New York Times
Mark Twain said there are lies, damn lies and statistics and his adage applies to unemployment measurement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes six unemployment metrics monthly, each referred to in ascending order of inclusiveness of the unemployed as U-1, U-2, etc.
The measure reported by the media as the unemployment rate that severely undercounts the unemployed is referred to as U-3. The U-3 rate is obtained by dividing the narrowest definition of the unemployed by the work force.
The U-3 definition does not include whom the BLS calls discouraged and marginal workers, those who want a job but have given up the search because market conditions and personal experience indicate the process is futile.
U-6 Unemployment counts the marginal and discouraged plus those seeking full time employment but can only find part time work. The Federal Reserve tracks what it defines as the Augmented Unemployment rate, which I've read is equivalent to U-6 less part time workers. I couldn't find any Augmented Unemployment releases on the Fed site and despite major data inclusion differences, some bloggers have used U-6 and the Fed's stat interchangeably. read more »
Clyde Haberman gets it. In a good interview with a few of the Billionaires for Bush, Haberman points out what Mayor Bloomberg's office is unwilling to admit:
The spied-upon included many groups that, agree with their views or not, engaged purely in political activity; they had no history of violence and no agenda other than a constitutional right to oppose the government. The Billionaires are a good example. The only bomb that theyâ€™ve been known to throw is a joke that falls flat.
Nobody is disputing that the police had a right and a responsibility to make effective security plans for the RNC. But it seems the NYPD acted recklessly in engaging in widespread spying that failed to make a distinction between legitimate political speech and conspiracy to commit violence - between Billionaires and bombers. As Haberman quotes one Billionaire, New York's authorities may "suffer from a post-9/11 case of 'not knowing when to stop.'"
Haberman puts it into perspective:
It isnâ€™t as if New York hasnâ€™t rethought other policies that were deemed absolutely essential in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. With municipal blessing, hideous concrete barriers rose in front of one building after another across town. In recent months, most have finally been torn down â€” recognition that Fortress New York doesnâ€™t cut it.
Similar questions have been raised about the refusal of the National Park Service, in the name of security, to allow tourists to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Such a restriction at this potent symbol of American freedom has been strongly criticized by the likes of Senator Charles E. Schumer and Representative Anthony D. Weiner, who hardly see themselves as soft-on-terror types.
Likewise, respect for freedom of speech is not a concession to terror. Many New Yorkers would feel more secure if their mayor would acknowledge that.
We still don't know the extent of the spying program and how far it went across the line. We don't know whether the program's defenders have any basis for their arguments. We won't know until the city agrees to release the surveillance records. So: what are you afraid of, Mayor Bloomberg?
Astonishingly, nobody else out there in ProgBlogLand has done anything more with that Brodsky apologia of the Assembly in last Sunday's New York Times. That's odd, because the short article is a condensed, creamy, buttery, oh-so-rich and oh-so-good concoction of considerable comedic potential.
Take, for example, this short paragraph:
This country is a beacon of liberty not because of steamrolling chief executives, but because of legislatures that limit their power. Reform in Albany requires a credible, independent and active Legislature that can challenge the governor, improve or stop his proposals and protect the system of checks and balances that define a democracy.
...and contrast it with this from the Brennan Center blog (the folks at the Brennan Center are the ones who describe Mr. Brodsky's beacon of liberty as the most dysfunctional legislature in America):
Unfortunately, it seems that the Assembly Majority is not committed to creating a more responsive, deliberative, accessible, accountable, and efficient legislative process. Members may boo when the Assembly is called dysfunctional, but it's hard to see how the epithet isn't still deserved. read more »
There was an Op-Ed in Sunday's City Section - here - that astonishingly hasn't yet received the rich, full-throated mockery it deserves. It will, however, because while it seemingly flew under many radars, it was a topic of discussion last night; so allow me to commence the mockery of just one aspect of it. Others will likely do more and say more.
The piece in question is by Richard Brodsky, Assemblyman of Westchester, who has been leading a lonely fight to restore some measure of respect to the legislature after the DiNapoli meltdown. Brodsky, of course, was one of the supporters of his colleague, blissfully unaware of the 69% mandate for change given to Governor Spitzer, the disgust of ordinary New Yorkers for business as usual, and contemptuous of the binding agreement worked out between the new governor and the old Assembly about the procedure of picking a new Comptroller. This piece is the latest in a series of apologias by Brodsky, who seeks to defend the legislature against accusations of being â€œdysfunctional,â€ â€œcorruptâ€ and â€œineffectiveâ€. Brodsky seems to think it's just a P.R. problem. It's not. It's systemic.
Let me just vivisect one paragraph, in the hope that others will do more:
In fact, the Legislatureâ€™s record is a good one. A lot depends on how you measure success. A successful legislature will do three things well: pass laws; provide ordinary people access to power and enable them to influence decisions; and, most important, check abuse of executive power.
That is, with all due respect, self-serving bullshit. Read on. read more »
I've been taking the Times Empire Zone and Ben Smith to task today for being anti-Statenite.