Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Perception Problem of Large Felines, and Other Species

In the Big Cat Republic, deep in the wild jungle, two different types of animals live together.  The lions and leopards generally get along well, often sharing dens and living happily ever after, and the laws call for them to have equal rights. 

For generations immemorial, though, that had not been the case.  Leopards had generally been considered inferiors, even by those in their own species.  The Big Cat legal system reflected that, and lions enjoyed much more freedom.  In particular, leopards were prevented, formally or strongly informally, from pursuing many ways of getting food, which the lions could do to the limits of their abilities and ambitions.  Lions often convinced leopards that they were incapable of doing the things they themselves did, and, through tradition along with the strong inertia characterizing interspecies change, that remained the way for untold ages.

Relatively recently, though, they had had a revolution.  When today’s elders had just finished their cubhoods, many leopards and a remarkable share of lions began publicly questioning the interspecies status quo.  Leopards should be equal, they said.  In a remarkably fast turnaround, laws were put into place, and, in far less than half of a normal leopard or lion lifespan, leopards were guaranteed the same privileges and opportunities as lions.  In the Big Cat Republic, it became the law of the land that leopards could hunt or gather edibles in all ways allowed to lions.

Of course, after untold generations of tradition, not all lions or leopards internalized the changes.  Many lions still tried to stop leopards from getting the food they wanted.  When their actions were overt, they were found in violation of the law and penalized.  Large numbers of leopards, themselves, had been reared in a different world, and continued acting as if they were limited, while others avidly pursued the food acquisition techniques denied to their female ancestors.  In the meantime, lions were not only free, but were still expected, far more than for leopards, to get as much food as they could. 

As the interspecies revolution became solidified, lions and leopards wanted to know how they, compared to each other, were faring in general.  Overall statistics showed that leopards, who were getting an average of two-thirds as much food as lions soon after the laws were changed, were still only at four-fifths half of a lifetime later. 

Was this a problem, and if so, what was causing it?  Lions and leopards disagreed within and between themselves, but predominant communication said that it must be because leopards were still being discriminated against.  Other statistics, though, told a different story.  More leopards than lions, the numbers said, made life choices to seek food in ways that were easier, safer, less stressful, more personally fulfilling, and gave them more time to do other things.  Perhaps more than any other factor, many leopards sharing dens with lions continued to let them gather most of the food.  As a result, leopards, again on general average, lived almost 10% longer than lions, something treated as a fact of life by both and never, even by lions, publicly cited as evidence of unfair treatment. 

As the evidence became clear, and more and more lions and leopards with modern attitudes replaced those with others, did the Big Cat Republic animals make their peace with the issue and recognize the disadvantages and advantages accrued by leopards as mainly a matter of valid personal choices?  Unfortunately not.  Leopards with the rearing and preferences to point them toward being equal hunters with lions showed no understanding of why others were not the same – it seemed incomprehensible to them that many of their fellow country-leopards preferred to raise cubs, feed in less life-dominating ways, and depend more on lions.  As a result, they continued publicizing the food gap and maintaining, despite the laws being firm and penalties severe, they as a species were still being heavily discriminated against.  They were either unaware or not admitting that when equally prepared for and focused on getting large amounts of food, there was no statistical gap between them and similar lions.  And many lions and leopards following this issue, as susceptible to logical fallacies as were certain tall simian bipeds, believed that, despite small and ever-shrinking amounts of true inequity against leopards (and not all Big Cat interspecies discrimination went in that direction), that was obviously the cause. 

Will the good felines of the Big Cat Republic end this worry?  I hope so.  And if they do, maybe there is hope for Americans to properly understand earnings differences between the sexes.

Friday, January 4, 2019

December Jobs Data: Another Strange but Good Month – Per AJSN, We’re Now 15.8 Million Jobs Short

The headline number in this morning’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary was indeed an eye-grabber.  With economic and governmental turmoil and a sharply dropping stock market, I thought the projection of 177,000 net new nonfarm positions was high.  Not only was it not, it was more than 100,000 short, as that came in at a huge 312,000. 

Did the other numbers follow?  Not like that, and in many cases not at all.  Both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted unemployment were up 0.2%, at 3.9% and 3.7% respectively, with the adjusted number of jobless up almost 300,000 to 6.3 million.  While the labor force participation rate gained 0.2% to 63.1%, the employment-population ratio sat at 60.6%, meaning the outcomes were split for the two statistics showing how common it is for Americans to be on labor’s front lines.  The count of people officially jobless for 27 weeks or longer held at 1.3 million, but those working part-time for economic reasons, or holding on to part-time opportunities while looking unsuccessfully so far for full-time ones, fluctuated to 4.7 million, down 100,000 after going up twice that last month.  The second most striking change, though, was also positive, as private nonfarm payroll wages were up 11 cents per hour, or about double the inflation rate, to reach $27.48.

The American Job Shortage Number, the measure showing latent demand for work, was hurt by rises in both the numbers of unemployed and those wanting opportunities but not looking for them for a year or more, and increased 328,000, as follows:

Smaller but substantial offsets to the AJSN’s upsurge were changes in the count of those discouraged, off 78,000, and a crash in the number of those in the armed forces, in institutions, or off the grid, over 1 million lower.  Compared with a year before, the AJSN is down 446,000, helped most by about 250,000 fewer unemployed, 100,000 fewer discouraged, and 2.6 million out of the miscellaneous category above. 

Was December a good month?  With that stunning gain in jobs, certainly.  Was it a great month?  No, not really.  The rises in the unemployment rates, which seem caused by the common good-times effect of more people joining the labor force than can get work, do not bother me.  My cause for concern is, despite clear-cut overall prosperity, visible in several of the fringe numbers, specifically long-term unemployed, working part-time for economic reasons, not wanting a job, and, more than anything else, the over 3 million claiming interest in working but not seeing fit to look for it for a year or more.  The lack of progress in these areas say that our continued employment growth is leaving too many people behind.  It does no good for those past the half-year mark of collecting unemployment benefits (or seeing them end), proving themselves at short-hours positions while getting nowhere at working as much as they want, or keeping themselves on the shelf despite harboring hopes of finding something suitable which never seems to materialize, to read about opportunities elsewhere, in other industries, or at other levels.  What is happening with these people needs more attention.  In the meantime, though, the turtle, once again, took a step forward.