May 30, 2007

"There are two or three societal trends that are driving us in an increasingly deep center-right posture."

From a big New Yorker article (about how badly the Republicans are doing):
[Karl] Rove thinks that more voters now are being influenced by technology and religion. “There are two or three societal trends that are driving us in an increasingly deep center-right posture,” he said. “One of them is the power of the computer chip. Do you know how many people’s principal source of income is eBay? Seven hundred thousand.” He went on, “So the power of the computer has made it possible for people to gain greater control over their lives. It’s given people a greater chance to run their own business, become a sole proprietor or an entrepreneur. As a result, it has made us more market-oriented, and that equals making you more center-right in your politics.” As for spirituality, Rove said, “As baby boomers age and as they’re succeeded by the post-baby-boom generation, within both of those generations there’s something going on spiritually—people saying it’s not all about materialism, it’s not all about the pursuit of material things. If you look at the traditional mainstream denominations, they’re flat, but what’s growing inside those denominations, and what’s growing outside those denominations, is churches that are filling this spiritual need, that are replacing sterility with something vibrant, something that speaks to the heart of the individual, that gives a sense of purpose.” Rove believes what he has always believed: that the Christian right and, to a lesser extent, tax- and regulation-averse businessmen will continue to assure Republican victories.

23 comments:

Roger said...

I was not aware that after the recent election, Rove was still a person whose views matters.

ricpic said...

Spirituality: one of those loose baggy words that tells us nothing about what side of a particular issue a particular person, or group, will come down. Rove is working overtime for his boss to facilitate the invasion of America. That will insure the allegiance of the Religious Right? Do I laugh? Do I cry?

AJ Lynch said...

Rove asked:

"Do you know how many people’s principal source of income is eBay? Seven hundred thousand."

This is a big twisted myth that Rove has fallen for. The media cuts and pastes this EBAY press release every so often and then people repeat it frequently. Looks like Rove is just the latest victim.

Do the math- if EBAY has revs of I don't know $4 Billion, these 700,000 "principal source of income" people have an average annual revenue of $5,714 before EBAY takes its commissions and before they pay for the cost of whatever they are selling on EBAY. Doesn't sound like a warm and fuzzy principal source of income to me.

In reality, these 700,000 are on average part-timers dabbling in selling stuff on the internet. That means EBAY is just big flea market where a few people make a good living and a bunch of people make a little dough for probably part-time effort.

So Rove is way off here.

hdhouse said...

Cheney first made the "E-Bay" observation before the 2004 election. 700,000 is up from his 600,000.

Hooey.

Thorley Winston said...

This is a big twisted myth that Rove has fallen for. The media cuts and pastes this EBAY press release every so often and then people repeat it frequently. Looks like Rove is just the latest victim.

Actually it looks like he was referring to the 2005 report by Nielsen International Research which found that about 724,000 people said Ebay was their primary source of income and another 1.5 million said they regularly supplement their income by selling on Ebay.

Do the math- if EBAY has revs of I don't know $4 Billion,

Annual sales on Ebay are more like $40 Billion (according to the 2005 report).

these 700,000 "principal source of income" people have an average annual revenue of $5,714 before EBAY takes its commissions and before they pay for the cost of whatever they are selling on EBAY.

Ebay’s fees seem pretty cheap compared to the overhead costs of running a brick and mortar business and since your initial estimate of the annual sales were off by about a factor of ten, it doesn’t seem that implausible.

Alan said...

I'm always mystified when people such as our host lap praise on Al Gore for his genius when all I ever see is an idiot. Then I read this. It's no wonder the GOP has come apart at the seams.

Freder Frederson said...

it doesn’t seem that implausible.

Actually its still highly implausible. Even given $40 billion, that's $57,000 each divided among those 700,000 people, and that assumes that absolutely no one else other than those 700,000 people is selling a thing on e-bay, which of course is an entirely false assumption. Even if this were true, you would still have to deduct the 4% average fee that ebay takes and then all the other overhead costs (shipping, returns, being stiffed, etc.). Then of course, you are completely discounting the cost of the merchandise these people are selling. Most retailers work on relatively slim profit margins. Really, how much profit do the purveyors of the crap on ebay make? 10% is probably generous.

700,000 making a living off their ebay sales? Give me a freaking break. The vast majority of people who sell things on ebay are just glad to get something for the crap that's been cluttering up their garage for the last five years. Its nothing but a worldwide garage sale.

Thorley Winston said...

Even if this were true, you would still have to deduct the 4% average fee that ebay takes and then all the other overhead costs (shipping, returns, being stiffed, etc.).

S&H are paid by buyer and are in addition to the sales price. My own experience has been that most Sellers charge about 2-3 times what it actually costs to package and ship the item so that’s largely additional profit.

If there’s a return (I’ve done it twice) the buyer is responsible for shipping the item back and some don’t reimburse buyers for the S&H for returns (others just take it out of the extra they charged for sending the merchandise the first time). Some won’t even allow returns.

As far as the seller being stiffed – every time I’ve bought, I have had to pay in advance before any merchandise was shipped.

700,000 making a living off their ebay sales?

Um no one said that this was the sole source of income of 700,000 plus people. The report said that it was their primary (more than 50%) source of income.

Freder Frederson said...

Um no one said that this was the sole source of income of 700,000 plus people. The report said that it was their primary (more than 50%) source of income.

Whatever, you still have 700,000 people making less than $10,000 a year, assuming a 10% profit margin and all of ebay's sales are made by the people whose primary source of income is ebay. The first assumption is probably generous and the second is patently ridiculous.

AJ Lynch said...

Thanks, Freder. I could not have said it better myself.

You noticed that my comment assumed 100% of EBAY sales went to the 700,000. I did that to try to be conservative in my analysis. And you were very good to see that so quickly as a strength to my argument.

Shoot we could just ask EBAY how many 1099's (over $100,000) they issed for their sellers in 2006? I bet it is way less than 5,000 recipients.

Freder Frederson said...

And you were very good to see that so quickly as a strength to my argument.

This is the problem when most Americans can't do simple math and can't even figure out the sheer bullshit that is thrown out when people like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and the president lie through their teeth by throwing around absolutely ridiculous statistics. Of course they may not even realize they are bullshitting. But I am way past giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Freder Frederson said...

The report said that it was their primary (more than 50%) source of income.

PT Barnum was right.

Freder Frederson said...

Actually it looks like he was referring to the 2005 report by Nielsen International Research which found that about 724,000 people said Ebay was their primary source of income and another 1.5 million said they regularly supplement their income by selling on Ebay.

You need to go back and reread your link the Nielsen Study only found that 1.5 million supplement their income. The Melissa Data Group (whoever they are) doesn't say who produced the "new study" that found 724,000 people used sales on ebay as their primary source of income. Perhaps the numbers came out of Melissa's ass.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well I think for many conservatives, it was a complete abandonment of conservative principles that is the reason they're doing so bad. Largest entitlement expansion since Medicare and now basically allowing a population the size of Belgium to take up permanent residence in the USA it really is no wonder the party is flailing in the wind.

Evidently the McCain types haven't yet figured it out.

Fen said...

Evidently the McCain types haven't yet figured it out.

Oh, they are. They're watching his poll numbers plummet as we speak. He won't make it past the first set of primaries.

blake said...

Wait, when did Ebay become a partisan issue?

Yeah, maybe Ebay isn't as big a force as their PR suggests (most likely). But some of y'all seem like you're worried that more people are becoming infected with dangerous free-market concepts.

It's easier to buy-and-sell to a larger audience than ever before and with a lower overhead. Whether "center-right" or not, it's a good thing that people be exposed to economics first-hand in a way that's as plain as gravity is.

AJ Lynch said...

Blake:

"Wait, when did Ebay become a partisan issue?"

It's not to me anyway - heck they could call it Leftbay if they want.

I was just pointing out Rove used sloppy research that got him bad data and he used the bad data as "evidence" of the growing number of businessmen who supports Republicans.

I was simply putting the lie to his bad data. The MSM does the same thing all the time. They have often used this "successful EBAY" entrepreneur theme to suggest there are way more people making a living from their home via the internets.

Freder Frederson said...

But some of y'all seem like you're worried that more people are becoming infected with dangerous free-market concepts.

No, what we are concerned about is that people accept without question the bullshit shoveled by the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove who trot out these ridiculous statistics as though they have some connection to reality.

People who accept this nonsense are all that more likely to accept anything the administration tells them (like there is "no doubt" that Saddam had reconstituted his nuclear programs or "we don't torture").

AJ Lynch said...

Freder:

This is a two-edged sword. Both parties skilfully weild it via press releases and the and the MSM serves as the stenographer.

Here are two recent Dem examples:
Obama says he will save $2,500 per person in his health care plan. None of the MSM reports I saw asked how the frig he would do that.

Governor Rendell in PA plans to spend $300 Million to dredge Delware River which will clear and deepen shipping lanes. And he claimed this may create as many as 175,000 new jobs paying $60,000 per year or more. Rendell's BS was dutifully reported in an editorial in the Inquirer the next day with only a small bit of skepticism.

Revenant said...

Whatever, you still have 700,000 people making less than $10,000 a year, assuming a 10% profit margin

Where'd "10%" come from, besides your ass?

Freder Frederson said...

Where'd "10%" come from, besides your ass?

I assumed a reasonable profit margin for retail sales. What do you think the profit margin should be? Pick a different margin if you like and we can rerun the numbers.

But the real problem is the assumption I made that those 700,000 plus people are responsible for all of the sales on ebay. The numbers get even worse when you accept that people whose primary source of income is trading on ebay must make up a fraction (and probably a very small fraction) of those who sell stuff on ebay. The 700,000 number is complete fantasy--I would bet it is off by at least one order of magnitude.

TMink said...

Rove is wrong in my case. This evangelical has totally abandoned the Republican party. I have no party affiliation, I just support people who vote in a conservative fashion.

McCain, nope.
Giuliani, please.
Romney, maybe, I am not sure yet.
Thompson? Run Fred Run! He will get my vote and a couple of dollars if I can spare it.

Will I hold my nose and vote for the most conservative candidate after the primaries? Depends. I will likely vote my conscience and damn the Republicans if it is for a third party candidate.

Trey

Revenant said...

I assumed a reasonable profit margin for retail sales. What do you think the profit margin should be?

Retail stores have to pay salaries, utilities, insurance, licence fees, rent, and a host of other expenses. eBay sellers have none of these expenses. Their only monetary expense is the purchase cost of the item they're selling.

A typical eBay pro will skim garage sales, estate sales and store clearances, picking up goods for a fraction of their retail price. They then hock the items on eBay and tack on a handling fee to the shipping cost. The lamp bought for $10 at a garage sale gets sold for $40 on eBay with a $3 handling fee on top of the $7 for shipping. Profit margin: 70%, after eBay takes its cut.

That's just one hypothetical, of course. The point is that neither you nor I have any idea what kind of profit margins those 700,000 people are making on their sales or what percentage of eBay sales they represent.

But the real problem is the assumption I made that those 700,000 plus people are responsible for all of the sales on ebay.

The poverty line is $9800 for a single person. Assuming "primary income source" means "at least half", a person could be living above the poverty line, with eBay as the primary income source, for a mere $5000 per year. If the 700k are responsible for half of eBay's sales and make (after handling fees) 50% profit margins, that's $14,000 apiece. Etc, etc.

Granted, for the amount of time these people put into their eBay businesses they could be earning more at a normal job. But many people enjoy this sort of thing more than they enjoy working retail or frying fries.