The Libertarian Party gets attention: Daily Bullshit, June 5, 2016

There’s not a lot that’s been hitting my radar lately. On Saturday, I even had time to update my unemployment spreadsheet. Even today, it seems kind of thin.

Libertarian Party

There may be a real temptation to simply dismiss this coverage as journalists making something out of nothing because the Libertarian Party’s chances are so limited. The trouble with that is that were news operations to decide to decline to cover this as a “non-event” of little significance, they would reinforce the two-party system. They do this anyway with horse race coverage that gives prominence to survey results and thus to major party contenders at the expense of a debate on issues and by diminishing the prospects for Libertarians (let alone the Green Party) to even get on the ballot or reach a fifteen percent approval threshold for candidates to appear in the debates. And we certainly saw its operation in favoring a “mainstream” candidate in mainstream coverage of the contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.[1]

So it’s interesting to see this coverage now as the mainstream candidates’ approval ratings are dismal.[2]

William Douglas, “Libertarian Gary Johnson: This could be year for third party,” McClatchy, May 31, 2016,

Rebecca Savransky, “Libertarian nominee: ‘I don’t think I’m going to be a spoiler,'” Hill, June 5, 2016,

Hillary Clinton

Invoking the fifth amendment—which refers to a basic human right—has always been viewed with suspicion anyway because it’s hard to think of situations where innocent people might choose to invoke it, but “because of quirks of the legal system, [Bryan Pagliano’s] decision to stay quiet could be seen as an implicit confirmation that he or the State Department had done something wrong.”[3]

Julian Hattem, “Clinton’s IT aide keeps email server shrouded in mystery,” Hill, June 5, 2016,


Here’s why I think Friday’s report was noise: By relying on non-seasonally adjusted numbers, I get a lot of noise. And I get a better picture of the overall trends. The report doesn’t really change those trends; what it does suggest is that we have reached a turning point within the normal up-and-down variation (figures 1-4). The one thing that’s weird in all of this is that the employment-to-population ratio has been rising even as the labor market participation rate has been declining (figures 3-4). I think this suggests that people who are really having trouble finding jobs are really having trouble finding jobs—so much so that they’re dropping out of the labor force—while, for everyone else, the labor market is at least keeping them employed. One thing to notice, however, is that the ratio of jobs needed to openings available remains high (figure 5); this is definitely not an economy that’s producing jobs for everyone who wants them.

Fig. 1. Non-seasonally adjusted unemployment since 1948
Fig. 2. Non-seasonally adjusted unemployment since 1994.
Fig. 3. Employment to Population ratio.
Fig. 4. Labor Market Participation Rate
Fig. 5. Ratio of jobs needed to openings.


  1. [1]Dean Baker, “NYT Invents Left-Leaning Economists to Attack Bernie Sanders,” Center for Economic and Policy Research, February 16, 2016,; Charles M. Blow, “A Bernie Blackout?” New York Times, March 16, 2016,; Jamelle Bouie, “What Would It Take for Bernie to Win?” Slate, September 3, 2015,; Alexander Reed Kelly, “Paul Krugman Deems 170 Policy Experts Who Support Sanders’ Wall Street Reforms ‘Un-Serious,’” Truthdig, January 28, 2016,; Nika Knight, “Bernie Sanders Slams The New York Times for Ignoring ‘Real Issues,’” Truthdig, May 30, 2016,; Mike Lillis, “Democrats: Sanders unelectable,” Hill, September 19, 2015,; Abby Phillip, “Bernie Sanders makes it clear: He’s playing this game to win,” Washington Post, November 30, 2015,; Margaret Sullivan, “Has The Times Dismissed Bernie Sanders?” New York Times, September 9, 2015,; Margaret Sullivan, “Times Senior Editor Carolyn Ryan on Sanders Coverage,” New York Times, September 9, 2015,; Wall Street Journal, “Bernie Sanders Gets No Respect,” March 27, 2016,; John Wagner, “Bernie Sanders shares something with Republicans: Bashing the media,” Washington Post, December 24, 2015,
  2. [2]Dan Balz and Scott Clement, “Poll: Election 2016 shapes up as a contest of negatives,” Washington Post, May 21, 2016,; Lauren McCauley, “‘Rigged’ 2016 Election Has Voters Feeling Helpless, Unheard, and Ashamed,” Common Dreams, May 31, 2016,; Patrick O’Connor, “Poll Finds Lack of Enthusiasm for Clinton and Trump,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2016,; Byron Tau, “More Americans Consider Third-Party Options,” Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2016,; Matthew Yglesias, “Hillary Clinton will be the most-disliked nominee ever — except for Donald Trump,” Vox, May 2, 2016,
  3. [3]Julian Hattem, “Clinton’s IT aide keeps email server shrouded in mystery,” Hill, June 5, 2016,

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