Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Of Debates and Underwear

Yesterday evening was the latest of the Republican candidates' "debates" on the "issues." It turned out to be "Bash Herman Cain" night, just as the last "debate" was "Bash Rick Perry" night. All in all, long on hot air and platitudes, short on useful information.

These debates are all the same. Friendly moderators throw out softball questions, the candidates ignore them in favor of harping on their talking points, the commentators let them get away with it, and most of the electorate watches something more entertaining and useful on TV. This is a crock.

If I were able to moderate one of these "debates," here are a few questions I would have asked, based on the Republican claims that all will be well if we just eliminate "job-killing regulations" (they also harp on "job-killing taxes," but we'll talk about that another time)...

1. What specific regulations do you advocate eliminating?

2. Can you explain the original justification for imposing each regulation you would eliminate? If not, how can you predict the possible effects of eliminating them?

3. Exactly how many jobs have been eliminated or not created as a direct result of these regulations? What is your source for this information? If it comes from the regulated business or industry, has it been independently verified by any other source?

4. How many jobs do you predict will be created as a result of rescinding these regulations? What is the source of this information? If it comes from the regulated business or industry, has it been independently verified by any other source? (You can read an interesting analysis of this topic in this story from The Washington Post: Companies Use Fuzzy Math in Job Claims; Candidates Still Buy In)

Bottom line: I believe the burden of proof is on the person making the accusation. You may be correct that a particular regulation places a possibly-quantifiable burden on the business thus regulated. But if you don’t know why that regulation was imposed in the first place, how can you tell that eliminating it is the right thing to do? There was a reason that activities on Wall Street used to be regulated. Regulations were lifted. We all know how THAT worked out.

Of course, no one will ever ask those questions, because the candidates won't ever answer them. No self-respecting candidate will ever want to give a specific answer to a question, because he or she might actually have to defend it.

On a related economic topic, I learned about an interesting alternative economic indicator yesterday evening on NPR's Marketplace program: The Men's Underwear Index.

According to the MUI, because men view underwear as a necessity, not a luxury, underwear sales should remain steady over time. During severe economic downturns, however, men will wait longer to buy new underwear (probably on the theory that you don't need to replace that which most people won't see). A measurable decrease in underwear sales is said to reflect a poor overall state of the economy. Conversely, when underwear sales pick up, the economy is considered to be improving. According to information received by the NPR reporter for the story (and you have to wonder about someone whose job involves tracking underwear sales trends), men's underwear sales are up 5.2%, which means that the economy is "improving."

I think I'll hold out for the Diaper Index, which would be just as full of ... well ... you know. I wonder if there is a comparable "Women's Bra Index," which might measure how much your economic cup runneth over. A poor economy might be represented by an "A," while a robust, roaring economy might rate a "D." Hmmm ... I think I may need to study this more closely.

Have a good day. Ask the right questions and demand good answers. You'll have to live for the next four years with the results.

More thoughts tomorrow.



John said...

Should you need help in your research on the bra index, I'd be willing to help. If there are those that need help sizing or choosing a new style, I'd like to have a hand in it!

Bilbo said...

Well played, John, well played indeed!

Mike said...

An exceptional economy might be one where a cup runnith over.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

well let's see, my cup runneth over, can't afford new bra (over $100) business is way down and I can't even get hired for a part time mindless job. So I think I am throwing off the curve here.

I did not see the 'debate'
Why bother has become my new apathetic mantra.
If a democrat is in the republicans will work for 4 years to undermine him, not allow anything to pass and not work on actual change. And let us not forget they must bring their narrow minded bigoted religious beliefs into it for the big fear factor. If a republican gets in the democrats will do the same thing without the religion. It's pitiful because no one gives a shit about the people. So I get no new bras!!

Bilbo said...

Mike - don't hold your breath.

M (P or P, Too) - I would like to be uplifting for you, but ...

Big Sky Heidi said...

Would getting implants be the equivalent to an economic stimulus package?

allenwoodhaven said...

My idea for political debates is this: every candidate would have to sit in a metal chair which would be wired. If they didn't answer the question that was asked or told obvious or proven lies, they would be given an electric shock. If they left the chair, they would be taken off the ballot. That should change some behaviors! (I suppose they'd have to be searched for rubber padding.)

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I guess I'm an indicator of a poor economy.

What about Wonderbras? Aren't they a metaphor for a regulated economy?

Bilbo said...

Heidi - I don't know if it would stimulate the economy, but it would certainly stimulate your dates.

alanwoodhaven - I like your idea, but only if the voltage is high enough.

Angelique - Somehow, I doubt that. And Wonderbras are probably less a metaphor for a regulated economy than a stimulated one.