Daily Archives: April 7, 2004

The Condi Rice Drinking Game

From the irrespressible Wonkette:
The Condi Rice Testimony Guide and Drinking Game.

The Latest E-mail Scam

You receive an email that’s titled “PRIZE AWARD NOTIFICATION!” No beating around the bush, no careful “You may have won…”, a flat statement that you have won and the email is to acquaint you with your status as a winner and tell you how to collect your money, typically between 100,000 and 250,000 Euros.

It is our pleasure to inform you that you have emerged as a Category “C” winner of the International Lotto Netherlands. CONGRATULATIONS! You are entitled to a prize sum of 1,500,000.00.Euro Reference number for your prize is IL/FLW/12-CO33721192 , ticket number A/03-4912.As a category “C” winner, you have been selected from a total number of 100,000 names drawn from Asia, Africa, Europe, Middle East and America. After the computer ballot of our International Promotions Program, only Ten winners emerged in this category and therefore are to receive payouts of (1,500,000.00 Euro) from the total 15,000,000.00 Euro for Third category winners.

To immediately collect your prize, please contact our Category “C” financial handlers with information below:

You look hard, you read carefully several times, and there’s no hint that you haven’t actually won this “contest”. This has gotta be a scam, you think, but where’s the hitch?

The hitch is that when you contact them to collect your winnings, it turns out that before you can get the money you have to pay them between $800 and $1000 as a “handling fee”. This is substantially the same con as the “Nigerian banking swindle” that was making the internet rounds for months, but dressed up as a legitimate marketing contest. I have won three such contests in the past month–pretty good for somebody who’s never won anything in his entire life except for a couple of $2 Instant-Winner scratch-tickets.

These internet scams are becoming more outrageous and harder to spot by the day. They no longer even bother with the appearance of legitimacy by couching their language in legal-neutral conditionals like American Family and Publisher’s Clearing House–which actually do award their prizes. Now they are so sure they can’t be traced that they tell blatant lies that all but dare you to expose them.

The authorities can’t stop them but maybe we can. Hassle them. Send them return emails demanding that the “handling charge” be taken out of your winnings before pay-out. Threaten them with lawsuits when they don’t answer–because they won’t. Threaten them with lawsuits if they don’t pay up. Follow up with lots of “Where’s my GD money, you &^%*’s?” emails. Overload their servers. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and you’ll be doing your fellow internet users a service.

HF Says: "Unemployment Crisis Doesn’t Exist"

Well, guys, I guess we can all relax about the so-called “unemployment crisis”. According to Tim Kane of the conservative Heritage Foundation, it doesn’t really exist. In an Op-Ed piece for the NYT, he writes that a lot of those jobs we thought we lost are an illusion created because the survey the Labor Dept uses is seriously out of synch with 2004 employment realities.

It depends, as usual, on which statistics you use. And there is reason to doubt the numbers from the payroll survey, which the Labor Department has used since 1939, because they give a misleading picture of the 2004 economy.The payroll survey counts jobs, not workers. But counting payroll jobs is a questionable way of measuring America’s evolving work force, especially in light of declining job turnover. The payroll survey’s biggest problem is that it systematically double counts workers when they change jobs. Since somewhere between 2 percent and 3 percent of the work force changes employers every month, payrolls tend to be noisy. The illusion of lost jobs in recent years occurred because job turnover declined after 2000, first with the recession, then even more sharply after 9/11. As a result, 1 million jobs have been artificially “lost” in the payroll survey since 2001.

I guess that takes care of that. A much better survey to use would obviously be the “household survey” because then the numbers you got would be much more supportive of Bush, which is the name of the conservative game, after all.

The sharpest contrast can be seen by looking at the Labor Department’s household survey, which shows a record high level of total employment. This survey reported an employment level of 138.3 million as of March — 600,000 more working Americans since President Bush took office in 2001.Since the recession ended in November 2001, the payroll survey has reported 323,000 fewer payroll jobs, but the household survey has found 1.9 million more overall jobs. Common sense tells us that payroll jobs aren’t the end-all, be-all of jobs in the new economy. Economists reflexively like payroll data because it has a bigger sample, but quantity doesn’t always ensure quality. (emphasis added)

Glorioski, Sandy, we’ve just been imagining all this time that everybody we know is out of work and there aren’t any jobs around. Really, it was all just because the Labor Dept wasn’t counting right. Now we can all relax and go back to sleep. Everything is fine…is fine…is fine…is fi–(“Kick the damn thing!”)(*boot*)–is fine.

Maybe I was wrong about these being cooked numbers; if Mr Kane is attacking them, they must be real. Still seems awfully convenient, though.

Why Gas Prices Are So High

FITE Newsletter #21: Bush Tax Cuts and Outsourcing Cause Increased Gas Prices

Gas prices are increasing and show no sign of slowing down. Some experts predict that prices will increase to $3.50 by the end of the summer. People are getting so upset that even Bush supporter Bill O’Reilly of “The O’Reilly Factor” talk show said the other day that it could would be a good reason not to vote for Bush. The prez, he says, should tell us why it’s happening.

As they say, be careful what you wish for. If Mr. Bush told us the truth, he would certainly lose the election. That’s because the increasing price of gas is in part his own fault. The problem is the giant tax cuts for the rich which have put our grandchildren in deep debt. Since international investors don’t like holding the currency of financially irresponsible countries, the dollar has declined quite a lot over the past two years, exactly during the time that Mr. Bush started to give the giant tax cuts that have put our country so deeply into the red.

Another reason for the dollar’s decline is the outsourcing the ultra rich insist is both inevitable and a good thing for the country despite lots of evidence to the contrary. (see here) American corporations pay dollars for the goods and services they import, but these countries don’t return the favor by buying a similar amount from this country. This in turn reduces demand for the dollar, further depressing its value.

High gas prices aren’t just bad for drivers. Oil price spikes have ALWAYS signaled recessions, so the economy won’t bring us any good news this fall. This makes it a certainty that Mr. Bush will have to run on other issues, despite the most recent employment statistics.

For more information on high gas prices, see the op-ed section of our home page, Fairness in Taxes.