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Member since: Sat Sep 24, 2011, 10:36 AM
Number of posts: 7,318

Journal Archives

Why are traditional economic indicators used to support the Administration?

Something I find increasingly puzzling is the use of traditional economic indicators to support the notion that the President has done a good job economically. Of course, there is no arguing that those numbers are impressive on an absolute scale, particularly figures for the Dow averages and overall unemployment. Yet many analyses have shown that wealth continues to be distributed to a disproportionate degree to the already-wealthy (for example, this article by the WSJ, which one would hardly suspect of Administration bias: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/09/10/some-95-of-2009-2012-income-gains-went-to-wealthiest-1/ ). And figures for employment suggest that the greatest gains in jobs are to low-level (and low-paying) service jobs, not to work where one can actually, you know, make a living (let alone contribute to the Consumer Utopia). (For example, this article from the National Employment Law Project: http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/2015/03/Low-Wage-Recovery-Industry-Employment-Wages-2014-Report.pdf )

So I'm puzzled. Doubtless, the rich have gotten richer, but is this a thing a Democratic administration is most concerned with? (I note that the Dow climbed briskly in the Clinton administration, as well. There are even posts at DU about it, for example http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=114x18030 )

It seems to me that traditional economic indicators give only a very incomplete story about what is really going on economically, and that the more complicated picture is, well, darker. And while "because it gives them bragging rights" may support the usage of the traditional indicators to tout the good job the Administration has done (and to contrast it with the lousy job done by the GOP), I can't help thinking it is somewhat intellectually incomplete, if not dishonest.

-- Mal

A salute to Elmer Ellsworth

Elmer Ellsworth, dashing young Colonel of the 11th New York Volunteers (aka the First Fire Zouaves) and one of Abraham Lincoln's close friends, was killed on 24 May 1861 after taking down a Confederate flag which was flying from the roof of an Alexandria inn. Virginia had just ratified secession the day before. Ellsworth thus has the somewhat dubious distinction of being the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. He was 24 years old.


In light of the actions of Bree Newsome today, I thought it was not inappropriate to commemorate the actions of her gallant forerunner.

-- Mal

Dignity, like rights, cannot be taken away, only denied.

Mr Justice Thomas, in his dissent on the ruling in Obergefell et al v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health et al, has created a minor firestorm by comparing slavery and gay marriage and arguing that the former did not take away dignity.

The offending paragraph:

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

To be an advocatus diaboli for the present, Mr Justice Thomas actually has a good point here, but he appears to be confused by the possession of dignity, and the exercise of it. And this is quite a material point, since the advocates of gay marriage are really arguing about the exercise of their dignity, of being treated with dignity, rather than about possession of it. And it is a significant point. Rights (and dignity) are not gifts in the power of a government to give or withhold, they inhere in the individual by virtue of his humanity. But the exercise of such rights, the acknowledgment of them, is in the power of government, and has hitherto been denied to great swathes of the populace from time to time by act of government. Mr Justice Thomas appears to be ignoring this truth, which is at the root of the suit by Obergefell et al against government discrimination. And it would appear that Mr Justice Thomas is not alone in this confusion, since the majority opinion by Mr Justice Kennedy states that the "Constitution grants this right." (ie, due process and equal protection)

That is, at best, sloppy terminology. The Constitution does not grant rights, it confirms them. It defends them. Rights are not trinkets to be handed out by a benevolent ruler at pleasure, they stem from the very humanity of the citizen. By acknowledging the rights of LGBT citizens to marry, we do them no favor, we erase an injustice. In my opinion, this is a significant distinction.

-- Mal

I wonder how long this wave of anti-Confederate revulsion will last.

I'm basically a cynical bastard, so I expect it will all blow over sooner rather than later. But it's nice to see people doing something together for a change.

-- Mal

Primal Scream Thread

A noisy place for people to utter incoherent screams of frustration and rage against the chronic deluge of mendacity, hypocrisy, hatred, ignorance, and narcissism to which we are subjected.


-- Mal

It occurs to me that there are two kinds of DUers.

Those who understand Ecclesiastes, and those who do not.

-- Mal

Was that a question?


-- Mal

The Boots theory of socio-economics

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

(Terry Pratchett, Men-at-Arms) (emphasis in original)

IMO, one of the most pithy explanations of real-person economics ever.

-- Mal

Beatles or Zevon?

Which of these songs about misguided maniacs do you prefer?

Both remind me of one of Gahan Wilson's better cartoons: guy is standing in a room surrounded by tables loaded with saws and cutlery with an open trunk in the corner. He's saying on the phone: "Gee, Linda, I'm really sorry you couldn't make it tonight."

I won't say which one I prefer, so I won't prejudice the vote. You'll have to cast your vote in the responses, as I can't make a poll.

-- Mal

B. B. King and Lucille

-- Mal
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