Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Subscriber Services | 928 Media Lab | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Obits | Yellow Pages | TV Listings | Contact Us
The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : opinions : columns August 01, 2014

1/3/2012 9:58:00 PM
Column: More revealing studies out there than you think
Most informative charts of the year
Chart 7 here shows corporate profits. The others are on a variety of topics.

Wall Street Journal "Profits rise in weak recovery".

Barry Ritholtz, causes of the economic crash.

CBPP charts here referenced "Employment - Population Ratio", and Recovery Act charts "Gross Domestic Product" and "Unemployment Rate".

Jared Berstein's list here references US comparative tax level in chart 3, and proportion of Bush tax cuts in the deficit in chart 6, and debt in chart 7.

Reuters, Federal Reserve data on corporate taxes.

CBPP's "Top Ten Tax Charts" shows taxes on a middle-income family in chart 2.

State corporate taxes are given in an interactive graphic here. Click on the arrows to step through it.

US health costs and coverage here. The links to both the "Article Chart Pack" and the "OECD Chart Pack" have good information. The column references the first OECD chart.

The Bipartisan Policy Center chart "Long-Run Spending Growth Boils Down to Health Care" is near the end of the piece here.

Pew Research graph "Does Hard Work Lead to Success" is here.

The Economic Policy Institute on spending on core government functions is on page 10 download here, the chart and the last paragraph.

The ratio of government to private workers is here in the second chart.

Robert Reich's "The Limping Middle Class". See the link to the graphic.

Rise and fall of the portion of economy of the lower 90 percent is here.

The declining share of the economy that goes to workers is here.

Tom Cantlon
Courier Columnist

We are visual creatures, and sometimes a chart or graph makes things clearer than rattling off numbers. Here are my picks for the most informative charts of the year. I can't show them but I'll run down the list, describe why they are important, and point you to the links. Several of these are presented in bundles by blogs and think tanks which make it easy to review them.

Charts are only as good as the data and the analysis behind them. All of these ultimately draw their data from solid sources, like the Federal Reserve or the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and none has any distortion in how they are presented that I know of.

Start off with a good one. If you look up Ezra Klein's end-of-the-year review of charts, the seventh chart shows that corporate profits have recovered from the recession. We hope employment will follow. The Wall Street Journal covered this profits/jobs disconnect, with some graphics, in their "Profits rise in weak recovery".

Barry Ritholtz did a great job explaining the cause of the crash in "Facts of the economic crisis" and provided charts. For instance, he showed how the crash was global and so could not have been primarily a product of U.S. housing policies aimed at our low-income neighborhoods.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in its "Recovery Watch" has a chart labeled "Employment-Population Ratio" which shows we had reached a high of about 65 percent of the population employed in 2000, now down to about 58 percent. The same piece shows how much further the economy would have fallen, and how much higher unemployment would have risen, without the Recovery Act.

Jared Bernstein's end-of-the-year list of charts has one showing the U.S. is almost the lowest taxed country among developed nations. Corporate taxes, the amount actually paid, are also at or near historic lows relative to both profit and GDP. Reuters presented this data from the Federal Reserve. CBPP's "Top Ten Tax Charts" also shows federal income taxes on a middle income family are at their lowest since the mid-1950s. State corporate taxes, too. AZCentral's "A shrinking tax bill" shows they are down to 1/4 what they were in 1989, and in three years will be down to 1/10 of what they were.

Two charts I've used repeatedly are part of that same set from Berstein. They show that by far the biggest factor driving our deficit is the Bush tax cuts.

The other big factor in future deficits is the cost of healthcare, not just for government programs but generally. We spend a lot more on it per person than any other major nation. The Common Wealth Fund charted it in its November international survey of patients. The Bipartisan Policy Center has a couple of charts at the end of its "The Super-Committee's opportunity" that make that even clearer.

A graph by Pew Research, released Dec. 15 tracks public perception of whether hard work will lead to success for most people, or whether other factors will thwart the reward of that hard work. Confidence in this has fallen from a high of 74 percent in 1999, to 58 percent today.

In the Economic Policy Institute piece, "We're not broke," the chart of core government spending shows it has been trending downward since the 1970s. This is not defense spending, which changes with wars, or Medicare, which changes with the aging population, but core functions as a part of the economy. Also a chart from the Federal Reserve, via "Where is the middle class going" at ModeledBehavior.com shows the ratio of government to private workers is at a historic low - the lowest it has been since WWII, and about one-third lower than it was in the mid-1970s.

Robert Reich had a great piece in the New York Times, "The Limping Middle Class," with graphs showing how things changed around 1980. Before that wages rose with productivity. After, wages were flat. Before, incomes rose for all levels; after, mostly for the top. Also that wealth accumulated just before the crash and Great Depression, then a period of middle-class prosperity, then wealth accumulated again to almost exactly the same point just before our recent crash. That's also in a Washington Post graphic "(Not) Spreading the wealth" showing the portion of the economy the lower 90 percent have. That rose after the Great Depression while we had a solid middle-class, holding steady until around 1980, then rolled off after that. Similarly David Frum had a graphic from the Bureau of Labor statistics showing the declining share of the economy that goes to workers, in "Incredible shrinking workers' income".

Check them all out. They paint an informative picture.

Tom Cantlon is a longtime local resident, business owner and writer. Contact him at TomCantlon@TomCantlon.com.

Related Stories:
• Letter: Sources that tell half the story are no good

    Recently Commented     Most Viewed
Editorial: To get results, you must act (5 comments)
No settlement in Riley v. Prescott lawsuit (5 comments)
Letter: US inaction invites immigrant overload (20 comments)
91-year-old facing lower income, higher bills seeks solutions (10 comments)
Column: Chicago-style politics spread worldwide (24 comments)

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 06, 2012
Article comment by: Hokas Pokas

@ Don Welch:

It is interesting how you are so willing to lecture us, "Americans," as to how we should be willing to understand our "problems" yet will dismiss so offhandedly new information. I guess you must know it all. Dr. Rosling may be unknown to you, since he may not have appeared on NPR, but he is certainly known in the rest of the world. It is a shame you choose to remain in your world of ignorance. If I were Tom Cantlon, which, of course, I am not, I would give little regard to your high praise. Incidentally, as near as I can tell, Dr. Rosling is far from being a right wing zealot and I would guess his politics may lean more to the left.

@ trickyrick smith:

If you took even a cursory glance at my referenced web site you would have noticed that the information provided is constantly updated. I believe 2010 is the most recent year. In fact, you are blind to the evidence that the very evils you refer to are creating the improvement in world health and the spread of wealth. Please educate yourself.

@ Tom Cantlon:

I cannot disagree with you. I have seen the videos of Dr. Rosling, and his presentation of the "magic washing machine" is great. Of course he is discussing economics in general, not the specifics of the situation in the U.S. that you have brought to light. And of course, the "free market" has different interpretations around the world.

You do bring up some good points for discussion. I will spare everyone and offer a comment on a couple of things. First, of course there was a collapse in international lending market due to sub-prime loans. This was not a program exclusively promoted in the U.S. These loans were encouraged by relaxed underwriting standards by FNMA and FHLMC, and in no way limited to those institutions. These policies were encouraged by the politicians. If the U.S. government back it, it must be good. Second, it's hard to believe that federal discretionary spending (core spending) has not gone up. For example: Dept. of Education in 2007 about $66.3B and in 2010, $92.8 B. Or, Dept. of Energy 2007, about $20 B and 2010, $30.7 B. And, Dept. of Transportation, in 2007, about $61.7 B and in 2010, $77.7 B. Or the Dept. of Labor, 2007, $47.5 B, 2010, $173 B. The information in this graph is distorted, since government spending (including medicare, medicaid and social security) is included in GDP and you only calculate discretionary spending as a percentage of GDP it can appear to go down, when in fact it has gone up. There is plenty more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals/

This info is from table 4.1.

Congratulations on your new book.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: Don Welch

To gun totin:

Noting someone’s known agenda is no substitute for dealing earnestly and fairly with the facts. If the doctor said you had cancer you wouldn’t disbelieve him because he votes differently from you.

I’m suggesting that if you don’t like Cantlon’s ‘agenda’ that it would be much more productive, and responsible, to point out specifically where the facts he presents are in error. Even better, share your numbers with us, appropriately linked.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: A gun totin' Libertarian

To Don Welch: Mr. Cantlon has an agenda, and a politcal bias which, to his credit, he is honest about. His columns are crafted carefully support that agenda and bias. I see nothing wrong with people on the other side pointing that is what he does.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: trickyrick smith

Hocus pokus, while 'free market' capitalism may have increased wealth & heath in the past, in this day and age of globalism, Multinational Corporations increase inequality and increase poverty everywhere in the world.

As Neo Conservatism spectacularly failed, Neo Liberalism has utterly failed as well. Time for new economic thought to address the 21st Century.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Bowden

Tom: So when you said the federal government is smaller than people think it is, you really meant a small part of the federal government is smaller than people think it is. Thanks for the clarification. Maybe you don't see the difference.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: open book

"... a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest."
Paul Simon, 1968

Thank you, Mr. Cantlon, for the information and references so that we may become more informed if we choose.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: There you go again

Surprise, most of Tom's article supports 'reliable' figures that support the liberal agenda. Figures don't lie, but liars figure. Courier: Keep publishing this liberal drival and your subscriptions will continue to fall.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: Garvin Mardens

Quit trolling, Windberg.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2012
Article comment by: Don Welch

Great post and interesting reactions from various commenters. I can't imagine a more concise demonstration of how people resist information if it doesn't agree with their current worldview.

Cantlon has provided data from credible sources and generously provided links to those sources so the reader can make his own judgments about the quality of the data and what that data might mean. The responses from commenters vary from 'statistics lie" to accusing Cantlon of being a Marxist. One guy even countered with a link to some unknown guy in Switzerland that has a different view. Another complained about too much homework.

It seems to me that every American should want to understand what happened to our economy. What really happened Not spin..

Politicians, media outlets, lobbyists all have built in reasons to lie to us. They have a priority to protect their investments, their salaries and their quest for power. But not us...not we the people. And the only way for us to approach the truth, as fellow Americans, is to share the information we have found with each other, citing our sources and making it as easy as possible to go check the information for ourselves.

Cantlon has done that here and should be commended. Those of you who are discomfited by these facts should play their part by helping all of us understand where the data is wrong and by providing your own sources to credible data, hopefully linked for convenience.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Cantlon

To Hokas Pokas, yes! I have seen Hans Rosling's work and it's impressive. You can see a number of his talks at TED.com. Some of it confirms over history how freer countries, and countries with freer markets, fared better than controlled countries like China before their transformation. I certainly wouldn't dispute that. I'm a fan of the free-market and capitalism, when real and not just crony capitalism, and am not surprised at his data. Over the last couple hundred years here and in Europe, though, we have had many slight variations in the free-market and capitalism, and in some, even if the country is prosperous, workers get a bum deal. In others workers do all right that is jobs, and jobs with decent pay. There is no pure system it's always a mixture of policies and priorities and more or less tolerance of cronyism. I just prefer the variations that end up with lots of jobs, and workers get a good deal for their work.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: He Insisted

Cantlon, if you don't know you are a Marxist or just want to deny it, that doesn't change the facts. Have you ever read Marx? You believe in a collectivist society, where a powerful central government forces everyone in to a state of "equality". That's Marxism in its purest form. You are against a free market that allows some to succeed more than others. That's clearly Marxist thought. You suppport mass illegal immigration in order to dillute our culture and weaken our overall resolve as a free people with a democratic style government. That's specifically Marxist-revolutionary doctrine. You believe that fairness is more important than freedom. Marxist. I could go on. I'll grant that you are a good mouthpiece for Marxist ideology. You do an effective job of putting forth the propoganda in a way that seems friendly as well as substantive. Your selection of mostly leftist sources and the cherry-picked, biased "data" resulting from a lot of the slanted "research" is clever, yet rather simple Marxist technique. Tossing in the "Wall Street Journal" to try and balance out your sourcing was pretty lame. But very Marxist. The basic premise of your column is that what Obama has been doing for the past 3 years has been good for the economy and is moving us in the right direction. Obama clearly has Marxist tendencies and you support him. Marxist.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Hokas Pokas

Yes, Tom, charts and graphs give us a nice picture of what some folks think is going on.

I have one for you, courtesy of Hans Rosling, a Swedish medical doctor and statistician. One of his goals is to "cross the river of myths" by making data and statistics readily understandable. One myth he addresses is how free market capitalism, rather than creating poverty and despair, has increased the wealth and health of ALL countries following its path.

You will find it at: http://www.gapminder.org/. And click on the "Gapminder World" tab at the top.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Cantlon

To Tom Bowden, the data is as presented. What I cited is core gov spending, roughly what is often referred to as discretionary spending. As the reference describes it, "transportation, education, health research, the environment, parks, energy, and other
domestic matters". It's what is normally meant when people talk about gov growing out of control, of a regulatory monster. Turns out the portion of the national economy spent on that, and the portion of the population employed in it, are at very low points for the post WWII era. A number of comments seem to kick up a lot of dust but don't cite anything in the links that is wrong. You may come to your own conclusion about what to do with these facts, but until some are shown to be wrong, their just facts. To Couldn't Resist, you label me a Marxist. I have a lot of writing publicly available. Show me where anything is Marxist. I favor progressive taxes, universal health care, policies like FDR's. You can label me an FDR-ist, but that's a long way from Marxist or a utopian. I am neither. I don't label you. Please do the same. Was there something I stated in the column you want to dispute, or some fact referenced that you want to show is in error?

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: open book

Thanks for the information Tom G. To clarify: would you have any measures to protect the environment such as water, air, and sooil. Also, what would be your plan for those Americans who do not have health insurance?

For Couldn't Resist: How do you feel about the bailouts? Were the banks and insurance companies "too big to fail" or should we have let them take the capitalist plunge for making bad business decisions?

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Bowden

"size of government are smaller than what is generally portrayed."

Apparently, Mr. Cantlon has no idea how much money $3.5T (federal government spending on an ANNUAL basis) really is. I suggest he inform himself, before trying to convince us it is "not large". There is no universe in which $3.5T is not a staggering amount of money.

That the federal government spends that per year while taking in $2T is an outrage. You gotta love the liberal line which is basically $3.5T is nothing, because we say it is nothing. Fortunately, people really are starting to think for themsleves. Not good news for the left.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: deductive reasoning

Did you hear about today's earthquake in Ohio caused by hydraulic fracking? "Drill Baby Drill"... You boneheads.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Couldn't Resist

Conservative policies and principles are not perfect and will never make everyone happy. But so far in the course of human existence, conservative (see Free Market, Democratic style government that promotes personal freedoms) ideals have proven to make the most people happy most of the time, compared to ALL other forms that have been tried in the world. On the other hand, Marxist, liberal ideology espoused by the likes of Cantlon HAVE PROVEN to make more people miserable more of the time, EVERYWHERE it has been implemented. Working to make our free, capitalist society work better for even more people should be the effort. Don't be fooled by the Marixsts like Cantlon who would seek to radically alter our society and thus our standard of living and overall happiness, in order to fit some leftist model of utopia.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom G

Hey Open book, I'd be drilling for oil everywhere its known to exists, mining for coal, signing up with Canada for their pipeline and the very first thing I would do is fully repeal the elephant in the room, ObamaCare.

Do you think the oil producing, energy independent countries of the world are in a constant recession/depression like we are?

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: An American

In 1900 the government 6.9% of GDP, in 2010 they spent 40% of GDP. 1900-1920 the per-capita spending was less than $200, it is now $10-$15 thousand per-capita. Government is on its way to increasing in size 100 times in 100 years.
If you are a household of 4 the government will spend $60k on your family. In order to balance the budget your family must pay $60k in taxes. The average median family income is about $50k
The liberal plan: ( eliminate taxes on 51% of the low earners, give them a whole bunch of free stuff they didn't lift a finger to earn, tax the heck out of everyone else. Come election time get the 51% to vote for the democrats and more free stuff and more taxes for the rest.)
Charts are just charts, but facts are facts, our nation is $15 trillion in debt.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: open book

Thanks for the article and links Tom.

To Tom G: That's quite a bit of Obama-smashing. Please give some specific alternatives that would get us to a better place faster. I have listened to the GOP candidates, and I haven't heard anything yet except some generalized platitudes and fear-mongering. I am really wanting to know som specifics on how the GOP lead us in the proper direction.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Cantlon

To Tom Steele, look at the whole set of data about causes of the crash. To Yeah Sure, you're welcome to disagree. You're not welcome to say I don't have people's "best interest in mind."

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Yeah Sure

I am reminded of the truth of the statement: There are lies, darn lies and statistics. Tell me what "truth" you want revealed, I can selectively develop all the charts and graphs you need to "prove it". (Robert Reich, for instance, now there's an unbiased and non-political source, well, only to anyone that has never watched the TV news.)

I would encourage readers to seek out the information that the political activist pundits like Mr. Cantlon will never share with you. There are always two sides, and you can count on people like Cantlon to only share one of them with you. Do your own research. Ignore the
political taking heads, they do not have your best interest in mind.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Cantlon

To Coyote, or should I say Trademarked Name, a lot of it is not depressing. Taxes and size of government are smaller than what is generally portrayed. And even what shows problems helps show what we need to change for things to improve. I take an optimistic view from that.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Most of Tom's references and comments support the liberal model what a surprise. I suggest his conclusion on the American collapse and the European recession is wrong. point one, Europe has a very high rate of government control and high taxation. This model places stability very high on the revenues and leveraged banking. Higherr than America. Point two, American mortgage backed securities were sold throughout the world without proper ratings by Moody's and other commission based raters. These securities were not created with the idea unqualified people would be allowed into the market. Consider this the weakest link in the chain model. And we can thank congress and the Frank-Dodd team for pushing legislation from the time Jimmy Carter started the process in 1977. So Mr. Cantlon, as the saying goes numbers don't lie but people do will misuse them.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Article comment by: Tom G

"Studies" are like polls, depending on WHOSE doing them, they are designed to return the desired result.

Businesses (and the rest of us for that matter) all have the "Sword of Damocles" hanging over our heads. We STILL do not know the scope of damage "ObamaCare" will inflict on us because "we're still reading it to find out what's in it" but so far the loss of jobs has been quite large.

No one knows what kind of taxation awaits them, especially if Obama gets 4 more years and we have seen what Obama's "pet" contributing corporations have done. GE has made massive profits of $5.5 BILLION in 2010 and $14 BILLION in 2011 without paying ANY US corporate taxes PLUS CEO Jeffy Immelt Obama's "jobs czar", has sent 35,000 former US GE jobs over seas. Not a peep about that from OWS, huh?

GM building plants in Mexico and Tashkent, Uzbekistan seems to be OK with you O-Bots as is sending 75,000 Gulf oil industry jobs to Brazil to fatten Demo Party owner/operator George Soros' wallet. Thousands of jobs hang on whether Obama accepts or vetoes the 1,379 mile Canadian Keystone oil pipeline to be added to our already 2.3 million miles of existing pipeline in the US.

Businesses will make money where money is to be made and as long as Obama and the Democrats consider the non-working, government-dependent they're primary voter base, the US jobs market and our economy will continue to stagnate. To keep his "voter base" as large as possible, he (and they) must establish every roadblock possible to thwart REAL jobs creation and a healthy economy.

Dem voter base Ref: "The Future of the Obama Coalition"

November 27, 2011, 11:34 pm

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.


  - Page 1 -  Page 2

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1300 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE- Rants&Raves
Find more about Weather in Prescott, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Quick Links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

 •  Submit your milestone notice

 •  Submit your letter to the editor

 •  Submit a news tip or story idea

 •  Place a classified ad online now

Find It Features Blogs Milestones Extras Other Publications Links
Classifieds | Subscriber Services | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Find Prescott Jobs | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Contact Us
© Copyright 2014 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Daily Courier is the information source for Prescott area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Prescott Newspapers Online is a service of Prescott Newspapers Inc. By using the Site, dcourier.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Prescott Newspapers Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info, Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2014 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved