War on Easter?

Three months ago, we were hearing again about the war on Christmas, including outrage about non-religious greating such as Happy Holidays.  Now we are leading up to the Easter season.  No similar problem?

This occurred to me today in church.  I haven’t heard any complaints about a war on easter.  Why?

I think it is because Easter hasn’t been turned into such a commercial opportunity, while trying to maintain it as a spiritual holiday as well.

Christmas is the key to many profits of many businesses.  Black Friday is crucial to being in the black.  That is certainly true for Christian business people.  But there is schizophrenia about this.

People want to use the holiday for their commercial purposes, but still insist on keeping it as a religious observation.  The first objective doesn’t go well with the second.  People want to use the holdiay to bring both believer and non-belivers into their businesses by bringing non-Christians into Chrismas.  It doesn’t work to draw the non-believer into your religious holiday for secular purposes  and then fault the need to show those non-believers some deference by recognizing their not sharing your faith.

I think if Chistians want to not have greeting like Happy Holidays, then they needed to Christmas like easter – a holiday for Christians only, not a commercial opportunity.

My Dad

My dad has been dead for 3 months.  He and I were close and I miss him, but I’m glad his suffering of the last few years is over.

One thing I wanted to do for him was his obituary.  My attempt at that was used back in December with some editing by others. 

I wanted to post the original version that I wrote somewhere, so I’m doing so here.

Jesus called Robert Terrell True home on November 27, 2015.

Bob True was a provider in every sense.  He provided for his country, and family in so many ways.  He provided not just things to live, but a reason to live for all those who loved him, and that made him a hero more than any Hollywood leading man.

He was born in Bentonville, AK on October 19, 1919, to Minnie and Thomas True.   With his parents at age 5 he traveled in the back of a model -T Ford across the Rocky Mountains to southern Idaho, then Washington and finally Sunny Slope Idaho.  He developed a fascination with machinery, their maintenance, and use in agriculture that would be his life’s work, and source amusement too

As a youth he worked on his parent’s farm and attended elementary school   at Sunny Slope, near Caldwell, Idaho.   He attended and graduated from Caldwell High, and when students needed a way to school in Caldwell he set up a private bus service to Caldwell High.  He provided friendship that would go on to last a lifetime as well and was lauded as “ready when others are not”.  He went on to study agriculture at the University of Idaho in 1939.

He was a passionate patriot, and after Pearl Harbor in 1941, beginning in February 1942 he served his country for almost 4 long years.  The country boy:  journeyed with other young men from across the US and lived on two continents under spartan conditions; tested weapons in the Galapagos; drove trucks for a convoy across the famous Burma road into western China; flew back into India at the end of the war in unpressurized plane (over the Himalayas) and with other members of his greatest generation provided the peace and security that has continued for the US since that time.  He took the greatest pride in his service and his honorable discharge is on the wall of his home to this day.

After the war, he returned to complete his bachelor’s degree as a University of Idaho Vandal.  He worked at the same time as a foodservice employee for his fellow Vandals.  With his degree, he returned to farming on the property, the true family had worked for decades on Sunny Slope.  True lane adjacent to the True farm is named for the family.

In 1953 he married Mary Alice Norris, and their marriage lasted 50 years.  Bob and Mary had a marriage filled love and some of the usual conflict.  With Mary’s help, Bob provided for his family not luxuriously but richly and well with things with true value.  He provided a comfortable and loving home for Mary and his two children Bruce and Helen with plenty of food on table and a solid roof over everyone’s head (despite a small explosion in the furnace one winter evening).  He often did the grocery shopping and always returned with some little treat for everyone as well as the basic staples.  His daughter once made a Styrofoam hostess cake to hang from his pick-up’s mirror to indicate his fondness for these simple (if not healthy snacks).  Perhaps sharing some his passions with his family was how he provided for them best.

Since his childhood, he had loved the outdoors hiking much of the Jump Creek canyon.  Through the years, the True family enjoyed the beauty of Idaho both in deserts in Owyhee county and forests of Cascade, and Stanley area.  On these trips, Bob provided the best tasting pancakes, eggs and bacon at breakfast under the blue Idaho sky one could ever hope for.  On afternoon trips the Trues discovered everything from rattle snakes to an unexploded box of dynamite one day.  Once, the Trues did venture “overseas” visiting Canada in the 1970’s.  Bob kept his family safe while providing fun and memorable trips. 

Trips to these locations were filled with discussions about if other drivers looked like celebrities of the time (Glenn Campbell for example) and other silliness.  He had a great sense of humor and shared it with his family.  Some winter afternoons were filled with collectively writing silly stories, accompanied by chalk drawing by his gifted daughter Helen.  Over the years the Trues also enjoyed a double exposure that appeared to show Bob putting his head in his son’s birthday cake.   He taught his kids that life can be hard, but you can laugh or you cry at hard times and the latter hurts a lot less.

Bob taught life skills.  His life-long love of tools provided for his family.  Bob built and repaired some of his own farm machinery.  Hanging out in his shop you could learn a lot about how to use tools safely and successfully and a little basic chemistry as well.  He was a wizard at repairing broken toys and sometimes improving devices from their original design.  He revived his daughter Helen’s broken sewing machine, but even his formidable skills met their match in repairing a Tonka Toy run over by a tractor.  He had a keen sense of the value of a dollar like other depression era children and passed that on, along with a love for hard work and self-sufficiency.  He also taught courage and a willingness to take chances to get things done.  His son Bruce felt that that these lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s Walk like a man would apply to his dad:

               I’ll walk like a man

And I’ll keep on walkin’

 

As in his military service, Bob was a patriotic family man.  He voted in all elections, and shared a passion about politics with family and children.  He retained this passion about news and politics for his entire life, and was a devotee of Fox News.

Finally, Bob provided for his children in good and bad times.  He saw to it that both had the opportunity for higher education.  He helped out in bad times too, including one long-term illness and a life-threatening car accident in the 1970’s.   The most important thing he and Mary provided for his kids was the sense that there was never any doubt that they were loved no matter what.

Later in life, Bob and Mary enjoyed some extensive travel in an RV.  They went as far as Death Valley and several times visited their son while he lived in California.  In his 80’s he developed a passable familiarity with computers and internet that allowed him to stay in  touch with far-flung family.  He was good at assembling and using audio visual equipment as well.

Bob enjoyed three grandchildren and two great-grandsons.  His daughter Helen and son-in-law Duane Noe had:  Graham Robert Noe and Jenette Annabelle Noe.  His son Bruce and daughter-in-law Christine Watson True had:  Angelica True.  His grandson Graham and his wife Irma Winterholler had Bob’s first great-grandson Miles Robert Noe in 2012 and a second Connor Elliot Noe in 2015.  Bob is survived by all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 

Bob and Mary’s time together only ended with Mary’s death in 2004 following Bob being able to keep her in the home she loved until almost the very last weeks of her life.  Finally following Mary’s death in 2004 he moved to Wilder Idaho.

Thank you for being the man, the patriot, soldier, lover, and father you were.  The apostle Paul wrote:

I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.

The same could be said of you, Robert Terrell True; you finished the race.  We’ll never forget you and can never fully repay what you provided us with.   Such Great Love.

 

 

False Choice / Changing the Subject

I’ve seen this a lot lately:

image

Somewhere between changing the subject and offering a totally false choice.  Leaving Syrian refugees to rot, is not going to do one thing for veterans – I’m sure of that.

Furthermore, its just a clumsy attempt to change the subject when the Syrian issue comes up.

It’s sad that immigration scares so many people so much.  I think it is one more way the 9/11 attack damaged this country so badly.

”Global Warming ‘Hiatus’ Never Happened”

 

About that supposed pause in global warming:

Global warming ‘hiatus’ never happened, Stanford scientists say: An apparent lull in the recent rate of global warming that has been widely accepted as fact is actually an artifact arising from faulty statistical methods, Stanford scientists say. …The finding calls into question the idea that global warming “stalled” or “paused” during the period between 1998 and 2013. …

Using a novel statistical framework that was developed specifically for studying geophysical processes such as global temperature fluctuations, Rajaratnam and his team of Stanford collaborators have shown that the hiatus never happened.

“Our results clearly show that, in terms of the statistics of the long-term global temperature data, there never was a hiatus, a pause or a slowdown in global warming,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, and a co-author of the study.

Faulty ocean buoys

The Stanford group’s findings are the latest in a growing series of papers to cast doubt on the existence of a hiatus. …

The Stanford scientists say their findings should go a long way toward restoring confidence in the basic science and climate computer models that form the foundation for climate change predictions.

“Global warming is like other noisy systems that fluctuate wildly but still follow a trend,” Diffenbaugh said. “Think of the U.S. stock market: There have been bull markets and bear markets, but overall it has grown a lot over the past century. What is clear from analyzing the long-term data in a rigorous statistical framework is that, even though climate varies from year-to-year and decade-to-decade, global temperature has increased in the long term, and the recent period does not stand out as being abnormal.”

[I omitted the detailed discussion of the research.]

”Global Warming ‘Hiatus’ Never Happened”
Mark Thoma
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 16:49:22 GMT

The Bottle Opener

This was an interesting piece, about how racism and xenophobia have been more openly expressed since Trump’s presidential campaign came to occupy the headlines.   It is mostly based on personal anecdotes, but I suspect it is pretty accurate.  I think it is not the full story though.

Trump is just the bottle opener that has released pressure that has been building for the last 7 years.  President Obama has been elected twice, and I think has the support of the majority  of Americans.  Like most presidents though, he is less esteemed by a minority of the country.

Unlike past Presidents, though I think he is viewed by a significant minority as an actual material  threat to their well being, their freedom, if not their lives.  Being the first African president has to be a big part of this.  Especially, in many red states, you can live your life and generally not have to interact with anyone who isn’t white for  long.  You certainly don’t often have an African, or other non-white in authority over you.

When someone is first under the authority of a person not of their race, any latent racism tend to rise, even if only in the back of one’s mind.  Most of us have racist tendencies to  one degree or another.  Usually, these kind of feelings don’t last, as one becomes more comfortable with a new situation.  This adjustment is taken a while in most of Red America.  At the same time this  angst has been bottle up to a degree.  While most of us are racists, we know  you can’t generally express that feeling.  For many, this angst has been bottled up.

Mr. Trump in seeming to make it OK to  express these feelings has just popped the top of the bottle and released the pressure that has been building.

Interest Groups and the Competition Between Green and Dirty Technologies

 

While “enlightened” entrepreneurs such as Bloomberg, Musk and Steyer celebrate the nascent green economy, there are other entrepreneurs growing rich from fracking activity.   Today there is a race between “green technologies” that have a smaller climate change impact than fossil fuel technologies.  Economists such as Acemoglu et. al. have studied how “sustainable” development could result depending on the relationship between these two technologies and government policies intended to tilt the playing field towards green tech.
In my past work, I have documented the fact that educated progressives (i.e Californians) are more likely to purchase green products.  Take a look at my hybrids work, and my solar work.
But, today — a new NBER Working Paper got me thinking about another key margin here;  workers.  At this time when there is great concern about income inequality and the well being of the middle class; does the green economy or the fracking sector create more jobs for the low skilled?  If the low skilled benefit both from cheap gas prices (as car drivers) and from employment opportunities in the fossil fuel sector (as frackers) , then they will not support carbon pricing.  My past political economy research ; read this and this,  supports this claim.  In this case, the greenhouse gas mitigation effort has a challenge in convincing the median voter.
So, this was a long winded intro for talking about this recent NBER paper;

Who Needs a Fracking Education? The Educational Response to Low-Skill Biased Technological Change

Elizabeth U. Cascio, Ayushi Narayan

NBER Working Paper No. 21359
Issued in July 2015
NBER Program(s):   CH ED EEE LS

Over the past decade, a technological breakthrough – hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – has fueled a boom in oil and natural gas extraction by reaching shale reserves inaccessible through conventional technologies. We explore the educational response to fracking, taking advantage of the timing of its widespread introduction and the spatial variation in shale oil and gas reserves. We show that local labor demand shocks from fracking have been biased toward low-skilled labor and males, reducing the return to high school completion among men. We also show that fracking has increased high school dropout rates of male teens, both overall and relative to females. Our estimates imply that, absent fracking, the male-female gap in high school dropout rates among 17- to 18-year-olds would have narrowed by about 11% between 2000 and 2013 instead of remaining unchanged. Our estimates also imply an elasticity of high school completion with respect to the return to high school of 0.47, a figure below historical estimates. Explanations for our findings aside from fracking’s low-skill bias – changes in school inputs, population demographics, and resource prices – receive less empirical support.

So, the authors of this paper are interested in how human capital attainment choice is affected by labor demand shocks.  I’m interested in a different question; what is the economic incidence for lower socio-economic groups from a boom in fossil fuels? Their evidence suggests that Tom Steyer’s push to nudge us away from extracting fossil fuels  won’t have many supporters away from Stanford and UC Berkeley.
Self interested workers in industries that will be injured by carbon mitigation regulation have strong incentives to oppose such regulation.     How will Steyer’s team respond to this challenge? How will he avoid being painted as an elitist? Will he say that “the people” are the ones who will be hurt by climate change?  “The people” are likely to counter that if they are allowed to earn and work in these growing sectors that they will earn the $ to be able to protect themselves.
Back in 1997, John Matsusaka and I published a paper studying Californian voting on direct democracy initiatives related to environmental protection.  We found that voters in agricultural and manufacturing counties voted against specific pieces of regulation that threatened their industry’s well being (even though they protected the environment). Our paper was squarely in the University of Chicago/Peltzman School of political economy.  The same issues are very relevant today. It is no accident that President Obama (because of his war on coal) isn’t that popular in West Virginia.

Interest Groups and the Competition Between Green and Dirty Technologies
Matthew Kahn
Sat, 05 Sep 2015 15:17:00 GMT

Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs: Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama

 

By request, here is another update of an earlier post through the August employment report.
NOTE: Several readers have asked if I could add a lag to these graphs (obviously a new President has zero impact on employment for the month they are elected). But that would open a debate on the proper length of the lag, so I’ll just stick to the beginning of each term.
Note: We frequently use Presidential terms as time markers – we could use Speaker of the House, or any other marker.
Important: There are many differences between these periods. Overall employment was smaller in the ’80s, however the participation rate was increasing in the ’80s (younger population and women joining the labor force), and the participation rate is generally declining now.  But these graphs give an overview of employment changes.
First, here is a table for private sector jobs. The top two private sector terms were both under President Clinton.  Reagan’s 2nd term saw about the same job growth as during Carter’s term.  Note: There was a severe recession at the beginning of Reagan’s first term (when Volcker raised rates to slow inflation) and a recession near the end of Carter’s term (gas prices increased sharply and there was an oil embargo).

Term
Private Sector
Jobs Added (000s)

Carter
9,041

Reagan 1
5,360

Reagan 2
9,357

GHW Bush
1,510

Clinton 1
10,884

Clinton 2
10,073

GW Bush 1
-844

GW Bush 2
381

Obama 1
2,018

Obama 2
6,8171

131 months into 2nd term: 10,648 pace.

The first graph shows the change in private sector payroll jobs from when each president took office until the end of their term(s). President George H.W. Bush only served one term, and President Obama is in the third year of his second term.
Mr. G.W. Bush (red) took office following the bursting of the stock market bubble, and left during the bursting of the housing bubble. Mr. Obama (blue) took office during the financial crisis and great recession. There was also a significant recession in the early ’80s right after Mr. Reagan (yellow) took office.
There was a recession towards the end of President G.H.W. Bush (purple) term, and Mr Clinton (light blue) served for eight years without a recession.
Private Sector Payrolls Click on graph for larger image.
The first graph is for private employment only.
The employment recovery during Mr. G.W. Bush’s (red) first term was sluggish, and private employment was down 844,000 jobs at the end of his first term.   At the end of Mr. Bush’s second term, private employment was collapsing, and there were net 463,000 private sector jobs lost during Mr. Bush’s two terms. 
Private sector employment increased slightly under President G.H.W. Bush (purple), with 1,510,000 private sector jobs added.
Private sector employment increased by 20,955,000 under President Clinton (light blue), by 14,717,000 under President Reagan (yellow), and 9,041,000 under President Carter (dashed green).
There were only 2,018,000 more private sector jobs at the end of Mr. Obama’s first term.  Thirty one months into Mr. Obama’s second term, there are now 8,895,000 more private sector jobs than when he initially took office.
Public Sector Payrolls A big difference between the presidencies has been public sector employment.  Note the bumps in public sector employment due to the decennial Census in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010. 
The public sector grew during Mr. Carter’s term (up 1,304,000), during Mr. Reagan’s terms (up 1,414,000), during Mr. G.H.W. Bush’s term (up 1,127,000), during Mr. Clinton’s terms (up 1,934,000), and during Mr. G.W. Bush’s terms (up 1,744,000 jobs).
However the public sector has declined significantly since Mr. Obama took office (down 584,000 jobs). These job losses have mostly been at the state and local level, but more recently at the Federal level.  This has been a significant drag on overall employment.
And a table for public sector jobs. Public sector jobs declined the most during Obama’s first term, and increased the most during Reagan’s 2nd term.

Term
Public Sector
Jobs Added (000s)

Carter
1,304

Reagan 1
-24

Reagan 2
1,438

GHW Bush
1,127

Clinton 1
692

Clinton 2
1,242

GW Bush 1
900

GW Bush 2
844

Obama 1
-702

Obama 2
1181

131 months into 2nd term, 183 pace

Looking forward, I expect the economy to continue to expand through 2016 (at least), so I don’t expect a sharp decline in private employment as happened at the end of Mr. Bush’s 2nd term (In 2005 and 2006 I was warning of a coming recession due to the bursting of the housing bubble).
For the public sector, the cutbacks are clearly over at the state and local levels, and it appears cutbacks at the Federal level might also be over.  Right now I’m expecting some increase in public employment during Obama’s 2nd term, but nothing like what happened during Reagan’s second term.
Below is a table of the top three presidential terms for private job creation (they also happen to be the three best terms for total non-farm job creation).
Clinton’s two terms were the best for both private and total non-farm job creation, followed by Reagan’s 2nd term.
Currently Obama’s 2nd term is on pace to be the 2nd best ever for private job creation.  However, with very few public sector jobs added, Obama’s 2nd term is only on pace to be the third best for total job creation.
Note: Only 118 thousand public sector jobs have been added during the first thirty one months of Obama’s 2nd term (following a record loss of 702 thousand public sector jobs during Obama’s 1st term).  This is less than 10% of the public sector jobs added during Reagan’s 2nd term!

Top Employment Gains per Presidential Terms (000s)

Rank
Term
Private
Public
Total Non-Farm

1
Clinton 1
10,884
692
11,576

2
Clinton 2
10,073
1,242
11,315

3
Reagan 2
9,357
1,438
10,795

Obama 21
6,817
118
6,995

Pace2
10,648
183
10,831

131 Months into 2nd Term
2Current Pace for Obama’s 2nd Term

The last table shows the jobs needed per month for Obama’s 2nd term to be in the top three presidential terms.

Average Jobs needed per month (000s)
for remainder of Obama’s 2nd Term

to Rank
Private
Total

#1
236
269

#2
188
254

#3
146
224

Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs: Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama
Bill McBride
Fri, 04 Sep 2015 18:02:00 GMT