Law Enforcement

Dick Cheney has gone through great lengths over the past few years to de-classify CIA documents in an effort to prove that torture and general CIA law-breaking were the best (nay, only!) way to stop terrorists.

And yet while Cheney has come up basically empty-handed, proof-wise, the FBI seems to be racking up the arrests using good, old-fashioned legal methods.

Cash for … Yokohama

Detroit Free Press has an interesting analysis of Cash for Clunkers.  Unlike the government’s own analyisis, which did not aggregate sales data across 2x and 4x models, the Freep totalled the sales numbers for all types of vehicles together. Among the findings:

* Trucks, including that paragon of fuel efficiency, the Chevy Silverado (14 mpg city) were 3 of the top 10 selling vehicles.  The Ford F150 (14 or 15 mpg city, depending on the model), was 11th on the list.

* Foreign automakers — the Japanese and Koreans in particular — made a killing on the program, with 5 of the top 10 models and over 60% of the total sales.  This included the single best-selling car, the Toyota Corolla.

* Chrysler, much-publicized recipient of a US-government bailout, managed just 6.6% of total sales under the program, behind Hyundai and well behind the leading sellers.

Despite the Administration’s claims that average fuel economy was improved by 9 mpg for those who participated in the program, it’s time to just abandon the lie.  Cash for Clunkers was a subsidy to US consumers, nothing more, nothing less.  To its credit, the Government, as a major stakeholder in both GM and Chrysler, might’ve slapped a “made in America” provision on the program.  Thankfully, they at least resisted that urge.

Historical Unemployment Rates

“MontyWanker” wants to see historical unemployment rates by education level, noting, “the anecdotal evidence suggests that this recession was a lot tougher on white collar college-educated workers.”

S/he’s right. It is useless without context. Fortunately, the BLS can provide! Below is a sampling of the unemployment rate in August of each year, going back to 1999. I picked August because that was the last month available for 2009, and I wanted recent numbers.


Clearly the recession’s hit all chunks of the population, but I think this shows that it’s hit the least-educated very hard. It might have been harder on the college-educated than previous recessions, but in terms of percentage unemployment, those with no high school degree got hit bad. Which makes sense, given the loss of manufacturing and construction jobs.

PS: Keep in mind that when we see an unemployment number in the headlines, what we’re seeing is the “U3” unemployment measure, which only counts people who are still actively looking for work. That number just hit 9.7%. If you count the underemployed and those who have given up looking (known as “U6), the number is 16.8%.

Insuring Illegal Immigrants

If you don’t want to give illegal immigrants subsidies to buy health insurance, fine.

But if they come with their own money, why not let them? They’ll keep the costs down for the rest of us (they tend to be younger and healthier than the population as a whole), and it’ll make it less attractive to hire illegal labor (a legal resident is more expensive for a business to hire because the business would have to buy health insurance for them).

DMI Update

Central District News has an update on the Drug Market Initiative that we discussed on a recent podcast:

Overall, eleven participants are still in the program and have avoided further issues with law enforcement. Here’s how they break out:

  • Two are currently in drug treatment to work on addiction issues that they previously supported through drug dealing
  • One has agreed to enter the GOTS program, which will give them housing stability, group support, and further drug treatment if they need it
  • One man is now enrolled in Bellevue Community College
  • One man wanted to go into fashion design, so a case worker found him a sewing machine to help him get started

There’s more at the link. We’ll return to this on a later podcast, but what really strikes me is this: how do you deal with the poverty of imagination? What happens when someone has spent a life in poverty simply can’t visualize what a new life might look like?