F.A.S.T.: Good News! The Record Low Labor Participation Rate Is Not Bad News.

Facts Are Stupid Things — November 8, 2015

LaborForce Graphic

With the great news that real wages are finally actually climbing as unemployment sank to 5% with 271,000 new jobs created in October, almost all exclusively in the private sector, the right wing is absolutely up in arms about the truly “bad” economic news: The labor participation rate is at an all time low!

Google it.  You will find nothing but right wing media obsessing over the number.  James Woods actually flipped out over it to the delight of the minions.

The implication here, is that despite all the hocus-pocus involved in faking nearly 9 million new jobs (almost all in the private sector) and the lowest unemployment in a generation, the truth is the Obama economy is a failure because “everyone” has actually given up on finding a job.

A big problem with that theory is it would only be true if the labor participation rate was exclusively a metric of those who have given up looking for work.  It is not.

In short, other than “other,” those who gave up on finding a job make up the smallest category of those not participating in the labor force.  Heading the pack are retirees,  followed closely by the disabled, then students and then people working in the home.

Maybe the headlines should read:
Retired Baby Boomers Relaxing on the Beach Are Not Participating in the Labor Force in Droves.”
That would be more accurate

Here’s a WSJ blog post with two pretty graphics that help clarify.

What We Know About the 92 Million Americans Who Aren’t in the Labor Force

Bottom line, the “bad news”  Obama haters are determined to unearth  has again failed to materialize.

Facts Are Stupid Things: Don’t You Hate It When Donald Trump Is Right?


While in no way endorsing the 70 something adolescent with arrested development, facts are facts. George W. Bush had been president for about nine full months when the United States suffered the first attack on it’s own soil since Pearl Harbor.  At the time, to deflect blame, I remember Bush used the analogy that he’d “only been here nine months. I mean a man barely get’s his coat on ….”  Yes. Go check my facts. That is more or less the exact quote. He drew an analogy between nine months as president of the United States and barely getting one’s coat on.  As I’ve said many a time before: any man needing nine months to put on a coat, clearly is not ready to be President of the United States.

Read this AP article.

What it says beneath the headline is that Trump pointed out an irrefutable fact. We were attacked on GW’s watch. There can be no debate on that simple truth.

Trump, Bush call each other ‘pathetic’ in 9/11 spat

And the article above does not even mention that Bush received a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001 titled: “Bin Laden determined to strike within U.S.”  That is recalled by the NY Times here:

The Deafness Before the Storm

Now Jeb!, in trying to defend the family brand, is saying ‘wait a minute, my brother kept us safe.’  And whether you look back to his inability to heed the warning of August 6, 2001, or look straight ahead at Isis, which in part was born of US torture of prisoners of war, Jeb! has a big hill to climb in trying to back up that claim.

So facts are stupid things.  And in this case,  even I can’t fault Donald Trump for stating the obvious: George W. Bush  was president on September 11, 2001.

What Trump did not say, but what is also true is that G.W.Bush had nine full months to get his coat on.

F.A.S.T. Old CATO Study Says Welfare More Lucrative Than Work. Not Exactly True

Facts Are Stupid Things  9.3.15

I’m not a big Facebook guy. I understand it’s importance to comics and artists when it comes to letting folks know you’re working. I also understand some people just like to announce what they are having for dinner. One thing I know for sure is that Facebook is a horrible place to argue politics.

Case in point: A 1995 study updated in 2013, done at the always biased CATO Institute, which I saw posted today as if it were new news. That study purports to prove that welfare is a better gig than working in more than 30 of our united states.  I immediately got the whiff of suspicion and found a more sobering piece that describes the ways CATO took every possible welfare program and in theory assigned maximum income to all recipients.  In reality, according to this piece by Josh Barro at Business Insider, they didn’t allow for the fact that benefiting from one or several of the programs excludes recipients from benefiting from all the rest.

In short, CATO took liberty with their assumptions and then posted a finding they were looking for.  In so doing, they also helped to keep the public mis-informed in perpetuity and forever.

There’s A New Study That Says Welfare Pays Better Than Work — Here’s Why It’s Total Nonsense

Anecdotally, There are plenty of examples to be found of people abusing the system. But in the aggregate, for the vast majority, welfare is never a better gig than a good job.

As an aside: I think Donald Trump should help by using some of his billions to open a factory in Queens where he can get Americans off of welfare and back to work sewing his Donald J. Trump Collection of shirts and ties. These ties are great. They are fantastic. People are gonna love my ties.

And just because I’m old fashioned and believe in double sourcing as much as possible, here is a second blog I found written by Mike Dunford, who I do not know, but who seems to have done his homework.

No, Cato, Welfare Doesn’t Pay More Than Minimum Wage

Dunford concludes: “Cato’s statement that, “The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work,” is not just a lie in general, it’s a lie in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia.”

And here is the original 1995 masterpiece from CATO Institute:

Welfare Pays Better than Work,


F.A.S.T.: Take A Close Look At Trump’s Oreo Story? The Cookie Crumbles.


Facts Are Stupid Things  – 8.28.15

Trump says he won’t eat Oreos anymore because Mondelez International, the multi-national conglomerate that bakes those cookies, is closing it’s plant in Chicago and moving it’s 600 jobs to Mexico.

Here’s the problem with Trump’s statement:  It’s just not entirely true and ignores a number of important facts.

Full disclosure: I have happily owned a few shares of Mondelez stock for a few years now.

In short, Mondelez has two baking facilities on the South Side of Chicago  that have been there since the late 1950s.  They are upgrading equipment and cutting the number of productions lines from 9 to 4. They tried to get $42 million in concessions from Chicago to keep the bakery there, because that is what they save if they move those 4 lines to a newer facility in Salinas, Mexico.
Even if they had kept the 4 production lines at that baking facility in Chicago, the upgrade in equipment was going to cost 300 jobs anyway.
Here’s another important fact. Illinois is their international HQ and they still employ a large number of people in all kinds of jobs.  Most importantly, where Trump is concerned, the initial news reports in May indicate that Oreos are not one of the products currently made at that baking facility

So now you deserve some supporting evidence:

In this SF Examiner story, you can read all of Trump’s categorical statements in the lead two paragraphs.
And then buried at the bottom, in italics, the following correction:

*Correction – According to Laurie M. Guzzinati Senior Director, Corporate & Government Affairs North America, Mondelēz Global LLC – Nabisco recently announced a significant investment in a Salinas, Mexico baking plant. The move affects 600 jobs at a bakery near Chicago, though Nabisco says that facility would remain open.

Read it here:
Trump says no more Oreo’s as Nabisco Moves business to Mexico

A second source supporting the same facts is this Sun Times piece:
Read this one:
Mondelez to cut 600 jobs in Chicago

For confirmation of the job cuts that were going to happen anyway, here’s a good one from when the story first ran:
Mondelez seeks job cuts, wants to vacate one of two South Side bakery buildings

And here is a piece from May to give even greater perspective:
Mondelez to cut Chicago jobs, send some work to Mexico

Important notes: Mondelez still employs roughly 13,000 people in the United States and more than 90, 000 more in countries all around the world.  40% of its sales originate in Europe.  Only 20% in the U.S..

So Mondelez didn’t shut down it’s entire plant and move it to Mexico as Trump said.  And according to the one report that offered details, Oreo’s aren’t even made in the baking facility that is being phased out. (That one is subject to further review)

So when it comes to the Donald Trump telling you that the people who make Oreos shut down their plant in Chicago and shipped all it’s jobs down to Mexico you now know that both “baking facilities” remain open, still providing jobs for Americans.  Furthermore, Illinois is Mondelez International’s global headquarters.

Not shutting the plant. Fact.
Not moving all jobs to Mexico. Fact.
Chicago Tribune report lists products baked at facility. Oreos not listed. Fact.
300 jobs were going to be eliminated even if second baking facility got the 4 modernized production lines.  Fact.
Mondelez is overwhelmingly a foreign based operation. Fact.
Illinois is Mondelez International global HQ. Fact.
13,000 still employed by Mondelez in U.S.  Fact.

Go FactEmToDeath.


Addendum: This just in : Don’t Worry Donald Trump, Oreo Cookies Will Still Be Made In The USA

F.A.S.T. Defunct Iranian Parchin Facility Inspection Will Be Verified By IAEA

Facts Are Stupid Things  8.22.15

The Debate: An unconfirmed A.P. story told of an early draft of the nuclear agreement between Six Nations and Iran that according to the report would allow the Iranians to “self inspect” this facility.


The Skinny: Based on this unconfirmed report, the media-sphere is full of attacks asking how on earth we would make an agreement that allowed the Iranians to police their own nuclear facilities? The answer, according the the director of the IAEA is that no such condition exists.  It is also important to note that Parchin burned to the ground in 2014.  The exact circumstances surrounding it’s destruction are subject to debate. It is also important ot note that Parchin is not an currently active nuclear research site.



So What Happened?

Well, according to the IAEA big boss:

“I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work,” IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said in an unusually strongly worded statement on Thursday.

Full Text Here: IAEA says report Iran to inspect own military site is ‘misrepresentation’

While Iranians would be involved, as with other agreements the IAEA operates under, that agency would have means of verification. For more on that read here:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/1U.S. acknowledges likely Iranian role in nuclear site inspections

For a more in depth look at this issue, read this Max Fisher piece on Vox.com:

The AP’s controversial and badly flawed Iran inspections story, explained

In Short:
When it comes to the allegation that the six nation nuclear agreement allows the Iranians to self inspect their active nuclear research facilities, the stupid facts are: They do not.

On Iranian self inspection: you can now FactEmToDeath.

F. A. S. T.: Barack Obama Never Promised “Anytime, Anywhere” inspections of suspected sites.

Facts Are Stupid Things   8.17.15

The debate:

Why did Barack Obama promise the final deal with Iran would assure “anytime, anywhere” inspections when it gives the Iranians 24 days before we can go in?

The Skinny:

While the hypothesis is cleverly phrased, the facts indicate that neither Barack Obama, John Kerry or any other member of their administration promised “anytime, anywhere” access to all of Iran.

So what did happen?

Back in April, a man named Ben Rhodes, the national security adviser for strategic communications, did an interview on Israeli TV, as later reported by the Times Of Israel, in which he made the case that the deal they were closing in on was the best that could be hoped for; that the administration is not blind to who the Iranians are and how they operate; and that without the agreement, Iran could have nuclear weapons without doubt, in less than a year.  Specifically, Rhodes, in explaining the deal  said there would be “anytime, anywhere” access to nuclear sites.  Those are the known sites where weapons grade development is presently under way.

Read the interview here.

Rhodes  then went further, stating there would also be a process for obtaining access to suspected sights through unprecedented IAEA and UN involvement.  Suspected sites can be inspected using an IAEA/UN protocol that could take up to 24 days.

You can find more on IAEA involvement here:

The Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz was greatly involved in the negotiations and has consistently said that –no matter how good the Iranians have become at covering  up suspected sites in the past — the residual radioactivity could not possibly be erased in that short amount of time.  Secretary Moniz is also a nuclear physicist associated with MIT.

You can read comments from Moniz and John Kerry here:

Summary: The premise of the accusation is false. The words were those of Ben Rhodes, not Barack Obama or John Kerry. What was promised and delivered is unfettered access to known nuclear development sites. What was also stated at the time was that the agreement would include a process for gaining access to suspected sites. Both components are included in the agreement and the Secretary of Energy, himself a nuclear physicist says that is not enough time to hide traces of radioactivity.

So when it comes to the ” Anytime, Anywhere,” you are now prepared to FactEmToDeath.