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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday - Sunday, September 8-10, 2006


Madman's US Population Employment Ratio

It's just way too easy to look at the Department of Labor Statistics and say "This many jobs have been created last month," or "This many jobs have been lost last month." The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out the "Employment Situation Summary" which shows all of the pertinent numbers on one long page in text format.

Note from a Madman looks at this summary to get the REAL employment statistics to show how many Americans are employed versus how many Americans could be employed. This reflects all Americans of the right age who: are employed (those Americans with any job); are considered "unemployed" (a stat that can be manipulated, as proven by the switch to using the household survey to determine the numbers from the more critical payroll survey); and those who could be working, if they chose to. (As a note, it is similar to The Employment-Population Ratio.)

Earlier this year, when the "official unemployment" rate his 4.7 percent, Fox News Channel told us all that "95.3 percent of all Americans have jobs." If not a lie, it was, at the very least, misleading.

There is a way to measure employment statistics without spinning the numbers. I like to call it The US Population Employment Ratio (USPER). The USPER is a measurement that takes all Americans who are able to work (the Probable Workforce) and compares that statistic with how many Americans are actually employed. It doesn't, however, take into account how many Americans are working at down-graded jobs (i.e..; a worker who was downsized from his medium-income position as a graphic artist to his current position as a Wal-Mart shelf stocker); nor does it account for the real number of how many Americans want to work, but can't find a job versus how many Americans aren't working out of choice. The Bush administration would have us believe that this is one statistic when, in truth, due the declining wages of the Average American (Real Wages) and the loss of good paying jobs to overseas manufacturers and service providers (outsourcing), the former number is, more than likely, much greater than the latter number over the past five-plus years.

The Bush administration has been attempting to put a positive spin on the employment/ unemployment numbers since they have entered office. Their philosophy has been one of "trickle-down" that was proven to be disastrous, most recently during the Reagan years, and the wrong choice used by the Hoover administration during the Great Depression. The historical proof hasn't deterred the Bushies from giving it another try.

First, I'd like to address the most ignored stat that the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) puts out: The "Not in Labor Force" numbers. Think of this as the number of Americans who aren't employed and aren't looking for jobs. Most of us would assume that this number would be dropping dramatically due to the fact that real wages have fallen for the average American. As it turns out, from June to July of this year, an additional 29,000 Americans have joined the ranks of "I could work, but I choose not to's" while from July to August, that number rose by another 90,000 Americans! What the Bush administration would have you believe is that, for the past two months, 119,000 Americans have it so good that they no longer need to work. It's more probable that, because they have been out of work for so long, that the government no longer considers them job seekers. Many of these people will have families; many will have lost their health care coverage; and many will have to spend their life's savings and cash in their retirement funds (if they are lucky enough to have retirement funds) just to pay for things like groceries, clothing for their children heating in the winter and gasoline. Any of these people, in other words, are just living hand-to-mouth.

The US Population Employment Ratio measure America's employment more accurately and without the use of subjective data manipulation. It simply asks: "How many Americans are of sound mind and body to be workers today?" and "How many Americans are working?" It uses the same BLS numbers and formula to tabulate these numbers as have been used for years.

Here are some of the BLS numbers to use and compare:

June-August, 2006 June, 2006 July, 2006 August, 2006 July-August Change, 2006
Civilian labor force 151,321,000 151,534,000 151,698,000 164,000
Employment 144,363,000 144,329,000 144,579,000 250,000
Unemployment 6,957,000 7,205,000 7,119,000 -86,000
Not in labor force 77,350,000 77,370,000 77,469,000 90,000

One thing that strikes you with these numbers is the good-news/ bad-news in the bottom two lines. While unemployment seems to have fallen by 86,000 Americans, an additional 90,000 Americans seem to have fallen off the map and are considered as "not in the labor force" any longer. That appears to be a net increase of 4,000 of Americans without jobs. Just where have these 90,000 Americans come from anyway?


As a comparison, take a look at the same numbers in the last three months of President Bill Clinton's administration (October - December, 2000):

Last 3 Months of 2000 October, 2000 November, 2000 December, 2000 November-December Change, 2000
Civilian labor force 141,000,000 141,136,000 141,489,000 353,000
Employment 135,464,000 135,478,000 135,836,000 358,000
Unemployment 5,536,000 5,658,000 5,653,000 -5,000
Not in labor force 69,378,000 69,441,000 69,254,000 -187,000

The numbers speak for themselves. While increasing the number of jobs and the number of those who are employed, the Clintons were able to also decrease (by a huge amount) the number of Americans who were not in the labor force.


According to how the Bush administration interprets these numbers, and how they present it, the 90,000 Americans who aren't in the labor force choose to be there. Reviewing the next table, you'll notice some more interesting stuff:

Changes from 2000-2006 Most Current Month - December 2000 - August 2006
Civilian labor force 107.22%
Employment 106.44%
Unemployment 125.93%
Not in labor force 111.86%

These changes are drastic. While the civilian labor force from December 2000 through today has increased by over seven percent, those who are actually employed (in any job) has only increased by 6.44 percent. More importantly, there is an increase of almost 12 percent in those who no longer wish to work (Not in Labor Force) and a whopping increase of close to 26 percent of those who are unemployed. Because the Civilian Labor Force increased by only 7.22 percent, these numbers translate to a net loss of jobs to the American workforce.


Here is Madman's US Population Employment Ratio using the latest published BLS numbers (August, 2006) as compared to the last month of the Clinton administration:

Bush's Administration 2006 Most Current Month
Total Possible Work Force 229,167,000
Total without a job 84,588,000
Percentage of Employed Americans 63.09%
Clinton's Administration 2000 Most Current Month
Total Possible Work Force 210,743,000
Total without a job 74,907,000
Percentage of Employed Americans 64.46%

Today, according to the numbers that don't lie, a little over 63 percent of able-bodied Americans are working as compared to almost 65 1/2 percent five years ago. Taking into consideration that the wealth curve has been pushed more wealth and money toward the wealthiest  Americans (Bush's "base of haves and have mores"), and the fact that real wages for real, middle class and poorer Americans have decreased over the past five-plus years, we can also assume that the new jobs created under the Bush administration haven't been of the same quality as those created under the Clinton administration.


In closing, I'd like to point out my favorite excuse for America's ills since the Bushies have forced their way, with the help of the US Supreme Court, into office. You hear it all the time: "Clinton was just lucky to be president when he was and Bush is unlucky to be president now."


Maybe if we elect a Democrat again, all of our luck will change.


-Noah Greenberg

Evidence of Betrayal

On the same day the Senate released a report confirming that Saddam Hussein never had ties with Al-Qaeda, we also learn that Donald Rumsfeld refused to consider planning for post-war Iraq. According to Brigadier General Mark Scheid, the Secretary of Defense actually threatened to fire anyone who discussed post-war plans.

Our poor troops never had a chance coming or going.

How can the President continue to go on television and continue to draw illusory links between Al-Qaeda and Iraq? Will he never be held accountable for his actions and words?

More than ever, I am proud of my representatives in Congress: New Jerseyís Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12th). These intelligent, courageous men opposed Bushís war from the start, and continue to call for an end to our mistaken involvement in Iraq. If the rest of our country had such wise leadership, we could have avoided the unnecessary disaster that Iraq has become.

-Eddie Konczal

The Torture Never Stops

Now that Bush has come clean on secret CIA prisons and the "alternative interrogation techniques" the SOB (and that term is to be taken literally) wants torture made legal.

For crying out loud, if other countries hate us now what more is to come?

Tony Blair has announced that he is stepping down (no date has been announced) as British Prime Minister. I wonder if he`s just had enough? An overwhelming majority of England is opposed to the war in Iraq, and Tony's shenanigans, and wants Tony to leave his currant post. I only wish our resident in the White House would do the overwhelming majority in The United States the same favor.

If asked, most Americans will say torture is morally wrong and information obtained from torture is, for the most part, unreliable. However many others agree to torture when the prisoner is a terrorist suspect. Do they not realize that true
terrorist who are dedicated to their beliefs are not going to give up information, even under extreme duress?

I can't help but wonder how incredibly cruel President Bush is.

Remember, during his blood reign as governor of Texas he executed 152 state prisoners.

-Sean (Mr. Blue-Sky)

"Path To 911" - Kean is Obscene

The ABC movie promoted itself as a serious work based on the 9/11 commission report and featuring Tom Kean, the commissionís co-chairman, as a co-executive producer. (Itís impossible to imagine Earl Warren producing a movie about the events in Dallas.) But if itís making a claim upon peopleís attention as a trustworthy and accurate description of events that bear on all our lives, youíve got to stick with the truth. You canít pick and choose when you want it to be history and when you want it to be art. (Quel art.)
-Maureen Dowd in The New York Times

Kean, Senior should be ashamed to be part of this work of fiction. Several of the 9/11 commission members have disavowed this baloney docu-drama. Could it be that Kean, Senior wants the Kean name in the media because Junior is running for Senate? Between his involvement with this movie and sleazy fundraising events for his son, that are payoffs by the board of directors of a HMO to the Keans, the glow has come off of the Kean family.

-Robert Scardapane

More on "Path To 911" from America's Blog:

I just watched the Sandy Berger scene. It is beyond defamatory. The reports you've read do not do it justice.

[... T]his is THE KEY SCENE of the entire first half of the movie. You can't cut it, or a good portion of the movie just makes no sense. But Disney/ABC can't leave the scene in because it simply did not happen. CIA agents weren't on the ground, they weren't with Massoud, nobody had bin Laden in their grasp, and Berger never refused to give the order to get the guy.

The entire culmination of the first half of the show is one big fat lie. This isn't just a small scene with a small error. It's THE scene and it NEVER HAPPENED AT ALL.

It is simply slanderous that this sort of fiction has been released months before elections. This shows the power Republicans have over the media. There is only on echoice - kick the lying Goopers out!

-Robert Scardapane

And Even More:

As I first noted yesterday, I have the entire "Path to 9/11" video. And one of the very first scenes makes it explicitly clear that American Airlines had Mohammad Atta in its grasp, warning lights flashing on the computer screen, yet the airline simply blew off the threat and helped Atta kill 3,000 Americans.

Unfortunately, it's a total lie.

ABC/Disney should be sued for slander by American Airlines, Bill Clinton and a number of his staff. If they want to lie, they must pay a price!

-Robert Scardapane

GOP Mud-Slinging

The Washington Post uncovered this memo:

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

The hope is that a vigorous effort to "define" opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall.


Sound familiar? Kean Junior's campaign! Mike Ferguson's campaign! Even the bogus "path to 9/11" movie. The Repuglicans are doing what they do best - mud slinging. They can't run on the issues so instead they are resorting to character assassination.

-Robert Scardapane

Still don't believe Social Security is on the ballot this November?

In an interview published today in The Wall Street Journal (sub.req.), President Bush told editorial page editor Paul Gigot that next year he plans on partially phasing out Social Security and replacing it with private accounts, and that he thinks he can do it as long as the Republicans retain control of Congress, which he thinks they will.

Start saving now.

-Submitted and commented on by Victoria Brownworth, courtesy of Josh Marshall at www.talkingpointsmemo.com

In response to Rhian, Billie M. Spaight writes:

Interestingly, Mussolini was a far-left socialist before he swung over to the far right to become a fascist. As to how a socialist becomes a fascist--that is weird, but today's socialist is so different than those of the WWII era. But I have to agree with Rhian that our country certainly is in the early stages of Fascism (or Nazism).

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-Noah Greenberg