Saturday afternoon links, all chart edition

1. Chart of the Day I (above) displays the three largest annual shares of the US federal budget from 1952 to 2020 based on the Office of Management and Budget’s Historical Tables (see Table 6.1 Composition of Outlays). What the graph shows is that over time the federal government has become primarily a gigantic money-transfer machine as America has gradually become an “Entitlement Nation.” Last year, the federal government took $3.4 trillion from some Americans and handed it back to others in the form of payments for Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Social Security, Poverty Programs, etc. Back in 2014, I featured on CD an Investor’s Business Daily article “70% Of U.S. Spending Is Writing Checks To Individuals” by John Merline who made the following point that is even more relevant today:

This massive shift in federal spending toward direct payments to individuals not only balloons the size of the federal government, it makes cutting the budget all the harder, since any meaningful spending reductions will invariably mean cutting back on some of these check-writing programs.

2. Chart of the Day II (above) shows the slow but steady recovery in US air travel. The daily passenger count yesterday according to the TSA’s daily checkpoint travel numbers was 1,357,111. That was the busiest air travel day since March 15, 2020, when air travel was going into free-fall from the pandemic, falling from more than 2 million daily passengers in early March 2020 to a low of only 87,500 passengers by mid-April. The 30-day moving average of daily passengers was just slightly below 1 million yesterday for the first time in almost a year. At the current pace, there’s still a long way to go before air travel gets back to the 2-2.5 million pre-pandemic average daily passenger levels, but things are headed in the right direction as more people feel comfortable leaving home and traveling by air. I’m booked for air travel in May, July, and August, and ready to start experiencing the “miracle of flight” again!

3. Chart of the Day III (above) shows the devastating effects of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s economic lockdowns on the state’s restaurant industry. Last year, 40% of full-service restaurant jobs in Michigan and 30-years of food-service employment gains disappeared. While the air travel chart above shows a gradual recovery, there’s no comparable going on for Michigan’s full-service restaurants and it’s hard to imagine that a full recovery is even possible in the foreseeable future. This is a good example of a significant cost of the economic lockdowns in terms of lost jobs and shuttered small businesses that were completely ignored by politicians like Whitmer in their autocratic and heavy-handed responses to the pandemic.

4. Chart of the Day IV (above) paints an equally bleak picture for employment at full-service restaurant jobs in New York City, where nearly 50% and 20-years of job growth disappeared last year. Devastating, and hard to see a path forward back to pre-pandemic conditions. To put the significant effect of the pandemic-related economic lockdown on NYC restaurants into perspective, consider that the 9-11 terrorist attacks only caused about a 2% decline in full-service restaurant jobs in the Big Apple, and the industry completely recovered within a few years from the temporary slowdown. The pandemic lockdown was like a self-imposed terrorist attack on the New York City restaurant industry with lots of casualties in the form of lost jobs and restaurants that might be permanent.

5. Chart of the Day V (above). At a Monday White House press conference, Jill Biden’s chief of staff Julissa Reynoso made the false/misleading claim at about 3:25 that “A year into COVID-19, it is clear that women have been disproportionately impacted by the combined public health crisis and ensuing economic crisis….” In terms of COVID deaths, that’s just not true as the chart above shows. Over the last year, 121 men have died of COVID every 100 women. By percent, 54.7% of COVID deaths have been male vs. 45.3% female deaths (see chart above), and male deaths have exceeded female deaths by an average of 130 every day. And in terms of unemployment, the female jobless rate has been less than the male jobless rate in four out of the last five months (October 2020 to February 2021) and the same in December 2020. So those are two measures by which men, not women, have been disproportionately impacted by the combined public health crisis and ensuing economic crisis.

6. Chart of the Day VI (above). On Monday, Biden signed an Executive Order to establish the White House Gender Policy Council, which mentions “women” 13 times and “girls” eight times, but never once mentions “boys” or “men.” Here are some specific goals of the new council:

  • suggest changes to Federal programs or policies to address issues of significance to women and girls.
  • address responses to the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on women and girls, especially those related to health, gender‑based violence, educational access and attainment, and economic status;
  • empower girls

But boys and men? Fuggetaboutit! They’re on their own without any help from the White House Gender Policy Council, despite the significant gender differences on a variety of outcomes that clearly demonstrate that it’s men and boys, more than women and girls, who could use some attention and “empowerment” — see chart above.

7. Venn Diagram of the Day I (above) was inspired by feminist Kara Dansky, who appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show this week and warned that Biden’s order on “gender identity” is based on a lie and is a vicious movement that will lead to the complete obliteration of biological sex and destroy women’s rights.

8. Venn Diagram of the Day II (above) for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

9. Chart of the Day VII (above). Twenty years ago the bottom 75% of US taxpayers paid more in federal income taxes than the top 0.1%. But the share of income taxes paid by the bottom 75% has been falling while the share of the top 0.1% has been rising. In the most recent year (2018) of IRS data, the top 0.1% of taxpayers (about 144,000) paid more than 20% of all federal income taxes ($310 billion) while the bottom 75% (about 108 million filers) paid only 13% (about $200 billion). Seems like a pretty good and “fair” deal to me — having 144,000 top taxpayers pay $100 billion more in federal income taxes than the bottom 108 million taxpaying Americans. But if that’s not “fair,” then what should the share of the top 0.1% pay? 25%?

10. Chart of the Day VII (above) shows why the federal minimum wage is irrelevant — only a tiny share (1%) of civilian workers are paid at that rate (or less), the lowest share in recent history going back to 1979. And many of those earning less than the federal minimum wage are tipped restaurant workers and end up earning much more than $7.25 an hour. Millions of other workers live in cities like D.C. and the 29 states with minimum wages above $7.25 an hour — better to have “political wage-setting” take place at the local level based on the local cost-of-living rather than the federal level. And most major retailers like Walmart and Target pay workers way above the federal minimum wage.

Bottom: The federal $7.25 an hour minimum wage is not a binding wage anymore and almost 100% of US workers already make more than that due to market forces and local minimum wages, so it really doesn’t matter. There’s no need for federal lawmakers to engage in “political wage-setting” at the national level.