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How Bad is Unemployment?

How bad is unemployment?  The Heathen Republican, an excellent secular conservative blog, has posted easy to read charts for a number of ways to measure unemployment.  Bottom line: It’s not declining by any measure, and is rising by some significant ones.

For the record, I do not agree with many of the conclusions the Heathen Republican reaches, but I recommend his blog to anyone who wishes to engage in a serious discussion of the issues.  He strikes me as old school: That is, he respects facts and makes an honest effort to get them straight.

Folks like him — on all sides of the issues — are the folks who make democracy possible.


UPDATE: I regret that I must amend this post to withdraw my endorsement of the Heathen Republican’s blog.  Today, he posted this:

Conservatives and progressives witness the same events but interpret them very differently. I think it’s more accurate to say that progressives interpret and conservatives observe and process the real world with no interpretation involved, but I expect someone to object to that statement.

It’s pretty clear to me that progressives look beyond reality and have their own sort of religious faith. Perhaps I have my own “conservative faith” to which I am blind, although (naturally) I don’t think so. [emphasis in original]
On the basis of that and other statements I have read on his blog since making my initial endorsement of his blog, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that he has a tendency to demonize Progressives while idealizing Conservatives.  I cannot endorse that policy since I do not see it as conducive to rational debate.

I apologize for having misled.

10 thoughts on “How Bad is Unemployment?”

  1. You’re welcome, HR! You deserve more links than that one.

    Thanks for the invite! For the most part, I’m largely taking a break from politics at the moment. But I had the good sense to click on your blog today despite my break. When I get interested again, I’ll be sure to drop by.


  2. The real unemployment rate of about 20% is pretty scary. If the “economic recovery” does not help the people, what good is It? If the rich and the corporations do not pay tax, why are they allowed to stay ? Who needs them? They don’t provide jobs, what the hell good are they?
    I checked out his blog. Went to his post: What Progressives Think of Conservatives. I am not sure what planet he lives on but Earth is not one of the choices. Made me want to heave. Same old Rethuglican bullshit.


    1. So far as I know, there’s not much in the way of an economic recovery going on. Nor does there appear to be much evidence — if any at all — for the notion that cutting taxes on uber-rich individuals and corporations increases employment. That it does, appears to be one of the Grand Myths of our time.

      I’ve heard that many of the uber-rich corporations and individuals pay no federal income taxes. But I’ve never seen any figures on what percentage of them that pay no federal income taxes.

      As for individuals, the different income percentiles in the US tend to pay taxes that are proportionate to their incomes. For instance, the top 1% takes in about 20% of the total income in the US and pays out in Federal, state, and local taxes about 22% of the total taxes. Thus, the overall tax burden in the US is not progressive. (Source .pdf)

      I strongly disagree with the opinions expressed in Heathen Republican’s post, “What Progressives Think of Conservatives”. But I noticed he was not presenting much, if any, evidence or reasoning in support of his opinions, so I didn’t take most of them as arguments — just statements of his positions. I would like to see what weight of evidence, if any, he can marshal in support of his opinions.


      1. Here’s where source data really makes a difference. I was shocked to see you report that the top 1% earns 20% of income and pays 22% of the total taxes because I did my own research on this back in February and came to a very different conclusion.

        Then I looked at your source, which references an Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy Tax Model. I don’t know anything about this institute or their politics, but I’m automatically suspicious that Citizens for Tax Justice or the Institute decided not to look at actual IRS data, which I’ve done.

        My results don’t match up exactly to the institute’s table and I didn’t break it down based on the top 1%. I did setup some arbitrary income levels to compare against each other, for example, defining the rich as anyone earning over $200k. We can debate my income levels, but that’s not the point.

        Actual IRS data shows that in 2008 (another difference from the Institute), 3% of the tax filing population earned more than $200k, they earned 22.7% of all income, and they paid 41.3% of all income tax revenue. Contrast this with the poor (which I defined as earning below $50k) who make up 63.7% of the tax filing population, earned 23.4% of all income, and paid 7.6% of tax.

        I think this clearly demonstrates that we do have a progressive tax system.

        I know that we can get into a debate over the quality of the sources, or income divisions, or years reported, but personally I prefer data straight from the IRS than the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy‘s tax model.


      2. And you’re right to say that I was not trying to present evidence to support my opinions on what progressives think of conservatives. My point, as stated, was to list how progressives mis-state conservative ideological positions, and then to present the actual conservative ideological position.

        Those ideological positions are mine, so there is no source material besides me. I am conservative and think conservative things, and I am relatively mainstream when it comes to conservative thinking.

        What’s interesting to me is when progressives read my post and assume I’m making up the conservative position as though I’m trying to fool somebody. This is further evidence that progressives simply don’t understand what conservatives think, and anything that departs from their caricature of us is considered a lie in order to conceal what progressives know we really believe.

        We’d make a lot more progress in our political debate if each side would acknowledge what the other side actually thinks and not assume the other side is 1) lying or 2) has bad motives.


      3. HR, The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy is a 40 year old nonpartisan group that specializes in assessing changes in the tax codes.

        I think a very significant difference between what you’re doing and what Citizens for Tax Justice is doing is that you are looking at the Federal Income Tax, while Citizens is looking at the entire tax burden. That is, Federal, state, and local taxes combined. Thus, no one is arguing with the fact that the Federal Income tax is progressive. It is indeed progressive. But it seems to be offset by other Federal taxes along with state and local taxes. Consequently, the total tax burden does not seem to be progressive.


  3. Ah yes, What Progressives Think of Conservatives is one of my more popular posts. It takes a list of accusations directly from the mouth of a progressive, and explains the actual conservative positions.

    I suspect, Blog Fodder, that you have no substantive rebuttal and decided instead to call me names. I trust other Cafe Philos readers will take the time to read the actual post and see that I am rational, and you are not. Of course, I invite your comments there if you would like to offer something of real substance.


    1. I thought I might try discussing your “Nineteen Secular Conservative Policies”, or your “Six Secular Conservative Principles”, with you when I get back into a more political frame of mind. I haven’t gone over them more than to read them so far, but they look quite interesting.


  4. BF and HR,

    Please be so kind as to stick to criticizing the other guy’s ideas, rather than attacking him personally. If you were talking about someone who never visits this blog — such as Michele Bachmann or Joe Biden — then, yeah, go ahead and do your damnest. But in the interests of keeping things cool enough to still allow for reasoned discussion and debate, I ask that you don’t indulge in personal attacks against other commentators.


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