American Elephants

Talking to Aliens From Another Planet. by The Elephant's Child

Poverty. Headlines announce that fifty million Americans are living below the poverty line. What does that mean? The official poverty line is defined as earnings of less than $23,021 a year for a family of four. This comes not from the New York Times or Washington Post, but is found in a report from the British Daily Mail. This is the result of Obama’s claimed “accelerating recovery”. Why should we have to learn this from a U.K. newspaper? Unemployment is officially 7.7% but that isn’t right either. It is really 11.6%.

How about our gross domestic product (GDP)? Obama’s average has been less than 2% per quarter,  annualized.  In the last quarter of 2012 it was a miserable 0.4%. For all of 2011, GDP growth was 1.8%, and in 2012 it was 2.2%. The White House forecast 4% in each of these periods. Remember that the recession officially ended in June of 2009— before Obama’s economic policies could take effect. The jobless recovery, the economic stagnation and the increase in those living in poverty— that’s Obama’s record.

In 2009, the poverty rate was 14.3%, in 2010 it was 15.1%, fell to 15% in 2011 and now just short of 17%. The poverty line income does not include food stamps, or welfare benefits or other government benefit.

Last month 81,804 workers left the workforce to join the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Over the past four years, 4 million have left the workforce to go on disability. The ranks of the disabled have shot up more than 1.4 million under Obama. It is easier to get on Disability than welfare. When opportunities for employment are plentiful, some who could qualify for disability insurance find working more attractive.The problem with disability is that almost none of the people end up returning to the workforce.

Record numbers of Americansreceived food stamps in 2012. Food stamp participation was at an average of 46,609,072 every month of 2012. In 2009, as part of his stimulus package, Obama suspended the work requirement for able-bodied adults. Good stamp participation doubled from roughly 2 million in 2008 to nearly 4 million in 2010. Investors reported:

The media consensus was that the economy was finally in high gear after four years stuck in neutral. Obamanomics, so the story went, was finally paying promised dividends.

The Associated Press, for one, claimed employers went on a post-election “hiring spree.” With little evidence, the wire service breathlessly described the job market as “accelerating.”

The New York Times quoted White House economist Alan Krueger chirping about the recovery “gaining traction,” while warning Republicans not to screw things up.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, meanwhile, lambasted Republicans for not giving Obama “credit for this amazing economy that’s coming back. … If you want to live like a Republican, vote like a Democrat,” Matthews blathered on. “It’s not true that people have better times, better life existences under Republicans.”

I am not attempting here to provide you with a major downer for the weekend. It’s not like we don’t have enough to worry about anyway. But the disparity of views and the disparity of understanding are more extreme than I have ever known.

It has been widely reported that the red states, those with reforming Republican governors, are recovering nicely, thriving.  States with Democrat governors are losing businesses and citizens to the red states where there is a more welcoming business climate, lower taxes, and less regulation, and even balanced budgets. Though the exodus is major, the blue states remain blissfully unconcerned.

The same thing is happening on an international basis. Countries that cut debt, taxes and spending are thriving, in contrast to those who have allowed government spending to increase dramatically. We are talking to aliens who speak a different and unintelligible language. We don’t even share a common history. There are our facts and their facts. Our statistics and their statistics. Our beliefs and their beliefs.

We try steadily to explain the history, the facts, the numbers, but they are usually rejected. They return insults, foul language, and death threats. They don’t want to work with us, they want us to go away, cease to be there disagreeing with them. They want us defeated, utterly, so they can keep on playing the movie that is so exciting and has such a glorious ending. They never get tired of playing it over and over.

Federal Department of Smoke and Mirrors: by The Elephant's Child

The prediction by that infamous “consensus” for job growth in March was 200,000. In fact it was 88,000. Those not in the labor force grew by over 660,000. The total civilian non-institutional population grew by just 167,000 to 244,995, meaning that the actual labor force declined by 496,000. This is the issue.

The Obama administration has managed (Federal Department of Smoke and Mirrors) (FDSM) to maintain the myth that the economy has grown under his leadership for the past 4+ years. It hasn’t.  Zero Hedge explains:

If one renormalizes for the recent long-term average participation rate of 65.8%, one gets a very different number. a “renormalization process indicates a massive and record 4% difference between the reported unemployment rate of 7.6% and what the real unemployment rate is assuming normal growth of the labor force, which in March was 11.6%, up from 11.3% in February, and the highest since August 2012 when it was 11.7%. More importantly, as the real unemployment chart shows, the economy has not improved by one bit since 2009:

(click to enlarge)
Douglas Holtz-Eakin
, former Drector of the Congressional Budget Office, now with the American Action Form writes:

The March jobs report was awful: jobs weak, labor force down, hours flat, and earnings flat. The jobs report is important not because of any single month, but because it is the leading indicator of a break away from the new normal: bad growth and weak opportunity.  No break to be found today. The Administration has slavishly adhered to the economic doctrines of Jimmy Carter.  They should not be surprised they are getting his results.”

Senator Jeff Sessions released this statement about today’s jobs numbers:

Today’s jobs report reveals that 90 million Americans are now outside the labor force. We need to be getting Americans back to work, helping people move off of food stamps and welfare, and find good jobs with steady incomes. But the comprehensive immigration bill being drafted right now would provide nearly immediate work authorization to millions of illegal immigrants while substantially increasing the future flow of workers. Our first priority must be to help American citizens, and current legal immigrants, find good employment. What we cannot have, and what is not sustainable, is an economic system where a large and growing share of our population is permanently unemployed while jobs are filled by a constant supply of foreign workers.

If you pay attention, you will notice that as the president visits some manufacturing plant and declares that manufacturing is coming back; at the same time some new regulation will be imposed by the EPA or HHS that will require new employees to cope with the paperwork, or reworking their processes, or shifting suppliers, or just letting people go to cope with  new costs.Or the cost of energy goes up from a new ethanol requirement, or the Keystone XL pipeline is denied.

Or Obama announces that he wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $9. The “Minimum Wage Law” is more correctly called the Youth Unemployment Law. Beginners need a place to start, but they also need a lot of training and help. If it gets too expensive, the fast food places hire senior citizens who know what they are doing.


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