Monday, April 05, 2010

Spring Surprises

The season is barely two weeks old and already there are things happening that most folks could not have predicted.

First, there's the President's little switch on the plans for more offshore drilling for oil. Evidently he's now more sure that the process can be done safely, even in a hurricane-prone region. I hope he's right.

Then there's the news that over one hundred Chinese coal miners were rescued after over a week of being trapped underground. Considering the way most trapped Chinese miners seem to end up, that's good news indeed, though I wonder how many of them are willing to go back down. My future wish for them is a real union - one with some authority, and the desire to put its members' interest ahead of production schedules and "cutting costs".

The NCAA would prefer that Bob Huggins NOT be the face of college basketball. His teams win, but he looks more like a member of the Russian mob than an "educator". He wears a black sweatsuit at games instead of a suit, and his reputation isn't squeeky clean. But in last Saturday's NCAA semifinal game between the Huggins-coached West Virginia and Duke, something happened that revealed a completely different side of the coach, at least to me. The WV star, Da'Sean Butler took the ball inside, where there was a collision. A second later, Butler was on the floor screaming in pain. Huggins was quickly at his side, trying to reassure his player in a manner that could only be called "tender" as he took his player's head in his arms and put his own face next to Butler's. Once again, I'm reminded that we can't really know people well just by seeing them perform on TV.

Finally, try to imagine a graph. This one starts with a single horizontal line representing the passage of time. Columns representing national job losses in a given month go DOWN from the line, with the length of the column determined by the number of jobs lost. A net positive jobs added is represented by a column going UP from the line, in the same fashion.
The last year of the Bush administration was brutal for jobs lost, as the downward monthly columns got longer as the year progressed. In January, 2009, the new administration takes office, and job losses continue near the same rate for a few months, but then the trend reverses itself to show fewer job losses (shorter columns). Finally, last month the economy actually ADDS jobs, and the column has a line going UP for the first time in about 30 months. The graph now looks like an upside-down pyramid, and if you are looking for work, you're now on the preferred side of the graph. Is it surprising? Yes it is, if you are a Republican who thinks tax cuts is the the answer to every economic woe. Of course, these folks are also surprised that they're wrong - again.


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