By David Glenn Cox
It seems I can’t even watch TV news anymore, it just makes me too angry, the cluelessness of the government. I voted for change, not a slight alteration but for change. I sit here in this tiny berg of Powder Springs and I ask myself, "Why is it that I can see these things and these highly-paid experts and analysts don’t?"
I see an economy coming apart at the seams and the politicians of both parties are talking about it as if it’s some abstract concept. Employment figures are pared and whittled to hide the truth. If Chrysler sales were down 53% last year then a Chrysler car salesman’s income was off by 53%. If home construction is off by 60% then plumbing contractors incomes are off by 60%, but these people don’t show up in the statistics because they still have a job, officially at least.
The new President needs to appoint someone on his staff to go through the employment ads to get a glimpse of the truth. Many of the ads are just bogus, selling insurance or ground-floor opportunities that go nowhere. Ads for cell phone retailers, ever notice how the employees all look alike in those places? Young, cute and trainable. Who would sue an employer over age or sex discrimination over a job you don't want in the first place?
The official unemployment numbers are there for all to see, so let's just postulate that if they are off by 15%, where does that put us? September, 320,000; October, 403,000; November, 533,000; December, 693,000. So, officially 1,949,000, and unofficially 2,292,000. Factor in the 150,000 entering the job market each month and the official total becomes 2,549,000, unofficially 2,892,000.
The incoming Obama administration’s stimulus plan is predicated on tax cuts for business and outlawing budget earmarks. Well, that’s change all right; we voted for Obama and we got McCain anyway. The plan calls for two and a half million jobs in two years. We’ve lost that many jobs in four months, officially and unofficially, and there is no telling how many are unemployed or underemployed or working but not earning. This isn’t a static situation. These people need help now, not in eighteen months or two years from now.
House Republican Minority Whip and obstructionist-in-chief Eric Cantor is worried that the size of the Obama stimulus program is too large. He is concerned that the tax cuts should favor long-term investment, i.e., tax cuts for the wealthy. Jesus Christ, didn’t we already fight this argument? Millions of Americans need help now! To ignore them is nothing more than a slow motion Katrina that deepens the problem by the day.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I believe President Obama to have good intentions. However, I believe that he is clueless to the magnitude and scope of this problem. I drove six miles to get my car tag and saw at least a dozen houses boarded up and countless empty businesses. Boarded up houses are a sign of the market giving up, the acceptance of collapse.
Meanwhile the Democrats in Congress play Dumb and Dumber with Blagojevich and Roland Burris. Give the man a seat, appoint him to the puppy dogs and eat all your vegetables committee and be done with it. Let the man warm a chair for two years, we have important work to do. Lest we forget, Harry Truman was appointed by party boss Tom Pendergast to fill a Senate seat. Truman was known as the Senator from Pendergast until he won the election on his own and it turned out all right. If we blocked every Bozo appointed to Congress, the collection of red noses would touch the sky.
The scary part is when even the stupid and ignorant get it and the Congress and administration don’t. Both Bill O’Reilly and Pat Robertson have said publicly that they fear the end of a democratic-principled government if something isn’t done quickly. Right they are! It’s a matter of opinion whether that is for better or worse, but realize that it is a pressure cooker and without a safety valve it will blow. In New Orleans it only took a couple of days before angry residents, stranded on rooftops, began taking pot shots at helicopters.
In 1932 the Communist party of America was the fastest growing political party in the nation. In Detroit, where people were starving to death, the Communists opened soup kitchens and formed committees to fight evictions. The Republicans and Democrats talked about tax cuts and what they were going to do. FDR realized the magnitude and scope of the problem, but the biggest failing of the New Deal was the incrementalism. The problem must be fought like a wild fire; Throwing Dixie cups full of water has no effect and is a waste of money; too small won’t get you anything at all.
Roosevelt assumed the Presidency from a deeply religious Quaker, a man with infinite faith in God and free markets, whose plan to aid the people was to send out seed packages. Great plan, send people hungry today seed packages. Send those in the drought-plagued dust bowl seed packages. Then to offer credit to the banks and manufactures and then maybe in a few months, if God approves, his benevolence shall turn this economy around. This is where Hoover's famous statement, "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," comes from. Consider the cluelessness of such a statement to people living on the road, in cities broken by the collapse of their tax base.
There were riots in almost every major city in America, our grandparent's Katrina, as Henry Ford said, "It is good that the current downturn is so pronounced or we might not profit from the illness." This is what I see today in our leadership, a cluelessness, a failure to realize that this is an emergency of the first magnitude. The unemployment numbers are accelerating, October 20% more than September, November 23% more than October, and December more than 22% over November. Connecting the dots would mean 900,000 more unemployed workers next month and 1,153,000 the month after that.
It has become a siphon of misery. December is a month that should show a tempering of job losses for the holidays; instead it got worse. November’s job losses were a record, and December blew that out of the water. Estimates of 10,000 chain stores closing are in the news with estimates of 74,000 business closings overall against over 100,000 in 2008. But it can’t continue indefinitely, can it? One supplier services a hundred stores, just as one auto manufacturer services a thousand dealers, and the economy staggers, stammers, and stumbles toward the inevitable systemic collapse.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making it clear that Congressional Democrats will not bow to President-elect Obama. Reid tells The Hill newspaper 'I don't believe in the executive power trumping everything... if Obama steps over the bounds, I will tell him... I do not work for Barrack Obama. I work with him.'"
No, Harry, you work for us; yet you act as if you’re self-employed. Try to stop watching yourself in the mirror and try to stop reading your newspaper clippings long enough to look around and connect the dots.