Virtual Front Page, Friday, June 18, 2010

I just went two days without one of these to see if y’all would miss one. Nobody said anything. So what? I’m going to do this one anyway:

  1. South Carolina’s unemployment rate drops to 11% (CRBT) — So that’s like, what? The fourth month in a row it’s dropped? And most states posted gains in jobs. So what’s our narrative here? The stimulus worked? Mark Sanford’s brilliant performance as an economic developer is paying off? It will be interesting to see what Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen have to say about how to build on this.
  2. BP Moves Hayward to Lesser Role in Spill Response (NYT) — Looks like he’s got his life back, huh? I feel so much better. Meanwhile, the Brits are ticked because Congress was so beastly to him.
  3. Hopes dim of reaching trapped Colombia miners (BBC) — Never ceases to fascinate me how I have to check with British media to know what’s happening in the Americas.
  4. U.S. Rallies For 2-2 Draw Vs. Slovenia (NPR) — Hey, I’m just putting it here because the rest of the world thinks the World Cup is such a big deal.
  5. Drug for Sexual Desire Disorder Rejected by Panel (NYT) — Guess we’ll have to fall back on the traditional remedy, booze. I wonder what this is going to do to Spanish Fly futures?
  6. Lennon’s A Day in the Life lyrics sell for $1.2m (BBC) — “I read the news today, oh boy… nobody was really sure if the bidder’d lost his mind…”

26 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page, Friday, June 18, 2010

  1. Herbie

    And no comment on how WE were robbed of a win? And the ref refused to say what the call was for? Are you NOT paying attention?

  2. Herbie

    I believe the stimulus is working. The company I work for has new clients and current clients are asking for more
    work. Also, a friend of mine got a new better paying job at a company that added a position, not replacing one. And I read SC will end up with a surplus on this year’s budget.

    How’s that for overriding rediculous budget vetoes?! And
    naysaying the economic stimulus program?!

  3. Elliott

    I looked for headlines yesterday afternoon. I thought I was too early. I did miss it just did not complain.

  4. Bart

    I would like to believe the stimulus is working but maybe I have a different interpretation of the report than others.

    If you look at the actual numbers, with the single exception of the Leisure and Hospitality industry, 5,500 jobs added, the largest single gain is by the government, outdistancing every other segment of the economy by margins anywhere from 7,000 up to 8,900.

    The only reason L&H had significant gains is because, gasp, it is vaction and tourist season. An industry that traditionally has a major uptic in employment figures in May and June when hiring is done.

    I am happy for anyone finding a job in this market, but, lets not kid ourselves. 15,200 of the 22,100 new jobs were concentrated in two segments of the economy, not spread over the spectrum of all or even a significant percentage of industries in South Carolina.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    @martin–Thanks for the link:
    “But ask Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist who worked for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Jack Kemp, and you’ll hear all about it. “When the history of the current crisis is written, much of the blame will be placed on the sharp fiscal contraction of state and local governments,” he says. “I think economists will view this as a preventable error equivalent to the Fed’s passive shrinkage of the money supply in the early 1930s.” ”

    So cutting state and local budgets all over the place isn’t even in favor with conservative economists.

    I just a quote from Lee Atwater where he explained that cutting taxes was the code used by racists after the Civil Rights Era—because cutting taxes hurts blacks disproportionately.

  6. Bart

    My son works in the private sector and changed jobs recently. He ended up with much better pay and benefits. His new job is essentially the same as his old one.

    But the kicker is this. The largest client for both companies was not in the private sector, it is a massive government agency. Both company’s client list in the private sector has shrunk while the government client list has grown.

    At some point, if the private sector does not start to grow and recapture the lead over the federal government (o.k. Kathryn? :)) in providing positive job growth, someone please tell me where the money will come from to continue to pay civil servant salaries?

  7. Bart

    This has nothing to do with the headlines, politics – local, state of federal. It has to do with the sheer enjoyment of some of the simple pleasures we can enjoy.

    I like some Broadway musicals and especially a few very special songs that reach the soul. If you will take a few minutes and go to YouTube and listen to the four I am listing, it may give you some perspective at to what we are very blessed to have to enjoy.

    Andre Rieu – Don’t Cry for Me Argentina by Suzan Erens
    Andre Rieu – Ave Marie by Murusia Louwerse
    Memory for Cats – Elaine Paige
    I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables by Ruthie Henshall.

    The human voice is still the most beautiful musical instument God created for us to enjoy.

    Take a few minutes. It is well worth it.

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    @Bart–the rate of job growth is not the same things as more jobs total. Government jobs may be growing at a faster rate than private sector because while the private sector may be in a contraction mode, we still need the same, if not more, police officers, case workers, and tax collectors.

  9. Bart


    Sorry, I simply do not see how this is an acceptable situation. How can adding 9,700 jobs to government payroll in SC be justified? Are unemployed persons more prone to crime, therefore, we must increase the size of police forces. Are more case workers needed to process unemployment claims, etc. Tax collectors? What are they going to do, squeeze blood from a stone, or, the unemployed?

    The company I work for has undertaken downsizing and salary cuts. Yet, we are doing the same amount, if not more, than before. Is it too much to ask those who spend our tax money to do the same?

  10. Kathryn Fenner

    @Bart– You are assuming that your company was run as leanly as government before the cuts. More case workers are needed to process DSS cases of abuse and neglect, for one thing, which goes up in economic crises.

    Businesses often times downsize for a lot of reasons, including share price, that have nothing to do with necessity. They decline to staff up when they could, again, because of the capital considerations. If government can hire for useful work, and reduce our unemployment, that’s a good thing. Employed people pay taxes, rather than consume social services.

  11. Doug Ross

    Off topic, but current events…

    Today’s front page of USA Today, here’s the start of what to expect as the government takes over more and more of the healthcare coverage in the country:

    —The American Academy of Family Physicians says 13% of respondents didn’t participate in Medicare last year, up from 8% in 2008 and 6% in 2004.

    —The American Osteopathic Association says 15% of its members don’t participate in Medicare and 19% don’t accept new Medicare patients. If the cut is not reversed, it says, the numbers will double.

    — The American Medical Association says 17% of more than 9,000 doctors surveyed restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Among primary care physicians, the rate is 31%.

    — In Illinois, 18% of doctors restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practice, according to a medical society survey.

    — In North Carolina, 117 doctors have opted out of Medicare since January, the state’s medical society says.

    — In New York, about 1,100 doctors have left Medicare. Even the medical society president isn’t taking new Medicare patients.


    Not difficult to understand. You tell someone you’re going to pay them less for the same service and they won’t bother offering you the service.

  12. Kathryn Fenner

    Except that you reach point where, if you want business, you have to accept lower prices. Lawyers were forced in to this starting in the 80s. I remember working for blue-chip corporate clients who didn’t care at all how much the bill was, and as that world merged and was bought out, senior lawyers would say, “We aren’t going to compromise our standards.” Alas, they ultimately had to. I doubt there are any of those “blithely pay whatever the bill is” corporate clients left.

    Doctors make far more in this country than in most, if not all, the rest of the world. Far more by pretty much any measure I can think of. Sooner or later, this disequilibrium will have to be righted.

    Maybe we need to have more central planning in terms of whom we educate. Steve Benjamin told our Rotary club today that he cringes when yet another political science major proudly announces that fact. We need to make sure that those best suited to be physicians, surgeons, and technology workers can get that education affordably, and stop making it the “luck of the parents” draw. If doctors didn’t have to spend so much to become doctors, they wouldn’t need to make so much to cover the cost, and then keep on making so much after they’ve paid off their loans.

  13. Brad

    Whenever I hear about more doctors saying they’ll quit their practices if a) tort reform isn’t passed or b) Medicare or Medicaid cuts what it will pay docs, or whatever, I always think, “These doctors need a publicist.”

    Something I never hear, and should (and maybe it’s been said and I’ve missed it), if it’s true, is this: “I’d quit because then it would COST me to treat those patients, and past a certain point I just can’t do that.” That would be strong. And if that’s NOT the case, I’d like to hear what the problem IS… because otherwise, the skeptical reader is free to speculate that the docs are simply saying that they’ve made enough money out of the system the way it is that they can just afford to tell us all to go to hell as they take early retirement.

    Which is not a good assumption to let people make, if you want to win them to your point of view…

  14. Bart


    I understand the logic behind employed people paying taxes. Again, my concern is that the employed people we are discussing are actually paid with taxes collected from the taxpayer, employed by private enterprise and collected from various other tax revenue sources.

    FWIW, I am not one of the crowd that believes we do not need government services. We do and anyone who thinks or believes otherwise is not using the intelligence they have been blessed with. The point is that when you take funds from what others contribute to pay salaries and provide services, at some point, consideration must be given to the facts that the contributors are no longer able to contribute as much as they once did.

    If I am making 25% less after austerity measures, I will do everything I can to reduce my outlay by the same amount. Why should the state not be expected to do the same?

  15. Doug Ross

    My ortho surgeon friend won’t accept Medicare patients because he says he loses money on every surgery. Do you want to talk with him?

  16. Doug Ross

    How much should the government decide a hip replacement surgery is “worth” if many people are willing to pay twice as much out of pocket because of they feel the end result is worth it?

  17. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Doug
    If, indeed, your ortho friend “loses money on every surgery” and is not out of line with other ortho guys in that regard (maybe he’s really inefficient; maybe his idea of losing money means not making as much as he could doing other available surgeries) –if he and others really cannot afford to do the surgeries, then the feds will have to increase payments or figure something else out….but I’m not sure that’s the case.
    @Bart– my apolitical nephew just commented that government can’t shut down as a business might because “there are still people here whether they’re working or not.” Government has to provide. A business can cut back or eliminate whole service or product lines. In a lean state like ours, it’s not clear what those lines ought to be.

  18. Kathryn Fenner

    @ Doug–people pay all sorts of prices for various things–a lipstick may be had for 99 cents or upwards of $50 dollars. In all honesty, I would be hard-pressed to tell the difference, except for the case, in many instances. Consumer Reports frequently finds that price and objective quality are poorly correlated.

  19. Bart


    No one is asking or arguing for the state to shut down services. We all know our citizens will still need certain services no matter what the economic situation may or may not be.

    My question is this. What new or expanded services must the government provide that calls for adding 9,700 new jobs in one month?

    The point is still this. We cannot continue to expand government services and spend money the government is not bringing in to pay for the expanded services. Where is the funding coming from? The stimulus money will run out very soon. What will replace it? Will the new hires be laid off?

    When the government added jobs at such a high percentage compared to other industries except for hospitality and tourism, something is still wrong with that picture.

    The healthcare bill will add thousands of jobs to the IRS alone just to enforce the penalty, actually it is a tax, for “not” buying health insurance.

  20. Kathryn Fenner

    Honestly, Bart–do either of us know exactly where those jobs were added or why? We’re both speculating—I’m trying to guess why there are new jobs and you simply think it’s wrong to have that many new jobs regardless of where they come from.


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