“Voltaire’s Bastards” by John Ralston Saul: The Death of Purpose at the Hands of Reason

Ian Welsh | May 29 2016

I have re-read John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards. But because I haven’t read it since it first came out in the early 90s, it was more like reading it for the first time.

For those who haven’t read it, Saul basically says that reason (rationality) has become un-moored from common sense, democracy, and purpose.

I think purpose is probably the core of the argument. Organizations, including government, parliaments, and so on, have become rational and forgotten the purpose of their existence.

Saul eviscerates the military—slow, ponderous, capable of winning only with overwhelming force, and usually not even then. Full of rational mediocrities and controlled by staff officers who squash any field officer capable of initiative or of winning battles without vast waste of men and material.

He eviscerates the arms trade—weapons sold for less than it costs to make them; non-capital goods that make up the largest manufacturing sector in the world; and completely irrational from the point-of-view of both the economy (guns being the paradigmatic drain on the economy) and from winning wars: selling weapons to everyone and their mother means your enemies know their weaknesses, something you should be trying to avoid.

Continue reading “Voltaire’s Bastards” by John Ralston Saul: The Death of Purpose at the Hands of Reason

How the “Maximize Shareholder Value” Myth Weakens Companies and Economic Systems

Naked Capitalism | May 22 2016

Yves here. We’ve written from time to time that the notion that companies exist to maximize shareholder value was made up by Milton Friedman in 1970 in an intellectually incoherent New York Times op ed. It started to get traction in the 1980s as the leveraged buyout boom made people like Henry Kravis extremely rich and those who wanted in on the act were in need of intellectual air cover.

One minor quibble with this piece: Lynn Stout makes it sound as if the new “maximize shareholder value” has become a duty. If you read any guide for board members, you won’t see it listed among the things they have to worry about. It is more accurate to say that it has become so widely accepted from the standpoint of business practice that CEOs have succeeded in institutionalizing it. It’s considered to be good practice to have share-price linked pay schemes even the author of the theory that executives should be paid like entrepreneurs, Harvard Business School’s Michael Jensen, has repudiated his earlier work. Similarly, compliant compensation consultants and boards regularly find ways to justify paying CEOs for non-performance (making excuses for moving the goalposts) and overpaying for what performance there arguably was (when high CEO pay is negatively correlated with performance). In other words, the “maximize shareholder value” regime has served as an excuse for greatly increasing the level of executive pay relative to average worker compensation, often with destructive results.

An interview by David Sloan Wilson, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and Arne Næss Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo. Twitter: @David_S_Wilson. Originally published at Evonomics

A bedrock assumption of economics is that firms become well adapted by competing against each other. If so, then consider a study that I reported upon earlier, which monitored the survival of 136 firms starting from the time they initiated their public offering on the US Stock Market. Five years later, the survivors—by a wide margin—were the firms that did best by their employees.

If only the fittest firms survive, then doing well by employees would have become the prevailing business practice a long time ago. That hasn’t happened, so something is wrong with the simple idea that best business practices evolve by between-firm selection. That “something” is multilevel selection, which is well known to evolutionary biologists and needs to become better known among economists and the business community.

Multilevel selection theory is based on the fact that competition can take place at all levels of a multi-tier hierarchy of units—not only among firms, but also among individuals and subunits within firms. The practices that evolve (culturally in addition to genetically) by lower-level selection are often cancerous for the welfare of the higher-level unit. By the same token, if selection did operate exclusively at the level of firms, then the outcome would often be cancerous for the multi-firm economy. When it comes to the cancerous effects of lower-level selection, there is no invisible hand to save the day.

The kind of firm selection imagined by economists, along with the invisible hand assumption that lower-level selection is robustly beneficial for the higher-level common good, would be called “naïve group selectionism” by evolutionary biologists. Its biological counterpart was roundly criticized during the 1960’s and has had a half century to mature. Modern multilevel selection theory is not naïve and has much to teach the economics profession and business community.

Continue reading How the “Maximize Shareholder Value” Myth Weakens Companies and Economic Systems

The 7 Biggest Myths and Lies About Social Security

Naked Capitalism | May 24, 2016

By Steven Hill, a senior fellow with the New America Foundation. Excerpted from his new book Expand Social Security Now!: How to Ensure Americans Get the Retirement They Deserve (Beacon Press, 2016

Social Security is bankrupting us. It’s outdated. It’s a Ponzi scheme. It’s socialism. It’s stealing from young people. 

The opponents and pundits determined to roll back the United States to the “good old days” before the New Deal regularly trot out a number of bogeymen and bigfoots to scare Americans into not supporting their own retirement well-being. That hasn’t worked too well. Americans of all political stripes remain strongly supportive of Social Security and other so-called “entitlements” like Medicare. But the other reason for plastering the media waves with a chorus of myths and lies is to stir up a political climate that causes politicians of both parties to cease looking for better alternatives other than to cut, cut, cut, or even to maintain the inadequate status quo. Below are rebuttals to some of the biggest whoppers regularly told about one of the most popular and successful federal programs in our nation’s history.

1. Social Security is going broke and will bankrupt the country.

Social Security is not going broke, not by a long shot. The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report to Congress in July 2015, and among all the tables, charts, and graphs in that big fat report, it would be easy to miss the most important take-home message: Social Security is one of the best-funded federal programs in U.S. history. That’s because it has its own dedicated revenue stream, which is composed of the insurance premiums paid by every worker (deducted from our paychecks by what is called “payroll contributions”), which are automatically banked into the Trust Fund. Even the Pentagon and the defense budget do not have their own dedicated revenue stream.

In fact, Social Security has not one dedicated revenue stream, but three. Besides the payroll contributions, Social Security is also funded by income generated from investing all those set-aside wages into U.S. treasuries. That money earns a sizable return on the investment. And Social Security is also funded by revenue that comes from levying income tax on Social Security recipients (yes, your Social Security check and that of other Americans is treated as income and taxed—and it brought in $756 billion to the Trust Fund in 2014). Those three revenue streams combined have banked $2.8 trillion in the Trust Fund and resulted in a $25 billion surplus in 2014.

Bankrupt? That charge does not even pass a good laugh test.

Indeed, because Social Security has its own funding source, and by law is not allowed to spend any money it does not have, it is actually impossible for Social Security to add to annual operating deficits or the national debt. Moreover, the Social Security Board of Trustees is required by law to report to Congress every year about the financial fitness of the program. The annual trustees report projects its revenues and payouts, not just for the next five, ten, or twenty years, but for the next seventy-five years. It’s one of the few programs anyone can identify that has had the wisdom to plan for the future, rather than planning around short-term political calculations and the next election cycle.

Over the next twenty years, as more and more of the huge population bloom known as the baby boomers continues to retire, Social Security is projecting a modest shortfall of just 0.51 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). If nothing is done to plug that gap, sometime in the 2030s the Trust Fund will have enough to cover only 75 percent of benefits. But there are so many budgetary ways to cover that shortfall, it becomes clear that the problem is not the finances of finding the money but the politics of partisanship and paralysis. No other government program can claim that it is fully funded for almost the next quarter century. What government critics ever say that the Defense Department or the Departments of Energy or Education are going bankrupt? Yet those programs don’t have dedicated revenue streams, and certainly no one plans or projects costs for those programs over the next seventy-five years.

For example, simply removing the payroll cap and taxing all income brackets equally would not only be fairer to all Americans, it would also raise all of the money and then some to plug any Social Security funding shortfalls twenty years from now. Opinion polls have demonstrated that most Americans—even 70 percent of Republicans—think if they pay Social Security tax on their full salary, others should as well. That’s just one example of the many adjustments we can enact that would make the U.S. retirement system more fair, robust, and stable, and better adapted to the realities of today’s economy.

2. Social Security is unsustainable because we have fewer workers for every retiree, even as our society is “greying” and people are living longer.

Another charge leveled by critics is that the number of workers compared to the number of non-workers—what is known as the dependency ratio—is declining, and so as a result Social Security is unsustainable. President George W. Bush really pushed hard on this point in his bid to gut the program and turn it into private accounts. In his 2005 State of the Union address, President Bush said:

“Social Security was created decades ago, for a very different era. . . . A half-century ago, about 16 workers paid into the system for each person drawing benefits. . . . Instead of 16 workers paying in for every beneficiary, right now it’s only about three workers. And over the next few decades, that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. . . . With each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever-higher benefits to an ever-larger number of retirees.”

Continue reading The 7 Biggest Myths and Lies About Social Security

Disposable Americans: The Numbers are Growing

Paul Buchheit | May 23 20176 | Common Dreams

unemployment_line_0
The sense derived from all this is that half of America is severely financially burdened, at risk of falling deeper into debt. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As often noted in the passionate writings of Henry Giroux, poor Americans are becoming increasingly ‘disposable’ in our winner-take-all society. After 35 years of wealth distribution to the super-rich, inequality has forced much of the middle class towards the bottom, to near-poverty levels, and to a state of helplessness in which they find themselves being blamed for their own misfortunes.

The evidence keeps accumulating: income and wealth — and health — are declining for middle-class America. As wealth at the top grows, the super-rich feel they have little need for the rest of society.

Income Plummets for the Middle Class

According to Pew Research, in 1970 three of every ten income dollars went to upper-income households. Now five of every ten dollars goes to them.

Continue reading Disposable Americans: The Numbers are Growing

The Role of Politicians in an Oligarchy

Ian Welsh | May 20 2016

… is to wrangle voters for oligarchs then enact policies to make the rich, richer.

This is clearly indicated by jobs for the families of politicians and the way that politicians are rewarded post-career.

The Clintons had a 100 million dollars a few years after leaving the White House.

Seven figure lobbying jobs are routine for Senators after their legislative career.  Before that their families are taken care of, and most of them somehow become multi-millionaires.

The same is true for high ranking bureaucrats.  Timothy Geithner, who helped bail out Wall Street was giving six figure speeches almost immediately after leaving his post.

If you want to know who someone works for, look for who pays them.

You pay lawmakers far less than the rich.  They do not work for you.

I would estimate that this is true of well over 90% of American politicians.

Continue reading The Role of Politicians in an Oligarchy

Since 1775, the U.S. Has Been At War With Someone Somewhere For 213 Out Of 242 Years (88% of its’ Existence)

Have you wondered why the political people in Washington DC say there is no money for free healthcare, free education, etc?

Ever wonder why you pay taxes?

During the George W. Bush administration, one of its mid-level grunts let slip that the official on-the-books amount for defense is over $800 billion annually; you can also guess that unofficially about the same amount is off-the-books, $800 billion, which makes it +/- $1.5 trillion annually spent on defense.

Think that’s too high an estimate?  ABC News did a 2014 piece on what the military is spending tax dollars on here.

This is part of what U.S. taxpayers have been supporting all along.  There is a huge amount of waste as a result of Defense industry spending, including the F35 fighter, whose entire program cost over $1.5 trillion.

It’s almost impossible to estimate how much the wars to-date have cost in terms of the human lives and money, but every war today carries a hefty price tag, somewhere in the trillions.  The Iraq & Afghan wars alone are estimated to cost over $4 trillion.

The U.S. isn’t broke by any means.  It just has the wrong priorities and taxpayers are paying for them without any say in the matter.  In other words, if the U.S. defense lasix furosemide online 40 mg budget was better managed and controlled, and the U.S. wasn’t trying to be the world’s policeman, not only could your taxes be drastically lower, but you could get free education, free healthcare, and decent Social Security.

Think about this for a moment, the U.S. could run budget surpluses instead of endless deficits because of things the voters don’t want, like the empire’s never-ending military adventures in parts of the world we have no business being in and places where most people couldn’t locate on a map anyway.

It’s all about the wrong priorities.

A better use of American troops would be to bring them home and put them to work rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure of roads, bridges, parks, and more.  I’m sure the troops would agree this is a better purpose and a better use of their time, money, and effort, instead of making new enemies in foreign lands and being viewed as invaders.

Personally, I think Will Rogers had the right idea:

“I have a scheme for stopping war. It’s this – no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one.”

U.S. History of Wars / Conflicts / Military Interventions

Year NumberYearWar(s) / Conflicts / Military OperationsNumber of wars that year 
11775Revolutionary War1
21776Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
31777Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
41778Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
51779Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
61780Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
71781Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
81782Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
91783Revolutionary War, Chickamauga War2
101784Chickamauga War1
111785Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War2
121786Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War2
131787Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War2
141788Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War2
151789Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War2
161790Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War2
171791Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War, Whiskey Rebellion3
181792Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War, Whiskey Rebellion3
191793Chickamauga War, Northwest Indian War, Whiskey Rebellion3
201794Chickamauga War, Whiskey Rebellion2
211795Chickamauga War1
2217960
2317970
241798Quasi War1
251799Quasi War1
261800Quasi War1
271801First Barbary War1
281802First Barbary War1
291803First Barbary War1
301804First Barbary War1
311805First Barbary War1
3218060
3318070
3418080
3518090
361810US Occupation of West Florida1
371811Tecumseh's War1
381812War of 18121
391813War of 1812, Creek War2
401814War of 1812, Creek War2
411815War of 1812, Second Barbary War2
421816First Seminole War1
431817First Seminole War1
4418180
4518190
461820Texas-Indian wars1
471821Texas-Indian wars1
481822Texas-Indian wars1
491823Texas-Indian wars, Arikara War2
501824Texas-Indian wars1
511825Texas-Indian wars, Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations2
521826Texas-Indian wars, Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations2
531827Texas-Indian wars, Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations, Winnebago War3
541828Texas-Indian wars, Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations2
551829Texas-Indian wars1
561830Texas-Indian wars1
571831Texas-Indian wars1
581832Texas-Indian wars, First Sumatran Expedition, Black Hawk War3
591833Texas-Indian wars1
601834Texas-Indian wars1
611835Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
621836Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
631837Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
641838Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War, Second Sumatran Expedition, Patriot War4
651839Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
661840Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
671841Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
681842Texas-Indian wars, Second Seminole War2
691843Texas-Indian wars1
701844Texas-Indian wars1
711845Texas-Indian wars1
721846Texas-Indian wars, Mexican-American War2
731847Texas-Indian wars, Mexican-American War, Cayuse War3
741848Texas-Indian wars, Mexican-American War, Cayuse War3
751849Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War2
761850Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War2
771851Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars3
781852Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars3
791853Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars3
801854Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars, Bombardment of Greytown4
811855Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars, Puget Sound War, First Fiji Expedition, Rogue River Wars, Third Seminole War, Yakima War, Filibuster War9
821856Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars, Puget Sound War, First Fiji Expedition, Rogue River Wars, Third Seminole War, Yakima War, Filibuster War, Second Opium War10
831857Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars, Puget Sound War, First Fiji Expedition, Rogue River Wars, Third Seminole War, Yakima War, Filibuster War, Second Opium War, Utah War11
841858Texas-Indian wars, Cayuse War, Apache Wars, Puget Sound War, First Fiji Expedition, Rogue River Wars, Third Seminole War, Yakima War, Filibuster War, Second Opium War, Utah War, Navajo Wars12
851859Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Second Opium War, Navajo Wars, Second Fiji Expedition, First & Second Cortina War6
861860Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, First & Second Cortina War, Palute War5
871861Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, First & Second Cortina War, American Civil War, Bombardment of Qui Nho'n (Vietnam), Yavapai Wars7
881862Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, American Civil War, Yavapai Wars, Dakota War of 18626
891863Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, American Civil War, Yavapai Wars, Colorado War, Shimonoseki War7
901864Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, American Civil War, Yavapai Wars, Colorado War, Shimonoseki War, Snake War8
911865Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, American Civil War, Yavapai Wars, Colorado War, Snake War, Powder River War8
921866Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Navajo Wars, Yavapai Wars, Snake War, Red Cloud's War6
931867Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Snake War, Red Cloud's War, Siege of Mexico City, Formosa Expedition, Comanche Campaign8
941868Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Snake War, Red Cloud's War, Comanche Campaign6
951869Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign4
961870Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign4
971871Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign, U.S. Expedition to Korea5
981872Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign, Modoc War5
991873Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign, Modoc War5
1001874Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign, Red River War5
1011875Texas-Indian wars, Apache Wars, Yavapai Wars, Comanche Campaign, Red River War, Las Cuevas War6
1021876Apache Wars, Great Sioux War of 1876, Buffalo Hunter's War3
1031877Apache Wars, Great Sioux War of 1876, Buffalo Hunter's War, Nez Perce War, San Elizato Salt War5
1041878Apache Wars, San Elizato Salt War, Bannock War, Cheyenne War4
1051879Apache Wars, Cheyenne War, Sheepeater Indian War, Victorio's War, White River War5
1061880Apache Wars, Victorio's War, White River War3
1071881Apache Wars, Victorio's War2
1081882Apache Wars1
1091883Apache Wars1
1101884Apache Wars1
1111885Apache Wars1
1121886Apache Wars1
1131887Apache Wars1
1141888Apache Wars1
1151889Apache Wars1
1161890Apache Wars, Pine Ridge Campaign2
1171891Apache Wars, Pine Ridge Campaign, Garza Revolution3
1181892Apache Wars, Garza Revolution2
1191893Apache Wars, Garza Revolution2
1201894Apache Wars1
1211895Apache Wars1
1221896Apache Wars, Yaqui Wars2
1231897Apache Wars, Yaqui Wars2
1241898Apache Wars, Yaqui Wars, Second Somoan Civil War, Spanish American War5
1251899Apache Wars, Yaqui Wars, Second Somoan Civil War, Philippine-American War, Moro Rebellion, Boxer Rebellion6
1261900Apache Wars, Yaqui Wars, Philippine-American War, Moro Rebellion, Boxer Rebellion5
1271901Yaqui Wars, Philippine-American War, Moro Rebellion, Boxer Rebellion4
1281902Yaqui Wars, Philippine-American War, Moro Rebellion3
1291903Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion2
1301904Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion2
1311905Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion2
1321906Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion2
1331907Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion2
1341908Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion2
1351909Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion, Crazy Snake Rebellion3
1361910Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion, Border War3
1371911Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion, Border War3
1381912Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion, Border War, Negro Rebellion, Occupation of Nicaragua5
1391913Yaqui Wars, Moro Rebellion, Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua4
1401914Yaqui Wars, Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua, Bluff War4
1411915Yaqui Wars, Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua, Bluff War, Occupation of Haiti5
1421916Yaqui Wars, Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Sugar Intervention, Occupation of the Dominican Republic6
1431917WWI, Yaqui Wars, Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Sugar Intervention6
1441918WWI, Yaqui Wars, Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua, Sugar Intervention, Occupation of the Dominican Republic, Russian Civil War7
1451919Border War, Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Occupation of the Dominican Republic, Russian Civil War5
1461920Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Occupation of the Dominican Republic, Russian Civil War4
1471921Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Occupation of the Dominican Republic3
1481922Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Occupation of the Dominican Republic3
1491923Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Occupation of the Dominican Republic, Posey War4
1501924Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti, Occupation of the Dominican Republic3
1511925Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1521926Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1531927Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1541928Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1551929Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1561930Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1571931Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1581932Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1591933Occupation of Nicaragua, Occupation of Haiti2
1601934Occupation of Haiti1
16119350
16219360
16319370
16419380
16519390
16619400
1671941WWII1
1681942WWII1
1691943WWII1
1701944WWII1
1711945WWII1
17219460
17319470
17419480
17519490
1761950Korean War1
1771951Korean War1
1781952Korean War1
1791953Korean War1
18019540
1811955Vietnam War1
1821956Vietnam War1
1831957Vietnam War1
1841958Lebanon Crisis1
1851959Vietnam War1
1861960Vietnam War1
1871961Bay of Pigs Invasion, Vietnam War1
1881962Vietnam War1
1891963Vietnam War1
1901964Simba Rebellion, Vietnam War 1
1911965Dominican Civil War, Vietnam War2
1921966Dominican Civil War, Vietnam War2
1931967Vietnam War1
1941968Vietnam War1
1951969Vietnam War1
1961970Vietnam War1
1971971Vietnam War1
1981972Vietnam War1
1991973Vietnam War1
2001974Vietnam War1
2011975Vietnam War1
20219760
20319770
2041978Shaba II1
20519790
20619800
20719810
2081982Multinational Force in Lebanon1
2091983Multinational Force in Lebanon, Invasion of Grenada2
2101984Multinational Force in Lebanon1
21119850
21219860
2131987Tanker War1
2141988Tanker War1
2151989Invasion of Panama1
2161990Invasion of Panama, Gulf War2
2171991Gulf War1
2181992Somali Civil War1
2191993Somali Civil War1
2201994Somali Civil War, Intervention in Haiti, Bosnian War3
2211995Somali Civil War, Intervention in Haiti, Bosnian War3
22219960
22319970
2241998Kosovo War1
2251999Kosovo War1
22620000
2272001War in Afghanistan1
2282002War in Afghanistan1
2292003War in Afghanistan, Iraq War2
2302004War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan, Haiti4
2312005War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan3
2322006War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan3
2332007War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan3
2342008War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan3
2352009War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan3
2362010War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan, Yeman4
2372011War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan, 2011 Military Intervention in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Uganda 7
2382012War in Afghanistan, War in North-West Pakistan, Yeman, Uganda, Jordan, Turkey, Chad7
2392013War in Afghanistan, War in North-West Pakistan, Yeman, Mali, Somalia, Korea6
2402014War in Afghanistan, War in North-West Pakistan, War on ISIL, Syria, Iraq, Yeman, Uganda7
2412015War in North-West Pakistan, War on ISIL, War in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Strait of Hormuz, Yeman, Uganda8
2422016War in North-West Pakistan, War on ISIL, War in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Intervention in Cameroon, Yeman, Uganda8
Out of 242 years, the years without war = 2912%
Years at war = 21388%
Number of countries the U.S. has a military presence in (as of 2011)130Ron Paul article
QZ.com
Number of countries in the world196About.com
Number of countries in world recognized by U.S.194World Atlas
U.S. military personnel by country (as of 2011)click links ===>CNN
Vet Friends
Number of U.S. Military Bases Around the WorldEstimates up to 1,077RT article
Occasional Planet article
Sources: Wikipedia: List Wars Involving the US
Wikipedia: Timeline of US at War

Wikipedia: Timeline of US Military Operations

Wikipedia: List of ongoing armed conflicts

Wikipedia:List of number of conflicts

Wikipedia: Outline of Wars

Histropedia: Wars involving the US

 

NDP Note (Also related to this post):

FIGHT CLUB: THE U.S. WARS CONTINUE TO INCREASE IN NUMBER EXPONENTIALLY

The Presidential Scorecard©: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and Total Employment

In March I added The Presidential Scorecard© along with a look at the unemployment numbers and how they appear to be counted (or not counted).

 

The Presidential Scorecard©: Truman to Obama

A Critical Eye on Obama’s Jobs and Unemployment Record

 

This time I focused on GDP (from the BEA, the Bureau of Economic Analysis) and  total employment (from the BLS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics) for each president.

Here is the updated The Presidential Scorecard© (through 2015):

THE PRESIDENTIAL SCORECARD©: HOOVER TO OBAMA SUMMARY WITH TOTAL EMPLOYMENT & GDP

PRESIDENTYEARSAVERAGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE EMPLOYED DURING TERMJOBS CREATEDJOBS LOSTNET JOBSAVERAGE U-3AVERAGE LABOR PARTICIPATION RATENOT IN LABOR FORCE AT END OF TERMAVERAGE DISCOURAGED WORKERSAVERAGE MARGINALLY ATTACHED WORKERSGDP AVERAGE BY PRESIDENTIAL TERM
Sources:Source: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BEA
HOOVER1929 - 1932-9.3% (* see note below)
ROOSEVELT1933 – 1944 37,417,000 (* see note below)9.3%
ROOSEVELT-TRUMAN1945 - 194842,773,000-2.4%
TRUMAN1949 - 195246,486,0008,357,0001,070,519,8245,135,0004.4%5.1%
EISENHOWER1953 - 196051,830,00010,142,0001,067,179,8243,580,0004.9%3.0%
KENNEDY-JOHNSON1961 - 196456,231,0006,067,0001,073,351,8245,677,0005.8%4.7%
JOHNSON1965 - 196864,716,0009,983,0001,073,583,8249,825,0003.9%5.2%
NIXON1969 - 197271,660,0007,404,0001,072,361,8246,024,0005.0%3.0%
NIXON / FORD1972 -197677,966,0007,473,0001,071,446,8245,178,0006.7%2.6%
CARTER1977 - 198087,474,00011,714,0001,072,522,82410,495,0006.5%63.2%61,531,0003.3%
REAGAN1981 - 198896,290,00019,273,0001,070,431,82415,963,0007.5%64.7%62,780,0003.5%
GHW BUSH1989 - 1992108,703,0004,372,0001,071,959,8242,590,0006.3%66.4%65.780,0002.3%
CLINTON1993 - 2000121,617,00023,420,0001,073,556,82423,235,0005.2%66.8%70,488,000359,0008.8%3.9%
GW BUSH2001 - 2008133,824,0008,702,0001,067,152,8242,113,0005.3%66.2%80,380,000408,0009.2%2.1%
OBAMA2009 - 2015 (so far)134,998,00013,730,0001,068,313,8248,302,0007.8%63.8%94,103,000873,00014.3%1.4%
* FDR: partial data starting in 1939* Hoover: partial data starting in 1930

 

GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

I took the detailed data from the BEA and averaged it by presidential term. The data is from 1930 – 2015, so data for Hoover’s term captures only 3 of 4 years of his term since his presidency was from 1929 – 1932.

With the exception of  Truman’s time from 1944 – 1948 where the GDP average was -2.4%(considerations include the end of WWII and troops returning home), Obama has had the weakest showing of any president since Hoover on the GDP.

Through 2015, Obama is the first president since Hoover who has not had a single year with the GDP being over 3%.  The two other presidents with the weakest GDP growth averages are GHW Bush (2.3%) and GW Bush (2.1%)

The three presidents lasix water pill online with the strongest GDP growth averages are Roosevelt (9.3%), Johnson (5.2%), and Truman (5.1%).

GDP by President ChartGo
Source: BEA      Note: BEA GDP data for Hoover is partial starting with 1930. (Right-click for larger image in new tab)

 

GDP Data for 1930-2015 from the BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis)

PresidentYearGDP (%)Average GDP (%) for Term
* BEA data begins in 1930 , only 3/4's of Hoover's term in office is shownSource: Source: BEA
Hoover (*)1930-8.5
1931-6.4
1932-12.9-9.3
Roosevelt1933-1.3
193410.8
19358.9
193612.9
19375.1
1938-3.3
19398
19408.8
194117.7
194218.9
194317
194489.3
Roosevelt-Truman1945-1
1946-11.6
1947-1.1
19484.1-2.4
Truman1949-0.5
19508.7
19518.1
19524.15.1
Eisenhower19534.7
1954-0.6
19557.1
19562.1
19572.1
1958-0.7
19596.9
19602.63.0
Kennedy-Johnson19612.6
19626.1
19634.4
19645.84.7
Johnson19656.5
19666.6
19672.7
19684.95.2
Nixon-Ford19693.1
19700.2
19713.3
19725.2
19735.6
1974-0.5
1975-0.2
19765.42.8
Carter19774.6
19785.6
19793.2
1980-0.23.3
Reagan19812.6
1982-1.9
19834.6
19847.3
19854.2
19863.5
19873.5
19884.23.5
GHW Bush19893.7
19901.9
1991-0.1
19923.62.3
Clinton19932.7
19944
19952.7
19963.8
19974.5
19984.5
19994.7
20004.13.9
GW Bush20011
20021.8
20032.8
20043.8
20053.3
20062.7
20071.8
2008-0.32.1
Obama2009-2.8
20102.5
20111.6
20122.2
20131.5
20142.4
20152.41.4

Total Employment

I took the detailed data from the BLS and averaged it by presidential term.  The data is from 1939 – 2016, so I only averaged it through 2015, which means data for Roosevelt’s term (1933 – 1945) is partial.

Continue reading The Presidential Scorecard©: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and Total Employment

The Collapse of the Middle-Class Job

Paul Buchheit | May 08 2016 | Common Dreams

4602805654_db8b6569fb_b
‘Evidence shows that living-wage, family-sustaining positions,’ writes Buchheit, ‘are quickly being replaced by lower-wage and less secure forms of employment.’ (Photo: Chris Devers/flickr/cc)

Our middle-income jobs are disappearing. That fact may be disappearing by free-market advocates, who want to believe Barack Obama when he gushes, “We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history.”

But the evidence shows that living-wage, family-sustaining positions are quickly being replaced by lower-wage and less secure forms of employment. These plentiful low-level jobs have padded the unemployment figures, leaving much of America believing in an overhyped recovery.

The Incredible Shrinking Job

New research is beginning to confirm the permanent nature of middle-income job loss. Based on analysis that one reviewer calls “some of the most important work done by economists in the last twenty years,” a National Bureau of Economic Research study found that national employment levels have fallen in U.S. industries that are vulnerable to import competition, without offsetting job gains in other industries. Even the Wall Street Journal admits that “many middle-wage occupations, those with average earnings between $32,000 and $53,000, have collapsed.”

Productive Workers, but Less of Them

High-salaried jobs in technology still exist, but they’re available to fewer people as machines become smarter. Netflix, for example, serves 57 million customers with less than 2,200 employees, who have a median salary of $180,000. Google is worth $370 billion but employs only about 55,000 workers (50 years ago AT&T was worth less in today’s dollars but employed about 750,000 workers). Facebook’s messaging application WhatsApp has 55 employees serving 450 million customers.

As jobs are downsized, profits are maximized. Apple makes over $500,000 per employee; Facebook and Google are both over $300,000; Exxon and Phillips 66 are both well over $250,000; Merck and Allergan and Pfizer are all significantly over $100,000. Just 25 years ago GM, Ford, and Chrysler generated a combined $36 billion in revenue while employing over 1,000,000 workers. Today Apple, Facebook, and Google generate over a trillion dollars in revenue with 137,000 workers.

Continue reading The Collapse of the Middle-Class Job

Despite Obama’s claims, the Korea-US free trade agreement has cost American jobs

Geoffrey Cain | August 08 2013 | Global Post

SEOUL, South Korea — Although the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has been in effect for little more than a year, it is already drawing vehement condemnation from both sides of the Pacific.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The Obama administration feted KORUS as a veritable job-creation machine, a remedy for the tepid post-crisis recovery. When the US Congress voted in favor of the deal in October 2011, the president called it “a major win for American workers and businesses.” Some proclaimed that KORUS was the most significant trade agreement since NAFTA in 1994.

The US forecast an additional 70,000 American jobs from exports alone. The International Trade Commission estimated the pact would kick-start some $10 billion in US exports to Korea, improving the trade balance by a net $4 billion or more, a boon to the economy.

But already, it’s not clear that the agreement is living up to its promise.

In the US, critics claim that KORUS, which went into force in April 2012, is costing American jobs.

Continue reading Despite Obama’s claims, the Korea-US free trade agreement has cost American jobs