Friday, May 23, 2008

Recount on HBO

Recount looks to be pretty compelling, based on the trailer I saw. Airs on HBO May 25 and May 26. I might just subscribe to HBO for the first time ever.

In the meantime, here an excerpt from Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? I'm putting up here for posterity:

Following the court's announcement, a group of eight newspapers invested nearly a million dollars to hire the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago to undertake a detailed study of the Florida vote, to discover, if possible, who really won. The Bush administration always opposed this action and treated the ultimate correctness of the court's intervention as all the legitimacy it needed. And, during the long period before the results of the count were announced, the news outlets who funded the study communicated a decided impression that they were not terribly eager to call the president's (and hence the system's) legitimacy into question either. September 11 made this impression unmistakable. Top New York Times correspondent Richard Berke admitted as much when, shortly after the attacks, he declared the outcome of the recount to be "utterly irrelevant" and worried that its release might "stoke partisan tensions."[1]

Berke was right to be concerned. Shortly before the September 11 attacks, a Gallup Organization poll found that nearly half of Americans surveyed remain convinced that President Bush either "won on a technicality" or "stole the election." They were right, though this would have been difficult to discern based on the coverage the eventual release of the recount report received. The headlines read: "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote" (New York Times) and "Florida Recounts Would Have Favored Bush" (Washington Post). These were misleading at best. What the NORC researchers really discovered was the Gore legal team's incredible incompetence. The lawyers happened, it turned out, to choose just about the only counting argument that would have lost Gore the election even had the court ruled in his favor. Lead member David Boies had explicitly ruled out a more inclusive recount of Florida's votes -- one that not only would have elected his man, but would have been immeasurably more fair to the people of Florida. Instead Boies asked the court to count "undervotes" but not "overvotes." Using that method, Bush did indeed outpoll Gore and the court's intervention did not ultimately make a difference. It was, perhaps, a perfect coda to a perfectly awful campaign.

But buried beneath the misleading headlines was the inescapable fact that Al Gore was the genuine choice of a plurality of Florida's voters as well as America's. As the AP report put it, "In the review of all the state's disputed ballots, Gore edged ahead under all six scenarios for counting all undervotes and overvotes statewide." In other words, he got more votes in Florida than George Bush by almost every conceivable counting standard. Gore won under a strict-counting scenario and he won under a loose-counting scenario. He won if you count "hanging chads" and he won if you counted "dimpled chads." He won if you count a dimpled chad only in the presence of another dimpled chad on the same ballot -- the so-called "Palm Beach" standard. He even won if you counted only a fully-punched chad. He won if you counted partially-filled oval on an optical scan and he won if you counted only a fully-filled optical scan. He won if you fairly counted the absentee ballots. No matter how you count it, if everyone who legally voted in Florida had had a chance to see their vote counted, Al Gore is our president. [2]

But by the time of the release of the report, the mainstream media had grown so protective of President Bush's legitimacy that many were willing to tar as crazy anyone who took the trouble to read the report carefully. To this reader anyway, they put one in mind of a husband who is doing everything he can to try to get his wife not only to forgive, but also to forget a past infidelity. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported, "The conspiracy theorists have been out in force, convinced that the media were covering up the Florida election results to protect President Bush.... That gets put to rest today." Kurtz scoffed as well at the notion that anyone still cared about whether Bush had stolen the presidential election. "Now," he wrote, "the question is: How many people still care about the election deadlock that last fall felt like the story of the century -- and now faintly echoes like some distant Civil War battle?" [3] Following suit, the Associated Press even rewrote its own history. In September 2002, the news service carried a story from Florida that read: "Some unofficial ballot inspections paid for by consortiums of news agencies showed Bush winning by varying margins." But when the recounts were initially released in November 2001, the news service's editors acknowledged, "A full, statewide recount of all undervotes and overvotes could have erased Bush's 537-vote victory and put Gore ahead by a tiny margin ranging from 42 to 171 votes, depending on how valid votes are defined." [4] Meanwhile CNN's Candy Crowley fell back on that old reliable, "Maybe the best thing of all is that messy feelings at the Florida ballot have only proved the strength of our democracy...."

In fact, had the Supreme Court not intervened for Bush, it seems quite likely that Gore would have won the count despite his own side's incompetence. Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis informed an Orlando Sentinel reporter that he had never fully made up his mind, but he was considering the "overvote" standard that would likely have given the count to Gore. [5] Newsweek's Michael Isikoff also discovered a contemporaneous document demonstrating exactly this intent. [6] Hence those newspapers who reported even the narrowest victory for Bush without a Supreme Court intervention, may have been wrong. Once again, the so-called liberal media was spinning itself blind for the conservative Republican. But to point this out was to be termed a "conspiracy theorist" by the same "liberal media." Let's give the last word to the editors of the conservative London-based Economist, who, unlike their American counterparts, managed to read the results of recount with a clear eye, and hence, felt duty-bound to publish the following correction of its earlier coverage: "In the issues of December 16, 2000 to November 10, 2001, we may have given the impression that George W. Bush had been legally and duly elected president of the United States. We now understand that this may have been incorrect, and that the election result is still too close to call. The Economist apologizes for any inconvenience."

[1] Richard Berke, "Aftermath; it's not time for a party but for how long?" The New York Times, September 4, 2000, Week in Review, 3

[2] Eric Alterman, "Florida Speaks, Media Spins, World Turns,", November 12, 2001

[3] Howard Kurtz, "George W. Bush; Now More than Ever," The Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2001, C1

[4] "Katherine Harris: Gore's 'Dogs of War' Bit Him,", August 26, 2002

[5] David Damron and Roger Roy, "Both Sides Guessed Wrong," Orlando Sentinel, November 12, 2001

[6] On December 9, just as the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the counting, Lewis authored a memo instructing canvassing boards to isolate "overvotes" that demonstrated clear intent. "If you would segregate 'overvotes' as you describe and indicate in your final report how many where you determined the clear intent of the voter," he wrote "I will rule on the issue for all counties." Overvotes were clearly legal under Florida law, as a few counties had already included them in their counts.

And then there was "Move On", which, in its name, proscribed us all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Eric Alterman on Libertarianism

Great quote today by someone I admire, Eric Alterman, on libertarianism:

"I feel that libertarianism, as I understand it, is overly concerned with theoretical liberty at the expense of its actual practice. The freedom to starve, to see one's labor unfairly exploited, to drink polluted water or breath polluted air, are not freedoms I strongly value. And to battle these and others like them, society requires collective institutional action and in many cases, government (or labor union) protection. I'm no fan of "big government" per se--and neither was Dewey. It's merely that powerful forces like global corporations require powerful forces to balance them."

from TPM

Also see

Michael Gerson - The Libertarian Jesus -

"Just as Jesus the leftist revolutionary is a distortion, so is Jesus the libertarian."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Bipartisanship Scam

I highly recommend this piece in the Huffington Post. Some excerpts:

...I was handed the Journal on my Saturday flight from New York to San Francisco on United Airlines. And the Harwood/Seib piece was so out of touch with the current zeitgeist that I found myself repeatedly checking the date at the top of the page to make sure the flight attendant hadn't mistakenly given me a paper that someone had left on the plane a decade ago.
The piece starts off by rightly noting the public's "hunger for change" and "major reforms." But the authors then argue that the cause of this hunger is the fact that "the two parties have moved further apart on the ideological spectrum," resulting in "party fatigue."

Excuse me? The reason 82 percent of the public thinks the country is on the wrong track is because of "party fatigue"? This is beyond parody.
Wasn't the Iraq war the crowning example of bipartisanship during the Bush era? And we know how well that bipartisanship worked out. Actually, what is tragic is that in the run-up to the war we didn't have more of the "gridlock" Harwood and Seib decry. A lot of people are dead because of the bipartisanship that Harwood and Seib venerate.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bush Gave Up Golf to Show Solidarity with Troops

From Politico:

For the first time, Bush revealed a personal way in which he has tried to acknowledge the sacrifice of soldiers and their families: He has given up golf.

“I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said. “I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization’s high commissioner for human rights.

“I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life,” he said. “I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, ‘It's just not worth it anymore to do.’"

McGovern's Advice for Hillary and Barack

I agree with this hopeful suggestion from McGovern.

Excerpted from NY Times Op-Ed, A Two-for-One Campaign, May 13, 2008:

To reduce the risk of creating the kind of divisions that afflicted Democrats during my campaigns, here is a proposal that I hope Senators Clinton and Obama and our party will consider.

After today’s vote in West Virginia, the two candidates should agree to make joint visits to the sites of the five remaining primaries (in Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota).

During these visits, Senators Clinton and Obama should agree not to criticize each other. They would simply state what each would do if elected president. They would also point out why President Bush’s policies have failed and why they would continue to fail under John McCain.

After each candidate speaks for 15 minutes or so, they would then be taken to a reception where citizens paying $50 a ticket would mingle with the two candidates. The money raised would go to the state Democratic Party to assist local and state candidates in the fall elections.

The two candidates should also visit the two disputed states, Michigan and Florida. No matter what happens to the delegations from those states, their voters are entitled to see and to hear these two historic candidates.

This is an agenda that could unite our party and prepare us for a successful convention with a big victory in November. It would also be a refreshing and welcome change for American presidential politics.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Inflation Reduces the Wealth of the Rich

Great quote:

[The] fundamental political economy fact about inflation: that unanticipated increases in inflation reduce the wealth of net creditors, who map more or less perfectly on the rich as a whole. There will always be a need to find a reason to make inflation the scapegoat for whatever ails the general public

-Peter Dorman

Proliferation of Schools Looking to Capitalize on Unemployed

Would-Be Caregivers, Beware
May 7, 2008; Page D1

Tammy Barnes, an unemployed mother of three, used up her $12,000 in savings last year pursuing a career in nursing. But after completing a course offered by Advanced Medical Training Institute, in Marietta, Ga., Ms. Barnes can't get a nursing license or a job, because Advanced isn't accredited by Georgia's nursing board.

Ms. Barnes, who lives in Hiram, Ga., and two other Advanced students have sued the school and its owners, claiming they were duped into believing the school was properly certified. The owners have been battling regulators in West Virginia over similar issues, and in February, they were ordered by the Texas Workforce Commission to stop operating an uncertified school in Dallas.

One owner, Joseph Tucker, declined to comment, and the other, Edlyne Charles, didn't return calls. In depositions and hearings, Ms. Charles and Mr. Tucker have denied wrongdoing and have said that Advanced is a legitimate business.

The actions against them represent the potential risks would-be nurses face amid a proliferation of schools looking to capitalize on the fast-expanding nursing field. As job openings for nurses have grown, established nursing schools haven't been able to keep up with the demand. According to a recent study, U.S. colleges turned away about 40,000 qualified applicants for nursing programs in 2006.

For-profit schools have rushed into the market -- and a number of them are drawing scrutiny and litigation. Texas regulators issued cease-and-desist orders against a total of six unlicensed schools this year. Last year, California regulators issued two similar orders against uncertified schools and say they are investigating three more. In September, the Massachusetts attorney general filed a lawsuit against an outfit that allegedly collected thousands of tuition dollars by claiming a nonexistent link to a bona fide college. Nancy Spector, education director at the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing, says that over the past few years, she has heard about one new suspect program a month, up from zero in 2002, when she joined the council.

Some unscrupulous operators have relied on loopholes in the regulatory system. There is no law that prohibits schools from offering courses that purport to teach nursing skills. But state nursing boards will issue permits to practice as a registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse only to those students who train in certified programs and pass a state nursing exam.

In Georgia, Advanced Medical had 96 students in the class that graduated in June 2007. Many are of modest means. Maxine Rogers, a single mother of two in Decatur, Ga., who took classes until late 2007, took out an $8,000 personal loan to complete the Advanced course before she discovered it was a dead end, she says. She is now struggling to keep up with $222 monthly loan payments. "I had to double my shifts," says Ms. Rogers, who works as a nursing assistant.

Chichi Sabor, a licensed practical nurse in Haltom City, Texas, enrolled in Merit Excellence Institute in nearby Carrollton to upgrade to a registered-nurse degree. After she made a down payment of $2,500, a Merit official raised her suspicions by suggesting she teach a course, she says. She declined the offer and ultimately went to the state's regulators -- who issued an order against the school after it went out of business. Ms. Sabor says she lost her $2,500. Merit's owners couldn't be reached to comment. The school, which charged $7,500 to $10,000 in tuition, had at least 55 students in its last session.

Advanced Medical's owners managed to recruit students, obtain hospital cooperation for training, and build a network reaching as far as Texas and Jamaica. Its president, Ms. Charles, is a licensed practical nurse who once falsely identified herself as a registered nurse in a brochure for another venture, according to a consent decree she signed with Georgia nursing regulators in 2002. Mr. Tucker, who was vice president, told a recent closed-door hearing at the Texas Workforce Commission -- where the school was to trying to expand -- that he hardly knows "how to put on a Band-Aid." Mr. Tucker claimed to be worth "a million and a half dollars" in the hearing. "I don't need to do this," he added. "I do this because I like to work and I like helping people."

Advanced Medical classes in Georgia were held twice a week from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ms. Barnes said lectures became progressively more cursory, with instructors rushing through coursework. When she started training at Kindred Hospital Atlanta, "I was very, very nervous, I was so sick about what I might do to patients," she says. Still, she says, she was permitted to give them drugs.

Brian Pugh, the hospital's chief executive, confirms Advanced Medical students trained at Kindred, but says they weren't allowed to administer medication. He says Kindred revoked its agreement with Advanced in September after being notified by Georgia authorities that the school wasn't certified.

Although Ms. Barnes intended to practice in Georgia, she said she applied for a license in West Virginia at Ms. Charles's suggestion. She said she was told by Ms. Charles that she would be able to obtain a license in Georgia through state reciprocity agreements. Ms. Charles denied this in a deposition.

Last fall, to Ms. Barnes's surprise, she received a letter from the West Virginia nursing board asking her for proof of having gone to school -- in Jamaica. A transcript sent to the board, Ms. Barnes later learned, showed her attending not Advanced Medical, but Hospicare Nursing Academy in Mandeville, a town in Jamaica she had never visited. The transcript also showed her studying for six months longer than she actually did. Advanced Medical has said it has a franchise agreement with Hospicare.

In October, Hospicare sent the West Virginia board a second set of transcripts for Ms. Barnes. The records were different this time, and Ms. Barnes was shown to have received A's in all 33 courses listed -- including courses she says she never took.

Hospicare is registered with Jamaica's Ministry of Education. The ministry official whose job is to monitor such schools, Yvonne Campbell, went to bat for Hospicare and Advanced Medical in the U.S., arranging a meeting with West Virginia's nursing-regulatory board to try to convince the state that the program was legitimate, says Lannette Anderson, the board's executive director.

Reached by phone in Jamaica, Ms. Campbell said, "I'm not at liberty to discuss the issue." In a brief interview, Hospicare principal Lovern Spencer said she'd "heard of Advanced," but added that "we don't do business in the U.S."

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Charlene Ashley said the ministry didn't know Ms. Campbell had been to West Virginia. On Feb. 14 the West Virginia board ruled that Hospicare/Advanced students will no longer be allowed to take the board exam and voided licenses already issued to the school's graduates.

Back in Marietta, Ms. Charles decided to liquidate Advanced Medical, she said in a recent deposition. She now runs a school called Mega Career Institute at the same number and the same address as its predecessor.

Slowdown's Side Effect: More Nurses

Slowdown's Side Effect: More Nurses
Economy's Woes Prod Many
Who Left Field to Return;
Brushing Up on Anatomy
May 7, 2008; Page D1

The ailing economy is helping to ease the nursing shortage.

With house prices falling and the cost of gasoline and food rising, many nurses are going back to work, in some cases to make up for the income of a spouse who has lost a job. Hospitals say part-time nurses are taking on extra shifts. And nursing schools are seeing an increase in people applying for refresher courses on the ins and outs of modern hospitals. Some older nurses are putting off a planned retirement.

"We are seeing a temporary lessening of the nursing shortage," says Jane Llewellyn, vice president of clinical nursing affairs at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. But, she says, "as soon as the economy turns up we'll see them staying home again."

It's a familiar pattern during economic slowdowns. For years, the high demand for nurses has allowed them to design work schedules that suit their financial and family needs. Many start off working full time on difficult shifts and then reduce their hours when they have a family -- the profession is more than 90% female -- or as they approach retirement. But when the economy goes sour, many nurses go back to work full time.

Dana Goodin, a nurse at Chicago's Rush University, worked three evening shifts a week for nearly two decades, giving her time to raise her four children. But after her husband, a carpenter, was laid off late last year, Ms. Goodin began working four days a week to boost the family's income and to qualify for cheaper health benefits. Although her husband has since found a new job at a retail warehouse, he makes just half of his former salary, and Ms. Goodin is looking for another shift to push her above full time.

The nursing profession also is attracting greater interest among new recruits, drawn by expanding job opportunities and rising wages in some places. Nursing school enrollment surged in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the economic slowdown that followed. Enrollment continues to grow apace, though at a reduced rate, and schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants for lack of faculty. Even so, nursing experts predict shortages will grow in future years as demand for nursing services outpaces the number of professionals entering the field.

For hospitals, the renewed interest in nursing is a relief. Shawn Tyrrell, chief nursing officer at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Ill., says that until last year the hospital used outside employment agencies when it didn't have enough nurses to cover the shifts. Now, despite an increase in patient volume, the hospital's own nurses want extra hours, so it doesn't need the agencies. "We've been able to handle that volume increase through our own staff members," she says.

The nursing shortage began in the 1990s as older nurses started retiring and there were fewer newcomers to take their place. The crunch got worse as baby boomers got older and demand for health care increased. By 2001, there were 126,000 vacant nursing positions in the U.S., according to the American Hospital Association. That means about 13% of all nursing jobs were unfilled.

Beefing Up Recruiting

To attract nurses, hospitals have increased wages and beefed up recruiting, including from overseas, and have offered potential hires signing bonuses of cash or even new cars. Hospitals have also taken steps to keep older nurses in the work force by making their jobs easier, including replacing hand cranks used to lift beds with automated lift devices, bringing in lift teams so nurses don't strain themselves picking up patients, or putting supplies closer to patients' rooms to cut down on walking. By the end of 2006, the nurse vacancy rate had fallen to 8.1%.

Of course, nurses who haven't been working for some time can't just jump back into the job. Nurse-education requirements vary from state to state, but in general the longer the nurse has been out of the work force the more likely it is he or she will have to complete a refresher course to be relicensed. The Mount Carmel College of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio, for instance, offers a refresher program for $700 plus the cost of textbooks that includes 230 hours of online courses, covering such topics as anatomy, new medications and privacy regulations. Students also log 100 hours working in a clinical setting such as a nursing home or a hospital.

Economic Indicator

For the past few decades, nursing has been a kind of reverse economic indicator. In periods of economic weakness or recession -- including in the early 1980s, the early 1990s and earlier this decade following the technology-company bust and the Sept. 11 attacks -- the number of full-time nurses grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%. By contrast, in times of healthy economic expansion, the increase has averaged just 2.4%, according to an analysis of government data in "The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the U.S.," a book by Peter Buerhaus, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Douglas Staiger, a Dartmouth College economics professor, and David Auerbach, a principal analyst in the Health and Human Resources Division of the Congressional Budget Office.

Last year, there was a net increase of about 113,000 nurses in the work force, the largest increase since 2002, and most of the added nurses were over 50 years old, according to the Census Bureau. The pattern has continued this year. Although the U.S. economy lost 20,000 jobs in April, the fourth monthly decline in a row, health-care employment rose by 37,000 and is up 365,000 jobs over the past 12 months, according to Labor Department data released last week.

"In bust periods, unemployment is rising, which means there is a lot of pressure on married RNs to be working," says Mr. Buerhaus.

Jennifer Schlesser, a 57-year-old Ellicott City, Md., resident, says she worked as a nurse for 27 years before leaving the profession a decade ago, feeling overworked and underpaid. She went to work in the mortgage-lending industry, but the housing slowdown has forced her to change employers and has cut into her commissions.

Refresher Courses

Ms. Schlesser is currently enrolled in an online refresher course for nursing and she expects to be relicensed by next month. She plans to work part time in both nursing and mortgage lending. "Whatever works out best," she says.

But over the long term the nursing shortage is expected to continue and eventually worsen, as retiring baby boomers ramp up demand for care. In their book, Messrs. Buerhaus, Staiger and Auerbach use Census data to project that the nursing work force will plateau in 2015. By 2025, they estimate there will be a shortage of almost 500,000 nurses, representing a vacancy rate of 40% or higher.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gender Differences in Economic Downturn

The Slump: It's a Guy Thing By Peter Coy
Thu May 8, 8:08 AM ET

They eat from the same dishes and sleep in the same beds, but they seem to be operating in two different economies. From last November through this April, American women aged 20 and up gained nearly 300,000 jobs, according to the household survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the same time, American men lost nearly 700,000 jobs. You might even say American men are in recession, and American women are not.

What's going on? Simply put, men have the misfortune of being concentrated in the two sectors that are doing the worst: manufacturing and construction. Women are concentrated in sectors that are still growing, such as education and health care.

This situation is hardly good news for women, though. While they're getting more jobs, their pay is stagnant. Also, most share households -- and bills -- with the men who are losing jobs. And the "female" economy can't stay strong for long if the "male" economy weakens too much.

The troubles for the American male worker, while exacerbated by the current slump, are hardly new. The manufacturing sector is in long-term decline, and construction goes through repeated booms and busts. Meanwhile women are graduating from college at higher rates than men. Some analysts even argue that men are less suited than women to the knowledge economy, which rewards supposedly female traits such as sensitivity, intuition, and a willingness to collaborate. "Men have tended to do better in the hierarchies, following orders and relying on positional power," says Andy Hines, a futurist at the Washington (D.C.) consulting firm Social Technologies, who previously worked for Kellogg (NYSE:K - News) and Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW - News).

Problem Industries

Whether you buy that argument or not, it's clear that right now men are in a bad spot. The share of all men aged 20 and over with jobs has fallen since last November, when private-sector employment peaked, going from 72.9% to 72.2% in April. For women the ratio rose, from 58.1% to 58.3%. The adult male unemployment rate has risen twice as much as the female jobless rate since November. Those figures from the BLS' household survey are echoed in its separate survey of employers.

To see why, go sector by sector. Manufacturing is over 70% male and construction is about 88% male. Meanwhile the growing education and health services sector is 77% female. The government sector, which has remained strong, is 57% female. The securities business, which is filled with high-paying jobs, is likely to be the next sector to get whacked -- and more than 60% of its workers are men.

Men are having a harder time than women getting back on track after losing a job. "For a man to move from a $20- or $30-an-hour union job to being a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT - News) greeter is devastating," says Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor historian. Men also shy away from some of the growing fields, such as nursing. Only about 10% of nursing students nationwide are male, notes Harriet R. Feldman, dean of the Pace University School of Nursing. Some retired nurses are actually going back to work because their husbands have lost jobs, says Lois Cooper, vice-president for employee relations and diversity at staffing firm Adecco Group North America in Melville, N.Y.

The weakness of the male economy is squeezing people such as Brian Day, 45, a union carpenter in Ossian, Ind., who made about $35,000 in construction last year but only $1,500 so far in 2008. The family of five is living off his jobless benefits and the $35,000 salary of his wife, a supermarket supervisor. Says Day: "I feel guilty about it." Jeff Bainter, 53, a railroad worker in Muncie, Ind., has enough seniority to keep his job but sees younger men getting the ax. He says there's more security but lower pay in what his wife, Cynthiana, does for a living: medical billing.

Stubborn Pay Gap

The Presidential candidates haven't figured out how to play the disparity between men and women. In BusinessWeek interviews, advisers for all three said they want to help everyone. Austan Goolsbee, chief economic adviser to Senator Barack Obama, said: "Because the unemployed are disproportionately men, they may especially benefit from Obama's program to get us out of recession. But gender has nothing to do with the policy's design." Senator Hillary Clinton's economic policy director, Brian Deese, said: "The goal is not to appeal to men more than women."

One reason for the candidates to tread lightly is that even though men have done worse on jobs lately, they continue to earn more than women on average. Over three-quarters of people who earned over $100,000 last year were men, says Queens College political scientist Andrew Hacker. In fact, although the pay gap between men and women has been gradually narrowing, it actually widened a bit over the past year. Median usual weekly earnings for men grew 4.6% from the first quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2008, vs. 3.1% for women.

That might be evidence that the jobs women are landing aren't necessarily good ones. Says Eileen Appelbaum, director of Rutgers University's Center for Women & Work: "We had an expansion of jobs for home health aides, retail clerks, child-care workers. They're low-wage, they're dead-end, and they don't have any benefits."

Another reason politicians aren't making hay of the plight of males is that they are well aware that women are in no mood for it. Working-class and lower-middle-class women in particular, whether or not their men have jobs, are feeling economically stressed, says Bill McInturff, a pollster for Senator John McCain. He adds, "In focus groups they talk about how 'I'm taking care of my parents, his parents, buying groceries, taking kids to the doctor.' These women are tired."

There's no easy remedy for what ails the male economy. Edward J. O'Boyle, senior research associate at the Mayo Research Institute in West Monroe, La., says part of the solution is reviving manufacturing -- a gargantuan task. On construction, he favors financial reforms to even out the booms and busts.

Economists are debating whether the overall economy is in a recession. For men, the evidence is clear.

With Maggie Gilmour and Jing Zhou in Chicago and Jane Sasseen in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Recent Politics Links

An elephant never forgets? George W. Bush's lost e-mails: Page 1
Hillary Plays O'Reilly Like a Fiddle
From Jack Welch's Screeds to George Bush's Mouth
Full Transcript of ABC's Martha Raddatz' Interview with President Bush
"Bush OK'd Torture Meetings" By Dan Froomkin
Hey, Obama boys: Back off already!
Bitter? Of Course. Here's Why
CFI Issues Critique of Civics Textbook Center for Inquiry
U.S. Memo Approved Harsh Interrogations - New York Times
Memo: Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators -
Doctors support universal health care: survey
Stop The Mortgage Bailout!
Frank Schaeffer: Obama Provides A Way for the Evangelicals to Redeem Themselves -- Following the Bush Disaster They Foisted on the Rest Of Us - Politics on The Huffington Post
Think Progress : Cheney On Two-Thirds Of The American Public Opposing The Iraq War: "So?"
JPMorgan ups offer for Bear Stearns - Mar. 24, 2008
Reichstag Fire Decree - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reichstag fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Angry Bear: The Peter Principle of Capitalism
Hans Blix: A war of utter folly Comment is free The Guardian
Tainted Drugs Put Focus on the F.D.A. , China - New York Times

Recent Econ Links

Party of Denial - New York Times
Angry Bear: Best use of the rebate check is...
Robert Reich and the Elimination of Corporate Criminal Liability -
Robert Reich Answers Your Labor Questions - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog
Parable of the broken window - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paul Krugman on Lump of Labor Fallacy
Social Gospel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Soul of Man under Socialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Jack Welch's Screeds to George Bush's Mouth
Economics focus Krugman's conundrum
Happiness economics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Easterlin paradox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back
Positional good - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Angry Bear: Transformation Outsourcing: An Old Hype and the New Reality
The Great Depression: The sequel
Doctors support universal health care: survey
Angry Bear: 21st century economics just starting
Angry Bear: Supply-side Silliness: Faith Based Economics Devoid of Reality
Angry Bear: Peltzman Effect

Friday, May 2, 2008

Outsourcing Economic Research Offshore

The median salary of an economist in the United States is $106,886. The median salary of an economist in India is $32,556. A great proportion of economists in India were trained in the United States. Perhaps it is time to outsource economist positions overseas. Comments?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hillary Plays O'Reilly Like a Fiddle


May Day Heroes!! Dockworkers Protest Iraq War!

Holy goodness!!

May 1, 2008
Dockworkers Protest Iraq War
Thousands of dockworkers at West Coast ports stayed off the job on Thursday in what their union said was a call for an end to the war in Iraq.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said more than 25,000 members in 29 ports stayed off the job. The action came despite an order issued Wednesday by an arbitrator directing the union to tell its members to report for work as usual in response to a request from employers.

“Longshore workers are standing down on the job and standing up for America,” Bob McEllrath, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We’re supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq.”

The scene at most West Coast ports was quiet, without any scuffles or confrontations. The cranes used to unload container ships stood idle and few trucks were lined up outside gates.

Guillermo Durell, 45, a truck driver, was at the Los Angeles-area port of Long Beach. “I got up at 6 a.m. to drop a load off,” he said. “When I got here the security guard said ‘Drop this, but that’s it. We’re all leaving.’ ”

Mr. McEllrath said the walkout was not ordered by the union’s leadership, but was the result of a “democratic decision” made by the rank and file in February to demonstrate on May 1, a traditional day for labor activism.

He said employers were notified in advance of the plan, but refused to accommodate the union’s request, instead seeking the arbitrator’s ruling.

The longshore union and other labor groups are planning marches and rallies in various cities along the West Coast, and authorities in some location warned that these activities could snarl traffic during the evening commute.

Rebecca Cathcart contributed reporting from Long Beach, Calif.