It was Mark Twain who advised us that "A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies." Every day in the United States the media bombards us with rah rah stories about the economy's recovery. The media, the government, and the President all pull grains out from the peppershaker to prove to us that the economy is improving. Sadly, statistics are numbers and with numbers you can prove anything, while people are human beings and their individual hunger and suffering can prove nothing.
The President has repeatedly claimed that his stimulus package has saved us from a second Great Depression. Personally, I believe it has only cushioned the fall as many of the workers whose jobs were saved last year with stimulus money now face unemployment this year. Furthermore, is saving a job the same as creating a job? It is good, of course, to save jobs, but it is a crutch and not a faith healing. Proving the negative the administration claims, "You should have seen what would have happened had we not acted." Had the captain of the Titanic not closed the watertight doors, the ship would have sunk sooner, but she still sank.
Data was recently released on unemployment numbers by income bracket from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.
$150,000 or more, 3.2 percent
$100,000 to 149,999, 8 percent
$75,000 to $99,999, 5 percent
$60,000 to $75,000, 6.4 percent
$50,000 to $59,000, 7.8 percent
$40,000 to $49,000, 9 percent
$30,000 to $39,999, 12.2 percent
$20,000 to $29,999, 19.7 percent
$12,500 to $20,000, 19.1 percent
$12,499 or less, 30.8 percent
So the question of whether this is another Great Depression or just a recession depends on your seats. For the underemployed, the part time worker and the temp worker, the picture is even darker. Over 20% call themselves underemployed which means for the lowest income groups un/underemployment is near 50%. Twenty percent of all men, myself included, aged 25 to 54, are unemployed, the highest number since records have been kept.
There is still good news though, and it is strangely ironic that these reports hit the newsstands at the same time. "Top Earners Averaged $345 Million in 2007, IRS Says"
Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- "The 400 highest-earning U.S. households reported an average of $345 million in income in 2007, up 31 percent from a year earlier, IRS statistics show. The average tax rate for the households fell to the lowest in almost 20 years. The figures for 2007, the last year of an economic expansion, show that the average income reported by the top 400 earners more than doubled from $131.1 million in 2001. That year, Congress adopted tax cuts urged by then-President George W. Bush that Democrats say disproportionately benefit the wealthy."
The article goes on to say that 2007 was the last year of economic expansion and the 400 generate a great deal of their income from capital gains on their investments, many of which have now soured. Their incomes have grown fivefold since 1992 and their tax rates have gone down from 29.4% in 1993 to just 16.6 % in 2007.
They want us to pretend that these numbers aren't connected. The President said on February 9, "A presidential commission on the budget needs to consider all options for reducing the deficit, including tax increases and cuts in spending on entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare," See, he has a plan, he's going to fix the deficit. It all just depends on where your seats are located!
An American company just opened a brand new factory to manufacture blades for wind turbines. The company, Clipper International, will begin manufacturing giant turbine blades over two hundred feet tall. The company hopes that by 2020 it will be manufacturing both blades and advanced gearbox technology in their new factory and hopes to employ 500 full-time workers. The new plant will be located in Walker, England, near the river Tyne.
Clipper chairman, James Dehlsen said, "The offshore wind market in the UK is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting sectors in the global renewable-energy industry." Clipper is being subsidized by the UK government to the tune of almost $7 million, mere peanuts when compared with the Obama administration's $8.3 billion bet on nuclear power. A bet the Congressional Budget Office says has a 50% chance of failure. The point, however, is that American companies must go overseas to generate green jobs.
How many more Clippers are out there? How many thousands of green jobs could be created if there was a market for their products in this country? Instead we have an administration that prefers to pretend that the sufferings of its people don't exist and that hope and change means that old and dated ideas are dusted off and pushed to the forefront. Never mind that wholesale prices are averaging a one percent rise per month in an economy that is still losing nearly half a million jobs per week. This is proclaimed to us as good news because it could be so much worse. But not to the 473,000 who lost their jobs last week, from where they're sitting it sucks, and they're right, it does suck.
An administration that will not man up and say, "My fellow Americans, we have a serious problem here," is guilty of cowardice. You cannot solve a problem until you first face up to it. This administration refuses to do that; they want to push the subject under the rug and claim that bad news is really good news.
"In the week ending Feb. 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 473,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 442,000. The 4-week moving average was 467,500, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 469,000." Department of Labor
Up 31,000 but better by 1,500. Good news, huh? The fact is that not one new job has been created for working people. You can play all the statistical games you like. You can put a laser pointer here or there and say, "See! See! It's working!" Only it brings us back to what Twain said, "A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies."
Obama is not responsible for the economic mess that we find ourselves in, but he is responsible for getting us out of it. That is where I'm taking him to task. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer imposed a 50% surtax on bank employee bonuses. President Obama compared them to sports star bonuses and laughed them off.