I haven't written much about the economic situation because I keep feeling that I am looking at the whole thing through a very distorted fun house mirror. The statistics don't really make any sense. A few of the bloggers I read have a very good handle on the problem. The statistics say that we may be on the verge of a recovery but it doesn't feel much like it here. Daniel Denvir at HuffingtonPost gives a good indication of why. The figures are edited, trimmed, selected to show the best possible picture. So the pundits rejoice when the unemployment figures go down one-tenth of a point but no one asks what may be behind the figures. They went into ecstatic reveries over the supposed increase in 'consumer confidence.' Really? Which consumers? Where? They are not any that I know. Cash for Clunkers has been declared a success. What now? Inflation is low but so what? Food and fuel aren't included and that affects us more than what is included. We may have what a couple of the bloggers call a 'statistical recovery' but, again, so what? The stock market is just La-La Land East in my mind. It has as little to do with my life as La-La Land West. The GDP may turn positive but it doesn't mean a thing if it doesn't translate into meaningful change in my life.
To continue that thread, Dean Baker at TPMCafe posted this Monday. I am sure everyone heard about the Congressional Budget Office revising its projections of the deficit over the next ten years upward by $2 trillion. But no one it seems caught the projection that we will have high unemployment rates for the next SIX YEARS. They did catch the prediction that the rate will rise to 10% or higher sometime between fourth quarter this year and mid 2010. And I am sure that rate doesn't include the long-term unemployed, the discouraged, and the underemployed. Welcome to the 'New Normal.' (another interesting oxymoron.)
Baker's comments on the 'deficit hawks' is right on also. I will add my own observation on that by asking where the hell these guys were when the Bush Administration finagled us into the Iraq fiasco and, thereby, totally screwed up the Afghanistan operations? They were cheerleading then. How many of them come from districts with a lot of defense contractors providing taxes and jobs? I will leave any assessment of the character of these fellows to others because my own is totally unprintable. I have been trying to break myself of using such profanity since it really doesn't lead to any kind of rational discussion. As evidence, take a look at how the charge of 'socialism,' or 'Nazism', stops any discussion before it gets started. I really don't care to join the circle occupied by Limbaugh and his ilk. I don't like the company.
And there was another good argument on the news last night (and early this morning) for a public option/single-payer system of health insurance. A Teamsters local in Chicago is on strike against SK Manufacturing with whom they have been negotiating a contract for the last TWO YEARS. Without warning (and often during treatments) union members found out that their health insurance had been cancelled. The company blames a third party provider for the snafu but their only action seems to be to promise to continue negotiations with the Teamsters. Haven't heard who that third party was or what their reasons were for the cancellation. Did the company not make its payments? I would love to know. Why should workers be held hostage by their employers for health insurance? Why should workers have to decide (as one woman I knew did) to stay in a job they hate just for the insurance?