Tuesday Morning Follies

If I had a nickle for every word of hype written about the Apple Watch over the past three years I’d be a multibillionaire.  Never have so many written so much about so little, unless you count the political hacks for Hillary.  How did the world ever exist before Steve Jobs and Apple?  Next Tim Cook will be telling us that Apple is working on a bread slicer, the only stumbling block is the battery charge may not last through the entire loaf.  Yes, I know, sundials are impractical.  I made one for my wrist using an old cheap Timex that no longer ran.  Put a small compass in the cast and glued a triangle on the cover.  It worked well enough during the day but at night even a flashlight didn’t help.  Well, yes, one must wear a fashion statement as the rich and well connected fashion model will tell us.  And while I might find wearing a Rolex nice, I’ll be damned if I’ll pay that kind of money for a watch.  Don’t get me wrong, I like chronograph watches although I really no longer use that function any more.  And I am guilty of owning a couple of nice watches rather than a cheap timex, but I had the discretionary income at the time of purchase.  So any new watch purchase I make will be something cheap.  That is not likely to happen since the others I do have are self winding and need no batteries, something Apple can’t say for itself.  So let me see.  If I never turn the Apple Watch on, more or less, the battery charge will last maybe 72 hours.  If I do turn it on and use it very sparingly I might get 18 hours of use before I need to recharge the battery.  And if I use it a lot, well three hours of battery time might be available.  But the kicker is, my iPhone must be near enough to the Apple Watch for me to use that watch.  So what you are saying, Mr Cook, is that what I really need is an extra battery pack for both my iPhone, which has its own battery charging issues, and for my Apple Watch.  And this is superior technology, eh, how?  I’ve always suspected Apple fan boys as having come from the shallow end of the gene pool.  And those who have their noses constantly in their cell phones aren’t much better.

On the other hand, there is plenty of stupidity to go around.  Such as those individuals who do not believe our government agencies will deliberately lie to us for the sake of political propaganda.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics was established to keep track of employment statistics, among other data points.  It acts as a clearing house for different data.  The fifty states are the ones who actually keep tract of unemployment by the simple act of collecting unemployment insurance taxes from employers and workers.  Then when one loses one’s job, one applies for the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.  The number of applicants who file each week is collected and set to the BLS.  Sounds simple enough.  But the devil is in the details.  Ah, the federal bureau is the one who defines unemployment, as written in law by Congress (let no finger go unpointed).  If you, as a worker, held a job that only provided you less than 32 hours of work each week, then you are a part time employee and your firing, your layoff, lack of any hours for the week or month, etc, don’t count towards unemployment figures.  Part time workers are neither fair nor foul in the game of numbers.  Part time work rarely constitutes being employed for the purpose of collecting unemployment.  One might think that at least your numbers might count for something, but those numbers only go into the data points of hours worked versus compensation per hour.  But no cigar for you should you lose your part time job.  But then we have the times when our President wants good numbers, not bad ones and so as we review the month to month numbers and then the revisions months later we come across that little problem of under reporting unemployment, maybe it will hide out of sight.

The February Non Farm Production report (NFP) statistics from the BLS showed that only 1900 oil patch workers (the people who work on the drilling platforms, drive the supply trucks, run the earth moving equipment, supervisors and foremen, a few clerks, etc) had lost their jobs.  By the same token, Bloomberg reported a loss of 18,000 jobs and the more accurate report per Challenger, Grey, and Christmas (whose job depends on very accurate numbers because their customers expect very good accuracy) were 21,300.  Perhaps what is worrisome is that when we look at the labor participation rate we see the lowest participation rate in 28 years.  Some of us recall that 1987 saw a very low rate of labor participation rates with the mid seventies kicking off severe unemployment close to 7 or 8 percent.  Let me see.  If I am attending post secondary school I am not considered unemployed even if I do not have a job and need one desperately.  If I have been out of work for more than 26 weeks, meaning my unemployment benefits ran out then I must no longer be seeking work and thus not unemployed.  If I desperately need a full time job and all I can obtain is 8 hours of part time work each week I am no longer unemployed.  If I lose my job due to off the job accident or illness I am not counted as unemployed.  So what counts as employed?  Working part time.  What counts as full time employment?  Working a minimum 32 hours a week.  Is there any such measurement as under employed?  Oh no, as long as you work at least one hour a week you are employed.  You see, the BLS will tell you whether you are unemployed or not.  If you are one of those oil patch workers who are counted by the BLS then you must still be employed, right?

The BLS was first set up by the FDR administration in 1933 or 34 and the first thing he did was to tell the bureau how to report the correct statistics so that the actual 25% unemployment wouldn’t look so bad.  The only thing we have to fear are true statistics.  Since that time both the administration and congress have played fast and loose with the numbers.  I think the only president who didn’t fudge the numbers deliberately was Eisenhower.  You see, it’s all in how you wan to count the numbers.  If we were to count all individuals who want and need a full time job, meaning forty hours a week and not thirtytwo hours a week, then that percentage would be about 16.  If we meant underutilized employment that figure might go as high as 25%.  But if we stick with the 32 hours a week but add in those who are still looking for work after exhausting their unemployment benefits then we see that figure come in around 10 or 11 percent.  But what is Obama trying to foist on us now?  Under his administration the unemployment figure is down to less than 6 percent, good times for everybody.  If that is true, where are all these jobs?  Most of the new job creation under his six years of sterling leadership have gone into low wage/minimum pay part time work.  The figures don’t lie, only the politicians.  As PT Barnum once said,”There’s a sucker born every minute.”  Yeah, the American voter.  Go ahead and write your happy thoughts about how wonderful the economy is and how plenty of jobs are being offered.  Go ahead and believe your government statistics.  Believe what your politicians tell you.  If you do, then you deserve the lies you get.  The internet has made it possible to expose so many of these lies and yet so many can’t bestir themselves to take interest let alone action.

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