We’re approaching a dead end

Thursday, June 10, 2010
By Paul Martin


It’s starting to be time for the next move down. The fall of the Euro is stalling a little, gold is reaching new highs. So is denial that the promised recovery has failed to materialize. On that last point, one quick glance at global stock markets should be enough.

But it isn’t. President Obama, as we’ve seen, said in face of Friday’s job numbers that “the economy is getting stronger by the day.” He said that based on data that indicate the vast majority of allegedly added jobs, as reported by his own government, are jobs in that same government, while without the, again, same, government’s birth/death model, the numbers would have shown an employment loss of 200.000 or more. Plus half a million people dropped out of the work force. The real numbers are devastating, which makes the president’s words all the more remarkable.

Now, I don’t want to bother you with too much repetition, but in my view it’s time again to revisit the Obama campaign’s promise of transparency. And it’s not as if I’m alone in criticizing the president’s take on the numbers. If anything, it gets harder all the time (though never impossible) to find pundits willing to take on the cheerleading role. Even Bob Herbert at the New York Times gets the idea now:

‘A Very Deep Hole’ on Jobs

I know the president has a lot on his mind, but the No. 1 problem facing the U.S. continues to fester, and that problem is unemployment. The jobs report for May, released on Friday by the Labor Department, was grim. President Obama tried to put the best face on it, but it was undeniably bad news, which is why the stock markets tanked. The private sector created just 41,000 jobs in May, a dismal performance. The government hired 411,000 workers to help with the census, but those jobs are temporary and will vanish in a few months.

Unemployment is crushing families and stifling the prospects of young people. Given that reality, President Obama’s take on the May numbers seemed oddly out of touch. “This report,” he said, “is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day.” The economy is sick, and all efforts to revive it that do not directly confront the staggering levels of joblessness are doomed. Even the meager job growth in the private sector last month was composed mostly of temporary work.

Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, had the right take when he said, “These new data do not present a picture of a healthy private sector and offer nothing even closely resembling the job growth we need to dig us out of a very deep hole.”

Does this mean that it’s obvous to anyone what’s going on, as long as they’re not in the White House? That’s hard to believe. It’s much more likely that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is still, and increasingly, if not exclusively, occupied with putting positive spins on negative realities. While I may not agree with Herbert’s ideas and solutions, I do share most of this part of his view:

Bold and effective leadership would have put us on [the] road to a sustainable future. Instead, we’re approaching a dead end.

The Rest…HERE

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