Archives For Politics

I know the stock market has little to do with who happens to be the President but it’s still interesting to look at. I’m no fan of Obama but the S&P 500 has performed nicely since he has taken office (yes, it pains me to write that) as illustrated by this chart that I put together:

S&P 500 TR Since Obama Took Office

From Money Magazine:

Since 2003, there’s been a 29% jump in Americans with little or no work experience getting disability payments, according to the Social Security Administration. Over the same time, there’s been a 44% increase in disability claims by people formerly in the workplace.

Disability claims among veterans are up 28% since 2008, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

All told, the federal government spent nearly $250 billion in 2011 paying more than 23 million Americans some type of disability claim. That’s about 7% of the overall population, and 16% of the workforce.

The reasons?

• The recession – not sure how the recession disabled people.

• Aging population – older people tend to have more disability issues.

• Welfare reform – welfare centers are actually screening people to see if they have some sort of disability in order to get them off the welfare rolls. Wow.

• Medical advances – keeping soldiers alive (but disabled) who would have probably died in the past.

This can’t continue. The disability program is projected to run out of money in 2016.

Let me just say, ALL politicians do this. I’m not just poking fun of President Obama. That said, check out the meaning of President Obama’s proposed savings as laid out in the graphic via the Cato Institute (yes, Cato is a conservative think tank but numbers are numbers):

Obama's Proposed Savings

Better than nothing, I suppose.

“The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community. Always attribute his success to the exploitation, the cheating, the more or less open robbery of others. Never under any circumstances admit that your own failure may be owing to your own weakness, or that the failure of anyone else may be due to his own defects – his laziness, incompetence, improvidence, or stupidity.”

Do you agree or disagree with Hazlitt?

Ugh! If we need any more proof that we’re too dependent on government, this list of “7 Spending Cuts You’ll Really Feel” should cover it:

1. Shrinking unemployment benefits. Some 3.8 million Americans estimated to collect unemployment checks between March and September will feel the pain the most. That’s because unemployment benefit checks are being pared by 9.4%. On average, it would mean a cut of $400 over that period. I know many will disagree with me but I have heard stories of people turning down jobs because they made more off unemployment (or unemployment made it easier to stay home rather than take a job).

2. Beef and chicken to cost more and even face a shortage.

3. Granny won’t get her lunch.

4. Your preschooler could be stuck at home. Some 70,000 children from lower income families will not be able to enroll for pre-schools and daycare centers run by Head Start programs this fall, thanks to at least $400 million in cuts. Unless you are using preschool as a daycare, take your preschooler to the library, art museum, teach them to write and cound on your own. You don’t need preschool.

5. National parks will close campgrounds or open late.

6. Longer lines at the airport.

7. Roofs blown off by Hurricane Sandy won’t get repaired. Isn’t this an insurance company’s responsibility?

Obama’s Circular Reference

February 14, 2013

Here’s a little humor for you. Those of you who don’t use Excel probably won’t get this.

Circular Reference

From today’s WSJ is The Myth of a Stagnant Middle Class by Donald Boudreaux and Mark Perry lays out three reasons why they think the middle class is doing better than we are being told:

It is true enough that, when adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the average hourly wage of nonsupervisory workers in America has remained about the same. But not just for three decades. The average hourly wage in real dollars has remained largely unchanged from at least 1964—when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started reporting it.

First, the CPI overestimates inflation by underestimating the value of improvements in product quality and variety. Would you prefer 1980 medical care at 1980 prices, or 2013 care at 2013 prices? Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter.

Second, this wage figure ignores the rise over the past few decades in the portion of worker pay taken as (nontaxable) fringe benefits. This is no small matter—health benefits, pensions, paid leave and the rest now amount to an average of almost 31% of total compensation for all civilian workers according to the BLS.

Third and most important, the average hourly wage is held down by the great increase of women and immigrants into the workforce over the past three decades. Precisely because the U.S. economy was flexible and strong, it created millions of jobs for the influx of many often lesser-skilled workers who sought employment during these years.

Since almost all lesser-skilled workers entering the workforce in any given year are paid wages lower than the average, the measured statistic, “average hourly wage,” remained stagnant over the years—even while the real wages of actual flesh-and-blood workers employed in any given year rose over time as they gained more experience and skills.

I have never felt the CPI overstates inflation. In fact, it seems like the index keeps going through adjustments to hide inflation. And, although prices of things like computers have been coming down, those cheaper prices are for inferior products. I know this because I purchased a laptop a couple of years ago. I went through and upgraded the components and the final price was about 3X the price of a “cheaper” computer (the kind you would buy off the shelf at Best Buy).

Honestly, I think if wages are falling, it’s due to globalization.