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Member since: Sat Mar 27, 2004, 04:35 PM
Number of posts: 24,331

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There's a big anti-stop-and-frisk march in NYC today.

So take this thought for what it's worth. While they talk about how the "stop and frisk" policy has nabbed X number of illegal firearms, aside from being both racist and an unreasonable search, the actual rate at which weapons (including things like pocket knives, illegal in NYC) are found is about 1% of all stops.

So a 1% success rate. Now in contrast, per Gallup, 12% of Americans report having carried a firearm at least some of the time for self-defense. The same percentage (non-overlapping) report having carried a knife for self defense. Not counting those who carry a knife as an everyday tool rather than for defense.

Crunch those numbers, and you'll realize that "stop and frisk" would have a vastly better odds of finding a weapon if they grabbed people completely at random off the street rather than hassling young brown men.

A brief but very important word about election rigging.

It seems like you can't go five minutes here today without seeing someone proclaiming that the vote in Wisconsin is rigged in favor of Walker. Speaking as someone with actual real-world experience in election logistics, voter data, and ferreting out fraudulent election numbers, I felt I should clarify some things.

Rigging the vote tally of an election, and doing so in a way that can't be traced or exposed, is about a thousand times harder than most people here think. Between multiple counts, election observers, poll watchers, paper ballots, et al, it's very hard to actually just make up the results of an election if anyone is paying even the slightest attention. And if the situation is uncertain in the least, such as, say, not knowing roughly how many people are going to vote, it gets harder again by another order of magnitude.

Now as always, the most effective way of putting your thumb on the scales of an election is to make sure people don't vote in the first place. It's nearly impossible for the system to "forget" a ballot, but there's no ballot if the person doesn't cast one. Misinformation about when and where to vote, jamming get-out-the-vote operations, fraudulent robocalls, demoralizing base voters, these are the sorts of things that are the real tools to try and illicitly swing an election.

A case straight out of the real world: in 2008, I was busting my butt on a New York State Senate campaign against a very entrenched incumbent, with all of us hoping that the coming Obama surge would have coattails. Come election day, the district was blanketed with some very, very illegal robocalls--no ID on them, no claim of responsibility--encouraging people to get out and vote for Barack Obama... and insert the name of the Republican State Senator here. They were banking on confusing first time or low-information voters who were enthusiastic about Obama, but didn't know the local candidates that well. At least several districts in the area were hit the same way. I doubt it swayed any of our local elections, but in a tight race even a few hundred votes can make a difference.

The metaphor of the thumb on the scale is an accurate one; none of these things can stop a landslide, but under the right circumstances they can shift the balance. That's why the best counter isn't paranoia, it's vigilance.

Employment for those 55 and over is at a record high. Young people are hit hardest by the economy.

Unemployment among those age 55 and over is just 6.5 percent, compared to 8.2 percent among those 25 to 34, and almost 13 percent among 20 to 24 year olds. It was even more pronounced just a year ago, when unemployment was 6.7 percent for those 55 and over, but 9.3 percent for 25 to 34.


At it's peak, the unemployment rate for workers under 25 was 19.6 percent, the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment in 1947.

Meanwhile, employment for those 55 and over in absolute numbers is at a record high, having been climbing continuously for almost 20 years. There are more older workers, and they're far less likely to be unemployed.

The proportion of individuals who continue to work after age 55 reached a record high this year. Some 40.2 percent of Americans age 55 and older participated in the labor force in 2010, a number than has increased steadily since 1993 when just 29.4 percent of older Americans worked, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis of Census Bureau data.


And a college degree is no protection; the unemployment rate for new college graduates isn't significantly different from the national average, meaning an older worker with an average education is more likely to be gainfully employed than a brand new college graduate with advanced training.
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