THE FACTS ABOUT…
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” – The Wizard of Oz to Dorothy and her entourage.
During the month of August 2012, NPRC member, Tim Bryce, wrote a series of columns entitled, “The Facts About…”
OUR GOVERNING DOCS – a repository of our federal instruments of government
These are four key areas pertaining to the 2012 elections. Below is a condensed version of his four articles to research these topics. Hope you find this useful.
As we approach the 2012 elections, voters are being bombarded with rhetoric from politicians who will either try to present facts supporting their policies or deceptive spin. So much so, it is easy for voters to become confused and not know who to trust. Education is critical to any voting decision, and we certainly cannot depend on the press or “think tanks” to present the facts with any unbiased accuracy. Therefore, the purpose of this column is to provide reliable references for voters to validate the data presented.
THE FACTS ABOUT: UNEMPLOYMENT
The responsibility for reporting unemployment at the federal government level is:
The BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, U.S. Department of Labor
This web site is considered the most authoritative source of unbiased labor related information. It is loaded with reports and tools for reporting on unemployment, productivity, pay, inflation, and much more. So vast is the amount of available statistics, it can become somewhat intimidating to navigate through the site. Fortunately, the cover of the site lists highlights, normally in date sequence. For example, it is here where you can easily access the latest “EMPLOYMENT SITUATION SUMMARY” which contains the lion’s share of information the average citizen should be made aware of.
The web site also produces some impressive tools for studying historical trends. For example, here is the “LABOR FORCE STATISTICS FROM THE CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY” (for the last ten years):
A similar ten year analysis is provided showing the “HIRE RATE.”
There are also similar reports for job turnover, quitting rate, layoffs and discharges. See the “JOB OPENINGS AND LABOR TURNOVER SURVEY”for such data.
Also on the site, the “LOCAL AREA UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS” (LAUS) program produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data for states and various geographical regions. State governments, of course, have their own unemployment records, all of which are sent to the federal level which is analyzed in a consistent manner by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The data, in theory, should be reliable as it is produced by the federal and state governments. These are the same resources the politicians and media use to prepare their speeches and columns. However, there are other sources, such as opinion polls like GALLUP who keep a pulse of many issues of interest to the public, including UNEMPLOYMENT. Interestingly, their data does not necessarily match the federal government’s, but provides some thought-provoking insight in terms of their projections.
If you wish to compare American unemployment to what is occurring in Europe, I suggest you reference the European Commission –“UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS,” as sponsored by the European Union.
To find out the number of illegal aliens in the United States, presumably working in this country, check with the Department of Homeland Security. Their REPORT on “Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2011″ is based on data from the 2010 census.
THE FACTS ABOUT: THE ECONOMY
The national economy is a rather large and complex issue. Even respected economists argue over what is good or bad. There are many dimensions to it: Gross Domestic Product (which measures our output), exports, manufacturing, the Consumer Price Index (which gauges inflation), the federal debt and deficit, government spending, and more. Consequently, there is no single graph to accurately depict the state of the economy. However, the responsibility for assembling data for the government falls primarily upon the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The links provided herein are the same ones the press and politicians use to accumulate data.
There is a ton of data to wade through here and the site is not the most user-friendly to navigate, but with a little patience, and the following links, there is no need to be intimidated.
BEA BLOG – a simple blog used to distribute news. There is a “Follow” button which provides you with an e-mail notification whenever the blog is updated. I suggest you use it.
BEA NEWS RELEASES includes more news, along with contact information for inquiries.
BEA U.S. ECONOMY AT A GLANCE – handy economic summaries including graphs.
BEA NATIONAL INCOME AND PRODUCT ACCOUNTS TABLE – an extensive listing of data for viewing or downloading. (Be sure to see “Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product”)
BEA INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES – summarizes imports and exports.
BEA CONSUMER PRICE INDEX (CPI) – monthly data used to compute inflation.
BEA MANUFACTURING – an extensive listing of reports and data pertaining to the manufacturing sector.
As useful as the Bureau of Economic Analysis is, it can be overwhelming to the average person. Fortunately, there are other handy resources available on the Internet:
GOVERNMENT REVENUE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – Christopher Chantrill’s compilation of government data which is perhaps easier to wade through.
Be sure to see his CHART WIZARD which is handy for analyzing data, either specific reports or do-it-yourself.
GOVERNMENT DEBT – is similar to “Government Revenue” with reports and tools for producing graphs.
GOVERNMENT DEFICIT – a subset of “Government Debt.”
DEBT AND DEFICIT HISTORY – also a subset of “Government Debt” – includes important historical insight about this subject.
SPENDING – another subset of “Government Debt” and includes additional historical background.
EXPORTS – from the “CIA FactBook,” a ranking of the chief exporters in the world. That’s right, it is the CIA’s job to monitor such activity (go figure).
INFLATION – provided by Capital Professional Services, LLC. – tracks the inflation rate since January 2000.
CONSTRUCTION – from the National Association for Home Builders – includes considerable statistics.
EXISTING HOME SALES – from the National Association for Realtors who is responsible for such reporting.
And in case you need a simple snapshot of what is going on in total, there is the U.S. DEBT CLOCK.
THE FACTS ABOUT: TAXES
This particular section will concentrate on taxes, particularly income taxes which, of course, falls under the jurisdiction of…
THE FEDERATION OF TAX ADMINISTRATORS (FTA) – governed by an eighteen-member Board of Trustees composed of tax administrators representing all regions of the country. The Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service is an ex-officio board member.
FTA STATE TAX DATA – excellent summary tables, revenues, and other surveys.
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (CBO) – nonpartisan analysis for the U.S. Congress
CBO “The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009″ – good summary and graphs
SALES TAX INSTITUTE – includes state rates
CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICES (CSR) – reports for the taxpayers
CRS REPORT – REDUCING THE BUDGET DEFICIT, POLICY ISSUES – discusses the cutting of taxes
THE FACTS ABOUT: IMMIGRATION
Illegal immigration is an important campaign issue. Americans are apprehensive about immigrants coming into the country unabated, thereby taking jobs away from legal citizens and capitalizing on benefits paid for by American taxpayers. Further, there is a legitimate concern about illegal immigrants voting in the upcoming election which has sparked a controversy over voter registration.
According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (see below) there are 13 million illegals currently in the country (others put it higher) costing U.S. taxpayers an average amount of $1,117 per household. Don’t take my word for it though, or the media’s for that matter, but check it out yourself.
As with all government agencies, there is a plethora of information available to you which can be difficult to navigate through. The place to start though is:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS) – is a far reaching organization which closely monitors immigration for security purposes.
DHS IMMIGRATION STATISTICS
DHS YEARBOOK OF IMMIGRATION STATISTICS – reports and data files
U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES – provides information on laws, regulations and interpretations controlling immigration
FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM (FAIR) – nonprofit organization seeking to reform immigration laws.
FAIR REPORT: “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers”
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION STATISTICS – discusses the cost of illegal immigration
MPI DATA HUB – migration facts, stats and maps
IMMIGRATION COUNTERS – interesting numbers that roll before your eyes.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES – listing voter identification requirements
Don’t wait for the media or politicians to make up your mind for you. Look it up yourself.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Tim’s columns, see:
Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.