Friday, December 5, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Granted, if a year ago Bush had acknowledged the recession that's been tearing a bloody swath through our economy for the past 12 months, things would probably be the same as they are now.

But there's something more than vaguely despicable about Bush finally acknowledging this within the last 50 days of an administration that's been trying to convince us of the exact opposite, conceding no more than "slowdowns" that are the natural ebb and flow of the national economy.

On the one hand, you have to understand Bush's reluctance to officially acknowledge a national state of recession. Even a complete tool like Bush knows that Wall Street is prone to wild swings every time Warren Buffet or Donald Trump fart in public. The wild, drunken losses and gains of the Dow Jones Industrial and Mercantile Averages in the latter half of this year are proof of that.

But Gerald Ford, in the opening remarks of his first State of the Union Address in 1975, wasn't very concerned about Wall Street's volatility when he said,
I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good: Millions of Americans are out of work. Recession and inflation are eroding the money of millions more. Prices are too high, and sales are too slow. This year's Federal deficit will be about $30 billion; next year's probably $45 billion. The national debt will rise to over $500 billion. Our plant capacity and productivity are not increasing fast enough. We depend on others for essential energy. Some people question their Government's ability to make hard decisions and stick with them; they expect Washington politics as usual.

Ford's Address before a joint assembly of Congress on January 15th 1975 goes back to nearly 34 years but the numbers President Ford mentioned, the ruinous legacy left to him by Richard Nixon, look absurdly small by conspicuous relief. A national deficit of $30-45 billion? A national debt of half a trillion? Oh, if only we got off that easy under Bush!

The only number referenced by Mr. Ford that appears larger than today's 6.7% unemployment rate is the 8.1% civilian unemployment rate in January 1975. But consider that the population of the United States back in 1975 was just under 216,000,000. An 8.1% unemployment rate with a civilian work force of 93,775,000 would've translated to 7,929,000 out of work.

The population of the United States is now at more or less 300,000,000. The supposedly lower 6.7 unemployment rate announced just today is another way of saying that 10,300,000 people who've lost their jobs (well over half a million last month alone). That's almost 2,500,000 more jobless people than we had back in 1975, which is generally acknowledged as the worst jobless rate in recent history until the end of the Bush administration. It only stands to reason that the bigger a population gets, even a modest ratio of unemployment will result in greater numbers of jobless. But never in this generation has America ever seen 533,000 jobs evaporate in the blink of an eye.

The difference is that even under the darkest, meanest days of the Nixon administration, outsourcing of American jobs to India and China, for decades the two most populous nations on earth, wasn't an issue. NAFTA wasn't even a gleam in Bill Clinton's eye and we didn't have a trade imbalance with China or any other country that even approaches the cartoonish one that we see with China nowadays. The government also didn't balloon in size under Nixon or Ford as under Bush (17,000 government jobs were created and filled in May 2008 alone.).

The scary thing to remember is that the unemployment rate up until Nixon's resignation in early August of 1974 held at a steady 5.1-5.5%, well under the dreaded 6% mark. By January of 1975, when his successor addressed Congress and the American people, it was up to 8.1 (peaking to 9.0) and wouldn't go back down to normal numbers until a year and a half into Jimmy Carter's administration.

To his credit, Ford did take steps to cut inflation (although his misguided mantra for more tax cuts and the rationale behind it is identical to ones we've been hearing these last eight years) but Ford was handed a huge mess at a time when Richard Nixon had poisoned the well for the Republican Party for two decades.

I fear this is what's awaiting President-Elect Obama. As Louis the XIV once famously said, "Apres moi, le deluge." After me, the deluge. Who would ever think that things would actually get worse after Nixon left office? Who would ever think that things could actually go from bad to worse to worst after Bush leaves office?

Bush's cruelly-belated acknowledgment of the recession may be a political ploy to poison the well. With Obama entering the White House in January, his name will be synonymous with economic ruin, trillions in bailouts, a failing housing and auto market and an elevated debt ceiling now about to break $12 trillion.

So if and when things get worse in the first year or two of Obama's administration, let's cut the guy a break and remember how this started, on whose watch and why before we go to the polls on Super Tuesday 2012. The Titanic also didn't finish turning before it struck the iceberg.


At December 5, 2008 at 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bush's cruelly-belated acknowledgment of the recession may be a political ploy to poison the well."

And it's a workable ploy; I hear wizened financiers saying things will get much worse. . . and last until 2013.

Almost impossible to grasp: the worst is yet to come.


At December 5, 2008 at 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say that Obama's name will be associated with all the falling-apart that's to come. I think the American people are stupid, but not THAT stupid. They know when it started collapsing, so Obama won't cop it. Even the corporate media won't be so ignorant as to try and pass that turd along.

Except for Fux and the 23% dead-enders who WANT to believe it's all Obama's fault. But they're massively ignorant motherfuckers, so who cares what they think? You can't convince EVERYONE of the truth. No point worrying about 'em. Screw 'em; they'll suffer more than the people in the reality-based community.

At December 5, 2008 at 10:57 PM, Blogger M. Bouffant said...


At December 6, 2008 at 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BUSH TO FORD (and GM and Chrysler): "DROP DEAD"

At December 6, 2008 at 11:13 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i am amazed, and that's hard to do lately, by the sheer amount of blind fecklessness bush is showing.

he's a clueless, agressively ignorant (it takes energy to not see the shit right in front of you), arrogant piece of shit.

a piccolo playing motherfucker.

At December 6, 2008 at 11:16 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...


the animal has your pages. now it's up to fate.

At December 6, 2008 at 11:21 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

"Going for the joke" was a very restrained, classy piece of political commentary, MB. Thanks for sharing.

(rolling eyes) And people have been accusing me lately of having a nasty temper. Of course, that doesn't detract from the truth of your sentiments.

I'll be emailing you later today, dude. Thx for passing the ms to Eric. Today will be mainly devoted to a literary agent safari, starting with the agency that reps my buddy Michael Prescott, and rewriting my synopsis and query letter.

At December 6, 2008 at 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no doubt that things WILL get worse after Bush leaves office. This is why Limbaugh is so desperately training his believers to repeat that anything after November is Obama's fault. Things like:
1. The Republicans blocking help to the American automakers (1-2 million more jobless)
2. The credit default swap meltdown, which would have been impossible without Phil Gramm.
3. Millions of unnecessary home foreclosures, thanks to Hank Paulson being unwilling to work with FDIC head Sheila Bair.

The Republicans are determined to blame as many of their sins as they can on Obama, because as sure as the sun will rise, things are going to get worse. And, as with everything, they will propagate the lie by repeating it endlessly.

So, don't let yourself get turned around.

--Charles of MercuryRising

At December 6, 2008 at 12:10 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Well, this is exactly the reason why I'm asking progressive voters to not just look forward to the next general election cycle but to the last one as well. Because history being ill-informed most of the time may begin to judge Bush a little more kindly than is right. And, since Obama is assuming the reins during the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, I'm afraid that he'll be unduly synonymized when things get worse (as Obama rightly warned us).

At December 6, 2008 at 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minstrel, Moms Mabley was your babysitter? Dude, with all the amazing stuff you and JP have said about your life and military service and all, I'd say you have to be making it up, except when people make up shit, they make up stuff with more headline value, not just cool stuff from the margins of fame. Silver Stars instead of ordinary Vietnam horror; babysat by Joan Baez instead of a mostly overlooked juke joint mama.

You are legend, bro. I'd say it over on your blog, but since you put your best efforts on that Group News thing and just do the Friday music lists, I don't hit H&S anymore.

At December 6, 2008 at 6:35 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Dude, you don't even know the half of what Stevie and I have been through both in the service and civilian life.

Speaking for myself, let's just say that civilian life, while I still have problems adjusting to it, is still much better than where I was in the early 80's.

At December 7, 2008 at 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the real unemployment rates at The numbers appear to be a lot differnt


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