[Homestead] Return of Herbert Hoover
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
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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