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 on: March 03, 2015, 09:50:54 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
"People often form strong opinions on the basis of weak statistics."  Great followup here to our Elizabeth Warren discussion.  (Did I mention a fact check was needed?)  $20 trillion of income missed in just one category.  The income measure Warren quotes (from Piketty) excludes 40% of income and then she is disturbed by the lack of income.

The Mumbo-Jumbo of ‘Middle-Class Economics’
The statistics used to claim that average incomes have stagnated since 1980 also show stagnation since 1968.
March 2, 2015 7:01 p.m. ET

In the “Economic Report of the President” released on Feb. 19, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers defines “middle class economics” primarily by the average income of the bottom 90%. “Average income for the bottom 90 percent of households,” according to the ERP, “functions as a decent proxy for the median household’s income growth.”

This is absurd: The average income for the bottom 90% is not a decent proxy for the median nor even a decent measure of household income. It is instead a roughly fabricated estimate of pretax “market income” reported on tax returns that falls below some threshold for the top 10% ($114,290 in 2013). But this dodgy number does serve as the basis for CEA Chairman Jason Furman ’s assertion a day later on the Vox blog that the U.S. has suffered a “40-year stagnation in incomes for the middle class and those working to get into the middle class.”

The measure has become popular on the left. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) recently asked an AFL-CIO conference, “Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the [bottom] 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero.” NPR displayed the same bottom 90% data and stretched it even further, claiming that “after 1980, only the top 1% saw their incomes rise.”

The source cited in the ERP for the claims about stagnating average incomes is the World Top Incomes Database. The U.S. data come from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, the same source cited by Sen. Warren and NPR.

Amazingly, these same statistics also show there has been no increase for the “bottom” 90% since 1968. Measured in 2013 dollars, average income of the bottom 90% was supposedly $32,730 in 1968, $32,887 in 1980, $35,326 in 2007 and $32,341 in 2013.

This is totally inconsistent with the data the Bureau of Economic Analysis uses to calculate GDP. For example, real personal consumption per person has tripled since 1968 and doubled since 1980, according to the BEA. Are all those shopping malls, big box stores, car dealers and restaurants catering to only the top 10%? The question answers itself.

Instead of the White House concoction, consider the Congressional Budget Office estimates of actual median household income. Measured in 2013 dollars, after-tax median income rose briskly from $46,998 in 1983 to $70,393 in 2008 but remained below that 2008 peak in 2011. The sizable increase before 2008 is partly because the average of all federal taxes paid by the middle fifth has almost been cut in half since 1981—from 19.2% that year to 17.7% in 1989, 16.5% in 2000, 13.6% in 2003 and 11.2% in 2011.

Census Bureau estimates of median “money income,” on the other hand, do not account for taxes, so they miss a major source of improved living standards. They also exclude realized capital gains, public and private health insurance, food stamps and other in-kind benefits. Even so, the Census Bureau’s flawed estimate of median income rose 13.7% from 1984 to 2007 before falling 8% from 2007 to 2013.

Both CBO and Census estimates show only six years of middle-class stagnation, not 40.

The Piketty and Saez data are crucially flawed. The total income reported on individual tax returns, which is the basis of their estimates, is substantially less than any official measure of total income, and the difference keeps getting wider. In their original 2003 study, Messrs. Piketty and Saez mentioned one rapidly expanding source of missing income—disappearing dividends in tax-return data. These were “due mostly to the growth of funded pension plans and retirement savings accounts through which individuals receive dividends that are never reported as dividends on income tax returns.”

The same is true of interest and capital gains accumulating inside such tax-free savings accounts. These have grown to nearly $20 trillion, according to a 2014 report by Tax Foundation economist Alan Cole.

Messrs. Piketty and Saez shrink the total income numbers further by subtracting all transfer payments, such as Social Security and unemployment benefits, and excluding all health and retirement benefits provided by private employers or government agencies. The result, as Brookings Institution’s Gary Burtless noted, is that, “The Piketty-Saez measure [of total income] excluded 24% of NIPA [National Income and Product Accounts] ‘personal income’ in 1970, but it excluded 37% of ‘personal income’ in 2008.” It excluded 40% of personal income by 2011.

Because of their increasingly understated estimates of total income, Messrs. Piketty and Saez estimate that in 2013 the “other 90 percent”—meaning all incomes smaller than $114,290—had an average income of only $32,341. That number is not remotely credible.

According to the CBO, that $32,341 would have been below the $34,000 needed to escape from the poorest fifth of two-person households in 2011, when half of all households earned more than $75,200 before taxes. Even using the Census Bureau’s narrow definition of money income, average income for the middle fifth was $72,641 in 2013, and half of us earned more than $51,939.

In short, the Piketty-Saez average of all incomes below the top 10% is far lower than any official estimate of incomes among the middle fifth of the income distribution. This means their comparisons of cyclical shares of income growth among the top 10% and bottom 90% during booms and busts are invalid. And so too are their estimates of the shares of mismeasured “total income” supposedly received by the top 1%-10%.

People often form strong opinions on the basis of weak statistics, but this “bottom 90%” fable may be the worst example yet. The Economic Report of the President’s description of “middle-class economics” rests on a far-fetched claim that middle incomes have stagnated for four decades rather than from 2008-13—most of these years during the Obama presidency.

Mr. Reynolds, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, is author of a 2012 Cato paper, “The Misuse of Top 1 Percent Income Shares as a Measure of Inequality.”

 on: March 03, 2015, 09:34:44 AM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by Crafty_Dog
"rent seekers and corruption of the political process by favored business interests should be OUR attack on THEIR system."


 on: March 03, 2015, 09:29:34 AM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: March 03, 2015, 09:22:40 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG

"Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records. But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so."

It was not until two months ago, nearly two years after Clinton had resigned from the State Department that her aides, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. They eventually turned over 55,000 pages of emails.

Only the Clinton aides know how many emails involving official business they did not turn over. And even these aides probably don’t know whether or to what extent Clinton’s emails previously were purged.

 on: March 03, 2015, 09:16:19 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
As Crafty asks, why aren't WE attacking the crony corruption link between big government and big business.

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat announced last week that Citi is going deep in green technology. Citi “will lend, invest and facilitate $100 billion over 10 years for projects ranging from energy, to clean tech, to water, to green infrastructure. Simply put, it is a $100 billion investment in sustainable growth.” That all this reflects the No. 1 domestic priority of the Obama Administration is no doubt a coincidence.

Citigroup says it has already met a 2007 objective of raising $50 billion for “climate friendly projects.” With Mr. Corbat’s announcement it will add $100 billion by looking for “opportunities to finance greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and resource efficiency in other sectors, such as sustainable transportation.”

We don’t doubt there will be such projects worthy of financing when the planets of market economics align. But green projects not subsidized by taxpayers have been at a price disadvantage for years, and their competitiveness isn’t likely to improve as the price of oil and natural gas declines.

Shaping a lending policy around a green agenda while the politics and science of climate change remain controversial and the technology of fossil-fuel extraction is advancing rapidly seems like a recipe for raising risk.

WSJ Editorial

 on: March 03, 2015, 09:10:14 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Short video at the link.  Sharyl Attkisson's interviews the guy who found the Gruber Obamacare videos.

A financial adviser who lost his health insurance plan looked into the ACA.  Why couldn't the mainstream media do this research or figure this out before it all hit?

 on: March 03, 2015, 08:56:35 AM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by DougMacG
I humbly suggest that you are missing a piece of the pie here.

IMHO her critique overlaps more than a little with our Liberal Fascism critique-- which also addresses rent seekers, corruption of the political process by favored business interests and the like.

"Nearly all would buy into this"


WE should be making some of these points AND offering actual solutions.

Agree in part.  Yes, most certainly, rent seekers and corruption of the political process by favored business interests should be OUR attack on THEIR system. 

Her attacks on capitalism and free enterprise however do not hold up to scrutiny.  Free enterprise and constitutional capitalism does not favor special interests over the interests of those not connected and powerful; it is the exact opposite.  In a free society, the government does not get in bed with one business over another.  They can cooperate only in the open, public bidding system of providing a product or service to the government.  The government is the referee, not the participant, yet her side partners up with interest after interest, with auto makers, health insurers, the mortgage industry, the solar cronies, the colleges and everything up to the marriage industry.  Her claims are laden with factual errors and her proposals or solutions make each of these problems worse. 

Candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are running campaigns expressly on the concept of upward mobility which IMO does address specifically the problem of stagnation of the middle class.  I know what is holding me back, regulation and taxes, and I know that what is holding back the formation of new small businesses that will create and grow the better jobs is over-taxation and over-regulation, as unexciting and cliche as that may sound.  As Rubio has said, the giant, entrenched corporations with compliance departments can deal with all of that, but a startup business run out of spare bedroom cannot.

The great growth of the Obama administration she brags of is 2% growth and more than 100% of that came out of fracking which she and Obama vehemently oppose.  What is left if they prevailed in those states is decline.  They passed their big bank regulations, their health monstrosity - the largest wealth transfer in history, their tax rate increases in two dozen different ways and a hundred thousand new regulations and the result was that middle class income is stuck and income inequality widened.  Her answer now is the same as Hillary's, do more of the same, double down on failure.  Every economic statistic and every symptom of a private economy weighed down by a bloated public sector is another reason for her to make further increases to the size and scope of central government.  That carries the day when our messengers are Boehner and McConnell in the context of committee and floor votes on liberal policies through the filter of reading it in the mainstream media.  We haven't had a leader in a very long time who could reach the people articulate the other side of it and now we have several of them.  That is why I have tried to get out early in support of whoever can best express the link between freedom and prosperity and define the differences between that and the Elizabeth Warren mindset. 

I would like to come back to her rant, point by point, and expose the deceptions and contradictions within it.  Median income stays stagnant even during growth, for one reason, because we have added tens of millions of new people to the country at the low end.  People stay off the lower steps of the economic ladder because we offer them more not to work.  Disability is the fastest growing profession of the Obama economy.  The greatest building block to economic success is marriage and the liberal culture wars have decimated that.  She opposes the entire concept of an economic ladder, saying that all who work should be fully compensated regardless of value.  Some people stuck on the line between programs and work face effective tax rates on their next dollar of income earned greater than 100%.  Worst of all is the dearth of real, new business startups which is hidden by the fact that most LLC new filings are just people trying to protect existing assets from liability.

She is missing a link in her liberal economic logic.  She says the top 10% or top 1% experienced all of this success, but she doesn't follow it with what is stopping the rest from doing that too!  It isn't the wealth and success of some that is limited the economic opportunities for the middle class; it is the programs and policies she espouses that are doing that.

I am all ears to learning of solutions beyond giving people back some of the freedom and responsibility to take care of themselves and their own families.

 on: March 03, 2015, 07:38:27 AM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by DougMacG
One pundit said that people like Rubio can overcome the cash disadvantage they have compared to establishment candidates by taking interviews like this one with a television station in New Hampshire and staying until the last question is answered.  No handlers, no script, no podium, this didn't cost him anything except a trip to the studio.  It ran on NH tv and was covered by a Florida newspaper.

 on: March 03, 2015, 12:15:51 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

The Liberal Circus
March 2, 2015 7:30 am / 9 Comments / victorhanson

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media
This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Lately liberalism has gone from psychodrama to farce.

Take Barack Obama. He has gone from mild displeasure with Israel to downright antipathy. Suddenly we are in a surreal world where off-the-record slurs from the administration against Benjamin Netanyahu as a coward and chickensh-t have gone to full-fledged attacks from John Kerry and Susan Rice, to efforts of former Obama political operatives to defeat the Israeli prime minister at the polls, to concessions to Iran and to indifference about the attacks on Jews in Paris. Who would have believed that Iranian leaders who just ordered bombing runs on a mock U.S. carrier could be treated with more deference than the prime minister of Israel? What started out six years as pressure on Israel to dismantle so-called settlements has ended up with a full-fledged vendetta [1] against a foreign head of state.

Hillary Clinton likewise has gone from a rather run-of-the-mill liberal grandee to a political grafter [2]. She apparently solicited donations from foreign government officials and wealthy foreign nationals to contribute to the Clinton Foundation — and this was while she was secretary of State conducting the foreign policy of the United States. If those charges are proven accurate, how could she ever be trusted to become commander in chief? Unfortunately, in the last year almost every cause that Hillary Clinton has taken up has been belied by her own actions.

Inequality and fairness? At time when students struggle under a collective $1 trillion-plus student debt, much of it because of universities hiking fees and tuitions above the inflation rate, Hillary has serially charged universities well over $200,000 [3] for 30-minute boilerplate speeches.

Women’s issues? We learn that women on Senator Clinton’s staff once made considerably less than their male counterparts [4]. Had Bill Clinton worked at a university, corporation or government bureau, his sexual peccadillos long ago would have had him thrown off the premises. The latest disclosures about his junkets with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein [5] are so bizarre that no one quite knows what to make of them — the would-be first female and feminist president married to a man who serially cavorted with a convicted sexual pervert?

Transparency? Consider the recent disclosures that Hillary knew almost immediately that the Benghazi killings were the preplanned work of terrorists and not due to spontaneous rioters angry over a video — and yet continued to deceive the public that just the opposite was true. The problem with Hillary’s scandals are not just that they reveal a lack of character, but that they are illiberal to the core on hallmark progressive issues of concern for equality, transparency and feminism.

We no longer live in an age of debate over global warming. It has now transmogrified well beyond Al Gore’s hysterics, periodic disclosures about warmists’ use of faked data, embarrassing email vendettas, vindictive lawsuits, crony green capitalism, and flawed computer models. Now Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, has taken the psychodrama to the level of farce in a two-bit McCarthyesque effort [6] to demand from universities information about scientists who do not embrace his notions of manmade global warming. Where are the ACLU and fellow Democratic congressional supporters of free speech and academic freedom to censure such an Orwellian move? Finally, even the American Meteorological Society had to condemn the unhinged Grijalva for his bizarre efforts.

Attorney General Eric Holder came into office alleging racism and calling the American people cowards, and six years later is exiting, still blaming racism for his own self-inflicted failures. In between, Holder became the first attorney general to be cited for contempt by Congress. He stonewalled the Fast and Furious investigations. His plans to try terrorists in federal civilian courts were tabled almost immediately. He ordered electronic taps and surveillance on the communications of Associated Press and Fox reporters for supposed leaks.  He ignored wrongdoing in the IRS mess, a scandal that continues to grow. He got caught using his government jet [7] to take his daughters and their boyfriends to the Belmont Stakes.

But Holder will be remembered largely for his racialist tenure. He dropped a strong case of voting intimidation by armed Black Panthers at the polls. In congressional testimony, he referred to blacks as “my people”; anyone else — except Joe Biden — who had said the same would have been asked to resign. He promised federal action on Ferguson and the Trayvon Martin shootings — and then quietly backed off when the evidence for civil rights violations did not meet his own rhetorical excesses. The problem, he pleaded, was not that his targets were not guilty under the law, but that the law itself had to be changed to make them guilty.  Holder claimed repeatedly that opposition to Obama was race-based, and he leaves office as a caricature of incompetence and racial divisiveness.

The IRS scandal likewise went from melodrama to farce. The president said there was not a “smidgeon” of corruption in the selective targeting of conservatives. Lois Lerner, the focus of investigations, pled the Fifth Amendment after having received over $100,000 in merit bonuses. When congressional investigators wanted to subpoena her computer records, IRS officials claimed both that her hard drive  had crashed and that its data was unrecoverable. The latter proved untrue; but then so far so has everything the IRS has said. The only lesson is that any private citizen who replied to IRS inquiries in the manner that the IRS responded to public subpoenas would be jailed.

Debt? Barack Obama stated out in 2008 calling George W. Bush unpatriotic for piling up nearly $5 trillion in eight years; he may be on target to double that amount — and trump the combined red ink of all prior presidents. Obama raised taxes, slashed defense, and still ended up with over a $500 billion annual deficit, as he declared the age of austerity over.

So it has become with most liberal issues. The debate over illegal immigration has gone from arguments over closing the border to Social Security cash rebates to illegals and presidential threats to punish Border Patrol officers who enforce existing law. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf assures us that poverty and unemployment are catalysts to terrorism [8], just as so-called Jihadi John, the psychotic ISIS beheader, is revealed to be a preppie British subject[9] from the upper middle class. The president brags that gas prices have gone down because frackers ignored his efforts to stop them — and then vetoes the Keystone Pipeline.

The Trayvon Martin controversy descends from the purportedly preteen of released photos who was shot down in cold blood by a white vigilante into doctored NBC tapes, airbrushed photos, the New York Times’ invented rubric “white Hispanic,” the president weighing in on Trayvon’s shared racial appearance, girlfriend Rachel Jeantel’s explanation of Trayvon’s violence as a sort of homophobic act of “whoop ass” — only to be echoed by MSNBC talking head Melissa Harris-Perry’s ugly sanction of violence on Martin Luther King Day with the amplification of Jeantel’s term “whoop”:  “I hope [Martin] whooped the sh-it out of George Zimmerman [10].” It would be hard for a satirist to make all that up.

Michael Brown goes from the icon of a “gentle giant” in vain calling out “hands up, don’t shoot” only to be gunned down by a white racist cop — to a thug who strong-armed a store clerk, walked out into the middle of the road under the influence and then attacked a police officer. Conspiracists once warned us that the government was buying up ammo to prevent private gun owners from purchasing it; now we learn that Obama by executive order may ban [11] the most popular type of sporting ammunition. Is there one element of Obamacare that has not been modified, delayed, or ignored — from the employer mandate to the fine for noncompliance?

Why this descent into travesty?

The liberal left got what it wanted in 2009 with a supermajority in the Senate and large majority in the House, a subservient mainstream media, the good will of the American people, and the most liberal president in American history. It only took that the liberal hierarchy six years to erode the Democratic Party to levels that we have not seen since the 1920s. Almost every policy initiative we have seen — whether climate change, foreign policy, health care, or race relations — has imploded.

The answer to these failures has not been introspection, humility, or reevaluation why the liberal agenda proved unpopular and unworkable, but in paranoid fashion to double-down on it, convinced that its exalted aims must allow any means necessary — however farcical —  to achieve them.

The logical result is the present circus.

 on: March 03, 2015, 12:05:16 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

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