Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Corporate actions speak louder than words or "studies"

It's quite funny to me to see various corporate entities release things and then note the reaction from the media to said information. 3 good examples of it have popped up in the past week.

The first was today's release of the Manpower Incorporated survey, which talks to employers and tries to predict hiring for the upcoming three months. The Journal-Sentinel headline of the story mentions that Wisconsin employers expect "vigorous" hiring to occur from July through September, although to John Schmid's credit, his story is a bit more balanced on the issue.
For Wisconsin, Manpower's latest quarterly poll found that 24% of the companies interviewed plan to add more employees, while 5% expect to reduce payrolls, resulting in what the Manpower survey calls a "net employment outlook" of 19%.

Another 70% expect to maintain their current staff levels, denoting relative stability in the state economy, and 1% are undecided.

The state's improvement was only a notch above the net outlook of 18% for the current quarter, noted Manpower analyst Nicole Langley. And by another measure, Wisconsin employers are less optimistic than the same quarter one year earlier, when the index reached 21%, which was its highest level in the current recovery.
So what did employers do last year when 1% more of the employers said they were going to hire between July and September, when Scott Walker said jobs should "take off like a rocket" after the recall elections?

Wisconsin job change Q3, 2012
Overall +6,000
Private sector -900

So, these "job creators" may have been talking the same big game this time last year, but they sure didn't put it into action.

And the biggest "all hat, no cattle" posers among corporates in this state are the members of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which seems to have no problem throwing millions to right-wing legislators and judges, but sure isn't too keen on giving out anything to hire people and grow their businesses (as evidenced by our "50th out of 50" job standing for the last 12 months). And this might stun you, but a survey of WMC members indicated they like the policies of the Republicans they give millions to, and oppose the Democratic president.
The WMC Economic Outlook Survey of CEOs throughout the state found that 26 percent of CEOs said health care was the top policy problem, followed by taxes at 24 percent, the weak economy at 20 percent and regulations at 11 percent.

Some 94 percent report Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, and 84 percent say state government is pro-business. In Wisconsin, 47 percent say they are increasing employment, 47 percent said they are not adding workers, and 6 percent are cutting, the survey found.

“Clearly, the oncoming federal health care mandate has employers mired in uncertainty,” said WMC President/CEO Kurt R. Bauer. “CEOs in Wisconsin are looking for certainty, predictability, lower taxes, less regulation, and they see our federal government as making things worse. They are more optimistic about our state’s improving business climate, but that enthusiasm is dampened by the storm clouds generated by Washington, D.C.”
Hilarious that WMC whines about Obamacare uncertainty and then backs a governor whose refusal to take Obamacare's expanded Mediciad funds leads to a large amount of uncertainty when it comes to how much can be covered by the state. In addition, on what planet can you look at these charts and say that Wisconsin is fine and the US is hurting?

Even better is the right-wing bubble-world feedback loop that comes from this, as TMJ-4 ran a headline on the WMC survey with the subtext of "Governor Walker's economic strategy is working and leading to prosperity." Now a quick check of any reported data would tell you that theory is total bullshit, Well, unless Walker and WMC wants Wisconsin's economy to stay so bad that employees get desperate enough to take peanuts for wages, while corporate slime stash the resulting profits (maybe that's what they mean by "it's working"). But WMC did get what they wanted out of releasing their one-sided survey - a one-sided report by a media too lazy to question the source, and to look into whether the reality WMC was describing matches the numbers.

Another example of one-sided "research" trying to be passed off as news happened out of the Arkansas, where the pro-voucher heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune and others tried to organize a study that showed voucher schools outperform public schools. Unfortunately for them, Logan Carlson of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wasn't as gullible as most JournalComm media, and called out the clear conflict of interest.
Research conducted by the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas is paid for primarily by special interest groups that also donate to elected officials who are advocating for expansion of the voucher program.

A Wisconsin Democracy Campaign report on school choice special interest money shows that individuals with ties to foundations that have funded the School Choice Demonstration Project have donated more than $630,000 to Wisconsin lawmakers, most of them Republicans, during the past decade.
Not surprisingly, state Sen. Leah (ALEC Legislator of the Year) Vukmir says the Arkansas study is great, and its findings of increased graduation of voucher students are "done in a reliable and statistically accurate manner." But first of all, the alleged increase of 4 to 7 percent of a relatively small cohort of students is statistically insignificant, and doesn't prove vouchers do a better job than public schools. In addition, the GB paper also notes other flaws in the Wal-Mart-funded study.
• More than 56 percent of students it tracked didn’t stay in the voucher program for the length of the four-year study;

• Wolf, the lead researcher for the school choice project, used looser statistical standards in some cases than commonly accepted for academic studies of this type;

• Students were matched on certain demographic data rather than randomly assigned, meaning researchers could have missed a key factor that could have significantly altered the study’s results.
These are oversights that would get you tossed out of any college statistics course, but in Wingnut Welfare-land, it's good enough, as long as it comes out with the "right" result. (Shades of Reinhart-Rogoff, isn't it?)

But this is the way the right-wing corporate complex works these days- 1. Say things that fit your agenda, 2. Pass off these things as legitimate news and study instead of hope and spin 3. Have lazy media run with your take, because they figure you as a "job creator" must know what you're talking about (when in reality, you're just an oligarch looking to get paid without having to work hard and excel).

Sorry, but past is prologue, and facts really are independent things. Unlike right-wing bubble-world, RESULTS AND DATA are the items that matter in the above-ground world, and they cannot allowed to be shaped by propaganda and biased sources. If the media won't do it, we'll have to do it for them.

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