The myth of job creation: “So they [Romney and Obama] agree. Government does not create jobs. Except that it does, millions of them — including teachers, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, epidemiologists, antiterrorism agents, park rangers, diplomats, governors (Mr. Romney’s old job) and congressmen (like Paul Ryan). First, the basics. At last count, government at all levels — federal, state and local — employed 22 million Americans, with the largest segment working in public education. Is that too many? No. Since the late 1980s, the number of public-sector workers has averaged about 7.3 for every 100 people. With the loss of 569,000 government jobs since June 2009, that ratio now stands at about 7 per 100. Public-sector job loss means trouble for everyone. Government jobs are crucial to education, public health and safety, environmental protection, defense, homeland security and myriad other functions that the private sector cannot fulfill. They are also critical for private-sector job growth in two fundamental ways. First, the government gets its supplies from private-sector companies, which is why Republican senators like John McCain have been frantically warning about the dire effects on job creation if Congress moves ahead with planned military spending cuts. (Republicans insisted upon the cuts as part of their ill-advised showdown over the debt ceiling.) Second, government spending on supplies and salaries reverberates strongly through the economy, increasing demand and with it, employment. That means the economy suffers when government cuts back. A report by the Economic Policy Institute examined the effect of recent cutbacks at the state and local level — including direct loss of government jobs and indirect loss of suppliers’ jobs; the jobs that should have been added to keep up with population growth; and the reduction in purchasing power from other cutbacks. If not for state and local budget austerity, the report found, the economy would have 2.3 million more jobs today, half of which would be in the private sector. The government does not create jobs? It most certainly does.” From a Times editorial.
No, Mitt Romney did not support the auto bailout: “[O]ne of the sharpest [debate] exchanges was over President Obama’s rescue of General Motors and Chrysler—and whether Romney had opposed it. Romney said he did not. That’s a distortion, at best, or a flat-out lie, at worst. […] As Romney has correctly pointed out, he never said he wanted the companies to go through liquidation. He said he wanted a “managed bankruptcy” in which the companies reorganized their operations, downsizing but continuing to operate—ideally, in a leaner, more profitable form. This is, in fact, what both Chrysler and GM eventually did, under terms set by Obama. But the critical issue, in late 2008 (when President Bush approved the initial, short-term rescue) and again in spring 2009 (when Obama approved the second, long-term rescue) was how the two car companies would get money to reorganize. A company can’t operate while in bankruptcy if it can’t pay its bills. And it can’t pay its bills if it can’t get loans. In normal economic times, companies turn to banks and private investors. But that was not possible in late 2008 and early 2009, because the financial sector was in crisis. The only realistic source of financing was Washington. If Obama had not approved the loans, most likely the companies would have had nowhere to turn, leaving liquidation as their only recourse. The effects on the midwest and quite possibly the rest of the country would have been devastating. Did Romney support Obama’s decision? Did he support putting taxpayer dollars on the line? […] [A]s he began seeking the Republican presidential nomination, he became more critical of it—referring to it repeatedly as a “bailout” and criticizing the use of taxpayer dollars. One of the clearest statements on this specific issue came in late 2011, during a CNBC debate of Republican presidential contenders: ‘My view with regards to the bailout was that whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go. I said from the very beginning they should go through a managed bankruptcy process, a private bankruptcy process. We have capital markets and bankruptcy. … My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout with the private sector restructuring and bankruptcy with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand.'” From the New Republic.
Worldwide support for assisted suicide: “Next month voters in Massachusetts will decide whether a terminally ill patient, with less than six months to live, will be able to ask for a doctor’s help in committing suicide. If, as expected, the vote goes in favour of the proposal, the state will become the third in America to liberalise its laws. Assisted suicide is already permitted in seven countries and states and is now being debated in New Zealand, Quebec, Australia and Britain (see article). It is to be hoped that the current wave of liberalisation will continue, for those who suffer at the end of their lives have been too long denied the right to an easeful death. […] The views of particular religious groups should not be allowed to constrain the freedoms of those who do not share their faith. The definition of “harm” is debatable; and anyway these days the Hippocratic oath is not universally taken. Humankind sets out on many slippery slopes—abortion, for instance—without descending all the way down them. Nor, where assisted suicide is allowed, has there been an epidemic: in Switzerland, where it has been permitted since 1942, it accounts for around 300 deaths each year, or around 0.5% of all deaths in the country. And against those weak objections stands the huge benefit of allowing people in great suffering to get help in putting an end to the pain and misery when they are not strong enough, or do not have the resources, to do so themselves.” From the Economist.
Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits: “More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library. At the youngest end of the spectrum, high schoolers in their late teens (ages 16-17) and college-aged young adults (ages 18-24) are especially likely to have read a book or used the library in the past 12 months. And although their library usage patterns may often be influenced by the requirements of school assignments, their interest in the possibilities of mobile technology may also point the way toward opportunities of further engagement with libraries later in life. […] According to our December 2011 national survey, Americans under age 30 are more likely than older adults to do reading of any sort (including books, magazines, journals, newspapers, and online content) for work or school, or to satisfy their own curiosity on a topic. About eight in ten say they read for these professional or educational reasons, more than older age groups. And about three-quarters of younger Americans say they read for pleasure or to keep up with current events. […] Some 78% of Americans ages 16 and older had read at least one book in any format in the previous 12 months, including 83% of those under age 30. High schoolers (ages 16-17) and college-aged adults (ages 18-24), along with adults in their thirties, are especially likely to have read a book in the past year, while adults ages 65 and older are the least likely to have read a book in that time span.” From the Pew Research Center. The complete report is available here.
Is your child a slacker? “If you’re a parent, you may have your own Avoider; and any your friends may be co-dependent with a 25-year-old son. Why has failure to launch become more prevalent these days? First things first; you can’t underestimate the destructive power of a terrible economy on a person’s psyche. Unlike a baby boomer who grew up in a time of unprecedented growth, today’s opportunities seem to be saturated for generation Y. […] Nonetheless, the external environment is not all to be blamed. I have come to see the problem of failure to launch as being part of an avoidant generational style, at least in a sizable subgroup. The bad economy may sink people like Zachary, but something fundamental is off. Research has shown that the concept about future is important because it elicits a cognitive representation of the prospective self and directs future-oriented behavior. However, for Avoiders, thinking about the future is simply daunting. An Avoider uses an avoidant defense mechanism to put off to tomorrow what needs to be done today. He games himself into thinking that all will be fine—tomorrow. So, he smokes weed to cut down on anxiety; plays video games to fill up his time and “connects” on Facebook for endless hours, while living in the room that he grew up in and should have grown out of by now.” From Psychology Today.
Hugh Hefner Defends Playboy to Bill Buckley, 1966:
Flagler County Jail Bookings