Busting the birdman, tapped-out FEMA, should daycare providers be required to join a union, blues for Honeyboy, and 500 people in 100 seconds.
"That's really incredible," a CNBC anchor said this morning, seconds after the Conference Board reported that consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level since April 2009.
Incredible? Not really. People are influenced by reality and also the perception of reality. They may have the same income they had last month. They may have the same jobs. They may have even been able to sock away a few dollars. But if you keep up a steady drumbeat of, "things are getting worse and we may be heading for another perception," how reasonable is it to expect people not to lose confidence?
Clearly, fear is not the only thing we have to fear. But fear plays a big part in increasing worry. And worry is what makes people stop spending and people not spending is what creates recessions and recessions are what gives people more fear, which increases worry, which makes people..... well, you get the picture, right?
"A contributing factor may have been the debt ceiling discussions since the decline in confidence was well underway before the S&P downgrade. Consumers' assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, posted only a modest decline as employment conditions continue to suppress confidence," Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said in a statement.
Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 11.8 percent from 17.9 percent, while those expecting business conditions to worsen surged to 24.6 percent from 16.1 percent, the Conference Board said. Those anticipating more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 11.4 percent from 16.9 percent, while those expecting fewer jobs increased to 31.5 percent from 22.2 percent. The proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes declined to 14.3 percent from 15.9 percent.
But the people surveyed aren't economists. It's regular consumers. And what those consumers think about the future makes up 60 percent of the survey results.Their view of the jobs outlook depends on what the people they listen to say is the outlook on jobs.
Sometimes those are the TV and radio business reporters. Sometimes it's the presidential and congressional candidates who point out how horrible things are and how worse they're going to get if you don't elect them a year from now.
More often than not, we think what we're told we should think. So the emotional component of a country's economy certainly presents a problem for politicians and reporters -- how to portray reality without contributing to a worse reality.
So far, few have mastered it.
American Public Media's Marketplace is taking a stab at it with it's new "Index," which purports to quantify the state of things on a daily basis via point system. It's unclear -- at least to me -- whether that's a step in the right direction of balanced economic assessment, or a step toward making the emotional component of the economy even worse.
What do you think?(4 Comments)
A phony video purporting to show Rep. Michele Bachmann asking an Iowa crowd, "who likes white people?" has been pulled from YouTube.
Bachmann made an appearance at a Christian Music Festival in Des Moines earlier this month. This is the actual appearance:
But a blogger at On Knees For Jesus admits today that he edited the video so that her actual line -- "who likes wet people?" -- would sound like she was asking "who likes white people?".
Today, he apologized and removed the video:
"I want to apologize for misusing Stacey Robert McCain's original video (click here). I was angry so I decided to take Mrs. Bachmann's line out of context to make her seem more overtly racist in light of her recent signing of that Iowa marriage pledge that said black children were better off under slavery than in Obama's America. Whether or not I dislike Michele Bachmann, it wasn't right to deliver a dishonest blow like that. I wanted to apologize to Mr. McCain and all of you directly. This blog is dedicated to showing Christ's love through his followers. By posting something misleading, I undermine my own purpose."
Too late. Many websites took the bait. Daily Kos, the community website for liberals, was one as this cached version of its page shows.
But after it was revealed it was faked, the website pretended it didn't...
A more appropriate response would have been to acknowledge the mistake and apologize to the candidate for making it.
NewsCut's obsession with billboard controversies is satiated today with word of a billboard brouhaha in West Mansfield, Ohio where a church put this billboard up.
Now that you know a church put it up, it makes perfect sense, right? But if you didn't know that, you might think an atheist organization put it up. And that's the controversy.
"Some Christians were asking us to take it down. But it's the kind of sign designed to make you think," Frank Moore, pastor of McElroy Road Church of Christ, told the Mansfield News Journal.
"We earnestly thank the McElroy Road Church of Christ for advertising our thoughts," an official with the Mid Ohio Atheists said.(3 Comments)
President Obama made no news today when he spoke to the American Legion convention in Minneapolis.
But he really didn't have much choice but to get on a helicopter, fly to the local Air Force base, get in Air Force One to fly halfway across the country, motorcade to downtown Minneapolis, give a short speech, motorcade back, fly back, and helicopter back to the White House. Not showing up would have been political suicide. He already was criticized for not going to the VFW convention, and the perks of the presidency allow you to make political niceties on the company dime. That's the way it's been for years.
How many dimes? The White House, of course, never says. Even when it rebutted Michele Bachmann's (false) claim that a trip to India cost $200 million, it steadfastly refused to say how much it did cost.
But McClatchey Newspapers took a stab at it back in 2009.
The costs of the trips -- borne by taxpayers -- are difficult to measure, but they're expensive. When he uses the familiar blue-and-white reconfigured 747 as Air Force One, it costs $100,219 an hour to operate, according to the Air Force. And that's just HIS plane.
There also are cargo planes, used to fly in armored limousines, helicopters, staff and other equipment, as well as the Secret Service. A single Air Force C-17 cargo jet, for example, costs $6,960 an hour, according to the Congressional Research Service.
A total of 77 other aircraft were used on one multi-country trip to Asia by former President Bill Clinton in 2000, according to the Air Force Times, including 14 C-17 Globemasters, 12 C-5 Galaxys, three C-141 Starlifters and two C-130 Hercules.
Most of those wouldn't be needed for a short hop to Minneapolis so many of those costs could be discounted. There might have been a C-17 bringing the limousines here, but if it wasn't flying here, it'd probably be flying somewhere else since the pilots fly often to stay sharp.
So just using the $100,219-per-hour figure, and calculating a three-hour trip here and a two-hour trip back, suggests a minimum cost of $501,095.
There were 4,187 words in the speech today, which works out to $119.67 per word.
There are 10,000 convention delegates, according to the Star Tribune. If they'd all walked up to the ticket counter at Minneapolis St. Paul and bought a one-day, roundtrip to Washington to hear the president and allow him to stay put, it would have cost $14.5 million.
So the whole arrangement saved everyone about $14 million.(1 Comments)
The down side of taking a vacation this year is I lost track of two area women -- St. Olaf seniors -- who were trying to become the first women in history to paddle a canoe from the Twin Cities to Hudson Bay in Canada.
I left town right when it was getting good because for 18 days this month, Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren were stuck on Lake Winnipeg by high winds and it seemed questionable whether they'd realize their dream.
It happened last Thursday, they posted on their blog over the weekend:
After paddling 200 km in two days, we arrived at York Factory at around 4pm on August 25th. There was a young polar bear frequenting the estate, so we slept inside after branding our paddles and eating sausages. Yesterday we flew out in the afternoon with Teagan and Jason the York Factory caretakers. Good thing we got there when we did because after September 4th everyone will leave for the winter. Now, we are in Gillam, Manitoba waiting for the train which will take us to Winnipeg where we will be picked up by our friends, Megan McClanahan and Austin Danicic.
The end of the Hayes was a magical experience, and we will make sure to give you all the play by play with lots of pictures and video when we get back to the states. Thanks for all of your support!! We are so happy that we accomplished our goal and can't wait to tell everyone all about our adventures!!!!!
That's 2,250 miles of paddling and if it were easy, someone would've done it before 2011.
(Video: From Nick Coleman shows the women leaving Fort Snelling on June 2nd.)(1 Comments)