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Saturday, January 21, 2017

The NYT and Ahistoricism

There is this nice editorial in the NY Times today, to celebrate the peaceful passing of power from the Lightbringer to Hitler 2.0, entitled "What President Trump Doesn't Get About America". You can open it in a private window if you don't have access. Ann Althouse has been going to town thwapping the NYT, btw. We have very different angles of attack, so I'd recommend hers as well.

My instinct, looking at the headline, was "This is going to be rich - because clearly the NYT crew have not understood an awful lot about America, which is why Trump's election came as such a shock to them."

It delivered:
The new president offered a tortured rewrite of American history — ignoring the injustices of the past as well as the nation’s economic resilience and social achievements in recent decades.
One longed, as Mr. Trump spoke, for a special kind of simultaneous translation, one that would convert Trumpian myth into concrete fact. It might have noted, when Mr. Trump sounded like a politician from the 1980s in promising to “get our people off welfare and back to work,” that the number of people receiving federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits fell by more than 70 percent, to 1.2 million, between 1996 and 2016. As Mr. Trump spoke about the disappearance of jobs, it would have noted that the unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent in 2009, the height of the recession, to less than 5 percent. 
Mr. Trump portrayed the nation’s closed factories as having needlessly hemorrhaged jobs to overseas companies. But even as production jobs fell by about five million since 1987, the country’s manufacturing output has increased by more than 86 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Gee, 1987 was a while ago. How about a little more recently??  Generally voters don't go back to three decades ago when voting now.

It turns out that industrial production in 2016 was below the level of 2007. It had briefly, oh so briefly, recovered to just above its pre-recession peak, but that was in 2014. In 2015 industrial production began a new decline, and by the time Election Day 2016 had rolled around, the US had been in an industrial recession for well more than a year.

One might hazard that the "Rust Belt" (that's a hint, NYT people  - that's a clue!!) might have been particularly receptive to Candidate Trump's discussion of the country's decline due to the facts that
A) They were experiencing another industrial recession of the type that preceded the 2007 Late Great Economic Unpleasantness, and
B) The other candidates, including the Oh So Esteemed And Worthy Mrs. Clinton, had all failed to notice this occurrence.
Had Madame Secretary The Most Brilliant Person Ever Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton The Most Qualified Candidate Ever to Run for President Most Glorious and Esteemed Glass Ceiling Breaker and Not Even Indicted (to give her her full title) seen fit to run a campaign that noticed this minor detail of American life, perhaps the outcome would have been different. But no, instead the puzzling lack of enthusiasm for the Obama Economy Victory Tour that her campaign was pushing was blamed on racism, sexism, and homophobia. (Nothing causes a bitter clinging to homophobia like not just having the local factory shut down, but then having the plant itself demolished so that the property taxes won't be paid.)

Note that when Obama ran in 2012, industrial production was improving AND HE CAMPAIGNED WITH THAT MESSAGE. He took credit for it and said that this recovery was and would be an American priority. This might explain why racism suddenly reared its ugly head in rejecting a white candidate in areas in which four years prior, a black candidate had succeeded.

More economic resilience graphs (NYT crew has all the words, I just have the facts):

That's the difference between the Reagan recovery and the Obama recovery, and those bitter racist homophobic sexist clingers in the Rust Belt live it.

Cause and Consequence (I'm the Jane Austen of economic bloggers):

That's not because of an aging population - that's the 25-54 employment/population ratio. Yes, welfare dependence has skyrocketed. It had to do so.

Which causes consequences:

Skyrocketing public debt in relation to GDP. The trajectory doesn't look better if you look at federal debt held by the public, but what the heck - I am not being polemical here:

Some might call this carnage.

Some might call the news that the US death rate (age-adjusted) is rising "carnage". Some might even wonder why having more of the population covered under the glorious Obamacare social progress results in:
Most of the retreat in life expectancy came from increases in deaths from heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide, according to the CDC.
A rise in deaths from chronic illness when we supposedly have increased access to healthcare across the population? Wouldn't that mean that the population LOST access to health care? It's almost as if, for no possible reason, the access to rescue medication like the EpiPen and higher-end inhalables like Advair diminished? As if many generic medications now cost 5-10 times what they did five years ago? As if the combination of $6,000 deductibles and a legal monopoly granted to insurance companies somehow reduced access to health care? How could that be, with all the social advances made in our glorious republic?

But don't worry, the NYT is not going to travel that lonesome road by asking a question like that. It's entirely politically incorrect, isn't it? We must be politically correct even if it is killing those bitter clingers in those rural counties.

One suspects that those rural counties felt a tiny surge of hope when President Trump told them in his inaugural address that they would no longer be forgotten. One suspects that a manufacturing resurgence would really help Detroit. But it is politically incorrect to say that out loud, isn't it?

Thank MOM,

Please post more, lots more!

I linked with a short comment on my blog here:http://www.maddogslair.com/blog/maxedoutmoma-cuts-a-swath-through-the-ny-time

Mark Sherman
Thanks - the Chief's health problems are slowly becoming less of an issue, and so I should be posting more. I would have started a few weeks ago, but I got a nasty Type B flu, and lay around groaning for ten days, then turned to catching up.

These are interesting times. Thanks for the link.
Welcome back. Hope you pick up the monetary theory thread sometime. Half trades etc
It is wonderful to see you are back to posting !! Best wishes for the New Year.
Glad to have you back, and glad to hear the Chief is doing better.

Regarding publicly-held debt, I prefer this series:

It's publicly-held debt less debt held by the Fed. In other words, debt that is actually held by entities that conduct valuable commercial activities. If it presses for repayment, the Fed may find that our neo-Jacksonian White House regards its existence as something less than mandatory.

A few trillion written-off here, a few trillion written-off there, pretty soon you're talking about a serviceable debt load.

Neil - you have a good point. Profits from Fed-held assets basically go back to the US government. But then again, should the Fed get itself in a situation in which it doesn't have profits, that collapses. The heavy buying of assets at relatively low interest rates may creating an interesting future situation!

I don't let that situation worry me. The "independent" Fed is a mirage anyway. Liquidate the Fed, write off the debt, fold the Fed's necessary functions into the Treasury Department if need be. Poof!

I am ten years older than you, and I noticed, about twenty years ago that, when I get the flu, I don't think any more that I am going to die. Rather, I am afraid that I will not. So, my deepest sympathies.Flu is naught in kids, and naught but a painful death in middle aged adults.

As for the heart of your piece, don't hold back now MoM, tell us what you really think! It's all true, but I just loved hearing someone besides my own lovely self going off like that. (Hope that that was not just the flu crabbies talking. I do tend to rant in more, ahem, interesting ways when I am sick.) Get well soon. The Chief and the rest of us need you.
Oops! I came through as unknown, but I am Michael Adams.
Oh, the ways we find to get sick as we age....

I spent ten days after Memorial day in the hospital with a cellulitis infection in my leg. Ten freaking days! Have a heart transplant and they kick you out after five. And in the VA, one has three roommates, and all of them were "sicker" than me, including the guy who spent one overnight having his bladder flushed, over and over and over. I heard one doctor tell him his bladder floor looked like a pile of gravel.

So I'm glad to hear that health is on the upswing your way. I just wanna work in my garden. I'm learning to can things, and a lot of other stuff that "preppers" find interesting. Oh, no, not apocalypse prep for me! I just like eating my own cooking, and stuff that I've grown. If you've never had a baked potato that was in the ground two hours before, you haven't lived! Forget butter, salt and sour cream. It's delicious dry.
Gordon; My favorite has always been "new potatoes and peas" in the spring. Dig up a some baby potatoes at the same time the peas are ready, steam them and serve them mixed together with a cream sauce. Really something to look forward to every year!
Okay, now I have to get some peas going. I can do this, yes I can. I'm attempting to start some potatoes early in grow bags.
Given that anything that can be done by a machine can probably be done cheaper by a machine, I don't think the manufacturing jobs are coming back. The factories may come back, but not the jobs.

I don't think anyone is prepared for this reality. Not many even want to talk about it.
I guess I will find out what my new insurance is like and whether Medicare will pick up any of the tab. I had several supplements jam up in my throat last week. I could breathe but no fluids could go down. Went to the living room so my husband could keep an eye on me, then finally had him call 911 as I was worried that it might block my breathing. Sat in the ER a couple of hours, after some muscle relaxants to see if things would clear up. They finally went in with an endoscope. I've recovered but not taking my supplements so my O2 levels drop easily. It's just so frustrating being sick.

Vader, the machines don't run themselves. There are still manufacturing workers and they will be good paying jobs. There's no reason for us to settle for that junk from China
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