It turns out, that while those color choices have been around for decades, they weren’t used consistently until 2000.
Is my memory wrong? No. I learned from a map posted on the 3rd floor of the Long Library at the University of New Orleans showing the 1996 election results. It struck me because it was the first I’d ever seen with county level data, showing the stark geographic dominance of Republicans:
That’s the title, and theme, of an article from the religion section of our local paper (sorry, there is no better digital copy than this available).
That catchy phrase made me laugh. It’s quoting a local pastor from The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, so it’s probably intended as a backhand to the local Mormon majority.
"We're an ancient representation of Christianity," he says. "We don't like innovations. For us, if it's new, it's not true.
Obviously, that’s a theological statement. But, vaguely insulting or not, what made me laugh is that I think the sentiment is a great expression of an important part of the belief structure of a lot of people, from a of different religious persuasions: a proclivity towards conservation of ideas as a form of social conservatism.
Which leads me to legacy media coverage of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan. I assert that it may be moral to be concerned about this, but it is unethical for the legacy media to make it even a secondary focus of their concern. This suggests that it may be immoral to be personally swayed by their coverage.
The issue here is that the legacy media coverage is tantamount to equating a potential disaster with an actual one.
A real disaster had happened. Excessive focus on a potential disaster at that time is ethically wrong.
Obviously, I was really “sticking my head through the noose” on this one.
A year later, here’s what we know.
One government survey of 10,468 people from three towns at high risk—Namie, Iitate and Kawamata—was released in late February. Among them, 58% are estimated to have received less than one millisievert of exposure, and 95% less than five millisieverts. Just 23 people, including 13 nuclear workers, were assumed to have been subjected to more than 15 millisieverts.
By comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans are exposed, on average, to three millisieverts of radiation per year from natural and man-made sources. Japanese safety rules allow a nuclear worker up to 100 millisieverts a year …
Last time I checked, the 20K people who died in the tsunami are still dead.
… On ITunes, “ Wrecking Ball” is the number 11 album, well behind ubiquitous number 1 seller Adele and her “21″ album. And there are nine other albums between by Adele again and even the Monkees. On Amazon.com, “Wrecking Ball: Special Edition” logs in at number 95 on the MP3 download chart. Yet, on Amazon’s chart of physical sales, the album is number 1, right behind Adele [sic]. …
That’s an unedited quote, so the incoherence is on the part of the author, and it continues here:
… Physical CDs are still in high demand for people 40 and older. They want the CD package in their hands–a souvenir, evidence of something they’ve purchased, an addition to a collection of past CDs of their favorite artists. Also, they still don’t really get the technical part of downloading music. Funny, huh? But it’s true. They know how to order it online, but they’re just comfortable — even on the over-hyped ITunes–pressing “download.” [sic] Interesting. …
Let me offer an alternative view, as a 47 year old whose downloading habits would put a teenager to shame.
First I’ll show my age. Do you remember this scene from Fried Green Tomatoes?
The "I'm older and and I have more insurance" line is my point.
The buying decision for me looks like this. On Amazon, the physical CD is $12.99 and so is the MP3 download.* But, I’m older and I have Amazon Prime. I get free second day shipping. If I can wait that long, I get the CD in the jewel box with the artwork and the liner notes: so now I have a DRM free, permanent backup,† from which I can make my own MP3s that are higher quality than I can download. I can even rip and compress the CD into a lossless FLAC file if I want (since I’m older and I have more hard drive space, and older and pay for a faster connection to the cloud).
FWIW: I’m still not sure that I’d buy the new Springsteen; the wife is the bigger fan‡ and more likely to make that commitment. She’d say that’s because she’s hipper than me, but I know it’s because we keep the CDs downstairs and she doesn’t like the bother. Now, that’s a real reason 40-somethings do download: our houses are too big and the CDs can’t be kept everywhere.
* Oh … and to the dumb kid who did the research for the old fogie who wrote the pandering Forbes article, the MP3’s you get from Amazon are better quality than iTunes, usually a bit cheaper, and have less in the way of DRM nonsense. Oh … and they play in anything … instead of being wedded to that piece of crap iTunes player.
† Us old fogies also know, that while burning was great while it lasted, the permanence of home-brewed CDs left a lot to be desired compared to the permanence of factory manufactured CDs, and that it was disposable CD players with 1 laser and a bunch of mirrors instead of more than one laser that obscured this point.
‡ Would you believe we actually had this argument about 6 months ago? I lost.
If Bloomberg Businessweek was a teenager, it would be one of the annoying ones that tries too hard to be noticed by the popular kids.
So, to me, it’s not surprising that they have a piece this week on how much harder the economy has been on Obama now than it was on Reagan 30 years ago.
Arguably, this position is correct, but more reasonably the economy has been lousy for both of them. But they’ve gone way over the top to make their point in “A Tale of Two Election Year Recoveries”. As a student you need to start to recognize gross misinterpretations like this.
… President Barack Obama’s recession is a lot more complicated than the one Reagan tussled with in 1981.
Superficially, their predicaments are similar. Both presided over economic downturns considered to be the worst since the Great Depression.
… They lost congressional support in midterm elections and were presiding over economic recoveries as they geared up for reelection campaigns.
Actually, only Obama’s party lost control of one of the houses of Congress. Reagan dealt with a Democratic House, and lost votes in the midterm elections, but he had a Republican Senate and gained a vote in the midterm election. Obama’s party had control of both houses for 2 years. Reagan never did.
Now the differences. The economy surged under Reagan. Gross domestic product in the final three months of 1983 rose at an annualized 8.5 percent. For Obama, the economic engine is running much more slowly. He narrowly avoided a double-dip recession in mid-2011, and growth accelerated in the fourth quarter to a 2.8 percent rate—the fastest the country experienced in 18 months. The unemployment rate in December 2011 was 8.5 percent, vs. 8.3 percent in December 1983. Yet joblessness 29 years ago dropped 2.5 percentage points in just 12 months, compared with a decline of less than 1 percentage point in 2011.
Correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t they saying that “Obama’s recession is a lot more complicated” because he hasn’t gotten the growth that Reagan did?
Most people conclude from this that Reagan had good policies and Obama not-so-good ones. Yet the tone here is that this is a problem that Obama had no hand in.
I’m not too much of an Obama basher, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to reinterpret this as: Obama’s situation is more complicated because he’s screwed it up worse.
Obama has struggled to master a far more complex situation.
I think it’s fair to say he has a different situation. “More complex”? I don’t think so.
… The Reagan recession was sparked by the high inflation of the Jimmy Carter years and the decision by then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to raise interest rates to as high as 20 percent in May 1981 to smother higher prices. Although the high rates caused a lot of pain, they left Volcker with plenty of room to cut until the recession had eased. Rate cuts started in June 1981. By December 1982, rates were down to 8.5 percent. The economy responded quickly to monetary easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in contrast, has little room left for cuts; the federal funds rate is close to zero. “When you have a deep financial crisis paired with recession, it’s a completely different animal than a normal recession,” says Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University. “The one in the Reagan Administration was a more normal one.”
Compared to what? How was Reagan’s recession more normal when Reagan had to deal with the highest inflation we ever had in a recession America? The name for this was stagflation, and it’s wishful thinking to call it normal. Our textbooks still don’t have a policy prescription for stagflation. Telling me that’s not a sign of a complicated situation is a fib.
The presence of so much debt in the economy makes companies and consumers reluctant to borrow and banks reluctant to lend, no matter how low interest rates go. Debt today remains a greater drag on the U.S. than in 1983 …
That is true.
Obama has worked with an economy that was weak even before the recession officially started in December 2007.
Ummm … no. The 2001-7 expansion was one of the longest on record. It was also fairly strong in 2003-6.
The expansion that started in late 2001 under President George W. Bush was among the most lackluster in modern U.S. history, providing little cushion against a possible downturn. By the start of the recession in December 2007, payrolls had grown less than 6 percent during the decade that started in 2000.
In order for payrolls to grow, you either need 1) lots of unemployed to re-employ, or 2) lots of young people entering the work force. The 2000-1 recession was so mild there wasn’t much unemployment, and I’ve already discussed in class that we are in a demographic period when people are leaving the labor force. So, low payroll growth was something most economists expected of Bush after he won the election.
… Payrolls grew 20 percent during the 1980s and 1990s and 27 percent during the 1970s. …
These two periods fit the two criteria I just mentioned for strong job growth.
Many of the jobs generated during the Reagan recovery were well-paid factory work. Although Billy Joel was lamenting the decline of Industrial America in his 1982 hit Allentown, manufacturers maintained considerable might in 1983 and 1984: At the end of 1983, almost a fifth of working Americans—19 percent—labored in manufacturing. Fewer than 9 percent of workers do today. “Back then a larger fraction of the workforce was in manufacturing,” says Soss. “And you hire those people back when business gets better. There’s less of that going on now.”
This is mostly true, although factory workers get paid more now because they are more productive.
“Reagan could talk about morning in America and could come from that perspective,” says Peter D. Hart, who was a pollster for Walter Mondale, Reagan’s Democratic opponent in 1984. “The major difference this time is that Americans are much more likely to believe we are in a long-term decline.”
I think the bigger question is why they might think that at all. Have you checked your closets lately? They’re full of stuff. Have you checked how many hours you spend not working? We have more leisure than ever. Have you checked on all the fun things you can do with your time? Life wasn’t always like this.
Note that I am not claiming that the last 4 years have been any fun economically. I’m just claiming that we should be realistic and recognize that we’re going through a once every generation event. Not a once-in-a-lifetime or once-per-century event.
Cross-posted from SUU Macroblog, which is required reading for my advanced macro students.
After a marathon session of decorating cutouts for Christmas, my family — covered with specks of frosting and and stray jimmies — went to McDonald’s to scarf dinner. Because we were exhausted and surly we were blankly watching the TV news programs.*
Anderson Cooper 360 was on. This is, allegedly, a serious cable news magazine.
So, they turned for expert advice to … wait for it … John Paul DeJoria … the man most people think of as “Paul Mitchell” after his haircare products.‡
And my wife blurts out … in McDonald’s … in front of the kids … “Are you f***ing sh***ing me!”
She has never taken a macroeconomics class, but is certainly aware that if you want expert advice on macroeconomic policy, you should probably talk to a macroeconomist or policy advisor first.
* I can see why the news is always on in airport concourses, but of all places, why is the news always on in McDonald’s?
† Macroeconomically, the payroll tax holiday is … kind of stupid. What are we most worried about: people who don’t have jobs or people who do? Most people say the former. And what do we think is the cause of people being without jobs: because no one is hiring, or because most people don’t want to work? Again, it’s the former. The payroll tax holiday addresses neither of those problems. It is a holiday on the collection of some taxes that are withdrawn from paychecks. So, it is only available to people who work, and then helps most the people who get their income primarily from salary and wages (which are the only kinds of income from which these taxes are collected) rather than net business income. So, it’s a tax that is labeled as helping everyone, when in fact it is a tax targeted to help people who already have jobs but who’s primary focus is not employing others. In sum, it’s a double fail. Having said that, like most tax cuts, I think the money is probably better spent by households than by government, so there are some positives to it. Interestingly, when the payroll tax holiday was originally proposed by macroeconomists, it was a tax break on the contributions that employers make on behalf of their workers, and it would have helped the two groups in trouble from the top of this paragraph. But, the idea has been perverted.
‡ In his defense, Mr. DeJoria is an extremely successful businessman, who has been trying to garner media attention as someone whose life experiences are indicative of someone whose perspectives and opinions should be taken seriously. Fair enough. I think he should be trying to get on Anderson Cooper 360. I just wish the show’s producers took their jobs more seriously.
Cross-posted from SUU Macroblog, which is required reading for my macroeconomics classes.
But his bully pulpit is higher than mine … he’s got a regular column in Forbes.
So he unloaded on Paul Keller this week too (and his word constraint was much more generous):
… The signers (myself included) are “academics from off-the-beaten-path colleges,” bloggers, and economists from “devoutly libertarian think tanks.” As one of Keller’s “lesser economists,” I should enjoy my “moment of fame as witnesses on behalf of dubious claims.” Although distinguished economists from top ten departments are among the 132 signers, the Ivy Leagues are indeed underrepresented, and we regular folks should know who really counts in elite circles.
Keller longs for the days when economic debate “pretty much stayed within the boundaries of accepted science.” He quotes an economist blogger (but I thought unfiltered blogging was our problem?), who has never seen a greater “disjunction between the political debate about economics and the consensus of economists as large as it is today.” Keller conveniently does not identify the blogger as a senior fellow at the “devoutly liberal” Brookings think tank.
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