Friday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Heh.
  2. Brandon answers yesterday’s question.
  3. Art that will move you.
  4. A review.
  5. Travel?
  6. From a Vespers hymn.
  7. Continuing the art/beauty theme for today, ring tones.
  8. From the “not making any sense” side of the left. All the soldiers did in fact get good treatment and attacks by terrorists and non-uniformed personnel is not likely at all connected with our treatment of terrorists in Iraq. There are good arguments against using torture … this just isn’t one of them.
  9. So … Mr Obama’s policies have already (?!) created 150k jobs. I think a stronger and stronger case can be made for the Innumeracy of our President. 
  10. Riding Gila.
  11. Dude, just say “Yo!”.
  12. Retaining our humanity.
  13. Microcosm, macrocosm and man.
  14. A decision.
  15. The first part problem with a Churchillian quote by Obama … it’s a fabrication. The second part of the problem is that some SS officers were in fact tortured.
  16. “I think we are losing ground” … thanks Mr Obama.

12 responses to “Friday Highlights

  1. The first part problem with a Churchillian quote by Obama … it’s a fabrication.

    Kind of nitpicky but Obama didn’t quote churchill but an article he read about him. Technically the quote wouldn’t be a fabrication (unless there is no such article).

    The second part of the problem is that some SS officers were in fact tortured.

    Not sure why this is a problem. Crimes of war do happen during war. That doesn’t make them right.

    From the “not making any sense” side of the left. All the soldiers did in fact get good treatment and attacks by terrorists and non-uniformed personnel is not likely at all connected with our treatment of terrorists in Iraq. There are good arguments against using torture … this just isn’t one of them.

    Is this ‘side of the left’ the military men who are saying torture and prisoner abuse has enhanced terrorist recruitment and undermined our efforts to ‘win hearts and minds’?

    So … Mr Obama’s policies have already (?!) created 150k jobs. I think a stronger and stronger case can be made for the Innumeracy of our President.

    Well using http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm we had about 133,019,000 jobs in March. In April the stimulus package’s payroll tax cut kicked in which I believe amounted to something like $40 every two weeks. Let’s say that’s two paychecks worth before the end of the month and let’s also say that people save 20% of additional takehome income (which is much higher than the typical savings rate but then again people are pulling back consumption and ramping up saving as a result of the crises). That would result in $64 of additional consumption spending per job.

    From that I get $8,513,216,000 or $8.5B in new spending. Divide that by 125,000 and you get $68,105.73….not too far from what one would expect to be the yearly cost of hiring someone full time for a year (wages plus employer taxes). So it seems the 125,000 job figure is not at all that wacky.

  2. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/05/churchill-vs-cheney-ctd.html has a very good letter from a historian on Churchill, WWII and torture by England on German’s.

    1. “The Cage” was torture of 3573 prisoners who were accused of war crimes. The purpose was simply to extract confessions, not useful information (i.e. ‘ticking timebomb’).

    2. It was remarkably unsuccessful, generating only 1000 confessions (unknown how many were true versus false).

    3. German spies who were captured were NOT tortured and the success rate of interrogations is quite frankly amazing. Out of nearly 100 spies per year who hid among 7-9K refugees coming to England and the 120 who came from friendly countries, only 3 were able to fully elude detection and only 5 refused to confess. The vast majority were able to be interrogated and turned into double agents who provided excellent info, fed Germany misinformation and assisted int he capture of many more spies.

    Mark simplistically argued that maybe torture can work becaue it seems to be useful in police states. Perhaps he should ponder whether the evidence really indicates that torture provides useful and acceptable results for civilized and democratic countries? England seems to be justly cited by Mr. Obama as evidence it does not (or at least that one can avoid torture but still aquire good intelligence from captured agents).

  3. Jobs again:

    Actually 125,000 is eptimistologically modest.

    The added spending covers only a month, not a year. The cost of hiring a person is about $5,666 per month (using the figure of $68K as the cost for a year). A more justifiable number would be 1.5 million. Although if you’re just trying to make an estimate to date it is fair to trim that down a bit. For example, many businesses may respond to increased sales by letting their inventories draw down first. This will mean new hires later on to replenish the lost stock but for right now the sales would go towards improved corporate profits.

    I’m using the payroll tax cut because it is probably the fastest portion of the stimulus putting money in people’s hands right now. Other items like construction spending take longer to get the green light (although there are reports of firms hiring in to prepare to bid on and receive contracts and states have dropped or lowered layoffs due to the stimulus package plugging some of their budget holes)

  4. Boonton,
    You suggesting that when a company saves X dollars that you can divide that savings by the average annual salary and come up with an change in their employment rate? Gosh, I didn’t know companies responded either that quickly or that employment doesn’t have other factors, you know like demand for their products. Perhaps Mr Obama is using similarly sloppy employment accounting methods.

    And as you note, almost none of the non-tax portions of the stimulus package have impacted anyone at all so claims of “already created X jobs” due to stimulus spending not just likely innumerate but has present/past tense issues as well. Is that a “grammatical” issue?

    UK torture is relevant in that Obama claimed Churchill quoted as saying he didn’t do it. Not only was the quote a fabrication (or “worse” yet, lifted from Andrew Sullivan as a reliable source of information) … but that it is factually incorrect, i.e., the UK did torture some prisoners. So first Churchill never said the quote provided and in fact didn’t do what the quote claimed. There is no sense in which the quote is right.

  5. Boonton,
    Correction … the quote may actually be grammatically accurate. :D

  6. You suggesting that when a company saves X dollars that you can divide that savings by the average annual salary and come up with an change in their employment rate? Gosh, I didn’t know companies responded either that quickly or that employment doesn’t have other factors,

    Not quite, when consumer spending goes up $X that amount translates into additional employment that can be estimated by X/Y where Y is the average salary. Basically, everything spent ends up as someone’s income. It’s either going to go directly into labor income (if, say, you hire someone to paint your house) or will draw down business inventories (which means business must ramp up hiring to replensih them) or will turn into profits which then get spent by the corporate owners (i.e. shareholders)…etc.

    I think the only out you have here is maybe if people increased their spending but just let businesses have the money without getting goods and services in return. Long story short, the 125K jobs is actually quite a reasonable estimate.

    Not only was the quote a fabrication (or “worse” yet, lifted from Andrew Sullivan as a reliable source of information)

    I wouldn’t talk.

  7. You suggesting that when a company saves X dollars that you can divide that savings by the average annual salary and come up with an change in their employment rate? Gosh, I didn’t know companies responded either that quickly or that employment doesn’t have other factors,

    Not quite, when consumer spending goes up $X that amount translates into additional employment that can be estimated by X/Y where Y is the average salary. Basically, everything spent ends up as someone’s income. It’s either going to go directly into labor income (if, say, you hire someone to paint your house) or will draw down business inventories (which means business must ramp up hiring to replensih them) or will turn into profits which then get spent by the corporate owners (i.e. shareholders)…etc.

    I think the only out you have here is maybe if people increased their spending but just let businesses have the money without getting goods and services in return. Long story short, the 125K jobs is actually quite a reasonable estimate.

    Not only was the quote a fabrication (or “worse” yet, lifted from Andrew Sullivan as a reliable source of information)

    I wouldn’t talk.

  8. Second point, yes some spending does take a while to go out the door. For example, the $8,000 credit for buying a home isn’t going to turn into an expense until people do their 2009 tax returns (in 2010). But nonetheless spending is stimulated right now because of it. I was being very conservative in my estimate by using only actual $$$ in people’s paychecks for the last 30 days

    As for torture, it is kind of a serious issue and you seem to be bending over backwards not to have a serious position on it. England did not torture as policy. The people it could have tortured, could have tortured a lot if they were applying the Bush admin. logic (captured spies), they did not. Do you have a serious take on torture or is your intent to chase after the people that do correcting any spelling or grammatical mistakes they make along the way?

  9. In fact, your take(s) on torture remind me of the Chesterton quote Megan recently spotlighted in a reader’s letter:

    In his early days he had had a great talent for one of the worst tricks of modern journalism, the trick of dismissing the important part of a question as if it could wait, and appearing to get to business on the unimportant part of it. Thus, he would say, “Whatever we may think of the rights and wrongs of the vivisection of pauper children, we shall all agree that it should only be done, in any event, by fully qualified practitioners.”

  10. Boonton,
    ?? my “take(s)” on torture?

  11. You seem quite willing to talk about torture a lot but not able to take a clear stand on what matters.

  12. Boonton,
    Well hopefully my new post clarifies things somewhat.

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