I keep hearing from pundits and politicians about how wonderful the economy is doing. And I look around me, and I often wonder, what planet are these guys on. The I remember that it's hard to see well when you spend all day in an Ivory Tower. And being well paid, they don't see how terrible things are really going. In all probability, they never visit anywhere near where I live, but from what I see, things here are deteriorating rapidly.
At the First of the year, food banks reported over 25 million people customers. Now I doubt that these are just people being thrifty as some might think, but points to a real problem in this country-people can't afford food. Why can't they afford food in this robust economy? Because there is no robust economy, just some more of the type of accounting Enron used to raise stock prices used to mask reality.
Right now, the government is a on a spending spree. It just can't stop spending money it doesn't have. They're are just about to bump their heads on the $8.2 trillion debt limit and are tapping civil service pensions to cover the gap. Of course, the rubber stamp Congress will raise the ceiling more, leaving one wondering how they can call this fiscal responsibility.
Another problem the government has turned a blind eye to is employment. Or rather, unemployment. The current rose colored rate is at 8%, which is based on numbers derived from people drawing unemployment. What it completely ignores is the 5 million people who are chronically unemployed, that is, those who have been unable to find gainful employment beyond their benefit period. Not to mention the under employed, who subside on part time positions or wages that don't meet inflation. With rising gas prices the cost of everything has risen as well while Congress still refuses to raise the minimum wage above $5.25 an hour.
Now we're supposed to believe that the government is creating new jobs. That is what was supposed to happen with the passage of NAFTA and CAFTA. The reality is, they just haven't happened. Recently when WalMart opened a store in Illinois, 25,000 people stood in line for 300 available jobs. WalMart would like to think because it's such a great place to work, but a job that offers no benefits is not a great job. 25, 000 people stood in lines for hours because they want to work!
There's a house I pass everyday on my way to work, beautiful house, brick ranch with an attached garage, right next to a church, yet the house has been on the market for over two years. It hasn't sold, not because mortgage rates aren't low enough, mortgage companies advertise all over about how low rates are, but because rates are so low, for ten grand or so more, you can buy a new house. But now, even new houses aren't selling, as the Commerce Department said there's a glut of unsold new houses on the market, with sales sliding steadily as much as 5%. Now if you live in an area where there's a lot of available jobs, selling your house wouldn't be a problem, but if you don't, housing values are expected to fall as much as ten percent in a dozen major markets. So those people who refinanced their house at the old boom price, could end up losing money when it comes time to sell their house. And new housing starts have been the main barometer of the manufacturing economy.
Speaking of the manufacturing economy, the current administration likes to boast about how it created new manufacturing jobs. When they say this you must remember that these are the same group of people in the Eighties who tried to get ketchup classified as a vegetable in school lunch programs. How did they "create" these new manufacturing jobs? They merely reclassified a job making burgers at McDonald's as a manufacturing job.
Unfortunately, a job "manufacturing" burgers at McDonald's doesn't pay you enough to buy a new house.