Economy worse than official figure
The government recently released the November unemployment figure as 8.6 percent (down from 9.1 percent), claiming this was good news. Most folks don’t realize that the government computes six unemployment numbers each month, U-1 through U-6. Here is the data for November:
• U-1. People unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force — 5.1 percent.
• U-2. Job losers and people who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force — 4.9 percent.
• U-3. Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate) — 8.6 percent.
• U-4. Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers — 9.3 percent.
• U-5. Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other people marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all people marginally attached to the labor force — 10.2 percent.
• U-6. Total unemployed, plus all people marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all people marginally attached to the labor force — 15.6 percent.
My personal opinion is that U-4 and U-5 more correctly reflect the state of the economy, as U-3 doesn’t count the folks who have left the workforce.
RICHARD A. HOPPER
Don’t blame poor
I regularly see letters to the editor chastising the poor as being unwilling to work, lazy or freeloaders. These writers continue to believe that 50 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes. They never include a demographic breakdown of this, which would include the retired and those who do work but qualify for tax credits because of their low income.
These same letter writers, who I assume benefited from the Bush-era tax cuts, also seem oblivious to the fact that most middle-income Americans have actually seen their incomes shrink, or at least erode because of inflation. Millions of Americans are finding it harder and harder to break even, let alone save for retirement. Meanwhile, the wealthy are making the deals to send jobs offshore.
Those who claim America needs innovative and imaginative job creation are exactly right. However, until we can regulate how we keep these jobs in the United States, every corporation will continue to try to compete by lowering its labor costs.
I think Americans can agree that to profit is not a crime. But unlike ordinary Americans, these corporations can lobby to restrict oversight of themselves. Through entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, they actually write the legislation that is supposed to regulate or provide oversight.
The only problems that most conservatives, some independents and a smattering of liberals have with GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul are his noninterventionist approach to foreign policy and his belief that American exceptionalism ought to be economically demonstrated to the rest of the world rather than militarily proved. Yet dire threats to our individual liberties have seldom emanated from abroad. It is the turmoil we collectively bring upon ourselves by pushing majority rule over minority rights that every individual should suspect.
All of the American exceptionalism bravado relentlessly cheered on by presidents, would-be presidents and their yell clubs has become predictably dull and uninspiring. Check out the number of times President Obama invokes the phrase in his speeches and the other Republican debaters bandy it about. Foreigners, who must contend with their own ruling statists cheering their nation’s exceptionalism, are understandably unimpressed with us.
Individuals cooperating with other individuals for their mutual economic interests will never go to war with each other. Only nation-states that breed a fervent nationalism into their spirits and souls can do that.
If we as a nation really intend to offer the world leadership again, we need to step back and put the individual, not our nation-state, at the center of the universe.
It’s time to practice Jeffersonian libertarianism at home and abroad.
RON A. HOFFMAN