Thursday, July 22, 2010

Water, water everywhere

Scary weather out here. Hope all of you are staying as dry as possible and that there's no major long-term damage. I'd like to see the climate change deniers take a trip to Shorewood or North Ave. and Oakland and run their lies on those people. I'm guessing they wouldn't last long.

When you have once-in-a-generation storms every 2-3 years, something's changed, and some adjustments probably need to be made. The one thing you don't do is put your fingers in your ears and stamp around in denial. Maybe overgrowth and lack of green space isn't the way to go if you have large amounts of moisture and not a lot of space to put it. What'cha think?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When do more jobs = less jobs? When it's Wisconsin in the summer!

It's been interesting comparing the alarmist Journal-Sentinel headlines on jobs compared to the actual employment data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Today, the DWD released figures that indicated the state added 22,500 jobs in June 2010 (see page 3). Sounds like great news, but the Journal-Sentinel headline blared that the 5,100 jobs lost in the Milwaukee MSA in June. But wait, if you see Page 2, it also says that the Milwaukee area ADDED 1,300 jobs last month. So what gives?

The answer is seasonal employment patterns. Lots of people enter the workforce in early Summer, especially students looking for Summer jobs, migrant workers, and tourist-related jobs. So it is expected that a lot of jobs and job-seekers will be added. The result is seasonally-adjusted figures that try to smooth out these changes, to get a more accurate feel for how employmnent is going.

But does it? As this article and many others note, teen employment has gone way down the last couple of years. This is the group that would be very likely to get Summer jobs and be part of the employment market in big numbers this time of the year. If they aren't being hired, then the expected bump in employment would not exist resulting in a "loss" of jobs in the seasonally-adjusted figures despite more people working in the real world. It also means they may be more likely to stay at home or go to Summer School instead of get a job, which means they wouldn't show up in the work force at all. And the Wisconsin seasonally adjusted figures show big drops in both unemployment and work force, which would correlate with this theory of teens/ college students not being hired.

Take a look at the June figures again and compare them with the March ones , it says 91,200 more people are working in the last 3 months, and that the unadjusted unemployment rate plummeted from 9.8% to 8.1%. If you looked at those numbers, you'd figure the economy was booming. It's not, because seasonal adjustment tells you employment should rise with the temperatures that time of the year, but even the seasonally-adjusted rates in Wisconsin are going down.

June 2009 8.9%
March 2010 8.8%
June 2010 7.9%

But did the Journal-Sentinel mention this 1.0% decrease in unemployment to a level 1.6% below the U.S. rate? Uhh, not exactly. While they may have a point that a lower rate due to lower participation in the work force is a sort of "tallest midget" award, the overwhelming negativity of the JS articles tell me that they're more interested in giving Charles Sykes some material for the next day's show instead of reporting what's really happening in the job market.

Last point- given that the low levels of teen employment are skewing the employment numbers down for the Summer, does that mean that the seasonal jobs figures start going UP once August and September roll around, and there are no Summer jobs to lose. The seasonal adjustment would expect a large drop in employment, and if it doesn't happen, then there would be a large "increase" in the seasonally adjusted job figure merely by staying even in those sectors. Let's see if there are some suprises to the upside coming as we get closer to election time...and see how the Journal-Sentinel spins it when it happens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why do you think we're in this mess. Hmmm?

Ok, I'm not in a mood to add a narrative rant right now, given that I have a wedding and a massive tailgate to attend on a great July day. But let me throw out some links.

First of all, corporate profit margins are at their highest in at least 60 years. But hiring is still relatively stagnant. Hmmm....

Then, the Republicans claim that corporations and fake non-profits are planning to shell out $200 million for the 2010 elections. Think some of those record profit margins are going toward that? Hmmm...?

Another meme was put down by reality's liberal bias when the New York Times showed that homeowners with $1 million+ mortgages were more likely to foreclose than homeowners with laons under $1 million. Now why were we told by the Santellis of the world that it was dumb poor people to blame for the foreclosure crisis when the charts in the story clearly show it was house-flippers and other investors. Hmmm??

Closer to home, a Legslative Audit Bureau report shows that developers and businesses are avoiding millions of dollars of property taxes by calling land that's being held for building as "agricultural". Basically think of Terrence Wall's pumpkin patch off of Highway M in Middleton, and you get the idea. Now who pays those taxes for those extra required services if the developer scum cheating the system don't? Hmmm.....?

Oh, and it turns out we have a 2.5 billion structural budget deficit for the next governor. It's admittedly a conservative projection, since it figures a 0% increase in income and sales tax revenue in from 2011-2013, and if that's true, then we'll have bigger problems that just a budget deficit. But go behind the numbers, and you'll see that $290 million of that would be closed by reinstsating the estate tax for those years, and continuing combined reporting. Another $692 million goes away if you revert Medicaid assistance back to pre-stimulus levels. It still would leave a long way to go, but there are a lot of credits and giveaways on that list as well.

What do you think would happen if we closed a lot of these credits and had national health care replace Medicaid expenses? And how did we end up with all these credits and knick-knacks in the first place? Hmmmm??

And what's the common thread through all of this? I'll let all 4 of you figure it out, as I gotta get ready to look money for my girl and then get my drinkin' shoes on at Miller Park.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Brain-dead corporate media sucks up to big-name a-hole

I am, of course referring to "The Decision", the hour-long special to reveal....where LeBron James gets to flame out in next year's playoffs. I understand that this is the biggest open free agent to happen in sports for probably this generation (since the Minister of Defense?) , and it will help to shape the NBA for the next few years (barring the inevitable 2011 work stoppage). But to turn the end of your recruitment into a one-hour special is the height of narcissim, and if he really is leaving Cleveland (as the scuttlebutt indicates he will for Miami), to announce that on national TV is an all-time dick move to pull on C-Town, especially given the sports hits that place has taken in the last 30 years.

But he is by far not the only guilty one. ESPN officially has gone over the shark by giving into the superstar and giving him this ego-driven special. After whoring itself out to get the inside scoop on Bron, ESPN can't be taken seriously as any kind of sports journalism outfit (well, even less seriously than it was as long as they have a clown like Berman around). Charles Sykes discussing Scott Walker thinks ESPN is bringing weak-sauce favortism. And what happens next year, when Bron pulls a disappearing act like he did this year? You think Chris Broussard will rip him like he deserves to? Pathetic.

Bill Simmons hammers LeBron and Chris Bosh for acting like two-bit reality show "actors." And like most things involving the NBA, the Sports Guy knocks it out of the park. How does he not get an ESPN studio gig?

Needless to say, I won't be watching this crap. I'll be drinking or online....or both.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bullshit poll #3- rail disliked in Waukesha..ERRR...West Bend....ERRR..."Milwaukee area"

And here is another garbage poll that gets released to the Journal-Sentinel that (surprise!) favors a Republican position. This time it's the Public Policy Forum's poll on rail and other transportation issues. The Journal-Sentinel jumped on the finding that 41% of respondents now approve of the high-speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, down from 57% in November. Needless to say, the Sykes crowd and other suburban whiners were quick to say that "no one" supports the train now that more is known about it, and therefore it shouldn't be done.

That does appear to be the case, until you check item 1 in the crosstabs. The respondents disproportionately come from Waukesha and Washington Counties (i.e. Teabag Central in Wisconsin), while Milwaukee County and especially African-Americans are not polled (and to the PPF's credit, they admit as much). Using the most recent Census figures released last week, let's compare who was asked the questions vs. the actual 4-county population.

Milwaukee Co. - 52.3% of poll (-9.2% vs. reality)
Ozaukee Co. - 4.7% of poll (-0.8% vs. reality)
Waukesha Co. - 27.7% of poll (+3.1% vs. reality)
Washington Co. - 15.3% of poll (+6.9% vs. reality)

Gee, with that kind of bias, what direction do you think this poll might lean?

Strangely, the PPF gives a lot of crosstabs on other questions by County, but conveniently ignores it for this one. So I'll use the responses relating to the downtown street car (listed at 42%) as a proxy for support for the rail line. Adjusting those percentages to fit the actual population of the real 4-county area, we now get the following levels of suport for the train:

Milwaukee Co. - 53% support at 61.5% of population = 32.6% of respondents
Waukesha Co. - 37% support at 24.6% of population = 9.1%
Washington Co. - 36% support at 8.4% of popualtion = 3.0%
Ozaukee Co. - 23% support at 5.5% of popualtion = 1.3%

Total support = 46.0%. Lot closer to even than 41%, isn't it?

And to go further, Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee County are way out of step with the rest of Wisconsin when it comes to voting and political attitudes. So it is safe to say that when the angry-man radio crowd says "the people of Wisconsin don't want this," they are as wrong about that statement as they are about most others.

What angers me about this is that Larry Sandler in the JS reported this poll as an indication of the feelings of the entire metro area without doing his homework and looking at the biased crosstabs. This gives creedence to the biased poll and allows the Republicans to run with this fake public support as a way to get support from the unsuspecting public. We need to be shouting the truth about these polls before the false story of "Conservative resurgence" starts to seem like reality to people, and becomes an Astroturf bandwagon that does not currently exist in the real world.

Or we need to form our own bullshit polling group and feeding the media with our doctored numbers like those assholes do, since we know the media doesn't have the brains or balls to question it. One or the other.