Monday, December 19, 2011


"Republicans have nearly destroyed the great middle class as well as the function of government through obstruction and perpetual preferential treatment for the oligarchs who really run this country."

Lately it seems like every time you look at the news, there's another report about how poor everyone is. Its odd to me, since for 3 years the press has been studiously minimizing or ignoring bad economic news, since that tends to hurt the president, and now they're trumpeting some of it over and over.

One of the big stories is that nearly half the nation is considered "poor" now, according to a census report. Hope Yen at the Associated Press reported:
Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.
And many blogs and pundits were quick to try to spin this into an indictment of evil Republicans and their rich allies. Now, this stat was actually wrong, and as Big Government notes, nearly 300 news outlets reported this falsely, so its still out there.

Elsewhere, we have news reports of rising CEO pay, plunging median household income, and even food "insecurity" in the legacy media. Why this sudden spate of reporting bad news? Well there are two causes. The first is the Obama administration's misleading poverty index. Instead of measuring poverty by relative purchasing power - what you can afford and cannot afford, such as food, shelter, etc - they changed the metric to be relative to other people's money. So someone is declared to be "poor" based on how much they have compared to someone else, not based on how poor they actually are.

So you can actually be able to afford food, shelter, transportation, and entertainment but be considered Poverty-stricken because your total earnings are a certain fraction of the average income. This guarantees that no matter what is done, there will always be a certain percentage of poor people irrespective of their economic condition, convenient for the left.

Another reason for this reporting is that it is part of a narrative being crafted which is meant to go along with the "occupy" movement. Here's how it was supposed to work:

President Obama announces and pushes a new "jobs bill" which is basically more "stimulus"
Occupy erupts "spontaneously" on the streets to protest the rich and how miserable they are
News reports the evil Republicans are obstructing the obviously popular and needed jobs bill

Now, given that the occupiers are being identified most memorably with a guy taking a dump on a cop car and the Democrats have blocked the bill repeatedly, that's not exactly working out how the Obama team envisioned it, but they're still forging ahead with the plan.

So the news media is trying to paint a picture of misery, a vanishing middle class (that's a narrative they've been hammering for decades), the rich oppressing the poor, and a vast sea of poor people demanding justice and equality because of economic misery.

There's a big problem with this attempt, however. We're poor because of the economy, which has been overseen for almost 4 years by a Democrat president and Democrats in congress. See, according to economists, the rough definition of a recession is 2 quarters of economic contraction (reverse of growth), and the rough definition of recovery is when there's a single quarter of growth.

The problem is that while a recession started in late 2007, it technically and officially ended in July of 2008. According to the Obama administration, there's been growth - anemic, but positive - every single quarter since then. Which means the "Bush recession" ended halfway through Obama's first year. Not only was that before 95% of the stimulus had even been spent, but it was almost 3 years ago now.

That means if things are miserable and getting worse now... its all in President Obama's lap because presidents are always blamed or credited for the economy. And since he and the Democrats have been in power all that time, it doesn't make them look very good.

Its going to be an incredibly hard sell to get the American people to blame Republicans for the economy getting steadily worse under President Obama, and easy for GOP candidates to point to the bad news as a condemnation of the president. Or, as John E at Ace of Spades puts it:

[Infographic] The Obama Presidency - By The Numbers

Posted by John E.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Here is a meme I am starting to see in Oklahoma and I expect to see it grow nationally as the energy sector continues to take off: people who grew up with the dream of a solidly middle class income based on white collar office work are finding themselves sorely disappointed. There are plenty of jobs available that will put you in the middle class here, but they require getting dirty and working lots and lots of hours. There are a lot of people entering into oilfield work here and complaining that the entire reason they got a college degree was so they wouldn't have to do that type of work.

More and more of these types of jobs are going to be coming available all over the country over the next few years, and as they do you can expect to see the media completely ignore the fact that people can make a decent living wage, and intead hone in on the fact that those same people used to be office workers and "isn't it a shame" how far we have fallen...
I'm sure they'll blame it on Republicans as well.

With that said, there are a few legitimate complaints about working in the energy sector 'hands on', and Republicans should resist the urge to turn a blind eye towards these complaints in order to help the oil companies pad their pockets. One very real problem is that is almost taken for granted that oilfield laborers in a booming energy market will be asked to work many hours 'off the clock'. It is not at all uncommon to work 12 hours and be told by your boss that you can only log 8 of those hours on your time card. Likewise, many oil companies are guilty of putting their employees in the position of doing something they know they aren't supposed to do... "I want you empty that tank full of drilling mud off the side of yonder bridge. Don't worry about permits, if there's any trouble I will take the heat."

Those are issues that need to be looked at. Many states familiar with how oil companies work already have laws on the books that deal with these issues, but as the industry branches out into new areas such as North Dakota, New York, and Pennsylvania, lack of regulation is becoming a real problem. Frakking in and of itself isn't a problem, but if a state isn't experienced in dealing with dumping the byproducts and dealing with water runoff, the oil companies won't think twice about taking advantage of their ignorance.