Is the recession over yet? – II

“What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?” — Winston Churchill

Statisticians say the recession ended mid-2009, four and a half years ago. But what do you think? Does it feel like the recession ended or does it feel like we are still in a recession? In a recent poll, 74% said we are still in a recession.

It’s no wonder most people feel that the recession never ended. Employment is miserable. GDP growth is pathetic. Median family income is down for four straight years. Almost 50 million Americans live below the federal poverty line. A record 47 million people are on food stamps. One pundit declared that “More people in the United States are poor, unemployed, underemployed, looking for work, disgusted and quit looking for work, on food stamps, and on disability than anytime in our history.”

If those words look familiar it is because I first wrote them three months ago. In that column, the focus was on the worst employment picture in more than 30 years. Three recent pieces of economic news make this a good time to look more broadly at the economy.

1) On April 22, the New York Times reported that the U.S. no longer has the highest Median Family Income in the world. Canada is now #1.
2) April 30, the headline news was that in the first quarter of 2014, the U.S. economy grew at an almost non-existent rate of 0.1%.
3) That same day other headlines stated that China would soon pass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy.

Our economy stinks and we will have more such headlines if we don’t fix it. So, how do we fix it? The first step is to replace all the politicians who don’t even realize there is a problem, who do the same wrong things year after year expecting different results.

For decades, probably for more than a century, the U.S. has had the richest middle class in the world. Not just the richest middle class, but also the richest lower class, the richest upper class, and even the richest poor people. Those in the bottom 10% were much better off than the bottom 10% in any other country.

U.S. median family income is now down for five years in a row. In Canada, median family income is up for four of the last five years. Is it pure coincidence that Canada has been governed by Conservatives in recent years, the U.S. by Progressives?

The Index of Economic Freedom is an annual scoring of some 180 nations by ten measures of economic freedom. As the Index states, “The ideals of economic freedom are strongly associated with healthier societies, cleaner environments, greater per capita wealth, human development, democracy, and poverty elimination.”

The U.S. was rated economically “free” in 2006. Since then, its freedom score has dropped 6 points, it has fallen out of the top 10 to now #12 and is ranked only “mostly free”. The U.S. has lost economic freedom for seven years in a row, particularly in the areas of property rights, and freedom from corruption.

Conversely, Canada has increased its freedom score by more than 10 points over the last 20 years. It is currently ranked #6, and is rated “free”.

Hmm, is there a pattern here? The U.S. loses economic freedom seven years in a row and median family income goes down for five years in a row. Canada increases its economic freedom and median family income goes up four of the last five years. It now has the world’s highest median family income.

GDP growth in this so-called “recovery” has been pathetic. For four years it has been around 1.5% to 2%. That is the slowest by far of all the recoveries in 65 years. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has a nice interactive chart of all postwar recoveries. The current recovery amounts to merely an 11.1% increase in GDP over the almost five years since the recovery began. Many of the previous recoveries had double or almost triple that growth. This recovery is barely half the average of the ten previous recoveries.

Imagine if we had had as much as average growth in the last five years. Investor’s Business Daily estimates that we would now have $1.3 trillion higher income. That is about $10,000 higher per household. That is the cost of bad economic policies.

Apologists for the Obama “recovery” say that the recession was especially severe. Historically, the more severe the recession, the stronger the recovery. It should have been easy to produce better than average numbers. They now say that financial recessions take longer to recover. But that’s not what they said back in 2009 and into 2010. Back then they forecast a strong recovery. It was only after their economic plans failed that they started spouting the “financial recession” excuse.

The Democrat Party would be wise to heed the words of one of its Presidential candidates from some 20 years ago, the late Senator Paul Tsongas, who said, “You cannot redistribute wealth that you never created. You cannot be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time. You cannot love employment and hate employers.”

Did we win the war?

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. — Mark Twain

This year is the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty (WOP). In January 1964, during his State of the Union speech, President Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty”. “Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it.” In August of that year, Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which stated that it was the policy of the United States to eliminate poverty. “The United States can achieve its full economic and social potential as a nation only if every individual has the opportunity to contribute to the full extent of his capabilities and to participate in the workings of our society.”

Even before the WOP, poverty rates were falling steadily. From 1940 to 1960 the poverty rate for black families dropped from 87% to 47%, then in the 60s it dropped another 17%. In 1950 the overall poverty rate was 30%. By 1956 that had dropped to 25%. By the time of LBJ’s announcement the rate had dropped to 19%.

A few years after the WOP legislation was passed, poverty dropped to 12%. Supporters cheered that the law was working, but how much of that drop was due to the new law and how much was a continuation of a long-term trend going back to the 1940s and 50s?

Since then, now amounting to some 45 years, the poverty rate has bounced up and down between 12% and 15%. The average for the last two decades is higher than when LBJ left office. For the first time in about 50 years, the poverty rate is 15% for three years in a row. A record high 50 million Americans live in poverty. 

We can do better. We should do better.

What we have been doing for most of 50 years has not worked. The War on Poverty has not achieved its stated goals: it has not cured, prevented, or eliminated poverty. The goals were laudable but we should judge the law by its results, not its goals. The result after 50 years is an increase in poverty, not a decrease. People are trapped in poverty, not freed from it.

LBJ’s goal was to help people become prosperous and self-sufficient. Instead, people have become dependent on government, surviving from one benefit check to the next. The Act stated as a goal that “every individual has the opportunity to contribute to the full extent of his capabilities.” 50 million Americans are not contributing; the programs’ perverse incentives punish people who try to work.

Some say the WOP has been a success as measured by the great number of people receiving assistance. Wouldn’t it be better – better for poor people themselves – to measure success by the number of people who have been lifted out of poverty and no longer need assistance?

We all know Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” For most of 50 years we have been doing the same thing year after year and the result has been to trap more and more people in poverty.

The myriad of welfare programs reward people for being poor and penalize those who try to move out of poverty and up the income ladder. Someone who works harder, takes a second job, learns more skills, might earn $10,000 more but lose $15,000 of benefits. Hence, many say “I can’t afford to take that job. I’d lose my benefits!” With perverse incentives like these, it is no wonder that we have more people in poverty and fewer people making the effort to better themselves.

New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof recognized the problem: “This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.”

As a caring society we want to help the vulnerable. But do we want to trap them into a lifetime of dependency on government, where they are punished for trying to better themselves? Is it good for society to have millions of people unable to contribute their skills and energy? Is it good for the recipients themselves to live in poverty their entire lives with no hope of ever becoming self-sufficient and moving upward? 

For Kristof, “a tentative lesson from the field is that while we need safety nets, the focus should be instead on creating opportunity — and, still more difficult, on creating an environment that leads people to seize opportunities.”

Our social safety net all too often acts as a trap net. It traps people at the edge of poverty and prevents them from moving up the ladder of success. A true safety net is rarely used. People create opportunities to reach their work site above the safety net. In the unlucky event that they fall to the net, they climb back up and continue their work.

Let’s think more about creating ladders or stairways or ramps to help people escape poverty and reach for their dreams and less about nets that support them and trap them at the edge of poverty with no hope of rising higher.

Health Insurance is not Health Care

Tammy Bruce opines that ObamaCare is not just a train wreck, because after all, once a train wreck is over, it is over. It doesn’t keep on going. No, ObamaCare is more like a cancer, growing and destroying everything.

A California man bought insurance on the ObamaCare exchange, then called a doctor for an appointment. He called every single doctor who was listed as being in-network, but none of them actually was.

In the normal world, this would be called “fraud.” In Obama’s America, it’s called a “snag,” and on a national scale, the Obama regime labels it “Shut up, Fox News!”

After all, isn’t the goal getting everyone insured? Who cares if you can’t actually see a doctor or get health care, because everyone will get a terrific piece of paper that says “health insurance policy.” Equality, at last — everyone’s got the same thing; namely, nothing at all.

A woman cancer patient enrolled in ObamaCare, then went to see her oncologist, only to be greeted by a sign at the door announcing that they did not accept any of the ObamaCare plans. She says that she is, “a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can’t sleep at night.”

When the Congressional Budget Office forecast that ObamaCare would cause 2.5 million people to lose their jobs, the White House responded that those people were just a “small percentage of the economy.”

Back here in New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen and Carol-Shea Porter say that they would vote for ObamaCare all over again if they could. Whose side are they on?

Why Not Common Core?

Extracts from an interesting article by Barbara Haney, PhD.:

If the objective of the K-12 education system in Alaska is to produce students who can excel in the areas of math and science, the Alaska State Standards and the Common Core will not produce that result. These standards are not more rigorous, they are simply ridiculous. They are developmentally inappropriate and do not specify outcomes. Standards specify outcomes, not processes. With rare exceptions, the Alaska State Standards and the Common Core specify processes, not outcomes.
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It is noteworthy that states have been fleeing the consortia and the common core. Michigan has paused and is re-writing their standards. Massachusetts has paused implementation. Maine and Florida left the consortia via executive order and they are fighting to get the common core out of their state with the assistance of both the governor and the legislature. Georgia left the consortia and is re-writing their standards. Alabama and Utah left the consortia, and there are active movements to get the common core out of that state. Pennsylvania has an effort to rescind the core as well, because oil companies like Exxon and Anadarko have thrown considerable support behind the core making the job of Senate Democrats difficult. (Note: Mike Hanley’s brother, Mark Hanley, is a lobbyist for Anadarko). New York State has what could be termed as a rebellion, and the rejection of the common core was decisive in the school board elections in Buffalo, New York as well as in the Mayor’s race in New York City. Governor Cuomo is a major advocate of the Common Core nationally, along with his anti-gun agenda.
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The developmentally inappropriate nature of the common core has had disastrous results in New York and in other parts of the country. The increase in suicides and clinical depressions that have accompanied the implementation of the common core are well documented. One researcher who has been tracking the impact of the standards on mental health is Mary Calamia. Her research shows a marked increase in self-mutilating behaviors, insomnia, panic attacks, depressed mood, school refusal, and suicidal thoughts during the state exam cycle last spring.

Rethinking the War on Poverty

Some time back there was poll that described two options without using party labels. By a 2:1 margin people preferred the option that happened to be the Republican position. But then the pollsters asked the very same questions but identified which were the Democrat positions and which were the Republican positions. The result was a slight preference for the Democrat position.

To put it simply, voters prefer Republican positions, but don’t like the Republican label.

I am going to try a similar experiment here. Below are extracts from an interesting article about the War on Poverty. Decide whether you like the ideas without knowing who wrote it.

Just over 50 years ago, LBJ announced a War on Poverty.

The world has changed profoundly in the half-century since Johnson declared a war on poverty. In that time, as Peter Ferrara points out, the welfare bureaucracy has spent more than $16 trillion on means-tested entitlements. For each American living in poverty, we now spend $17,000 annually on these programs. And after 50 years of this strategy, there are still nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty today, and President Obama calls “inequality” is “the defining issue of our time.” The war, he says, is “far from over.”

He’s right: 50 years in, we’re still far from winning the war on poverty. But what does he–what does the left–propose to turn the tide? A small hike in the minimum wage, (when only about one third of one percent of Americans lives under the poverty line earning minimum wage). They want some higher taxes on the rich, a few new bureaucracies at most. In other words, the same ideas we’ve been trying for the last 50 years–programs whose most notable achievement is trapping millions of Americans in dependency.

The best response to these proposals may be a half century old itself: Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech, which he, too, delivered in 1964. “Do they honestly expect us to believe,” he asked, “that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we’re spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have—and remember, this new program doesn’t replace any, it just duplicates existing programs—do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic?”It didn’t. And none of the same old, timid ideas we’re hearing from the left to mark this anniversary will do that either, of course.

We owe it to the least well-off Americans to develop a completely new approach to the war on poverty. Instead of recycling bureaucratic proposals from the era of black and white television, it’s time to rethink fundamentally how it is possible to help the poor in this very different world.

Poll: Record high number oppose ObamaCare

A record high number of registered voters (59%) oppose ObamaCare and a record low number (36%) favor it. Interestingly, the increase in opposition comes from Democrats and independents. 30% of Democrats, up from 22%, oppose the law. Among independents, 64% (up from 53%) oppose it.

Some apparent reasons for opposition to the law include the fact that majorities think the new law will increase their taxes (63 percent), increase their insurance costs (62 percent) and increase the federal deficit (56 percent).

Meanwhile, just one voter in five thinks Obamacare will increase the quality of their health care (19 percent).  More than twice as many expect the quality of their care to get worse (39 percent) and another 37 percent think it will stay the same.

  • By 42%-27% voters think that Obama’s policies have hurt, not helped, the economy
  • A whopping 74% feel as if the country is still in a recession
  • By 55%-30% they think cutting taxes and reducing regulations would help the economy
  • 55% vs 37% think that long-term unemployment benefits discourage people from trying to find work
  • A majority (52%) think the government should provide unemployment benefits for at most one year

Democrats Are the Out-of-Touch Extremists

The public overwhelmingly believes the country is headed in the wrong direction, that current economic policies aren’t working, that President Obama is doing a bad job, that government should be smaller and that ObamaCare should be repealed. But not Democrats.

Those are findings from a new poll by Investor’s Business Daily. On issue after issue, large majorities of the public tilt one way, but the Democrats tilt the other way.

Is the country headed in the right direction? 64% say no. Among Independents, 71% say we are headed in the wrong direction along with 92% of Republicans. But 66% of Democrats think we are headed in the right direction.

On all of the poll’s questions, Independents aligned with Republicans and against Democrats.

Poll: America’s best days are in the past

More than half (52%) of likely voters think the nation’s best days are in the past. Only 31% think the best days lie still ahead. — Rasmussen Reports

It is understandable that so many people think that. But they are wrong. The economy does stink. We are in the worst, most prolonged recovery in 70 years. Unemployment is awful. Millions of people have given up even looking for a job. Median family income is down. Debt is up. Growth is down.

But these bad things don’t just happen. They are the result of bad policies from politicians who do not understand the Law of Unintended Consequences, who do not understand that good intentions are not the same as good results.

The right policies can put us back on the right track to growth and prosperity. Most people think the country is headed the wrong direction. We need to elect politicians who agree with us, who know that we are on the wrong track and that we need to change direction. 

 

“unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy”

[They] see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they’ll try anything to bring that about. (my emphasis)

That Brit Hume commentary has it just about right. Too many Republicans, especially in Washington, are content with Big Government as long as they have a hand in running it. The grassroots and, polls show, the American people prefer smaller government:

far more voters continue to favor a smaller government with fewer services than a bigger government that provides more services. — Pew Research Center

 

Another great column from Mark Steyn

The least dispiriting moment of another grim week in Washington was the sight of ornery veterans tearing down the Barrycades around the war memorials on the National Mall, dragging them up the street and dumping them outside the White House. This was, as Kevin Williamson wrote at National Review, “as excellent a gesture of the American spirit as our increasingly docile nation has seen in years.”

Read the whole thing. Here are some pull quotes:

  • Folding is what Republicans do. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so good at folding Obama should hire them as White House valets.
  • without meaningful course correction, America is doomed.
  • we are on course to becoming the first nation of negative-millionaires.
  • These days, it’s not clear to me that the Republican Party functions as a pro-American right.

 

The Declaration of Dependence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people should be made equal, that they are endowed by their government with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are jobs, healthcare and housing.–That to secure these rights, Governments must rule over the people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the elite, –That whenever the people becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Elite to alter or to abolish it, and to institute more Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the power and control of the elite. …We, therefore, the Representatives of the political elite, in faculty lounges, Assembled, appealing to the United Nations for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of government, solemnly publish and declare, That the American people ought to be governed by the United Nations; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the Constitution, and that all political connection between them and the Founding Fathers, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as highly-taxed and dependent States, they have full Power to levy taxes, disrupt Peace, contract new departments and agencies, regulate Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which the political elite may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the establishment media, we mutually demand your Lives, your Fortunes and your sacred Honor.

Via the great Dan Mitchell.

The greatest country in history

“Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit.” — P.J. O’Rourke

The historian John Steele Gordon observes that the United States is the most influential country in history and that the reason is our economy. In his book, An Empire of Wealth, he declares that ours is “an empire of economic success and of the ideas and practices that fostered that success.”

Gordon describes the rise of the American economy as an “epic powered by uncountable millions [of people] pursuing their self-interests within the rule of law, which is the essence of liberty.”

Liberty has been a hallmark of our country for most of 400 years. Many of the early settlers came for religious freedom. Others “came to pursue their own ideas of happiness … with less interference than anywhere else.” The voyage was perilous; the New World sometimes more so. Many died at sea; many others died within a few years. But they took those risks for the sake of liberty.

In our Declaration of Independence the signers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to support the idea that all men had the unalienable right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Eleven years later, some of those same men signed the Constitution to “secure the blessings of Liberty”.

A century later French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi created the Statue of Liberty as a gift to the United States from the people of France. Do you know that a similar, though much smaller, Statue of Freedom tops the U.S. Capitol Dome?

The point of all this history is that Liberty, as a word and as an idea, has been the heart and soul of our country from the beginning. (Homework: on what U.S. coin is the word “Liberty”?)

Albert Einstein declared that “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” Most of the world’s great technology was created in the United States. And with just 6% of the world’s population, the U.S. has won 42% of the Noble Prizes.

We became the greatest country on earth because ordinary people had the freedom to do extraordinary things. People such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs started from humble beginnings and created whole new industries.

Some may say that our success was an accident of our geography and our natural resources. But how then do they explain the economic success of Hong Kong? It is but a small island with zero resources. Yet its per capita income is among the highest in the world. Not coincidentally it is ranked highest in the world for economic freedom.

No. Prosperity is not a result of natural resources – or perhaps it is. The most valuable resource for any country is the human mind. And the United States “unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth.”

Every year, think tanks around the world rank the various countries for their economic freedom, personal freedom, political freedom, etc. One such ranking is the Index of Economic Freedom. It measures ten components of economic freedom such as freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, labor freedom, and trade freedom. After averaging the ten component scores to produce an overall score from 0 to 100, it groups the countries as Free, Mostly Free, down to Repressed.

Years of study have shown that more economic freedom corresponds to higher per capita income, stronger growth, less poverty, and a cleaner environment. Other studies have shown that freedom also corresponds to more happiness and longer life spans.

Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall more than 20 years ago, Germany was two distinct countries: West Germany and East Germany. One was free and prosperous; the other suffered tyranny and poverty. When East Germany was freed from the tyranny of Communism and became part of a free united Germany, it quickly became prosperous.

Today, we can look at the very prosperous South Korea, which is “moderately free” and the literally starving North Korea, which is “repressed”. Some may think of China as being a great country but it is ranked “mostly unfree”. Its per capita income is only one-quarter of Taiwan’s, ranked “mostly free”.

So, where does the United States rank in the index? Our overall score has dropped to just 76, #10 in the world. We aren’t even the most free in North America; Canada has taken that spot. Five years ago we were rated “Free”, now just “Mostly Free”. The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that have dropped for five straight years, a total loss of more than 5 points.

Predictably, we have less prosperity – the rich have gotten richer, the middle class poorer – we have low growth and more people on the edge of poverty. For the first time in history the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 on the Legatum Institute’s prosperity index.

The only good news is that people realize that we are headed in the wrong direction. By more than 2:1 margins, polls show that we are on the wrong track. The cure is to restore the economic freedom that made us the greatest country on earth.

The Economy Has Tanked Under Obama

Some facts about the economy since Obama became President:

  • Seven out of every eight jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.
  • The number of full-time workers in the United States is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.
  • The number of Americans “not in the labor force” soared by an astounding 8,332,000.  That far exceeds any previous four year total.
  • The poverty rate has shot up to 16.1 percent.  That is actually higher than when the War on Poverty began in 1965.

 

Obama’s economy – still down

If this is a recovery, what would a slowdown be like?

  • Median family income is down 4.4% from when the recession “ended”
    • Black households are down 11%
    • Hispanics down 4.5%
    • Single moms down 7.5%
    • Families with three or more children down 9.2%
  • Gallup’s unemployment measure jumped to 8.6% versus 7.7% four weeks ago
  • The share of underemployed climbed to 17.7%
  • The payroll-to-population ratio dropped to an unsustainable 43.8%, from 63.5% in January 2010

We keep hearing economists say the economy is “firming up” and it’s poised for growth soon. What we see instead is an economy that, thanks to this administration’s misguided policies, has fallen and can’t get up.

 

Has America seen its best days?

Author Aaron Clarey suggests that America is so far gone that we might as well sit back and Enjoy the Decline. “We mock classical American culture, we ridicule ‘hard work,’ we villainize success, we reward inferior performance and mediocrity, and we spend more time finding ways to feel sorry for ourselves and be ‘victims’ than we do finding ways to produce and succeed,” he observes.

The first step in solving a problem is realizing that there is a problem. The good news is that polls indicate by a more than 2:1 margin that people realize that we are on the wrong track. But it is not too late to change direction and fix our problems.

In the words of one of our great statesmen, “The crisis we are facing today … does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God’s help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.
“And, after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.”

Who said this?

“Many European countries are witnessing a rise of [the] dependency mentality when not working is often much more beneficial than working. This type of mentality endangers not only the economy but also the moral basics of the society. It is not a secret that many citizens of less developed countries come to Europe intentionally to live on social welfare.”

Post your guesses in the comments. I won’t answer for a while.

Second question: Is U.S. headed to a similar condition?

Unexpectedly …

“Unexpectedly” – that word or a variation appears in almost every report about the economy. One example is this report about manufacturing growth.

“The pace of expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector unexpectedly slowed in March”

“index of national factory activity … was shy of expectations

“The prices paid gauge slid to 54.5 … compared to expectations of 59.8″

From another report:

“Confidence among U.S. homebuilders unexpectedly fell for a second month in March”

Or another:

“Jobless claims surged this week, missing expectations

Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit fame was the first to notice this about four years ago. Since then pretty nearly every month the economic reports contain “unexpectedly” bad news.

When the economists are almost always wrong on their forecasts, why should anyone believe them? When the economists who advise the politicians are almost always wrong, why should we trust their prescriptions about how to fix this awful economy?

Millennials: the most stressed-out generation in America

According to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey, “Millenials,”  those aged 18-33, are the most stressed-out generation in the country. One factor just might be that half of young college graduates are either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t fully use their skills and knowledge.

Isn’t that the same age group that voted overwhelmingly for Obama? Perhaps if they had taken the time to learn that Obama has produced the worst recovery of all 10 Presidents in the last 60 years, then maybe they would have voted differently, we would now have a better economy and they would be less stressed.

The Country is on the Wrong Track

Before I answer the homework question from my last column, here are more excerpts from the mystery author’s speech:

“These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. … Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. … For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present.  [Sounds like today, doesn’t it?]

“From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?
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LTE – The Country is on the Wrong Track

Is the country headed in the right direction or on the wrong track? Consider:
– There have been 43 months with unemployment above 8%. That is more months of high unemployment than the previous eleven Presidents combined.
– Over eight million people have given up looking for a job. If the government counted them as unemployed, the true unemployment would be 18-19%.
– Gas prices have more than doubled in four years – from about $1.90 to almost $4.00.
– Median income has fallen for three straight years – dropping $2500.
– The number of people in poverty has increased for three straight years.
– The number needing food stamps has grown 15 million, almost 50%.
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