- Written by Ken Alpern
02 Oct 2012
ALPERN AT LARGE - Like it or not, we’re in the middle of a “War On Math”. Arguably the scientific/numerical counterpart of the literary/sociological trend that too many Americans fall into—prioritizing what a person’s rhetoric over his/her actions—this War On Math is predicated on the loss of a once-healthy American respect for hard, cold math. This math once existed far outside the range of politics, but its associated numbers are now eclipsed by politics...yet the numbers exist and persist, nevertheless.
What numbers are they, pesky though they might be? There are many, but here are a few:
46.7 million: The number of Americans using food stamps in June 2012, or roughly one in five adults, as reported by the US Department of Agriculture, and which is roughly the same as the number of Americans living in poverty. With nearly one in five Americans not having enough money to pay for food during in the past year, the need to hold BOTH presidential opponents’ feet to the fire is more important than ever. We can’t endure this much longer.
44%: The increased percentage of Americans on food stamps since President Obama took office in January 2009, and in part the result of an aggressive enrollment effort from President Obama’s administration (link) http://www.cnbc.com/id/48898378/Record_46_Million_Americans_Are_on_Food_Stamps). While the President’s efforts to prevent hunger are admirable, his results in moving people into the middle class and into long-lasting jobs is anything but admirable.
47%: The percentage of Americans that Governor Mitt Romney dismissed as unwilling to get off a culture of dependence and those he phrased privately (but now public thanks to the Internet) as voters he did not feel ( to paraphrase) he could ever successfully seek their vote in to the upcoming election. Americans still seek a Clinton or a Reagan, who never wrote off anybody, and Romney must elaborate and show he still cares…about ALL Americans.
60% and 58%: The respective percentages of middle-income job losses from the beginning of 2008 to early 2010, and the percentage of all low-wage job growth during what has been an anemic expansion. Whether our workers are low-skilled, recent high school or college graduates, or older workers who are just scraping by on lower-wage jobs, they’ve all earned the right to ask whether current fiscal policy is working for the average Joe/Jane American.
4% and 6%: The respective percentages of how much stock indexes rose during the third quarter of this year, and where they are at compared to where they were just before the Great Recession. They are, however, almost entirely influenced not by corporate earnings but by Ben Bernanke and the Fed simultaneously buying up U.S. securities and printing more dollars to keep the American economy afloat. Should corporate earnings go down and tax rates go up, mega-fragile stock prices are expected to plummet.
1.3%: The 2nd-quarter 2012 Gross Domestic Product, and lowered from a previous estimate of 1.7% because of both the harsh summer drought and a plunge in new orders for durable manufactured goods. It is too low to be consistent with rising employment and an improving economy, and is approximately half of what occurred during the administration of G.W. Bush.
2033: The year that the Social Security Trust Fund is now predicted reach its “doomsday” level of depletion, and which has just been moved forward from a previous “doomsday” of 2041, a year which was projected as recently as 2008.
Had enough of the fun numbers yet? Unfortunately, these numbers haven’t had enough of you—they just don’t care about human needs, political affiliation or socioeconomic background. They are heartless and are both entirely and inherently blind to human suffering or political expediency.
Regrettably, the “Obama-heads” keep forgetting that our President is no Bill Clinton, who knew that it took more to balance the budget than to have the Fed print money and vomit out $6 trillion in debt in four years. Bill Clinton also enacted a federal hiring freeze, reduced dividend and capital gains tax rates, and demanded welfare reform—the rich grumbled about higher taxes, but it wasn’t hard to conclude that taxes were an investment and a budget-balancer, and not merely a federal money grab.
Equally regrettably, the “Romney-heads” keep forgetting that Governor Romney is no Ronald Reagan, who knew that it took more to enhance the economy than a few sound bites and swipes at one’s political opponents. Ronald Reagan inspired Americans of all socioeconomic levels that they could be anything they wanted to be, and encouraged both investment and hard work to both enhance America’s fiscal security and military strength against the former Soviet Union. The taxes and loopholes both dropped, but the federal revenue and financial opportunities skyrocketed.
But now to the present day: Savers and investors are NOT lazy leeches, they’ve clawed their way through hard work to achieve the money to invest, and they’ve embarked on considerable risk to invest their personal and family wealth on ventures that often end in huge, horrible losses. They make up a large percentage of our retirees and workforce, and President Obama has little to show that he cares about them as much as previous presidents.
Meanwhile, Governor Romney has demonstrated little concern about the predatory practices of modern-day corporate America, and he has yet to address either the remote computer programs or creepy Wall Street trading paradigms of influencing stock prices based not on value…but on manipulation. Even before the subprime mortgage crisis, these influences have hurt savers and investors as much as any increased tax rates ever could.
Similarly, neither President Obama nor Governor Romney have shown sufficient interest and savvy to protecting eager and industrious workers, who are crying and pleading to enter the workforce with good jobs. President Obama appears more than happy to have private-sector workers subsist on food stamps, while Governor Romney appears content to have them exist on…nothing.
President Obama is more than happy to have our children and grandchildren pay off our trillion-dollar-plus-per-year deficit and 16 trillion debt, while printing up more money so as to make gas and food prices go DRAMATICALLY UP not only because of rising fuel costs but because Americans have to pay for their fuel in pathetically-undervalued dollars. Governor Romney is willing to slash and cut but still remains insultingly-vague as to how he would do things any better.
And neither of them have acknowledged the willingness and flexibility of Americans to pay more for taxes if the money isn’t spent on inefficient and misspent nonsense.
Both have their work cut out for them in the upcoming debates, but neither of them have yet to adequately make the case that they deserve a shot of leading the American people out what is increasingly looking less like a Great Recession, and more like a Second Great Depression.
Vol 10 Issue 79
Pub: Oct 2, 2012