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progree

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Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 03:45 AM
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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: 4/05. Reference for discussions with persuadables

A short summary of the jobs report that came out on 4/4/14 was added to the bottom of this page, EF-0. All 9 pages (EF-0 through EF-8) were last updated 3/8/14.

NEXT UPDATE OF *ALL* PAGES IS SATURDAY May 3. All 9 pages are updated every 2 months. A summary of the latest month is done monthly at the bottom of EF-0.



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


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

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 changes in some highly volatile component 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 is now (Mar. 2014) 12.7% by the way)

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

----------------------------
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 (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

4/4/14 - Good March jobs report: 192,000 payroll jobs added in March; additionally January and February revised up a combined 37,000. So compared to the last report we have 192,000 + 37,000 = 229,000 more payroll jobs. Big milestone reached: Private sector payroll jobs has reached 116.1 million, surpassing its pre-recession peak. That means we've finally regained the 8.7 M private sector jobs lost as a result of the last recession.

Unfortunately total payroll jobs (private sector + government jobs) is still 437,000 jobs short of its pre-recession peak. And in the 6 years since the Jan 2008 peak, population growth has added millions to the working age population. But in comparing to the pre-recession peak, keep in mind that the pre-recession peak was a housing frenzy bubble -- the house-as-ATM-machine era.

Per the houshold survey: The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 6.7%, but the labor force participation rate increased 0.2% to 63.2% -- and up by 0.4% from a multi-decade low of 62.8% reached last December. (Its back to the September 2013 level). Average hourly wages are up 49 cents from a year ago (2.1%, beating the rate of inflation).

About half a million people entered the labor force in March, and at the same time, almost as many found work. The number of people employed as a share of the working-age population increased to 58.9 percent, the highest since August 2009.

The broader view -- we're getting there but have a long way to go. Let's not forget those left behind:

"The numbers of people who have been trying to find work for more than six months or more than a year are much higher today than they ever were since records began decades ago," Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said at a conference in Chicago.

About 10.5 million Americans remain unemployed, and 36% have been without a job for at least six months. Meanwhile, another 7.4 million people are working part-time, even though they would prefer full-time hours. Yellen has said both these numbers are far too high.


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

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. 1 - "about half those coming to A.A. for the first time remain less than three 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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