Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Analysing "real" unemployment.

by Colman Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 05:46:38 AM EST

The report that Jérôme referred to this morning contains this lovely graphic, displaying the breakdown of what they call the Swedish defacto unemployment:

I think this is a great graphic, and not one I've seen before: they break down the factors of unemployment and underemployment and display them.

In fact, I like it so much I made a similiar one for the US:

I'm not sure that the McKinsey Global Institute or the FT would be quite so happy to see that breakdown. Explanation after the fold...


The first three columns of my graph correspond to the latent job candiates and underemployed in the MGI graph.

As explained in my previous story on the topic I've included figures for the massive US prison population and the massive size of its military forces on the basis that both predominantly move people that would be otherwise unemployed out of the labour force. Think of them - however unfairly - as the equivalent of "government programmes".

The figure for people unemployed through disability is calculated from the US census figures, which give 11.5 people with an "employment disability" - that makes work difficult or impossible - and an unemployment rate of 40% for all disabled people. Since I can't find out the unemployment rate for those with employment disabilities directly I've averaged the case where none of them work and the case where 60% of them work. It's an estimate.

I'm not just being mean here: the MGI's analysis is excellent and gives a good impression of the unemployment situation in Sweden. However, neither they nor the FT draw attention to the fact that this analysis can be done for other countries: I've picked on the US here because the statistics are easily available on-line. When I get a chance I'll do something similar for Ireland and the UK. Someone else might have to do France and Germany...

Display:
Of course the reason the papers don't do this sort of thing is that it is a morning's real work...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 07:58:21 AM EST
Colman,

Excellent work here. Does your calculation take into account the quirky way that the US counts unemployment? By that I mean that they only count active job seekers instead of those who have given up looking? I know that you discussed this in your October diary.

Also, the "excess" part of your formula is, I believe, a sound way to handle this. It demonstrates some unusual characteristics of the total US labor force that does skew the comparability.

by gradinski chai on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:01:04 AM EST
The marginally attached figure is those that would like a job but aren't actively looking.

The "excess" part is slightly unfair, but no more so than any other way of doing it. There are all sorts of structural differences that skew things. As I'm sure you know, if you apply OECD standards to third world countries you get almost zero unemployment because everyone either works a few hours a week or dies.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ths must be sent to FT...challenge them to publish it!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:11:02 AM EST
by the way, the US chart is brilliant. How about posting at Dkos (in the morning their time) or Booman? I'd be curious as to the reactions...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Already cross-posted and front-paged on BT.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:16:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And cross-posted on the orange place for your recommends...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:21:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Top of the Rec list over there...good work folks!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:47:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"excellent diary!" ?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 10:00:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman, how do you take into account the fact that people drop out the active population / workforce altogether, out of sheer discouragement?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:22:42 AM EST
That's in the marginally attached figures.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For what it's worth... 0.9% isn't enough obviously.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Let's never forget that the eurozone created more jobs than the US over the last 10 years, as per the Economist (and that, despite lower population growth)

In fact, the job creation record of Bush is by far the worst ever.

the jobs to population ratio dropped massively



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 08:33:20 AM EST
If I may play devil's advocate here: what can the president actually do to "create jobs?" Much as I liked, er ... didn't dislike, er ... didn't outright despise Clinton, I'm not sure what he actually did.

(Not a retorical question.)


-----
sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 07:05:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He stayed out of the way.
He balanced budgets, allowing the Fed to lower interest rates reasonably.
He increased the minimum wage.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 08:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could also add he didn't start two wars which have diverted money from development and social programs into military adventurism - an activity which has a negative effect on economic growth.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 01:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent work. Just a quickie, does your figure for the US military include the number of National Guard on duty? I ask this as from what I understand many NG these days have been called up either for Iraq or the southern border.

Most of them will have been in civilian jobs (typically as I understand it, police or security such as prison staff - note the background of the Abu Grahib torturers) Has anybody does any analysis of whether employers replacing these NG with even temporary workers in fact represents the supposed jobs growth under Bush

by Londonbear on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:20:41 AM EST
I doubt NG are included. The effects of replacing NG with others hadn't occurred to me. How many NG are deployed?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
according to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_National_Guard

183,366 are on active duty

The world will end not with a Bang, but with a "do'oh"

by love and death on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:43:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would make a 0.05% difference.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wish i had a link, but I remember talking to my firms HR director.  She said that when someone is called up they report them as still employed with the firm.  And when someone is hired to replace them they must create a new "role" for them, b/c they cannot get rid of the military person from the org charts.

I'm not sure if this is just internal company policy or how it is reported to the labour department...

The world will end not with a Bang, but with a "do'oh"

by love and death on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:39:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there has been a rise in the underground economy in the US over the past decade or so.

Part of this is due to illegal (and legal) immigrants, but much of it is due to the desire of people to avoid paying various taxes. Home improvement and other services seem to be a frequent place for this to occur. Just from my own personal observation I've seen tree trimming, roofing, plumbing repair, lawn care and house cleaning all done recently "off the books". Even licensed businesses participate. A frequent example is a repair service will not charge local sales tax if the bill is paid in cash. This means that the customer saves about 8%, but the vendor hides the entire transaction saving up to 25%.

Another area is the rise in people running home businesses over Ebay. I've also seen instances of barter: work in a shop was paid for by getting merchandise in return. I don't know if there are any studies of this.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:44:40 AM EST
Joblessness might be better, since unemployment has a technical definition. I guess that's why the FT headline was written the way it was.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 09:49:54 AM EST
I would put this into the category of marginal America-bashing. If you're going to do something like this, how about applying it to some other countries instead of just the U.S.?

Why is there this fascination around here with re-defining the unemployment metrics? There are professional people who have spent their lives doing this in organizations that don't have an axe to grind, for example, the U.N.; why not just use their methods? And there are so many complicating factors that these "deconstructions" either overlook completely or skew one way or the other to make the target look bad. I get a really strong conspiracy-theorist feeling when I read these diaries; just the same sort of stuff as at the Roswell "UFO museum," for example: Lining up a whole bunch of data points to demonstrate one position, while ignoring a bunch of others that are inconvenient.

For example you want to count military personnel as unemployed. Ok, what about the military contractors that work alongside them doing essentially identical jobs? And what about the other government employees whose paychecks come from the same place? What about the employees of companies that sell their products to the government? Aren't they ALL "unemployed" by your measure?

And don't forget to include my neighbor who is technically unemployed, but who owns three houses and is rebuilding them with hopes of selling them for a profit. No personal corporation or published business phone number, just a guy with loans on three houses and a big account at the lumber yard. Is he unemployed? He sure works his butt off.

I bet if you worked at it you could figure out how to show that everybody in the country is unemployed.

The bottom line is that I just don't understand why it's so critically important to "prove"--by adjustment of metrics, or by any other method--that America has a high unemployment rate (and, conversely, that other countries don't). Is there no validity to the idea that the people who generate the standard statistics have spent much, much more time thinking about this than any of us bloggers, no matter how well-intentioned?

by asdf on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 11:23:15 PM EST
The reason it's important is because the US pushes its economic model and holds itself and its "low unemployment" up as an example of how well our system works.  We here in the US have been under a barrage of propaganda about the economy for years.  

The right is similarly pushing in the rest of the world.  In Europe, the safety net, healthcare, and labor practices are all under assault.  If people want to fight to keep these things, they damned well have a right to ascertain the real employment and living situation of the people living in the country whose model is being pushed.  

Conversely, if here in the US it could be ascertained that the social programs work well in Europe, perhaps we could adopt the best aspects for our own people.  THE big fear that has kept us from some of this is that it will "cost jobs."  Finding out the truth about the employment situation is not bashing -- it's giving people a tool to make good decisions about public policy.

I don't know about you, but I'd really like everyone in the US to have healthcare coverage.  I bet your neighbor would like it, too, next time he hammers his thumb or something.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 15th, 2006 at 11:50:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good christ, did you read the bloody article? I said I'd picked on the the US because it was easy to get the stats. I said I'd do the exercise for the UK and Ireland. I said I hoped other people could pick up the numbers for other countries.

Then you follow up with an extended appeal to authority and a burst of defensive economic nationalism. I'm impressed. And don't tempt me on the massive welfare programme that is known as the US military-industrial complex.

The point is that the basic unemployment statistic does not give a real picture of how many people don't have jobs but could or do want one. The FT and the MKI and everyone else agrees when it suits them.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 03:03:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You did say that easy access to US stats was a reason for your choice, and suggest that other countries should be similarly analyzed,,,,and I also found asdf's comments unfair in that sense.

However your repeated refrain regarding US choices on military spending

And don't tempt me on the massive welfare programme that is known as the US military-industrial complex.
and calling it a welfare program has never made sense to me.  The US is a democratic society that has chosen over long periods of time to spend and invest in the military.  It seems to me that you disagree with that choice--fine, disagree.  But to therefore label it as a welfare program seems like a strange way to express your prejudice against the US choices on military spending.  (I of course realize that many Americans on this site agree with your view on the military,,,but that is why we have elections,,to choose how and where we spend our tax dollars.  And we have what we have chosen.)
by wchurchill on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 09:12:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and I meant to include the following:  

as asdf said

I get a really strong conspiracy-theorist feeling when I read these diaries; just the same sort of stuff as at the Roswell "UFO museum," for example: Lining up a whole bunch of data points to demonstrate one position, while ignoring a bunch of others that are inconvenient.
 Seemingly arbitrary adjustments such as this one does make you open to the accusation of "cooking the books".
by wchurchill on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 09:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you know how we feel when papers talk about Sweden's 15% joblessness rate or France's moribund economy.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 09:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the original analysis did exactly the same thing: it argued that Sweden has chosen a different set of priorities that were wrong.

The effect of the large US military, in the context of comparing unemployment rates, is to provide government subsided work to predominantly poorer people. Would you disagree that the training and the experience provided by the military have given many, many black and hispanic and poor white people a leg up that they would not have otherwise received? How many stories have you read about the military being the only way out of poor, deprived circumstances? I'm not questioning the right of the US to have a large military, or its right to spend half its tax income (or whatever it is) on over-priced military projects. I am however saying that if you want to start complaining about European choices you have to include the choices the US makes. There is a large sector of the US economy that depends on taking money from citizens and redistributing it to the military and to the various companies that supply them and carry out research for them.

I am of course, being nasty when I call it a welfare programme, but do you claim that there is no proportion of military spending that is essentially political in nature? Bases being kept open in sensitive constituencies and so on?

The US military is three times the size, proportionally, of European countries. It consists largely of the poorer sectors of society that would otherwise be at a high risk of unemployment. Do you really think that if the US had a normal sized military the unemployment figures would be unaffected?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 09:48:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But the original analysis did exactly the same thing
Yes, but it doesn't make it a proper analytical approach.  The implied logic flow is:
1.A democracy selects its spending priorities.
2.Another party decides that those priorities are wrong.
3.The other party then arbitrarily decides to include some portion of the putative "wrong" spending as representing underemployment.
This seems like an incongruent argument if one believes in democracy.  As you admit, it's not a welfare program--
I am of course, being nasty when I call it a welfare programme,,,,,

Continuing on with the last half of that quote

but do you claim that there is no proportion of military spending that is essentially political in nature? Bases being kept open in sensitive constituencies and so on?
This criticism is incorrectly focused.  You are referring to the "pork" aspect of government spending, where Senators and Congressman are viewed as having some obligation to make sure there constituencies get a least their fair share of government spending.  But almost all aspects of government spending are influenced by "pork", not just the military.  Federal highway spending is a good example.  Another example recently in the news is where the "homeland security" spending goes.  But this is primarily a situation of an allocation of funds being agreed, and then Senators fighting to get it to their state.  It's difficult to see an argument for underemployment when the decision is made to build the highway in New York, rather than New Jersey, or to close the base in California rather than Georgia.  (and I wouldn't be surprised if this "pork" problem is not just an American disease).

The effect of the large US military, in the context of comparing unemployment rates, is to provide government subsided work to predominantly poorer people. Would you disagree that the training and the experience provided by the military have given many, many black and hispanic and poor white people a leg up that they would not have otherwise received?
I would address this from two aspects.  First, the comment would seem to apply to all lower level government jobs.  Why just the foot soldier, first level sailors, etc.  Why not the lower level clerks in all aspects of the government?  Why not the postmen/women?  Policeman and fireman?  If the jobs are there to meet the nation's priorities and requirements, and some of them are lower level jobs, do we somehow call them "government subsidized work"?  It's just government work, with all kinds of levels of jobs.  The important thing is we have decided to do these things, and jobs at all levels are required.

But second, some of our best and brightest go into the military.  The competition for West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy is very high.  Also many college graduates go through ROTC, serve time in the military, and choose to stay in.  And, while I would not be shocked if your comment on economic level were true, I'd like to see the data.  A black congressman a few years ago said that young blackman were being sent to fight 'whities'"war in Iraq.  That data was available and blacks were represented in the military at a percentage equivalent to their portion in the population.  Just as with fireman, where a family over generations chooses that career, the same is true of military families.

The US military is three times the size, proportionally, of European countries. It consists largely of the poorer sectors of society that would otherwise be at a high risk of unemployment. Do you really think that if the US had a normal sized military the unemployment figures would be unaffected?
Well there you go again with the value judgments,,,,the US choice of military size is not normal?  It's what we want.

And why ask this question of the military only?  If we got rid of the post office, would that put more people in the work force that are at high risk of unemployment?  Or how about some of those highly clerical areas of the government--maybe the Internal Revenue Service?  

If a democracy chooses to do activities, through the government, at certain levels spending levels to accomplish goals that they perceive as important, that should not be viewed as underemployment.  It should be considered that IMHO if it is a welfare program, and likely if it is a "provide jobs" program, such as were created in the Great Depression.  But that is not the US goals for the military, the Internal Revenue Service, the postal service, etc.

by wchurchill on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 11:28:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think any of this is a proper analytical approach. A proper approach would break out the population into groups by occupation, lack of occupation and reasons for each, include the ones that are on short hours, those on long hours and analyse out earning levels, happiness and health levels. That might give you something to build a comparison on.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 01:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With respect, you do not seem to be able to acknowledge points that are incredibly basic,,,,like a democracy can legitimately set its own priorities--calling the US military underemployed, or welfare, is ludicrous to me,,,or US military decisions on spending not "normal".  So it's probably best to drop this.
by wchurchill on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 07:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole point is that the choices that democracies in western europe have made are constantly called into question by people who push a "US model" without paying any attention to the choices made in the US.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 03:14:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman in fairness that is not the point at all. For instance I am sure there are more people employed in the public health service in Sweden then in America but you considered them employed. While in America has more employed in the military and you considered them unemployed. Stop trying to fight "propaganda" with "propaganda" stick to an even and fair anaysis of the facts.
by Simon on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 04:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The nasty part of me wants to say that we've been trying that, and all we get is drowned in crap. It also occurs to me that your sympathies are not with Sweden in this...

The other says that if you look at my remarks above (and possibly listen to the voices in my head that only I can hear, since I'm not sure how much of this I've said in detail or were I've said it) my view is that comparing unemployment figures in the way the laissez-faire propagandists do is nonsensical. Is my version half-assed? Yes, of course it is: I'm a blogger responding in his coffee breaks. It's no more half-assed than the crap from the FT. What do you want for a first try? I have lots of responses to take into account and perhaps I can come to a better way of making my point so as not to confuse USians who have an instant defence mechanism if you criticise their mighty warriors in any  way or possibly suggest that spending more money on the military than the rest of the world is not a good idea.

I do agree that what we would really need to do (and I said this above I hope) to break out the population of working age into:

  • Unemployed
  • Not in the labour force and why.
  • Employed in public sector
  • Employed in private sector
  • Employed in private sector on things paid for by government.

The last is critical for working out what's happening and how choices are structured. Your point about the "public health service" is critical: of course there are more people employed in a public health service in Sweden than in the US. Does the US even have a public health service?

You also need to know the labour force participation, the demographic structure of the country and an idea of how these things are changing over time.

Once you know all that and take it into account you can start doing comparisons.

However, if people want to start publishing headlines like "15% jobless in Sweden" without that, then I don't feel all that guilty for putting together an analysis that could have been better. I'll even work up a better version next week. Want to bet the FT will do the same?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 04:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of course there are more people employed in a public health service in Sweden than in the US. Does the US even have a public health service?

Huh? Of course the US has one.  In fact US public sector spending on health care in dollars per capita is comparable to that of European countries. It's just that our health care system is utterly FUBAR, so private spending is also immense, and all that combined gives works out to give us worse results than that of the wealthy European countries.

Take a look at this graph
It's part of a Paul Krugman NYRB article on the US health care system.

by MarekNYC on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 05:33:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the workers employed by the government or by private companies working for the government?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 05:35:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are the workers employed by the government or by private companies working for the government?

There are workers employed by the government - federal, state, and local (a quick google tells me that NYC owns 11 hospitals 6 diagnostic centers and 80 clinics, for example, there seems to also be a state owned hospital here and I believe there is a federally owned VA one as well). There are workers employed by the for profit private sector . There are workers employed by the non profit private sector. In most cases hospitals in all three of those categories treat both people covered by  public provided insurance and those with private insurance, as well as those with no insurance at all (emergency rooms are required to provide urgent care regardless of the patient's ability to pay for it).  

So there isn't a yes or no answer to your question - is a doctor in private practice whose patients mostly rely on Medicare 'employed' by the government? What about a doctor working in a public sector hospital whose patients are primarily those with private insurance?

by MarekNYC on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 05:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. I wasn't sure of the structure of it. That last paragraph is the significant one from a comparison between countries point of view.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 02:27:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The essay you pointed to is very interesting. Thanks!
by Deni on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 10:13:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good article. Thanks.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 09:46:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the reference to this article.  I found it excellent and very thought provoking.
by wchurchill on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 07:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman I wasn't making a point about the FT anaysis or anything else my only point was about saying that saying that military personnel were unemployed was wrong. For instance was Swedens military included.

As for sympathy with Sweden. While there is many aspect of the swedish model I disagree with. A equal free public health service is not one of them.  

by Simon on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 09:32:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read this as "welfare" in the same sense as "Corporate Welfare"  - unfortunately the term is so poorly defined that it can be used any time a politician spends taxpayers' money ...

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 05:13:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf:

An Think Tank looked at Sweden and published a report arguing that unemployment there is not just over 5% (official, calculated by "people who know these things") but "really" 15%. Then they go and compare it with 4% (official) in the US. Sweden needs reform! The Financial Times thought this was an important insight.

So Colman goes and does the same to the US, and comes up with 13%.

And you call this America-bashing.

Get a grip.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 03:18:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf, in a year here you have learned nothing -- because, I'm afraid, you just don't listen. Everything you say in your comment you have already said several times. We've had the arguments.

You don't seem to grasp, or to want to grasp, the power and influence America has in the world, and in particular the extent to which the US economy is held up as a shining example to follow -- to the point where it's conventional wisdom in the media and in common thinking that progress for the non-American world means conforming to the American model. It is a form of permanent aggressive propaganda of which you appear to have no idea.

When we deconstruct that propaganda (though, in all fairness to Colman, he clearly speaks above of applying it to other countries too), you call that America-bashing. I suggest the truth is that it is America that bashes the rest of the world. Try taking off your American-exceptionalist spectacles for a moment, and look at things from other people's points of view.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 03:58:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have one very good point here: every use of statistics other than just printing "everything" has an "agenda" - whether this be obvious or even known.

Applying this to "pros" vs "bloggers":
The "pros" usually have the "free-market" agenda, which means they want to show that "less regulation" as defined as "the US model" is objectively "better". (They will have spent at least four years being taught nothing else.)

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sapere aude

by Number 6 on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 07:09:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's not conflate "outlook" with "agenda". To call a point of view an agenda is a veiled accusation of intellectual dishonesty.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 07:16:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. I was not making that accusation.
"Outlook" or "point of view" would have been better.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 07:27:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But asdf was: "an axe to grind", "agenda"...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 07:35:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sir, in your story of the 15th of June ''Real Swedish jobless rate 15%' you make reference  to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that analyses the structure of joblessness in Sweden.

While I welcome any study or story that goes beyond the normal reduction of a complicated joblessness situation to a single number it is unfair to single out Sweden without pointing out that this approach would lead to a far higher joblessness measure in any country it was applied to. A quick estimate suggests that the US would have a "de-facto joblessness" rate of about 13%, France about 18% and Ireland about 11%.

To say that the numbers "cast a pall" on Sweden's reputation is entirely unfair. Better to say that it shows how well Sweden is doing by maintaining normal joblessness rates and excellent measures in almost every other metric.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:09:23 AM EST
I don't really understand your last sentence. Otherwise it's good.

(I was surprised by your number for France - where did you find such a higher numb for disabled in France?)

btw - feel free to sign as "Editor, ET" in case you had any scruples.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
9.5% (OECD)

  • 2% ( marginally attached and involuntary part-time)

  • 4% (disability)

  • 2% (fudge factor for government programmes)

for a total of 17.5% or so.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guessed the disabled number, I'm afraid.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This graph suggests that France's number (when compared to your 3.5% for Sweden) should be more like 1.5%:



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:34:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd rather err high than low on this one ... I'd reduce it to 2.5%.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:36:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why. That's a serious source, isn't it?

That still leaves you the choice to put 16% overall rather than 15%. Are you trying to play to their prejudices? ;-)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:48:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you trying to play to their prejudices?

Yes, a bit.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:49:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This OECD chart from their last October report gives an idea of comparative levels:

Inactivity because of illness or disability
As a percentage of population in each age group, 2003

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 10:25:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The italian number baffles me: the disability pension scheme (read southern Italy, read under false pretense) is a recurring anthem in italian (northern) newspapers. I would have guess Italy ranks among the higher invalidity rates among OECD country.

I had read some debunking and that the most invalids were in northern Italy, but nothing about the low rate country-wide.

Myth and reality?

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Thu Jun 22nd, 2006 at 02:14:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To say that the numbers "cast a pall" on Sweden's reputation is entirely unfair. In fact the numbers show that Sweden is maintaining average joblessness rates together with good ratings on almost all other metrics used to measure the heath of an economy.

Better?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:28:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about:


Sweden manages to keep its unemployment rate low and does relatively well on other joblessness rates that can be computed and on almost all other metrics used to measure the health of an economy.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:33:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wanted to directly address the "cast a pall" comment in the original story. You think I shouldn't?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:37:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes: use the same beginning of the paragraph - my comment was only for the end part of the sentence. Sorry I wasn't clearer.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:46:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent.

Maybe you could add your "of course the reason newspapers don't do this themselves is that it takes a whole morning of looking at publicly abailable data from the OECD and the  governments themselves".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 05:41:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe that would be best omitted...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 05:42:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I am beginning to understand why I don't get my LTEs published... </snark>

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 06:25:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary and comments.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 03:26:15 PM EST
Great! Some shameless advertisement here and here with CEPR economist Dean Baker as invited guest :).
by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Jun 16th, 2006 at 04:28:48 PM EST
One of the issues underlying this debate is the contention that anyone receiving any government subsidy is "unproductive" and therefore undesirable from an economic efficiency point of view. Colman's inclusion of "excess military" (and, to a lesser extent "excess incarcerated") is one of the major sticking points for Americans. An argument given by many people is "a country is not right or wrong for making choices that result in more or fewer people being in one or another 'unproductive' category. But unproductive the military certainly is, despite the protestations of Americans... Just to quote the gospel of neoliberals such as MGI (the originators of the whole debate with their "revealing" analysis of Sweden's "failure")...
The labour of some of the most respectable orders in the society is, like that of menial servants, unproductive of any value, and does not fix or realize itself in any permanent subject, or vendible commodity, which endures after that labour is past, and for which an equal quantity of labour could afterwards be procured. The sovereign, for example, with all the officers both of justice and war who serve under him, the whole army and navy, are unproductive labourers. They are the servants of the public, and are maintained by a part of the annual produce of the industry of other people. Their service, how honourable, how useful, or how necessary soever, produces nothing for which an equal quantity of service can afterwards be procured. The protection, security, and defence, of the commonwealth, the effect of their labour this year, will not purchase its protection, security, and defence, for the year to come. In the same class must be ranked, some both of the gravest and most important, and some of the most frivolous professions; churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds; players, buffoons, musicians, opera-singers, opera-dancers, etc. The labour of the meanest of these has a certain value, regulated by the very same principles which regulate that of every other sort of labour; and that of the noblest and most useful, produces nothing which could afterwards purchase or procure an equal quantity of labour. Like the declamation of the actor, the harangue of the orator, or the tune of the musician, the work of all of them perishes in the very instant of its production.
So just because someone is "unproductive" doesn't mean they are doing anything wrong, and it is an issue of political economy how many unproductive people a society is willing to tolerate, or encourage.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 09:32:42 AM EST
Sweden has been failing for 70 years.  It's been a long slow decline into abject poverty, misery, hopelessness.  The Swedish immigrants...

heading into Norway, Denmark, Germany are evidence of this. Leaving Sweden ...

to establish centers of social and cultural practices far from their beloved native soil in order to grasp the potentials of new opportunities for economic development.

Joyously singing their folksongs...

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!




She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jun 17th, 2006 at 11:18:37 AM EST
Great points Colman! For once I am in total agreement. ;-)

As I read this debate, no one has yet challenged the notion of why one should need a large military, even if it is democratically decided to have such a thing.

Either it is, as Colman surmises, a fix for the unemployment figures, or it is, as I surmise, absofuckinglutely megolamaniac stupidity, unfit for the 3rd millennium.

How can you possibly compare a desire for a gargantuan frikkin military and an even more humungous intelligence industry with the desire for health treatment for all, a decent postal service or humane treatment for animals or anything else that a dignified society might wish to accomplish?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jun 18th, 2006 at 05:22:31 PM EST
Employment or Empire? Can't it be both? :)


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 05:39:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it can. Spain since the 17th Century, the UK after WWII... are good examples of what Empire does to you economically.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 05:41:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, I guess those are the two options,,,,reasons for having a military
Either it is,,,,
1.a fix for the unemployment figures, or it is, as I surmise, 2.absofuckinglutely megolamaniac stupidity, unfit for the 3rd millennium.
It's not the first, so it's got to be the second.  Isn't it incredible how "abso...megolamaniac" stupid those Americans are!  How unfit they are for this new world that all of us enlightened people on this website have helped to create.  Your disgust and hatred of the majority of Americans is certainly understandable.  What a crass bunch of people they are.
(and "spoiled brats" as someone said on the football thread, as he predicted how poorly they would play against Italy, showing no determination or courage--traits totally lacking in the American character,,,,,can't even field a team in football, I think it's their primary sport, isn't it?  And he claimed to be American,,,,I guess one of the enlightened minority.  I didn't get a chance to see the result, US vs Italy, but I'm sure they played as gutless cowards and lost in an embarrassing manner, just as that enlightened American predicted.)
But back to your more serious and insightful insights.
How can you possibly compare a desire for a gargantuan frikkin military and an even more humungous intelligence industry with the desire for health treatment for all, a decent postal service or humane treatment for animals or anything else that a dignified society might wish to accomplish?
Well put!  These people are just morons, aren't they?
by wchurchill on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 06:37:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you waste your time and ours, wc?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 07:07:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you feed the troll, afew?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 07:14:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wc is not a troll, but he certainly is a good indicator of the extent of the work we have to do to get our ideas across!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 12:43:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On this thread he's definitelly troll-baiting.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 19th, 2006 at 02:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for an explanation as to why the enormous US military-industrial complex is needed.

What purpose does it serve? Whose purpose does it serve?

And while I'm about it, would it be necessary if people took some time to understand other cultures instead of picking up the nearest hammer?

As I recall from the millions and millions of hours of US television, say for instance after the Tehran hostage crisis - there were probably less than a 1000 US citizens who could say what the 5 pillars of Islam were. I doubt if it is more than few thousand now, unless they are Islamic.

This failure to understand other cultures and other beliefs is at the very heart of US problems IMHO. It is a failure that starts at the top, spreads out through the media, and disinforms the citizenry such that when they come to vote, they don't understand the context in which they vote.

Some decent arguments to rebut these assertions would be most welcome. We Europeans may be wrong. But at least we understand that justice is only served when the prosecution is balanced by a defence. By all the facts. If we only ever listened to prosecutors, we would hang everybody. Draw and quarter them too, most likely.

But we don't. We try to make balanced judgements which are, admittedly, very difficult in the rapidly changing multi-cultural context of Europe. At least we try, and we are changing ourselves in the process. Defenders of the faiths. Plural.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 20th, 2006 at 01:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is always War Is A Racket.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 20th, 2006 at 02:33:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for that! an amazing link...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jun 20th, 2006 at 03:08:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's hard to take your comments seriously when you pose them in this manner:
As I read this debate, no one has yet challenged the notion of why one should need a large military, even if it is democratically decided to have such a thing.

Either it is, as Colman surmises, a fix for the unemployment figures, or it is, as I surmise, absofuckinglutely megolamaniac stupidity, unfit for the 3rd millennium.

I'm not trying to be sarcastic or snarky with the following comments, but you go in in your later comment to say
And while I'm about it, would it be necessary if people took some time to understand other cultures instead of picking up the nearest hammer?
But, surely if you understand the American culture at all, you would not postulate that Americans are choosing from the two options you propose above.

I hope that your options are meant to be sarcastic and snarky.  And if you really want a discussion of this, you can lay out a starting point that shows more insight into America (which I think you have based on other posts of yours) than these comments show.  If your above statements reflect what you believe, I don't think either of us should waste our time.

by wchurchill on Tue Jun 20th, 2006 at 07:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and "spoiled brats" as someone said on the football thread

Not to worry, wc: America tied Italy, and numediaman was made a fool by those spoiled brats, even though they lost to Ghana.  And the truth is that America had every right to complain about the penalty kick opportunity Ghana was handed.  It was a crock of shit.

If you or I had made comments like his "stay the course" one about any group of people in the world, we would be troll-rated immediately.  The silence was deafening.

Good to see you around again.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jun 27th, 2006 at 08:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the silence was deafening, and also illustrative.  And I agree with your comments on the football.
by wchurchill on Wed Jun 28th, 2006 at 06:05:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you or I had made comments like his "stay the course" one about any group of people in the world, we would be troll-rated immediately.  The silence was deafening.

What are you talking about?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 05:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This:

Americans are poor losers (I'm an American) who have a hard time improvising when things go bad (witness Vietnam or Iraq).  Instead they 'stay the course' right into disaster.


Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:26:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it's because criticism against one's own group (see: "I'm an American") doesn't get people as fired up as criticism against other groups of people? Not that it's necessarily different (see: "das juden!"), mind you.

I haven't been reading this thread anyways, hence my silence was deafening through absentia.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, but I think that rings a bit hollow due to inconsistency.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:35:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, how would you react to my saying: the French are arrogant pricks (I'm French), who rarely live up to the human-rights and environmental blabla ideals they pretend to hold dear (witness nuclear testing or Afghanistan).
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:41:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You troll!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:43:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How dare you, young man?

In anticipation: how dare you dare my how dare you? (one of my favourite lines from a Leslie Nielsen movie, can't remember which one).

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:46:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would react by saying, "But, Alex, you seem like such a great person."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 04:04:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hum. I'm not sure that that would get troll-rated if made by someone else about their own country. If you felt strongly it was trolling you could have troll-rated it: you're a member of the community and an American.

I didn't see it anyway: I've paid very little attention to world cup threads. I don't think I would have troll-rated it anyway: sighed slightly and ignored it. I see no reason to doubt that he is American, in which case I'm not in much of a position to troll rate him for his opinions of his own country. It'd be like people troll-rating me for saying how obsessed with ridiculous  middle class competition the Irish are.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am pondering whether to troll-rate you for accusing the Irish middle class of being obsessed with competition and hiding your slander behind a hypothetical clause.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh it was a comment in a world cup thread and not here. So I must had read it myself. My reaction: none!! Maybe it's because I don't react to sweeping declarations that people make about their own country, though maybe I should (again, the "das juden" episode in WWII comes to mind).
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:44:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone taking a comment in a World Cup thread at face value is just looking for a fight.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:47:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to provide a little broader context for this, the full quote and following comments can be found here.  Drew just pulled a portion
Bottom line: the U.S. team is made up spoiled brats who never face tough competition until World Cup time.  Americans are poor losers (I'm an American) who have a hard time improvising when things go bad (witness Vietnam or Iraq).  Instead they 'stay the course' right into disaster.

If this "American" wants to label himself as a poor loser, that's fine, but it seems disingenuous of some of the comments that seemed to support his admission of poorly losing, to include the US soccer team, US troops in Vietnam, US troops in Iraq, and evidently Americans as a group.

I coupled this comment with another seemingly negative comment regarding Americans,

As I read this debate, no one has yet challenged the notion of why one should need a large military, even if it is democratically decided to have such a thing.

Either it is, as Colman surmises, {(my addendum for clarification) Americans want}a fix for the unemployment figures, or it is, as I surmise, absofuckinglutely megolamaniac stupidity, unfit for the 3rd millennium.

And just to dispense with the comments that it's different if they are posted by someone who belongs to the country, this person does not claim to be an American.  And there was not a peep pointing out that the postulated alternatives obviously do not include the rationale upon which Americans are making their decisions.  But once again there was deafening silence--nay, acutally support!

But as Drew suggests, the troll comments come when an American might defend these two points (yes a defense with sarcasm), which I made and you can read the following comments.  Now of course there are comments, which consist of attacks on these comments being those of a troll, and a defense that the troll is not a troll, but just someone so dumb as to identify the challenge for the erudite.  So they are not just comments you missed on a football thread, they are not just comments made by an "American" criticizing his country--make comments defending even truly ludicrous comments about America on this site, and get "trolled".

by wchurchill on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 01:22:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wchurchill, how many real troll-ratings have you personally received in months of deabting here -- in debates where you take a consistently contrary view to almost everyone else on the site?

I can recall giving you a 2, long ago, which is not equivalent to calling you a troll. This may have happened twice, I don't remember. It was when your comments were yelled in capitals and included many expletives.

You know perfectly well that you come here in a contrarian spirit. You have in fact benefitted from a great deal of tolerance, and a lot of users have joined in discussion with you (though most have tired of it). You have not been insulted and called a troll at every turn, nor have you been extensively troll-rated, as far as I know. Don't whine that you're being picked on.

PS Note to you and Drew: your complaint about the "staying the course" comment is pure, 100% American-exceptionalist BS. Stick it where I think and smoke it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 11:47:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman, can you reming me what is meant by "government programs"?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jul 13th, 2006 at 06:36:51 PM EST


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