By Tierney Kain
Oh god. Oh GOD. Our economy’s NEVER been as bad as it is now. Great Depression?! Please. Our current “Great Recession” is much, much worse.
I mean…our million dollar houses we bought with zero money down and refinanced six times are being foreclosed upon! The dinners out and the DVD libraries we charged to our credit cards have resulted in insurmountable debt! (Oh, those credit card companies are SO evil! How dare they charge us interest because we can’t afford to pay for the second plasma screen television!?)
Yeah. I’m being sarcastic.
Just like how hating the military, valuing polar bears and trees more than babies, and embracing candidates who deem their “community organizational” skills and campaign management as ample qualifications to be president have become the trendy things for people to do, possessing a deliberate pessimism about the economy is quickly gaining popularity.
Donald Luskin, an economist, had an excellent article in this past Sunday’s Washington Post. (“Quit Doling Out That Bad Economy Line”) He makes the point, which I completely agree with, that a comparison between the financial situation now and what happened back in the early twentieth century is…well…stupid. Back in January, the U.S News and World Report Editor in Chief Mort Zuckerman said on “The McLaughlin Group” that we as a nation “are facing the worst financial crunch and crisis since the Great Depression.”
Mr. Zuckerman is not alone in his fears. In 2006, three major networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) all referenced the Great Depression or the recession a total of 49 times. Mr. Luskin, in his Post article, pointed out that in the past two months, the Washington Post has written at least nine articles (news stories, op-eds, and columns) that “key elements of the economy are the worst they’ve been ‘since the Great Depression’.”
You know something? Even though they’re wrong, I do admire those pessimists’ determination in believing that we’re in a horrible recession despite the proof of the opposite. Recession occurs when there are two consecutive periods of negative growth. Well, since last quarter we grew 3.3 percent, I’m pretty sure all the references to our “Great Recession” are ludicrous. And, like Mr. Luskin states, 3.3 percent growth is pretty close to the 3.4 average growth rate since the infamous Great Depression.
So, pardon the Joker reference, but why so serious? Why so insistent on telling the public that we’re in such dire financial straits? Why so set on depicting the current administration as the cause of the worst economical situation since a time when nearly half the country was without jobs and homes and meals? Why? How can you even claim such things?
Well, Obama did state in June that during a campaign speech that “percentage of homes in foreclosure and late mortgage payments is the highest since the Great Depression.” That’s a pretty big claim…let’s see if it’s true. Mr. Luskin cites the Mortgage Bankers Association database as evidence that Obama’s claims were unfounded. First of all, they’ve only been keeping track of that kind of information since 1979. Second, really, Obama? Really!? You’re saying that foreclosures are the highest since the Great Depression? That’s a dumb comparison. “According to the MBA, 6.4 percent of mortgages are delinquent to some extent, and 2.75 percent are in foreclosure.” You’re comparing 6.4 percent to the excess of 50 percent during the Great Depression?
That’ s really some pretty dedicated pessimism. I’ve been hearing recent claims that my girl Palin is a liar, but Obama’s not so innocent either. On Obama’s official campaign website, he says that “the personal savings rate is now the lowest it’s been since the Great Depression.” Why make comments like that when obvious proof is lying around? Mr. Luskin continues to make his point, stating that “The latest rate, for the second quarter of 2008, is 2.6 percent — higher than the 1.9 percent rate that prevailed in the last quarter of Bill Clinton‘s presidency.”
So, if Obama is wrong about that, what else is he wrong about?
I can’t stress enough how amazing Mr. Luskin’s article was. (Translation: Go read it. Now. Don’t wait. The last thing I want to do is reiterate every single point he made, but they’re all so perfect and so relevant. If Obama’s not a liar when it comes to the economy, then he’s majorly misinformed and blindly believes that misinformation without doing the research, which is just as bad. I’m ranting. Sorry.)
The article goes on to outline all the misconceptions about our current economical situation, and then this little gem: “This would suggest that anyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one — especially the worst one since the Great Depression — is making up his own private definition of “recession.” And probably for his own political purposes. McCain campaign adviser and former U.S. senator Phil Gramm was right in July when he said that our current state “is a mental recession.” Maybe he was out of line when he added that the United States has become “a nation of whiners.” But when it comes to the economy, we have surely become a nation of exaggerators.”
Nicely put, Mr. Luskin. And, just like it’s “political suicide” to disagree with global warming or support the war, it’s become taboo to disagree with the fact that our economy is in dire straits. Even my man McCain brushed off Mr. Gramm’s aforementioned statement, making a joke out of it. Why? I believe it’s because people are so intent on making Bush the reason for every negative thing that happens. (My friend Chuck made me laugh when he said sarcastically that his hot water stopped working. It must be Bush.) Because most of society’s fingers are pointing at Bush for causing our “Great Recession”, for McCain to admit that numbers don’t lie would be super unpopular. Come on, Maverick! We already knew Obama’s got no balls, but I have faith in you!
Okay. Moving on. So, we’ve just established that Obama is either a liar or horrible misinformed when it comes to our current economy. How’s he going to fix it? What is going to be the great “change” he rhapsodizes about every chance he gets?
I giggled my way through Bill O’Reilly’s interview with the Democratic nominee on September 8. (The transcript can be found here.) Basically, Obama’s plan for us if he gets elected is to cut taxes for 95 percent of the country and raise them for the top 5 percent. After all, they’re rich. They can afford it. Mr. O’Reilly disagrees, calling the plan “class warfare.” “You’re taking the wealthy in America, the big earners . . . you’re taking money away from them and you’re giving it to people who don’t. That’s called income redistribution. It’s a socialist tenet. Come on, you know that. You went to Harvard.” Heh.
Obama’s response is that it’s our job, our neighborly duty, to redistribute our wealth. “”If I am sitting pretty and you’ve got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can’t, what’s the big deal for me to say, I’m going to pay a little bit more? That’s neighborliness.””
Jeff Jacoby’s op-ed “Seeing Through Obamanomics” has plenty to say about Obama’s insistence on doing our “duty”. So do I. I’ll let him go first, and then I’ll say what I think.
“’Neighborliness.’ Perhaps that word has a nonstandard meaning to someone whose home adjoined the property of convicted swindler Tony Rezko, but extracting money by force from someone who earned it in order to give it to someone who didn’t is not usually spoken of as neighborly. If Citizen Obama, “sitting pretty,” reaches into his own pocket and helps out the waitress with a large tip, he has shown a neighborly spirit. But there is nothing neighborly about using the tax code to compel someone else to pay the waitress that tip.
Taxation is not generosity, it is confiscation at gunpoint. Does Obama not understand the difference?”
Uh…yeah! And, I’m going to add my two cents. I was that waitress making 2.13 plus tips, and it sucked. A lot. I waitressed for about three years. But, I never felt that the wealthy business man should have tipped me more just because he had more money. I just expected my twenty percent (which is what you should tip for good service. NOT FIFTEEN. I’ll rant about that maybe another day..). So, according to Obama, the richer customers should have tipped me more simply because I had a crappy job and they didn’t? Sorry. I don’t agree. Yeah, the extra money would have rocked, but it seems unfair. Obama’s tax plan is kind of like turning America into a big restaurant. The richer you are, the more you’re supposed to tip because you can. Who cares that it’s your money that you worked for? Who cares that you worked those same minimum wage jobs, and eventually all that hard work paid off? No. No one cares. If you worked hard for your money, then the government has every right to take it away from you and give it to the poor minimum wage people.
It’s not fair. I absolutely do not support a President who wants to fulfill childhood fantasies of being Robin Hood. Taking money from the rich to give to the poor may sound nice, but in the end, it’s still thievery. Forcing me to tip that metaphorical waitress more (read pay more taxes) because of my income, and throwing me in jail if I don’t is wrong. Obama’s PR skills kind of suck in that regard. Telling me I’m being a good neighbor by forcibly taking my money and giving it to others and throwing me in jail if I don’t doesn’t exactly make me feel better.
And, until the possibility of the Presidency arose, Obama wasn’t neighborly in the least. Jacoby shows the proof in his article: “Barack and Michelle Obama’s tax returns show that from 2000 through 2004, when their adjusted gross income averaged nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year, their annual charitable donations amounted to just $2,154 – less than nine-tenths of 1 percent. Not until he entered the US Senate in 2005 and began to be spoken of as a presidential possibility did the Obamas’ “neighborliness” become more evident. (In 2005-2007, they gave 5.5 percent of their income to charity.)”
So, if Obama is a liar (or grossly misinformed) and a hypocrite when it comes to our economical situation and our “neighborly duties”, how can we really trust this guy to run our country?
Somebody was asking me today about why I became so passionate and interested in politics, specifically this election. I remember months and months ago, I was on the elliptical trainer at Gold’s Gym “working on my fitness”. (Oh Fergie. Heh.) Obama was speaking on TV, and since I was stuck on my machine, I was forced to watch him.
He was talking about the credit card “crisis”, and then he said that he wanted to help save Americans from the “predatory” credit card companies who were forcing them deeper and deeper into debt. That was the first time I ever actually cared about something political. I remember actually laughing out loud and being like, “Really?! This dude is blaming the credit card companies for Americans’ debt?!” The idea was so laughably stupid, and so transparent in trying to get those American debtors’ votes that I went home and had to say something to my father, who has a mind like a computer and is pretty much the smartest man I know. (He also could beat up your dad. And he would be the ideal presidential candidate.)
Thus, my interest in politics was sparked. Please explain to me how Obama can blame credit card companies for keeping people in debt?! How can you base a huge part of your campaign on something you voted to SUPPORT?! Yes. That’s right. In 2005, Obama actually voted “NAY” on a bill that would freeze credit card rates at no higher than 30%. (Really interesting article here that addresses Obama’s credit card hypocrisy and shows that, as of when it was published in January, Obama’s second biggest bloc of donors are those same “predatory” credit card companies!)
And, secondly, no one forced credit cards into those peoples’ hands. No one MADE them buy a bigger house, and nicer cars, and more expansive wardrobes! You sign an agreement that informs you of the interest rates should you buy more than you can afford, and now you’re whining that you’re deep in debt? Obama, you know that, but you still transparently cater to these people who spent themselves into massive debt? “Oh. It’s okay. Your bad. Here, start all over and keep all your shiny toys. Hurray!”
Ugh. Double ugh. I’m digressing from my main point. I tend to ramble. Forgive me. So, in conclusion, Obama is hopelessly wrong when it comes to solving our economy issues. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor isn’t the solution. It’s socialism. (And, we all know what socialism is one step down from…)
I mean, really, people, if we’re taking Obama at his word, how could we not vote for him? I mean, he’s promising health insurance for everyone, peace all over the world, and no more home foreclosures ever! He’s promising we can all get rid of our credit card debt. Hooray! Like, I’ve totally heard someone say that it means that we’ll have to pay higher taxes to accomplish this, but hello! Obama never said anything about higher taxes! I mean, he must be getting the money from somewhere magical, because I know I don’t have any extra cash to pay for all this!
Obama wants to create a world where nobody has to take responsibility for their actions. Why are a majority of these foreclosures and mortgage “catastrophes” taking place? Well, a big part of it is that when the housing market was amazing in 2001, people decided to buy excessive houses and put zero money down and have low-interest loans. Then, they remortgaged and remortgaged and spent too much and melted their credit cards, and now they’re trying to place the blame on other people? Perhaps that’s too simplified, but it’s the overall idea. People spent money they didn’t have, and now that they’re actually expected to pay it back (with the interest they AGREED to), they’re freaking out? But, it’ll be okay in Obama’s world. In Obama’s world, the government should bail out all the bankrupt companies and the bankrupt people. In Obama’s world, everyone should be paid the same, no matter their job. In Obama’s world, if equal pay for everyone doesn’t happen, then we should redistribute the wealth so that everyone gets equal money. In Obama’s world, everyone’s going to get everything they ever wanted, and where all the money comes from is not important. In Obama’s world, universal health care is much more important than national security. (What’s the point in keeping our citizens healthy if they’re getting blown up all the time?)
I’ll concede that Obama has some good ideas. Yes. If everyone could have free health care, that’d be awesome. Yes, if there was no more war ever, that’d be great. Yes, if everybody got to be rich and not work for it, that’d be amazing.
But, Obama’s world is not the real world. Again, I stand by what Winston Churchill said. “If you’re not a Democrat by the age of 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a Republican by the age of 40, you have no brains.” I don’t I’m necessarily heartless, but I guess that could be the answer. I just can’t figure out who’s going to PAY for all these ideas Obama wants to implement?
One last quote from the Jacoby article:
“Because you don’t have to be rich to be skeptical when a candidate argues that the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who already pay 40 percent of federal income taxes, aren’t being taxed enough. Nor do you have to be an economist to wonder about the grasp of a nominee who tells 95 percent of the public that they can have something for nothing. Obamanomics may look pretty at first glance. But voters are focusing more closely now, and they can see beyond the lipstick.”
—Jeff Jacoby. “Seeing Through Obamanomics.”
Come on, people. Stop blindly believing in the more tan version of the “Great White Hope” just because he’s charismatic and has some far-fetched dreams of a world with no moral or financial responsibility. I don’t want a man with delusions of being Robin Hood for the “greater good” of our country to ascend to the highest reaches of our government.
I don’t want socialism. It doesn’t work. And, I definitely don’t the next step up from socialism, which rhymes with schmomunism.
Let’s close with a fun game for the kids to play at home! Guess Who Said What?
_____ 1. “Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.” (Basically, there’s rich, and there’s poor. There’s the businessmen, and there’s the poor exploited worker class.)
_____ 2. “From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need.” (Basically, the rich should be taxed more because they make more, and the poor should receive more because they need more.)
_____ 3. ““The great task before our founders was putting into practice the ideal that government could simultaneously serve liberty and advance the common good. and Government, he believed, had an important role to play in advancing our common prosperity.” (Basically, the government is responsible for everyone become prosperous together! Everyone should be equal!)
If you guess that Karl Marx for quote #1, Joseph Stalin for #2, and Barack Hussein Obama for #3, you win!
But, if in this upcoming election, you believe that Obama’s economic beliefs and his plans for our nation’s economy are good, then….I think we don’t win. I think we lose very badly.