Wednesday, January 29, 2014

They're not unions, they're lobbies.

I guess the Medford teachers are going on strike.

"What's their beef?" I asked my wife, who reads the local paper.

"I don't know. The paper doesn't really say."

Which is why I don't read the local paper.

John Derbyshire made this point:
Public-sector workers' organizations are not unions, and shouldn't be allowed to call themselves unions. A union bargains for better wages and conditions from an employer; and when the union wins something, it comes out of the employer's profits and shareholder dividends. That's a union. Public-sector workers' organizations are really lobbies, using political pressure to extract money from the public fisc. If we stopped calling them "unions" and started calling them "lobbies," it would clarify our thinking.
Bunch of teachers standing around with their hands in my pockets. Wish they'd all just go away.

Friday, January 24, 2014


whoops_chris_and_alexa_thumb.jpgYeah, those little figure skaters can be kinda slippery sometimes.

But don't worry, Chris, what goes up must come down. Just be sure you get a good grip on her this time.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tab Clearing

Yeah I'm a lousy blogger; I know that. But I originally started this blog, not to dazzle you with my erudition, but to keep a few links to some of the more interesting (to me, not necessarily to you) articles I read. So even though I have nothing original to say I would like, for my own reasons, to note these things:

1. The Rural Way by Victor Davis Hanson.
When the sun goes down, you are on your own, and in some sense are better for the challenge. At six I can remember sitting (in the very place I am sitting now) as my grandfather at 70 jumped up to "investigate" a couple of yahoos drinking by the barn. The difference in those days, aside from the absence of armed gang-bangers, was that there was some deference shown the owner, or perhaps he earned it in a way I have not. He was known as "Mr. Davis," me nothing much at all. So he returned with a laconic, "I asked those trouble-makers to leave, and they did." Not now necessarily.
His best essay in some time. Read it all. I have, twice. And for VDH, who can be somewhat long-winded, that says a lot.

2. What is Going On With Jobs? By Christopher Chantrill. This is a follow-up to my previous post in which I teased the retired people. Turns out it's not the old folks who are dropping out of the labor force, it's the 16-to-54-year-olds (third chart down). More 65-and-older are working now than ever before.

3. What's with those young people anyway? Can't get 'em out of the house? Don't feel bad, in Japan they won't even come out of their room: Japan's Epidemic of Hikikomori by Chris Queen.
For years, Takeshi hid from the world, playing video games all night and sleeping all day, eating from a tray his mother left outside his room. Takeshi re-entered society after four years, thanks to a government program that sends female outreach counselors known as "rental sisters" to coax the hikikomori out of the house.
4. The problem with outside, as Mr. Badger once observed, is weather. Michael Barone wonders do we face a disastrous century due to global cooling? Probably so. Better start digging.

5. Megan McArdle argued in support of the resolution Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue and won the debate — on the Upper West Side. Huh.

6. And, finally, Professor Reynolds pointed out in USA Today that Government conspiracy theories aren't crazy. Not any more, they're not.

Now I can close my browser and take a break. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thanks, Barry!

In light of the latest research showing that smarter people drink more, and that contrary to pernicious rumor, drinking doesn't make you fat and doesn't actually kill brain cells, that it protects you from getting sick, and that it might actually prevent hearing loss, I'm actually kind of glad that Obama is driving me to drink.

If only he'd drive me home afterward.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Still Shufflin’ Along

An interesting chart, lifted from a column by Roger Simon, shows what the unemployment rate would be but for those who have given up looking for work. They call them "dropouts."

Of course, some of those "dropouts" are actually just retired. It's true; the cruel meanies at the Bureau of Labor Statistic consider you a member in good standing of the "civilian noninstitutional population," and therefore eligible to work, until you enter a nursing home.

So get out there, you slackers, and get a job! One paid hour a week is all it takes. Working around the house doesn't count, and neither does volunteer work. Let's get this economy booming again. Like in the olden days. Before Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Here are the relevant definitions straight from the BLS Glossary.
Labor force participation rate: The labor force as a percent of the civilian noninstitutional population.

Labor force: The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.

Civilian noninstitutional population: Included are persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.

Employed persons: Persons 16 years and over in the civilian noninstitutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family; and (b) all those who were not working but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. Excluded are persons whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and other organizations.

Unemployed persons: Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

And Worth Every Penny

Back during the year-end wrapup, the Weekend Investor ran a column entitled The Best Financial Advice I Ever Got (or Gave). Most of it was the predictable sort. Put all your money into stocks. Don't put all your money into stocks. That sort of thing.

But two little tidbits rang true for me. The first, from Michelle Smith, a financial advisor, was
My great-grandmother taught me: Don't ever give up your ability to make your own money.
As long as you have an income, there's hope. When you're living off your savings, it's only a matter of time.

The second, from Mark Cuban, was
Pay off your debt first. Freedom from debt is worth more than any amount you can earn.
Man, don't we know it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


If you don't read anything else in The Weekend Journal today, take a glance at Terry Teachout's The Narcissism of Boomer Nostalgia.
Not surprisingly, my parents' generation did everything they could to make life easier for their own children. Was that good for us? I wonder. It certainly didn't do us any good from a cultural point of view. I'm struck by how few boomers have embraced adult culture in middle age. My impression is that they'd much rather watch sitcoms than read novels, go to the opera or listen to jazz. In large part they're a cohort of Peter Pans, determined not to grow up any more than they can help. Indeed, not a few of them seem to take a perverse kind of pride in their adolescent enthusiasms. I read the other day that a "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" lunch box from 1973 now sells for $1,200 — and that the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History owns one. I'm not quite sure which of those facts makes me sadder.
And once again for the record, I would like to protest vehemently that I do not belong to my generation.