A Whole Weeks Worth of Economy in One Post!

So USA Today has helpful hints for people of my generation towards saving for retirement. Unfortunately they forgot Step 0: have a job with a retirement plan and that pays well enough that you can actually save money.

So then, about jobs. Earlier this week, the jobs report came out. The good news is that there are more jobs. They’re even paying a bit more — by a whole $0.05 per hour (don’t spend it all in one place, kids). Yet still, unemployment claims are up and Very Serious People are speculating about plateaued progress and  The Next Recession.

Just maybe that’s why consumer spending and factory orders are down.

Even so, I am NOT among those calling for the Fed to avoid raising interest rates. For one thing, the Fed doesn’t have as much control as many people think. Second, the last several years should have proven that the interest rates banks charge one another really doesn’t have much to do with whether or not your boss gives you a raise. Third, I’ve been saying for a decade now that super low interest rates don’t actually stimulate the economy. Yeah, we’ve had super low interest rates for a decade now. Maybe if interest rates went up, corporations would spend some of their cash.

Of course, if you are very wealthy, the economy looks just great. Remember that when you listen to the 2-ring circus we’re calling “2016 presidential candidates.”

In Closing: Warren Buffet has single handedly prevented many unwanted pregnancies (and probably a few cases of cancer); The TPP is on life support, but still out there and it still is a no good very bad thing for average people; ain’t nobody but spies like us; more studies tell us the same damn thing; I am still not sure why anybody ever thought this was a good idea; to hell with the H-1B program.

Just a little JEB! Roundup.

So everybody knows now that JEB! Bush has said some, ahem, ill advised things about worker productivity, right? By now pretty much everybody who isn’t huddled up on the far ultraright end of the spectrum with Donald Trump’s hair has weighed in. Here’s an economist, twice, a CNBC commentator (you know, where people talk about business?), a Moderate, and more smart people. By morning, there are likely to be more people saying similar things.

Of course I guess it doesn’t really much matter which party your Wall Street lackeys belong to.

In Closing: Pow Pao!; evidence that we mostly need better enforcement of gun laws; rich people habits you can (mostly) do too; the IRS will never ever call you to say you owe money; Sure they did (and I totally thwarted 3 tiger attacks last weekend — hey, you didn’t hear about any tiger attacks in Vegas last weekend, now did you??); trade deficit; “lemme take a selfie“; bad charting; Disney Princes.

Bonus Music: Funky!

More here. I particularly like the fact that this wasn’t just a production of the dance team and assorted Pretty People. Yeah, even a Fort Worth girl can appreciate what they did in Dallas.

In Closing: Yay, we’re last; scarfgate debunked; not a fan of Obamacare, but I did come out ahead; all those poor people taking advantage of the law!; not sure what to say; yeah; on moral agency.

Sign of the Times

IMG_20140716_102931 (1)

“Vintage Antiques? Well, honestly I was hoping you had some brand new antiques!”

In Closing: sick and tired; CISPA is back from the dead; “Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many early deaths as obesity”; ok ok, we’ll tell you what the NSA is doing, but we aren’t planning on stopping; institutional sexism; a third of Americans think cops are liars; Target pulling out of Canada; on a living wage.

Exercise is a Good Habit too

Did you know that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight? You probably did. Did you also know it can prevent bone loss as you get older? Maybe you just don’t know how to get started without spending a lot of money on one of those exercise programs advertised on late night television.

Well, thank heaven that Google turns up a lot of good places you can start without necessarily buying a gym membership or some expensive videos. Just remember: whatever you do, keep doing something. Remember that this is a habit that’s going to take some time to do right (and even longer if you do it wrong). But all the research says it’s worth it.

Edit: Yet another study says exercise is good for you. Of course, If you started printing out these studies, you might go broke just buying paper.

In Closing: Ted is right; Schneier on doxing; sounds good to me; Mrs. Quimby would probably be in big trouble; the answer is blowing in the wind (and the sun too).

Moment of Silence

December 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor.

Last week, I did see one of these on the road:



These guys are still out there.

In Closing: having a hard time working up sympathy for the lady who’s so scared of being a “bag lady” that she buys a fur coat. Thank heaven at least one person — Rep. Loretta Sanchez — had the good sense to ask the right question. And an accidental flash of common sense (don’t worry, we won’t let any of that near a school again!).

The truth is, None of Us Can Breathe

So, please mark December 5, 2014 in your calendars. It is the day that I agreed with George W. Bush, when he said the Eric Garner grand jury results were “hard to understand.” Sure, we look at the video and say “how the heck can a cop get away with choking out a man on a sidewalk for a non-violent offense?” If anybody other than a police officer had killed Eric Garner, this case would be a slam dunk.

Instead, the system worked to protect cops at the expense of those they are supposed “to protect and serve,” just as it did in Ferguson. And really, any of us could have been Eric Garner. Any of us could have been the person breaking a minor law and ending up  — more or less — publicly executed. And let’s just face the truth: the odds of that happening are simply higher if you are a person of color. Then, you might get a public execution for picking up a toy gun or some other stupid pretext, or you might end up being kidnapped by cops in your own yard. Furthermore, it would be stupid for me to pretend any longer that the same rules apply equally to both blacks and whites.

One thing that gives me hope is that many people are feeling like they can’t breathe. Like they’d better stand up and do something. And even though a full 1% of our population is either in prison or on probation — think about it, one out of every hundred kids you went to school with, one of every hundred people you ever knew from work, one out of a hundred of everybody who was ever your neighbor, now a criminal — even though that’s true, it’s not the only thing that makes it hard to breathe.

A lot of us understand that freedom is more than not being executed in public, is more than not actually being in prison. It’s not much good to be free if you can’t afford the trappings of liberty: food, a roof over your head, medical care when you need it, little picky things like that. And sure, we had some very good employment data yesterday! There are more jobs, more jobs in more different industries, fewer unemployed people. All those are good things. However, median weekly wage is still within a few bucks of where it was in 2007, a shade under $800. Have your expenses gone up since 2007? Mine have. Take a look at the rest of those charts. Somehow, long term unemployment is down, but labor force participation is also down. Isn’t that interesting.

So yeah, the middle class can’t get ahead. People below the middle class aren’t even doing that well. And even though there is evidence that higher wages wouldn’t cause corporate profits to collapse, there are people who consider wage growth to be a problem. Yeah. It’s a real problem when people can work their way out of poverty instead of deeper into it; you might have to treat them like human beings.

In a very large nutshell, there’s laundry list of reasons why “I can’t breathe” resonates more than “Hands up, don’t shoot” ever could.


Uber Alles: I’ve given up trying to write something about that not-cab company that thinks it is above the law (maybe that’s how they came up with the name?). They didn’t bother to actually suspend operations until a couple days after the judge said stop it, and then they whined about how this cost Nevada 1000 [part time, contractor, no benefits, oh yeah and provide your own car] jobs.  I’ve already been shouted down about how I don’t know what I’m talking about, and yet a Nevada judge used many thoughts similar to mine in his ruling: there’s no promise that Uber drivers can be held to the same public safety standards as cab drivers (commercial level insurance, DOT physicals, ongoing vehicle maintenance/condition).

In Closing: alert the media, give a kid a job and he’s less likely to become a crook; literary words; a car, a car, my kingdom for a car; which big cat are you?; diet; circumcision; Democrats.

You can’t breathe either? Here’s some music for you.

But What Would be the Point?

Wednesday, I thought I’d put up an open letter to the President to the effect of “Hey, listen, America needs you to be a grown up when Congress inevitably sends you piles of doggie doodoo.”

But, as my title says, what would be the point? He not only hasn’t delivered on a bunch of things he said were important, he’s outright backtracked on some of them. I don’t see him leading on curbing unconstitutional surveillance — in fact I see government agencies wanting more power to trample my rights in their quest to find mostly imaginary terrorists. I don’t see Gitmo closing. I keep hearing about job creation, but then I keep seeing homeless guys on nearly every major corner. I don’t see things getting better for Joe Average. TPP hasn’t been crushed under the threat of veto by the President of the United States. I guess at least there are attempts to whittle down Too Big To Fail.

So that’s where I’ve been all week, mentally at least.