Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Military Veterans for Peace

Nerf Man
There is no group called Military Veterans for Peace. But if there were, they would be voting...with their feet. As mentioned on Martini Republic, Hullabaloo, Moon of Alabama, et. al., many members of the Ready Reserve have not shown up for duty. Looking into this, I found an article on Slate Magazine that this is only one of many things that are not going well for the President of the United States of America. His post-convention bounce is nerfing out, the FBI has an enormous backlog of untranslated surveylance tapes, there is a growing terror campaign against government officials in Iraq, and the insurgency against the US military is growing stronger. Rodger A. Payne's Blog has some more detials on the deteriorating situation in Iraq.

The more I talk, the less I say
Another Slate article shows how the man uses a bizarre kind of logic to mislead the public.

Bush's arguments made the wisdom of cutting taxes unfalsifiable. In good times, tax cuts were affordable. In bad times, they were necessary. Whatever happened proved that tax cuts were good policy. When Congress approved the tax cuts, Bush said they would revive the economy. You'd know that the tax cuts had worked, because more people would be working. Three years later, more people aren't working. But in Bush's view, that, too, proves he was right. If more people aren't working, we just need more tax cuts.

But what about the jobs thing? Haven't we been told that employment is improving? Well, we do get numbers on that from time to time, but it turns out the numbers may not tell the whole truth. On Torgerson's Blog, we see that the conclusion that jobs are being created is a myth. If one looks at the data (observations are gold, after all) we see a different picture:

They [BLS] are claiming that over a million jobs have been created that have not EVER been detected by their actual sample surveys month after month. They make the claim based on a statistical device that has as it's core the assumption that for every job destroyed by a company gone bust or moving out of the country, another like job in the same community and the same industry mysteriously rises from the ashes to take it's place. Blind faith is necessary to believe this, because none of these jobs by definition have actually been detected. To be fair, this was a good assumption in years past when the model's mathematics were worked out. However, there has been no research from BLS or anywhere else that tests the validity of such assumptions during an era where so many jobs are outsourced, downsized or automated out of existence, OR in an era of generally contracting job opportunities.

Richard Torgeson shows what is learned when the assumtion is tested:

A better way would be to look at what the experts were saying the implications of those rosy job creation reports would be to the economy, and see if those predictions came true. Here's a representative comment of what was expected:

"I think this is something that can be sustained," William G. Cheney, chief economist at MFC Global Investment Management, said of the pace of job creation. The figures showed that the once-halting recovery has given way to a self-sustaining expansion, analysts said, as job growth drives up incomes, which fuels more spending, which begets more hiring, he said. "You create that many jobs and people go out and spend the money and it feeds on itself," Cheney said. Washington Post ("248,000 Jobs Added In May -Unemployment Rate Remains Unchanged", 6/5/04)

Yup, that's exactly what would have happened if over a million more people had jobs than was actually the case. So if it did not happen as predicted, that is clear empirical evidence that those jobs weren't really there. And of course, we know what happened since then.

June's rosy headlines gave way to July's gloom. "Job growth disappoints: Economy created just 112,000 jobs in June, less than half of forecasts; unemployment flat at 5.6%."

The day before, international business headlines screamed at US employers: "Outsource or Perish".

That expected retail spending fueled by those jobs also didn't happen: Retail sales suffered a larger than expected fall in June.

All told, there were virtually no economic indicators whatsoever that pointed to those jobs being real. Instead, we were told it was an unexpected "soft spot" in a strengthening economy. Right.

This all illustrates what I said yesterday, about how easily people are led to believe falsehoods, when they are shown the conclusions they want to believe, and don't look at the evidence for themselves.