Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A very weak recovery

It is not dissected below but it seems likely that most of the growth in employment we have seen is the product, directly or indirectly, of the boom in the oil and gas industry -- mainly due to innovations such as fracking. And those innovations made headway only because they sneaked up relatively fast -- so fast that Obama and his EPA did not have enough time to ban them

As the most widely reported rate of unemployment (U-3) has fallen in recent months, people with a political agenda served by painting a rosy picture of the recovery have made considerable noise about this decrease. Their political opponents have responded that one reason for the decline is that the labor force has fallen as more people have given up looking for work, some of them going into retirement sooner than they would have if the labor market had been more robust.

The best way to avoid the parsing and cherry-picking that plague such debates is to look not at unemployment, but at employment. After all, it’s employment that contributes to the production of goods and services and generates earnings for the job holders. Employment is less subject to interpretive ambiguity than unemployment is.

The most recently reported data on private nonfarm employment, for January 2012, show that employment has indeed continued its recovery. Since reaching its current-recession trough about two years ago, it has increased by about 3 million persons. Before starting a celebration, however, we should recognize that private nonfarm employment is still about 5 million persons less than it was at its pre-recession peak in 2008.

Moreover, such private employment is currently more than a million persons less than it was in December 2000, more than eleven years ago, on the eve of the dot-com bust. So, at this point, we have suffered more than the proverbial “lost decade” in the private labor market—the one in which employees are hired to produce goods and services that consumers and investors have demonstrated they actually value (or for which producers are convinced that such demand will be forthcoming).

To be sure, labor productivity has increased during this period, yet the likelihood is slight that sustained economic growth can take place in the future without long-term growth in private employment. A very large recession-related loss of private employment remains to be recouped, however, before we can even begin to think about the long-term growth of employment. The situation has improved somewhat in the past two years, no doubt, yet the labor market has a long way to go—it has about 5/8 of its recent loss to make up—merely to get back to its pre-recession peak.



Why “Progressives” and not “Liberals”?

Derek Hunter

I’ve been contacted by many readers asking why I use the word “progressive” instead of “liberal.” I figured I’d write a little bit about why this week…

The Change

Remember when Democrats used to call themselves liberals? Then conservatives showed the world what liberals really were, and no one wanted to call themselves that anymore.

Now, they call themselves progressives again – as they did in the early 20th century until their racist/fascist agenda was rejected and they went into hiding under the word liberal. (To you progressives outraged by this truth, read Jonah Goldberg’s masterful book Liberal Fascism and open your eyes to your eugenics-loving, racist roots.)

Their name has changed, but their objectives have not. They want an all-powerful federal government with the individual subjected to its will and whims.

Naturally, they support such a thing only when there is a progressive in charge and will scream bloody murder when a non-progressive dare exercise power of any sort. For an example of this, see the Bush years.

Remember the Bush years … when the president went to Congress and got approval for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq? Ever wonder, then, where the anti-war movement went, and why, after Obama’s surge in Afghanistan and bombing of Libya, there wasn’t a massive rally on the National Mall?

Did those fervent anti-war protesters suddenly decided to “give war a chance”? And where is former MSNBC staple Cindy Sheehan now? Or Code Pink? When was the last time you saw them on TV? We’re still at war; only nobody is protesting it anymore.

That’s because it never was about war. It was about damaging a political opponent. Their guy is running things now. And he’s in trouble.

After failing miserably to have any positive impact on the economy – and spending trillions to do it – the 2010 election happened and Republicans swept the House. The Tea Party exists, and it is spreading the word about the virtues of smaller government and warning about overspending. The only things that terrify progressives more than those ideas are black conservatives and women carrying babies until they’re born.

How Far Will They Go?

One thing progressives won’t do is allow anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to stand in the way of their agenda.

Be it the grandmother who loved and raised President Barack Obama after his degenerate mother abandoned him only to be reduced to a racist, a “typical white person” when it became politically advantageous to distract from Jeremiah Wright … or the entire feminist movement when Bill Clinton was charged with sexual harassment (and assault … and rape), nothing is sacred beyond the agenda.

Add to that list the Occupy Wall Street rape victims.

On Monday’s Countdown on Current TV, former MSNBC talking head Keith Olbermann and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas joked about the numerous, documented charges of sexual assault and rape at various “Occupy Wall Street” encampments around the country, denying they’d happened. Twitter exploded with outrage.

There was a time when “the seriousness of the charge” was all that mattered when it came to sexual assault/harassment, but that was when conservatives (Clarence Thomas) were the ones being charged. Since progressives make their living through hypocrisy, that standard went out the window under President Clinton and was changed to “drag a $100 bill through a trailer park” and see what you get.

Soon after dismissing rape of “Occupiers” by other “Occupiers,” Olbermann replied to a tweet from Washington Times columnist Henry D’Andrea’s tweet demanding a retraction and apology with, “No Occupy rapes, no cover-up, no apology, no retraction, and credibility for your Moonie-owned “newspaper.”

Setting aside the unprovoked religious bigotry from the “tolerant” Olbermann, that’s a flat-out denial that there were any rapes of Occupy women. That’s Keith saying the many, many women who filed rape and/or sexual assault charges with the police are lying. Here’s the bus, Occupy ladies, get ready to slide under it.

Probably realizing he’d stepped in it, Olbermann, who holds the Orwellian title of “Chief News Officer” at Current, then went on to accuse Andrew Breitbart of concocting the charges. When presented with a detailed list of criminal activity at “Occupy” camps, Olbermann changed his tune again to, “Looking at the (Breitbart) ‘Occupy Assault List’ I notice VICTIMS were in Occupy, not the assailants. Why are you blaming the victims?”

This, of course, is a flat-out lie. Olbermann knows it, but he doesn’t care. Those women and men who were raped and/or sexually assaulted at “Occupy” camps, those victimized by “Occupiers” and those now, stand in the way of the progressive agenda. As such, they were told by Keith to shut up and “take one for the team.”

Olbermann than went on several Twitter tirades against Breitbart in the hope of distracting from his own stupidity. He knows the rules. He knows there’s a bus out there with his name on it should enough progressives decide he hurts the cause more than he helps it.

Breitbart has the truth on his side, but truth is of little use to Olbermann and his fellow progressives. And neither are rape victims.

Keith continues to obsess over Andrew Breitbart like he was Rebecca Lobo, desperate to avoid that bus. He’s willing to do whatever he must to avoid the fate he willfully imposed on those women who did nothing beyond showing up to a protest progressives told them was good and pure. This is how progressives work.

You Are Being Lied To

I’d call progressives’ history of lies and distortions fascist tactics and remind everyone of how progressives in this country loved and were fascists in the 1930s. But there’s no need (again, see Jonah’s book). Not because they’re not, but because we all know the sun rises in the east.

That paragraph would not have been necessary at all if we had an honest media and education system. We don’t because that famous “liberal bias” everyone knows and loves is, at its core, a progressive bias. (For the most complete takedown of how the Progressive Industrial Complex works, please watch this video. Then share it on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere you can. People need to be shown how lies are spread so they can learn to spot them.)

Progressives in education, the media, unions and politics always will walk in lockstep with each other, destroying any and all who stand in their way (even their own), until they reach their desired goal. It’s not that they’re incapable of learning the mistakes of history, they’re counting on them. What else explains the president’s rush to spend this country into Greece? A desire to save the people who’ve always wanted to see Greece but couldn’t afford the trip?

The political Left destroyed the greatness of Europe and it wants to take down the United States next.

If liberals are allowed to rebrand themselves as progressives, shedding the baggage and animosity “liberal” has so rightly earned, liberty is more threatened. I still use the word liberal every now and then. I use them interchangeably. They are, after all, the same thing. But people need to be aware of that. Polls have shown “liberal” is unpopular, but people don’t feel the same way toward “progressive.” That has to be changed.

Every time leftists, regardless of what they call themselves, are exposed for what they really are, Americans reject them. Sometimes slower than others, but always. That’s why Barack Obama ran on “Hope and Change,” not “I’ll waste trillions and break us while slipping payoffs to my donors, raping your liberty…” etc., etc.

People are busy. They don’t have time to follow politics the way those of us who make our living doing it can. Nor should they. If we had an honest media, no one would have to. If we had an honest education system, no one would have to. If we had an honest government that adhered to the Constitution… You get the idea.

So that’s just a small snippet of why I use the word “progressive” instead of “liberal.” And why I think it’s important that you start too.

Also, don’t forget progressives are not just of one political party. You can’t pick them out by the stench of Zuccotti Park emanating off them like stink-lines in a comic strip. In 2008, John McCain couldn’t tell the world enough that he was a progressive. His idiot daughter likes to do the same thing. It’s a philosophy, not a party.



How is the FDA Really Doing?

I read with interest—and mounting skepticism—Patricia Dimond’s Insight & Intelligence™ piece about FDA, “FDA New Drug Approvals in 2011 Outpace Recent Past,” on GEN’s website. Some of its assertions and assumptions lacked essential context and disclosures.

Consider, for example, the headline, “FDA New Drug Approvals in 2011 Outpace Recent Past.” Although it’s true that the FDA’s 35 approvals are better than the 21 last year, a single data point doesn’t a trend make, so it’s useful to look at approvals during recent five-year intervals. From 2007–2011, the FDA approved 123 new drugs; from 2002–2006, 129 drugs; and 1997–2001, 178 drugs.

With that historical context, maybe the concept of outpacing isn’t such a good choice for the headline.

Partly on the basis of the single 2011 data point and a flawed report by an advocacy and lobbying group called the Friends of Cancer Research, Dr. Dimond concludes that “FDA did a pretty good job despite the carping from the pharma industry, financial community, and some patient advocacy groups,” endorsing Friends of Cancer Research’s conclusion that there is a need “for strong financial and public support of the FDA.”

To evaluate the strength of this news/advocacy piece, it’s useful to examine the Friends of Cancer Research study, which was published last year in Health Affairs. It found that between 2003 and 2010 the FDA approved 32 new cancer drugs versus 26 by the European Medicines Agency.

The FDA supposedly both approved more cancer drugs and did so more quickly: FDA approval averaged 182 days, while the EMA averaged 350 days. According to Ellen Sigal, chairman and founder of Friends of Cancer Research, FDA’s regulatory delays and intransigence toward industry are nothing more than an urban legend.

The facts argue otherwise. The only urban legend in evidence appears to be the conclusions of the study itself. Several things are disturbing about the methodology and the possible sources of bias or conflict of interest on the part of the authors that were not mentioned either as a disclaimer in the article or in the media (including Dr. Dimond’s) coverage of it.

First, the timing and location (for example, Europe vs. the U.S.) of drug approvals depends in large part on where and when drug companies decide to submit their applications for approval, how aggressive they are, and whether the drug has been previously approved elsewhere.

The quest for approvals is not a race from the same starting gate. Of the 25 drugs in the study that were approved in both the U.S. and Europe, just two were submitted to European regulators first—one by a mere 11 days, the other by a single day. By contrast, most applications were submitted to the FDA several months or in some cases two or three years earlier.

Second, not a single media report mentioned that the FDA often uses various tricks to “stop the clock” or even delay the start of the clock by “refusing to file” an application for marketing approval that it has received. Thus, the agency’s “review times” often have little correlation to the calendar. The Health Affairs article itself cites as one of its methodological limitations that it accessed only “official review times.”

The results would have been more meaningful if the authors had reported the actual number of calendar days from the date of regulators’ initial receipt of the application until the date of approval. Moreover, the FDA’s user fee authority requires the agency to demonstrate that it meets strictly defined approval timelines, creating a potent incentive to “game” the official review times.




Health insurance vs. getting care: "When Washington came up with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it forgot one key component: The 'care' part. This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of the law's individual mandate requiring people to be insured. The court will decide whether the government can compel people to become consumers against their will. While this is an important debate, what truly concerns those of us in the medical profession is how the healthcare reform act could ultimately leave you and your loved ones with insurance, but with no access to quality care. There is no doubt that healthcare is not affordable, but this misguided law will not result in better services."

Taxmageddon comes just after the election: "On December 31, shortly after the November election, tax rates will rise across the board in what congressional aides call 'Taxmageddon,' notes The Washington Post. Not only will the Bush tax cuts come to an end, but new taxes will kick in to pay for Obamacare’s rising costs."



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