Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How Bad is Our Economy? Just Ask a Mexican

Take off your rose-colored glasses and sit down.  Ready?  OK, here's the truth, warts and all:

You know the American economy is doing bad if even Mexican (and other) immigrants won't come here anymore.  Just a few years ago, the nation was flooded with a seemingly unstoppable flow of immigration, both legal and illegal, thanks to NAFTA wrecking both countries (while simultaneously enriching the elites in both countries) and Bush being too busy invading and looting other countries to protect our own borders.  But once our economy's bubble burst, millions of jobs disappeared--as did the much of the flow of desperate job-seekers from other countries.  Of course, there are other factors at work here, such as the declining birth rates in Mexico and other Latin American countries, the non-passage of the amnesty bill, as well as Obama getting marginally tougher (but not nearly tough enough) on rogue employers who would rather exploit illegal immigrants for cheap labor than hire native-born Americans at a decent living wage.  But the biggest factor, at least in the short term, has been the lack of jobs on this side of the border.  Now that's just sad.

Our nation's unemployment rate is still hovering above 9%, over 3 1/2 years after the recession began and fully two years after the recession was supposedly over.  Our jobless pseudo-recovery since June 2009 has consistently had an unemployment rate at least double what it was during the "prosperity" of 2005-2007.  And for the first time in decades, our unemployment has been higher than Canada's since 2009.  Meanwhile, the Dow Jones has made tremendous gains since its low in March 2009, nearly doubling since then and returning essentially to pre-crash levels.  And the largest corporations have boasted record profits in 2010 and early 2011, while simultaneously outsourcing more and more jobs to other countries.  In other words, it was the best of times (for the filthy rich, mega-corporations, and Wall Street) and the worst of times (for everyone else).

So when does a recession officially become a depression?  The old joke is that a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose your job.  Using that definition, the majority of Americans were in their own personal recession even before the crash of 2008, and now many people are in their own personal depression, all while the elites mock their suffering and do everything they can to avoid (heaven forbid) paying their fair share of taxes.  And at least as far as jobs go, while still not quite as bad as the Great Depression, we unfortunately appear to be in an L-shaped recession similar to Japan in the 1990s.  And up until the Great Depression, the term "depression" was routinely applied to less severe economic contractions (it was actually a euphemism back then to call it such).  Either way, it really seems to be all about semantics as far as the politicians are concerned.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Clock is Still Ticking

The President and Congress still have not agreed on the issue of the debt ceiling.  As we have noted before, failure to raise the ceiling by August 2 will all but guarantee a default, which will be catastrophic.  And the Republicans know it, that's why they would never dream of doing such a thing during a Republican presidency--it's painfully obvious who the American people will blame if such a crisis ever did unfold, and it's not Congress that will take the heat.

To John Boehner and the Republicans:  STOP PLAYING CHICKEN WITH THE ECONOMY RIGHT NOW!  Why are you so afraid of you and your uber-rich buddies paying somewhat higher taxes that you would be willing to either a) risk default on the debt, which hurts all Americans, or b) dismantle the social safety net, which hurts the most vulnerable Americans?  And God forbid we stop waging pointless wars of aggression across the globe, of course.

To President Obama:  If the Republicans want to play hardball, do your Constitutional duty and ignore the ceiling for the time being in order to prevent a default.  They are throwing a tantrum at the very idea of having to pay their fair share of taxes--don't give into their demands.  You have already made more than enough concessions to them as it is, and when you give them an inch, they take a mile.  It's up to YOU to be the adult among the overgrown children we so foolishly elected in 2010.  Oh yeah, and by the way, END ALL OF THE WARS by December.  All of them.  That should save a fortune.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, our great nation is 235 years old.  Actually it is older than that, but we did not declare independence from Britain until July 4, 1776.  Happy Birthday America!