Saturday, February 04, 2012

Jobless rate has fallen because of dropouts

The big drop in the unemployment rate in recent months to 8.3 percent from double-digit rates during the recession came at a fortunate time for President Obama, but economists say it as much because of young people dropping out of the labor market as it is the result of businesses adding jobs.

“A dip in the unemployment rate as we head into an election year has to be good news for President Obama,” said Claire Moore, a blogger at High Beam Business. “On the face of it, a lower unemployment rate sounds good,” but the recent declines reflect not only an uptick in job growth but also the exit of thousands of potential young workers from the labor force.

When people stop looking for work, they are no longer counted as part of the labor force or “unemployed.” Evidence suggests that many of the young dropouts, who proved to be instrumental in Mr. Obama’s election in 2008, are continuing their schooling to avoid the tough job market and to increase their skills and chances of eventually securing employment.

“People stop looking for work for various reasons, which might include taking an early retirement, going back to school, or deciding to be a full-time, stay-at-home parent,” Ms. Moore said.

The president isn’t going to make “political hay” when that causes a decline in unemployment, she said, because “if they all decided to start looking for work tomorrow, the jobless rate would skyrocket again.”

While a growing number of baby boomers are also stopping work as they retire, the exit from the workforce has been most the pronounced among teenagers and the so-called millennials, now in their 20s.

The percentage of workers ages 16 to 19 has dropped 4.3 percentage points to 34.2 percent since the end of the recession in 2010, while the share of people between 20 and 24 working has declined 1.6 percentage points to 71.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Participation in the workforce was on the decline among those groups even before the recession, but it accelerated when millions of jobs disappeared.

“This probably has to do with younger workers willfully opting out of the job search process, given today’s tough job market,” said Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo. “Young people tend to have less financial responsibilities, such as mortgages and food expenses,” than their parents, the baby boomers, who have continued to work at higher-than-usual rates, he said.

Several studies have found that the decline in work among young people closely mirrors a surge in college enrollments in recent years. Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys show that the greater a person’s education and training, the better their success at getting good jobs and higher pay.



Barack Obama's reckless and politically foolish war on religion

At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington yesterday, President Barack Obama suggested that his desire to raise taxes on higher-income Americans was rooted in the Bible. 'For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that 'for unto to whom much is given, much shall be required',' he said.

Which prompted Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah (and a Mormon) to comment acidly: 'Someone needs to remind the President that there was only one person who walked on water and he did not occupy the Oval Office. I think most Americans would agree that the Gospels are concerned with weightier matters than effective tax rates.'

It was just the latest example of Obama's tin ear on matters religious. Remember, this is the man who was a member of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church in Chicago, where sermons about 'God Damn America' and the US being responsible for 9/11 were preached but which remained, in Obama's eyes, a place that was not 'actually particularly controversial'.

Far more serious, however, than Obama's crude attempt to state that the rich should pay higher taxes because Jesus wanted them to (in addition to this being, in VP Joe Biden's view, a patriotic obligation) are his recent actions which amount to a declaration of war on the Roman Catholic church.

On January 20th, as much of the American political class was preoccupied with the impending GOP South Carolina primary, Obama's Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was a requirement for contraceptive services to be offered by insurance policies supported under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

While there were exceptions for places of worship, there was no conscience protections for church-run schools, hospitals and social service agencies. These organisations will be required by law to provide free contraception to employees, even thought that is in violation of church teachings.

The move has been condemned by figures on both the Left and Right. The liberal Washington Post columnist E.J.Dionne lit into Obama. So too did his colleague Michael Gerson, formerly President George W. Bush's chief speechwriter.

Obama's decision was that of a doctrinaire secular liberal trying to use government power to rein in religious freedom. It's not about freedom of the individual - contraceptive services are freely available elsewhere. As Melinda Henneburger puts it, it's about 'forcing nuns to dole out free diaphragms in violation of their religious freedom and the Constitution that guarantees it'.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: 'To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable.'

Why has Obama done this? Firstly, because at core he is a secular liberal. I always thought that he was in a tough position over Jeremiah Wright because in reality he hadn't gone to church much - and doubtless even when he was there he hadn't paid much attention to the sermons.

The reason he became involved in Wright's church was, in standard political fashion, to help him build a political base and put down roots in Chicago. To run for US President or even for the Senate it's a virtual prerequisite to an observant Christian or Jew - Obama was savvy enough to make sure he was no exception.

Obama knows that political power of religion. He has made lofty speeches about the role of faith in a democracy and his own personal faith. He went to Notre Dame University in 2009, where he cited the need to "honour the conscience of those who disagree with abortion".

The second, almost inescapable, reason for Obama decision, as Dionne puts it, to throw his Catholics allies "under the bus", is politics - or, more specifically, Obama's re-election.

It's about shoring up the Democratic base and energising liberal pro-Choice groups - and accepting that those in the middle on the issue will not vote for him. It's yet another indication that Obama believes that his path to re-election is a very narrow one - he's seeking to consolidate the support he already has rather than extending it.

A senior Democrat told Politico: 'Catholics who don’t believe in condoms aren’t going to vote for Barack Obama anyway. Let’s get real.' You don't get a ot more cynical than that.

The trouble is that Obama beat John McCain by nine points among Catholics in 2008 (largely because of Hispanic backing) but that lead over Republicans is much narrower already. Among white Catholics, Mitt Romney currently holds a 13-point lead and Obama's support among white churchgoers is declining steadily. Catholics make up more than a quarter of the electorate and are an important constituency in battleground states.

White House aides were buoyed today by news that 243,000 new American jobs were added in January and unemployment, dropping steadily for months, is now at 8.3 percent. No doubt Obama strategists calculate that the President's chances of re-election are edging upwards because of the improving economy.

But when Newt Gingrich talks of a 'war on the Catholic Church' and Mitt Romnney of an 'assault on religion' they are engaging not in excessive campaign rhetoric but in propagating a message that both resonates and that is based in truth.

Politically, as well as morally and constitutionally, Obama's move seem bone-headed. As Peggy Noonan writes today: 'President Obama just may have lost the election.'



Barbara Boxer Welcomes You To ‘Magical Pharmaceutical Land’

Yesterday in the Huffington Post, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., taught us an important lesson: Health care can be free!

For example, she wrote, “When President Obama announced that because of health care reform, birth control would soon be available for free in new insurance plans, you would have expected universal approval.” She also wrote, “Finally, (Obama’s) decision will help working families by giving them access to free birth control.”

Now, some of you ignorant rubes may be saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Birth control isn’t free. Someone has to pay for it to be produced, packaged and then shipped to the store. In this context, ‘free’ only means that the consumer isn’t paying any money for it. But those costs still have to be paid, whether it is by taxpayers or people who will now pay higher insurance premiums.” Here’s what Sen. Boxer would say to you:
There is this magical place known as Pharmaceutical Land, where prescription drugs grow on trees and bushes. For years all the pharmaceuticals we wanted and needed were there for the picking.

But years ago evil pharmaceutical companies came in and put up fences around Pharmaceutical Land and put heavy locks on the gates. They paid off Republicans to guard Pharmaceutical Land. Now people had to pay money to get prescription drugs.

But thankfully, Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, and along with visionary senators like me, we passed a health care bill that starts to remove those locks and tear down those fences. The areas in which birth control pills are grown are now open to the public. They are free once more!

We haven’t gotten all of the locks and fences removed yet. There is still much work to be done. But if we can get the evil pharmaceutical companies and obstructionist Republicans out of the way, soon all areas of Pharmaceutical Land will be open to everyone, and prescription drugs will be as free as the air we breathe!

Now that you ignorant rubes have been re-educated, hopefully you won’t be bringing up any more silly nonsense about “costs” or “taxpayers.”



Unionization rate approaching zero

Big Labor is Fighting UsBig Labor must be in full panic mode. They lost their first Rust Belt state to right-to-work laws yesterday in Indiana. And today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports dismal numbers for the rate of unionization.

How dismal? How about the rate is near zero.

As Mickey Kaus reports at The Daily Caller, “The most significant number in the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics release on unionization is probably this: Only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are in unions. That’s the same percent as last year. In the middle of the 20th century, it was 35%. … The number is significant because it suggests that labor’s much-publicized private sector organizing drives have failed.”

We constantly hear labor unions tell us that without them workers would be in a state of oppression. Well, as time continues to progress we are increasingly seeing that without labor unions “protecting” workers, things are seeming to get better for workers everywhere. Americans everywhere seem to be realizing this fact, if only the labor bosses would come around…



Worse Than Death Panels

During the debate over ObamaCare, more than one critic charged that government panels would make life and death decisions affecting patient care.

Now it seems the Obama administration is contemplating something that is even scarier: doctors would be given immunity from malpractice lawsuits, but only if they practice medicine according to government guidelines. The pressure would be enormous. Have you ever met a doctor who wanted to be sued?

The original "death panel" charges were not entirely baseless. Former Senator Tom Daschle, who wrote the blueprint for health reform, advocated a "comparative effectiveness" agency that would decide which medical procedures were worthwhile and which ones were not. As a model, Dashiell pointed to the National Institute for Comparative Effectiveness (NICE) in Britain. How are patients faring under that regime? According to the World Health Organization, about 25,000 British patients die prematurely every year because they do not have access to cancer drugs that are routinely available in the United States and continental Europe.

There is no similar agency with comparable powers under ObamaCare. But there are many ways in which the same results can be achieved indirectly. For example, Medicare has announced it will start paying more to hospitals that follow a dozen procedures, including administering antibiotics prior to surgery and anticlotting medication to heart attack patients. It will pay less to hospitals that don’t comply. The same thing is about to happen to doctors. Those who comply on up to 194 different metrics — including adopting electronic medical records — will get higher fees. Those who resist will get lower ones.

These are examples of a much larger trend: Washington telling the medical community how to practice medicine. Even though a recent study finds little relationship between the inputs Medicare wants to pay for and such outputs as patient survival, and even though the latest pilot programs show that paying doctors and hospitals for performance doesn’t improve quality, we are about to usher in the era of big brother medical care.




Countering the assault on capitalism: "Capitalism has been the most successful institution in human history yet it has never gained the legitimacy it merits. As Milton Friedman stated: ‘Everywhere capitalism has been tried, it has succeeded. Everywhere socialism has been tried, it has failed. The lesson learned? We need more socialism!’"

It's dying! "The New York Times Company suffered a net loss of almost $40million in 2011, with its fourth quarter profits falling by 12.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2010. The company is grappling with sinking advertising revenue and a recent change in the top management after losing CEO Janet Robinson, who received a multimillion dollar severance package. They said it continued to add subscribers for its digital products in the fourth quarter. The company's loss was blamed on the terminal decline in print advertising. The problems plaguing newspaper companies are well known. Readers have ditched print for digital, causing circulation and advertising revenue to plummet."

Venerable A-10 Warthog Faces Extinction: "The venerable A-10 tank killer aircraft is taking a hit of its own as part of the Defense Department’s decision to eliminate six of the Air Force’s tactical air squadrons and one training squadron. Air National Guard squadrons will bear the brunt of the losses. Three of the five A-10 squadrons going away will be Guard units. Air Force leaders plan to eliminate one Reserve and one active duty squadron. The Air Force will also decommission one Guard F-16 squadron and one F-15 training squadron. Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Adm. James Winnefeld confirmed the type of aircraft and duty status of each squadron during an editorial board meeting with Gannett Government Media reporters, said Lt. Col. Patrick Seiber, Winnefeld’s spokesman."



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