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« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 200 -- America's Roaring Economy. | WILLisms.com | Drudge Irony Alert »

The Best Of The Trivia Tidbits Of The Day.

The Trivia Tidbits Of The Day: they're not always exactly trivia, nor are they tidbits, but they are world famous, and they do appear every day.

Now that WILLisms.com has posted its 200th Trivia Tidbit Of The Day, here's a look at a few of the best from the past 100.

Click on the images to go to the original posts.


#115: Ubiquitous Polling

publicopinionpollssmall.gif Polling. It's great, right?

Well, maybe.

A brief rant:

Polling has gotten out of hand. There are literally dozens of public polls on a variety of subjects in any given week-- many of which directly contradict one another, many of which ask leading, irrelevant, or inaccurate questions designed to promote the media's left-wing narrative, all of which are used by ideological and political partisans to undermine or bolster their respective agendas.

Polls are crystal meth for the media. For Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and others, polls are indisputable truth, and every poll that fits or promotes a left-of-center partisan agenda is good, no matter how poorly constructed and conducted. I've also seen lots of other well-done polls marginalized or ignored by the establishment media. Polls are worse than worthless when conducted shoddily. In odd years, for instance, nearly all pollsters include anyone and everyone rather than registered or likely voters.


#127: Free Trade

freetradesmall.gif Free trade. Let's jump right to my prior comments:

Clearly, partisanship and the "Washington scoreboard" played a role in these decisions. Presumably, when President Clinton was in office, more anti-trade Democrats voted against their ideological leanings in order to give the President a political win....

There are arguments on both side of the free trade issue, and concerns about "outsourcing" are well-taken, but protectionism is terrible for any economy in the long run.

As CAFTA passed by a hair, many in the media spoke of an eroding consensus on trade. Not. All the squeaker of a vote really indicated was that elected Democrats have moved to the left. The Democrats have run away from trade. And there's ample evidence the Democrats have moved to the left on dozens of other issues in order to appease the MoveOn/Kos crowd, which has become the base.


#128: America's Ridiculously Big Economy

twentylargesteconomiessmall.gif Perspective. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the relative size of things. This post was all about explaining just how large the large economies of the world are-- and how dramatic the dropoff is for those medium-sized economies. Some observations:

This explains how the United States can spend such a relatively small amount of our GDP on our military and still have, far and away, the largest military force in the world. It also explains how the U.S. can offer, far and away, more than any other country, in economic aid to poorer countries, yet still get criticized for not doing enough.

What's even more amazing is that the American economy is not only larger than many of those other economies, but it also grows faster than most of the industrialized countries.

It will be interesting to see these numbers in a couple of decades, after year after year of explosive Chinese growth and European stagnation.

It is also important for Americans to understand how important it is to capitalize on our status as the world's lone superpower to shape the world for the better while we can. Carpe diem. All that good stuff.


#134: Productivity Growth

productivitygrowthsmall.gif This post examines the economic concept of productivity. This is thoroughly underreported. Here's the summary:

It's good, all around, to see rapid productivity growth, but it's not necessarily the best news for the incumbent's short-term political fortunes, as employers have little reason to hire additional employees in times of high productivity growth....

When productivity growth goes hand-in-hand with job growth (even manufacturing job growth), you know the economy is in good shape, for now and for the foreseeable future.

Notice how strong productivity growth has been over the past few years.

Now, think about reporting on the economy. How many times have you heard about booming productivity?

Few, or none, I bet.

Coincidence? Or just another page in the "Bush can't win in the media" story? I will let you be the judge of that one.


#148: Net Migration Rate

netmigrationsmall.gif This post came to me after reading an article about how French youth were emigrating from their homeland because of the lack of available jobs. Here's the recap:

Notice how low France is, even with significant and well-known inflows of immigrants from North Africa and former French colonies. Sort of validates this article:

FRANCE is facing an unprecedented new-generation exodus as many of its disillusioned younger people leave in search of a better life abroad.

French organisations offering help to those seeking to emigrate have reported an increase in requests for assistance from young people.

Fed up with a country they describe as rigid, racist and old-fashioned, French youngsters are opting for a new start in Britain, Canada, America or New Zealand where they can find housing and jobs more easily than in France.

Unemployment among the under-25s in France stands at 23.3 per cent, and 40 per cent of 18-30 year-olds describe their financial state as "difficult".

So sad.

And that sadness was not sarcastic. France is a great country. I hate to see the French people shooting themselves in the proverbial foot.


#150: Shrinking Unemployment Rate Race Gap

unemploymentratesmall.gif This late August post came just before Hurricane Katrina, and the information apparently was unknown to the folks pushing the "look at how much worse things are getting for African-Americans in this country" narrative. At the time, all I wrote to accompany the graph was this:

An interesting and underappreciated trend, to be sure.

Little did I know that just a couple of weeks later, the entire media establishment, from Oprah Winfrey to Shep Smith, would be whining about Bush's negligence and incompetence on African-American issues, and how that therefore made Bush responsible for Katrina.

Although Katrina did expose wealth inequalities in the United States, it was shame that there was no context to the story. Everyone sort of just pounced on the "Bush has been bad for black people" bandwagon, without noting that African-Americans have seen significant improvements while Bush has been in office. The racial gap in the unemployment rate, for example, has closed, even as the overall unemployment rate has fallen dramatically over the past couple of years.

This is good news, but we can obviously do better. The next question becomes whether we ought to go down the road Democrats have championed, the European social model, with even higher levels of unemployment than we've sniffed in the past quarter century in America, or whether we should pursue pro-growth policies that unleash the power of the free enterprise system.


#157: Hurricanes

hurricanessmall.gif So often in this active hurricane season, we've heard about how global warming is to blame for Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and so on. The establishment media love sensationalism. But few reported these facts about hurricanes striking the U.S.:

The average number of hurricanes per decade is 17.7, with 6 "major hurricanes" (category 3, 4, or 5, on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) over the same frame.

We may very well exceed the decade average from 2001 to 2010 at the rate we're going. But we're unlikely to hit the 1940s mark in serious hurricanes-- nor in overall hurricanes.

It is also pertinent to note that the general trend actually seems to be that of slight decline over the years. Imagine that.

Amazingly, from 1851 to 2004, the U.S. averaged only 1.2 category 4 hurricane strikes per decade, and only three category 5 hurricanes have hit the U.S.

181 (two-thirds of) hurricanes have been category 1 or 2.
92 (one-third of) hurricanes have been category 3, 4, or 5.

Free your mind. Put recent record hurricane seasons in historical context.


#175: What Is Europe's Deal?

oneandthreesmall.gif An examination the weird anti-Americanism and Marxism that are taken so seriously in European politics. It is important to look at what other countries are doing economically, so we can emulate the good and avoid the bad. Germany, for example, has it wrong. And over time, this could have stark consequences:

The American economy is roughly 12 trillion dollars large.

Now, let's take that 12 trillion dollars, with a 1% annual rate of return, compounded daily, for forty years: $17,901,798,281,182.28 - Nearly 18 trillion dollars.

Now, let's take that 12 trillion dollars, with a 3% annual rate of return, compounded daily, for forty years: $39,839,438,447,474.09 - Nearly 40 trillion dollars....

Incidentally, the U.S. GDP growth rate was 3.1% in 2003 and 4.4% in 2004.

The German GDP growth rate, meanwhile, was -0.1% in 2003 and 1.6% in 2004.

In a generation or two, if we make the right choices and Europe continues making the wrong choices, we could be two drastically different societies. In a few decades, Germany could very well seem like a third world country, relative to the United States.


#179: Religion

religioussmall.gif This post generated quite a bit of hate email and furor. I don't write controversial things for the sake of controversy, but it's sometimes a bit fun when people have a strong response to something you've written. I never would have thought this particular post would have made people so angry:

Now, it does not make someone a better person for donating time and money to charity, nor is someone a bad person if they do not donate time and money to charity.

But if I were down on my luck, I would clearly prefer the help of a faith-based organization to that of a bureacratic government program. And let's not forget that religious folks are happier than secular people.

Religion, it would seem, is a force for good. The "Armies of Compassion" should be unleashed, not maligned or marginalized.

And this is important. Whether you are religious or secular, you have to admit that religion is a net positive force in America. And if you're a small government secular libertarian type, you should applaud the good works churches do in communities. They mitigate the need for large government programs to address social problems.


#189: Hurricane "Medicare"

medicaresmall.gif An important look at the Medicare storm that lurks just off the coast:

Notice how Medicare spending growth sort of stalled out at the same time that the federal government ran budget surpluses. In 1999, there was even a rare contraction in spending on Medicare.

It wasn't an accident. It was the same deal with other entitlement programs.


Temporarily, in the late 1990s, there was a lull in the growth of new retirees. But it was the calm before the storm. Right now, we've got the bands of the Baby Boom storm just barely beginning to batter us.

This ought to be a wakeup call for everyone. I am not quite sure how those who have this information, but still reject doing anything about it, think we're going to be able to afford the impending spending explosion. Can we grow our way out of deficits? Sure, when our economy is growing the way it is today, and when "pork" is the extent of the spending problems. No problem.

But will this lurking fiscal storm have a neutral impact on our economy? Not likely.

We won't be able to grow our way out of this one, folks.


The Entire List, 101-200:

101: Economic Growth Means Smaller Deficits.
102: School Choice Hypocrisy.
103: Attractive People Earn More Money.
104: American Stock Ownership Way Up.
105: Eminent Domain Failure.
106: Supreme Court Nomination Trivia.
107: Syrian Instability.
108: Elephant Calls.
109: Growing Global Energy Demand.
110: Carbon Emissions In Developing World.
111: Presidential Vetoes.
112: Global Energy Production.
113: John Roberts.
114: America's Historical Unemployment Rate.
115: Too Many Opinion Polls.
116: Largest Tax Revenue Increase Ever.
117: American GDP Growth Carries On.
118: Interest Rates Historically Low.
119: U.S. Home Boom.
120: Economic Literacy.
121: Globalization.
122: Global GDP Growth.
123: Union Influence.
124: Off-Court Trouble In The NBA.
125: The Amazing American Economy.
126: Recess Appointments, Historically.
127: Partisanship & Free Trade.
128: Perspective On America's Huge Economy.
129: Political Gender Gap.
130: More & More Jobs.
131: U.S. Personal Savings Rate.
132: Tourism To U.S. Back Up.
133: Inflation Remains Low.
134: Productivity Growth.
135: Shrinking Budget Deficits.
136: Religion In The Senate.
137: Religion In The House Of Representatives.
138: Research & Development.
139: Jobs.
140: Deficits/Surpluses As A Share Of GDP.
141: Monetary & Financial Conditions.
142: Crime Rate Down.
143: Air Travel Operations Up Again.
144: Suicide Rates.
145: Business Fixed Investment.
146: Corporate Profits.
147: U.S. Senate Historical Productivity.
148: Global Immigration Rates.
149: Regional Housing Bubbles.
150: Racial Gap In Unemployment.
151: Peacetime Military Deaths.
152: Supreme Court Nomination Stats.
153: Government Spending & Unemployment.
154: Consumer Confidence Index.
155: Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
156: U.S. Job Creation.
157: Hurricane Strikes Per Decade.
158: Medicaid Spending Way Up.
159: Democrats & Religion.
160: Supreme Court Nominations.
161: Test Scores Up In America.
162: Partisanship & Israel.
163: Pre-Katrina New Orleans.
164: Katrina Rescue Efforts.
165: Gender Achievement Gap.
166: Corps Of Engineers Funding.
167: Mary Landrieu's 2008 Hopes.
168: Economic Freedom's Power.
169: Immigration To America.
170: U.S. Poverty Rate.
171: Katrina Evacuees.
172: Benefits Of Economic Freedom.
173: The Flat Tax Works.
174: Economic Freedom & Political Rights.
175: European Social Model Failure.
176: Gasoline Taxes.
177: Houston's Hurricane Evacuation.
178: U.S. Energy Refining.
179: Religion.
180: Best Places To Do Business.
181: The Rich & Taxes.
182: Middle Class.
183: The Peace Dividend.
184: Tort Reform.
185: Top Collegiate Logos.
186: Government Revenues & Spending.
187: Drowning In Entitlement Spending.
188: U.S. Housing Bubble.
189: Medicare Spending.
190: China's Housing Boom.
191: Life-Cycle Effects Of Earning.
192: Declining Newspaper Circulation.
193: Laundered Political Money In Texas.
194: Free Economies.
195: Gas Prices.
196: Guns & Gun Crime.
197: Excess Profits Tax.
198: Oil Industry Profits.
199: Latino Vote.
200: America's Roaring Economy.

Hopefully you'll be able to find something worthwhile and interesting.

Also see the retrospectives on the first 50, as well as the second 50. And stay tuned for more trivia tidbits. Collect them all!

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 October 2005 11:45 AM


Great stuff,

Did you have any charts that compared increases in productivity and new jobs, as you so rightfuly pointed out the relationship?

Posted by: DL at October 29, 2005 04:13 PM

Lots of great stuff. I like #150 the best and will try to remember to look at the comparable stats a few months down the road.

Wash out the difference in white-nonwhite teen unemployment and the difference is probably much smaller.

Posted by: Tom Blumer at October 30, 2005 12:34 PM