Thursday, June 22, 2017

Friday Favorites- "Why Work?"

Two news items are getting a lot of attention right now from the media.

The Senate has released its proposed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

One of the key provisions in the bill is a proposal to scale back the expansion of Medicaid in Obamacare. An additional 14 million Americans have been added to the Medicaid rolls since 2014. The CBO projects that another 15 million may become eligible over the next 10 years.  Of course, this cost is paid by the taxpayers who have to pay their own healthcare bills.

In addition, President Trump stated in a speech in Iowa on Wednesday night that “those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”

Political pundits were quick to point out that there is already a law that essentially prohibits this and derided Trump. However, I would point out that there are also laws already on the books that prohibit immigrants from entering the United States illegally and we know how that has worked out.

It will be interesting to see what changes Trump is considering in the legislation.

Speaking of Medicaid and welfare benefits, I thought it was a good time to revisit a blog post in 2012 entitled "Why Work?" in this Friday Favorites segment.

It is often forgotten that Medicaid, housing assistance, food stamps and other welfare benefits are provided tax-free to the recipients. This makes the value of these benefits extraordinarily high compared to working wages. As a result, receiving these benefits can be a substantial deterrent for someone who might otherwise consider working.

We often hear that Americans just won't do a lot of the jobs that need to be done in this country. Why is that? A large part has to do with the substantial social safety net. For many, it just does not pay to work.

I do not blame the welfare recipient. Human are inherently creatures of self-interest. We will take the path that provides us the greatest benefit. It is the system that is at fault. We should not be perpetuating a system that devalues work.

Read all about "the welfare cliff". In addition, also consider the fact that many, many more people are receiving tax-free Medicaid health benefits today than when I originally wrote this blog post in 2012. There are even more reasons to not work today.



Why Work?
(originally published December 7, 2012)

There is a lot of debate and discussion about the fiscal cliff in Washington right now.  However, we never hear anything about the welfare cliff.

What is the welfare cliff?

It is the point in which it makes more sense to sit at home and do nothing, and collect welfare benefits, than to work for wages.

Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge writes about the welfare cliff in "When Work Is Punished: The Tragedy Of America's Welfare State".  He cites a recent presentation by Gary Alexander, Secretary of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in making his key points.

To illustrate the welfare cliff consider this fact about a single mother in Pennsylvania with two children.

The single mom is better off earning $29,000 with gross income from working combined with welfare assistance that provides $57,327 in net income and benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 solely from working that nets out to income and benefits of $57,045.

In other words, earning more than $29,000 from work actually starts to reduce the single mom's household income. There is no incentive to earn more. It is more profitable to stay home and collect welfare.

The two charts below are from Alexander's presentation which is worth looking at to also see the massive growth in welfare and Medicaid over the years.





What is also sobering is what the welfare burden has become on working taxpayers.  For every one person receiving welfare assistance nationally, there are only 1.65 employed persons in the private sector.

For every one person who is either receiving welfare or works for the government, there are only 1.25 persons working in the private sector.  After all, taxes are needed from the private sector to support these payments whether as a welfare payment or a government paycheck.  Ouch!




One big factor in why the welfare recipient makes out so well is the tax-free nature of welfare benefits and the refundable tax credits that are built into the Internal Revenue Code.  Tax loopholes are not just for the rich any more.

Providing housing assistance, food stamps (EBT), welfare, Medicaid, child care assistance and Obamaphones in after-tax dollars provides a significant income advantage to the welfare recipient compared to a middle-class worker.

Consider a cell phone.  If a private sector worker and taxpayer wants a $50 monthly cell phone plan they need to earn about $65 to pay for the cell phone.  They need to pay income taxes (15%), FICA (7.65%) and state taxes before they have the money to spend on the cell phone.  People on welfare are just given the cell phone.

I am all for helping people who need a helping hand. However, this is clearly not a sustainable path. It also clearly shows that the incentives in the system are not properly aligned to get us the results we should be getting.

Our goal should be to get as many people in productive roles in our society as we can.  Our welfare programs are clearly not doing that.  We should also have policies that foster as much alignment between people in our country as possible.  The disconnect between the people working and paying the bills and those receiving government benefits will do nothing but create greater discord in society if we don't fix this.

If we get past the fiscal cliff I certainly hope that we will soon start looking at the welfare cliff.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Lies of Obamacare

We have heard the lies about Obamacare since Barack Obama first uttered these infamous words during his 2008 campaign for President.

"We're going to lower your premiums by up to $2500 per family per year."

The actual fact is that premiums have gone up substantially for most Americans in every year since Obamacare was enacted.

Interestingly, health care cost expenditures in the United States were relatively stable in the six years immediately before Obamacare took effect on January 1, 2014. Was it just a coincidence that health care starting taking a bigger share of personal expenditures beginning in 2014?

Medical care now consumes 17.2% of all personal expenditures in the United States.





That original lie was followed by many more.

"If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan."

Millions of people have had their healthcare plans cancelled. Hundreds of thousands of other individuals were lured into selecting health care from newly formed non-profit co-op health plans under Obamacare with promises of low-cost coverage. Thus far, 20 out of the 24 Obamacare co-ops have failed. $2.2 billion of taxpayer funds that were used to capitalize these co-ops has been lost.

"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."

Another lie. Many plans have resorted to tighter and stricter physician networks. Millions have lost the ability to see the doctor they know and trust.

"I will not sign a bill that adds one dime to our deficits, now or in the future."

Barack Obama said it.  It just was not true. You can see this clearly by the Congressional Budget Office scoring of the House repeal and replace bill that projects $119 billion in savings over the next 10 years by enacting The American Health Care Act.

It is this budget savings that actually allows the Senate to take up the bill in reconciliation thereby allowing a 51 vote majority for passage than requiring the 60 vote cloture vote. A simple majority  is all that is required in a budget reconciliation vote that reduces spending.

Of course, who knows what to believe from the CBO?  It does not actually have the best record in its projections regarding Obamacare.

For example, look at how poorly the CBO did in projecting Medicaid enrollment. When the bill passed, the CBO projected 9 million new Medicaid enrollees in 2017. The actual number is over 50% higher.





Similarly, the CBO projected in 2010 that 21 million people would enroll in the exchanges in 2016. The actual number---10 million.

You can see in this graph far the CBO has been off in its exchange enrollment projections.  Notice that despite any evidence that anything will change to make the Obamacare exchanges more attractive to health care purchasers, the CBO is predicting that enrollment in the exchanges will increase to 18 million next year (from 10 million today).




Those are not outright lies. It is just terrible forecasting.

I would not be so kind to the CBO in describing its analysis of the House bill in which it claims that 23 million Americans would lose coverage by 2026 if Obamacare is repealed.

Of course, the media latched on to that number and it has been driving a lot of debate on the bill.

How can Republicans be so mean to eliminate health care coverage for 23 million people?

Let's look at that number in more detail and you tell me if that is fact, fake news or another Obamacare lie?

How did the CBO get that number?

First, they are using that 18 million number in future projected enrollment although only 10 million currently have coverage through the exchanges today.

Therefore, reduce the 23 million number by 8 million. We are now down to 15 million actually "losing" coverage.

Second, the CBO is assuming that an additional 15 million Americans will become eligible for Medicaid over the next 10 years. However, 5 million of this number is assumed to be new enrollees in the 19 states that have not even expanded their Medicaid eligibility. Given that these states have given no indication that they will extend Medicaid under current law why is it a sound assumption to consider these individuals to be "losing' coverage they don't have today?

Add it all up and the argument can be made that on a net basis no one will lose coverage compared to today under the House Republican bill. It is all based on assumptions of future eligibility and greater numbers of future people qualifying for Medicaid in the future. It does not assume a better economy or anything else. It actually assumes more poverty and more people qualifying for Medicaid  than today.

Even if we give the benefit of the doubt to the CBO on that assumption, how can it magically assume that 19 states are going to expand their Medicaid when we are nearly five years into Obamacare and not one has done so to this point?

Worse case, the CBO number of people "losing" coverage should not be more than 10 million and a good argument could be made that it is zero. That is a long way from 23 million.

We have grown accustomed to those in Washington claiming budget cuts when all they are really doing is reducing future increases in spending.

They are now claiming people losing health coverage that don't even have it today.

The lies of Obamacare continue.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Was Obama Ever President of the United States?

It seemed that for almost the entirely of Barack Obama's eight years in The White House, every problem of shortcoming was the fault of George W. Bush. Barack Obama could do no wrong.

Now that Donald Trump has been President for five months, to hear it from the Democrats and the media, there is not one problem that Trump has inherited from Barack Obama.

Every problem and every issue in America today is the sole fault of Donald J. Trump.

It is almost as if Barack Obama never set foot in the Oval Office. You have to wonder what he was doing for eight years.

The media portrays Trump as the most unpopular President of all time.

However, the truth is that Trump actually has a higher approval rating at this point in his Presidency than Barack Obama did in his second term according to the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll.




Have you seen this reported anywhere on the evening news?

Of course not.

The media seems to see its job to be to amplify anything and everything to advance their anti-Trump agenda. Therefore, anything that does not fit that narrative is simply not reported.

On the other hand, the media went out its way to turn down the volume on anything and everything that could have depicted Obama in a negative light.

That is why real scandals like Benghazi, Fast and Furious, NSA spying and the IRS intimidation of conservative groups died on the vine while we now are spending millions of dollars on a special counsel when there is absolutely no evidence that any crime has been committed.

How can I say that when potential crimes are supposedly being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller?

Based on the simple fact that collusion (if there were any) is not a crime under federal statutes. Gregg Jarrett, the former Court TV anchor, explains.

Robert Mueller is tasked with finding a crime that does not exist in the law.  It is a legal impossibility. 
As special counsel, Mueller can engage in all manner of spectacular jurisprudential gymnastics.  However, it will not change the fact that colluding with Russia is not, under America’s criminal codes, a crime.  It’s just not there. 
Maybe it should be.  Perhaps someday Congress will pass a law criminalizing such conduct in political campaigns.  But for now, there is not a single statute outlawing collaboration with a foreign government in a U.S. presidential election.  Or any election, for that matter. 
Why, then, are so many people who are following the Trump-Russia saga under the mistaken impression that collusion is a crime?  Principally, because it is a loaded word with an historic criminal connotation.
“Collusion” became a prominent part of the legal lexicon when Benjamin Harrison occupied the White House and Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 outlawing collusion in some business practices.  Specifically, price fixing and other anticompetitive activities became a criminal offense under Section 1 of the Act.  Almost overnight, the wor
d “collusion” was converted into a legal pejorative.
But collusion is only criminal in an antitrust setting.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with elections.  

Have you seen this reported anywhere on the evening news?

I mentioned this fact to a liberal friend of mine who responded, "Well, that may be but we need to know."

However, there were a lot of things that I wanted to know when Barack Obama was President that I never got an answer to.

I wanted to know what he was doing on the night of the Benghazi attack that was more important than monitoring what was going on as Americans were being killed in a terrorist attack.

I wanted to know why they made up the story about a video being the cause of the Benghazi attack?

I wanted to know what Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton were really talking about on that airplane on the tarmac in Phoenix?

I wanted to know why the IRS targeted conservative groups but left the left wing groups alone?

I wanted to know why a Justice Department official pled the Fifth Amendment in the Fast and Furious investigation?

I wanted to know why they used NSA resources to target American journalists (and possibly Trump himself)?

I wanted to see Barack Obama's college records to see if he was ever registered as a foreign student?

Unlike Russian collusion, knowledge of the answers to some of these questions might actually show violation of federal criminal statutes.

We know Donald J. Trump is President of the United States. The media and the liberal left become more unhinged by the day in complaining about it.

A big reason for their anger is that the Obama agenda is being erased day by day. Executive order by executive order. The Paris Accord. Cuba. Coal regulations. Immigration enforcement.

The media narrative is also that the Trump administration and the GOP are inept and that no legislation is getting done. That is true thus far on the big issues of healthcare and tax reform.

However, the fact is that Trump actually signed twice as many bills into law than Obama did in his first 100 days. Trump and the GOP Congress have actually also done more than the Bush 43 and Clinton administrations did in their first 100 days.




Those laws also are a lot less bulky than what was passed in the Obama years.

Why?

It takes fewer words to roll back or repeal government programs and regulations than it does to implement them.

Obama's failures were ignored and his "successes" are now being unwound.

Was Barack Obama ever President of the United States?


Friday, June 9, 2017

Comey, The Media and Shakespeare

There are many things that the mainstream media does these days that could very well fit the title of a Shakespeare play. It was all on stage at the Comey hearing yesterday.





Right now the media is desperately trying to create a Tempest involving Donald Trump in any way they can. I have never seen anything remotely like it. There is not even an attempt to hide the bias in their reporting.

It seems that they are not happy that Trump won the election by defeating Hillary Clinton. However, they were quite happy that Obama won in 2008 by Taming the Shrew. That was fine. Trump doing the same is clearly not fine.

Thus far, all of their attempts to make some type of case involving Trump and Russian collusion in the election has been Much Ado About Nothing. This was reinforced today in the Comey hearings where the former FBI Director admitted under oath that he had, in fact, told Trump on three separate occasions that he was not a subject of any investigation.

That statement totally undermined a CNN report before the hearing where it reported that Comey would contradict Trump on this point. This is how TheHill.com reported it.

CNN has corrected a Tuesday report after the release of former FBI Director James Comey's opening statement for his Thursday testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee contradicted the report's sources.
The CNN report said Comey was expected to dispute President Trump's claims that Comey said he was not under investigation on multiple occasions. 

Adding to the embarrassment of the media was another exchange where Comey was asked about the accuracy of a New York Times story in February that claimed that 'Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian Intelligence".

Senator James Risch of Idaho asked Comey if that story was true. Here is how Comey responded according to a report in The Washington Times.

“In the main, it was not true.”
 “The challenge — and I’m not picking on reporters — about writing stories about classified information is that people talking about it often don’t really know what is going on. And those of us who actually know what’s going on aren’t talking about it. And we don’t call the press to say, hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic. We just have to leave it there.”

How is that for a Comedy of Errors by what is supposed to be the the trusted media?

Comey also testified that he had never been told by Trump (or anyone else) to stop the Russian investigation. Trump's primary interest seemed to be to have Comey publicly state that Trump was not being investigated in the Russian probe. He secondarily had asked Comey that he hoped that the FBI would go easy on Michael Flynn because he was "a good guy" to which Comey agreed that he was.

Contrast that with Comey's testimony involving Hillary Clinton's emails where he stated that Attorney General Loretta Lynch specifically told Comey to refer to the investigation as a "matter" rather than what it really was.

Measure for Measure wouldn't you agree that what Lynch did was more of a directive to Comey than anything Trump did in his conversations with the FBI Director? This also doesn't even take into account Lynch's meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton at the Phoenix airport last July.

Of course, the biggest revelation of the day's testimony was that the FBI Director himself had leaked information to the New York Times through a friend of his in New York City. Comey said he leaked a memo to the file he had written after meeting with Trump because he wanted a special counsel appointed after he was fired.

This is indeed ironic as one of the issues Trump pushed Comey on in their meetings was for the FBI to be more aggressive in its investigation of leakers.

There are those that think that this admission by Comey may be the only indictable offense to come out of all of the reporting of the hearing today as those memos were arguably FBI government documents which are illegal to convey to an outside party.

It is my Midsummer's Night Dream that all of this nastiness will soon end. After all, there are a lot of problems in this country and it would help if the media spent more attention on those issues rather than worrying about how many scoops of ice cream Trump gets. However, I am sure the media is intent on making this a Winter's Tale if they can. I don't expect it to end soon.

My advice for President Trump is to ignore the noise and nastiness of the media and focus on the big problems that got him elected. Get results and everything else will take care of itself. That is the way to deal with the media.

Trump's best revenge with the media is to find ways to win. This strategy will be As You Like It as well if you are a Trump supporter.

Reagan did not have the media on his side but he won anyway. Trump needs to do the same. He also needs to play more offense and be less defensive. However, when he plays offense he needs to avoid being offensive in the process.

Staying off Twitter today was a start.

He also needs to keep this in mind.

All's Well That End's Well. 

History is written by the winners.



SHAKESPEARE’S COMEDIES
The 18 plays generally classified as comedy are as follows:

All's Well That Ends Well
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Cymbeline
Love's Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merry Wives of Windsor
The Merchant of Venice
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Two Noble Kinsmen
The Winter's Tale

Credit: Thoughtco.com



Monday, June 5, 2017

Spelling It Out

Do you recognize any of these names?

Ananya Vinay
Rohan Rajeev
Mira Dedhia
Shourav Dasari
Raksheet Kota
Tejas Muthusamy

Do you have a guess at what ties them all together?

These are not typical names you hear in the United States of America.

However, all of these people live in the United States. In fact, they all are going to school in the United States.

These are the names of the six finalists in the recently concluded 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

They are all immigrants or children of immigrants.

English was likely not the native language of their parents. However, these are the six best spellers of English words in American schools.

It goes beyond the top six as well. Here are the names and pictures of the 15 finalists.





Ananya Vinay, the 2017 winner, is of Indian heritage as are the winners from the last ten years.

We hear people throw around the term "white privilege" and statements like the "deck is stacked" against minorities and immigrants in this country. We hear that the color of your skin defines you and makes it hard to succeed in America.

These students did not listen. They dedicated themselves and worked hard. They did not allow anything to define them other than their results.

I would guess that they also had supportive parents who encouraged their hard work. They did not tell them that the system was stacked against them. They told them that in America you could achieve anything you set your mind to.

The reality of America is that a great deal of success has resulted from those who had something to prove. Often times it was those of ethic, religious or national origins who were considered on the fringes or were discriminated against. These people believed they had something to prove, to themselves and others. Often times these were the children of immigrants who pushed their children to realize the American Dream.

Take a look at this graphic that shows the composition of the U.S. Math and Physics Olympiad teams and the College Putnam Math winners over time. The mix of who are the high achievers has changed over the years. A couple of groups have dominated relative to their share of the population.




It used to be that these awards were dominated by Jewish students. My guess is that many of these students were also children of recent immigrants.

Today these awards are dominated by Asian students, much like the Spelling Bee is, although Asian-Americans only make up about 5% of the U.S. population.

Consider the most recent numbers this decade. Asian-American students have made up 81% of the Physics and 72% of the Math Olympiad Teams for the U.S. 50% of College Putnam Math winners are Asian-American.

These results and The National Spelling Bee finalists shows that preparation, practice, perseverance and parents can make a huge difference in achieving success.

The finalists in the National Spelling Bee should be an inspiration to us all that the American Dream is still alive for those who want to work for it.

It can't be spelled out any better than that.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Politics is Profitable

Politics is profitable.

How do I know? Look no further than a couple of stories in the news this week.

The first example is the story of Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner renewing their lease on their apartment on Manhattan's Union Square.

This is how the rental listing described the apartment.

The luxury three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot pad at 1 Irving Place features an “expansive, panoramic view of Union Square Park and the midtown skyline."

The monthly rental for that 1,500 square feet apartment?

$11,900 per month!  That works out to $142,800 per year.

To put that in context, median household income in the U.S in 2015 (the most recent data) was $68,260 per year. In other words, the rent on the Abedin/Weinder apartment is more than twice what the median household is earning.


Abedin/Weiner apartment building in Manhattan
Credit: New York Post

How does a unemployed sex offender and unemployed political staffer afford that chunk of change every month?

Politics is obviously profitable.

Speaking of Abedin and Weiner, it seems that the renewal of their apartment lease is an indication that Huma is not following through on the announced plans to file for divorce from Weiner.

The New York Post reports that Abedin has invited Weiner back into their home and has not filed the divorce papers.

The sext-crazed pol, who had been sleeping on his mother’s couch in Park Slope, was to move out Tuesday, a source said.
“He was supposed to move,” the building source explained. “But they just signed for another year.”
Another source said, “She still hasn’t served him with the divorce papers.”

It doesn't make sense. However, there are many things that don't makes sense concerning Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner.

For example, how does a Muslim woman like Abedin come to even marry a Jewish man?

It makes even less sense when you consider the reports of the close relationship her parents had to factions of the Muslim Brotherhood and her father's emphatic support for Sharia law. 

The second example is the report that former President Obama has decided to purchase the home they were renting in the Kalorama section of Washington, DC for $8.1 million.


The Obama Home--Washington, DC
Credit: HomeVisit.com

They were previously renting the 8,200 sf house which Zillow.com estimated should rent for approximately $22,000 per month. That would appear to be a bargain compared to what Abedin and Weiner are paying.

The reason that the Obama's have decided to buy?

Obama's spokesman explained it had to do with allowing their daughter Sasha (who will a Junior in high school in the Fall) to finish school in Washington.

"Given that President and Mrs. Obama will be in Washington for at least another two and a half years, it made sense for them to buy a home rather than continuing to rent the property."

However, didn't they know that Sasha would be completing high school in D.C. when they moved out of The White House?

And don't they know how real estate transaction costs eat you up if you are not planning to stay in the residence for some time.

A 6% commission to sell an $8 million house is almost $500,000. That is about the same amount as it would cost to rent the house for two years.  It doesn't sound like that makes good sense to me if this home is only to allow you to get your daughter through high school.

Then again, what is $500,000 to Barack Obama these days. He can earn that with one speech to Goldman Sachs.

As I said, politics is profitable.

About the only one who is not making a profit out of it is our current President. That time may come. However, he is currently paying a heavy price by venturing into the swamp. When you see the money that oozes out of it, is it any wonder that they don't want an outsider like him getting too close to their money game?


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Joe and Marilyn

I just finished reading C. David Heymann's book, Joe and Marilyn, which chronicles the love affair between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe.




Joe DiMaggio had just retired from his illustrious baseball career when he asked a friend to set him up with Marilyn in 1952. Monroe was just on the verge of international superstar status at he time.

They each got something they needed out of the relationship. Joe, the guy who had almost everything in life, got the most beautiful woman in the world. Marilyn got a steadfast father figure who was the only man in her life that was willing to give Monroe more than he expected in return.

Despite all of that, their marriage did not last one year. DiMaggio wanted a wife that stayed home and cooked him lasagna and wore turtle necks in public. Joe was both obsessive and possessive regarding Marilyn which was never going to work with the free-spirited Marilyn.

Marilyn was just as obsessive about her career and her image. She knew the assets she had, she knew how to market them and she was not shy about doing what she had to do to get ahead. The marriage seemed doomed from the start considering their conflicting interests.

However, despite their divorce, there remained a connection between the two until Marilyn' death in 1962. In fact, Joe claimed that at the time of her death they were planning to remarry. After Marilyn died, DiMaggio convincingly showed that he was her one true friend making all the funeral plans and arrangements. He stayed true to her for the rest of his life by never remarrying and sending fresh roses to her gravesite twice every week until his death in 1999.

There has likely never been a more iconic female star than Marilyn Monroe nor a baseball hero that surpassed Joltin' Joe. It was a storybook romance but storybooks never deal with the failings, feelings and foibles of real human beings. Heymann shows how true that is in Joe and Marilyn, Legends in Love. 

Reading this book about Marilyn Monroe reminded of this excerpt from a previous BeeLine post in which I wrote about the auction that had taken place back in 2012 where some of Marilyn's personal effects and wardrobe had been sold.

The conventional view of Marilyn on the silver screen was that she was a full figured woman. The facts and figures in the measurements of her wardrobe should put that myth to rest for good.

How did a numbers guys like me end up writing about Marilyn Monroe?

It is all about the data. That is the only thing that is of interest to me in any of this.


Marilyn Monroe in the "Seven Year Itch" dress that sold for $5.66 million
Joe went into a rage when he saw Marilyn film this scene in New York City on September 15, 1954.
They separated and divorced soon after.

From a January 10, 2012 BeeLine blog post.

----------------------------------------------------------

On the subject of data, I also came across these interesting facts about Marilyn Monroe recently.  A number of her personal effects and wardrobe were auctioned off in two separate auctions. One by her own estate and a second by the estate of Debbie Reynolds who had an extraordinary collection of Hollywood costumes of Marilyn and other stars.   These are summarized in this article from Bloomberg and this one from Slate.  The facts on Marilyn from the Bloomberg article.

We should never again hear anyone declare that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12, a size 14 or any other stand-in for full-figured, zaftig or plump. Fifteen thousand people have now seen dramatic evidence to the contrary. Monroe was, in fact, teeny-tiny.

The auction’s top-ticket item was Monroe’s famous white halter dress from “The Seven Year Itch,” the one that billowed up as the subway passed. It sold for almost $5.66 million (including the buyer’s premium) to an unknown phone bidder. Sharing a rotating mirrored platform with Hedy Lamar’s peacock gown from “Samson and Delilah” and Kim Novak’s rhinestone- fringed show dress from “Jeanne Eagels,” Monroe’s costume was displayed on a mannequin that had been carved down from a standard size 2 to accommodate the tiny waist. Even then, the zipper could not entirely close.

But that’s just one dress. Perhaps the star was having a skinny day. To check, you could look across the room and see that Monroe’s red-sequined show dress from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” was at least as petite, as were the saloon costume from “River of No Return” and the tropical “Heat Wave” outfit from “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

In fact, the average waist measurement of the four Monroe dresses was a mere 22 inches, according to Lisa Urban, the Hollywood consultant who dressed the mannequins and took measurements for me. Even Monroe’s bust was a modest 34 inches.

That’s not an anecdote. That’s data.

The Slate article by Simon Doonan who inventoried and auctioned all of the clothes in her personal estate sale puts it all in perspective.

When you look at Marilyn on-screen and—armed with the information I have just provided—you realize that the busty, ample gal brimming over Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot is literally one-third your size, you have every right to become suicidal. If she looks like that—zaftig, almost chubby—what on earth would you look like under similar circumstances?

Conventional wisdom says that the camera adds five pounds. After my Marilyn experience, I would say it’s more like 500 pounds.

On second thought, perhaps it is sometimes better not to be a facts guy.  Having no facts make life much easier.

------------------------------------------------------

That is especially true if we try to compare ourselves with Marilyn Monroe...or Joe DiMaggio.

For all that we might admire in them, they each had significant flaws. Like us, they were only human.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

It is much too easy to take our freedoms for granted in this day and age.

Yes, we are in a War on Terror that is all too real and horrible. Witness what happened at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last week where 22 people were murdered. Most were women or children.

However, over 380,000 British soldiers and an additional 67,000 British civilians perished in World War II.

The British paid a heavy price standing up to Hitler alone for almost three years before the United States entered the fight.

Before it ended, over 400,000 American soldiers died defending our freedom in that war.

The count is high for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and who we honor on this Memorial Day.

Let us never forget those who have laid down their lives so we can live freely.


Civil War  625,000
WWII 405,399
WWI 116,516
Vietnam War 58,209
Korean War 36,516
Revolutionary War 25,000
War of 1812 20,000
Mexican-American War 13,283
War on Terror    6,867
Phillipine-American War  4,196


It is interesting to note that there were almost the same American combat deaths on Iwo Jima (6,800) in the 36 days it took to capture that island in WWII than all the military deaths in almost 16 years in the War on Terror to date. Almost 22,000 Japanese were killed in the assault on the island.

I have featured Angela Pan's photography in BeeLine previously. Angela is based in Washington, D.C. and some of her best work features the the monuments and memorials in our capital city.

I can't think of a better way to honor these fallen heroes than in the beauty of Angela Pan's images.


Credit: Angela Pan


Credit: Angela Pan


Credit: Angela Pan



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Trump Budget In Context

The Trump administration unveiled its 2018 federal budget proposal on Tuesday and it did not take long for the mainstream media and others to call it "inhumane", "improbable", "insane" or an "unimaginable level of cruelty."


- Orlando-Rising.com


-New York Times


-ThinkProgress.com

-RealClearPolitics.com


The criticism from the Left seems focused on two aspects of the proposed Trump budget.

1. They don't like the economic growth assumptions used in the budget proposals. These are "improbable" or "insane".

2. They don't like the amount that will be spent on social programs. The amounts represent "deep cuts" that are "morally repugnant", "cruel", "inhumane", " heartless" and "unimaginable".

Let's take a look at these claims in context which is something we like to do at BeeLine. After all, which we so often state in these pages, "context is everything when assessing anything".

First, let's look at the economic assumptions in the 2018 Trump budget and compare it with the economic assumptions that were in the 2017 Obama budget.

To read the headlines you would think that Trump was using wildly optimistic economic assumptions regarding domestic GDP growth compared to Obama. That is simply not the case.

Compare the two budgets for the years 2017-2022. Trump is using a lower number for 2017 than Obama did. (Was Obama's GDP assumption ever described as "improbable" or "insane"?) You can see the 2018 economic assumptions are identical. In later years, Trump has generally used a 3.0% growth estimate compared to 2.3% for Obama.



This is insane?

How about the claim that it is improbable?  It is true that the United States has not had annual real GDP growth of over 3% in a decade. However, in looking at a longer historical view, the U.S. has exceeded 3% growth (represented by the blue line on the chart below) for most of the post-World War II era.



Of course, many will say that this history is irrelevant. The world economy has changed. I am old enough to remember the same thing being said in the 1970's during the Carter administration. Ronald Reagan was elected President and those arguments were soon forgotten. The U.S. enjoyed in excess of 3% real GDP growth for most of the next 20 years.

A .7% increase in the long term GDP assumption compared to Obama hardly seems "insane" or "improbable" considering the potential for regulatory and tax reform and a new focus on developing United States energy sources under the Trump administration.

What about the "inhumane", "heartless" and "unimaginable level of cruelty" in the Trump budget?

For context, let's first take a look at how the $7 trillion of the taxes we pay to federal, state and local governments are spent. Bear in mind that this $7 trillion represents about 38% of the nation's total output. In other words, almost 40% of every dollar earned in the private sector is taxed and then spent of redistributed in some way by some level of government.


Credit: Reddit.com/ethervariance161

Note that of the $7 trillion of total government spending at all levels, 63% is being spent on health care (Medicare, Medicaid, etc), pensions (Social Security, government employee pensions), education (primary and secondary, college) and welfare (food stamps, housing assistance, unemployment, Social Security disability). In dollar terms that is almost $4.5 trillion.

By comparison, defense spending is 12%.

In other words, of all the taxes you pay, 12 cents of every dollar goes to Defense. 63 cents of every dollar is going to pay for the needs of another human being in the United States.

The last 25 cents is going for everything else---law enforcement, roads, infrastructure, prisons, parks, public transit, the FDA, government employees and interest on government debt.

Let's now take a closer look at just the federal budget numbers that are the focus of the news about the Trump budget proposal.

To see the headlines above you would think there would be massive cuts in the Trump budget in the human side of the budget.

Let's also put that in context.

The 2017 Obama budget projected that $4.250 trillion would be spent in 2026 on mandatory spending in the federal budget. (Obama budget-Table S-4)




Mandatory spending encompasses most of the entitlement spending in the federal budget including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment compensation, earned income and child tax credits. If Trump is being "obscene" and "heartless" it would show in these numbers.

What is the comparable projected mandatory spending number for 2026 in the 2018 Trump budget?

$3.754 trillion. (Trump budget-Table S-4). $3.919 trillion in 2027.



If you are doing the math, that is about a 12% overall reduction from what Obama proposed for 2026 last year.

These are the proposed increases in the various categories of mandatory spending in the Trump budget over the next decade.

Social Security  +82%

Medicare           +97%

Medicaid           +39%

Other                 + 3%


In order to maintain his promise to not touch Social Security and Medicare, Trump is proposing some reforms to the Medicaid and welfare systems that it projects could save in excess of $200 billion per year in 2027. Most of these reforms are designed to increase the incentive to work in comparison to relying on the social safety net with an objective of increasing the economic growth rate to 3%.

Most of these reforms also simply change the rules back to where they were before Obama became President. In other words, the rules would be similar to what was in place when that "unimaginably cruel" Bill Clinton (and George W. Bush) were in the Oval Office. There is another $170 billion in projected savings from Obamacare repeal and replacement.

What this budget puts into focus is whether we are going to maintain our promise to those who have earned their Social Security and Medicare or whether these people will be sacrificed in order to continue to support the welfare system as it came to exist under Barack Obama?

It simply is not realistic that both can be supported in the future as they have been in the past without very large increases in taxes.

However, despite what the critics may say, it should be noted that the Trump budget ends up balanced in 2027. Yes, it does take GDP growth of 3% in the out years to get there. Yes, it does require some reforms. However, it still has a pot of $4 trillion budgeted for the social needs of 320 million people in spite of any so-called "cuts". This budget will probably never be approved by the Congress but it is certainly not "insane" or "inhumane".

That is a lot more than can be said about the last Obama budget that projected an $800 billion deficit in 2026 and going higher after that.

What do you call that?

A day of reckoning is coming sooner or later.

Someone will pay. There is no free lunch in the end.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump's OMB Director, has shown in this budget that the first choice for that "someone" is not going to be the taxpayer.

You would think that somehow, someway our representatives in Washington could find a way to live within a $4 trillion budget.

However, with government, no matter the size of the budget, is is never enough.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Big, Strong and Fast

I have watched NFL football for 60 years.

I grew up watching the Cleveland Browns in the late 1950's on Sunday afternoons on a small black and white television in our knotty pine paneled den.

Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell, Lou Groza, Dick Modzelewski, Galen Fiss, Paul Wiggin, Milt Plum and Preston Carpenter were some of the big names on those teams.

In those days the NFL only played 12 regular season games. There were no playoffs, wild card games or Super Bowl. The only post-season game was the Championship game between the Eastern and Western Conference (unless a tie in the conference standings necessitated a playoff as occurred in 1958 with the Browns losing to the New York Giants).


Jim Brown in the 1957 NFL Championship game
Credit:Wikipedia

The players were also more evenly matched in size than they are today. A running back like Jim Brown who was 6'2', 230 pounds might be running behind an offensive line that averaged 6'3, 245 pounds and a defensive line that was about the same size.

Players today are bigger, stronger and faster and there is a wider distribution of sizes in the players. These all might be factors in what seems to be a higher rate of injuries than we used to see 50 years ago.

I recently came across this data visualization tool that Noah Veltman developed that shows the distribution of the heights and weights of NFL players since 1920.

Look at these NFL player sizes in 1920. There are many high school teams that have more size than this today.




Here is a snapshot of NFL player sizes in 1960. Players over 6'5" and 280 pounds were practically non-existent. Notice also how there was a pretty concentrated core of players that were between 6'0 and 6'3" and 200 to 250 pounds




By 1980 you can see that players were getting taller but you still did not see 6'6'', 300 pound offensive linemen. You also begin to see a larger dispersion of heights and weights. Linemen and linebackers begin to get much bigger with most of the skill positions staying about the same. From that point until today the increased specialization in the sport has meant wider variations in the sizes of the players on the field.




2014 was the last year that Veltman did the data analysis and by this time you can see there is a very wide dispersion in the sizes of players. In addition, there are a lot of players over 300 pounds with most of those being 6'3 or taller.

Of course, today a quarterback that is less than 6'3" is immediately suspect because of concerns they will not be able to see over their own offensive lineman or complete a pass over the outstretched arms of opposing rushers.




SB Nation also developed another interesting data visualization of the hometowns (rather than the college they attended) of all of the first round NFL draft picks over the last ten years. This gives a better view of where the top NFL talent is being born and bred.




As you might expect, most of the talent comes from the large population centers in the country. There are only so many people blessed with the size, strength and speed with the potential to play in the NFL. You are simply more likely to find it where there is a larger pool of human beings.

The populations centers of metro NYC, Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington shows up red hot on the heat map as do the metro areas around Miami, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago.

The Southeast United States and Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are also fertile grounds for future NFL talent.

Here is a heat map close-up of the Southeastern United States.




Over the last 10 years, Texas is home to more NFL first rounders (38) than any other state. California (35) and Florida (31) have been other fertile areas for top NFL draft talent.

However, interestingly in the 2017 draft, not one player who hailed from Florida was selected in the first round.

The state with the most first rounders in 2017?

My home state of Ohio with four.

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears,  (#2 Overall)
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints (#11)
Gareon Conley, CB, Raiders (#24)
Taco Charlton, DE, Cowboys (#28)

The complete list of where the 2017 NFL first rounders hailed from.

Credit: SBNation


Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Social Justice": It Doesn't Compute

You can't go a day any more without hearing the term "social justice."

Liberal progressives like to throw the term around in their quest to transform our culture, society and country.

To them, injustice is everywhere. Everything is unfair. You have too much money. You don't pay enough in taxes. You use too much energy. Your parents were better than mine. Your school is better than mine. Your health care is better than mine. Your job is better than mine.

To liberal progressives, "social justice" is defined as equality in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privileges in our society.

That covers a lot of ground but I had no idea that the "social justice" warriors are now even pointing their fingers at mathematics as a tool of social injustice "because it has historically been used to oppress people". (For further background read this National Review article)

Yes, 2=2=4, 4x4=16, xa+xb= x(a+b) mathematics.




How has mathematics been used as a tool of oppression?

This is how Teach for America and EdX explain it as reported by Campus Reform.

...for centuries, mathematics has been used as a dehumanizing tool. Does one’s IQ fall on the lower half of the bell curve? Mathematics tells us that individual is intellectually lacking. Mathematics formulae also differentiate between the classifications of a war or a genocide and have even been used to trick indigenous people out of land and property.

In other words, because mathematics shows that some people are in the bottom half in intellectual capacity it is a tool of oppression?

It is also beyond me how mathematics has been used to trick anyone out of land or property. If a tribal chieftain personally placed a higher value on cloth and beads than on the island of Manhattan what does that have to do with mathematics?

Speaking of mathematics, I pointed out in a previous blog post that had the Indians, who traded Manhattan Island to the Dutch for $24 in cloth and beads, invested that amount from 1626 until today at 7.2% (the rule of 72 in mathematics says that a sum will double in value in every 10 years at 7.2% interest) that $24 would now be worth in excess of $10 trillion. ( Since I wrote that blog post in 2011 that number today is closer to $15 trillion.)




To put that number in context, the New York City Department of Finance places a total current market value on all the property in the borough of Manhattan at $421 billion in its annual property tax report for 2017. That includes all of the buildings on the land. Who got the better part of the deal when looking at that math?

All of this talk of "social justice" got me interested in where the term came from in the first place.

Michael Novak of The Heritage Foundation traces the roots of "social justice" back to the 1840's when the Catholic Church first developed the concept in his report "Social Justice: Not What You Think It Is". However, what "social justice" originally stood for is far different from how the term is being used today since it was hijacked by the liberal progressives.

The term social justice originally was coined as the Church saw the increasing challenges in transitioning from a rural agrarian society to a society centered more upon city life. On the farm, the focus of almost all pursuits was on the family unit. Almost everything the family needed was produced by the family unit on the farm. There was little dependence on others. You produced what you consumed and you wore many hats. Builder. Farmer. Repairman. Livestock Breeder. Veterinarian.

As people began moving from farms to cities in mass, the model changed. People could no longer depend on the family food supply. Family members spread far and wide in different jobs. People who used to be very independent in their lives became wage dependent for their needs. The changes put a lot of stress on families.

The Church understood that this new model of city living required a Christian with a deeper sense of the need for cooperation and a greater appreciation for the diversity of skills in their fellow human beings. In order to have a civil society people needed to have a spirit to cooperate and associate to solve problems by and among themselves or the state would exert more control to the detriment of individual freedom.


Pope Leo XIII
Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica

To this end, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical in 1891 that addressed what was meant by social justice from the Church's perspective. This quote is from that encyclical.

There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition.
Such inequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community. Social and public life can only be maintained by means of various kinds of capacity for business and the playing of many parts; and each man, as a rule, chooses the part which suits his own peculiar domestic condition

Novak summarizes what Pope Leo XIII said this way.

Thus, Leo XIII did not mean by "social justice" equality. On the contrary, Leo held that it's good that there's an unequal society. Some people are fitted for different kinds of work, and it's wonderful to be able to find the work that fits your talents. This had been an argument that the founders of the United States used to justify a commercial system: that it provided more opportunities for a wider range of skills than farming life did, so it allowed a much larger range of talents to mature and to develop as people found different niches for themselves.

In the way that social justice was first conceived by the Church it was not about trying to equalize differences, it was about utilizing those differences in a positive manner for the common good and for the benefit of the wider community.

Social justice is learning how to form small bands of brothers who are outside the family who, for certain purposes, volunteer to give time and effort to accomplishing something.
In a word, social justice is--a virtue, a habit that people internalize and learn, a capacity. It's a capacity that has two sides: first, a capacity to organize with others to accomplish particular ends and, second, ends that are extra-familial. They're for the good of the neighborhood, or the village, or the town, or the state, or the country, or the world.

It is also important to understand that all of this social justice had nothing to do with state authority stepping in to redistribute or equalize anything. In fact, Pope Leo said that to try to do so would be useless. The lowest in a civil society could never be made equal with the highest. He also made clear that Socialists would attempt to agitate on those differences but they could never deliver on their promises.

These were the exact words of Pope Leo XIII.
Therefore, let it be laid down in the first place that in civil society, the lowest cannot be made equal with the highest. Socialists, of course, agitate the contrary, but all struggling against nature is in vain.

Novak concludes by making the point that the notion of social justice is ideologically neutral as it really is about using people to organize, associate and cooperate for the common good.
Finally, it's important to note that this notion of social justice is ideologically neutral. It's as common to people on the Left to organize and form associations, to cooperate in many social projects, as it is to people on the Right. This is not a loaded political definition, but it does avoid the pitfall (on the Left) of thinking that social justice means distribution, √©galit√©, the common good only as determined by state authority, and so forth. It also avoids the pitfall (on the Right) of thinking of the individual as unencumbered, closed-up, self-contained, self-sufficient. 

What do I make of all this modern day "social justice" talk?

When the liberal progressives are making the argument that mathematics has been a tool of social injustice it really speaks to how far off the rails today's "social justice" movement is.

When you add in the background and history of what social justice was originally considered to involve, it does not take a mathematician to figure it out.

"Social Justice", as it is being promoted by the liberal progressives, simply does not compute.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hang Together or Hang Separately?

Over the years that I have followed politics there has been one major difference between the two major political parties in the United States.

Democrats always circle the wagons around their own. They don't admit mistakes. They don't criticize their leader. They always stick to the party line. They always stick together no matter how bad it seems to be.

The Republicans follow a completely different path. I don't know if it is because they believe they are driven by values and virtues but they are far less likely to stay the course on anything. There seems to be no glue holding any of them together.

Democrats follow the advice that Benjamin Franklin gave his fellow signers of the Declaration of Independence shortly after they declared independence from Great Britain.

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Republicans, on the other hand, seem to follow this 16th century proverb.

"Every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost."

Contrast the difference in how the impeachment proceedings of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton played out.

Richard Nixon lost the support of a minority in his own party when there were impeachment hearings and was forced to resign.

Bill Clinton was actually impeached by the full House (only 5 Democrats voted for one of the articles of impeachment) but not one Democrat in the Senate voted for his conviction.

Bill Clinton would not have survived in office if the Democrats had not stuck together.

Richard Nixon did not survive because his own party did not hang together behind him.

Consider as well the differences we already see between the Obama and Trump administrations.

Barack Obama's administration was wracked by scandal upon scandal.

Benghazi.

IRS scandal.

Hillary Clinton email server.

Solyndra.

Operation Fast and Furious.

Spying on Journalists.

NSA spying scandal.

Iran nuclear deal and ransom payment.

How many times did Democrats say these should be investigated more fully even though there were massive conflicts of interest involving the Obama Administration and its Justice Department?

ZERO.

How many special counsels or independent prosecutors were appointed?

ZERO.

However, here we are barely four months into the Trump administration and we already have a special counsel appointed to investigate Russian collusion in the election.

Would this have happened to Hillary Clinton if the tables were reversed? Not in a million years.

The Democrats would never have allowed it.

Just as important, the media would not have allowed  it.

The media actively turned down the volume on every one of the scandals mentioned above to protect Obama and the Democrats. With regard to Trump and the Republicans, the media does nothing but amplify anything and everything they can to advance their anti-Trump agenda.

Of course, Donald Trump has one other problem that is unique to him.

He is not really accepted by the Republicans on Capitol Hill as one of their own. Therefore, it makes evereything even more difficult for President Trump. He truly is in the swamp and most Republicans officeholders would be just as happy to see him bogged down in their swamp. There are probably only a handful that are truly interested in giving him a hand at draining the swamp.

Does the GOP have it wrong?

Do the Democrats have it right?

I would not like to think that circling the wagons and ignoring all values and principles is the way to conduct yourself. However, you have to look at the facts.  The Democrats have gotten the results they wanted. The Republicans win elections but get very little in the way of results.

Like it or not, Trump now represents the Republican Party in the minds of most Americans. Those GOP officeholders might think there is some distinction between themselves and Trump but I can guarantee you it is lost on 90% of Americans.

I wrote about all of this last June right at the time that Trump was securing the nomination but when many GOP officeholders were on the fence about Trump in a blog post titled "Risky Business".

Every Republican politician has to make a high risk decision whether they are on or off the Trump Train. It is a decision fraught with risk to those in office.
The people are sovereign in our system. Their power is absolute  Unfortunately, too many people don't believe it. The simple fact is that politicians have no power unless the people provide it.
Laws that do not have public backing do not survive over the long term. Lawmakers who make laws that people do not support do not stay in office very long. Politicians who do not do the will of the people soon need to find other employment.
We have heard many in the Republican Establishment say that Donald Trump does not represent the principles and values of the Republican Party. He might not represent what the Republican Party has been heretofore. However, if he wins in November, Donald Trump will be the Republican Party. The people will have made the decision of what it now stands for and against. Those that aren't supporting Trump will be at risk of not serving much longer. That is just the way the power of the people works. 

The Republicans on Capitol Hill need to understand what Benjamin Franklin said and what the Democrats practice.

They better starting learning to hang together.

If not, they will assuredly all hang separately in the very near future.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Baby Data Dump

I have an interest in demographics and have written about it from time to time in BeeLine.

It is a window to the future that is too often overlooked or ignored.  The long-term trends are often the most difficult to see in the 24 hour news cycle world we live in today.  In this day and age when there is so much focus on the trees (even the leaves at times!), demographics forces you to look at the forest.

I have been tracking U.S. birth rates for a number of years. The birth rate data for 2015 was recently released by the National Vital Statistics System section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A few factoids from the report.

  • There were 3,978,497 reported births in the U.S. in 2015
    • That is 1% lower than in 2014
  • 40.3% of the births were to unmarried women
    • In 1960, only 5.3% of birth were to unwed mothers as shown in the chart below.
    • 70.1% of black babies and 53% of Hispanic babies were born to unwed mothers in 2015.
    • Rate for Whites is 36.8% and Asians is 16.4%

Credit: Child Trends Databank

  • There are more babies born to mothers in the age 25-29 age group than any other age cohort. The age 30-34 cohort now has more babies than does the age 20-24 group.
    • However, the birth rate per 1,000 for women 25-29 and 20-24 is the lowest it has ever been in the history of the U.S.
    • The total fertility rate for all women over their lifetimes is 1.84 children. This is below the 2.1 replacement rate necessary to maintain a stable population. It has been below this level since 1971.
  • Teen births continue to decline.
    • Teen births are at a record low. Births to teens are 46% below their levels in 2007 and  about 1/3 of what they were in 1960.
  • Births of twins dropped slightly from its all-time high in 2014---33.5 per 1,000 births compared to 33.9 in 2014. Triplets and higher-order births are decreasing---down 46% since 1998 peak.
    • There were 133,115 sets of twins born during the year
    • 24 sets of quintuplets were born during the year. These births used to get all sorts of publicity. When is the last time you saw anything about this on the news?
  • Six women of age 19 had their 8th child  (or more) during 2015! (Are you kidding me?)
    • Three Hispanic women, Two white women, one black woman 
  • 754 women age 50-54 gave birth to a child during the year
    • 232 were first births (Congratulations! However, these mothers will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare when their kids are teenagers. Good luck as well!)

The chart below shows births from 1950 through 2015 in order to give you some better perspective on historical birth rates.  This is a chart that I have been tracking since the early 1990's.

You can see the Baby Boom period which existed up until 1965. It was followed by what I call the Baby Dearth period which lasted roughly from 1966-1986. There was not one year in this 20-year period in which births were above 3.8 million.

1986 to 2009 might be called the Baby Boom Echo period.

However, since 2010 there has not been one year in which births have exceeded 4 million.




Where are we headed with births in the future?

Boom or bust?

It is already a bust in most of the rest of the developed world. And the UN expects that trend to continue and extend to the rest of the world between now and 2050 until most countries are below the replacement rate.




Why does it matter?

Economies need people.  They need them to invent things, build things and to buy things.  They need them to invest and innovate.  They need them to start new businesses.  They need them to pay taxes. If you don't have a supply of new people replacing older people in a society you begin to shrink and you eventually shrivel away.

When the old outnumber the young you are heading for big problems. Who buys the real estate that has been built? Does a 60-year want to start a business?  Most inventions and innovations have historically come from those in their 20's and 30's than in their 50's and 60's.  Thomas Edison invented the phonograph at age 30.  Alexander Graham Bell was 29 when he invented the telephone. Steve Wozniak invented the Apple I computer at age 26. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both age 25 when they incorporated Google.  If you don't replenish with enough young blood, you really do die as an economy and and as a society.

We are already in uncharted territory in historical terms on birth rates. It could become even more uncharted in the future.