Why are you here?
More to the point, why weren’t you here yesterday when I posted a fantastic story revealing how government housing data is slanted to make the real estate market look better than it really is. Or two weeks ago, when I exposed the way monthly job creation statistics are gamed to make the United States labor market look better than it really is.
Clearly, it’s because those stories weren’t attached to boobs or six-pack abs. Not like this story. This story has it all. It has boobs. It has ass. It even has a sexy headline.
Where to start?
Well, you probably wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to make the world a better place, because most of my readers are pro-democracy protesters and those who sympathize with them. The challenge for those of us laboring away in relative anonymity here at Cynical is to take that energy for change and those good intentions and combine them with real information. That way, our readers are really a force for positive change instead of just another Mel Gibson-like moron walking around with a bunch of ridiculous conspiracy theories.
Let’s start with another photo of a sexy stranger (right) just to keep you reading because this is short-attention span theater. I promise to tell a hot story in a few paragraphs about the night of ecstasy I spent with MSNBC Senior National Correspondents Chelsea Clinton, Meghan McCain and Jenna Hager Bush after they forced their way into the empty office where I rode out Hurricane Rita in 2005.
The 13-story Entergy Office Tower actually began swaying at one point. And I’ll never forget this – Chelsea looks up at me and asks “what is that, the subway?”
Fortunately, Meghan was there to set the record straight.
“Uh, excuse me,” she says. “It’s called the Metro down here.”
Anyway, try to stick around for that.
Here’s the deal. Many of this nation’s key economic indicators have never been adjusted for population growth, which makes the economy look better than it is.
What’s that to you?
Because most of you have no idea what an economic indicator is and turn brain dead the moment any story employs math that goes beyond two plus two. There you go again.
You’re products of a Society that makes fun of educated people, like the character “Steven Urkel” in the old “Family Matters” sitcom. Remember him?
So, the first thing we have to do is come to a basic understanding of economic indicators that you can relate to. The best way to do that, given the sexual imagery Americans are continuously bombarded with, is to use a sexual analogy.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend we’re all young men who believe
the number of times we have intercourse each year is indicative of our self worth. If we could tally all that sex up for every man in America, the resulting number would be similar to an economic indicator.
Of course, no indicator is worth anything without a baseline. That’s the average total each year’s activity can be compared against. Without it, we can’t tell whether we’re doing better or worse, right?
One lay is a lot if you’ve never had sex before. Not so much if you have. So, it’s crucial that we have a way to accurately compare real changes in our collective sexual activity from year to year.
Quick, take your medicine (right) before you start to grow lightheaded again.
Let’s assume that government statisticians have been tracking all this screwing around since 1963 and American men have been averaging a purely hypothetical 900 million sexual encounters a year. Unfortunately, the numbers for 2011 were just released and they say we only had intercourse 450 million times.
That’s half as much sex as we normally have. A clear and present danger to Homeland Security on par with the hole in the ozone layer being gouged by Donald Trump’s individual hairspray use.
What the hell is going on, right?
Look, quick, it’s a baby being publicly breastfed (below left). Be still my beating heart.
Now, what if the U.S. government told us this was the lowest tally since record-keeping began in 1963. You’d be like “holy crap, that’s bad.” Right?
There’s only one problem. This kind of comparison assumes that the number of American men has remained the same since 1963, instead of growing from about 95 million males to about 155 million.
We’ve got a lot more swinging pee-pees out there trying to get some play and we’ve got to adjust our data for them to determine just how badly things have really fallen off. One way to do that is to figure out the average number of times the typical American man has done the deed.
If you divide the 450 million instances of intercourse in our fictional example by the roughly 155 million males in our population, you wind up with 2.9. That’s the average number of times every U.S. male did the deed in 2011 with our fake data.
You’re probably thinking “Vic those numbers seem low to me.” And you’re right. They are low, because they include babies, men in nursing homes, and U.S. Rep. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
But for purposes of comparison, the 2.90 lays per year number still has value. It has value because we can compare it with the average number of lays per dude in 1963.
We can generate that figure by dividing the 900 million fictional lays by the 95 million men alive in 1963 to produce an annual per capita average of 9.47 lays per funstick.
If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking “Whoa there cowboy, WTF is going on, we used to have a lot more sex didn’t we?”
And you’d be right, More right than you may realize in fact.
Oh look, hottie in the house (right). I bet she’s a cheap dinner date, huh? Probably drinks protein shakes for all her meals.
Here’s where the rubbers meets the road. On a percentage basis, our total lays as a nation fell 50% from 1963 to 2011, but on a per capita basis, the drop was actually 69% per funstick. It was a bigger drop because more people are now chasing tail. That means we have to divide the lays between a bigger pool of Wilt Chamberlain wannabees.
The decline in the number of new homes sold every year in this nation is very much the same thing.
The federal government has been tracking new home sales since 1963, when 560,000 new homes were sold. Our nation has averaged about 670,000 new home sales a year since record-keeping began, but we only sold 302,000 new homes in 2011. That’s a 46% decline from 1963 to 2011.
The size of that decline sounds terrible, but is actually ridiculously understated and misleading. The official 46% decline makes things look much better than they really are because it assumes the U.S. population is unchanged.
Meanwhile, we actually grew to 311 million people in 2011 from 189 million in 1963. Once you make that adjustment the true size of the decline in new home sales expands from 46% to 67%.
See, houses are just like peepees.
And that’s what I was trying to tell you knuckleheads yesterday in the housing article that said that there were 962 new homes sales per-million Americans in 2011, and 2,958 sales per-million in 1963.
Look, it’s George Clooney (right) – isn’t he dreamy?
I know what you’re thinking: I bet old George gets plenty of real estate transactions.
A similar problem exists with the government data for monthly job creation, which is dutifully regurgitated by the mainstream media even though it erroneously implies every job created represents a job gained.
This time, let’s pretend we’re a group of oversexed college women trying on guys like fashion accessories our freshman year. The three divas in our group have nine boyfriends, which averages out to 3.0 boytoys for each of us.
Now, let’s assume our fearless team of tanned sausage wallets added two new members the next year and five new boytoys. However, we lost four of our nine veteran boytoys.
I bet you are.
I bet your little brain is just a chugging away right now. So, let’s play it safe for a bit and spend some time thinking of something pleasant. Like Salma Hayek in a really tight shirt (right). Or any shirt.
I knew that would work.
Hey now, try to have a little class and not stare at Salma’s moneymakers when her daughter’s around. Cause you’re pissing that little gal off.
Just look at her (right). We’re all about to get fucked up. Bigtime.
OK, back to business.
So now we have five banging college hotties in our group and 10 dudes, which is 2.0 dudes per diva.
Are we doing better or worse in the boyfriend department as sophomores than we did as freshmen?
If you said “worse” you’re a friggin genius. You’re actually smarter than almost every economic reporter in the United States right now.
Because you realize that our larger group of hotties needed to have a net gain of six boy toys just to maintain a ratio of three per hottie. A net gain being what’s left over after you account for both the five guys we gained and the four guys we lost.
To put it another way, our group’s break-even point for boy-toy creation was six. Anything more would have represented a net gain and anything less a net loss. Instead, our crew only had a net gain of one.
Which means that even though we have more guys overall, our ratio of guys to ladies actually just fell by a third.
The same is true for job creation, because our national population is always growing. That means the number of new graduates looking for work each year is much larger than the number of older workers who retire and leave the national labor force.
The data is right there on Angelina Jolie’s trampstamp (right).
Economists estimate that we we have to create a minimum of 100,000 jobs every month just to break even. Meaning that zero is not zero for job creation. It’s 100,000.
If we created 100,001 jobs in a single month we would have a net gain of one job.
All of which means that while the U.S. economy created 1.64 million jobs on paper in 2011, we only had a net gain of 440,000.
At that rate it will be more than 18 years before we recover from the net loss of jobs due to the failed presidency of George W. Bush, who had the same kind of relationship with domestic job creation as the character “Meg” has with the opposite sex on the “Family Guy” TV show.
Why am I picking on poor old Geedub, instead of current President Barack Obama? Because Geedub inherited a robust economy and proceeded to undermine it and Obama inherited an economy in freefall and arrested its descent.
Oh look, it’s an old guy wearing speedos (left).
I bet Geedub’s ass is even tighter. He worked out a lot when he was in The White house and left the day-to-day minutiae to nerdy old Dick Cheney. Which is why people now refer to the Bush Administration as the Cheney Administration.
Anyway, it takes about two years for a president to put their stamp on our $14 trillion economy, which is the largest in the world.
So, the period of time from January of 2003 through December of 2010 is when Cheney actually shaped our economy.
Isolating that time frame gives us a better view of his impact on the floundering U.S. labor market.
Nonfarm payrolls – which is how job creation is measured – officially rose by 6,000 jobs during that time span. However, we actually had a net shortfall of 9.6 million jobs after adjusting this data for the fact that zero is not zero in monthly job creation. It’s 100,000.
The moral of this story is that you need to know how to do the math, even if you have to pretend it’s something sexy. Because there’s nothing sexier than actually knowing what you’re talking about.
So, how are you feeling after all that?
Do you feel friggin smart?
Sexy, ain’t it?
You better belieb it baby.