mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

It's the economy, stupid...

One of the big factors in this election has been the economy. Kerry is blaming Bush for every person in the US without health care or a job. I've always thought that the idea of blaming or crediting the president with the number of employed people was a little odd - it's not like the president goes out and hires people. Rather, private employers - usually businesses -do. Thus, one of the few things the government can do to create jobs is to help businesses - but when they do that, they get accused of being in big business' pocket. (Yes, I realize not everyone works for a for-profit company, myself included. I work for a private college, however, and much of our funding comes from corporate donors or executives).

I also think that the stats don't always tell us everything. For example, Kerry has been trotting out the "5 million unisured" line. Without knowing the breakdown of those groups, though, it doesn't tell us much. Between the time I graduated college and could no longer be covered under my parent's policy, and the time I got my current job, I didn't have health insurance. That's bad, but temporarily uninsured people are a far cry from people who don't have insurance - and won't any time in the near future.

That leads me to two interesting articles. The first one relates to the above. People who want to complain about the distribution in wealth in this country frequently site movement of income in the quintiles (top 20%, bottom 20%, ect) as proof that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Conservative economists usually reply that there is a lot of movement between the quintiles - the college student working part time, and thus in the bottom quintile (but not "poor", since he's most likely being subsidized by his parents) graduates, gets a job, and becomes middle class. Now there is also evidence that immigration also pulls down the income stats for the bottom 20%. Because immigrants tend to be poor, their entry into the US makes income for the bottom quintile appear to go down, when in reality it hasn't for those who aren't recent immigrants. Of course, recent immigrants are probably better off in the US than where they were, or they wouldn't have immigrated in the first place.

The second interesting econ thing is this post from MyPetJawa debunking the claims that Bush is the only president to lose jobs during his administration. Part of this has to do with time periods - ie Clinton lost jobs in the first 4 years he was in office, but gained more than that back the next four.


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