Sunday, October 9, 2011

Republican Candidates Selling the Dream

Fantastic Images of Economic Recovery
Go ahead, the first one's free.

Prosperity is, uh, "Just around the corner?" (image source)

With a large percentage of Americans now deeply wounded by the unregulated antics of the autocracy's eight year "looting festival," we can collect a troubling package of "unrealistic expectations" about recovery.  Worse, these expectations are already presenting a non-economic reality which may prove even more damaging than what's been done to house prices and 401K accounts.

Although what is revealed in the shadow of that gloomy visitor doesn't have a specific dollar cost associated with it, the cost is still rising.

"Non-economic?"  "Cost still rising?"

What are we talking about here?

Since it hit with its full force, the 2008 Great Republican Recession has exposed all sorts of dismal, unexpected things about the American economy.  Further, this growing, modern understanding of it has not been simply an education about what it looks like in recession.  Instead, Americans have been receiving daily doses of hard numbers reality about what this economy has been all along -- even before the Republican calamity of 2008.

At least, some Americans have been receiving these distasteful new understandings.  Importantly for this post, far too many Americans have yet to even begin their education -- both about the recession and about what was transpiring before it.

The "gloomy visitor" mentioned above is neither particularly a new political reality nor an exclusively mechanical economic creature.  It is the "collection agent" for an even greater deficit.

After six decades of utter failure, the horrible results of the US educational system have, finally, come home to roost.  Even while they face the necessity of voting to rectify this mess, the vast majority of its American victims have no idea about what is actually going on in this latest, massive crisis.

Great Expectations

This conclusion would not amount to much without a bit of evidence to support it.

So, let's look at the evidence.

We see it most clearly in the expectations of those who are presently suffering through this.  What do they expect in terms of economic recovery?  Perhaps even more disturbing, why in the world are they expecting these things?

These expectations of theirs are derived primarily from an admittedly flimsy view of what has always happened in the past.  Recessions are nothing new in a country determined to accept casino capitalism as a necessary part of our traditional system.

The "flimsy view" comes from years of public education which has provided neither the facts nor the logic to successfully interpret what we see before us.  The "root" of these problematic expectations comes from the expectation that this recession will "work itself out" in roughly the same manner as the others we have experienced before.

To put it more provocatively, Americans both lack the education to make sense out of this and, worse,  the interest to get that education, then make sense out of this.  The first casualty of this inadequate analytical capacity is a realistic grasp of the scope of the damage and the gravity of its consequences.

Beginning with this conceptual deficit, the journey to all the false conclusions employed as foundations for ridiculous expectations is "all down hill."  

Americans expect that their housing prices will "rebound" when the foreclosure surplus subsides. They expect that their retirement accounts will start to refill themselves once the market recovers.  They think that their incomes will once again begin to rise if the just "stay the course."  They think that their college educated children will get good jobs and live in a nice, traditional American prosperity.

Unquestionably the most dangerous by-product of such expectations arises in the political arena.  Election decisions are, as we speak, being formulated on all this nonsense.  Candidates are allowed to relentlessly promise this sort of imaginary recovery as if it amounted to nothing any more complicated than a "walk in the park."

Discerning the Past, the Imaginary Future
and the Real Future

At this point, MeanMesa could start plastering charts and graphs one after another, each time examining one of the various "hot dreams" listed above.  However, selecting a salient example to carry the general idea is easy:  unemployment.

For decades the US unemployment rate rumbled along at around 5%.  In the public schools of the 1950's where MeanMesa learned about such things, 5% was considered "healthy," that is, at 5% folks who wanted jobs could find one and companies who wanted to hire people still had plenty of choices.

At 4%, the economy was getting "too hot," and at 6% the economy was in recession.  Further, if unemployment did either of these two things, the economy would almost immediately begin to adjust itself back toward the magic 5% levels.  Of course, the nation was, at this time, firmly under the control of a nice bunch of grey haired white men.

In fact, we can share a couple of charts from News Junkie Post dated November of 2009.  (Read the entire article here.)

Job Growth and Decline under past administrations.

Over all job creation by administrations of each party.

The information which drove both of these charts in 2009 came from the history of unemployment during recessions which the country had experienced up to that time.  However, breathing this historic data into what's happening to us right now is a mistake -- a mistake which the GOPCon candidates are employing as their current "buggy whip" to keep the American Legion bar goers on fire against re-electing Obama.

Even after the "Pearl Harbor-9/11" bombing of the national economy in 2008, these drawling GOPCons still hope to rewrite the contents of the country's recent cultural memory to somehow fit into this latest "shoe box."  Exactly what's missing in the minds of the educationally challenged GOPCon base is the information in the chart which follows.

Job Losses and Recoveries of Previous Recessions Compared to This One (data source)

(A MeanMesa Note:  This chart was originally broadcast of PBS NewHour, Oct. 7, 2011 See video)

We see that President Obama, despite the obstructionist stranglehold of the House tea bags, has managed to "bend" the job loss numbers back to a positive slope.  However, the repeated image coming from the reactionaries on the right suggests that, somehow, he should have already completely remedied the job loss
damage of the autocracy's insatiable and thoroughgoing mismanagement.

We can see a crystal clear image of the results of the House tea baggers efforts to "create jobs" by examining the right half of the current unemployment record.  Even worse, the same reactionaries are touting daily that, in fact, they can solve this problem if we would only elect even more of them.

Yet, Republicans are not only running of their horrendous record of instigating the massive unemployment in 2007 (the left edge of the chart), but also on their "record" of job creation since they took over the House of Representatives in 2010.  This would be bad enough, made nightmarishly real by the number of American voters willing to extend the carnage, but perhaps the most awful of all is found as an unanticipated consequence in the background of their insane scheme.

Setting Our Sight Squarely on Imagining the Imaginary

Adrift in a swamp devoid of fact, the GOPCons have sought out the imaginary rather than "dirtying their hands" with the real -- or even, the possibly real.

The vast majority of those hoodwinked into pulling the voting level over an "R" will believe that a return to 5% unemployment is "just around the corner."  The best estimates of the case suggest that 2014 or 2016 are both still narcotically optimistic, and even then only after a breathtakingly provocative, non-traditional series of previously unheard of economic measures.

The point here is that the prospects of an imaginary, impossible unemployment recovery have been artificially -- and artfully -- incorporated into the Republican platform.  As usual, the entire focus is on winning the election at any cost.  They assume that the inevitable disaster afterwards can be handled by their media.

They can't govern, and they know it.  They've already proved it to us, and now, they are sailing solely on their own denial.

In forty-five days toward the end of 2007 a Republican government sponsored the unregulated extraction of 20% of the entire accumulated wealth of this country since its beginning in the late 1790's.  In 2008 the "demand side" of the economy collapsed because so much money had been removed and redistributed.

Job creation responds to demand.

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