Tag: Demographics

Not This Sh%$ Again

Once again, we have hand wringing from the “Very Serious People” that a declining population is the end of the world.

This time; it’s China, and this time, according to the appropriately hysterical tech reporter, population decline will destroy the country.

In fact, they don’t say HOW this would destroy the country, it just self-evidently bad.

While it is true that having more elderly people and fewer working age people places demands on the funding of old age benefits, if there are fewer working age people, their pay goes up, because there is a smaller supply of labor.

That is why (as I have not infrequently noted) the black death was followed by skyrocketing wages and productivity from most of the population of Europe.

The continued drop in new births is a ticking time bomb for Beijing. Fewer births means less labor force supply, which in turn adds to the pressure on a pension system that relies on contributions from the working population. China had 254 million elderly residents aged 60 or above in 2019, according to the statistics bureau—that’s 18% of the whole population of 1.4 billion.

That number is expected to expand to 300 million by 2025, according to China’s ministry of civil affairs. Some research suggests a bleak conclusion: China’s state pension scheme could run out of funding by 2035 due to the shrinking workforce. That would be a huge issue for the Party, whose top priority is to maintain social stability.

The workers’ pension payments go up by 10%, and their wages go up by 20%, and everyone, wins, except, perhaps for Foxconn and its ilk, who see wage pressures cut into their profits.

Certainly, there are accommodations to be made, like making the workplace friendlier to older workers in addition to increasing taxes, but it’s not the end of the world.

Ha Ha!

It appears that Donald Trump’s efforts to f%$# with the US Census will come to naught, because there are data processing issues that will not allow them to get the final results in time:

In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials have concluded that they cannot produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after President Trump leaves office in January.

The president said in July that he planned to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count for the first time in history, leaving an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up House seats, a shift that would be likely to increase the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade.

But on Wednesday, according to three bureau officials, the Census Bureau told the Commerce Department that a growing number of snags in the massive data-processing operation that generates population totals had delayed the completion of population calculations at least until Jan. 26, and perhaps to mid-February. Those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the Trump administration.


Under law, the White House must send a state-by-state census tally to the House of Representatives next year that will be used to reallocate House seats among the states. On Mr. Trump’s order, the Census Bureau is attempting to compile a separate state-by-state tally of unauthorized immigrants so that their numbers can be subtracted from official census results before they are dispatched to the House.


Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Just Had a Bull Durham Moment

The Secretary of Commerce has announced a target date of October 5, 2020 to conclude 2020 Census self-response and field data collection operations.

— U.S. Census Bureau (@uscensusbureau) September 28, 2020

Judge Koh Will be Seeing You

It’s never a good idea to call an umpire a c%$# sucker.  As was shown in the classic Baseball Movie Bull Durham.

 If you are a ball player, you are certainly going to get ejected, and likely to get fined.

When a senior administration official does the same thing with a Federal judge, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has just done with the census, this becomes a setup for a privileged asshole to have a very unpleasant day with a pissed off judge.

Even if he only spends a few hours in the slam waiting for a DoJ motion to bail him out, he will not enjoy himself.

An announcement Monday that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is aiming to end census data collection by Oct. 5 took a federal judge by surprise days after she ordered operations to continue through Oct. 31 to get an accurate population count.

“Breaking news,” a lawyer for the Commerce Department told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh as a hearing was under way on a lawsuit by civil rights groups claiming that the Trump administration’s move to compress the timeline for the once-a-decade census will result in an undercount of minorities.

The government lawyer pointed the judge to a tweet from the Census Bureau about Ross’s intentions.

Koh said she was “disturbed” that “despite the court’s order,” census supervisors have told field workers to wrap up data collection. The judge added that she’s been “inundated” with emails from field workers making similar allegations.

Clearly, I need to bring this to a head sooner than I thought,” she said. “And I’m prepared to do it. So let’s do this.” 

(emphasis mine)

I am an engineer, and not a lawyer, dammit,* it seems to me that this is a judge who is very pissed off at what has just happened.

Hopefully, she will take action against the administration officials behind this, and not just the department of commerce.

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

This is a Big Deal

A federal judge has issued an injunction preventing the Census Bureau from terminating operations while a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s attempt to sabotage the decennial count.

This is not a victory, it’s just a hold until the suit can progress, but it does imply that there is a reasonable chance of their prevailing:

A federal judge has ordered the US Census Bureau for the time being to stop following a plan that would have had it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September.

The federal judge in San Jose issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency.

The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on 17 September. The once-a-decade head count of every US resident helps determine how $1.5tn in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

The September hearing should be interesting.

About F%$#ing Time

The House on Wednesday voted to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for failing to provide documents related to the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, escalating the fight between Democrats and the White House over congressional oversight.


After a string of legal defeats, Trump last week abruptly retreated from his efforts to add the question to the census, announcing that he will instead order federal agencies to provide the Commerce Department with records on the numbers of citizens and noncitizens in the country.

But lawmakers continue to demand answers about the motivations behind the administration’s 19-month effort to ask about citizenship status on the decennial survey. In May, new evidence emerged suggesting that the question was crafted specifically to give an electoral advantage to Republicans and whites. The Trump administration has said it needs the information to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.


The impact of the contempt vote is largely symbolic. Those found in criminal contempt are normally referred to the Justice Department for prosecution; in this instance, the Justice Department would not prosecute itself.

I’m not sure if it means much in the grand scheme of things, but I hope that it ends up more than an empty gesture.

Oh Snap

The White House and Congress are in a conflict over census documents.

Basically, it’s painfully obvious that the Trump administration wants to change the census to suppress the count of non-whites in America.

This embarrassing to admit, so they are refusing to turn over documents to Congressional oversight committees.

Congress has threatened Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Ross with contempt citations over that, and Bill Barr has threatened to request that Trump claim executive privilege if they are held in contempt.

In response, the House House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold them in comtempt.

I think that committee chairman Elijah Cummings has no f%$#s left to give:

President Trump lashed out Wednesday against a widening web of congressional probes that demonstrated the limits of his strategy to declare victory and try to move past the 22-month special counsel investigation into Russian interference that has consumed much of his presidency.

Yet Trump’s latest efforts to defend himself ran into new obstacles as a House panel moved to hold two Cabinet officials — Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — in contempt of Congress over the administration’s efforts to shield documents related to its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

The committee vote came several hours after Trump asserted executive privilege over the material related to the 2020 Census.By day’s end, there was more potential bad news for the White House as Hope Hicks, the president’s longtime adviser who left last year, agreed to become the first former aide to testify next week for a House Judiciary Committee probe into whether the president sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.


The Justice Department and the Oversight Committee are essentially on the same trajectory as the department and the House Judiciary Committee were last month, when the Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt for failing to turn over materials related to Mueller’s probe.

Pass the popcorn.

This is the Most Toxic Twitter Discussion Thread Ever

"White Deaths Exceed Births in a Majority of U.S. States" – from @AppliedPopLab https://t.co/XUYilH8APh pic.twitter.com/jAZF8TUgex

— Pew Research Fact Tank (@FactTank) June 20, 2018

This is a fairly unsurprising bit of information, the older populations are cohorts are whiter, and the tail end of the baby-boom is over 50, so it’s not a surprise.

But the comments thread is the most unbelievable racist sh%$-show I have ever seen on Twitter.

Also, you see a bunch of animated GIFs of people eating popcorn.

Click through if you dare.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

In a last-minute move that would give Republicans an advantage in maintaining control of the House of Representatives, the Trump administration is reinstating a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Coming from an administration that has been hostile toward immigrants, the change was not surprising, but it’s galling nonetheless.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the decision Monday, less than a week before the Census Bureau, which his department oversees, is supposed to send final questions for the 2020 census to Congress. If his decision stands — the attorney general of California has filed a lawsuit to block it, and other elected officials are preparing to do so — it would be the first time in 70 years that the federal government has asked people to specify their citizenship status on the census form sent to every household.


Even Mr. Ross acknowledged in an October House hearing that adding questions to the census reduced response rates because “the more things you ask in those forms, the less likely you are to get them in.”


By now, many people have come to expect that Mr. Trump will inject politics into every decision. But even by this administration’s low standards, trifling with the census, which is required by the Constitution and is a foundation of American democracy, represents a serious breach of trust. 

Unfortunately, the Times editorial board does not have the guts to say what is really going on:  This is a nakedly partisan attempt to suppress responses to the census in Democratic locations, with the hope that they can juice the numbers to effectively Gerrymander the Congressional map even further.

This is patently and transparently corrupt.

And This Is a Bad Thing Because???????

More real jobs, fewer contingent laborers, what’s not to love?

Higher wages too.

Various economists have noted just how disastrous it will be as advanced societies transition from population growth to population decline.

It appears that this catastrophe will involve improving working standards for ordinary people.

Oh the horror!  Who will be left to overpay economists?

Japan’s tightest labor market in decades shows signs of reversing a long shift toward the hiring of temporary workers.

The number of full-time, permanent workers is rising for the first time since the global financial crisis, outpacing growth in temporary jobs over the past two years.

“The labor shortage has become so bad that companies can’t fill openings only with part-timers,” said Junko Sakuyama, Tokyo-based senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

Japan’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since 1994 but most of the hiring over the past decade or so has been for temporary, often part-time positions, known as non-regular.

A shift back toward permanent hiring could help sluggish consumer spending pick up. Economists say a decades-long move toward non-regular jobs is partly to blame for weak consumer demand. Non-regular workers now make up more than a third of the workforce. Many work part time, and all on average receive less pay, few benefits, little training and no real job security.

It’s too early to declare a trend reversal, but the number of regular jobs grew by 260,000 in March from a year ago, while part-time, temporary and contract jobs rose by 170,000, the internal affairs ministry reported on Friday. Last year, 510,000 permanent jobs and 360,000 non-regular ones were added.

I’ve said it many times:  Economists who talk about population declines like they are the end of the world are completely unconnected to the real world.

The historical record, most notably the aftermath Black Death (1346-1353), which show that population declines are followed by increases in standards of living and productivity.

The people who don’t do better are (in the 1300s) the nobility or (today) the holders of capital, rentiers, and people who alibi the decrease in well being for the rest of us (economists) who find that they need to spend more to pay people to work for them.

My heart bleeds borscht for them.