State of the Nation

*Any statements in this issue of the Watch which are not sourced are mine and identified by “WW”.

32% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 61% say it is on the wrong track. [Bloomberg, 7/12/17]


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July 2017 is 4.3%.

If one takes into account the total number of unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the unemployment rate for July 2017 is 8.6%. [BLS data is based on those 16 years of age and older.]

As of July 30, 2017 Gallup found an unadjusted unemployment rate of 4.9%. It also found an under-employment rate of 12.6% (unemployed + those working part-time but wanting full-time). [This is based on those 18 years of age and older.]

According to its website, as of 7/31/17, Gallup will no longer routinely measure unemployment and underemployment.

There are 6.2 million jobs available and 7 million people looking for jobs.
18% of those between the ages 25 – 54 are not working. [Washington Post, 8/10/17]

America has added more than 1,000,000 jobs since Donald Trump took office. [CNN, 8/4/17]

13.5% of the U.S. population is foreign born. This number includes naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, asylums, refugees, those holding nonimmigrant visas and those in the U.S. illegally. [AP]

The following is a comparison of Russian and U.S. conventional forces.

  United States Russia
Active-Duty Troops 1,367,450 831,000
By Land    
Artillery 6,831 5,281
Tanks 2,831 2,950
By Air    
Fighter Jets 2,988 633
Attack Helicopters 760 348
By Sea    
Submarines 79 107
Aircraft Carriers 10 1
[Wall Street Journal, 6/17/17]

As NAFTA faces “renegotiation” during the first four months of 2017, certain U.S. agriculture exports to Mexico have dropped while others have grown.
Soybeans (– 15%), Broiler meat (– 11%), Corn (– 6%), Beef/Veal (+ 11%), Milk/Cream (+ 18%) [Wall Street Journal, 6/17/17]

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the least trusted of them all?

How much do you trust: Great Deal Good Amount Not Very Much Not at All
Trump administration 14% 23% 30% 41%
The Congress 6% 23% 46% 22%
The media 8% 22% 31% 37%
Public opinion polls 8% 27% 40% 21%
That elections are fair 17% 33% 29% 18%
Intelligence Community 23% 37% 23% 14%
The Courts 22% 38% 25% 12%
[NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll, 6/25/17]

Since the Affordable Care Act was introduced in July 2009, there have been 31 NBC/WSJ surveys in which Americans were asked whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a good idea or a bad idea.

At no time until January 2017, did more people think it was a good idea than a bad idea.

In that January 2017 survey, 45% thought it was a good idea and 41% thought it was a bad idea.

In June 2017, 41% thought it was a good idea and 38% thought it a bad idea.

Also in the June survey, when respondents were asked whether the health care legislation passed by the House of Representatives was a good idea or a bad idea 48% thought it was a bad idea and only 16% thought it was a good idea.
[NBC/WSJ, 6/17]

In the U.S., there are nearly 100 opioid related deaths every day. If opioid use rises as experts expect, the drug could kill more than 500,000 people over the next 10 years. [STAT News]

In just one year, 1.27 million Americans needed emergency room or inpatient hospital stays for opioid related issues.[Washington Post, 6/20/17]

In 2015, “more than 33,000 people died of opioid overdoses, and 20,000 more died from other drugs.” [Washington Post, 8/1/17]

“The chief executives of America’s 350 largest companies made an average of $15.6 million in 2016, or 271 times more than what the typical worker made last year. (Numbers below based on 2016 dollars).

  Average CEO Compensation Ratio of CEO pay/average worker pay
2016 $15.6 million 271/1
2015 $16.3 million 286/1
2000 ———— 376/1
1989 ———— 59/1
1965 ———— 20/1

The number of U.S. households grew by 7.6 million in the 10 years spanning between 2006 and 2016. During that same period the number of households renting their homes rose from 31.2% of households to 36.6% of households. This is the highest level of renters since 1965 when 37% of households were rented. [Pew Research, 7/19/17]

Half of new business formation in the United States occurred in 20 of the 3100 U.S. counties. [USNews & World report, CBER]

Is America in a state of decline?

June 2017 January 2015
Yes 52% Yes 49%
No 44% No 48%
[NBC/WSJ poll, 6/2017]

42% of Americans live in a household with a gun. 57% live in households with no guns. 67% of gun owners say they own a gun for protection, 38% for hunting, 30% for sport shooting, 13% as part of a gun collection and 8% for their job. [PEW Research, Spring 2017]

Estimates of the number of guns in civilian hands in the United States vary from 270,000,000 to 310,000,000. The number of gun owners seems to have declined over time. [Pew, 6/4/13]

A somewhat different cut says that 3% of Americans own half of the country’s 265,000,000 guns. [USA Today, 9/22/16]

This and That

“In politics you have to know how to read the ground, the real topography. You can’t just go by the work of past mapmakers, you have to see clearly what’s there now. It’s unconservative not to.” [Peggy Noonan, WSJ, 7/22/17]

If you tried to sign up for “Wake Up to Politics” (mentioned in the previous WW issue) and got no response it is because Gabe was off at camp for a total of eight weeks.

A record was broken at the 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Joey Chestnut ate 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes. His personal record is 73.5 hotdogs in that time period. [Arizona Daily Sun]

As of June 3, 2017, at least 2 billion users were checking into Facebook at least once a month.

66% of monthly users return daily. Approximately 75% of Facebook users are outside of the United States. [Wall Street Journal]

Twitter by the numbers

  • 328 million active users (This number has not grown in 2 years.)
  • 68 million daily active users
  • 350,000 tweets sent per minute
  • 500 million tweets sent per day
  • 200 billion tweets per year

Americans age 18-29 get most of their news from the Internet, while Americans age 50+ get most from TV. [Frank Luntz]

The average American makes 1.5 trips to the grocery store a week, spending an average 53 hours a year roaming the aisles. [Business World, WSJ, 6/17/17]

I ran into an old political friend and asked what he was up to. He said he was working on various crises around the world. I asked him where. He responded, “In places where ‘duck’ is both a verb and a noun.”

Germany has become the 14th European country to approve same-sex marriage. It joins the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark, France, Britain, Luxembourg, Ireland and Finland. [Wall Street Journal, 7/1/17]

In the June 18, 2017 issue of the New York Times there is a full-page ad on the back page of the first section called “Baby Steps.” It is authored by Andy Katz-Mayfield, one of the Co-Founders of Harry’s. Harry’s is a grooming company for men, which started by selling razors. (I use the razor.)

The ad begins with a discussion of his then seven month old daughter but the heart of the article announces a new policy for the company.

“…we’re offering a new parental leave policy: 16 weeks of equitable paid leave to every person on our team. This applies to men, women, transgender people, birthing parents and non-birthing parents. Everyone. Because all parents deserve the resources and tools to make the best decisions for their families – to be great coworkers, and also great parents. [NYTimes, 6/18/2017]

As various congressional and executive investigations go forward there is often commentary by the media that an individual’s particular interview or appearance is “under oath.” The reality is that whether under oath or not, a false statement made to an appropriate government official can be a felony under 18 U.S. Code 1001.

“We have been seeing a generation of media figures cratering under the historical pressure of Donald Trump. He is really is powerful…

“…They have been making the whole political scene lower, grubbier. They are showing the young what otherwise estimable adults do under pressure, which is lose their equilibrium, their knowledge of themselves as public figures, as therefore examples – tone setters. They’re paid a lot of money and have famous faces and get the best seat, and the big thing they’re supposed to do in return is not be a slob. Not make it worse…”

“…So many of our media figures need at this point to be reminded: You belong to something. It’s called: us.

“Do your part, take it down some notches, cool it. We have responsibilities to each other.” [Peggy Noonan, WSJ, 6/17/17]

A recent study shows that as much as 14% of college students are homeless.
[Washington Post, 6/26/17].

76% of Americans are afraid the United States will be engaged in a major war in the next four years. This number is up 10% points since February. [NBC/SM, 7/14/17]

23 percent of traditional retail jobs in the U.S. are located in rural and small metropolitan areas. On the other hand, only 13 percent of e-commerce jobs are in rural or small metros. As the retail business moves increasingly to urban centers and online, the bottom may be falling out for the industry in rural areas already hit by manufacturing closures. [The New York Times, 6/27/17]

84% of Republicans/leaners and 63% of Democrats/leaners say that a friend’s vote for Trump would have no effect on their friendship. Conversely 85% of Republicans/leaners and 85% of Democrats/leaners say their friend’s vote for Clinton would have no effect on their relationship. [Axios, Pew Research, 7/9/17]

52% of Americans are paying more attention to politics since Donald Trump was elected President. This group includes 58% of women and 46% of men. [Pew Research, 7/9/17]

70% of women and 54% of men view online harassment as a major problem. [Pew Research, 7/20/17]

After the demise of the health care bill in the Senate, former Congressman John Dingell told a reporter that John McCain was “tough as a two-dollar steak, sharp as the knife you need to cut it.”


(Courtesy of Simma Liebman)

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
[Clarence Darrow]

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
[Winston Churchill]

He had delusions of adequacy.
[Walter Kerr]