Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

  • "Iraqi protesters pour into Green Zone, storm parliament"--Los Angeles Times. The protesters were Shia (the majority Muslim sect in Iraq ... and Iran), allegedly protesting government corruption resulting from patronage. A couple points. First, in a tribal society, patronage (and its attendant corruption) is a given because of the duties and obligations owed in such societies to members of one's own tribe. (I don't necessarily agree that a professional civil service is better; in many ways, I think it is worse, because such systems are completely unaccountable to the electorate). Second, this appears, in many ways, to be a direct challenge to the government system designed by the Bush administration for Iraq (I merely note this because it is a challenge to the American order, not because I think the political system established by the Bush administration was workable or even advisable). 
This could turn much worse. From the article:
    Iraqi security forces initially responded by tightening security across the capital, sealing off checkpoints leading to the Green Zone and halting traffic on main roads heading into the city, according to the Baghdad Operations Command.
      But Iraq's elite counter-terrorism forces, who have in the past been called on to reinforce security in the capital, said they are standing down for now.
        "We still view this as a demonstration," said Sabah Numan, spokesman for the counter-terrorism forces. "We aren't taking any part in this as it's not something regarding terrorism."
          He added, however, that if the unrest escalates his forces may be forced to intervene to "protect the legitimacy of the government."
          "The legitimacy of the government"--a term that should be familiar to those who have followed any of the writings on 4th Generation Warfare. It can be ephemeral in the age of You Tube and Twitter.
          This sort of statistical noise has been going on for years, mostly because the Great Recession threw off normal adjustments. And this will continue to happen. US economic data today is untrustworthy. Even worse, it is causing the Federal Reserve and others to make bad decisions.

          This unpredictable, inaccurate data is causing politicians and others to incorrectly understand the mood of the nation.

          Americans are angry because they don’t care about the statistical noise — they care about what they see with their own eyes.

          True, there may have been 15 million new jobs created during the Obama administration — which, on the surface, is laudable. But that’s about half what was needed to both absorb newcomers to the workforce and those who were laid off over the past decade and would like to return.

          And that drop in the unemployment rate that everyone likes to point to? Even the Fed doesn’t trust it and has formulated its own replacement gauge.

          Here’s why: When you count all the workers who have been stuck with part-time employment or who haven’t searched for work in a year, the jobless rate is twice the official 5% level. And many of the full-time jobs created have been in the lower-paying service sector of the economy.

          When you include those people who haven’t sought a job in more than a year, the unemployment rate jumps much higher.

          How high? Washington doesn’t even bother trying to calculate what it is.

          One last statistic, from Sentier Research. Median annual household income in the US reached $57,263 this past March, which was 4.5% higher than in March 2015.

          But — and here’s where the anger comes in — this March’s figure is still slightly below the $57,342 median annual income in January 2000.

          January 2000!

          Americans haven’t gotten a raise in more than 16 years.

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