Later SDB Evening News Reads: So Ronery? Try Colonial PennPosted: December 20, 2011
I have a question that maybe you all can help me with. This past week my mother, father and I have been busy hanging up pictures and putting things in their place…yes we are still moving in, but at least it is looking more like home.
In yesterday’s post I wrote about WW2 veterans…this was my grandmothers and grandfathers generation. They are all gone, but our house is full of images and photographs of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, items my grandfather brought back from the War, and even a couple pillowcases he sent to my grandmother while he was in France after D-Day. They all are wonderful memories that hang framed on the wall.
So while we are working on hanging all these things, my brother is in the living room watching his shows. He has TVLand on all day, of course, most of the commercial sponsors of MASH, Bonanza, I Love Lucy, The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son are aimed at the senior citizen generation. You know the ones, AAPR/Medicare, Colonial Penn and catheter ads that used to target people of my grandparents generation. Since most of them have passed or will soon be moving on to greener pastures, it follows that those ads are now produced for the baby boomer generation…
My mom is 64 my dad is 65, my mom’s sister is turning 70 next year…they are the next big focus of future sales for “senior” products. So here is my question, why is it these commercials still use the same patronizing…stupid formula when pushing that Colonial Penn insurance? Isn’t this next generation supposed to be more educated than the last? I just can’t see the former hippie college graduate baby boomer watching these ads and saying, oh yes…I need that funeral life/death insurance policy for just pennies a day. It seems they would be more savvy than that.
I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent, so let’s get down to some newsy links.
Have you seen the latest “lie” reported by Politifact? Paul Krugman had this to say about it:
This is really awful. Politifact, which is supposed to police false claims in politics, has announced its Lie of the Year — and it’s a statement that happens to be true, the claim that Republicans have voted to end Medicare.
Steve Benen in the link above explains it, but let me just repeat the basics. Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.
The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.
How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?
Go to the link to see what the answer is…I’ll give you a hint, it has something to do with attempting to be “fair and balanced.”
In other GOP news, Gary Johnson has decided to officially run as a Libertarian. Hmmmm….I wonder what that means for Ron Paul?
Over in the swamp, the Senate is gone for the holidays, leaving those who would benefit the most from the payroll tax cut, and the extended long-term unemployment benefits, up shit creek without a paddle. Capitol impasse boosts chances of tax increase
The Senate is gone for the holidays, the House packed up to leave, and as a result the chances that working Americans soon will see a tax increase jumped sharply.
The Capitol emptied to an eerie quiet on Tuesday, with no signs of negotiations toward a compromise that would save an expiring payroll tax break. As of Jan. 1, the tax cut that has been in place all year is scheduled to return to 6.2% from its current 4.2%, meaning that biweekly paychecks on average will be $40 smaller. Long-term unemployment benefits for some 3 million people also are poised to expire. Doctors face an estimated 20% cut in Medicare payments.
That means things are going to get even worse for many people who have been struggling…and barely getting by.
There was an article in the NY Times this past week about the economy and consumption, it even had a cute graphic that went with a clever title, What Nail Polish Sales Tell Us About the Economy.
Illustration by Oliver JeffersEconomics is all about consumption. People either spend money now or they use financial instruments — like bonds, stocks and savings accounts — so they can spend more later. A healthy economy is largely a result of a reasonable balance between consumption today and consumption deferred, and it’s pretty clear that balance has been ridiculously out of whack for a while.[…]
Economists believe that what we feel about the state of the economy is best revealed not through what we say in surveys but rather through what we buy and exactly how much of it. There’s a lot of data available, though none come with a prepackaged psychological narrative attached. So analysts do the best they can, combing through our national shopping lists hoping to uncover clues. Sometimes they find remarkably helpful information in very unlikely places.
They also uncover plenty of cute facts that mean little. Consider this: 2011 was a banner year for the sale of insanely expensive fine wines at auction. Someone at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, for example, bought 12 bottles of 1985 Romanee-Conti for a bit more than $150,000, or about $600 per sip. And the grand lesson this teaches us about the overall economy is . . . absolutely nothing. There’s some meaning in this anecdote about how the superrich — especially the newly superrich in China — are doing far better than the rest of us.
So what are some of the “shopping-based indicators” saying about Americans and the US Economy?
The results were mixed, but we did uncover some ominous signs. Lipstick sales used to go up when the economy went down, perhaps because women were searching for a cheap pick-me-up or an edge in a job interview. For reasons nobody quite understands, the lipstick indicator doesn’t hold up anymore, though nail polish sales now seem to reflect the economy very clearly (albeit inversely). A rise in nail polish sales indicates that we’re searching for bargain luxuries as the economy craters — and sales of nail polish are way up right now. Women’s underwear sales are down, which historically suggests intense frugality and more rough times ahead.
But we were encouraged by the number of optimistic indicators we uncovered. There is good news in cemetery plot sales. They seem to have peaked a couple years ago when desperate families were unloading unused holes in the ground (though cremation numbers are rising). Sales of cardboard boxes, because everything from electronics to clothing is packaged in them, should also be a strong indicator of economic rejuvenation. (Current production — enough to paper over the entire state of Maryland — portends recovery.) Sales of men’s underwear, one of Alan Greenspan’s favorite metrics for predicting growth, are also up. Sales of cheap spirits, which soared during the worst of the recession (people need an affordable way to self-medicate), have now stabilized, meaning, at the very least, that people can now afford better liquor.
Of all the indicators we looked at, one of the most consistently accurate was Champagne sales. The amount of French Champagne that Americans consume has predicted — with nearly 90 percent accuracy — the average American income one year later. Apparently, when we pop a Champagne cork, we know that good times are ahead (see chart). Champagne sales hurtled upward twice in recent history — at the peak of the Internet bubble in 1999 and during the heyday of the housing bubble in 2007. These were both followed by slowdowns as fewer people found reason to celebrate.
I realize that we have an amazing resident Doctor of Economics here on Sky Dancing, and Dakinikat always explains all things Economics so well…but I just thought these shopping indicators were kind of funny, because most of the folks (oops, sorry Pat) that live in my redneck of the woods still can’t afford the high price booze, or electronics in their cardboard boxes…and most of the men in Banjoville have holes galore in their underwear. (My dad says poor people have holes in their socks, and rich people have holes in their cheese…)
My point being that things are still bad, and with this payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits both parties are determined to do away with, it is going to get worse.
I wanted to end on an up note, so here are a few items about North Korea that should make you laugh.
Well, after seeing this obvious South Park inspired cartoon, it reminded me of a movie called Team America, that South Park creators made a few years ago.
If you did not see it, the entire movie is done with puppets…which are quite impressive.
Here are a couple of clips from the movie, staring Kim Jong Il, I hope you enjoy them.
Have a lovely evening!
This is a scene from the movie Team America, when Hans Blix from the UN comes to inspect Kim Jong Ils palace to see if he has weapons of mass destruction.
And here is Kim Jong Il singing…I’m so lonely!