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Galloping Towards Bethlehem

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Despite the administration’s and its supporters’ feverish beating of the drums to the tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the economic evidence is mounting that not only have we not emerged from the recession, but that we may well be heading for a double dip, as economists call back-to-back recessions.

Here then, the Four Horsemen of our potential economic apocalypse:

Unemployment, which began to improve in November 2010, slipped again in April, 2011, after only five months of anemic upward ticks, stalling the rebound, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) news release on May 6.

Housing continued its slide, as CNBC reports, “Pending sales of existing U.S. homes dropped far more than expected in April to touch a seven-month low, a trade group said on Friday, dealing a blow to hopes of a recovery in the housing market.” CNBC also noted “The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index dropped 11.6 percent to 81.9 in April, the lowest since September.” Pending refers to what were previously known as new homes. Pending sales are reported with up to two months’ lead on existing home sales, which, of course, appears to forebode a dip in that housing sector as well.

Economists were disappointed that the Fed’s ongoing zero interest rate policies and quantitative easing programs, which fueled a significant rally in the securities markets, had virtually no effect on housing.

Mother Nature played a role in depressing pending home sales in the south, as a series of killer tornadoes pummeled that region and parts of the Midwest in recent weeks, resulting in a 17.2 percent drop in that region.

Commodity prices, especially fuel prices, are also taking their toll on the economy, as consumers rein in their spending over a wide spectrum of goods and services in order to keep their vehicles on the road. Rising fuel prices have also put upward pressure on consumers’ food budgets as farmers and grocers are forced to pay more to harvest and transport products to market. In fact, overall consumer spending plunged to only a 2.2 percent annual growth rate in the first quarter, contrasting sharply with the 4 percent pace in the last quarter of 2010.

Inflation also rose, along with the rising prices. According to CNBC, “High food and energy prices in April kept inflation elevated last month, with the personal consumption expenditures price (PCE) index rising 0.3 percent after advancing 0.4 percent in March. Compared to April last year, the index was up 2.2 percent, the biggest rise in a year, after increasing 1.8 percent in March.” The core PCE index, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2 percent in April, up from 0.1 percent in March. The broader Consumer Price Index (CPI) registered 3.2 in April, up from 2.7 in March.

In addition to our Horsemen, the US trade deficit, the reporting for which lags behind other indicators, also appears to be continuing its upward climb, rising from $45.4 billion in February (down from January’s $47.0 billion) to $48.2 billion in March.

While Congress tussles over the debt ceiling as our overall debt bumps against the previously set limit of $14.3 trillion, and pundits on both sides of the aisle debate President Obama’s likelihood of re-election in 2012, We the People, who pay all the bills and suffer all the consequences of mismanagement in Washington, are ignored, both on Capitol Hill and in the White House, as our economy continues to limp in the longest recession since the 30s, and millions of Americans remain unemployed.

Meanwhile, the administration pushes its programs to enlarge our already bloated government and enhance its power over the most personal aspects of our lives (sometimes with the help of Congress; more often without), the House and Senate continue to build their cozy relationships with Big Business and Big Labor, as our schools, roads, bridges and other infrastructure spiral down the same drain into which our jobs, economy and savings are disappearing.

We’re not getting our money’s worth, folks.

Remember that in November, 2012.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Clavos

    Here are two articles, published today, which come to very similar conclusions about the state of the US economy as I do.

    The first, published in Investor’s Business Daily, had this to say:

    Consider these data, all from one day:

    • ADP reported that, based on its payroll tally, 38,000 private jobs were created in May, 100,000 short of the minimum needed for healthy growth.

    • Employment consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas said businesses cut 37,135 jobs last month, up nearly 2% from April.

    • Housing prices in the U.S. plunged 4.2% in the first quarter, the lowest since the financial crisis began.

    • The Mortgage Bankers Association’s mortgage application index fell 4% in the final week of May.

    • The Institute for Supply Management reported its factory activity index tumbled from 60.4 in April to 53.5 in May, the lowest since September 2009.

    And, writing in The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger notes:

    The policy most explicitly intended to reboot the economy was 2009’s $814 billion stimulus and successive budgets that raised federal spending to 25% of a $14 trillion economy. In this year’s first quarter, the economy grew at 1.8%. Liberal economists, such as former Obama economic adviser Christina Romer, argue the stimulus should have been bigger, $1.2 trillion. Others wanted $2 trillion. We leave that to a generation of seminars in macroeconomics. Barack Obama, believing that $800 billion of injected “demand” would lift the economy, decided to devote his political capital and congressional majorities to reorganizing two major American industries, health care and finance.

    Our economy is still hurting, and is now perilously close to sinking into a “double dip” recession. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama distracts himself with his unworkable plan to improve our health care delivery system, and like George Bush, with his very own Middle East conflict, in Libya.

  • Cannonshop

    #30 Wrong service, Glenn, I was Army, though I do work with quite a few former Squids and formerly-active Marines (intermixed with the normal, never-been-there civilians).

    On the subject of fraud, waste, etc., it may be moot to point out that Todd, minus Navy business, would’ve been out and gone decades ago because of the practices you note-it’s not symptomatic of for-profit business, it’s symptomatic of being able to parasitize off Government Contracting as one’s sole business and reason for existence. IOW, a shining example of Corporate Welfare, not competitive market capitalism.

  • Project-based Section 8, Clav, or a private landlord with a mission?

    I believe you mentioned this at some point in the past… and it was a private owner who had two blocks full of loyal tenants and regular guaranteed rents. Am I right? 🙂

    (BTW, that’s a major selling point of the voucher program: whereas renting your property is always a risk, with Section 8 you’re guaranteed to get at least part of the rent each month even if the tenant defaults on their portion.)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    That’s funny…and I believe it.

  • Clavos

    Here’s a story that might interest you, Doc.

    As you probably know (I’ve mentioned it on these threads before), I worked for the 2000 census. My crew censused most of the south end of South Beach, which was when I discovered two five or six story buildings on the water, overlooking the Miami Beach Marina (full of mega yachts) and flanked on both sides by towering condo buildings whose units are in the $800K up price range (and $800K buys you a studio apartment). Anyway these two buildings, which are also the oldest buildings on the block (so were probably there before SoBe gentrified) are still Section 8 housing. Lucky residents!

  • “Quasi” means I work for a housing authority, which is an autonomous agency not part of any federal, state or local government, although we do administer federal and some local funds and operate under federal regulations. (Although some HAs are part of their local city or county government, ours isn’t.)

    I am currently in the process of “updating my resume”, as it were. Watch this space…

  • Clavos

    I make less than half that, and I’ve been a (quasi) governmental employee for nine years…

    The key phrase there is “total compensation.” Are you counting all your bennies to the degree that your employer pays them?

    If you are, then consider that your employer (which I believe you once said is the state of California?) is bankrupt. Given that and the fact they are severely underpaying you, perhaps it might be a good idea to update your resume?

    What does “quasi” mean in your case?

  • “…as of December 2009, state and local government employees earned total compensation of $39.60 an hour…”

    Harrumph. Must be nice.

    I make less than half that, and I’ve been a (quasi) governmental employee for nine years.

    “…private-sector employees worked an average of 2,050 hours in 2008, 12 percent more than the 1,825 hours worked by the average public-sector employee.”


  • Clavos

    I reported it, Glenn.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oops – I mean this thread.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    There’s something wrong with this thread – it’s as if the page is locked.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I did not say that the government employees are not paid well, did I? No, I did not. In fact, I even implied that their counterparts at Todd Shipyard were less well-paid, for the profit motive of the owners and stockholders impel the company to cut costs whenever and wherever they can.

    And what is the result? Todd Shipyard is a place that is less safe, not nearly so clean, and one has to watch out for thieves to a far greater extent than at the guv’mint-run shipyard.

    Again, there’s a time and a place for the profit motive – and that’s NOT in the military, the police, fire departments, health care, or education…all of which are part of the infrastructure that enables Americans to be better able to do their jobs and to compete in business.

    This is how it works in the rest of the first-world democracies…and while it’s never perfect, overall it works quite well, thank you very much.

  • LOL. I love this place too much.
    I have to go.

  • Clavos

    Some would say he’s more rococo than ornate…

    Just sayin’

  • Clavos


  • At least he’s ornate.

  • Clavos

    12-Clavos is just a more ornate version of the usual tu quoque that we expect from Clavos. How tiresome.

    Isn’t it? Tiresome and boring. He’s such a dolt.

  • Leroy

    12-Clavos is just a more ornate version of the usual tu quoque that we expect from Clavos. How tiresome.

  • Clavos

    …since nobody works for the government to get rich, people are there not to make a profit, but to get the job done.

    No, that’s not what the facts show.

    Actually, in terms of total compensation (including benefits), most government workers make more than their private sector counterparts.

    According to Reason magazine (and many other sources):

    “…as of December 2009, state and local government employees earned total compensation of $39.60 an hour, compared to $27.42 an hour for private industry workers-a difference of over 44 percent. This includes 35 percent higher wages and nearly 69 percent greater benefits.”

    Not only are government workers better paid, in most departments it is almost impossible to fire them, even for cause. Again, according to Reason:

    “Government job security is famously, and notoriously, ironclad, oftentimes making it practically impossible to fire or lay off public-sector workers for the same reasons employees are terminated in the private sector, even in cases of poor performance or unethical activity.”

    And, to top it off, Reason tells us government workers aren’t as productive as their private sector doppelgangers:

    “…according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) National Compensation Survey, private-sector employees worked an average of 2,050 hours in 2008, 12 percent more than the 1,825 hours worked by the average public-sector employee.”

    And in conclusion, Reason notes:

    “Lower quit rates indicate a lack of better job opportunities elsewhere. Indeed, as the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards points out (see pages 92-93), BLS data reveal that the quit rate is significantly lower in the public sector than in the private sector. Between 2001 and 2009, the public sector layoff and discharge rate is only about one-third of the private-sector rate.”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    In your time in the Navy, did you ever get the opportunity to go into the shipyards at PSNS and at Todd? I know that all of us onboard really dreaded going to Todd – they were not as safe, not as clean, and we had to hide our tools and personal effects because Todd workers would steal us blind if they got the opportunity?

    And why is that? Because Todd – being a civilian for-profit company – was in the business to make money, and part of making money is cutting costs whenever one can. As a result, they did not spend nearly enough money on safety or on cleanliness, and since their workers – unionized though they were – had to fight to get hours, in the end they weren’t making a whole lot of money.

    But the owners and shareholders of Todd sure made a lot of money.

    I hope you get my point that the ‘profit motive’ doesn’t belong in government. Did I see fraud, waste, and abuse in my time in? Sure. So did you and everyone else who served even a few years. BUT you will see such fraud, waste, and abuse at all institutions including the very best for-profit businesses. F,W and A is a fact of life in human organizations, and the best we can do is minimize it when we see it.

    In government service, at least, since nobody works for the government to get rich, people are there not to make a profit, but to get the job done. In a for-profit company, the worker is there to make money…regardless of how important the job is or is not, the primary job of the worker is to make money – and this includes cutting costs wherever possible. All too often this includes cutting corners when it comes to cleanliness, to safety, and to personnel.

    That’s why the profit motive is crucial for business…but the profit motive does NOT belong in the military, education, health care, fire protection, police, or anything else that is meant to keep the everyday American healthy and safe enough to do his or her job.

  • Clavos

    And all you seem to think you know about him involves some minor but embarrassing errors concerning ‘independent contractor’ status on his tax form — which is indeed very confusing, as I and other freelance workers can attest.

    Aaaawww, poor Timmy! That big bad bully, Cannonshop is picking on him!

    According to the WSJ, Mr. Geithner’s “error” lasted several years, occurred while he worked at the IMF, and that the IMF advises all its employees in writing that they will owe, and must pay the taxes.

    Timothy Geithner didn’t pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for several years while he worked for the International Monetary Fund…The Obama team said Mr. Geithner’s taxes have been paid in full, and that he didn’t intend to avoid payment, but made a mistake common for employees of international institutions. That characterization was contested by Senate Finance Republicans, who produced IMF documents showing that employees are repeatedly told they are responsible for paying their payroll taxes.

    He cheated. He got caught. Poor Timmy.

  • Cannon, Tim Geithner never worked for a hedge fund. Except for a brief stint right out of college working for a consulting firm [Henry Kissinger’s, actually], all his jobs have been with the government. He is not a Wall St gazillionaire.

    And all you seem to think you know about him involves some minor but embarrassing errors concerning ‘independent contractor’ status on his tax form — which is indeed very confusing, as I and other freelance workers can attest. I guess you’ve never made a mistake; and if you have, you won’t mind someone bringing it up every time your name is mentioned. He’s a brilliant guy; your snark is, shall we say, less than brilliant. You are enthusiastic about throwing mud, but not so much when it comes to getting your facts straight.

  • Cannonshop

    How can government make Wall Street behave responsibly with other people’s money, Glenn, when they can’t behave responsibly themselves with other people’s money? I mean, seriously, the secretary of the Treasury was a hedge-fund manager who couldn’t handle doing his own taxes, and we have a Congress chock full of people who think “if there’s checks in the book, WE got money.”

    it is simplistic thinking to assume that just increasing taxes and adding regulations, especially regulations written by irresponsible people, and taxes based not on raising revenue, but on punishing “The Rich”, will have a net positive effect.

    Discipline in spending, and careful management of LIMITED funds is what we need, not reckless expansion of funds to borrow against and reckless, careless, politically motivated spoils-system ‘regulations’.

    There are a lot of people (Myself included) who would not oppose tax increases, if the Government were run with any sort of frugality or fiscal responsibility…but it is not.

  • Leroy

    Quite right, GC.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Like Handy said, our economy’s a lot better now than it was in fall ’08 and through all of ’09.

    The problem is this: those on the Right simply don’t want to give the Dems (and particularly Obama) credit for anything. It does not matter that the economy is better now than before – what does matter to the Right is that they’re not the ones in charge.

    Is everything hunkydory with the economy now? Of course not – and it won’t be until we have a sensible fiscal policy which includes (1) regulations to make Wall Street behave with other peoples’ money, and (2) a fair tax policy that ensures that the rich DO pay as much of their income in taxes as do those of us in the middle class.

    But those two factors will never be allowed as long as the Right can stop their implementation.

  • It’s an opinion article, and spin is expected. Counterspin in the comments section is also expected. But deriding jobs reports as ‘government spin’ while selectively citing other government figures as proof of your thesis is, well, spin.

    PS I am one of those hurting, having been laid off two weeks before the Lehman Brothers debacle. I face age discrimination as well as a lot of competition for jobs from other out of work people. But many people I know who were laid off about the same time have started to find good jobs in the last 6 months or so.

    The most accurate way to describe things is, “We have some good news and some bad news.” I’m not 100% cheerily optimistic, but things are certainly better now than they were from fall ’08 through all of ’09.

    I’m sure your luxury boat school of economic prognostication has some value, but to pretend it’s 100% infallible and applies to all the moving parts of a huge, complex economy — well, that’s a rather limited way of looking at things.

  • Clavos

    handy do your own research — the news is not good. I wrote this article because I work in a very volatile “canary in the coal mine” industry which is among the first to feel the effects of a slump, and we are in a slump, we have steadily sliding downhill for more than two years now, no matter how much “consistently good [not great, but good] news in the private sector jobs data” (most of which is government spin) you think you’re seeing.

    People are hurting — some of them very badly, and all you dems can do is saunter past the graveyard, whistling.


  • It’s spin because you don’t acknowledge other arguments or points of view…you only cite statistics that back you up.

    So you don’t mention the consistently good [not great, but good] news in the private sector jobs data.

    You go all sarcastic Know-Nothing about inflation in #19. Economists talk about core inflation, not including food and energy, because food and energy are frequently volatile.

    The type of inflation that would be disastrous would be across the board, and it would show up in the core numbers. Yes, food and fuel affect household budgets and they are not great news at the moment, but they are not evidence for overall inflation heating up. So don’t present them as if they were. And don’t pretend you don’t know this. But if you really don’t, look it up.

    And again, instead of acknowledging the various factors that can affect one monthly unemployment figure, you use April’s uptick to “prove” your point that things are getting worse instead of better. It doesn’t prove any such thing.

    This is games-playing and spin, and it’s dishonest and disingenuous. Puh-leeze right back atcha.

  • Clavos

    …this article is 100% spin.

    Did you even look at my links??? Every number in the article is real and verified.

    Spin my ass.

  • Clavos

    [If more people are looking, the unemployment rate increases. They may have been sitting on the sidelines in discouragement previously.]

    Again, you’re right of course. Shame on those folks for trying to look for jobs and falsely distorting the unemployment figures! Hell, they don’t even need jobs now that they don’t need to buy food or gas!

  • Clavos

    And if you leave food and gas out of the equation, as most economists do, inflation is not a galloping horse but a cute My Little Pony.

    You (and of course those economists) are absolutely right, handy. I have to confess I was dishonest about that, because I knew we all quit eating months ago, and of course we all also flipped the switch in our cars which allows them to burn air instead of gasoline.


  • The standard Dem line “But it could have been so much worse without the stimulus etc” is unprovable and unconvincing [even though I happen to believe it].

    The standard right-wing taunt “See? I told you Obama’s stimulus was bullshit” is just useless hot air when the only solutions offered by that side are Cut Taxes and Reduce Federal Regulation, which is their ‘solution’ to all situations, all the time. Know what? we tried that already.

  • We have no mechanism with which to reduce the size of government that is the government bureaucracy. Big government is the result of a growing process that began with the modern post-WWII presidency.

    Ronald Reagan said, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”

    The term “government spending” itself is inaccurate. Partisan rhetoric that blames parties and presidents for government outlay is juvenile. Voters get to choose who legislates and their choices are limited by juvenile arguments that feature such inaccuracies.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Handy –

    But even when they more or less do what the expert consensus recommends, which would be one way of describing Bush in late 2008 and Obama since 2009

    But we’ve got one side that doesn’t want to hear about the expert consensus – see ‘global warming’, ‘evolution’, ‘taxes’, ‘energy independence’….

    One side has no problem with listening to intellectuals, with taking the consensus of most – not all, but most – of those who are most qualified to speak on a subject…

    …and the other side feels that if the ‘intellectuals’ say anything that is against that side’s dogma, then the intellectuals therefore must be wrong.

    And how to bridge this particular divide, I’ve no idea.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I did notice that you didn’t couch it in terms of Republican or Democrat…just like you posted recently on another thread how there’s “not a dime’s worth of difference” between the two parties.

    But that’s a false equivalency.

    While they do have many similarities, and while there are things that both do right and both do wrong, you cannot lump them both into the same pot and say, “a pox on both their houses”.

    What everyone should do is to look at the issues, such as “What’s the problem with our national debt?” I showed you recently what the problem was, and where MOST of our debt came from…and you immediately took the line – the excuse – of “it’s from a liberal source”…and then when I pointed out how the numbers were from the CBO, then you decided to take the ‘figures don’t lie, but liars figure’ line.

    Again, Clavos, we’ve LESS of a tax burden now than we’ve had for fifty years! By keeping the tax revenue from the government, you’re NOT “starving the beast” (see “Defense Department”). Instead, you’re taking away the ability we DO have to pay down our deficit.

    And AGAIN I’ll point out how we were on track to have our entire national debt paid of next year when Clinton handed it over to Bush…and it’s Bush’s tax cuts more than any other single factor that is keeping our deficit where it is.

    Clavos, don’t get me wrong – tax cuts are a GOOD thing when they’re needed (like they certainly were in 1960). But they were NOT needed in 2001, and we’re all paying the price for it now.

  • The figure you will hear cited most often by the administration and its supporters [such as moi] is private sector job growth, which changed from negative to positive in March 2010 and revved up in April [268,000 jobs added], even as the unemployment rate, measured separately, ticked up.

    [If more people are looking, the unemployment rate increases. They may have been sitting on the sidelines in discouragement previously.]

    The total jobs added by companies from March 2010 – April 2011 is 2.1 million. This is a positive sign — but only about 1/4 way out of a very deep hole.

    [Compare that to losing over 700,000 jobs a month in late 2008 and early 2009. The difference is dramatic.]

    And if you leave food and gas out of the equation, as most economists do, inflation is not a galloping horse but a cute My Little Pony.

    Opponents of the administration try to spin everything negatively, and this article is 100% spin. The real picture is more mixed, and certainly far from all bad.

  • It’s easy to complain, harder to point out specific policies that would make things better.

    Presidents and legislators, either party, are not magicians. Of course they make wrong-headed mistakes. But even when they more or less do what the expert consensus recommends, which would be one way of describing Bush in late 2008 and Obama since 2009 — even then, the economy can be slow to move and improve. There are no fast, easy answers.

    If John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney or even Ron Paul were president now, we would still be digging ourselves out of a very deep hole, and most people would still be impatient and unhappy, as they are now.

  • Clavos

    Glenn and Catherine, interesting that you should both respond to this article with a purely reflexive, vigorous defense of the Democrats and President Obama.

    As I wrote it, I was scrupulously careful not to lay responsibility for our near moribund economy on any one party or individual. In fact, the word Democrat doesn’t even appear once in the article; President Obama’s name is used only once, and then only in the context of the debate over his possibilities for re-election in 2012.

    I was also careful to put responsibility on Washington collectively, not either of the parties, and even in my narration of how both Congress and the administration are largely not addressing the remedies necessary to fix the economy, which of course is the reason why the economy is not improving, I was careful to point out that both have responsibility in that regard. In short, this article lays ALL the blame for this mess at the feet of everybody, administration and Congress (in its entirety — both houses), because I believe they are all to blame and all are focused, not on serving the people who pay them (and pay everything), but on their own schemes largely designed to further their own ambitions and dogma and/or line their own nests.

    But both of you, very erroneously in my opinion, focus only on what you perceive as an attack by me on the Democrats in general and the administration in particular.

    You fail to see the obvious fact which is mentioned by Cannonshop on another thread, and which is both the thesis and the conclusion of the article: the whole damn lot of them, all of them, from the president right on down to the most junior senators and congressmen, are not serving the people.

  • So no doubt that our national debt is a problem, and for sure the government (regardless of which party is in power at that point in time) should not be allowed to use national debt as a giant unlimited credit card.

    But I just want to point out a couple points. First, the government bailout of financial institutions, which arguably prevented the economy from getting worse, was expensive and was done under the previous administration. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan of course were obviously extremely expensive coupled with the fact that there was a huge tax cut that cost the government a lot of money. And I definitely agree that our national infrastructure is suffering – I would much rather seeing government money going towards national building projects than wars or the financial institutions that started this mess to begin with.

    My main point, is that it’s not just this administration that holds the blame, the Bush administration does as well – and of course the numerous financial institutions that pulled a quick one on a lot of Americans.

    Another point to consider, is that a lot of the sharp rise in the national debt also has a lot to do with certain payouts the government has to make when unemployment goes up. Unemployment benefits, welfare, and medicaid for those who lose their jobs and qualify are also huge burdens on the government that has nothing to do with Obama or anyone else passing new legislation.

    Plus, if current country leaders are to be blamed, it certainly wouldn’t just be Obama. There are a lot of countries around the world that are still suffering from the effects of the financial crisis – this was a global crisis after all. The only countries that didn’t suffer from the longer term effects of the crisis were, ironically, the less developed countries with fewer connections to global markets.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Actually, our federal workforce has been falling fairly steadily over the years. The columns are:

    President, Total Federal Workforce, Total U.S. Population, and Federal Workers per 1000 Americans.

    1962 (Kennedy)……2.48 million……186.5 million……13.3
    1964 (Johnson)……2.47 million……191.8 million……12.9
    1970 (Nixon)……2.94 million*……205 million……14.4
    1975 (Ford)……2.84 million……215.9 million……13.2
    1978 (Carter)……2.87 million……222.5 million……12.9
    1982 (Reagan)……2.77 million……232.1 million……11.9
    1990 (Bush)……3.06 million*……249.6 million……12.3
    1994 (Clinton)……2.9 million……263.1 million……11.1
    2002 (Bush)……2.63 million……287.8 million……9.1
    2010 (Obama)……2.65 million+……310.3 million+……8.4+
    (Figures are from OMB data. Asterisks include temporary Census workers and pluses denote data gathered by both OMB and Census Bureau)

    Furthermore, we are now paying LESS in total taxes than we have since 1950:

    Federal, state and local income taxes consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

    In other words, Clavos, the Republican memes that we’re taxed way too much, that government is bloated are strawmen.

    Is government bloated? Surely…but not in terms of number of personnel. What’s bloated worst of all is our defense budget, because there is NO reason why we would be spending as much on defense as the rest of the world put together…but you also know very well that defense is the ONE section of the economy that most Republican legislators will never touch. You cannot accuse the Democrats of not being willing to cut on social programs – we agreed to big cuts in Medicare as part of health care reform. As my very conservative mother will tell you, “Obama cost me my Medicare!” He didn’t (it’s a long story), but that’s what she said.

    What WE need – the country as a whole – is more revenue…and cutting taxes is not only not proven to increase revenue, but the lack of revenue is allowing the interest on the debt to hurt our economy more and more.

    We’re paying less now in taxes than we have in the past 50 years…yet all we hear from the right is “We’re paying way too much in taxes!” That is not true. We – and especially the wealthy – are paying too little in taxes…which is precisely why Warren Buffet – one of the richest men in the world – said:

    “If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further,” Buffett said. “But I think that people at the high end — people like myself — should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.”

  • Clavos

    Oh, and EB, thanks for the edit. What can I say? It was late.

  • *b’da BOOM*

  • Clavos’ iPhone

    EB, again, you’re right, our gas prices do usually go up in summer, but this year, they went up (sharply) in April, which usually comes in spring. Also, last night I forgot to point out that, while fuel prices did recede somewhat this past week, the easing is considerably less (so far) than the overall increase (so far).

  • Clavos’ iPhone

    That’s the reference, Irene. I picked it because Armageddon’s been done to death (pun intended).

    And EB: insomnia. The older I get, the shorter my nights.

  • I wondered why you picked “Galloping Toward Bethlehem” instead of “Galloping Toward Armageddon.” Isn’t that what the four horseman were bringing the world to the brink of? Armageddon seems a more appropriate destination for the horseman carrying bad economic news: Recession, depression, and then war, war, war, to give the unemployed something to do, and the military industrial complex something to get richer with.

    I recall reading about something ominous heading toward Bethlehem, but it isn’t galloping:

    “…twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” (Yeats, The Second Coming)

  • It seems like prices usually go up in summer, so that info is not surprising, although the time you are up is surprising, Clavos.

  • Cannonshop

    Uh, Clavos, don’t you know? It’s all better now, Obama Saved us! Just ask a Democrat, any day now the Rainbows will gift out the pots of gold, and the Unicorns will fart our energy woes away…and if they don’t, well, that’s all Bushitler and his Imp Cheney’s fault.

    Of course, for those of us whom have NOT been drinking the koolaid, offering the least skepticism about the rosy future under our socialist masters and their nanny-state is the mark of shallow thinking and brain-dead rhetorical parroting.

    The Emperor, after all, has this splendid new clothing only visible to the Enlightened and Wise. Everyone else sees his naked ass.

  • Clavos’ iPhone

    You are correct, EB. Fuel prices have dropped in the last week or so (about a dime a gallon at retail here in Florida). The data in the article is all for April, as May prices have not yet been reported. However, I have read a couple of reports from “experts” forecasting that the drop is temporary at best, and that we can expect them to resume their upward trajectory shortly.

  • Are fuel prices still rising? I only ask because gas finally fell under $4 last week and am too lazy to look it up