissertation)

Dembearpig> AA and the twelve steps are the most unsuccessful self-help program in human history, and even their own data supports this fact. 12-step rehab facilities have a 97% failure rate within 12 months. AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year. Numerous studies show that those who take no formal action have a SIGNIFICANTLY higher success rate.


I've long read statistics about the success or failure rates of 12-step treatment "rehab" facilities and, separately, A.A.

I've never seen a 97% failure rate figure for 12-step rehab facilities before, or anything near that high. I'll leave it to others to delve into that.

On the "AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year", the source of this controversy is an (allegedly) internal A.A. document, "Comments On A.A.'s Triennial Surveys (5M/12-90/TC)" available at (http://www.scribd.com/doc/3264243/Comments-on-AAs-Triennial-Surveys) And in particular, "Figure C-1" on page 11, which is a graph that also helpfully includes the data being graphed. The data is as follows (I've also included Figure C-1's heading in the below):

/============================================================
"% of those coming to AA within the first year that have remained the indicated number of months.

1mo 2mo 3mo 4mo 5mo 6mo 7mo 8mo 9mo 10mo 11mo 12mo
19% 13% 10% 9%   8% 7%   7%   6%   6%   6%    6%   5%
\=============================================================

I agree with Agent Green http://www.green-papers.org (or at least I think his interpretation is much more plausible). Here is the relevant excerpt from his web page --

Does AA's retention rate indicate 95% failure?

Orange quotes ( http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#AA_dropouts ) an internal AA survey as evidence that 95% of people who begin going to AA meetings will have left after a year. In reality, the graph shows that 74% will leave within their first year not 95% - Orange either doesn't know how to read a frequency distribution graph, or is willfully presenting it dishonestly.

The graph (http://www.scribd.com/doc/3264243/Comments-on-AAs-Triennial-Surveys) is very simple.

The researchers went into different AA meetings and asked the people there how long they had been attending, they plotted the results for those within their first year on this graph by monthly averages. So it shows, 19% of people were in their first month, 13% their second, 10% in their third and so on up to 5% in their twelfth month. Orange claims the 5% of people in their twelfth month indicates that 95% had left after a year (oblivious to the fact that the other 95% in the survey was comprised of those sitting in the same room and with less than 11 months time attending meetings). Agent Orange is in need of a math lesson.

This survey is the other source for Orange's purported 5% success rate. The graph actually shows that 26% of people who try an AA meeting for the first time are still attending AA after the first year, the attrition is from 19% (those in their first month) to 5% (those in their twelfth), and therefore around 74%.

Orange also claims that this 74% attrition is an AA failure rate. I will now use Orange's spectacularly warped logic to prove that exercise is unhealthy. Watch carefully!

•After one year, 74% of people who began work-out routines at a gym are no longer using the gym.
•Therefore gyms have a 74% failure rate.
•Therefore exercise is unhealthy!

It is indeed true that only 26% of visitors to AA stay more than a year, and AA has shown some concern about this statistic. But:

•Some people visit AA and decide it's not for them.
•Some people get sober and decide to leave AA.

Orange's 'failure' statistics turn out to be at best ignorance and at worst flat out lies.

What Agent Green left off, unfortunately (for those trying to defend his interpretation from his critics), is that there is a couple of statements in A.A.'s study which would lead one to believe the Agent Orange interpretation that only 5% remain after 12 months, rather than Green's interpretation that 26% of those in month 1 are still around in month 12. Frankly, from the Green (and my and AAHistoryLovers' viewpoint <1> ), Figure C-1 is mislabeled; and also the page 11 "It is possible to calculate" statement in a2 below is also incorrect:

a1). The heading of Figure C-1 (p. 12): "% of those coming to AA within the first year THAT HAVE REMAINED THE INDICATED NUMBER OF MONTHS." ((emphasis Progree's. Note that Tom E., a writer of a number of postings on this subject at AAHistoryLovers, also indicates the wording is incorrect: "The title of C-1 doesn't match the data" <1> -Progree))

a2). p. 11 - "It is possible to calculate from completed questionnaires, by month, the number of members that have "been around" a given number of months. This relies on the question that determines the month and year that the respondent first came to A.A. The calculation has been performed for the twelve months of the first year for the five surveys, and the results are plotted in Figure C-1. Such results can be interpreted to show the probability that a member will remain in the Fellowship a given number of months" ((immediately following this statement is the "to be more explicit" paragraph in b2 that makes clear the 26% interpretation - Progree))

And here is why we think the Green 26% interpretation is the one intended (and repeating the data again for convenience of proximity):

1mo 2mo 3mo 4mo 5mo 6mo 7mo 8mo 9mo 10mo 11mo 12mo
19% 13% 10% 9%   8% 7%   7%   6%   6%   6%    6%   5%

b1). p. 2 - "approximately 50% of those coming to A.A. leave within 3 months" ((only the "Green 26%" interpretation of the numbers comes anywhere near close to matching this statement -- for every 19 people in month 1 there are 9 in month 4 -- 9/19 = 47% = about half. Perhaps the intended comparison is 19 in month 1 and 10 in month 3 -- 10/19 = 53% also equals about half. --Progree))

b2). p. 11 - "To be more explicit: if all the members who report they have been in the Fellowship for less than a month were still present a month later, then the number who report being in A.A. between one and two months should be equal the number that report being in less than a month, subject, of course, to month-to-month fluctuations and to any possible seasonal effects. The same should apply to succeeding months. However, it is observed that there is a steady decline, (subject to inevitable fluctuations)"

b3.) The percentages add up to 102%, supporting the frequency distribution interpretation ((a frequency distribution table with exact numbers will add up to 100%, but since all 12 numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number, a sum of 102% is quite consistent with a frequency distribution table. It just means that 2 more numbers got rounded up than got rounded down. -Progree))

b4.) It is highly unlikely that given the Orange interpretation of drastic attrition, that only 1% leave in the 5 month period between 6 months and 11 months. Data: (6mo, 7%), (11mo, 6%).

There are a couple of other reasons for thinking the Green 26% interpretation is correct, but they are difficult to explain succinctly.

Anyway, now you know where statements like "according to A.A.'s own statistics, 81% of newcomers leave in the first month (and only 19% remain after the first month); and 95% leave in the first year (and only 5% remain after the first year)" come from. And why that interpretation persists and is so widespread. For example, just Google (without the quotes)

"A.A. 5% retention rate"
"A.A. 95% dropout rate"

and similarly, in the above replace "retention" with "effectiveness" and "dropout" with "attrition" and similar terms to get some more hits.

Another piece of datum cited supporting A.A.'s alleged 5% effectiveness rate is the Vaillant study, which Agent Green also debunks at green-papers.org (and having looked at the Vaillant study extensively myself, I agree with what Green says about it).

Just thought some of you might be interested in knowing where that 5% effectiveness rate stuff comes from. And about the Orange v. Green fight. If you wonder why the A.A.'s don't get together and present the case for A.A.'s effectiveness (such as it is, but almost certainly better than 5%), I don't know either. If you have wondered why A.A. has (apparently) never confirmed which interpretation of the Triennial Survey data is correct, a lot of people are wondering that too.

I agree with the authors of the A.A. study that we could and should be doing a better job at retaining people...

====== Footnotes ==========================
<1> AAHistoryLovers group - see: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AAHistoryLovers/message/2044
See also messages 2379, 3374, 3385

God in the Steps and literature sure sounds like a deity who does favors and answers prayers ....

Stuart>>Your comment........

"I was just pointing out that, though a belief in a deity is not required, the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature proselytize about a specific kind of God - a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity"
____________________________________
my thoughts....

Maybe so, but I do not believe in this...haven't for many years, and don't, and won't...sometimes, there are circumstances that look like
there might be, but that doesn't mean there is...

Yes, there are people who believe in that "..prayer answering favor dispensing deity..."

Many people do not. <<


Again, I'm talking about what the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature say, taken literally and according to dictionary definitions, not what you believe or what I believe or what many people believe. And I'm saying it is wrong for a program that claims to be not religious (and extols rigorous honesty) to be pushing a religious program. And I'm saying it is wrong for A.A. to be helping the government and employers to coerce people into it --

{#} A.A. cooperation with coerced attendance

See:
A.A.® Guidelines
Cooperating with Court, D.W.I. and Similar Programs
from G.S.O., Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163
http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/en_pdfs/mg-05_coopwithcourt.pdf

where it is suggested that A.A. members create local Cooperation With the Professional Community (C.P.C.) committees and provide the courts with a list of open A.A. meetings. And suggesting ways that A.A. groups and members can help enforce court-ordered attendance, by signing attendance slips for example, and even suggesting other schemes for verifying coercee attendance for groups that don't want to sign attendance slips (See section "E. Proof of attendance at A.A. meetings.").

{#} Doesn't this "God" sound like a deity, something other than human?

More specifically, as for not believing "for many years" that "the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature proselytize about a specific kind of God - a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity" --

Let's start with the deity first. When you first saw the 12 Steps, did not a deity come to mind? You know, God this and God that and God God God? Isn't deity and God pretty much synonyms? (They are in my dictionary) . I don't think the first thing that came to mind when you saw God was Group Of Drunks.

Do not the Steps and Tradition 2 describe this Higher Power (in Step 2 capitalized) and God (in Step 3 and beyond) as one who will restore us to sanity, remove our shortcomings, manage our lives, care for us, love us, listen to our prayers, give us power, and guide our groups? Kind of hard not to think of this "God" as a deity with some pretty impressive capabilities and characteristics?

and who in Step 11 you pray to for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out?

If you were thinking God = Group Of Drunks, then were you perplexed a bit by Step 5 which said "Admitted to Group Of Drunks, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs?" Didn't you think, uhh, I already admitted to several human beings -- the Group Of Drunks -- the exact nature of my wrongs? So why yet another human being?

Or in Step 11, were you wondering if there is some special small group session where you prayed to the Group Of Drunks for the Group Of Drunks' will for you and the power to carry that out?

Did your group ever read the first part of "How It Works", Chapter 5 of the Big Book, p. 58-60, (many groups do at every meeting) --

p. 60: Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.


If your concept of GOD was something human, like perhaps the Group Of Drunks -- the warm welcoming loving smiling people in the church basements (so long as you don't maintain that all this is religious) -- were you shocked to see that one of the 3 pertinent ideas said "probably NO HUMAN power could have relieved our alcoholism?" So AA's conception of God apparently isn't any kind of human power, judging from Pertinent Idea #2. Then the third pertinent idea -- that God could and would relieve our alcoholism and manage our lives if He were sought -- doesn't that kind of sound just a little bit like a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity?

Perhaps you thought, nawww, this must be a bit of a fluke, maybe one place where Bill W. got a little carried away. So you started reading further on in "How it Works", hoping to get back to the generic "God can be a shoe, a lightbulb, a tree, a Group Of Drunks" of the AA apologists' imagination, and instead you encounter many passages where God is clearly described as a rather powerful micro-managing, favor-dispensing deity:

"Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal, we are His agent. He is the Father, and we are His children." - BB p. 62

"We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well." - BB p. 63.

"Take away my difficulties" - 3rd Step Prayer, BB p. 63 {quite a tall order for a Group of Drunks or any group of humans}

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns." - BB p. 68 {infinite - another characterization of God, as well as the assigner of roles}

"Our sex powers were God-given" - BB p. 69


And in the first 11 chapters of the Big Book, God is called Creator (12 times), and Maker (2 times). Pretty specific concept of God, no? Since he is all powerful, he is going to provide what we need, if we keep close to Him and perform His work well? And why not, since he gave us our sex powers (something neither a light bulb nor a tree nor a Group of Drunks ever did for me).

If you ventured into the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (aka the 12 X 12), were you surprised to see on page 109 what certainly seems to demean the Group Of Drunks version of higher power:

"From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn’t got the “spiritual angle,” and who still considered his well-loved AA group the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name". -- p. 109 (12 X 12)


{#} If it's not religious, why are agnostics being so ferociously attacked?

If you thought A.A. wasn't a religious program, were you at all perplexed by Chapter 4, where they spent page after page dumping on agnostics, calling them, "Handicapped By Obstinacy" (p. 48), "prejudiced" and "unreasoning prejudice" (p. 48) "Rather Vain" (p. 49), "No Reasonable Conception Whatever" (p. 49), "Biased And Unreasonable" (p. 51), "Prey To Misery And Depression" (p. 52), "Couldn't Make A Living" (p. 52), "Full of Fear" (p. 52), "Our Ideas Did Not Work" (p. 52), "We Couldn't Quite Step Ashore" (p. 53), "Leaning Too Heavily On Reason" (p. 53), "Abjectly Faithful To The God Of Reason" (p. 54), "Whirling On To A Destiny Of Nothingness" (p. 54), "Fooling Ourselves" (p. 55), and on and on?.

And on page 28, the Big Book implies that agnostics are not members of A.A.:

"In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this class are now among our members."

It seems like when agnostics are assaulted, nobody cares. But what if a chapter was added to the Big Book titled "We Jews" that called Jews vain, prejudiced, obstinant etc? Or "We Muslims" or "We Catholics" or "We Buddhists" or "We Wiccans" or "We Pagans"? Would you just shrug your shoulders and say critics are being overly sensitive?

{#} Some more from the Big Book suggesting God is not other people or human

"we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." - BB p. 98

"The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power." - BB p. 43

Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. - BB p. 99

"This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible. " - BB p. 50

"5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." - Step 5, BB p. 59 {So God isn't human}

"As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from divine help. " - BB p. 43 {a doctor commenting on Jim's (p. 35) and Fred's (p. 40) cases )

"only an act of Providence can remove it from us." - 12 X 12 p. 21, referring to the obsession for destructive drinking

"Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power." -- BB p. 85 {Wow. And he is called "infinite God" on p. 68 and has "Infinite Power and Love" on p. 56 and "loving and All Powerful Creator" on p. 161. So yup, he is one powerful dude. Loving is a bit hard to swallow though -- why does somebody who has all knowledge and infinite power and the ability to create the entire universe let millions starve while dispensing favors to wealthy American alcoholics? }.

"Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed." - BB p. 102 {I wonder if A.A. has ever been sued for that advice when Infinite God didn't show up to help?}


And several implications that there is ONE God over us all (aside from all the reference to Maker and Creator)


"There is One who has all power - That One is God. May you find Him now!" - BB p. 59

"all of us... are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship" ... as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try." - BB p. 28

"Being wrecked in the same vessel, being restored and united under one God" - BB p. 161, describing the variety of people in A.A.


This is relevant counter to those who argue that there's some God helping us individually or us wealthy American alcoholics or whatever, and an entirely different God or gods that presides over, and neglects the starving millions. If there is one God who presides over us all, one can't duck and dodge the question of why this ONE God of infinite power, knowledge, and love, chooses to dispense favors to wealthy American alcoholics while letting millions starve.

How about all of the prayers in the Big Book? Rather specific characterizations of God contained in those prayers too. And certainly religious to anyone who is constitutionally capable of acknowledging the obvious. -- Please see the "Big Book Prayers" at http://www.blisstree.com/2009/01/12/mental-health-well-being/big-book-prayers-16

It is interesting that the two well-known Big Book "Step Prayers" are to the "Maker" (Step 3 Prayer, p. 63) and to the "Creator" (Step 7 Prayer p. 76).

The other well-known step prayer is the Step 11 Prayer in the 12 X 12 p. 99 ("Lord, make me a channel of thy peace -- that where there is hatred, I may bring love ...") .

While calling Him "Lord" (twice), rather than some form of creator, it brings in the religious concept of eternal life -- "It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life"

This one is not from the Big Book, but rather from the Concepts:

"Freedom under God to grow in His likeness and image will ever be the quest of Alcoholics Anonymous" -- Concept XII, Warranty Six, "The World Concepts For World Service, Illustrated", P-8) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-8_thetwelveconetps.pdf ) (Kind of sounds like a religious agenda to me).


{#} If it is not religious, why is The Lord's Prayer so often used to close meetings? Why doesn't A.A. have any official position on it other than leaving it to each individual to decide whether to participate or not?

Given that it is a prayer straight out of the Bible (Matthew 6 and Luke 11) with explicitely Chrisitan themes which was preached by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount (the Lord in the Lord's Prayer is Jesus) and that clearly departs from our claim to be not religious?

And pushes the boundaries or violates numerous Traditions (non-affiliation, non-endorsement, outside issues, unity, primary purpose)?

That breaks with A.A.'s attempt to present a generic god and instead present an explicitely Christian God out of the Christian holy book?

For more on the Lord's Prayer, please see http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144174#post25

{#} All 4 federal appeals courts and both state supreme courts that have heard these cases have concluded that A.A. is at least religious in nature and coercion into A.A./N.A. is a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Four Federal Courts of Appeals (Second, Third, Seventh, and Ninth circuits -- the latter one twice) and Two state supreme courts (New York and Tennessee) have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are religious and that nobody can be coerced by government authority into attending these organizations (as that would violate the First Amendment's prohibition against the state establishment of religion). No Federal Court of Appeals and no State Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. To date, the United States Supreme Court has declined to consider any of these rulings, thus letting these rulings stand.

For more on these court rulings: Court rulings other than the 9th Circuit ones: http://www.angelfire.com/journal/forcedaa/courtopinions.htm
and the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals rulings:
Inouye v. Kemna, 2007: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/08/BA99S1AKQ.DTL
and Hazle v. Crofoot, 2013: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/08/24/5676856/atheist-parolee-wins-federal-appeal.html

Here is a Duke Law Journal article that discusses the religious aspects of A.A. and the definition of religion for constitutional purposes (first amendment establishment clause). http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?47+Duke+L.+J.+785

{#} Listening to stories of God doing favors for wealthy American alcoholics (while millions are starving)

So far, I've only talked about how the literature and steps proselytize about a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity. But probably the most annoying form of proselytization is members in meetings sharing how "God" or "my Higher Power who I choose to call God" did them favors no human power could do. Here are just a few that I've heard:

- gave "oomph" to my dead car battery, so I could start my car and get to the meeting on time to hear something I really needed to hear

- miraculously cleared the left lane so I could get into the left turn lane in time

- made available a parking spot near the front door, even though the parking lot was jammed full and overflowing

- Burned down some troublesome rental property I owned, resulting in a great insurance settlement

- My chain saw came loose from my pickup truck and fell out of the truck, and was dragged for 50 feet (it was still chained loosely to the truck). But the saw wasn't damaged other than nicks and scratches. This was my Higher Power gently warning me to be more careful in the future.

In all their shares, they go out of their way to make it clear that it was something other than human that intervened to make the blessed event happen, something supernatural usually named "God".

Particularly all the ways this deity "God" is helping their cars and their driving -- I keep thinking of when I lived in Accra, Ghana, and I didn't see any wheel chairs, but rather people with very long distended less-than-useless legs (polio?) got around by "walking" on blocks strapped to their forearms.

Why was some deity God (and the Big Book makes clear there is one God) helping wealthy American alcoholics with their cars while these poor people with their forearm blocks are begging in the dirty sidewalks and streets?

Or what about those millions in the 3rd world who starve, or who die long agonizing deaths in parts of the world where there are no morphine drips or other effective painkillers?

Listening to narcissistic wealthy Americans talk about God helping them with their cars in a world where so many people live and die miserably is not at all spiritual to me.


{#} Step 11 -- Praying For Knowledge of God's Will For Us and the Power To Carry It Out is a lot more than listening to nature or one's own thoughts

Stuart>>The quietness of a walk in the forest can be your prayer and meditation..or thinking of that quietness of a walk in the forest listening to Moonlight Sonata..can be it..The process of scilencing the clatter in our minds is prayer sometimes.<<

It's a good description of meditation. However, it doesn't sound like Step 11's praying for God's will for us and the power to carry it out. If anything, it sounds like listening to one's inner thoughts, which gets us into the dangerous area of praying to oneself, becoming one's own God, self-will run riot and all that.

Stuart, I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful, and I thank you. But I've been around the rewms in and out of maybe a half dozen 12-step programs over the past 30 years. And as time goes on, I get more radicalized by the religiosity, not less. I'm involved with Americans United For Separation of Church and State (www.au.org) and, like many Democrats, I am appalled by the increasing religious penetration of our government and classrooms.


-Progree
== Recovery Without Proselytization About A Micro-managing Supernatural Loving Personal Favor-Dispensing Entity Called "God" ==
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