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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Obama's Miley Cryus Economy Isn't Designed to Fool You

John Ransom
As I go through the unemployment claims numbers from this week, I'm a bit mollified that the computer glitch that prevented two states from reporting complete claims the last few weeks has finally been fixed.
Claims came in at 305,000 this week, which is a six-year low.
On September 12th claims came in at 292,000 or 294,000 for the week of September 7- depending on if you believe Bloomberg or the Dept. of Labor's numbers. But in any event either number excluded some claims that got lost due to that computer glitch.
But then on second thought, I wonder if the glitch really has been fixed and complete numbers have been reported.
Just last week California, one of the states implicated in the glitch, admitted that the problem was getting worse, according to the Sacramento Bee:
A computer problem delaying unemployment benefits for thousands of Californians has grown far wider in recent days, with an increasing number of people left unpaid and the state backing off its claim the issue might be resolved by week’s end.
The problem is significant enough it affected weekly reporting of initial jobless claims by the U.S. Department of Labor. In data released Thursday, the federal government said initial claims in California decreased by 25,412 in the week ending Sept. 7, an unusually steep decline.
An estimate of economists- who, by the way, have been known to be wrong at times- called for 330,000 claims versus the 290,000ish that were reported.
There isn’t as much separating 294,000 from 305,000 as there is separating 305,000 from 330,000.
Suspicious? Perhaps.
And then there is this: GDP came in this week and the government reported that 2nd quarter GDP grew at 2.5 percent, which seems unusually strong, especially in light of the decision to delay the end of quantitative easing.
You might remember too that the government just recently revised the way it computes GDP.
Today it takes into account the value of intellectual property, like that Miley Cyrus video where she's half naked and grinding on a monkey. It also takes into account the Miley Cyrus video at the VMA awards- I don't even know what VMA stands for- where she grinds on another monkey whose name escapes me, thankfully.
These videos, as intellectual property, apparently have value.
And all this time I thought that perhaps these Miley Cyrus contretemps had the effect of making us dumber.
“Mr. Madison, what you've just said,” says Mr. Principle Oblaski in Billy Madison, “is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”
That may be true for high school, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value in Obama’s economy.
Miley Cyrus with monkey one (above) and two (right)
Suffice to say, I don't really know exactly how
they are computing the value of this intellectual property, however.
In the old days, a guy like famed value investor, Ben Graham, would have called intellectual property "water," as in: "There's no value on that balance sheet; it's all just water."
Or as Mark Twain said regarding his debut book:“When the Lord finished the world, he pronounced it good. That is what I said about my first work, too. But Time, I tell you, Time takes the confidence out of these incautious opinions. It is more than likely that He thinks about the world, now, pretty much as I think about the Innocents Abroad. The fact is, there is a trifle too much water in both.”
But at least with Twain, the water served a purpose.
It was there to fill out to book length a subscription book wherein the value by the public was often determined in bulk and heft.
Not so with Obama’s watered-down economy.

His water reminds me more of what Lee Harris described as “Fantasy Ideology” in Civilization and it’s Enemies.
Instead, Obama’s economic numbers serve as props in “Fantasy Ideology.” Harris defines “Fantasy Ideology” as: “Political and ideological symbols and tropes used not for political purposes but entirely for the benefit of furthering a specific personal fantasy. It is, to be frank, something like Dungeons and Dragons, carried out not with the trapping of medieval romances- old castles and maidens in distress- but entirely in terms of ideological symbols and emblems.”

We have perhaps given Obama and his Democrat allies too much credit. Perhaps the exercise in playacting and number smirching isn’t acting or accounting to fool the rest of us. But rather to fool themselves in the same way Miley Cyrus fools herself.
The Soviet regime did not collapse because of economics.
Or because it stopped fooling it’s people. Russians are rarely fooled.
It collapsed because the ruling class stopped fooling itself; it’s fantasy ideology collapsed until even the most ardent fantasizers where disillusioned.
This, or something close to it, will happen with Democrats too.
It fact, I believe the process has already commenced.
But history is quite a long river and you’ll never know what it will turn up or turn on.
“History, like a vast river, propels logs, vegetation, rafts, and debris,” said Jacques Barzun, “it is full of live and dead things, some destined for resurrection.”
Whether the resurrected is capitalism of communism still remains to be seen.

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