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Opinion Blogs
Fail: Fewer Americans are working today than in 2007
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Fail: Fewer Americans are working today than in 2007

Fail: Fewer Americans are working today than in 2007

Fail: Fewer Americans are working today than in 2007

Change you can believe in.

A report from congressional Republicans last week offered data to back up the argument that this recovery – nearly five years along since the end of the recession in June 2009 – has been the slowest and least robust since the end of World War II.

Of all the data points that back that up (and there are plenty), few resonate with me like this one: In December 2007, there were 146 million people working in this country. In February 2014, there were 145 million people working in this country.

That is astonishing. After seven years of population growth and five years of so-called economic recovery, we still haven’t got the active labor force back to the size it was – in raw numbers, mind you – in the seventh year of the Bush presidency.

This is the product of so many bad policies, it’s hard to know where to start. It clearly starts with ObamaCare, which has added to the costs of doing business and provided massive disincentives to companies to hire workers. It also involves the administration’s general hostility toward business, its regulator abuses, its practice of crony capitalism, its refusal to deal with massive deficits and long-term debt, its refusal to fix the tax code, its use of the IRS and other government agencies to attack free-market advocates, its use of the NRLB to tilt the scales in favor of unions . . . the list could go on all day and into next week.

The first priority of the Obama White House is always to expand the power of the federal government, and it uses populist class warfare language to convince voters that this will be in their best interests and at the expense of the evil rich who are the cause of all their problems. This has generally been a political success but a governing failure, and the results show in that shocking number. Fewer people are working today than were working in December 2007.

Last week in Illinois, a group of ministers – who should stick to preaching from the sounds of things – gathered to demand higher taxes on the rich, using the curious logic that since the Bible talks a lot about God’s concern for the poor, that must mean low tax rates are evil. In the midst of all this, one of these ministers made the claim that minimum-wage workers are the real job creators!

I kid you not. That kid at the fast food joint who is putting the ketchup on your burger? Give him your resume and see what happens.

If you want to know why so many Americans are still not working, here is all you need to know: People who think like that guy have been making U.S. economic policy for the past five years (and if you want to throw in the time when Nancy Pelosi first became Speaker of the House, make that seven years). They think “spreading the wealth” is what will lift people out of their situations, and they think confiscating the wealth of those who have the means to create jobs is the epitome of fairness and justice.

This is so obvious, the real question is why more people haven’t caught on yet. I know the mainstream media won’t tell you any of this, but you have eyes, don’t you? It’s only a matter of time before the situation becomes so serious that people can’t help but see it for themselves.

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News

  • Samsung seems to be playing it safe with its first major smartphone since the embarrassing recall of its fire-prone Note 7. The Galaxy S8 features a larger display than its predecessor, the Galaxy S7, and sports a voice assistant intended to rival Siri and Google Assistant. But there is no increase in battery capacity, providing the battery more breathing room. The Note 7 pushed the engineering envelope with its battery, which contributed to a series of spontaneous smartphone combustions. The Galaxy S8 will come in two sizes, both bigger than last year's models. Both models have screens that curve around the edges and get rid of the physical home button. The Note 7 recall cost Samsung at least $5.3 billion. Though many customers remain loyal, any further misstep could prove fatal for the brand. 'We're in the process of earning back that trust,' said Drew Blackard, a senior director of product marketing for Samsung. In the U.S., Samsung will start taking orders Thursday, with shipments scheduled for April 21. Prices haven't been announced yet. ABOUT THAT BATTERY Samsung has blamed the Note 7 fires on multiple design and manufacturing defects in its batteries. Inspectors concluded that the initial batteries were too small for their capacity, and that their external pouch put pressure on the internal structure, leading to damage and overheating. Samsung recalled the phones and shipped replacements, but the newer batteries had welding defects and a lack of protective tape in some battery cells. Samsung recalled the replacements, too, and scrapped the phone. The company says phones will now go through multiple inspections, including X-rays and stress tests at extreme temperatures. The standard-size S8 phone has as much battery capacity as last year's Galaxy S7, but the phone is 4 percent larger by volume. The larger S8 Plus model has 3 percent less capacity than the Galaxy S7 Edge and the same capacity as the Note 7, but the phone's volume is larger by 12 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Both models have larger displays, meaning more drain on the battery. Samsung says that software and processor efficiencies will let the new phones offer all-day battery life under normal use. BIGGER, WIDER SCREENS The S8 phone's display measures 5.8 inches diagonally, compared with 5.1 inches on the S7. The S8 Plus will be 6.2 inches, compared with S7 Edge's 5.5 inches and the Note 7's 5.7 inches. Both S8 models are taller than their predecessors, but widths are roughly the same to preserve one-handed use. Samsung is getting rid of the 'Edge' distinction and bringing curved sides to all S8 phones. It's also minimizing the frame, or bezel, surrounding the display; gone is a horizontal strip with the home button at the bottom. Instead, Samsung is embedding a virtual home button in the display, leaving Apple's iPhones as among the few to sport a distinct home button. VOICE ASSISTANT Samsung claims its new voice assistant, Bixby, will do much more than rivals from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. For one thing, Samsung says Bixby will be able to handle any smartphone task currently managed by touch. Bixby will also offer information on books, wine and other products scanned with the phone's camera. But there's a major caveat: Bixby will work only with selected Samsung apps, including the photo gallery and messages. Not all touch commands will have voice counterparts right away. Other apps will be able to adopt Bixby, but Samsung has had a mixed track record in getting other companies to support its home-brewed functions like Bixby. 'I think the brand will struggle to compete in the longer term with the broader digital ecosystems from Google, Amazon or Apple,' Forrester analyst Thomas Husson said. OTHER FEATURES The front camera is getting a boost to 8 megapixels, from 5 megapixels, while the rear one stays at 12 megapixels. As with previous models, the S8 is water and dust resistant and features a memory card slot to supplement 64 gigabytes of built-in storage. The S8 will get an iris scanner to let people unlock the phone by looking at it ; the feature was new in the ditched Note 7 phone. Samsung will include premium earbuds from AKG, a brand it acquired when it bought Harman International. BEYOND THE S8 Samsung's virtual-reality camera, Gear 360, will now accommodate a higher resolution, known as 4K, and work with iPhones, not just Samsung phones. An optional docking station will turn the S8 phone into a desktop computer when connected to a regular TV. In that mode, people will be able to resize windows and work with several apps at once. It's similar to what Microsoft offers on its Windows 10 phones. Samsung also unveiled a router that doubles as a hub for internet-connected appliances and lights. Samsung said its previously announced Gear VR headset upgrade, which will now include a hand-held controller, will go on sale in April for about $130. Existing owners can buy just the controller for about $40. The company hasn't announced prices and release dates for the other accessories.
  • A hip-hop promoter arrested after a shooting involving hip-hop star Fetty Wap in his New Jersey hometown is also facing an armed robbery charge. Passaic County prosecutors say Raheem Thomas had a handgun and hollow point bullets when he was arrested on the armed robbery charge, so he's also facing weapons charges and a count of receiving stolen property. Thomas is due to appear in court Wednesday. It's unclear if he's retained an attorney. The shooting happened early Sunday on the street outside a Paterson deli. Police say Fetty Wap and several friends had become involved in a heated altercation with another group inside the deli. Three people were wounded, but Fetty Wap was OK. Thomas is also charged with aggravated assault and having a gun after previously being convicted of a felony.
  • Egypt's famed pyramids at Giza have a newcomer in their midst: the largest on-site antiquities laboratory meant to restore the location's second pharaonic boat. The vessel is believed to be the ceremonial boat of Pharaoh Cheops, known for building the largest of Egypt's pyramids. The project, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Higashi Nippon International University, is set to complete the initial phase of repairs of the 4,500-year-old vessel by 2020. Once reassembled, the vessel of the ancient Egyptian ruler will be displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum, currently under construction on Cairo's outskirts and close to the pyramids at Giza. At the lab's inauguration on Wednesday, Eissa Zeidan, head of the project's Egyptian restoration team, told The Associated Press that the lab at the site of the Giza pyramids was necessary for some of the boat's 1,264 pieces, which are too fragile or large to move. According to Zeidan, the Japanese-Egyptian mission has completed the testing of material which will be used to restore the boat, a process that started in 2010. Kanan Yoshimura, a conservator on the Japanese team told the AP that they are using fillers and soft materials, and that the lab's temperature and humidity are adjusted to simulate the atmosphere in the pits where the pieces were stored for centuries. 'We will restore all of it, every piece is important,' Yoshimura said. The pieces of the vessel and its sister boat, recovered first, were found in five pits surrounding the Great Pyramid, which serves as Cheops' tomb, in 1954. Egypt reassembled the first boat with limited capacities which led to the replacement of some of its original parts. The boats are believed to have been buried with the pharaoh to carry him into the afterlife. The first vessel is currently displayed in a special, air-conditioned building where humidity is carefully monitored, on the grounds that includes all the three main pyramids — the Great Pyramid of Giza, which is also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure, all within a few hundred meters (yards of each other. A few steps down a slope from the complex lies the Great Sphinx. The Great Pyramid is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still in existence.
  • The Trump administration has asked a federal appeals court to postpone ruling on the merits of President Barack Obama's sweeping plan to address climate change. The request late Tuesday came hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that seeks to roll back his predecessor's effort to curb carbon emissions. The regulations — known as the Clean Power Plan — have been the subject of long-running legal challenges by mostly Republican-led states and industry groups that profit from burning coal. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard arguments in the case last year and could issue a ruling any time. Environmental groups oppose any delay. A ruling in favor of the Obama-era rules could help environmental groups battle Trump administration efforts to undo them.