HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » progree » Journal
Page: 1


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Minnesota
Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 04:45 AM
Number of posts: 10,507

About Me

Thanks for all the good wishes. A wellness check was done several days ago My next door neighbor of 43 years is looking out for me

Journal Archives

Great stuff. There's also that at-night lighted version - Overpass Light Brigade

The overpass light brigade http://overpasslightbrigade.org/
Their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/OverpassLightBrigade
Their tumbler page -- 4 pages of photos: http://overpasslightbrigade.tumblr.com/

This by the way, is the freeway blogger's website for anyone hunting for the URL - lots of great pictures: http://www.freewayblogger.com/

Voting Rights/Voter ID - heartening to see so many "getting it"

I know very few to none who are in the area will see this in time (on edit - the event was Oct 11), I wouldn't have bothered posting except it was nice to see such a widely diverse group of sponsors that are involved. To me, this amendment is the most important constitutional amendment on the ballot because if we have strict voter ID (and that's what the constitutional amendment calls for), then the civil rights of EVERYONE, and ALL progressive causes will be negatively impacted by the disproportionate disenfranchisement of progressives.

Voting rights 10.11 6:30pm

Voices for Voting Rights Red Carpet Event
Public Event • By Organizing Apprenticeship Project
Thursday, October 11, 2012
6:30pm until 8:30pm at PARKWAY THEATER
4814 Chicago Ave. South, Minneapolis

A Red Carpet Event and Film Screening.
...Come hear the voices of multiracial, multicultural leaders in our communities who are standing up for voting rights.
...Eat popcorn and enjoy artistic performances as well as the screening of several short social justice films featuring local celebrities.
...Dress to impress (optional)
...VOTE NO on VOTER ID (mandatory).

Contributing Partners:
African American Leadership Forum
Be the Vote Coalition 2012
Community Action of Minneapolis
Centro Campesino
Color the Vote
Lao Family Community
Main Street Project
Native Vote Alliance of Minnesota
Organizing Apprenticeship Project
Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
Somali Action Alliance

EF-0. Economy Stats with links to original sources. Links to LBN jobs threads thru 7/7/23

7/8/23 - Added the June 2023 Jobs report link that came out 7/7/23

Kick note, 10/8/22 - I have to Kick this about every 2 1/2 years in order to keep it from falling into the archives.

See the Updates page for a list of updates.

While most numbers aren't up to date, I do keep adding links, e.g. inflation, prime rate, FedFunds rate, Treasury bills/note/bonds rate.

The collection of hundreds of economic links is the main feature of this megathread, that I find personally quite handy. Given the number of views (150-250 a month), I suspect quite a number of others are finding it useful too.

I also post a link every month to the latest Jobs reports thread (non-farm payroll employment, unemployment rate, and all that) at the top of this OP.

==== end Kick Note ===============================

LBN Threads that discuss the latest monthly jobs reports (the one with the unemployment rate and the payroll jobs numbers that usually comes out the first Friday of the month, but sometimes the second Friday)

For June 2023 jobs report (dated 7/7/23) , see: https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143097688

Presidential jobs creation table (post WWII presidents) in January 2020 at near the height of the pre-Covid economy, and so is Trump at his best, and even then, 5 of 6 post-WWII Democratic presidents beat his record. (At the end of his term, he was the only one with a negative jobs creation record -- fewer jobs than when he started)
. . . https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1014&pid=2880567

Since I'm not doing monthly updates anymore, the links below are the place to look for discussions of the numbers, usually in the Latest Breaking News Forum. I generally contribute to these threads, but it takes some time (like most of the Friday when they come out). I will at least add the latest link ASAP to the below. One can also look in the Latest Breaking News forum at shortly after 8:30 A.M. Eastern Time on the first Friday of the month (or the second Friday of some months) and find it.

When the jobs reports come out: https://www.bls.gov/schedule/news_release/empsit.htm
. . . for 2023: 1/6, 2/3, 3/10, 4/7, 5/5, 6/2, 7/7, 8/4, 9/1, 10/6, 11/3, 12/8 (so only exceptions to the First Friday rule in 2023 is 3/10 and 12/8)


JUNE 2023 (dated 7/7/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143097688
MAY 2023 (dated 6/2/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143082170
APRIL 2023 (dated 5/5/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143070519
MARCH 2023 (dated 4/7/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143056808
FEBRUARY 2023 (dated 3/10/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143044342
JANUARY 2023 (dated 2/3/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143028492
DECEMBER 2022 (dated 1/6/23): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143015534
NOVEMBER 2022 (dated 12/2/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143001834
OCTOBER 2022 (dated 11/4/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142990161
SEPTEMBER 2022 (dated 10/7/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142978569
AUGUST 2022 (dated 9/2/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142964069
JULY 2022 (dated 8/5/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142951997
JUNE 2022 (dated 7/8/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142940239
MAY 2022 (dated 6/3/22): https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142925370

Archives of all Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports (BLS), -- besides the first Friday jobs report (called the "Employment Situation" ) that is the main subject of this megathread, there is also the CPI and Producer Price Index, Employment Cost Index, Productivity and Costs, Real Earnings, U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes, Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS), and much much more --
In the list up at the top, under Major Economic Indicators, select Employment Situation for the jobs report or whatever else for other reports.

For a list of updates (besides adding the link to the latest Latest Breaking News job report above), please click this link:   EF-U. Updates List

Handy key links to BLS data series / graphs pages, some with the latest year or two of monthly numbers: (6/2/23) https://www.democraticunderground.com/10143082170#post6

I won't be doing monthly updates, but rather annual updates of the jobs number, so if the job statistics are somewhat out of date in the future, I hope people will read "Beware the tricks of the economic pundits out there". The other pages (EF-1 through EF-10) also has information about the economy that is still relevant or relatively timeless. I also make occasional changes to some of the other pages, particularly the debt and deficit information on the EF-5 page http://www.democraticunderground.com/111622439#post5
and EF-9 Income and Inequality pages http://www.democraticunderground.com/111622439#post9
. Again, please check out the   EF-U. Updates List

Another key purpose of this page is to provide links to the official sources of economic statistics and other resources for people to use in the message board / social media wars with the righties (and each other) about the economy.

Almost all sections have where to find the original-source numbers, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Treasury.gov, or widely cited non-partisan sources. Hopefully people will find these pages a useful reference for finding information. These are the numbers that are cited, and which virtually all analysis of the U.S. economy derive from. The rest is pretty much anecdotal (like "the prices in my grocery store have doubled in the past year" )

There are some amazingly distorted presentations of what their numbers are and what they mean that you find on the web, and yes, DU too. Please see the "Beware the tricks of the economic pundits out there" section in the bottom half of this page for examples of what I mean by distorted presentations of BLS statistics.

I don't claim that the BLS and other government sources are inerrant, or even unbiased, e.g. whoever came up with some of the definitions like the official (U-3) unemployment rate being a count of jobless people who looked for work sometime in the past 4 weeks. And it is obvious that most of the Household Survey numbers have a lot of statistical error, considering how they wildly bounce around from month to month.

I'm just saying all of this is a presentation of the actual BLS and Commerce Department numbers (for the most part) with links to the statistics being discussed, so that you can check it out for yourself.

Most of what you read about economic statistics, including those skeptical of the BLS and Commerce Dept numbers (e.g. GDP), rely on these same statistics, since there aren't many comprehensive non-governmental sources of economic statistics available. In other words, they use these statistics to criticize these statistics. So by giving you the links, you can see the full context -- as many polemicists cherry pick here and there to give a misleading picture.

Again, see the "Beware the tricks of the economic pundits out there" section in the bottom half of this page for examples of what to watch for.

Unfortunately, a lot of the formatting has been lost because of the May 2017 hack of the DU website. For the latest version at archive.org -- WHICH SHOWS THE ORIGINAL FORMATTING -- see:


Unfortunately the latest archive.org snapshot that shows the original formatting is April 2016. Oh well. There is a way to ask archive.org to save a current snapshot ... the "Save Page Now" feature at https://archive.org/web. But unfortunately any snapshots made after the May 2017 hack of the DU website appear the same as what you are looking at -- with only selected formatting restored.

For more on what formatting does and does not work at DU, see https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1256&pid=13211

Here is a table of contents of this thread:

{#} EF-0. Economic Statistics with links to official sources (this post)

{#} EF-1. Job Loss and Creation - Payroll Employment. At the bottom all post-WWII presidents with completed terms are compared

{#} EF-2. Unemployment Rate, Labor Force Participation Rate, Unemployment Insurance Claims

{#} EF-3. Recessions and Expansions - Official (NBER.org). Also GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

{#} EF-4. U.S. Stock Market as measured by the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Avg

{#} EF-5. National Debt. Budget Deficits and Surpluses

{#} EF-6. U.S. Dollar Index (DXY). Oil Prices

{#} EF-7. In Progress (mostly Dem presidencies v. Repub presidencies. Also Inequality)

{#} EF-8. In Progress - Some canned excerpts to use in the message board wars

{#} EF-9. Incomes and Inequality and Consumer Prices and Poverty (in progress)

{#) EF-10. Definitions, Links (In Progress)

{#) EF-U. Updates List

I use facts from these in mixed message boards and in comments on news articles such as at news.yahoo.com. Be aware that I have included a few statistics that are not so pleasant as far as Obama's record, ones that anyone debating with others should be aware of because occasionally you will see these points or they will come back at you with these statistics (forewarned is forearmed).


Here are some key jobs reports links that I used to use for my reports:


The links to the data below in the "over the last year" etc. tables

# Nonfarm Employment (Establishment Survey), https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001  monthly change

# . . . the raw (not seasonally adjusted numbers) are at http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CEU0000000001   monthly change

# INFLATION ADJUSTED Weekly Earnings of Production and Non-Supervisory Workers http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031

# Labor Force http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000   monthly change

# Employed http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12000000   monthly change

# . . . the raw (not seasonally adjusted numbers) are at https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU02000000   monthly change

# Unemployed http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13000000   monthly change

# ETPR (Employment-To-Population Ratio) aka Employment Rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300000

# LFPR (Labor Force Participation rate) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

# Unemployment rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

# U-6 unemployment rate http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709

# NILF -- Not in Labor Forcehttp://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS15000000   monthly change

# NILF-WJ -- Not in Labor Force, Wants Job http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS15026639   monthly change

# Part-Time Workers who want Full-Time Jobs (Table A-8's Part-Time For Economic Reasons) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12032194 monthly change

# Part-Time Workers (Table A-9) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12600000   monthly change

# Full-Time Workers (Table A-9) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12500000   monthly change

# Multiple Jobholders as a Percent of Employed (Table A-9) https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12026620   monthly change

# Civilian non-institutional population https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS10000000   monthly change

Some statistics by age group
The ones beginning with "LNS" are seasonally adjusted (SA).
The ones beginning with "LNU" are not seasonally adjusted (NSA)
16+ is the default one that the BLS and the media report.
16+ means every civilian non-institutionalized person age 16 and over, including centenarians. So it is misleading -- the population is aging and there are about 10,000 boomer retirements a day (which comes to 3.6 million/year). That's why I show other age groups.

Age 25-54 is what the BLS calls the "prime age". It isn't contaminated by a lot of voluntary retirements.

By default, the graphs are 10 - 11 years, specifically they begin in the January of the year that was 10 years ago -- meaning in this case they begin January 2009 (which happens to be near the bottom of Great Recession job market -- well actually the job count fell for another 13 months to its lowest point in February 2010)

You might want to set the start date of the calendar back to, oh, whatever. 1989? 1979? 1969? In order to get a more historic view. 1989 is about when the rapid growth of female workforce participation began to level off

LFPR - Labor Force Participation Rate for some age groups
The LFPR is the Employed + jobless people who have looked for work in the last 4 weeks (and say they want a job and are able to take one if offered). All divided by the civilian non-institutional population age 16+.
SA means Seasonally adjusted. NSA means Not Seasonally Adjusted
16+: SA: LNS11300000 NSA: LNU01300000
25-34: SA: LNS11300089 NSA: LNU01300089
25-54: SA: LNS11300060 NSA: LNU01300060
55+: SA: LNS11324230 NSA: LNU01324230
65+: SA: ---------------- NSA: LNU01300097

ETPR - Employment to Population Ratio for some age groups
SA means Seasonally adjusted. NSA means Not Seasonally Adjusted
16+: SA: LNS12300000 NSA: LNU02300000
25-34: SA: LNS12300089 NSA:
25-54: SA: LNS12300060 NSA: LNU02300060
55+: SA: LNS12324230 NSA: LNU02324230
65+: SA: ---------------- NSA: LNU02300097

Aren't most of the new jobs part-time?

No. This excellent post from early July 2015 show two perspectives of the trends in part-time workers and full-time workers (not part-time jobs and full-time jobs). Thanks mahatmakanejeeves

Since February 2010 (the bottom of the Great Recession job market) through January 2020, part-time workers have DEcreased by 98,000 while full-time workers have INcreased by 20,321,000. (Table A-9).

Chart 7 of the below link shows Part-time workers as a percent of total employed, Seasonally adjusted, 1990–2020. In recent years it has ranged from 20.1% at the height of the Great Recession to around 17% now.
https://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cps_charts.pdf --this link seems to not work anymore, will have to check it out

# Multiple Jobholders as a Percent of Employed (Table A-9) https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12026620   monthly change
In January 2020, 5.1% of the employed were multiple job holders, according to this.

What kind of Wages?

INFLATION-ADJUSTED Average WEEKLY Earnings Of Production And Nonsupervisory Employees, Total Private, 1982-84 Dollars
http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031 ## (Hourly earnings: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000008 )
Unfortunately, the graph has expired. But the key thing is that, as of December 31, 2019, the INFLATION-ADJUSTED weekly earnings of production and non-supervisory workers is up 2.8% over the last 3 years, and up 7.9% since February 2010 (the jobs market bottom). However, in the past 11 months through December 31, 2019, this measure has declined slightly, by 0.16%, so call it a plateauing for now. (Note: December 31, 2019 is the latest available as I write this on February 8, 2020, because the CPI for January doesn't come out until mid-February).

Incidentally, over Obama's last 3 years this measure went up 4.48%. And over his entire 8 year presidency it went up 4.14%

Here is the nominal, i.e. not-inflation-adjusted version of the above:
Weekly: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000030
Hourly: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000008

See "Detailed Discussion" section below for a narrative discussion of the above statistics over the past year and the past three years (the past three years coincides with the Trump presidency. LATER, 2/8/20: there isn't a detailed narrative this time. Just a couple sentences in the "Commentary" after the "Over the Last THree Years" section ABOVE.

FFI on the most recent jobs report, straight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Table A-1. Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age (household survey) http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm

Several graphs of the key economic stats -- http://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cps_charts.pdf
Table of Contents as of 1/31/19
1. Civilian labor force
2. Civilian labor force participation rate
3. Civilian employment
4. Employment-population ratio
5. Nonagricultural wage and salary employment
6. Nonagricultural self-employed, unincorporated
7. Part-time workers as a percent of total employed
8. Employed part time for economic reasons
9. Civilian unemployment
10. Civilian unemployment rate
11. Duration of unemployment
12. Long-term unemployed as a percent of total unemployed
13. Reasons for unemployment
14. Job losers by layoff status
15. Unemployment rates for adult men, adult women, and teenagers
16. Unemployment rates by race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity
17. Unemployment rates for persons 25 years and older by educational
18. Persons not in the labor force who want a job
19. Persons not in the labor force, selected indicators
20. Alternative measures of labor underutilization

The whole enchilada -- including all 16 "A" tables (the household survey) and all 9 "B" tables (the establishment survey) http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

[font color = brown] ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Table A-1 and other tables can be found at the all-tables full jobs report at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf, or gotten one-at-a-time from the bottom section of http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm . For example, Table A-9 alone is at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t09.htm )

BLS Commissioner's Statement on The Employment Situation http://www.bls.gov/news.release/jec.nr0.htm

The Council of Economic Advisors' Take on the Jobs Report
https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/economy-jobs/ (find this at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea )
The Council of Economic Advisors is a Trump admin propaganda organ now. Do not confuse it with the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) which is supposed to be a non-partisan statistics-gathering government agency. On the other hand, the Council of Economic Advisors are all appointed by the president -- more specifically, the chairman is nominated by the president and approved by the Senate. The members are appointed by the president .

Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner's Corner: http://beta.bls.gov/labs/blogs/ Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/BLS_gov

BumRushDaShow / Mahatmakanejeeves thread - very comprehensive OP each month when the jobs report comes out, as well as additional material he posts to the thread in the following hours. Watch the OP for edits too. And the thread for more material. (In the January 2020 jobs report which came out on February 7, the thread was hosted by BumRushDaShow). https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142430036

Detailed Discussion

mm/dd/yy -

Nothing much more to add to the above. Usually I'm verbose as most job reports are a mix of good-and-bad when compared to the prior month. But I'm not doing monthly comparisons anymore since the monthly changes in the Household Survey numbers are mostly statistical noise.

Instead, I have been, and will be doing annual updates in early February after the January jobs report comes out (namely detailing the changes over the past 12 months, and since February 1, 2017 which is the beginning of the Trump administration's first full month in office).

However, I do update the non-jobs pages when new information comes out. See the "EF-U. Updates List" post below http://www.democraticunderground.com/111622439#post37 for updates.


Beware the tricks of the economic pundits out there, such as right-wingers slamming any gains the economy made under Obama (thanks in large part to Republican obstructionism in Congress, and Republican policies in the many states they control).

NOTE: MANY OF THE BELOW EXAMPLES WERE WRITTEN DURING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WHEN RIGHT-WING GREEDBANGERS WERE DISPARAGING ANY PROGRESS THE ECONOMY WAS MAKING.. Of course they are making the opposite kinds of arguments now that the King of the Magats is president. But the techniques are the same. I have chosen not to spend an extraordinary amount of time re-writing all of the many examples below to illustrate how Magats would try to make the economy look better than it really is.

Tricks of the polemicists include:

(1). Highlighting adverse one-month or other short-term changes in some highly volatile component, and making it seem like it's the story of the whole Obama administration's job record such as, for example, the monthly changes in the civilian labor force, age 16+, seasonally adjusted. Here for example are the monthly changes for 2012 in thousands: (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11000000?output_view=net_1mth ):
[font face = "courier new"]
Jan Feb Mar. Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct. Nov Dec
401 498 -15 -246 381 188 -164 -301 349 489 -228 206 (labor force, thousands) [/font]

Needless to say, whenever the president is Democratic, our good friends on the right highlight the drops in the labor force in the months when it drops, and make no mention of the rises when it rises. This is also known as cherry-picking the bad statistic of the month.

As you may know, under Obama, the righties and the media loved to pooh pooh any drop in the unemployment rate when the labor force drops, explaining that the unemployment rate dropped mostly because people gave up looking for work and left the labor force, and so are not counted. But how often have you heard them bring up a rise in the labor force in a month when it rose?

Another example: full-time jobs: [du/10026642259]

Awk! 252,000 full-time jobs were LOST in April! (April 2015, a month where the media was touting the 223,000 gain in payroll employment)

But note this statistic, coming from the Household Survey, is highly volatile from month to month:

Monthly changes in full-time workers (in thousands): http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12500000
[font face = "courier new"]
` ` ` Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014) 410 209 203 396 332 -538 196 310 552 371 -174 427
2015) 777 123 190 -252 (full time workers, thousands) [/font]

One could just as well have said 1,265,000 full-time employees were gained over the last 5 months (253,000/month average). Or 2,314,000 were gained in the last 12 months (193,000/month average). And note that nobody wrote OP's about full-time employment gains when the September report came out (+552,000), or December (+427,000) or January (+777,000)

(2). Cleverly mixing seasonally adjusted data with unadjusted data (without making that clear of course) Or using exclusively seasonally unadjusted data if that paints the picture they want to paint

(2a). Implying that a number is not seasonally adjusted -- for example disparaging a November or December payroll employment report of a good 250,000 increase in payroll employment by saying that's a paltry gain since there should be a lot of Christmas shopping season hiring going on. (Uh, no, like almost all BLS statistics reported in the media, the payroll employment numbers are seasonally adjusted. And, by the way, actually December is almost always a month when more jobs are lost than gained -- the raw (not-seasonally adjusted) payroll employment numbers are at http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CEU0000000001?output_view=net_1mth )

Another example - saying a big increase of 0.5% in consumer spending in December is not a big deal, and ought to be way higher since December is after all the big Christmas spending month. (Uh, no, again, the numbers are seasonally adjusted)

(2b). Related -- using NOT seasonally adjusted numbers when that better makes their case, and saying that the unadjusted numbers are "the real numbers" untarnished by bureaucratic "adjustments" and "manipulations"

A great example is comparing not-seasonally-adjusted numbers for December and January, and making an enormous hoo-hah about the decline of the job count in January (when of course much of the extra Christmas season help is laid off, but the polemicists don't mention that explanation).

The below compares the monthly changes of the NOT-seasonally adjusted numbers ( http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CEU0000000001?output_view=net_1mth ) to the seasonally adjusted numbers ( http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001?output_view=net_1mth ) for the 19 months from January 2014 through July 2015:

Payroll Jobs, Thousands:
[font face = "courier new"]the NOT-seasonally adjusted numbers
` ` ` Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014: -2811 741 957 1163 920 594 -1050 391 687 1081 478 6
2015: -2813 848 779 1139 928 474 -1045

the Seasonally adjusted numbers
` ` ` Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014: 166 188 225 330 236 286 249 213 250 221 423 329
2015: 201 266 119 187 260 231 215 [/font]

Of course, most people would see through such an obvious stunt like comparing raw job counts in December and January, so a RW polemicist would rarely try this particular stunt. But I've seen it done for July (a fall off after the hiring of June graduates that most people don't think about). Later: someone at DU actually tried to play this trick in January 2016, sigh.

And they certainly do similarly with other data series where seasonal changes are less understood.

(3). Cleverly mixing statistics from the household survey (CPS) and the establishment survey (CES) (without making that clear of course). The CPS survey of households ( http://www.bls.gov/cps/ ) produces the unemployment rate, the labor force participation rate, the number employed, and innumerable other statistics. The CES ( http://www.bls.gov/ces/ ), a completely separate survey of businesses, produces a number of statistics, most notably the headline payroll employment numbers (widely regarded as a better indicator of job changes than the CPS's Employed number because of the larger sample size among other reasons). Because of statistical noise and volatility, these 2 surveys often come up with seemingly incompatible results. Needless to say, right-wing polemicists mix and match statistics from both surveys to produce nonsense.

(4).Cherry-picking the start and end points of some data series
This is a generalization of item (1.) except that instead of highlighting the latest month of an adverse statistic, they may pick another starting point that is an outlier. For example in October 2013, someone mentioned that the latest U-6 unemployment measure is no better than it was in March 2013, 7 months ealier. True, but March was at a noisy zag low; its clear to see from the graph that there is a downward trend, not a 7-month plateau. U-6: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13327709

Here are the 2013 values (the 2012 values are all above 14.4% BTW, it was 15.1% in January 2012)
[font face = "courier new"]
Jan Feb. March Apr. May. June July Aug. Sept Oct.
14.4 14.3 13.8 13.9 13.8 14.2 13.9 13.6 13.6 13.7 (2013, U-6 in percent)
. . . . . . ^-March: the cherry-picked low starting point the RW'er chose[/font]

(The U-6 unemployment rate (sometimes dubbed the underemployment rate) is now (January 2020) 6.9% by the way, down 1.1 percentage points in the last 12 months (and down 2.3 percentage points in the last 36 months). It is the broadest measure of unemployment that the BLS produces -- it includes part-time workers wanting full-time positions. It also counts as unemployed any jobless person who wants a job and has looked for work at any time in the past 12 months (whereas the headline U-3 unemployment rate counts those who have looked any time in just the last 4 weeks).

It's like global warming when the righties always pick 1998 -- an anomalously hot year because of a strong El Nino -- as their starting point to argue that there has been very little warming since.

That is why seeing the whole data series is so important, and not just accepting the time period and the statistic that a right-wing polemicist dishes out. However, finding the data series number is often quite a challenge, and something that in my experience involves a large bag of tricks. It is my intent to write more about how to find the data series you need. But for now, if there is one trick to mention, this one is the most helpful: http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=ln

(5). Comparing the current statistics to 2007's statistics, as if 2007 was a normal economy we should get back to - I see this all the time. Yes, today's economic statistics just about across the board suck compared to 2007's. But keep in mind that 2007 was not a normal economy. It was a very sick bubble economy with a very high fever -- people using their houses as ATMs to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Anybody could get a mortgage, virtually no questions asked. The belief that housing prices never go down, at least not on a national average scale (thus the theory that a geographically diversified bundle of mortgages was always a safe bet).

The same for comparisons to 2000 -- that too was a very sick economy -- astronomical price/earnings ratios in the stock market, day trading and momentum investing. The belief that Alan Greenspan had mastered the "Goldilocks" economy (not too cool, not too warm) and that, now that we understood how to use the Fed's powers to control the economy, we will never have a recession again. That tech companies with huge negative earnings and no business plan were great investments. That we were all going to the moon, and we were all going to the stars (speaking of the economy and the stock market).

Well, I'm extremely very sorry to have to tell you -- we don't want to get back to the very sick high-fever bubble economies of 2000 or 2007. So quit the whining about how things now are so much worse than back then -- no they aren't when you consider the sickness and unsustainability of those economies back then.

(6). Talking about inflation-adjusted numbers as if they were not, e.g. "wages have been flat (or dropped) for the last 20 (or whatever) years while we all know that prices just keep going up" -- leaving off the word "real" or "inflation-adjusted" qualifier on wages (which takes into account rising prices).

Nominal wages, i.e. raw wage numbers unadjusted for inflation have definitely been rising for years and decades, whereas real wages (meaning adjusted for inflation) have indeed been roughly flat. For example:

(nominal, i.e not inflation adjusted) Average Hourly Earnings Of Production And Nonsupervisory Employees, total private, seasonally adjusted: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000008

(real, i.e. inflation adjusted) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000032 -- to get the long view, set the time period's beginning point from the default value a decade ago to 1964 - the earliest one can set it. The pull-down boxes for setting the time period is near the top, where it sets "Change Output Options". Be sure to check the "include graphs" checkbox, and then click the little dark blue "go" button

(7). Using government statistics and trickery (see above techniques) to make some point, and when you call them on the trickery, and give them the correct information, they tell you they don't trust government statistics! In other words, they are fine with government statistics (or studies that are derived from government statistics, which they all are) if they can twist them to fit their viewpoint, otherwise, they don't trust them!

As for postings by DU members, always check the source of the article they posted, for example one perhaps unintentionally posted a bunch of crap from a right-wing polemicist (Peter Morici) http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251259885#post3 (that's post #3 -- interestingly the poster was PPR'd about 4 months later). Note that sometimes the publication might be an OK mainstream source, but you should still check out the author.

SEE ALSO THE "MYTH:" SECTIONS IN THE PAGES BELOW. For example, the EF-2 page has a lot of myths about the job numbers, such as the myth that they don't count the jobless people that have exhausted their jobless insurance benefits in the unemployment numbers. Just search on the following and include the colon:


Here is a listing of Myth topics as of 1/25/2019

# Myth: "those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits are not counted as unemployed. If they were counted, the official unemployment rate would be much higher" (you often hear this claim from the RepubliCONS when a Democratic president is in the White House, and vice versa when a RepubliCON is in the White House).

# Myth: "But the real unemployment rate is 15% (or 24% or whatever) and it keeps going up":

# Myth: There are 94 million involuntarily unemployed, so the real unemployment rate is about 40%

# Myth: In 1994, during the Clinton administration, they stopped counting the long-term unemployed, or the "long term discouraged worker". If we calculated the unemployment rate now the way we did before 1994, the unemployment rate would be double, triple (or whatever. One claimed that the unemployment rate in January 2015 calculated by the old method would be 23% instead of the officially reported 5.7%).

# Myth: most jobs created during the "so-called recovery" are part-time, especially after Obamacare became law

# Myth: "Those payroll job creation numbers the corporate media reports are just that: jobs created. They don't mention all of the jobs that were lost. To get the true picture, they should report the NET jobs created: jobs created less jobs lost"

# Myth: "The unemployment rate is low because so many people are working two or more jobs, and working 60,70,80 hours a week "

# Myth: "The ADP jobs numbers are much more reliable than the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers because the ADP are actual payroll numbers, whereas the BLS numbers are 'just a survey'"

# Myth: "There was a big 225,000 increase in nonfarm payroll jobs, and yet the unemployment rate went up. This proves they are cooking the books, and the corporate media is playing along with their game"

END of "Beware the tricks" lecture

General notes from previous deleted job summaries - to be reorganized and refiled

I'm working on the wages things brought up in earlier DU posts -- for now, See: Real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) average weekly earnings, all employees (total private), 1982-1984 dollars, Seas Adj: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000012
And of production and non-supervisory workers: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031

Note on statistical noise: As an example: non-farm employment increased by 113,000 in January 2014 in the establishment survey. But according to the household survey, employment that month increased by 638,000. Just goes to show how wild the statistical noise is, and not to get excited one way or another with any one month's particular numbers.

On statistical noise, I found this BLS technical note on sampling error -- http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.tn.htm . Based on what it says, there is a 90% probability that the Establishment Survey's non-farm employment increase is within +/- 120,000 of the stated number. And a 10% chance that it is off by more than 120,000. Again, this is just the sampling error. There are other errors besides sampling error.

Correspondingly, again based on sampling error alone, there is a 50% chance that it is within +/- 49,200. So for example for a reported job gain of 200,000, there is a 50% chance that it is between 150,800 and 249,200, and a 50% chance that it is outside that range based on sampling error alone. Note there are errors other than sampling error that add to the uncertainty {1}

And in the Household Survey, there is a 90% chance that the monthly unemployment change is +/- 300,000 of the stated number (note this is 2.5 times the Establishment Survey's nonfarm employment's sampling error). Also, that there is a 90% chance that the unemployment rate is about +/- 0.2% of the stated number.

The above only covers sampling error. There are also many other sources of error (search the above link for "non-sampling error" )

The individual components that go into these numbers have an even larger sampling error. As explained above, right-wingers love to find the aberrant statistic or two of the month and make it out to be the story of the Obama administration, rather than what it really is -- just one month's number in a very statistically volatile data series.

{1} 90% of the area under the normal curve is between +/- 1.645 standard deviations. 50% of the area under the normal curve is between +/- 0.675 standard deviations. Thus if there is a 90% chance that it is within +/- 120,000, then there is a 50% chance that it is within +/- 49,200 (0.675/1.645 * 120,000 = 49,240 , then round to 49,200 ).

Romney justifies virtually no job growth at his 3 1/2 year point in Mass.

Probably your crazy uncle is telling you that he's tired of hearing "Oblamer" blame Bush for the poor state of the economy and essentially zero job growth since he took office (since January 31, 2009 thru August 31, 2012, under Obama 261,000 jobs have been lost, although he is in positive territory in private sector jobs).

Your crazy uncle also pooh poohs you when you tell him that in the last 30 months, under Obama 4.6 million private sector jobs and 4.1 million total jobs (actually civilian non-farm payroll jobs), have been created, telling you that you are cherry-picking Obama's best months blah dee blah.

# Payroll Jobs: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001
# Private Sector Payroll Employment: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000001

Well, Romney in his June 24, 2006 press conference (nearly 3 1/2 years into his governorship of Massachusetts), blamed the economy he inherited for his woeful job record over his entire term, and touted the 50,000 jobs created since the turnaround. Exactly the sort of argument that the righties are criticizing us for making regarding Obama.

Transcript and press-conference video (1:50): http://www.youtube{DOT}com/watch?v=ArRj-dQXX3Y
(replace the {DOT} with . in the above URL. I don't know why it is fighting with me)

TRANSCRIPT:[font color = blue]"You guys are bright enough to look at the numbers. I came in and the jobs had been just falling right off a cliff, I came in and they kept falling for 11 months. And then we turned around and we're coming back and that's progress. And if you are going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should have immediately turned around, well that would be silly. It takes awhile to get things turned around. We were in a recession, we were losing jobs every month. We've turned around and since the turnaround we've added 50,000 jobs. That's progress. And there will be some people who try and say, 'well Governor, net-net, you've only added a few thousand jobs since you've been in.' Yeah but I helped stop, I didn't do it alone, the economy is a big part of that, the private sector's what drives that -- up and down -- But we were in free fall for three years. And the last year that I happened to be here, and then we turned it around, as a state, private sector, government sector, turned it around. And now we're adding jobs. We wanna keep that going, to the extent we can. We're the, you know, we're one part of that equation, but not the whole equation. A lot of it is outside of our control, it's federal, it's international, it's private sector. But I'm very pleased that over the last a 2, 2 and a half, years we've seen pretty consistent job growth. 50,000 new jobs created, some great companies, we just had, last week, Samsonite announced their headquarters moving here. Companies outside Massachusetts moving in to Massachusetts. That kind of commitment, that kind of decision, says something about what they feel about the future of our state."[/font]

Well, then I wondered, is 50,000 jobs so great for a state the size of Massachusetts? Using July 2011 data, Massachusett's share of the USA population is 6.587 Million / 311.6 Million = 2.1139%. (It would have been better to dig up population numbers more around the 2003-2006 time frame but I doubt that the percentage would be more than slightly different). So on a per-capita basis, 50,000 jobs in Massachusetts is equivalent to 50,000 / 2.1139% = 2.366 Million nationwide jobs.

I'm assuming since the press conference was held in June 24, 2006, that the 50,000 jobs is through the end of May 2006 since they wouldn't have end-of-June numbers in yet.

Well, Obama in a similar point of his presidency -- the end of May 2012, had presided over the creation of 3.744 Million jobs.

So on a per-capita basis since their respective job turnaround points, Obama's job creation record is 3.744 / 2.366 = 1.58 X better (58% better) than Romney's.

And since Romney is "very pleased" with his job creation record in Massachusetts since the turnaround, he should be 1.58 times "very pleased" with Obama's record.

(Note that since Obama took office January 20 (2009) and Romney took office January 2 (2003), I could have moved Obama forward by a month to the end of June. If so, Obama's job creation record through the end of June 2012 is 3.819 Million jobs, and his per-capita record is 3.819 / 2.366 = 1.61 X better (61% better). But I'll settle for the end of May figures. )

The background behind the 5% effectiveness / 95% ineffectiveness claim (LONG dissertation)

Dembearpig> AA and the twelve steps are the most unsuccessful self-help program in human history, and even their own data supports this fact. 12-step rehab facilities have a 97% failure rate within 12 months. AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year. Numerous studies show that those who take no formal action have a SIGNIFICANTLY higher success rate.

I've long read statistics about the success or failure rates of 12-step treatment "rehab" facilities and, separately, A.A.

I've never seen a 97% failure rate figure for 12-step rehab facilities before, or anything near that high. I'll leave it to others to delve into that.

On the "AA has a 95% dropout rate in the first year", the source of this controversy is an (allegedly) internal A.A. document, "Comments On A.A.'s Triennial Surveys (5M/12-90/TC)" available at (http://www.scribd.com/doc/3264243/Comments-on-AAs-Triennial-Surveys) And in particular, "Figure C-1" on page 11, which is a graph that also helpfully includes the data being graphed. The data is as follows (I've also included Figure C-1's heading in the below):

"% of those coming to AA within the first year that have remained the indicated number of months.

1mo 2mo 3mo 4mo 5mo 6mo 7mo 8mo 9mo 10mo 11mo 12mo
19% 13% 10% 9%   8% 7%   7%   6%   6%   6%    6%   5%

I agree with Agent Green http://www.green-papers.org (or at least I think his interpretation is much more plausible). Here is the relevant excerpt from his web page --

Does AA's retention rate indicate 95% failure?

Orange quotes ( http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#AA_dropouts ) an internal AA survey as evidence that 95% of people who begin going to AA meetings will have left after a year. In reality, the graph shows that 74% will leave within their first year not 95% - Orange either doesn't know how to read a frequency distribution graph, or is willfully presenting it dishonestly.

The graph (http://www.scribd.com/doc/3264243/Comments-on-AAs-Triennial-Surveys) is very simple.

The researchers went into different AA meetings and asked the people there how long they had been attending, they plotted the results for those within their first year on this graph by monthly averages. So it shows, 19% of people were in their first month, 13% their second, 10% in their third and so on up to 5% in their twelfth month. Orange claims the 5% of people in their twelfth month indicates that 95% had left after a year (oblivious to the fact that the other 95% in the survey was comprised of those sitting in the same room and with less than 11 months time attending meetings). Agent Orange is in need of a math lesson.

This survey is the other source for Orange's purported 5% success rate. The graph actually shows that 26% of people who try an AA meeting for the first time are still attending AA after the first year, the attrition is from 19% (those in their first month) to 5% (those in their twelfth), and therefore around 74%.

Orange also claims that this 74% attrition is an AA failure rate. I will now use Orange's spectacularly warped logic to prove that exercise is unhealthy. Watch carefully!

•After one year, 74% of people who began work-out routines at a gym are no longer using the gym.
•Therefore gyms have a 74% failure rate.
•Therefore exercise is unhealthy!

It is indeed true that only 26% of visitors to AA stay more than a year, and AA has shown some concern about this statistic. But:

•Some people visit AA and decide it's not for them.
•Some people get sober and decide to leave AA.

Orange's 'failure' statistics turn out to be at best ignorance and at worst flat out lies.

What Agent Green left off, unfortunately (for those trying to defend his interpretation from his critics), is that there is a couple of statements in A.A.'s study which would lead one to believe the Agent Orange interpretation that only 5% remain after 12 months, rather than Green's interpretation that 26% of those in month 1 are still around in month 12. Frankly, from the Green (and my and AAHistoryLovers' viewpoint <1> ), Figure C-1 is mislabeled; and also the page 11 "It is possible to calculate" statement in a2 below is also incorrect:

a1). The heading of Figure C-1 (p. 12): "% of those coming to AA within the first year THAT HAVE REMAINED THE INDICATED NUMBER OF MONTHS." ((emphasis Progree's. Note that Tom E., a writer of a number of postings on this subject at AAHistoryLovers, also indicates the wording is incorrect: "The title of C-1 doesn't match the data" <1> -Progree))

a2). p. 11 - "It is possible to calculate from completed questionnaires, by month, the number of members that have "been around" a given number of months. This relies on the question that determines the month and year that the respondent first came to A.A. The calculation has been performed for the twelve months of the first year for the five surveys, and the results are plotted in Figure C-1. Such results can be interpreted to show the probability that a member will remain in the Fellowship a given number of months" ((immediately following this statement is the "to be more explicit" paragraph in b2 that makes clear the 26% interpretation - Progree))

And here is why we think the Green 26% interpretation is the one intended (and repeating the data again for convenience of proximity):

1mo 2mo 3mo 4mo 5mo 6mo 7mo 8mo 9mo 10mo 11mo 12mo
19% 13% 10% 9%   8% 7%   7%   6%   6%   6%    6%   5%

b1). p. 2 - "approximately 50% of those coming to A.A. leave within 3 months" ((only the "Green 26%" interpretation of the numbers comes anywhere near close to matching this statement -- for every 19 people in month 1 there are 9 in month 4 -- 9/19 = 47% = about half. Perhaps the intended comparison is 19 in month 1 and 10 in month 3 -- 10/19 = 53% also equals about half. --Progree))

b2). p. 11 - "To be more explicit: if all the members who report they have been in the Fellowship for less than a month were still present a month later, then the number who report being in A.A. between one and two months should be equal the number that report being in less than a month, subject, of course, to month-to-month fluctuations and to any possible seasonal effects. The same should apply to succeeding months. However, it is observed that there is a steady decline, (subject to inevitable fluctuations)"

b3.) The percentages add up to 102%, supporting the frequency distribution interpretation ((a frequency distribution table with exact numbers will add up to 100%, but since all 12 numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number, a sum of 102% is quite consistent with a frequency distribution table. It just means that 2 more numbers got rounded up than got rounded down. -Progree))

b4.) It is highly unlikely that given the Orange interpretation of drastic attrition, that only 1% leave in the 5 month period between 6 months and 11 months. Data: (6mo, 7%), (11mo, 6%).

There are a couple of other reasons for thinking the Green 26% interpretation is correct, but they are difficult to explain succinctly.

Anyway, now you know where statements like "according to A.A.'s own statistics, 81% of newcomers leave in the first month (and only 19% remain after the first month); and 95% leave in the first year (and only 5% remain after the first year)" come from. And why that interpretation persists and is so widespread. For example, just Google (without the quotes)

"A.A. 5% retention rate"
"A.A. 95% dropout rate"

and similarly, in the above replace "retention" with "effectiveness" and "dropout" with "attrition" and similar terms to get some more hits.

Another piece of datum cited supporting A.A.'s alleged 5% effectiveness rate is the Vaillant study, which Agent Green also debunks at green-papers.org (and having looked at the Vaillant study extensively myself, I agree with what Green says about it).

Just thought some of you might be interested in knowing where that 5% effectiveness rate stuff comes from. And about the Orange v. Green fight. If you wonder why the A.A.'s don't get together and present the case for A.A.'s effectiveness (such as it is, but almost certainly better than 5%), I don't know either. If you have wondered why A.A. has (apparently) never confirmed which interpretation of the Triennial Survey data is correct, a lot of people are wondering that too.

I agree with the authors of the A.A. study that we could and should be doing a better job at retaining people...

====== Footnotes ==========================
<1> AAHistoryLovers group - see: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AAHistoryLovers/message/2044
See also messages 2379, 3374, 3385

God in the Steps and literature sure sounds like a deity who does favors and answers prayers ....

Your comment........

"I was just pointing out that, though a belief in a deity is not required, the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature proselytize about a specific kind of God - a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity"

my thoughts....

Maybe so, but I do not believe in this...haven't for many years, and don't, and won't...sometimes, there are circumstances that look like there might be, but that doesn't mean there is...

Yes, there are people who believe in that "..prayer answering favor dispensing deity..."

Many people do not.

Again, I'm talking about what the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature say, taken literally and according to dictionary definitions, not what you believe or what I believe or what many people believe. And I'm saying it is wrong for a program that claims to be not religious (and extols rigorous honesty) to be pushing a religious program. And I'm saying it is wrong for A.A. to be helping the government and employers to coerce people into it --

{#} A.A. cooperation with coerced attendance

A.A.® Guidelines
Cooperating with Court, D.W.I. and Similar Programs
from G.S.O., Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163
http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/mg-05_coopwithcourt.pdf [URL FIXED and uploaded 9/16/15. my local copy: AA-mg-05-coopwithcourt.pdf]

where it is suggested that A.A. members create local Cooperation With the Professional Community (C.P.C.) committees and provide the courts with a list of open A.A. meetings. And suggesting ways that A.A. groups and members can help enforce court-ordered attendance, by signing attendance slips for example, and even suggesting other schemes for verifying coercee attendance for groups that don't want to sign attendance slips (See section "E. Proof of attendance at A.A. meetings." ). In other words, enrolling A.A. members to act as agents of government.

{#} Doesn't this "God" sound like a deity, something other than human?

More specifically, as for not believing "for many years" that "the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature proselytize about a specific kind of God - a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity" --

Let's start with the deity first. When you first saw the 12 Steps, did not a deity come to mind? You know, God this and God that and God God God? Isn't deity and God pretty much synonyms? (They are in my dictionary) . I don't think the first thing that came to mind when you saw God was Group Of Drunks.

Do not the Steps and Tradition 2 describe this Higher Power (in Step 2 capitalized) and God (in Step 3 and beyond) as one who will restore us to sanity, remove our shortcomings, manage our lives, care for us, love us, listen to our prayers, give us power, and guide our groups? Kind of hard not to think of this "God" as a deity with some pretty impressive capabilities and characteristics?

and who in Step 11 you pray to for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out?

If you were thinking God = Group Of Drunks, then were you perplexed a bit by Step 5 which said "Admitted to Group Of Drunks, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs?" Didn't you think, uhh, I already admitted to several human beings -- the Group Of Drunks -- the exact nature of my wrongs? So why yet another human being?

Or in Step 11, were you wondering if there is some special small group session where you prayed to the Group Of Drunks for the Group Of Drunks' will for you and the power to carry that out?

Did your group ever read the first part of "How It Works", Chapter 5 of the Big Book, p. 58-60, (many groups do at every meeting) --

p. 60: Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

If your concept of GOD was something human, like perhaps the Group Of Drunks -- the warm welcoming loving smiling people in the church basements (so long as you don't maintain that all this is religious) -- were you shocked to see that one of the 3 pertinent ideas said "probably NO HUMAN power could have relieved our alcoholism?" So AA's conception of God apparently isn't any kind of human power, judging from Pertinent Idea #2. Then the third pertinent idea -- that God could and would relieve our alcoholism and manage our lives if He were sought -- doesn't that kind of sound just a little bit like a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity?

Perhaps you thought, nawww, this must be a bit of a fluke, maybe one place where Bill W. got a little carried away. So you started reading further on in "How it Works", hoping to get back to the generic "God can be a shoe, a lightbulb, a tree, a Group Of Drunks" of the AA apologists' imagination, and instead you encounter many passages where God is clearly described as a rather powerful micro-managing, favor-dispensing deity:

"Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal, we are His agent. He is the Father, and we are His children." - BB p. 62

"We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well." - BB p. 63.

"Take away my difficulties" - 3rd Step Prayer, BB p. 63 {quite a tall order for a Group of Drunks or any group of humans}

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns." - BB p. 68 {infinite - another characterization of God, as well as the assigner of roles}

"Our sex powers were God-given" - BB p. 69

And in the first 11 chapters of the Big Book, God is called Creator (12 times), and Maker (2 times). Pretty specific concept of God, no? Since he is all powerful, he is going to provide what we need, if we keep close to Him and perform His work well? And why not, since he gave us our sex powers (something neither a light bulb nor a tree nor a Group of Drunks ever did for me).

In short, the Big Book contains endless proselytization about a favor-dispensing deity -- the word "God" appears 136 times in the first 11 chapters of the Big Book, not counting Him, His, He, Maker, Creator, Employer, Principal, Father, assigner or our roles, giver of our sex powers, provider of our needs, something other than our well-loved A.A. group, no human power, nor any other human being, accomplisher of the humanly impossible, divine, Providence, has all knowledge and power ... [Added 12/5/13 but not yet uploaded]

If you ventured into the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (aka the 12 X 12), were you surprised to see on page 109 what certainly seems to demean the Group Of Drunks version of higher power:

"From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn’t got the “spiritual angle,” and who still considered his well-loved AA group the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name". -- p. 109 (12 X 12)

{#} If it's not religious, why are agnostics being so ferociously attacked?

If you thought A.A. wasn't a religious program, were you at all perplexed by Chapter 4, where they spent page after page dumping on agnostics, calling them, [font color = brown] "Handicapped By Obstinacy" (p. 48), "prejudiced" and "unreasoning prejudice" (p. 48) "Rather Vain" (p. 49), "No Reasonable Conception Whatever" (p. 49), "Biased And Unreasonable" (p. 51), "Prey To Misery And Depression" (p. 52), "Couldn't Make A Living" (p. 52), "Full of Fear" (p. 52), "Our Ideas Did Not Work" (p. 52), "We Couldn't Quite Step Ashore" (p. 53), "Leaning Too Heavily On Reason" (p. 53), "Abjectly Faithful To The God Of Reason" (p. 54), "Whirling On To A Destiny Of Nothingness" (p. 54), "Fooling Ourselves" (p. 55), [/font] and on and on?.

And on page 28, the Big Book implies that agnostics are not members of A.A.: [this and parag below uploaded 6/17/13]

"In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this class are now among our members."

It seems like when agnostics are assaulted, nobody cares. But what if a chapter was added to the Big Book titled "We Jews" that called Jews vain, prejudiced, obstinant etc? Or "We Muslims" or "We Catholics" or "We Buddhists" or "We Wiccans" or "We Pagans"? Would you just shrug your shoulders and say critics are being overly sensitive?

{#} Some more from the Big Book suggesting God is not other people or human

"we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." - BB p. 98

"The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power." - BB p. 43

Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. - BB p. 99 [this parag added 9/9/13]

"This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible. " - BB p. 50

"5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." - Step 5, BB p. 59 {So God isn't human}

"As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from divine help. " - BB p. 43 {a doctor commenting on Jim's (p. 35) and Fred's (p. 40) cases )

"only an act of Providence can remove it from us." - 12 X 12 p. 21, referring to the obsession for destructive drinking

"Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power." -- BB p. 85 {Wow. And he is called "infinite God" on p. 68 and has "Infinite Power and Love" on p. 56 and "loving and All Powerful Creator" on p. 161. So yup, he is one powerful dude. Loving is a bit hard to swallow though -- why does somebody who has all knowledge and infinite power and the ability to create the entire universe let millions starve while dispensing favors to wealthy American alcoholics? }.

"Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed." - BB p. 102 {I wonder if A.A. has ever been sued for that advice when Infinite God didn't show up to help?}

And several implications that there is ONE God over us all (aside from all the reference to Maker and Creator)

"There is One who has all power - That One is God. May you find Him now!" - BB p. 59

"all of us... are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship" ... as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try." - BB p. 28

"Being wrecked in the same vessel, being restored and united under one God" - BB p. 161, describing the variety of people in A.A.

This is relevant counter to those who argue that there's some God helping us individually or us wealthy American alcoholics or whatever, and an entirely different God or gods that presides over, and neglects the starving millions. If there is one God who presides over us all, one can't duck and dodge the question of why this ONE God of infinite power, knowledge, and love, chooses to dispense favors to wealthy American alcoholics while letting millions starve.

How about all of the prayers in the Big Book? Rather specific characterizations of God contained in those prayers too. And certainly religious to anyone who is constitutionally capable of acknowledging the obvious. -- Please see the "Big Book Prayers" at http://www.blisstree.com/2009/01/12/mental-health-well-being/big-book-prayers-16

It is interesting that the two well-known Big Book "Step Prayers" are to the "Maker" (Step 3 Prayer, p. 63) and to the "Creator" (Step 7 Prayer p. 76).

The other well-known step prayer is the Step 11 Prayer in the 12 X 12 p. 99 ("Lord, make me a channel of thy peace -- that where there is hatred, I may bring love ..." ) .

While calling Him "Lord" (twice), rather than some form of creator, it brings in the religious concept of eternal life -- "It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life"

This one is not from the Big Book, but rather from the Concepts: [this and next parag uploaded 6/1/13]

"Freedom under God to grow in His likeness and image will ever be the quest of Alcoholics Anonymous" -- Concept XII, Warranty Six, "The World Concepts For World Service, Illustrated", P-8) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-8_thetwelveconetps.pdf ) (Kind of sounds like a religious agenda to me).

{#} If it is not religious, why is The Lord's Prayer so often used to close meetings? Why doesn't A.A. have any official position on it other than leaving it to each individual to decide whether to participate or not?

Given that it is a prayer straight out of the Bible (Matthew 6 and Luke 11) with explicitely Chrisitan themes which was preached by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount (the Lord in the Lord's Prayer is Jesus) and that clearly departs from our claim to be not religious?

And pushes the boundaries or violates numerous Traditions (non-affiliation, non-endorsement, outside issues, unity, primary purpose)?

That breaks with A.A.'s attempt to present a generic god and instead present an explicitely Christian God out of the Christian holy book?

For more on the Lord's Prayer, please see http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144174#post25

{#} All 4 federal appeals courts and both state supreme courts that have heard these cases have concluded that A.A. is at least religious in nature and coercion into A.A./N.A. is a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Four Federal Courts of Appeals (Second, Third, Seventh, and Ninth circuits -- the latter one twice) and Two state supreme courts (New York and Tennessee) have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are religious and that nobody can be coerced by government authority into attending these organizations (as that would violate the First Amendment's prohibition against the state establishment of religion). No Federal Court of Appeals and no State Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. To date, the United States Supreme Court has declined to consider any of these rulings, thus letting these rulings stand.

For more on these court rulings:

Warner v. Orange County Department of Probation, 2nd Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 1996

Rauser v. Horn, 3rd Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 2001

Kerr v. Farrey, 7th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 1996

Inouye v. Kemna, 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 2007

Hazle v. Crofoot, 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 2014

Arnold v. Tennessee Board of Paroles, Tennesses Supreme Court, 1997

Griffin v. Coughlin, New York Court of Appeals (New York's highest court), 1996

Here is a Duke Law Journal article that discusses the religious aspects of A.A. and the definition of religion for constitutional purposes (first amendment establishment clause). http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?47+Duke+L.+J.+785

{#} Listening to stories of God doing favors for wealthy American alcoholics (while millions are starving)

So far, I've only talked about how the literature and steps proselytize about a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity. But probably the most annoying form of proselytization is members in meetings sharing how "God" or "my Higher Power who I choose to call God" did them favors no human power could do. Here are just a few that I've heard:

- gave "oomph" to my dead car battery, so I could start my car and get to the meeting on time to hear something I really needed to hear

- miraculously cleared the left lane so I could get into the left turn lane in time

- made available a parking spot near the front door, even though the parking lot was jammed full and overflowing

- Burned down some troublesome rental property I owned, resulting in a great insurance settlement

- My chain saw came loose from my pickup truck and fell out of the truck, and was dragged for 50 feet (it was still chained loosely to the truck). But the saw wasn't damaged other than nicks and scratches. This was my Higher Power gently warning me to be more careful in the future.

In all their shares, they go out of their way to make it clear that it was something other than human that intervened to make the blessed event happen, something supernatural usually named "God".

Particularly all the ways this deity "God" is helping their cars and their driving -- I keep thinking of when I lived in Accra, Ghana, and I didn't see any wheel chairs, but rather people with very long distended less-than-useless legs (polio?) got around by "walking" on blocks strapped to their forearms.

Why was some deity God (and the Big Book makes clear there is one God) helping wealthy American alcoholics with their cars while these poor people with their forearm blocks are begging in the dirty sidewalks and streets?

Or what about those millions in the 3rd world who starve, or who die long agonizing deaths in parts of the world where there are no morphine drips or other effective painkillers?

Listening to narcissistic wealthy Americans talk about God helping them with their cars in a world where so many people live and die miserably is not at all spiritual to me.

{#} Step 11 -- Praying For Knowledge of God's Will For Us and the Power To Carry It Out is a lot more than listening to nature or one's own thoughts

The quietness of a walk in the forest can be your prayer and meditation..or thinking of that quietness of a walk in the forest listening to Moonlight Sonata..can be it..The process of scilencing the clatter in our minds is prayer sometimes.

It's a good description of meditation. However, it doesn't sound like Step 11's praying for God's will for us and the power to carry it out. If anything, it sounds like listening to one's inner thoughts, which gets us into the dangerous area of praying to oneself, becoming one's own God, self-will run riot and all that.

I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful, and I thank you. But I've been around the rewms in and out of maybe a half dozen 12-step programs over the past 30 years. And as time goes on, I get more radicalized by the religiosity, not less. I'm involved with Americans United For Separation of Church and State (www.au.org) and, like many Democrats, I am appalled by the increasing religious penetration of our government and classrooms.

== Recovery Without Proselytization About A Micro-managing Supernatural Loving Personal Favor-Dispensing Entity Called "God" ==
Go to Page: 1