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Raw Meat, or just a Bone?

© Chan Lowe

Donald Trump stirs up the Republican base by asking why Obama won’t release his birth certificate. The fact that Obama released his birth certificate years ago (and Hawaii officials verified it) doesn’t seem to matter. And Trump seems to have had some problems producing his own birth certificate.

But according to Politico, Trump is “dragging other bits of the party down the birther rabbit-hole with him.” And MSNBC says:

Donald Trump is going to be an amazing distraction. […] No other Democratic presidential candidate (or NON-candidate) ever overshadowed Obama or Clinton in 2008. But the theme so far to the 2012 race has been that a lot of Republicans — whether it’s Trump, Michele Bachmann, or even Buddy Roemer (at one forum) — have already overshadowed the top-tier candidates.

And of course, in a move that surprised nobody, Fox News just announced that Trump will be doing a weekly segment for them. With most of the potential Republican candidates for president on the payroll of Fox News — getting paid to campaign — when are they just going to rename Fox News to the Republican Candidate Advertising Channel?

Speaking of the media, their utter fascination with Trump managed to keep some real new out of the spotlight — the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.8%, its lowest in two years and a sign that the economic recovery is finally translating into new jobs.



  1. John wrote:

    …its (the unemployment rate) lowest in two years and a sign that the economic recovery is finally translating into new jobs.

    That’s a joke right?

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I can’t tell if Trump is doing this for publicity or he’s seriously thinking of running. While he’s a great business man and has alot of knowledge in world business affairs, I couldn’t consider him a serious candidate. I think MSNBC got it right, he’s just a distraction.

    On the issue of the unemploymnt numbers creeping down, I think that is good news. I heard the number 216k, but not what sectors thos jobs were created. I hope it wasn’t mostly service industry jobs, but I’d be glad for any improvement. I also read that more Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.
    Here’s the link where I found this:

    This, if true, is a troubling statistic IMO. Since government workers derive all their pay including even the taxes and retirement they pay from collected taxes it leads me to worry who’s paying the taxes for all those gov’t employees if there are more of them then people actually paying the taxes. It doesn’t seem sustainable. We’ve got to get these other industries up to the point where they have more employees then there are gov’t workers, like 4 to 1 at least (4 peoples taxes to support 1 govt worker). Any thoughts from the smart kids in the room?

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  3. Jeff wrote:

    I’ve heard most of the jobs were created in the service industries, construction, and mining. The fact that the unemployment is at the lowest level in years should be front page news, but instead we’re subjected to Trump 24/7. He’s turning into the new Charlie Sheen. I’m not sure what his strategy is if he is running for president, because some of his decisions will probably come back to bite him.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink
  4. Patricia wrote:

    Don’t qualify as a “smart kid” but do have a comment.

    1. As a former full-time and current part-time state worker, I can attest that I pay taxes just like everybody else and also work cheaper than anybody in an equivalent private sector job. Gov workers and their salaries are red herrings as far as I’m concerned. The real issue is the total tax revenue collected and from whom. The real problem is the fact that since taxes are primarily based on individual (rather than corporate) incomes and real people are continually paid sub-standard wages, the less revenue is collected. 🙂

    2. Job recovery/Salaries: an interesting link to the quality of those jobs!

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  5. Jason Ray wrote:

    @John – no, it’s not a joke. The actual pace of economic growth is pretty good, especially given where we were. In fact, if it wasn’t for the housing crash the unemployment rate would likely be down around 7% – or less. There are literally millions of jobs available and people available to fill them, but since they can’t afford to move the jobs remain vacant.

    @Patricia – it’s always easy for people to point to the exceptions and claim it’s the rule. There are definitely some government positions (local, state and federal) that are overpaid. And when you factor in all the value of benefits that come along with a government job, the total value for most government workers is roughly equal to private sector jobs of similar skills. But having said that, the myth that there are all those “cushy government jobs, with union-driven cushy benefits” is exactly that – a myth. The number of significantly overpaid people is a tiny percentage of the total. And firing teachers and cutting their pay and benefits is not the way to fix our educational problems – it’s throwing gasoline on the fire.

    Considering where the US economy was at the end of 2008, being where we are in early 2011 is actually quite remarkable. I think there are valid arguments that the amount of money we’ve spent on “stimulus” projects has not been anywhere near cost-effective, and also valid arguments that we’ve expanded the federal government in inefficient ways. And there is no question that we need to significantly cut spending and increase tax revenues (ideally, revenue increases come from economic growth and more workers being employed rather than additional taxes) and we need to do it fast.

    Give some Republicans credit where credit is due – cutting spending and re-engineering our largest programs (Medicare, Social Security) is critical and the Democrats just don’t seem to worry about it too much. But also give Democrats, and especially President Obama, credit for leading one of the recovery from the second greatest financial meltdown in US history, and for doing it in record time.

    Erskine Bowles (co-chair of the bipartisan Deficit Reduction committee) spoke to the No Labels organization and pointed out that the tax breaks built into the tax code give away about $1.45 TRILLION dollars, and that if we just cut all the breaks the budget would be balanced even now. Obviously Most people (including me) believe some of those tax breaks (like the mortgage interest deduction on a primary residence) need to be kept, but closing the corporate tax loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy would add a significant amount of revenue – it’s not right that companies like GE get over $3B in tax REFUNDS and pay zero taxes.

    If we can close those loopholes, let tax rates go back to the Clinton era for people making over $1M in income, do some hard-nosed re-engineering of government services and programs, and cut unnecessary spending in Defense and discretionary programs, the US can balance the budget and keep economic growth on track. We just need to put everything on the table and focus on the end goal, not the hyper-partisan rhetoric.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  6. Bert wrote:

    Historically, the unemployment numbers have gone down prior to national elections, then go up again after the elections.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink
  7. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Bert – to me, that would imply the numbers are rigged in favor of the incumbants who have the access and power to manipulate vs the challenger.

    Patricia – I understand your point, I’ve obviously been a gov’t employee. My point was that while all gov’t employees pay taxes (SS, med, income, etc) all the money used to pay them are taxes. So its collecting a tax from non gov’t empoyees — to pay a tax. And then te ironic part is the tax that was collected — to pay the tax– can become a tax refund. Holy Cow.

    Thanks Jeff

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  8. Michael wrote:

    Patriotsgt, comparing the number of employees who work for the government with a the number who work for a handful of industries is somewhat disingenuous. I know you’re referring to the editorial (thanks for the citation, btw), so I’m not criticizing you. Rather, Mr. Moore is the one manipulating the figures.

    The reason I say it’s a manipulation is because the term “government” implies members of the three traditional branches, i.e., legislatures, governors, judges, mayors, etc. But it also includes police, military, firefighters, teachers, food and drug inspectors, scientific researchers (at institutions like NIH/DOE and at universities), NASA, librarians, postal workers, patent & copyright employees (important for private sector IP), VA health care providers, national park employees, public defense lawyers, automobile safety inspectors, building code inspectors (kind of important in light of the Japan earthquake), etc., etc. My point is that there is no single, monolithic industry called the “government”. Rather, the government is a collection of many, many industries.

    Now, let’s look at the industries Mr. Moore chose for comparison. Fishing? That’s an industry generally tied to either oceans (i.e., very little of our country) or fish farms which don’t require a large number of employees. Forestry? How quickly do we want to decimate our natural resources? Mining and utilities? Those are tiny industries compared to, say, the number of teachers in the country.

    Now farming and manufacturing… The shrinking numbers in those two industries are cause for concern. Farming is a hard life (my wife’s grandparents were farmers, and I’ve heard some stories), and the incentive structure created by large agricultural corporations makes it even worse. Farmers end up with paltry salaries (most of the price goes to corporate overhead and delivery). Manufacturing…well, that industry has been decimated by years of anti-labor cultural trends, deregulation, and international trade. Ironic, don’t you think, that the free-market-loving right wing entrepreneurs rely so heavily on a Communist nation for cheap labor? But we can’t really do anything to help those industries, because people like Mr. Moore immediately cry, “Socialism!”

    One last point… Why do we have so many industries that fall under the umbrella of government? First, several of them (e.g., education and military) are vital to a functioning, democratic society, and it is the responsibility of the state to provide these services. Second and more importantly, in almost every instance (as Jason Ray pointed out), the public sector version of the job is significantly less expensive than the private sector version.

    Mr. Moore’s point is crap. In all of the government industries I mentioned above, there is demand for these services. The question is, do we want them to be provided by private or public enterprise? In the case of private, the only advantage is that those who do not directly benefit (e.g., single adults with no kids in school) won’t have to pay. However, the costs will become prohibitively high for those who do need these services. For example, take your current salary and add ALL of the taxes you paid. Let’s say you’ve got 3 kids in school. If states currently pay $15K per student, compare that with the amount of money you just got back. Do you pay anywhere near $45K in taxes?

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  9. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Michael, thanks for the well thought out response. I may not be typical, which is why I don’t often use me as an example. I pay around 30k in taxes on net income under 100k. I also pay the total cost of my 3 kids education in private school, so they save at least on not having to educate my children. Whether Moore’s numbers are fair is debatable, however the bottom line is total govt employees that include everyone who derives their existence from some local, state or federal gov’t are still being paid for with tax dollars and even the tax they pay is paid for with tax dollars. And the total # of gov’t workers is greater then all those industries. My only real point is we need more jobs that don’t use tax revenue as their source of revenue, then ones who get revenue from non tax sources. That just seems to make common sense. If everyone worked for some form of government their would be no one to pay their salaries, unless we borrowed the money like we do now. 🙂

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  10. Michael wrote:

    Btw, I wasn’t phishing for your salary income when I mentioned the $45K in taxes. It was just a rhetorical question. I get your point, but I’m just not convinced that it is a major concern at this time. I was just trying to say that if Moore wants to make a comparison between government and private jobs, he shouldn’t hand-pick a few industries that are shrinking in the country. For instance, he makes no mention of pharmaceutical, IT, insurance, travel, automobile, aeronautics, or many other industries that are major components of the private sector. I just don’t see that the ratio of government to private sector workers (i.e., the number of people paid by taxes versus those not) has changed significantly. Perhaps a more important point is that the industries highlighted tend to be blue collar with lower salaries, whereas IT, engineering, pharma, etc., are higher paying. Consequently, the tax revenue from the shrinking industries is more easily replaced.

    My major concern regarding the shrinking industries is long-term unemployment. Let’s face it…not everyone is able to do the work of a software engineer, just like not everyone is capable of doing highway construction work. I’m concerned that the gutting of blue collar job opportunities permanently relegates a significant number of Americans to poverty. I simply think such inequality of opportunity is unpatriotic.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink
  11. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Agreed Michael on the many other (big) industries not counted. I think we can bring manufacturing jobs back home. For instance, in the clothing industry, including sneakers we are still paying the price in many instances of American made products even though they are supposedly being made overseas with cheap labor. Under Armor in my home town has been very succesful and all their products are made here in the USA. Now they don’t pay the greatest wages and use alot of temp labor, but they help alot of families pay the bills. If we got our leaders to grow a few sets maybe we could get China to stop manipulating their currency and if we added some tariffs to their imports we could get USA manufacturers on a more evan playing field and start making stuff here.
    On the skills for our high tech sectors I agree, and thats why we need some of our lost manufacturing back home along with a social push to learn the trades, because not everyone can or wants to go to college. They artisans who build our homes, fix and improve them are good hard working people. Its sort of like in the 90’s when congress was spouting that everyone deserves to be a homeowner. Now its everyone needs to be a college graduate. I bet alot of college graduates, minus lawyer/doctor types, work in a field that has nothing to do with their major. For instance, my sister’s degree was in english as was her masters. She owns a real estate business. Are we over-valuing our education, i don’t know, but does everyone need a degree…absolutely not.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  12. Michael wrote:

    I had regrets about my last paragraph right after I posted, because my wording was crap and sounded a lot more arrogant than I meant it to. When I said, “not everyone is able to do the work of…,” I did not mean it to be just about skills. My father is a retired firefighter. A couple years before retiring, he was in a car wreck and unable to do regular duty. So he reported to a M-F 8-5 desk job at headquarters. For one day. He hated it so much that he told them he either needed a couple more weeks unpaid leave or he was retiring.

    As a soon-to-be college professor (starting this fall), I’m ambivalent on the question of encouraging everyone to go to college and/or grad school. On the one hand, a very large number (almost half) of my friends from college work in fields other than their major. On the other hand, a college education is about so much more than your major. It’s about critical thinking, interaction with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and views, and a broad-based intellectual background (subjects like economics, history, public speaking, etc., are becoming increasingly important for civic participation). In short, college now provides you the education that high school used to. Except high school was free. I don’t have a solution…

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  13. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I just think when we tell folks who have struggled to pass HS that if they don’t or can’t go to college they are somehow less then those that do. When I fnished HS my father told me there was no money for college right now (late 70’s) and I’d have to find my own way. I started a manager trainee job the morning after graduation while my frinds went on vacation. I became succesful and built wealth with only a so so HS education and was a solid B/C student. I decided to complete college in my early 40’s because I wanted my 3 children to have no excuse for not going to college. I agree it broadens the mind, I actually graduated with honors and a 3.90 because I thought it was fun at this stage in my life. It didn’t contribute to my overall success or build any wealth, but it was good to accomplish. There is a stigma against those without college or if they are among college grads those without masters or PHDs. It wonderful to have, but it doesn’t make them smarter (intelligence wise), just a person with more knowledge or education.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink
  14. Iron Knee wrote:

    I’m impressed PSgt that you decided to go back to school. I agree that there are many reasons to go to college. Interestingly enough, I took a year off after high school because I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college at all. I’m glad I did go, but as several people have said, I don’t think everyone needs to go to college. However, I think anyone who wants to go and is willing to do the work, should have the opportunity.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  15. PatriotSGT wrote:

    amen to that brother 🙂

    Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  16. BTN wrote:

    One thing I never hear talked about is college expense. I mean I always hear that it is getting more expensive, but the discussions center on how to pay for it, not WHY it is so expensive. There is a lot of waste there. I also think that tenured employment hould not be a pafrt of anything that gets public money.

    On a related side note, one thing that is very common, but at the same time outrageously unfair is Alumini considerations for admission. This helps groups in the LEAST need of help (children of college graduates) and has no place in publicly funded institutions.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  17. Pillophyte wrote:

    “…the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.8%, its lowest in two years and a sign that the economic recovery is finally translating into new jobs.”

    Could job creation have anything to do with the fact that Obama’s plan to raise taxes (yes, I said RAISE taxes – when you increase the tax rate after ten years, you really have to call it RAISING, don’t you?) was thwarted by the newly elected, Republican-led Congress?

    Friday, April 8, 2011 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  18. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hahaha Pillophyte. Since that only affects next year’s taxes, it would be quite a stretch to claim that it has already affected job creation now.

    Also, Obama’s plan was to lower taxes on everyone except for people making more than $250,000 a year. If high taxes for the rich were suppressing job creation, then the 40 years after WWII should have been a huge depression. But oh wait, even with a marginal tax rate for the rich of 90%, we had tremendous job creation during that time. Explain that. And since Reagan cut taxes for the rich, we have had one bubble after another — with the housing bubble crash as just the latest example — as the rich scramble to find investment opportunities.

    Friday, April 8, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink