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!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Haiku Wednesday - Travel

This week my step-son
Traveled far around the world
To Afghanistan

I didn't read Jenn's entry, which now seems especially poignant, before composing this.

Join the fun!

Monday, June 28, 2010

U.S in a Severe Sovereign Debt Crisis

As near as I can tell, the crux of the argument for austerity and against stimulus is that the fear of inflation - or in more radical versions of the argument, HYPERINFLATION - will put the U.S in a position where it cannot service it's debt, borrowing becomes prohibitively expensive, and we go down in a flaming ball of socialistic spending-based economic disaster.

That is why, over the last 20 years, as the value of the dollar has dramatically declined against better currencies, the cost of borrowing has gone up so dramatically.

Oh, wait a minute . . .

H/Ts to those Keyneseian clowns, Krugman and Delong

Update: For a clown, PK sure has a lot of serious stuff to say on this issue.

Wow.  Are we screwed, or what?

Mellow Yellow Monday

Busy little bee
In the heart of the flower
Petaling her wares


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday

Stripey animals
Built to hide in dappled light
Lurk in shadow here

Taken at the Virginia Zoo, Nov 16, 2009.

Update:  H/T to Step-son Doug, for identifying these critters as Bongos.  I forgot.

Be sure to check the left side of the picture.  And the lower right.

Bobbie, we hardly knew ye.  RIP.

Economic Mobility

I thought it was a pretty well established fact that if you were born poor you stayed poor in this country.  Ditto being rich, with the overall effect that economic mobility was rare and difficult to achieve.

Not so, says Steven Horowitz.  

The bottom line is that income mobility is alive and well and seems pretty consistent regardless of who is president or who controls Congress.  The underlying market processes appear to be doing well at enabling a majority of those who start out poor to move up the income ladder within a decade or less. 

.   .   .

As good as these results are, allow me to steal from a favorite source of mine and say "just think what we might do" if those market processes were even freer to work their magic.

Well, there certainly is a coordination problem if you try to balance that with this recent post at G&T.

Can it really be true that:  "Of those taxpayer households in the lowest quintile of income in 1999, 57.5% had moved up at least one quintile by 2007 and over 30% jumped two quintiles or more."

 This is wildly inconsistent with not only the great spread in wealth disparity, but also with anemic GDP growth, dismal job creation, and increasing poverty levels over the period.  It also suggests the number in the lowest quintile should be declining, which I'm pretty sure is not the case.

Something seems terribly wrong here.  Can anybody explain this?

Republicans - All Wrong, all the Time, Pt 19: Tough Shit!

Just a few short months ago, only former Tiger great and current bitter, ill-tempered, senile moron Jim Bunning had the moral character and strength of conviction to say "Tough shit!" to the unemployed, making the grave personal sacrifice of missing a televised college basketball game in the process.

Ah, for the halcyon days of February! More recently, tea party darling and congenital idiot Rand Paul pointed out the fuzzy-headed liberal fallacy of extending unemployment benefits in an economic downturn of historical severity. Here he also evades weighing in on Joe Barton's apology to BP, and slyly gets in a whine for being "piled on."

Dr. Paul the Lesser says: "As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that's less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again," Paul explained. "Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen."

 So get out there and start flipping burgers, you lazy unemployed bastards!

Here is the audio.

Well, we know now that the repugnant obstructionism is contagious, as the most recent jobs bill was defeated by 57-41.  The Damorats, of course, head for the hills at the first hint of a filibuster.

The demise of the bill means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. Governors who had been counting on federal aid will now have to consider a fresh round of budget cuts, tax hikes and layoffs of state workers.

"This is a bill that would remedy serious challenges that American families face as a result of this Great Recession," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chief author of the bill. "This is a bill that works to build a stronger economy. This is a bill to put Americans back to work."

The bill had been sharply pared back after weeks of negotiations with GOP moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine. The most recent version, unveiled Wednesday night, contained new cuts to food stamps and scaled back the state aid provision to allow Democrats to claim the measure was fully paid for except for the unemployment insurance extension.

That didn't move Republicans like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Of course, it's also possible that the Repugs aren't principled at all, and are willing to submerge the economy in order to grant  the wishes of their party's leader, and make Obama fail. 

Well, people, if this is what you like, be sure to vote for the Repugnicant of your choice in November.  If you can drum up the car fare to make it to the polls

Then, we will be well and truly screwed, and it will be your fault.

H/T to BT for the last couple of links, but I've had this on the back burner for a few days.


Sunday Music Blogging - 6/27

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday - 6/20

Route 281 Bridge over Pensacola Bay, April 11, 2010

A long bridge over
Deep blue water - the first leg
Of our long drive home

Sunday Music Blogging - Father's Day

What would fathers be without kids?

Here is a great Thad Jones song with a strange, wonderful, and very long trombone solo by Billy Campbell.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I love it When Paul Krugman Agrees With Me

One of the things I say repeatedly, often to people who flat out refuse the message, is that the four pillars of conservative thinking are as follows:

False Choice
Magical Thinking

I didn't make this stuff up.  The first two are directly from the first chapter of Russell Kirk's massive paean to conservatism (and extended valentine to Edmund Burke) THE CONSERVATIVE MIND, where Kirk eagerly and openly embraces ignorance and prejudice, since they avoid all that tedious mucking around with actual thinking - which to a conservative has always been dangerous, indeed.  The last two points come from my interpretation of Kirk, and they are reinforced by what I observe as conservative (i.e. regressive)  thinking all over the blogosphere.

False choice often comes into play when you are debating a regressive, and they present some aspect of actual or imagined reality as a black and white either - or proposition, often mis-stating your position in the process.  Many regressives simply lack the willingness or ability to see nuance, and are riveted to rigid pseudo-alternatives.

Magical thinking includes all sorts of superstitions, and also manifests itself in many other ways, from confusing correlation with causation, to concluding that belief in a dogma somehow trumps reality.  This leads to cherry-picking of data, and simply denying anything that is contrary to the regressives pre-conceived notions. 

I've debunked the magical thinking (or flat out lies - sometimes it's hard to tell) of regressive economists here, here, and here.   Then, of course, there's this.

All of which is a very long-winded preamble to linking this post by Krugman.

I don't flatter myself to think that I influence him, or that he is even aware of my humble existence.  But this is the first time I've seen him allude to magical thinking in describing a regressive position.

Where's My Democracy, Dude?

BT rails against the Stupidity of Americans in continuously reelecting corrupt congressmen who work (directly or indirectly) for the wealthy elite and/or international corporations.

We've had a pretty good run here in the U.S. in my life-time.  (I was born at the leading edge of the first wave of the post-war baby boom.)   Since Reagan, it's been slipping away.  This is the motivation for my economics, Deep Stupid, and Republican = Wrong posts.  I'm trying to rattle the pots and pans (as the late Molly Ivins urged) and maybe help the scales fall of the eyes of one or two people who might stumble across this blog.

Here is my comment on BT's post.

When you have an aggregate of over 300 million, you're talking about human nature. If Americans are stupid, it's because humans are stupid.

But there's a lot more to it than that. There is a powerful and very well funded right wing talk machine that has enormous influence over the ignorant and the prejudiced, as well as the merely uninformed, who get duped by their potent misinformation campaign.

The wealthy elite, at all times and places, work hard to keep their advantage - and that comes at the expense of all the rest of us. Same as it ever was.

These days, most people are too damned busy dealing with the problems of their own life to be able to get a good handle on politics and economics as well. Plus, regressives have succeeded in diluting education so that people don't understand civics. And many don't have a good grasp of rational thought processes.

As I think about what is slipping away, it occurs to me that the best time and place to have been alive - maybe ever, was the post WWII U.S. And, in a strange way, we owe a great deal of what we've had to the Great Depression. No GD -- no New Deal, no unemployment compensation, no Social Security, no strong union movement; i.e, no strong middle class.

And this is what we are losing, because it is what the rich and their minions are taking away. Historically, the life time of a democracy is about 200 years. Look where we are.

Good bye, America. It was good while it lasted.

If Obama is progressive at all, it is in a very tepid way.  Repugs are likely to make gains in both houses this next mid-term election, stifling any chance for Obama to make any headway with any progressive agenda.  I think a double dip into deep recession is now inevitable, and it could well be Great Depression II.

The first time it lead to progressive populism in the U.S. but regressive, nationalistic populism in Germany.  My read of the national mood is that now, moving down the fascist path will be very easy.  And the rest of the world is likely going that way as well.

We are truly, seriously screwed.

Haiku Wednesday


We are roll models,
Teachers, guardians, guides, and
Fallibly human.

Join the fun!

L.A. Times Crossword Puzzle Blogging

Cross-posted at the L.A. Times Crossword Corner.

Wednesday June 16, 2010 Pancho Harrison

Theme: MUSIC, MAN! - Three long theme answers, two of them grid-spanning, employ puns to transform mundane phrases into humorous musical references.

17 A. Songs by German wolves? LIEDER OF THE PACK.  Play on "leader of the pack.  LIED (pl LIEDER) is the German word for song.  So - songs of the pack.  This got a chuckle and a groan.

36 A. Obvious melody?: AIR APPARENT.  Play on "heir apparent," the most likely successor.  An AIR is a melody, obviously.

58 A. Intonations from the monastery locker room?: CHANTS OF SHOWERS.  Oh my.  "Chance of showers," meaning it's probably going to rain.  Or, here, some very clean Gregorian chant.

Each play is on the first word in the phrase, substituting a near-homophone. Nice and tight. YMMV on puns and their quality. I thought these were rather long stretches; but that doesn't make me like them any less.  And I do like them, quite a lot.

Plus, these musical encores:

57 A. Haggard of country music: MERLE
39 D. Roxy Music alum Brian: ENO.
53 D. Jerry or Jerry Lee: LEWIS

Not being a country music maven (I'm more of a city boy) I'll leave it someone in the know to find the best links for Merle and Jerry Lee. And, yes, comedian Jerry Lewis did also sing, occasionally.  I actually know nothing about Brian ENO, except he's in puzzles a lot.

Hi gang, it's JazzBumpa, your humble resident trombonist and music appreciator.  I was pretty much in tune with this one, and able to wood-shed it in 15:27. Pancho Harrison has composed a verbal symphony for us today with only a few sour notes. Let's get inside the score.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today's Moment of Irony

Or perhaps it is zen.

I drove past this thing a couple of months ago.  Them righteous uprights was pretty impressive, kinda, sorta.  In a way . . .

But plastic burns. Who knew?

Do you suppose the iconoclasts were right?

H/T to my lovely wife for the HP link.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lebergott got it all wrong

And he did it on purpose.

Lebergott's data on unemployment counts those working in New Deal stimulus programs as unemployed.

That's right. They went to work everyday, building things, painting murals -- whatever, but Lebergott refused to count them, saying:

This contrasts sharply, for example, with the German practice during the 1930′s when persons in the labor-force camps were classed as employed, and Soviet practice which includes employment in labor camps, if it includes it at all, as employment.

Robert Waldman renders it thus:

Lebergott assertst that it is reasonable to considert the WPA to be essnetially the same as Buchenwald, Dachau and the gulag (I am not exaggerating at all[1]).

Lebergott's data series is, of course, beloved of right wing regressives who want to bend reality to their own warped vision.

For context and more, see Delong. 

Waldman's legitimately impassioned  comment appears here.

Six Word Saturday 6/12

Planted bushes yesterday 

Mom maintenance today

Second grandson's 12th birthday party tomorrow.

Weekend Funnies

Finding Comedy in Tragedy. Laugh or cry - your choice.

And a BIG H/T to BT

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quote of the day

The reason for the historical relationship between the slope of the yield curve and the economy’s performance is that the long-term rate is, in effect, a prediction of future short-term rates. If investors expect the economy to contract, they also expect the Fed to cut rates, which tends to make the yield curve negatively sloped. If they expect the economy to expand, they expect the Fed to raise rates, making the yield curve positively sloped.

But here’s the thing: the Fed can’t cut rates from here, because they’re already zero. It can, however, raise rates. So the long-term rate has to be above the short-term rate, because under current conditions it’s like an option price: short rates might move up, but they can’t go down.

On this, my second grandson's 12th birthday, I am posting a quote originating from his older brother's (my eldest grandson) 12th birthday.   How often do you get a chance like that?

Before clicking the quote link, would you like to play "guess the economist?"

Here's a hint.  It's not Scott Sumner.

Anyway, 18 months later, though late arriving back in the day, it's still relevant.

H/T to Delong.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

I do feel a sense of despair here. Ever since the crisis began, some of us have been trying to get across the point that you have to be very careful with your historical precedents, that things work very differently when you have a synchronized severe financial crisis, with interest rates near zero everywhere. And here we are, two years in, and it’s as if we’ve been talking to a wall.

From Krugman, here with proper historical precedent, rational context, and even a graph.

Who doesn't love graphs?


Congratulations Blackhawks

A better outcome for them than the last time around.

Though I remain indifferent to the Hawks success, I appreciate it since the mere idea of seeing the odious Chris Pronger’s name on the cup is too horrible to contemplate.

H/T and more Michael Bérubé.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mellow Yellow Monday

They seem like flowers
In a bouquet of fresh fruit
To look at or eat

A Mother's Day gift my wife got from her older son.


Quote of the day

So wise policy, as defined by the G20 and like-minded others, consists of destroying economic recovery in order to satisfy hypothetical irrational demands from the markets — demands that economies suffer pointless pain to show their determination, demands that markets aren’t actually making, but which serious people, in their wisdom, believe that the markets will make one of these days.


From the always wise and mostly right Paul Krugman.

Everyone thinks the right approach to solve a demand crisis is to emulate Herbert Hoover.

Wow.  We are SO screwed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shadow Shot sunday - 6/06

A brown spotted toad who lives in my yard.

This Amphibian,
Moved from grass to patio,
Saved from lawn-mower's bite.

Sunday Music Blogging - 6/06 Memories of you

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Six Word Saturday 6/05

House full of grandchildren -- blogging pre-empted.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Family Fun

I'll have family visiting from out of town this weekend.  Posting will sporadic or even non-existant until possibly Tuesday.

Cheers and happy week-end.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

First Base Umpire Makes History

Not in a good way.   This is worse than Phil Luckett blowing a coin toss.

Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga just pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, for which he will not get credit because of a horrendous blunder by Jim Joyce, the first base umpire.  This would have been the 21st perfect game in MLB history.

Several replays clearly indicated that the 27th batter was thrown out by a half-step or more.  This play always goes to the defense - as it should.  Much closer plays are called out a dozen times in every game.  The view angle that pointed into the Cleveland Indian's dugout showed that they couldn't believe it, either.

How many chances in his career does a pitcher get to throw a no hitter?

Earlier in the inning, Austin Jackson made a spectacular, running, Willie Mays style, back-to-the-plate, over-the-shoulder catch in deep right-center to maintain Galarraga's no-hitter to that point.

Then, with two ninth inning outs in the books, and the third out clear at first base, the idiot umpire took it away from him.

Galarraga got the next batter on a ground out to end the inning, the game, and - I hope - that hapless umpire's career.

Update:  Upon further review, I over reacted in the heat of the moment in calling Joyce an idiot an demanding his firing.  I have since learned that he has always been an outstanding umpire and a stand-up guy.  As soon as he saw the replays, he owned up to his mistake and apologized. Unfortunately, he will not be remembered for any of that.  He will go down in history for his massive, inexplicable blunder.

So it's sad for everyone involved.  But I have no sympathy for Joyce.  He should have realized the context and the importance of getting that call right.  Clearly, his head was not in the game.  Wie Shade.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Terrible Moment of High Irony

Check this out.

Read it and weep.

Money Illusion Delusion

This is going to be a long post with lots of words and graphs.  Grab an apple or your favorite quaff, put your feet up and your thinking cap on.

Over at The Money Illusion, Scott Sumner, an Economist with a PhD in economics from the U. of Chicago recently posted an entry with the title: America’s amazing success since 1980: Why Krugman is wrong.

His thesis is that neoliberal economic policies promote economic growth, and further, that a country's growth rate relative to other countries is a direct result of having or not having employed neoliberal policies.

I am about to deconstruct Sumner's methodology and eviscerate his conclusions.  First, though, a disclaimer.  I am not an economist. I do not speak the jargon, and am unfamiliar with many of the concepts.  However, I have a technical background, two masters degrees (Chemistry and an MBA) some proficiency in math, critical thinking skills, a finely-honed sense of skepticism, and the ability to graph data sets.  Most importantly, I believe in data-driven conclusions, not conclusion-driven data mining.

Next, let's take note of the kerfuffle Mike Kimmel and Spencer over at Angry Bear got into with Sumner.  This illustrates the hazard of getting into a point-counter point with someone who is ideology driven, especially after he has framed the debate in a way that is favorable to his conclusions.   The thing to do, I'm convinced, is go after their basic assumptions, and refute them with actual facts.  That will be my goal in this post.

Random Thought

On the universal applicability of Massage Therapy

During my massage session this morning, the therapist mentioned that if you use your body, you will have knots in your muscles.  She then added that if you don't use your body, you will have knots in your muscles. 

Thinking then upon the life styles of the laborers and the indolent, along with ancient wisdom that it rains equally on the rich and the poor, I came up with this.

The haves have knots,
The have-nots have knots.