Sunday, August 5, 2007

Robust Economy or Phantom Recession?

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took his turn to question Bush’s nominee for the White House Budgeting office Jim Nussle to voice his concerns over the current administration’s economic theories. He seems to have a problem with the White House’s continuing policy of help the rich get richer while the country slowly slips into a bizarre ghost recession that no seems to be able to actually see. Well, Senator Sanders can apparently see it, and while his question for Nussle had to do with the need to give the Wal-Mart family a $32,000,000,000 tax break, just look at the laundry list of red-flag statistics that he trotted out to underline his point.

Just to sum up his major talking points, since 2000:

*5,000,000 people have dropped below the poverty line

*7,000,000 people no longer have health insurance

*Median Household Incomes have dropped $1,300

*3,000,000 Manufacturing Jobs have disappeared

*3,000,000 American Workers have lost their pensions

*Home Foreclosures are now highest on record (so far up 63% over last year)

*Personal Savings is now in the negatives (first time since The Great Depression)

*College Graduate earnings have dropped 5% over the last few years

*Entry-Level Wages for High School Graduates is down 3%

*Wages and Salaries now hold the lowest share of the Gross Domestic Product since 1929.

It should also be important to note that Nussle, the guy up for the job of running the White House Budgeting office, did not even attempt to refute or contradict the numbers thrown at him by Sanders. The best he does is to say that there are statistics out there that show growth. He doesn’t elaborate, but I’d take a good guess that those numbers have a lot to do with corporate profits and the phantom specter of Consumer Confidence, the latter of which is always used to argue that if people are spending money, the economy MUST be doing well. Just like with the gasoline prices: Gas hits $3 a gallon because of supposed hardships felt by the oil companies, who rake in record profits because of it, and the best they can argue is “People aren’t buying less gas, so it can’t be that bad!”

That, of course, sums up the entire philosophy that our government is now running under. It isn’t broken until it blows up in your face. There’s no housing crisis until home foreclosures destroy the financial infrastructure. There’s no Medical Insurance crisis until insurance companies suddenly run out of people able to pay the exorbitant premiums and start folding up their tents. There’s nothing wrong with the bridges until the collapse during rush-hour traffic.

The disaster in Minneapolis underlines why everything is falling apart in this country. There were people that knew the bridge was unsafe, rapidly deteriorating, and in desperate need of maintenance. But the kept it to themselves and crossed their fingers, and told us all that the fact it didn’t collapse when we drove over it yesterday should be proof enough of its stability. And as long as its cheaper to pretend everything is holding up fine, nobody in charge is going to run the risk of snarling up traffic by closing it down for repairs.

The Economy is in desperate need of an overhaul, and the only thing keeping the powers that be from admitting is the fear that someone might ask them where all of that toll money has been going.

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