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In an alternative universe

Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

After the stock market plunged hundreds of points the day after Obama was re-elected, we were treated to television’s instant economic analysis. Explained one news reader, “Worries about Europe continue to linger.”

Yep, it’s those darned Greeks again. The sure continuation of Obama’s kindergarten economic policies had nothing to do with it.

However, Businessweek deserves credit for noting, “Obama’s presidential victories have preceded the two biggest post-Election Day selloffs on record, according to data … starting in 1896.”

The mainstream media then proceeded with the high-fiving over last week’s report of new unemployment claims, of which there were only 355,000. Reuters cheered that this was “a sign the labor market’s slow recovery was gaining traction.” And never mind that the number was higher than the corresponding period in July and higher than the corresponding period in October. It never occurs to these people that jobless claims may drop off a bit because so many people already are on the unemployment rolls.

Prediction: When the next “jobs created” report is released, these same analysts will trumpet the data as a further sign of recovery. It never occurs to them to subtract jobs created from jobs lost, noting the dominance of the latter statistic.

By the way, when the Nov. 1 unemployment report showed 363,000 new claims, these geniuses said the “economic rebound” was gaining strength and that “stocks rallied strongly on the news.”

By this column’s deadline last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen more than 400 points. Some rally.

Oh, I forgot. The Greeks are the problem.

Don’t look to California for economic sanity.

The state’s voters passed Proposition 30, which purported to increase school revenues and balance the budget. It does these things by boosting the tax rates for folks earning $250,000 or more annually.

Gov. Jerry Brown characterized such citizens as “wealthy.” Apparently Brown doesn’t know the difference between wealth and an income. This is despite the fact he is solidly in the wealthy category, due to his familial grip on Indonesian oil import royalties.

Prop. 30 also raised the state’s regressive sales tax to 7.5 percent. This “boon” to the unemployed and low-income – and the income tax hike – is supposed to be “temporary.” We’ll see about this when the tax increases’ expiration deadlines approach.

Then there’s California’s Proposition 39, which repealed favorable tax treatment for multi-state corporations. Backers expect the thing to produce a billion dollars in new tax revenue. Of course, this calculation fails unless affected companies cut back operations in the Golden State,

Of this sum, $550 million will be dedicated to projects that “create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs.”

Maybe they can revive Solyndra.

Finally, let us look at Proposition 34, which would have eliminated the death penalty in California. Though it failed – 53-47 percent – the anti-capital punishment lobby is not discouraged.

“Fifty-three percent is not a mandate for carrying out executions,” proclaimed Natasha Minsker, the Prop. 34 campaign manager.

Actually, it is. The proposition’s backers spent more than $7 million promoting the measure; opponents chipped in about 37 cents. (Actually, it was a few hundred thousand bucks.)

Opponents of lethal injection, having worked for decades to make capital punishment as costly as possible through frivolous appeals and delaying tactics, will soldier on in the their campaign to make executions even more expensive.

They promise to be back with yet another initiative, in which they would be justified in arguing that the death penalty is too costly because it spawns so many expensive ballot initiatives.

Mixed blessing: Eric Swalwell, a city councilman from Dublin was a beneficiary of California’s “top two” open-primary runoff system. The system pitted him against fellow Democrat Fortney “Pete” Stark, and Swalwell, 31, ended the octogenarian’s 40-year tenure.

Thus the House rids itself of one of its nastiest members, but Swalwell is part of a six-seat net gain for California Democrats in D.C.

One of our most perspicacious readers says, “My hunch is that Romney might have won if he were a Methodist.”

Religious intolerance? In the United States of America? You bet.