Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Six Word Saturday 2-27

Squaredanced with a granddaughter last night.


(I have very heavy legs today.)



Friday, February 26, 2010

What the Hell? Friday

Consider the swastika.  You know what it looks like, so I don't need to picture it here.

Prior to being co-opted by the German Nazis as a symbol of alleged racial superiority, hatred, dominance, war, and genocide, it had been prominent in German culture since the mid 19th century as a symbol of German heritage, unity, and racial pride, due to its roots in Aryan culture.  Thus a symbol that is good, or at least neutral in this context, was morphed into a symbol for the greatest evil of modern times.

The word swastika goes back to to Sanskrit, so the idea of an Aryan connection is valid.  But it was also used in other cultures all over the world, including by the original natives of North America.  By no means can the Aryan claim be considered exclusive.  Up until the 1930's, nobody would have seen any negative connotation to the swastika.  In fact, a former home of mine had a mosaic of ceramic tiles in the foyer, and one of the repeating border designs was a swastika.  This house was built in the 1920's.

Since antiquity, the swastika was a symbol of the sun, light, life, hope and good fortune.   The Nazis corrupted it to their own evel ends.  It is highly unlikely it will ever be rehabilitated.

I have drawn on this source for the above information, and am also happy to report that there is no evidence that Rabbit Maranviille was a Nazi.  Hat tip to Silbey at Edge of the West.
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Crossword Puzzle Blogging

 Friday, February 26, 2010   Doug Peterson

Theme: C and H kick S.

Each theme answer is a common phrase, where a final "S" has been replaced with a "CH" to humorous effect.  Do you think they're GROANERS?  I loved them all!


20. Taking pictures of potatoes and pasta?:  SHOOTING STARCH, from "shooting stars."  Watch your carbs

30. Trapdoor in an Old West saloon?:  COWBOY HATCH, from "cowboy hat." Ten gallon capacity

40. Group of show-offs?:  HOT DOG BUNCH, from "hot dog buns."  

54. Spiel from a maestro?:   ORCHESTRA PITCH, from "orchestra pit.

HI THERE gang.  I've been in a few orchestra pits, and occasionally have trouble with pitch, so I can relate.  It's JazzBumpa, your KEMOSABE trombonist.   I had all kinds of trouble, and went for red letters all over the place.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Republicans: All Wrong, All the Time, Pt. 12 - Taxes and Revenues

 The liars at the Heritage Foundation will tell you that lowering taxes increases federal Revenues.

A New York Times article, Deficit Spending Can Help Republicans, by Daniel Altman, shows that old, wrong assumptions die hard. The article reports that:
"From the beginning of 2001 through the third quarter of 2002, the federal government leapt from a surplus (including Social Security) amounting to 2.3 percent of gross domestic product to a deficit of the same size. By itself, the current deficit is not terribly threatening. Indeed, running a modest deficit during an economic downturn can be useful, as long as the policies behind the deficit — lower taxes and higher spending — benefit consumers and businesses."
The article then claims that the 1980s Reagan tax cuts failed to increase tax revenues;
"The White House says lower tax rates will lead consumers to work more and businesses to expand, resulting in higher tax revenues and eventually closing the budget gap. That notion, chided as "voodoo economics" by critics, turned out to be false when it was last in vogue, during the 1980's."
However, the numbers, crunched by Heritage's Brian Riedl, show otherwise (see chart below). In 1980, the last year before the tax cuts, tax revenues were $956 billion (in constant 1996 dollars).
Revenues exceeded that 1980 level in eight of the next 10 years. Annual revenues over the next decade averaged $102 billion above their 1980 level (in constant 1996 dollars).



They even offer this chart as proof!  (Click the link, expressed in constant 1996 dollars.)  But the real Voodoo is in achieving an actual reduction in revenues, as they did according to the Heritage Foundation figures in 1982 and (quire dramatically) 1983, in the context of an economy that has achieved 3.7% annual growth for 200 years!

And that is key.  Every year the population grows.  Almost every year the economy grows.  There is inflation in the background, most of the time.  In fact, the compounded annual growth rate of federal tax revenues from 1970 through 2008 was just slightly over 7%.   (Current dollars, not inflation adjusted.)

Here is reality, presented in non-inflation adjusted dollars   Data from the Congressional Budget Office.


Actual revenues are shown on the broken red and blue line, with segments color-coded to indicate the party of the White House occupant.  The purple curved line is the 7% growth line, starting in 1970.   The pink line is the best-fitting straight line.  Each President's term has also been overlayed with a best fitting straight line. In retrospect, these straight lines don't tell us much of anything. 

One interesting facet of this display is that most of it lies well above the 7% growth curve.  This is entirely due to increases during the Carter and Clinton administrations, as a visual inspection reveals, and we will also prove mathematically.

Here is the compounded  annual growth rate of tax revenues, by President, over the 1970 to 2008 period.


Well, Nixon and Ford managed to top the long period average by a slight margin, but they were not under the thrall of Voodoo Economists.  Neither was Clinton.  Bush I wasn't either, but he inherited Reagan's vultures.  Look at Reagan's revenue growth rate: 5.35%.  Consider that average inflation over Reagan's years was 4.56%, and GDP growth averaged 3.4%.  Under those circumstances, revenue growth should have been at least 7.96%, not a paltry 5.35%.  The average compounded growth in constant 1996 dollars, using the Heritage Foundation table is 2.38%.  This is more than a full percentage point below real GDP growth. 

Bush II's revenue growth rate was 3.01%.  But inflation averaged 2.84% and GDP growth averaged an anemic 2.16.  Together they total 5.0%.  So, Republican tax revenue growth cannot even match the inflation adjusted level of growth in the economy.


Many years ago, my dad told me that figures don't lie, but liars sure know how to figure.  The bullshit you get from the Heritage Foundation is exactly what he was talking about.  It's another example of the conservative ploy of willfully denying reality.

Which is just one more reason why WE ARE SO SCREWED.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deficits and Inflation -- No Relationship

In comments, J raised the question about time lags, as related to economic measurements.  This is timely, since It's pretty clear that the economic results for 2009 belong largely to Bush II.  The current President, B. Hoover Obama is doing far too little in the current climate, so 2010 and beyond belong to him and the DemoPublican Congress, just like they have taken ownership of the Bush wars.

My guess is that this, like everything else in economics, is non-constant.  In the kind of economic doldrums we are now experiencing, the delay preceding a first order effect could be years.  And there may be lingering and/or cumulative effects over far greater time spans.  Recovery from the bottom of the other great depression took from 6 to 20 years, depending on how you chose to define things.  (I'm in the 7 to 8 year camp, if you're curious.)

With all of that in mind, here is a closer look at inflation and deficits since 1990.  This is based on more recent data than the previous post.  I carelessly grabbed 2005 data for deficits, and recent years were estimated.  Estimates through '08 were actually pretty close.  But this graph is based on more recent data from the Congressional Budget Office.


This is mainly for information.  I have no particular ax to grind or conclusion to draw at the moment, other than to say that if there is a relationship between inflation and deficits, it is quite elusive. The correlation coefficient for the data spanning from 1951 to 2009 is -0.0468, which is no correlation at all.

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Haiku Wednesday

VISION

How does second sight
Work for those visionaries
Who wear bifocals?


Join the fun!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Inflation and Deficits

Here is a graph of inflation and deficits as a percentage of GDP, from 1951 through 2009.  Deficits can be presented a lot of different ways: current dollars, constant dollars, per capita, or as a GDP percentage.  The latter is convenient here, since the percentage data can be graphed with inflation using a single scale.


Inflation is indicated by the top line, deficits (and the occasional surplus) by the bottom line. Red and blue indicate the party of the president, blue for Dem, red for Rep.

In a broad-brush way, the era of high inflation corresponds with the Reagan era of high deficits.  This seems intuitively obvious, but at a detail level, the opposite picture emerges.  Until the beginning of Clinton's first term, increasing inflation corresponded with a smaller deficit in a given year, while lower inflation corresponded with a bigger deficit in that year.  The yellow arrows indicate some of this.

Clinton gave us continuously decreasing deficits, and finally 4 years of surpluses, including 2001.  (It took Bush a few months to derail the economy.  His first year reversed the increasing surplus trend.  Deficits followed.)

The large deficits under Bush did not correspond to high inflation.  I attribute this to powerful secular deflationary forces that countered the inflationary thrust of the deficits.  My fear is that the deflationary trend is now so powerful that the economy will be swamped in the absence of decisive action.  This, of course, is not likely to be forthcoming.  President B. Hoover Obama is too conservative to seriously mount a New Deal style initiative, and the American population, after decades of lies and stupidity put forth by Repugnicants and Reich-Fluegel talk show hosts, is too damned ignorant to understand that this is exactly the economic environment for aggressive Keynesianism.

Bottom Line:  Se are SO screwed.

_________________________________
Inflation data from The Inflation Data Website
Budget data from the GPO

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Monday, February 22, 2010

More Recent Income Distribution

In case anyone is interested, here is more recent information.  Last data point is 2006.




Crypto-Republican Bill Clinton continued to do wonders for the upper crust.  Not so for the residue in the bottom of the loaf pan.

Why-oh-why do Repugnicants and Wingers hate Clinton with such fervent passion when he was so very kind to them?

UPDATE:  Here's a clue.  Jamie in the quote can serve as a generic Regressive proxy.

In any case, however, I suspect that the central problem is that Jamie is mirror-imaging liberals. Jamie has made a career of anti-liberal contrarianism; he's not terribly bright and doesn't have any ideas of his own, but when he can manage to successfully figure out what progressives think, he astutely takes the opposite position. While this doesn't differentiate him from most other contemporary conservative journalists, he is almost striking in his emptiness; there's literally nothing there beyond the hatred for whatever he believes liberals want.

Reagan Era Income Distribution

I think we can, without too much argument, define the middle class as the middle income quintile.

This graph plots the top income level of the first four quitiles.  Data from The U.S. Census Bureau.


The middle class is bounded by the pink and yellow lines.  The top income of the middle quartile did not crack through the $30,000 ceiling until 1984.  Stated another way, until 1984, $30,000 was above the top of middle class income.

The next graph indicates the tops of four quintiles, and the bottom limit of the of the top 5%.


In 1980, it only took $50,000 to burst into the top 5%.  With the passage of time, the spreading of the lines indicates the increasing wealth disparity, which is among the most prominent aspects of the Reagan legacy.

The slopes of the various lines indicate how much your income would have to increase at various levels to avoid sliding down through the social strata.

And slide they did -- at the bottom, anyway.  This post shows that Reagan and Bush I were pretty good at increasing the poverty rolls.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Income Tax Changes in the Reagan Era

OK.  I really don't want to hear any more about Reagan having done much to help the middle class.  Or about offsets, either.  Here it is, graphically.  Data is from The Tax Foundation.  Graphs, by me, at an expense of considerable time and effort, I might add.  This is based on the tables for a married couple, filing jointly.

First, Tax rates at various income levels. This is based on taxable income, after exemptions, exclusions, deductions, and whatever, etc. and so forth.  This is the bottom line number you take to the tax tables.  Each line represents the tax rate for a given income level, over a time span from 1978 to 1994, to bracket the Reagan - Bush I era..    This not the effective rate - it is the marginal rate, paid on the last dollar earned.



Two features stand out.  First is bracket collapse.  By 1988 there are (effectively) only three brackets.  From '88 through '90, at some high level, the top rate reverted to 28%.   By way of contrast, in 1978, there were 26 brackets! 

Second is the imposition of the income tax on the absolute lowest earners.  In 1987 the zero bracket was eliminated.  By 1988, someone earning $1 was paying the same marginal rate, 15%, as someone earning $20,000.  So much for offsets!

There is some decline in rate during the early '80's at the $10,000 and $20,000 levels.  But remember, these years were characterized by high inflation.  Cost of living adjustments and other negotiated wage increases caused bracket creep as nominal wages increased.  More on this later.

In 1980, $20,000 was not a shabby wage, placing an earner well into the third quintile, which spanned wage levels of $17,510 to $24,800.   Income quintile data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The second graph shows the actual amount of tax paid for various levels of taxable income.  Taxable income levels shown are $3000 (dark blue), $5000 (pink), $10,000 (yellow), $20,000 (blue), and $30,000 (purple.)   To put the effects of inflation and bracket creep into perspective, the red line shows the actual amount paid at the top of the second income quintile.  That might be a decent proxy for someone in the middle class.


Tax paid by the $20,000 earner decreases from $3225 in 1981 to $2371 in 1986.  This trend reversed with the tax reconciliation act of 1986.  By 1988, he was paying $3000.  Of course, unless he was getting regular wage increases, he was also being devoured by inflation.

Meanwhile, the $30,000 earner (purple line,) well into the 4th quintile in 1980, saw his taxes go down, and stay down.  Though by 1988, he was only in the lower third of the third quintile.  By 1993, he sank further, to the top of the second quintile.  The point is that income in the $20 to 30K range was pretty decent for a middle class family in 1980, but not so much by 1988.

Now, one last graph, showing the effects on some high income earners.

 

Because, you see, everything we've looked at so far is decimal dust.  While the changing tax code might have thrown a few hundred bucks at someone making $20,000, the change from 1980 to 1988 reduced the tax burden by $71,724 for someone earning $250,000.   The amount he paid is shown in the orange line.  Even the decrease for the $50,000 earner (brown), which might seem considerable ($14,778 in 1980, $10,133 in 1998) pales into insignificance.  In fact, the reduction from $41,998 to $25,338 for a $100,000 (green) earner is paltry by comparison.  These are people who were doing very well, indeed.  In 1980, $50,000 placed an earner deeply into the top quintile.

An important point needs to be re-emphasized.  This is all based on TAXABLE INCOME.  The rich have many loopholes and tax avoidance schemes which are simply not available to those at lower pay scales.  If someone has taxable income of $250,000 you can bet his total income is a hell of a lot higher.

Nor does this account for capital gains taxes, which are levied at even lower rates.  Again, access to this favored bracket is severely limited for the non-wealthy.

Another thing not considered here is the concurrent increases in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare

So, as ugly a picture as these graphs present, the reality is far worse.
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Sunday Music Blogging - 2/21



I love this song. There's nothing more to say.

Shadow Shot Sunday - 2/21



A stately giraffe
At quiet repose, resting
In mottled shadows


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Six Word Saturday - 02/20

Playing Wii with some granddaughters today!


Olympic hockey tomorrow - three huge games.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 11 Ronald Reagan: Flaming Liberal

Was Ronald Reagan a flaming liberal.   Well . . . No.

But whatever you think about the Reagan presidency, after all these years, is probably wrong.  You see, on some important issues, he was to the LEFT of B. Hoover Obama.

I, on the other hand, thought he was an absolutely awful president.  See - I got it right.

Mostly, anyway.

And the good things about Reagan's presidency - lets be fair, there are some - are things the modern right would reject, without a second thought.  Or even a first one, since they are knee-jerk reactionaries, not thinkers.

Notable quote:

In the short term, Reagan’s profligate ways led to higher interest rates that slowed productively and eventually plunged the nation into a recession around 1990, leaving George H.W. Bush to deal with the mess. Policy makers had little room to maneuver in that 1990-91 recession because of the large deficits. Ultimately, both Bush 41 and Bill Clinton mounted a major effort to undo Reaganomics, including the breach of the “no new taxes” pledge that helped turn the senior Bush into a one-term president. Contrary to what Cheney said, deficits did matter, which is why the mythmaking and its influence in Bush 43’s reckless ways is so disturbing.

Click here for a short, to the point video.

The distortion of the Reagan legacy (thank you, Grover Norquist) into the the Reagan MYTH is one of the real tragedies of the late 2oth century, and also one of the reasons why we are SO screwed today.

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What the Hell? Friday -- Part 3

(From drought to bonaza. You just never know.)

I do not care about the private life of anyone named Woods!

This is not about "leave him the hell alone."

This is about "leave ME the hell alone."

Thank you very much.

Update:  Tempting, but even THIS (though hilarity ensues) is not enough to change my mind.

What the Hell? Friday -- Part 2

Now THIS is more like it!





It's not the first time a zebra has been spotted along a metro Atlanta highway. In April 2008, a 2- to 3-month old zebra was found injured along Interstate 75. Authorities said at the time they thought the young zebra had likely fallen from a truck passing through Georgia and was then hit by a car.


Police who worked that incident kept referring to the animal as "Evidence," and that becoming his name.


Evidence was rushed to the veterinary school at Auburn University in Alabama, where he underwent several operations. He was then taken to the Noah's Ark animal rescue center in Locust Grove, Ga., where he still lives.

As if the traffic on I-75 in Atlanta weren't bad enough already!

What the Hell?!? Friday -- Totally Non-Original

I have a cold, and am not capable of duplicating last week's questionable brilliance. So, either on a whim, or out of desperation, I googled "What the Hell," and found - along with a lot of interesting stuff I don't want on my blog, THIS interesting photo blog.

Whence I borrowed the following picture. Go to the linked site for other quasi-real weirdness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Haiku Wednesday


RENOVATION


For those with many thumbs,
These projects are best hired out
To ones who are skilled.


Join the fun!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Republicans - All Wrong All the Time, Pt 10 - The Futility of Stimulus



Red alert for job losses under Bush.  Still having the Blues under Obama - but doesn't it look like we might be moving in the right direction?

Disturbingly symmetric, isn't it.  Do you think policy might matter?

Find the original (as far as I know) graph here.

Next Wave of Foreclosures

More foreclosure are looming on the horizon, and these buzzards will come to roost* over the next 18 months.  There are three sources; Option ARMS, the prime jumbo basket, and the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) where only 2/3 of borrowers are current on their payments.

This is one of the many reason why I am so deeply pessimistic about the near to medium term future.

___________________________________________________________
* And I am not above mixing metaphors.  

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This Modern World

Just ran across this, by accident, somewhere: The GOP's surefire 11-point plan for success.

The comments are worth reading, especially this one by a right wing troll.

It's almost a year old.  But when snarking Regressives, it's always accurate, because they never change.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday - 2/15



One fragile pansy
Autumn's last bold gold blossom
Amid fallen leaves


MellowYellowMondayBadge

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Music Blogging - 2/14

Jerome Richardson's GROOVE MERCHANT is little more than a riff tune.  Thad Jones' fabulous arrangement makes it something special.  Thad was brutal to his reed players, and liked to write thick line sax solis with soprano lead, and this is a terrific example.  The shout chorus at around the seven minute mark displays his sophisticated ensemble writing.

Best of all these guys are having FUN!  This is 9 minutes very well spent.


Shadow Shot Sunday, Feb. 14



Meanwhile, at the beach
Digging for buried treasure;
Who knows what they'll find?







Saturday, February 13, 2010

Six Word Saturday - 2/13

Olympics opening ceremony - One HUGE bore.





Friday, February 12, 2010

What the Hell?!? Friday Redux - Interesting Picture

Something to reflect on:  Classic Leg Photo can be found here.

What the Hell?!? Friday - All Original Tom Swifties

"Clinton didn't waste any time getting that angioplasty," Tom said, instantly.

"Beating a dead what?" Tom said, hoarsely.

"So what if I entered through the window," Tom said, indifferently.

"Look how smooth I've made this plank," Tom said, plainly.

"I'm tired of carpentry," Tom said, feeling board.

"Here is the sum of all your numbers," Tom added.
 
"You're too stout, Tom said, emphatically.

"I'm in bed," Tom lied.

"I spent the night with a call girl," Tom said, horribly.

"She's not the one I met in the bar," Tom said, tartly.

"I'm the one who let her in," Tom admitted.

"I've located a highly-paid expert," Tom said, profoundly.

"What is your orientation?" Tom queried, gayly.

"Well, here I am, alone on the glacier," Tom said, isolatedly.

This might be the clumsiest of all Tom Swifties: "I didn't mean to knock your teeth out with my wood chopper," Tom said, accidentally.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Color Test



You Are Colorful Because You Are Bold





You have a true sense of adventure, and you are always off trying something new.

You get as afraid as anyone else, but you resist that little voice in the back of your head that tells you to give up.



You are likely very goal oriented and driven. You are willing to give everything your all, even if success is a long shot.

You like to be in the middle of the action, and you hate to miss an opportunity. You rather fail than not try at all.


This is mostly true, except I am process oriented, rather than goal oriented, and a bit too lazy to be truly driven.  I do have a tendency to order the thing on the menu that I've never heard of.

Quote of the Day

From Earth bound Misfit, with a hat tip to Bad Tux.

Sen. Mitch McConnell said that the weather was interfering with the operation of the government. He was probably miffed because that's his job.

Deep Stupid #16 - Republican in Everything BUT Name


That's right folks, today's honored guest is none other than President Barack Hoover Obama.

I'm kinda busy today, doing meanial tasks around the house, so I'll turn it over to Krugman.

There’s good reason to feel outraged at the growing appearance that we’re running a system of lemon socialism, in which losses are public but gains are private. And at the very least, you would think that Obama would understand the importance of acknowledging public anger over what’s happening.

But no. If the Bloomberg story is to be believed, Obama thinks his key to electoral success is to trumpet “the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic policies.”

We’re doomed.

I like Krugman, but sometimes he is just too polite, and has a tendency for understatement.

Here is Simon Johnson.


This is the antithesis of a free-market system.  Not only were their banks saved by government action in 2008-09 but the overly generous nature of this bailout (details here) means that the playing field is now massively tilted in favor of these banks.  (I put this to Gerry Corrigan of Goldman and Barry Zubrow of JP Morgan when we appeared before the Senate Banking Committee last week; there was no effective rejoinder.)

Not only that, but the incentives for the people running these megabanks is now to take on reckless amounts of risk.  They get the upside (for example, in these compensation packages) and – when the downside materializes – this is belongs to taxpayers and everyone who loses a job.  (See my testimony to the Senate Budget Committee yesterday; there was no disagreement among the witnesses or even across the aisle between Senators on this point.)
.   .   .   
What we have now is not a free market.  It is rather one of the most complete (and awful) instances ever of savvy businessmen capturing a state and the minds of the people who run it.  Is this really what the president seeks to endorse?

Et, tu, Simon.
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Photo URL: 
http://dimpost.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/barack_obama.jpg
Source:  The Dim Post

Haiku Wednesday

Comfort Zone

Comfort Zones are safe.
Growth - at the margin - risky.
Take a chance - burst out!


Some think that I'm strange.
My drummer and I revel
In our uniqueness.


Join the fun!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If you invent a better indicator . . .

I haven't exactly gone on a quest, but via Mish (in a link I've lost from about 10-12 days ago, due to a computer freeze up{non-weather related} this morning) somebody he mentioned likes the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CF-NIA) which can be found here.

I like to make my own graphs, so here is my presentation of their data.  The faint gray line is the actual data, which is reported on a monthly basis.  The blue curve is a 12 month moving average.  Red and blue horizontal line segments represent the time spans of Democratic (blue) and Republican (red) presidents.


Hmmm, though.  Doesn't the shape of those gyrations look a bit familiar?


Here in green is the CF-NAI data, presented as the average value for each year, along side GDP Year over Year growth, presented in Red and Blue, per president.  The slanted straight lines are best fits in green and purple, respectively.  Not exactly lock-step, but lots of similarity, even at the detail level.   The correlation coefficient is an impressive .874.

Interestingly, the downward slope of the CF-NIA is steeper than that of GDP growth.

Does anybody have a better idea?

Meanwhile - WOW!  Are we screwed, or what?
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Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 9

The worst part about right wingery is not their ignorance, nor their arrogance; not even their cherrypicking nor their all-too-often-manifested deep stupidity.  No, it is their willful denial of reality.  Here is a beautiful example.

Last week, several top Republican officials accused Holder of essentially fabricating a claim that the Bush administration's Department of Justice successfully tried 300 individuals on terrorism-related charges using the criminal justice system.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) insisted, flat out, that the number wasn't true.
. . .
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called the claim "unsubstantiated"
. . .
Former Bush press secretary Dana Perino was even blunter, deeming Holder's assertion baffling. "The 300 number is as false as false gets," she declared.


Sadly, no, you lying Repugnicant Cretins.

Back in the FY 2009 Budget request submitted to Congress in 2008 (under the prior administration), it was the Bush DoJ which cited the 300+ figure. Not once, but twice -- as evidence of its success in combating and punishing terrorist activity.
.  .  .
Since 2001, the Department has increased its capacity to investigate terrorism and has identified, disrupted, and dismantled terrorist cells operating in the United States. These efforts have resulted in the securing of 319 convictions or guilty pleas in terrorism or terrorism-related cases 
.  .  .
Since September 11, 2001, the Department has charged 512 individuals with terrorism or terrorism-related crimes and convicted or obtained guilty pleas in 319 terrorism-related and anti-terrorism cases.‪‪


Unfortunately, what has been lost in this debate is that the U.S.Constitution guarantees due process to all persons, not just citizens.  The use of Military Tribunals is only valid in the case of a declared war, which we do not have.

The lying, stupid Repugnicant hypocrisy -- it BURNS!
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday - 2/08

Here is a companion photo for Sunday's Shadow Shot, taken the same autumn day in 2007.

With a winter storm predicted for tomorrow, some sunshine brightness is in order for now.

I don't have the mental wherewithall to compose a haiku today.  Lo siento.  Sunday's still works.



MellowYellowMondayBadge

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More About Taxes and GDP

The economic gurus at the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation or lots of other glibertarian think tanks and web sites will tell you that tax increases are bad for business, tax cuts good for business.

Let's explore.  No make-believe pseudo-correlations this time: actual taxes and real economic performance.  First off, here is a graph of top tax rate percentages, since 1950.   Red segments are years of Republican Presidents, Blue segments, Democratic Presidents.


Except for the Clinton years and a small blip at the end of the Johnson presidency, the track has been downward - relentlessly and dramatically.

Here is the same data, along with Year over Year GDP growth.


Yeah, it's busy, but you have the first, simpler graph for comparison.  And this is all about comparison.  I've shown GDP growth over the period time after time, but not in this context.  If lower taxes are good for the economy, GDP growth should be higher now than it was 50 years ago, after all these tax cuts.  Right?  Well, look what's happened.  GDP YoY percentage is shown on the rght hand scale, in brown.  GDP growth is an extremely volatile number.  But the best fit line has a clear downward slope.  Only one year since 1980 has presented a high number in the range of the highs in the 50's and 60's.

Let's zero in on St. Ronnie and the devil Clinton.


Two sizable tax cuts during the Reagan years led to two increases in GDP.  If you look at the detail and ignore the big picture.  The 7.2% GDP growth of 1982 occurred coming out of a recession.  The next uptick came in 1988, two years after the 1986 tax cuts, and only reached 4.1%.  After that, the bottom fell out   Clinton came in, there was a modest tax increase, and GDP recovered a bit.

There is nothing particularly conclusive about this, except for one simple fact.  The glibertarian tenet that tax cuts help the economy and tax increases hurt the economy simply cannot be supported by facts and data.  It is dogma: an ideology that cannot be squared with reality.

Just for kicks, here is the income level that kicks in the top tax rate.


 In 1988-90, the top tax rate kicked in at about $30,000.  So, somebody making a decent, but less than stellar income was paying at the same marginal rate as multimillionaires.   Sweet.  Clinton's administration wasted no time getting that top rate back close to where it belongs.  The result?  Modestly increased GDP growth and a balanced budget.  No wonder the Repugnicants hate him.

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Who Dat?

Alas, I can't find a way to embed the rather amusing video.


GEAUX SAINTS!

I love football, but god damn it I HATE the NFL.

Sunday Music Blogging - 2/07

Shadow Shot Sunday - 2/07

 

Swinging high and fast
Through the bright autumn sunlight.
What could be more fun?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

What the Hell?!? Friday -- Judgement to Rush

If you have an appetite for hate-filled, self-aggrandizing demagoguery, thrice divorced, Viagra toting, Hispaniola visiting misogynist Druggie Limbaugh never disappoints.


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This man is syndicated on over 600 radio stations, nation-wide, has over 20 million listeners, and influences the policies of the Repugnicant party.

We are SO screwed.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Republicans, All Wrong, All the time, Pt 7.3: Once more, With Failing

All right, I put together another stupid cloud plot.  This time I'm indulging myself.  There can't be much point beyond that.


Here we have, once again, our favorite meaningless non-correlation plot.  Blue dots are points for Democratic presidents; red dots for Republicans.  X axis is Tax receipts/GDP in a given year, Y axis is GDP growth for that same year. Operating on the theory that if it's good enough for Econ. Prof. Lazear, it's good enough  for an old trombonist, let's twist this to serve our purposes. 

The red and blue horizontal lines are averages for the 36 years of Republican presidents and 24 years of Democratic presidents, respectively, from 1950 through 2009.  The slanty lines are best fits for Repug and Demo data sets. The vertical yellow line is Lazear's average of Tax/GDP, the magical 18%.

Note the Inconvenient 2009 point, labeled "What the Hell?!?  Low Tax/GDP along with NEGATIVE GDP Growth.  Don't you love it when a lie crashes and burns?

Some mathechistic stuff:

Demos
Avg.  GDP Growth   4.19%  St. Dev.  2.36
Slope of best fit line  -0.33  Correlation coefficient  -0.20

Repugs
Avg.  GDP Growth  2.77%  St. Dev   2.32
Slope of best fit line  -1.17  Correlation coefficient  -0.45

 Some iron-clad, indisputable conclusions:
1) The average growth of GDP under a Democratic President  is 1.4% higher than under a Republican.
2)  In 25 years, the level of GDP will be about 30% higher if we elect Democrats than it would be if we were  to be stupid and evil (I'm quoting O'Really here) enough to elect Republicans.
3) Never mind that the Standard Deviation of either data set is larger than the difference between their averages.  Shhhhhh!
4) Lazear's point is that high Taxes/GDP causes lower GDP growth.  Well, the correlation coefficient for Repugs is -0.44.  Sadly, this is a weak correlation, but it's more than twice as large as the -0.20 correlation coefficient for Demos.  So: if his premise has any validity (Remember, it doesn't) it is valid only when a Repug is in the White House.  When a Demo is in residence, the meaningless non-correlation, such as it isn't, crumbles.  Damn.
5) Oh.  Slopes.  For Repugs, -1.17.  For Demos, -0.33.   That's right, folks, the slope is 3.5 times greater with a Repug. See point 4.

Have I forgotten anything?  If so, please don't tell me.  I'm sick to the teeth of the whole damned thing.

UPDATE:  Here is part 7.2.


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Focus on Opimization

I have reproduced below, in its entirety, my post from September 9, 2009, titled, Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 4.   What this illustrates is that a rising tide might float all yachts, but sometimes it swamps the dinghies.

As of 2008, wealth disparity was the greatest it has been since 1928.   Irrespective of whatever might be happening to GDP, Republican presidents thrust more people into poverty, Democratic presidents, even  Carter, get some people out of poverty.  The differences are stark.  Click on the chart to blow it up to a full page view.

 Update: Current productivity increases are stunning.  (From Delong again)


The flip side of the jobless recovery is a high productivity-growth recovery--and, with stagnant wages, a rise in the profit share...

Update 2:  The unemployment picture stays bleak.   But you knew that.
What do YOU think is happening to wealth distribution?

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Note the changes in the number of Americans living in poverty. The only big declines have happened during Democratic administrations. The first big decline on the chart was the result of the Kennedy/Johnson Great society. Nixon/Ford followed by Carter did little to affect poverty numbers. Reagan wasted no time in getting more people back into the chains of poverty. Though his irresponsible fiscal profligacy might have contributed to a slight decline after the initial surge, by the end of the Bush I term, poverty was almost back to the 1959 level. The next big decline in poverty occurred under Clinton. There was good and bad in the Clinton Presidency. This good thing was totally undone by Bush II.

Do you see any hope of this trend improving in the near future?

Note: I could only find an earlier version of this graph with data through 2007. So I grabbed the above chart from DeLong.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

St. Ronnie and Shrub get the Lazear Treatment

I'm doing this to indulge J.  Don't ask me why.  At least its an excuse to post more graphs.


First, here is a close-up of GDP Growth, YoY from '76 on.



The snakey red and blue line is a 13 Yr. Exponential Average.

Yea Clinton, Meh Reagan, Boo Bushes.  'Nuff said?

I've also done the Lazear cloud plot for Reagan and Bush II.  The results are not remarkable.

 


X axis is (Tax Receipts)/GDP for a specific year.  Y axis is GDP growth in that year.

Red dots are Reagan data points, Orange squares, Bush II.

Green line is best fit to all points, slope is -0.93, correlation coefficient is -0.46.  Meh!  Slope is steeper than for the entire historical data set, due to Reagan's outliers.  Correlation is weak at -0.46, and almost the same as for the entire set.

Blue line is best fit, after eliminating the two extreme Reagan outliers, which are probably flukes, anyway.

Red line is fit to St. Ronnie data only, orange line ditto for Shrub.

Average GDP Growth for each is shown in pink: 3.40% for St. R; 2.16% for the weed.

With the caveat that the data set is too small to be statistically robust, and the data are cherry picked out of a larger set, what does this suggest?    

Some guesses:
1)  Reagan was far better than Bush.  He wasted money on star wars, mostly at home. Shrub wasted money spending it in Iraq, while simultaneously causing an oil price shock that badly harmed our economy.
2)  The cumulative effect of Republican economic policies is making it ever more dificult to grow GDP.
3) The GDP growth trend line over time is grim.  Barack Hoover Obama is not likely to make it any better any time soon.

And a speculation:
Those who call themselves "Conservatives" revere Reagan and old Goldwater (the OTHER Barry.)  Each of them would be decried as flaming Librullz by today's whacked out wingnuts.
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Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 7.2

I took another look at Lazear's WSJ article that I so thoroughly pilloried in parts 7 and 7.1.  Quite frankly, it strikes me as being incoherent, but that's beside the point.  I was able to extract the conclusion that all of his foolish thought process seems to be driven by.  And note the sequence.  The conclusion drove the process.  I am fairly imaginative, but cannot construct any scenario where analysis of data could possibly lead to the conclusion that (Tax Receipts)/GDP inhibits GDP growth.  See my earlier posts.

Lazear posits:

The recent growth in spending has been camouflaged by a focus on deficits. Budgets and proposed legislation, like that on health care, are being judged not by their impact on spending and taxation, but by their projected effect on the deficit. Equal increases in spending and taxes reduce economic growth, even if they do not alter the deficit.

I added emphasis to the big lie he wants us to believe.  This isn't even very good mathematical chicanery.  I ripped it to shreds with nothing more than basic critical thinking skills, some Excel proficiency,  and a little bit of math knowledge.  Evidently right wingers - even those with teaching positions at highly regarded universities lack most of these.

Here is an afterthought.  I've often said that Clinton was the best Republican president since Ike.  I wonder though, if Ike might have actually been more economically liberal.  With Barack Hoover Obama, there can be no doubt.  He mainlines Reagan Koolaide.  The sad result is that Democrat is the new Republican.

So, what we can expect going forward is Republican-like economic performance from the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, Republicans have divorced themselves from reality.  Lazear is a prime example.  Beyond him you have the genuine loons: the Religious Right who derive from Jesus a message of hate, teabaggers who generate hate from their own infernal confusion engines, and the Reich-Wing  noise machine that constantly spews hate.

So, you see, on all fronts, we are pretty badly SCREWED.
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Haiku Wednesday

This is dedicated to Republicans, Libertarians, teabaggers, and all followers of Glenn, Rush, and Sean.

REALITY

When REALITY
Met IDEOLOGY, poor
REALITY lost!

Update: Dedicated to those who are tired of Winter.

It can be too cold,
Too dry, but REALITY
Is as right as rain!

Update 2:  Dedicated to those who feel uncertainty.

Reality is
Ambiguity, beauty
Maybe - and what else?


Join the fun!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 8

Having done more than my share over the last 24 hours, I'll just turn it over to Delong.

But I can't resist lifting this quote:

And, of course, left out of Hennessey's "analysius" is the explanation that the weakness of the economy is also the reason that the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to climb over the next five years: the debt-to-GDP ratio ought to climb during periods of national emergency--resisting an invasion, fighting a major war, suffering a depression, et cetera. Hennessey and his peers in the George W. Bush administration share with the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations the singular distinction of having run the only administration to raise the debt-to-GDP ratio without resisting an invasion, without fighting a major war, without suffering a depression.

Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 7.1

To further illustrate the idiocy of Ed Lazear's claims in his WSJ article, I've done some more playing with the numbers.  I also got a new data set for GDP growth, so values through 2009 are included, based on chained 2005 dollars. I also found estimates of  Taxes/GDP for 2009 of 15.1 and 15.4 %.  I used 15.4%, since the higher number favors Lazear's case, though the difference is decimal dust.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Republicans - All Wrong, All the Time, Pt 7

Brad Delong announts Ed Lazear as his stupidest man of the day, (item 9 at the link) noting that Matt Yglesias and Peter Orszag  called him out for misrepresenting this simple fact about the 2009 budget: it was devised by the Bush administration in 2008.  But, hey, it a WSJ article, so honesty is not a requirement, and reality is irrelevant.

But, for the current director of the Office of Management and Budget to have to correct the Chairman of the former administration's Council of Economic Advisers on how the budget is done seems a bit over the top, even in that context.


Mellow Yellow Monday - 2/01


Nate and Emily
In the play yard at the Mall
While Bumpa plays jazz

The lighting was poor, the acoustics were worse.
Not a great venue, but a fun time anyway.




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