09 September 2013

Nice Threads, Part The Second

Another installment of the continuing saga of Nice Threads. One of the main themes of these endeavors is that Policy trumps Data whenever the two disagree. I'm not happy about, but what are you going to do? Although this happens more on the Right than on the Left, since the Left doesn't abide by such as "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality", widely understood to be Rove, although I've never found a cite where he admits to it. As to empire, it's the 30th anniversary of Reagan's penis growing exercise in Grenada next month. Talk about reality stretching. The Grenada politician who "asked" for US intervention is reported to have died. Karma, or what?

So, first we have Krugman on wonks,
How many Republicans know, for example, that government employment has declined, not risen, under President Obama? Certainly Senator Rand Paul was incredulous when I pointed this out to him on TV last fall. On the contrary, he insisted, "the size of growth of government is enormous under President Obama" -- which was completely untrue but was presumably what his sources had told him, knowing that it was what he wanted to hear.

For that, surely, is what the wonk gap is all about. Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did. Back in the 1980s, after all, health experts at Heritage made a good-faith effort to devise a plan for universal health coverage -- and what they came up with was the system now known as Obamacare.

Krugman gives the Right Wingnuts more credit than they deserve. It's not that their wonks aren't any good, but that the Wingnuts don't care what the data say, and will assert their policy position without regard to data, in the first (and second and last) place. They simply don't care. Anything that the 1% says endangers them (even if the 1% too stupid to figure out otherwise), is therefore and everafter, evil to be destroyed. Fact is, even the 1% will need Obamacare. The arithmetic of healthcare will only work for the .1% without it (or something so much like it the distinction has no difference).

Next, Apple, which is widely held to be announcing both another high-end iPhone, and a middling one on the morrow. As both of these endeavors have asserted for some time: a corporation can't grow its market if it targets the 1%. While it can suck up coin in the beginning, it soon runs out of customers. The iStuff saga is actually not all that old, and Apple has been in Red Queen status since it stopped being a computer company and being a toy company: running ever faster in order to remain in place. There are other parts to the problem. One is that, having added functions to phones (thus making them smarter) that have nothing to do with making phone calls, what more can be done to continue with planned obsolescence? Just as PC owners (outside of some Fortune X00 corporations) have discovered that XP and Office 2000 fully meet their needs, so too are phone users.
The company's profit growth has slowed in response to a saturated handset market in America and parts of Europe. Many people already own a smartphone and are not upgrading to new devices as often as before.

Sound familiar? You read it here a while back. If you read here, of course. Will Apple heed the data? Time will tell, but so far they haven't.

China, with its huge population, is an attractive target for Apple. But Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive, said recently in a call with investors that the company was puzzled about why sales of its products were struggling in China. Sales there fell 4 percent in the second quarter compared with the same quarter last year. And Apple's sales in Hong Kong were down about 20 percent.

Well, do'h!!! China's 1% just isn't as large or as rich as the USofA's. Further, it's clear now (at least to Your Humble Servant) that Chinese government is beginning to understand that it really does have a huge domestic economy, and being beholden to round-eyes is not such a great idea. Nixon went to China to get cheap labor, not markets, for American corporations. The Chinese aren't stupid, and are turning the game around. Their biggest problem is to channel all that savings into more productive uses than building apartment blocks.

Finally, some data from Anthony Damico, who has been discussing various government data dumps. This installment is one of the business surveys (actually two of them). And he makes the following observation in his post:
the [public use microdata sample (pums)] contains records representing 97% of all firms, but since larger businesses have been disproportionately tossed, firms included in the pums employ only 48% of all americans in the labor force and represent only 40% of all payroll and 36% of all commerical revenue nationwide.

Census anonymizes the data, but Big Corps can be gleaned, as he explains, so they're not part of the public data. Of interest: there are those who continue to assert that the USofA is (or, at least, should be) viewed as the Jeffersonian eden of 1800 (lots of small farms with no need of government) or the Randian meritopia of 1950 (or thereabouts, with the best and brightest running things). If you do the arithmetic, even if there's some loss of precision, a reasonable inference is that 3% of corporations control more than half of the USofA economy.

There's a good bit of divide and conquer in the Right's messaging. The notion that 401(k) retirement, and individually funded healthcare, are but two of the memes they pump. Get the Little People to fight over crumbs, and pay taxes, while we build yet more and bigger estates in the Hamptons. That link is to an acerbic take on the NY Times article. I thought that might be more fun. He's got the link to the Times piece, if you want the simple tale.

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