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Feb. 17th, 2012 @ 06:17 pm Economic Numbers

According to our government, unemployment is falling. Great news! Except that the labor force participation rate, ie. the share of people who haven't given up looking, has mysteriously fallen more last month than ever before. And while looking for the first link above, I found this article from 2011 Jan. That one noted that unemployment is falling but the participation rate is falling too, so the same shenanigans have been going on for over a year. In fact, the 2011 article says that "almost 2/3rds of the decline in the unemployment rate was related to the decline in the participation rate."

According to our government, we're making progress on cutting back federal spending. Great news! Except that according to the White House's own figures, the president proposes to increase spending every year. The president claims -- and the media are going to parrot -- that this budget strategy is "balanced" because it jacks up taxes but cuts the deficit by around 2.5 dollars for each buck of taxes. Now, since spending is going up, that means there are spending cuts of $0 in this budget, meaning the tax-hike/spending-cut ratio is infinity to one. (In fact, the president boasts about how he's going to raise spending on a lot of specific programs.) How are spending increases explained as deficit reduction? Easy: by the same weaseling both parties have been doing for many years, namely assuming that spending will rise every year and then congratulating yourself if you raise it by slightly less.

We're also hearing that the government might hit its debt ceiling yet again before the election. Don't worry, though; the accountants will do the same creative accounting they did last time to put off any real need for action.
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