Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm Sorry, I Misspoke

We all mis-speak at times, stumble over our tongues or have a short circuit between the earphones.

When a politician says something outrageous and then claims "I mis-spoke," shouldn't reporters ask "Well then, what did you mean to say?"

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern (R), said this week that:
"We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that's tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don't want to study as hard in school?" she asked. "I've taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't study hard because they said the government would take care of them."

"Kern also said women earn less than men because 'they tend to spend more time at home with their families.'"
Again, everyone misspeaks at times, everyone makes mistakes.
"When I said "all philosophy is a footnote on Plato, I really meant to say 'Socrates.' I'm sorry; I mis-spoke."
So what did Rep. Kern mean to say when she "misspoke?" What reasonable observation could she have intended to say that somehow "mistakenly" came out as that brazenly racist and misogynistic pronouncement?

And is she sorry she said it? Or that people heard her say it?

= = = =
BTW: My experience is that there are crazies of all political stripes - we can't condemn any party because it includes some of them.

OTOH, I believe we can and should criticize a party when it refuses to reprimand the crazies in its leadership:

GOP House Speaker Kris Steele said Kern "will not be admonished by the Oklahoma House’s GOP leadership."

Maybe Mr Steele can tell us what reasonable statement could have ended up "mis-spoken" like that.

60 Years Of Job Growth

Conservatives keep telling us that if we follow their polices, we'll see a lot of job growth. And a fiscal conservative friend of mine repeats the claim that tax cuts promote job growth,
"Just look at the unemployment figures during the middle years of the Bush II administration, that proves that tax cuts create jobs."
I was a bit perplexed, since my recollection is that during the Bush II administration, job growth didn't even keep up with growth of the work force. So I poked around.
"Really? What do actual job growth numbers show us?"

The source of statistics which seemed most applicable to my recollection came from the Wall Street Journal's article from January 2009: Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record On Record

The chart here is based on the table in that WSJ article, and focuses on the average growth in payroll per year held in office for each president since Truman. Red bars are Republicans, blue bars are Democrats.

The chart sure seems to show that job growth is generally a lot higher during Democratic Party presidencies than during Republican Party presidencies. Comments are welcomed regarding this chart and its implications.

(The president's names might be a bit difficult to read: from left to right they are:
  • Bill Clinton
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Lyndon Johnson
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Richard Nixon
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Harry Truman
  • Gerald Ford
  • George H.W. Bush
  • Dwight Eisenhower
  • George W. Bush)
I don't know why unemployment was low during the middle years of the Bush admin, when job growth was the worst we've seen since World War II when job growth was the worst we've seen during that same period.

I'm thinking that during those years, many people entering the work force age range just didn't bother to even look for jobs. Unemployment is calculated on surveys and looks at the niumber of people who have sought work during the previous 4 weeks. If youngsters didn't even bother to start looking, then the unemployment calculation would simply exclude them.

Note, I also found statistics reportedly based on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which seem to be at odds with the Wall Street Journal's tables. I cannot explain the differences, and decided to go with the WSJ since they could be presumed to portray these sorts of statistics in the light most favorable to conservative views.

Again, it seems to me that the chart above strongly suggests jobs grow more during Democratic Party presidencies than during Republican Party presidencies, but any additional enlightenment is welcome.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tyranny in the US

Many people today are looking to the Declaration of Independence ("DoI") for guidance and support for their concerns with the way our government works and what it does.

The DoI announced bold principles of liberty. It also provided a list of the many tyrannies the colonists were fighting against (which details the founders said had to be included in the DoI.)

Most of the tyrannies listed involved questions of governance. Two were:

"For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

"For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever."

The Republicans in Michigan are openly engaged in that very tyranny, and it is reported that they are drafting legislation in Wisconsin to do the very same.

Tea Party people: Where are you on these Republican tyrannies?

Another complaint both then and now is taxation. Today, the objection is to paying them.

For our founders, the objection was to "imposing taxes on us without our consent." The rallying cry on this issue was "No taxation without representation."

We have a representative democracy, so that one is simply off the table.

I don't intend to disrespect for Tea Party participants; I believe that many of their concerns are quite real in a way. On the other hand, I believe they have been mislead and misinformed on many of those issues, on the facts involved in those issues, and on effective solutions to those issues. (As noted above, the founders didn't complain about taxes, they complained about no representation, no vote, no power at the ballot box. And history tells us that they threw the tea into Boston harbor because it belonged to a huge corporation which had just been given tax breaks by the government.)

"Take back our government!"

I agree completely. And who has taken control of it?

From 1998 to mid 2010 $28.58 billion was spent lobbying the federal government.
  • $23.87 billion (83.5%) was paid by corporations.
  • $0.42 billion (1.5%) came from labor unions.
  • (The remaining $4.7 billion, 16.,4%, came from sources which are not easily characterized as to goals.)

So who do we need to take our government and country back from?

On Edit: My data came from Open Secrets at the Center for Responsive Politics' site

As indicated, I originally got my data in mid 2010. On checking, the figures through the end of 2010 have changed a bit, and I was just too lazy to recreate the spreadsheet and recalculate -- it looks as if te totals changed bu the basic ratios remain pretty much the same.