[Homestead] Return of Herbert Hoover

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Sun Sep 5 02:24:49 EDT 2004

The empty rhetoric sounds familiar to me, since I heard both the old and 
new Herbert Hoover, both equally unconvincing.  Hey, let's get back to a 
Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage, or a Constitutional 
Amendment banning flag burning---something that will really change our 
lives in comparison to a dull endeavor to deny U.S.markets to 
multinationals that don't pay taxes or provide U.S. employment.  No 
remedy to creating more rust belts throughout the U.S. manufacturing 
sector permitted either---that's really dull and only affects wage 
earners anyway, who the hell cares about them?  Lie to them and get 
their votes.

The New York Times

          September 5, 2004

    Working Your Way Down

As they so often do, economic reality and political expediency parted 
ways with the release of August's employment report on Friday. The 
reality is that unless President Bush pulls nearly one million jobs out 
of a hat in the next four months, he will indeed become the first 
president since Herbert Hoover to preside over a decline in employment 
in a single term in the White House. But Mr. Bush is determined to act 
as if nothing bad is happening on, as he likes to put it, "my watch." 
And so in his first appearance after the Republican National Convention 
- in a corner of the sliver of undecided America - he declared that the 
numbers showed that the economy is "spreading prosperity and opportunity 
and nothing will hold us back."

Nothing, perhaps, except the actual state of the job market. The United 
States gained 144,000 jobs last month, which is just barely enough to 
keep up with the number of people entering the work force. True, the job 
numbers for June and July were revised upward, but they were still weak, 
and much lower than August's. There was a tiny reduction in the 
unemployment rate - because the work force became smaller, not because 
of job creation. Eight million people were unemployed in August, all 
told, the same as in the month before.

Dig beyond the numbers, and the situation is even worse. Even with a 
slight acceleration in August, average hourly wages for the month are 
not likely to keep up with inflation (that number comes out in 
mid-September). As has been the case throughout the current economic 
recovery, wages are held down by the slow pace of job creation and, to a 
lesser extent, by the mainly service-oriented jobs available.

With ordinary Americans' wages eaten up by inflation and their debt at 
nosebleed heights, consumer spending - which accounts for two-thirds of 
economic activity - will not be able to get the economy humming. July's 
summer sales on cars accounted for virtually all of that month's 
big-ticket spending - most of it on credit. Already, economic growth in 
the second quarter has been revised downward a bit and consumer 
confidence registered an unexpectedly steep decline in August.

All of this makes Mr. Bush's assertion in his acceptance speech at the 
convention last week that what workers and the economy really need most 
is some new tax-sheltered savings accounts seem seriously beside the point.

Mr. Bush's preferred explanation is that workers' problems are just part 
of the normal business cycle, in which employment typically rises after 
corporations get enough money to make investments, and wages rise after 
corporations are satisfied with their profits. That means the problem 
will be self-correcting, justifying Mr. Bush's lack of economic policy 

But this recovery is now nearly three years old, and employment and 
wages are not so much trailing business success as diverging from it. A 
new study of recent Commerce Department data by the Center on Budget and 
Policy Priorities confirms that wage and salary growth has been 
exceptionally poor, while profits have been unusually robust.

Mr. Bush tends to attribute the unevenness of the economic recovery to 
the shocks that were already developing before his election (the stock 
market meltdown and corporate scandals) and those beyond his control 
(the 9/11 terrorist attacks). But this is the first time in more than 50 
years that workers have for so long and so deeply failed to share in the 
benefits of growth.

Mr. Bush owes it to voters to look beyond the business cycle and his tax 
cuts and offer a way out of this economic sluggishness. Senator John 
Kerry would likewise do voters a favor by focusing the contest on ideas 
that might alter the status quo. No one is served by the current low 
level of the economic debate.

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