Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Thoughts On Essay Anne Vanderbilt

I am hesitant to write about Essay Anne Vanderbilt but I have been bothered by some of the responses I have seen, even from writers that I have a great deal of respect for. Be forewarned that this post is going to cover some uncomfortable topics. I would like to ask forgiveness in advance if I say something or phrase something inappropriately.

Friday evening, I was scrolling down my timeline on Twitter and started noticing tweets that did not make much sense to me. After following a few links, I finally figured things out. ESPN's Grantland had published an article a couple of days earlier titled Dr V's Magic Putter. I have no recollection of seeing this article when it was first published but that doesn't mean anything. I am not a golfer, pretty much have zero interest in golf equipment of any sort and would have passed by this article. However, when I started seeing the tweets, many of them with the hashtag #JusticeForDrV I read the article.

The best I can say is that I was horrified.

The article starts as a story about how the author had been watching a show and seen about a supposed wonderful new putter that was developed on 'scientific principles' that were flipping a lot of golfing conventional wisdom on it head. Then about halfway through, the article morphs from a story about a putter and how it was developed into an investigation of a "con" that includes the outing of a woman (the inventor) as transgender. The author, while investigating the credentials, ultimately outs the inventor to one of her investors! At this point, it was difficult to control my outrage. Then I read how Essay Anne Vanderbilt committed suicide after back-and-forth emails with Hannan after he had already outed her to an investor in her company.

It was tweets from sportswriter Dave Zirin that first got my attention and it was through other of his tweets that I read this article from Cyd Ziegler of Outsports.com titled How ESPN and Grantland desperately failed the trans community. Think Progress had this piece titled 10 Questions Bill Simmons And ESPN Should Answer About ‘Dr. V’s Magical Putter’ by Alyssa Rosenberg.

By Sunday night, ESPN issued a statement to Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch:

ESPN has offered a statement on Grantland's Dr. V story:

"We understand and appreciate the wide range of thoughtful reaction this story has generated and to the family and friends of Essay Anne Vanderbilt, we express our deepest condolences. We will use the constructive feedback to continue our ongoing dialogue on these important and sensitive topics. Ours is a company that values the LGBT community internally and in our storytelling, and we will all learn from this."
Monday afternoon, Grantland posted a piece from Christina Karhl, herself a transgender employee of Grantland:
We’re here because Essay Anne Vanderbilt is dead.

And she’s dead because — however loath she was to admit it — she was a member of a community for whom tragedy and loss are as regular as the sunrise, a minority for whom suicide attempts outpace the national average almost 26 times over, perhaps as high as 41 percent of all trans people. And because one of her responses to the fear of being outed as a transsexual woman to some of the people in her life — when it wasn’t even clear the story was ever going to run — was to immediately start talking and thinking about attempting suicide. Again.
Deadspin had this post last night from Tim Marchman titled How Grantland Screwed Up The Story Of Essay Anne Vanderbilt, Inventor:
The second is that Hannan crossed an ethical and moral line when he outed Vanderbilt to an investor in Yar Golf. There was no compelling reason to do so; it took the choice of whether or not to disclose her status away from Vanderbilt—a choice that is, barring fairly extreme exigencies, solely to be made by the person it most affects. As Christina Kahrl put it in her review of the piece that ran on Grantland, "revealing her gender identity was ultimately as dangerous as it was thoughtless."
My bold

Last night, Bill Simmons, the editor of Grantland posted a "Letter from the Editor." The thing that bothers me most is here:
To be clear, Caleb only interacted with her a handful of times. He never, at any time, threatened to out her on Grantland.


Caleb’s biggest mistake? Outing Dr. V to one of her investors while she was still alive. I don’t think he understood the moral consequences of that decision, and frankly, neither did anyone working for Grantland.
There it is. At this point, it really doesn't matter that Hannan never "threatened to out her on Grantland." He had already outed her to an investor. Why would or could she believe he was not intending to do the same thing to the world?

Alyssa Rosenberg/Think Progress had a follow-up last night titled The 4 Most Important Points In Bill Simmons’ Apology For Publishing A Piece Outing A Trans Woman. For me, the outing of Essay Anne Vanderbilt is far and away the most egregious mistake in this whole mess. Reading Simmons' note and others, I get a sense of "Hannan made a mistake, but..." on something that should have no "...but...". Hannan made a grievous mistake, period. Everything that falls off after the outing - from the back-and-forth emails, the writing and editing of the piece, the suicide of Essay Anna Vanderbilt, the concentration on Vanderbilt's being transgender, the publication of an article that most likely would not have been published without the suicide - all go back to that bright line being crossed where he outed her in the first place.

There is no apology, there are no explanations, there are no mitigating circumstances that can erase that hard fact.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NY Times Editorial Board Offers Their Very Serious People Bonafides

I took a bit of a roundabout path to reading this Op-Ed from the New York Times Editorial Board. I am still seething after having first read it a couple of hours ago. It seems whichever member of the Editorial Board that authored this, thinks the military members are not "sacrificing" enough so pay and benefits need to be "on the table." As I looked through the short bios of the various members of the Editorial Board, it is fairly obvious that few if any of them have actually had much experience of military life beyond the obligatory "I support the Troops" or "Thank you for your service" they may have uttered in an airport somewhere.

From the editorial:

Big-ticket weapons like aircraft carriers and the F-35 fighter jet have to be part of any conversation about cutting Pentagon spending to satisfy the mandatory budget reductions known as the sequester. But compensation for military personnel has to be on the table, too — even though no other defense issue is more politically volatile or emotionally fraught.

After a decade of war, the very idea of cutting benefits to soldiers, sailors and Marines who put their lives on the line seems ungrateful. But America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is over or winding down, and the Pentagon is obliged to find nearly $1 trillion in savings over 10 years. Tough choices will be required in all parts of the budget. Compensation includes pay, retirement benefits, health care and housing allowances. It consumes about half the military budget, and it is increasing.
Pete Peterson would be so proud and I'm sure the Beltway Village Idiots Politicians, Pundits, and Courtiers in Washington are chagrined that they couldn't get Very Serious People credit for proposing this first.

Proposals like this are in my mind, another facet of the austerity movement seeking to cut back the social safety net for Veterans and the working poor. The people making these proposals see statistics, they do not see human beings. Please let me assure you, all those military members are first and foremost humans. They are sons and brothers, daughters and mothers. As I wrote on Veterans Day 2012, there are almost as many reasons for people serving as there are people serving.

If they really do see a need for cuts to the Pentagon bloat, there are a whole host of areas that should be "on the table" before member pay and benefits is on the horizon. The F35 Joint Strike Force fighter is a good start with its cost per plane doubling from $81M to $162M. There are currently ten Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carriers with an operational life of 50 years. The first (USS Nimitz) went online in 1975 so is still within its original operational window for a dozen more years. The tenth (USS George H.W. Bush) was commissioned in 2009. Planned de-commissioning costs for the Nimitz-class carriers is $750M - $900M (versus roughly $53M to de-commission a conventional non-nuclear carrier.

Then we have the next generation of super-carriers, the Ford class with three scheduled for construction and commissioning in 2016, 2020, and 2025. The current projected cost is $9B for construction of the first of these (USS Gerald R. Ford) on top of $5B for original R&D and Engineering.

I don't know but I just have to think we really do not need a new floating nuclear powered city rolling off the construction gangways every five years from now until 2060.

Since the Op-Ed specified concerns about the costs of health care for military, I googled "military health care costs on the rise." I admit I am skeptical when the first item shown is from "Third-Way," our old "friends" pushing the Grand Bargain to cut Social Security. But let's give them a mild benefit of the doubt. Wouldn't it be an across the board savings and cost benefit to institute a Medicare for All/Single Payer health care system? After all, a major component of the costs of Health Care is actually the cost of Health Insurance, not treatment costs in and of themselves.

I will make one proposal that will definitely save a fair amount of money in salary and benefits across the board. As I wrote here back in 2010, it would be beneficial on a myriad of levels to cut back on the numbers of Flag Officers and associated staff. That is the ultimate definition of a "win-win" for all concerned.

And because I can:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Season of Shopping

Well, here we are, the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the shopping season is upon us. Of course, some stores have had Christmas decorations up since before Halloween. Remember when the shopping and calendar years had distinct seasons? I do understand the desire of retail stores to push the envelope since for oh so many retail stores, the Christmas sales are the difference between an annual profit and loss for the year. While the term "Black Friday" did not originally have this definition, the idea that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the day where a business passes from the red (loss) into the black (profit) has gained some credence.

I started working in a men's clothing store (M. Goldberg, Inc) as a sales clerk/stock clerk/janitor when I was thirteen years old until I was twenty. During most of the year, we opened at 8AM Monday through Saturday, closing at 5:30 M - F and at 6PM on Saturday. After Thanksgiving though, we were open until 8PM, all six nights a week until Christmas Eve when we would close at 5PM. Even as I attended military high school and college, any weekends or holidays I was home and most summers, I would be put to work. We didn't have or need special sales to get people to come into the store. The big sale was always post-Christmas with the "January Clearance." We also had a "July Clearance," conveniently enough after Father's Day. Most years, the day or two before Father's Day in June, we would have daily revenues comparable to the days in the week before Christmas.

During the years I worked at the store, my small hometown of about 5500 people (with surrounding county total population of about 15,000 or 16,000 people) could and did support two fine men's stores (Gordon and Smith was the other men's store), four or so fine ladies shoppes, two or three jewelry stores, two locally owned hardware stores, two "five and ten cent stores," a Dollar store, a sporting goods store, a couple of department stores, a couple of furniture stores, and a Sears & Roebuck catalog store. In multiple cases these competitors would be side-by-side, directly across the street from each other or on opposite street corners. Although Cincinnati was 60 miles north and Lexington was 35 miles south, few people would drive to those cities as it was seemingly a l-o-n-g trek to do so. They pretty much shopped locally or not at all. The reality is, most people could park their car somewhere downtown and do a days shopping and not walk as much as they do today when they go to a mall.

I've always felt that those days could have served as a Master's class in micro-economics. Each of these businesses had been in town for decades. Each of them carried good, name brands. The men's store I worked for started from a bit of a disadvantage as we did not carry boy's clothing at all (which kind of made it difficult for me when I started working there as I was not quite large enough to fit small men's sizes so my options in purchasing good clothing were initially limited.) In those days, there was parking on both sides of most streets plus the traffic flowed in both directions and the downtown area was vibrant with cars and people on the street. I do not know how the other businesses operated but we had a section in one back corner of the store where all the lay-aways were kept for the people who wanted to hold something and pay for it as they went along. We also had two thick "credit books" (A - L, M - Z) with each book being 3 to 4 inches thick. I was "trustworthy" so would charge most of my clothing and that's where most of my earnings went - to pay the clothing bill.

The day after Christmas (and the Monday after Father's Day) usually had quite a bit of traffic in and out of the store but maybe not so much in the way of sales as those were big exchange days. Wrong size, wrong color, damaged, etc. When we were doing exchanges, we always tried to find the identical item in the correct size as that made it so much easier all the way around. Then we would close the store for a couple of days to get ready for the big sale, with all the mark downs on that season's men's fashion (even though most of the styles did not change in men's clothing that much).

As a kid, we always were looking forward to receiving that year's Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalog (also known as the "wish book.") I remember looking through that catalog every year. First time through it was always, "I want that and I want that and I want that..." on and on with all the toys I wanted. Sometimes it might even be a toy that had been "as seen on TV!" A couple of years, I even received some of the things I had wanted from the catalog!

Now of course, it seems that every child's television show has the marketing tie-ins for just about any product you can imagine. So Toys R Us opens on Thanksgiving with special deals already gone hours after the stores open.

I'm thinking progress has been a bit like a regression in some ways.

And because I can:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

A couple of years ago, I wrote this post covering just a few of the things for which we should not be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Here we are two years on, and there are still a large number of things not to be thankful for and the list does seem to get a bit larger all the time. Retail stores are opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day, no longer content with opening in the early AM hours of the day after Thanksgiving. My guess is we might see a move to ban Thanksgiving retail store openings in the next few years, following Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Of course, we all know that such a move will be opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and other representatives of the retail industry.

Time Magazine has this story about Thanksgiving shopping:

This year, stores including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, will open their doors just after the sun goes down on Thanksgiving, betting that consumers will be done with dinner and ready to cross some gifts off their shopping lists. Meanwhile, Nordstrom, Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club and others have put out statements saying they will remain closed, as they always have, out of respect for the holiday and for employees who want to spend it with their families.

But is either camp really coming out ahead? It’s a wash, Wharton experts say, while predicting that as an increasing number of retailers decides to add Thanksgiving hours, it is only a matter of time before almost everyone joins in. “[Opening earlier and earlier] is not going to lead to more retail sales, and there is not much of a competitive advantage,” notes Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch. “At the same time, there is no benefit to not opening on Thursday; the higher moral ground really doesn’t matter.”
So even though opening on Thanksgiving Day seems to be a zero sum game, it will continue and grow because everyone is doing it.

Now one of the realities of life is, there have always been groups of people who have to work on any holiday. There are restaurants that advertise their Thanksgiving Day specials. Servers, cooks, clean up staff all working to serve those who for whatever reason are not cooking for themselves or their families. I know I have eaten out on Thanksgiving and Christmas a couple of times over the years so I can't claim any moral superiority in this. Of course, emergency service personnel, hospitals, police, and firefighters all work. Many newspapers around the country will not have a Thanksgiving edition on Thursday morning but the reporters and editors will be on the job Thursday evening so that the paper will be available first thing Friday morning as usual.

Folks who have read my posts over the year know that my life has not always traveled an easy path yet I do have quite a bit to be thankful for, even with all the bad. Just this past July, I wrote that I was Homeless and within a day, I had an offer of a room for Dan'l and myself. I also received an offer from a couple of friends and former co-workers if I could reach them in upstate NY. I have family and friends who are almost always willing to offer various levels of support to help bridge the bad times.

I see reports in the news about how people see a story on the news or hear about someone whose live has been devastated through illness, loss of jobs, accidents, fire or whatever then people take a collection or crowd fund some support and wind up raising thousands of dollars to help. Seeing those stories and knowing how I have been helped will always move me. Even as we read about how a WalMart store in Cleveland has set up an internal food drive for employees to help other employees, it brings mixed emotions. I am sure the WalMart employees will contribute to help their fellow workers so in that sense, the food drive will succeed. Yet I have to question how things reach this case where working people do not make enough to support themselves in the holidays. I wind up with a sense of mixed emotions similar to how I feel watching a TV show like Undercover Boss - bravo I guess for doing something but where's the responsibility that leads to this having to be done in the first place?

As we sit down to our various Thanksgiving Day feasts across the country, please do give thanks for the plenty that we experience. But please also keep in mind the folks around the country and around the globe, struggling for food, for shelter, for clean water and clean air. We only have the one earth available to us and there is no Plan B available.

And because I can:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fifty Years On

In some ways it does not seem like it has been fifty years. In other ways, it seems like it has been even longer.

This Friday, November 22, 2013, it will be fifty years since the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. That day fifty years ago was also a Friday. I remember it was a sunny afternoon and I was sitting in Mrs. Prahl's 6th grade class. If I remember correctly, we were studying math at the time. Sometime about 2:15 - 2:30 that afternoon, Mr. Gilbert, the principal came to the door, leaned against it and asked for attention. I seem to recall his eyes being red as he announced that President Kennedy had been shot and killed within the hour. I don't remember much more from the rest of the school day but I don't think we got much more studying done.

My next memories of that day are from about 6PM. It was a Friday evening and we were going to a basketball game at Pendleton Co, the next county north of my hometown, where my mother was the librarian and ticket taker for ball games. She had stayed at the school that afternoon but my sister, who was attending Pendleton Co that year had come home then was going to ride back with my father and me. We watched the network news that evening showing the arrival of the coffin back in Washington, DC and I saw my father crying for one of the few times in my life. I don't remember much else from that day.

My family was full of staunch supporters of President Kennedy. During the 1960 elections, I wore a plastic "straw boater" Kennedy for President hat. We had to line it with kleenex and toilet paper taped to the inside in order for me to actually wear it. My mother stood on a fence line at Bluegrass Field in Lexington, KY for hours one afternoon just for a chance to shake Kennedy's hand as he stopped for a campaign visit then didn't wash her hand for a week, greeting people with "would you like to shake the hand that shook the hand of JFK?"

We all went to church that Sunday so we missed the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby, although I know we watched the scene of that shooting replay multiple times over the next few days on the TV news.

I know we did not have school on that Monday as I remember we watched the funeral, seeing "John-John" saluting, seeing the caisson and the riderless horse with the boots backwards in the stirrups:

Today "the boots facing backward symbolize [that] the fallen won't ride again and [the rider is] looking back on his family one last time," he said.
The next few years after President Kennedy's death saw a roller coaster of action. The passing of the Civil Rights Act, one of President Kennedy's signature legislative pieces even as it did not pass until the next year. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. The landing of men on the moon in 1969, fulfilling President Kennedy's vow to place a man on the moon within 10 years of his inauguration. Riots in the ghettos of cities throughout the US. The build up of troops in Vietnam, the scenes of death brought into our homes each night, and the upheavals on college campuses nationwide in protest.

My experiences and memories of this weekend are not appreciably different than those of millions of others. It is just one of the collective touch points of life in the US in the 1960s.

I'm not going to address the Warren Commission Report or any of the conspiracies from over the years and request you do not do so either. Let's just reflect on a life ended too soon and the subsequent end of a part of the national innocence.

And because I can:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013

Today is November 11, 2013. Veteran's Day. Ninety-four years ago was the first observance known initially as "Armistice Day":

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
Ah yes. The "war to end all wars." Well, so much for that.

This is from the Census Department with a number of facts about Veterans. While it estimates that there are 21.7M Veterans at this time, this little note a the end kind of puts the lie to that figure:
Note: These estimates include the civilian noninstitutionalized population of veterans 18 years and over living in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. They exclude active-duty military personnel and the population living in correctional facilities and nursing homes.
This from the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans has some statistics about the incarcerated veterans.

This links to the overall report on Homeless Veterans of which the Incarcerated Veterans is part.

Many folks are unaware of the problems facing women veterans, including homelessness. I became aware of Final Salute, Inc through a cousin who has provided support. Final Salute is trying to help these women veterans and combat the homelessness. The founder of Final Salute, Jas Boothe, was named a "CNN Hero" earlier.

Huffington Post had this from February 2013 on the daily suicide rate for Veterans. Twenty-two per day is not a figure we should be proud of.

The recent cutback in Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits affected an estimated 900,000 veterans. This works out to roughly 4% of all veterans. According to Wiki, the overall SNAP benefits are received by over 15% of the overall US population.

As I wrote last year:
So what is my point with all of this? It is to remind folks that the veteran is the man or woman you grew up with, attended high school or college with. We're the person who grew up down the street from you or that you saw everyday at the drug store or fast food joint. Most of us had a variety of reasons to sign our names and take the oath of enlistment. We weren't and aren't making a big production of our service. We mostly served and came home, no matter the time.

And because I can:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Life in the Safety Net

If you have been reading my posts, you know I am among the long term un/underemployed. I was laid off from my then employer in April 2004. I know most economists place the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007 but given their continual "surprise" at how the economy does not conform to their expectations, the reality is a bit different. When I was laid off, I had spent the past seven to eight years working within IT on various State and Local Government social service projects. Unfortunately for me, many states had started cutting back in this area starting around 2001. Declining tax revenues led to cut-backs to contracts led to further declining revenues, etc.

Over the past nine years, I spent my unemployment benefits (I only received 6 months of unemployment benefits since my layoff preceded the official recession and advent of extended benefits.) I spent my savings. I cashed in my 401K and SEP/IRA (the best benefit there was even with paying the early cash-in penalties, I still got to spend more of the funds on myself instead of seeing the balances swirl down the toilet when the market crashed.) In 2007, I landed a part-time, online job that has been a god send.

I finally swallowed my pride in January of 2012 and applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps). I was approved for benefits of $200 per month from Florida from February 2012 through June 2012 when I would have to be re-certified. I did not re-certify at that time as I was dealing with my late sister's estate by June and was able to pay myself a nominal salary. Since then, I have moved from Florida back to my home state of Kentucky. After I wrote this post in early July, documenting my soon to be homelessness, a friend from my hometown of Cynthiana, KY offered me a room in her home for Dan'l (my cat) and me. I am paying a nominal rent, my share of the utilities plus helping around the house. I have since applied for SNAP benefits here in Kentucky. I was initially denied due to lack of information, then approved for $159 per month then after a review after the state had received the remainder of my supporting information, the benefit amount was upgraded to $189 per month starting November 1. I do not know if the cuts to the over all SNAP program will affect my benefits but if there is a cut, so be it. I am fortunate enough to know how to cook and purchase food for myself so I can generally live within the benefit. I most likely would have to cut out the occasional treat of cookies or soda.

At this point, I am just trying to hang on until I reach age 62 next June and can apply for early Social Security. According to the SSA, my benefit for Social Security at age 62 is $1,371, a little above the current average overall benefit of $1,271 (as of September 2013.)

I do not have a car any longer. Maybe next year when I start the social security, between that and my small salary from my online job, I might be able to buy something (and pay the taxes and title and upkeep and maintenance and gas and insurance.) Once I am collecting social security, I will most likely no longer qualify for SNAP benefits and that's OK as I will have been able to use them to stay alive until I reached the "retirement" point.

Through all of this, I know I am still luckier than most. I have received help from family and friends that has kept a roof over my head. I am relatively healthy having had only a bad case of the flu back in early 2005 that I saw a doctor for, a cut on my hand in December 2005 that required an emergency room visit for four stitches (costing roughly $2,000 out-of-pocket as I am uninsured), and an infected tooth pulled at the dentist's in January 2013 for $175. The dentist gave me a 'scrip for free antibiotics to clear the infection before he pulled the tooth.

While I have been fortunate in many ways, I also know I am not alone. There are 900K veterans and 5K active military receiving SNAP benefits alone who will be impacted by the upcoming cut to the benefit level.

We hear all the stories about "fraud" in the SNAP program (and yes there is such a thing) but let me show a quick example. Let's pretend that one person has been receiving SNAP/Food Stamp benefits since age 18 at $150 per month and is now 70. Let's pretend this person has been committing fraud all along. If this person has received $150 a month for 12 months a year for 52 years, the total amount of fraud is $1,800 a year and $93.6K total. Compare that amount to the amount of farm subsidies that some members of Congress have been receiving. Which group is costing the tax payer more, my hypothetical SNAP fraudster or the recipients of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in subsidies?

We have workers at McDonalds being directed on how to apply for SNAP benefits and Medicaid through the company's own Hot line. WalMart is the largest employer in the country yet is subsidized by the taxpayer nationwide paying for various welfare programs for the WalMart Working Poor.

It is not going to get any better anytime soon. The US economy needs roughly 90K each month just to keep pace with population growth. The ADP Jobs Report for October 2013 estimated a whopping 130K jobs for October while revising their September figures downward from 166K jobs to 145K. Add in the effects of the Government Shutdown and Sequester, I am willing to go out on a short limb and predict the official numbers from the BLS tomorrow (Friday, November 1) may well be down around 50K jobs for the month.

Some of the Beltway Village Idiots Politicians, Pundits, and Courtiers like to talk about how the numbers of people on Food Stamps and Medicaid are so high under President Obama while they avoid talking about people like Lloyd Blankfein quoted a couple of months ago at the Clinton Global Initiative:

In another remark likely to generate controversy, Blankfein praised the U.S. for having "accepted a higher unemployment rate" over the past few years, even as it bailed out the banks. Labor market flexibility—reflected in the ability of U.S. companies to fire workers—is one of the reasons the U.S. is doing so well despite many headwinds in the economy, he said.
Yep, there surely is no cause and effect between the rise in the folks using the Social Safety Net and the desire of people like Blankfein to keep unemployment higher so that wages and benefits can be kept lower.

And because I can: