Daily Archives: February 3, 2012

Clearing Up the Confusion Over “Made in China” 1

Speaking of Paul Krugman as I did in my previous post, Romney Isn’t Concerned, I find this other post, Clearing Up the Confusion Over “Made in China”, by Paul Krugman.

On his blog, “The Big Picture,” the author and commentator Barry Ritholtz sends us to a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco paper from last summer that makes a point about which many people seem confused: Despite globalization and all that, the bulk of a consumer dollar spent in America falls on American-produced goods and services. According to the paper, titled The U.S. Content of “Made in China,”

“Goods and services from China accounted for only 2.7 percent of U.S. personal consumption expenditures in 2010, of which less than half reflected the actual costs of Chinese imports. The rest went to U.S. businesses and workers transporting, selling and marketing goods carrying the ‘Made in China’ label.”

It is amazing how China can accumulate hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. treasury debt by running up a massive trade surplus by selling us 0.6% of our GDP with goods coming solely from China. (If I understand the report, only 11% of the content of the products marked “Made in China” originated in China.)

My engineering training has always told me that after you make a complex calculation, you need to check against other obvious data to make sure there isn’t a mistake in your calculations. When you do find a discrepancy, you need to understand where it comes from. It could be an error in your calculations or it could be an error in the comparison data.

In no case can you just walk away without explaining where the error comes from. Especially when the calculation gives very surprising results, you need to know in great detail how it came to be that the results are correct and yet disagree with all the data that went before.

I take this report with a large bag of U.S. made Morton Salt (if indeed that is where it comes from) before I buy into this analysis.

Romney Isn’t Concerned

In The New York Times article, Romney Isn’t Concerned, Paul Krugman attempts to explain Mitt Romney’s words.

So Mr. Romney’s position seems to be that we need not worry about the poor thanks to programs that he insists, falsely, don’t actually help the needy, and which he intends, in any case, to destroy.

Still, I believe Mr. Romney when he says he isn’t concerned about the poor. What I don’t believe is his assertion that he’s equally unconcerned about the rich, who are “doing fine.” After all, if that’s what he really feels, why does he propose showering them with money?

I wonder if Romney and the Komen Foundation share the same public relations company.  It is amazing what these two think they can use to explain themselves and get away with it.

Thanks to MardyS for posting the link to this article on his Facebook page.

Komen backs off decision on funding cuts

MSNBC has the story Komen backs off decision on funding cuts .

According to the Associated Press, which first reported Tuesday that Komen had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from grants, the original move was made solely to penalize the agency.

The AP reported that a source with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen’s headquarters said the grant-making criteria were adopted with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood. The criteria’s impact on Planned Parenthood and its status as the focus of government investigations were highlighted in a memo distributed to Komen affiliates in December.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, a driving force behind the move was Karen Handel, who was hired by Komen last year as vice president for public policy after losing a campaign for governor in Georgia in which she stressed her anti-abortion views and frequently denounced Planned Parenthood.

Brinker, in an interview with MSNBC, said Handel didn’t have a significant role in the policy change.

At a special board meeting late on Thursday, the Komen organization agreed in principle to issue an apology and change the language of the organization’s funding criteria, board member John Raffaelli told Reuters.

“Our policy was that in our original board meeting (on the funding) and it didn’t come out very clearly,” Raffaelli said. “It got screwed up.”

I am glad to see the credibility of Komen restored.  Yeah, right.  That source with direct knowledge must have been mistaken.  Just because Komen adopted this policy that any baseless investigation would stop funding, and just because Planned Parenthood was the only recipient to be cut off, most assuredly the policy was not adopted to have the single outcome that it did.  Moreover, since they adopted the policy and then saw the consequences, they were powerless to change their minds until a groundswell of criticism reached them.

Komen Says Criticism Over Planned Parenthood Unfounded

Business Week is carrying the Bloomberg News story, Komen Says Criticism Over Planned Parenthood Unfounded.

Talking about the investigation into Planned Parenthood that is the Komen Foundation’s excuse for withdrawing funding, the article states:

The foundation cited a probe by Representative Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, into whether New York-based Planned Parenthood is illegally using government money for abortions.

No other group has been told it won’t be receiving grants under the new criteria, though some “probably do” provide abortions, Brinker said. “We ask a lot of questions” of grantees, “but that’s not one of them.”

Mollie Williams, a former managing director for community health programs, resigned in January, according to her LinkedIn profile, a move that occurred after the board decided in December to withdraw the Planned Parenthood funds.

The last paragraph is probably just an unrelated incident that the news service has chosen to include here just to hype the story.  Well, that is plausible.

Talking about some donors that have stepped into the void to replace the funds removed by Kome, the article goes on to say:

The donation from the Fikes foundation was made “so that their health centers across the country can continue to put the real needs of women ahead of right wing ideology,” according to a statement on the group’s website. Lee Fikes didn’t return a call to the offices of Bonanza Oil seeking comment.

“Politics has no place in health care,” Bloomberg, the New York mayor, said in the statement about his donation. “Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way.” Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

So, given what Mayor Bloomberg has to say, (just coincidentally the founder of Bloomberg News), what is this story doing on a politics blog?  Maybe Komen’s denials about the relationship between their actions and politics is just so very hard to believe.  Does it add to an organizations credibility to stick to a story that is so hard to believe?  I wonder if they can recognize a public relations disaster when they see one.

Probably another unlikely coincidence that Bloomberg News has chosen to insert into the article is:

Some of the political context has centered on the Komen group’s April hiring of Karen Handel as senior vice president of public policy. Handel joined the organization after an unsuccessful Republican campaign for governor in Georgia.

In that race, Handel wrote on her blog that she would eliminate any state grants for organizations such as Planned Parenthood which, she wrote, “I do not support.”

Of course having read RichardH’s previous post, Diversion–Highway Fatalities and Lemons, you all “know the difference between correlation and causality”.