Blog Entry

I am going to save your life...I promise.

Posted on: February 12, 2009 1:56 pm

How do you save a life? There a couple of ways to look at it. Suppose there is a certain impending crisis that if left untreated will cause death. If you intercede, you have saved a life. The measurable is pretty simple here and not at all abstract. The person was critically ill or injured and now they are not. I trust you all agree with that definition.

Another way look at it is to say the person is at risk but does not have an impending crisis that will guarantee the outcome of death. An example would be asking someone to put on their safety belt. Presumably by doing so that person saved a life by prevention of an impending crisis that may or may not occur. The data has to be inferred from previous data. Before seat belts the death rate was X and now it is Y. The difference is inferred to be the result of safety belt use (and other safety devices but let's keep it relatively simple.) Everyone agree so far?

So how do you save a job? Obama says he is going to save jobs - 3.5 million of them. Politicians always say this so he is not unique in this claim. How do you measure success? Think about it. If there are 100 million jobs in the US on a given date and a year later there are 100 million jobs. How many were saved? Is it 3.5 million or 100 million? What actions were implemented and how can we be sure they had any impact on the total number of jobs? What if the programs designed to protect jobs actually destroyed economic growth such that there are still 100 million jobs but there could have been 103 million jobs had nothing been done? Is that success?

This administration, like all others, will claim they have saved or even created jobs when the next election comes around, of this you can be sure. But can you be confident in their claims? How do you measure a one time event? They will deluge us with all kinds of facts and figures to support this claim. Consider this (continuing my example from above), if the total number of jobs is now at 103 million can Obama claim success? The knee jerk is absolutely yes. But hold on. What if the Gross Domestic Product goes down with the new work force? Likewise the earnings and spending potential goes down? Is this success? I don't think so and neither do the economists. So be careful friends when the claims of job savings and creation start to come out in the coming years.

Remember...If it smells like foot and tastes like a foot then why is it in your mouth?

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Wake Forrest

Since: Feb 18, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2009 11:01 am

I am going to save your life...I promise.

Relativity?  The whole argument of "saving X# of jobs" is meaningless as there is no alternative test group of the American economy to compare it to.By this argument Bush could already have claimed to save 4 million jobs.  Didn't the auto bailout save all GM/Chrysler and associated jobs?  But you don't know if they all would have been lost now do you.

Ice will be melting here in New England soon.  Need to get back to that.....



Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2009 5:29 pm

I am going to save your life...I promise.

No matter what you do in life, you have two things to manage.  You have your job, and your perception.  One of the reasons Bush's approval rating degraded over the years was because the "perception" was that he didn't do enough to manage the early warning signs of the impending crisis.  And because of the Republican beliefs, he didn't become involved when Enron was accused of massaging the prices of electricity.  Likewise, when oil and gas prices skyrocketed, it was perceived that he was in the pockets of the gas companies.  Don't get all huffy on me because I talk about the "perceptions" that the media played out.  It is just reality vs. perception.

Enter Obama on the tails of this perception, as well as his campaign.  It isn't so much about the results as managing the perception that someone "is finally doing something".  Like the old adage in baseball: it is better to go down swinging than looking.  The "Stimulus Package" is gaining a little more constituent approval.  If this trend continues, the package might be considered a victory because it may have a positive impact on consumer confidence.  Not because of the starting or end result, but because of the perception that something is being done.  But reality is often very different than perception, and numbers can be massaged in so many different ways.  Each side will claim they were right.  When in fact, nobody will really be right.  Because cycles are cycles, and we were way overdue for a down cycle. 

Perception vs. reality.  What do you choose to manage in your daily life?

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: February 13, 2009 3:31 am

I am going to save your life...I promise.

It does not matter to O'Bama if the jobs he "creates" do nothing to improve the economy. All he is interested in are numbers. In his mind it is better to have 10 jobs at 25k/yr, than 3 jobs at 100+k/yr even though the 10 jobs are not going to carry near if any of the tax burden of the 3. I saw Mrs Pelosi spouting the party mantra about cutting taxes for the wealthy and big corporations is not an effective way to grow the economy. Meanwhile, I am still waiting to see how new computers for the FDA will.

Also, I am not going to call it 'this administration' any longer. From this point forward it is going to be 'this regime'. 

Since: Oct 26, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2009 7:36 pm

I am going to save your life...I promise.

If only life were that simple. It brings to mind an MLB message board poster who was trying to argue what it really meant to be 1 game under .500 and what not. His logic seemed great, but a deeper inspection proved it to be flawed. So it is with claims by government about creating jobs and helping the economy. The problem is that we tend to only focus on one aspect - say employment, while failing to look at all the other items connected to it - unemployment, GDP, productivity, etc.


Everything also looks great out when you have rosy colored shades on.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2009 6:28 pm

I am going to save your life...I promise.

I agree smorgie.  Politicians will always try to take credit for creating jobs, but they don't deserve any.  Most government expenditures used for job "stimulation" goes to support the entrenched bureaucratic structure.  

Job creation comes from wealth creation.  Wealth is created by specialization and trade, not by just printing more money or borrowing from China.  

On a side note, I disagree with your second example about seat belts.  Evidence suggests that with seat belts, drivers perceive less risk, so they drive faster and cause more accidents, and death rates are higher, especially among pedestrians.  So seat belts are dangerous!

Since: Mar 13, 2008
Posted on: February 12, 2009 5:09 pm

I am going to save your life...I promise.

Remember...If it smells like foot and tastes like a foot then why is it in your mouth?That might be the sagest observation I've heard/read all day!

Since: Aug 16, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2009 3:16 pm

I am going to save your life...I promise.

I was having this very conversation with a friend of mine this morning.  The target is moving and no matter what happens, unless the number of jobs completely tanks, they will claim success.  The Koolaid drinkers will rejoice.

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