Saturday, December 01, 2007


The incumbent is not very popular so candidates of neither party can easily say that it is the best of times. And, as always, bad news gets all the press. Talk is cheap and this is why consmer confidence surveys tell us little. Rather, it is the actions of people that matter. Keep your eye on holiday shopping data.

I am always surprised that some candidates will gamble on the class struggle theme. It did not work for Eugene V. Debs. Even FDR waited until after elected (and after things got really bad) to sound like a class warrior. Besides, he was more or less an aristocrat so he had much more leeway that a John Edwards.

Do most Americans aspire or envy? How pessimistic or optimistic are they?

The monthly unemployment level is a misleading number. Look at the distribution of unemployment spells; the median over a period that included a mild recession was 2.4 months. Likewise, the reports of the number below the poverty level are misleading. Half the poverty spells are four months.

The most misleading discussions involve comparing year-to-year proportions of population in any income quintile. In actuality, it is mobility that matters; how likely are people to move out of the lowest quintile? Most people (86%) leave it in ten years. Others join the lowest quintile but most of these are immigrants who are better off than from whence they came.

(And this from a recent WSJ, linked to Cafe Hayek.)

We can always do etter but these are three sets of data that those on the left run away from. In a better world, gasbag news anchors would cite them when forming questions for the TV "debates."