Remission, Not Recovery
I am often surprised that the Democratic Party is so openly hostile toward conservatives about their faith, since their beliefs require so much. This week’s bully pulpit (but not bull market) sermon comes courtesy of TIME magazine, specifically from Deacon Bill Saporito and Sister Rana Foroohar. (The 97-lb. Recovery, April 2, 2012) Foroohar’s normal column is printed under the title of The Curious Capitalist, which is snarky liberalism at its best and worst. To say she is a Keynesian is to say Glenn Beck is passionate and faithful, and Keith Olbermann is overbearing and arrogant.
In the very first paragraph of the article, the party line manages to slip out, and it is as follows: You are too stupid to notice there is a recovery going on around you. The exact quote is, “Given that…unemployment is still above 8%, you’d be forgiven for not noticing that there’s been a rebound-until, maybe, now”. That’s genius with a capital D. And they cite fantastic evidence to support their claims, such as the stock market hitting new highs, out-of-work claims at four year lows, and consumer-confidence figures ticking up. We’re back, baby, and badder than ever! The only thing missing now is a Joe Biden economic gaffe.
But there are just a few problems with the logic. Now I understand there are more than a few problems with Keynesian logic, but I’m just talking about those statements and assertions she cites as evidence of a recovery. The first is the assessment of consumer confidence. As of this writing, which is the exact same date on the cover of the magazine, the Consumer Confidence Index is down by 1.4 points from February to March of this year. This reminds of two things: The first is the idea of liberal elitism and observation bias, and the second is the gravity the political left places on what “plays well” from President Obama’s speeches on the economy. Chuck Todd recently stated that media liberals suffer from a geographical, not ideological, bias. (You can read that here) Combined with the observations by your Keynesian Clergy, the implication is they think we’re stupid for not seeing the recovery. And they were smart enough to live in areas such as D.C. or New York that never saw the recession in the first place. Also, the notion of what “plays well” is absolutely critical to leftist ideology. This is an election year, and we have a professional campaigner as an incumbent, so everything is viewed through the prism of whether it helps or hinders that effort, and one of the “unbiased” media observations regarding the dip in President Obama’s polling numbers was the idea that telling Americans the economy had recovered was a no-no. (Article here) See, they still have buy gas and groceries, so it rings a little hollow to cheer your efforts in light of that inconvenient truth. So now, the administration has to convince Americans that we are in a soft recovery, or a jobless recovery, or that the recession has bottomed out, without sounding too optimistic. We’re a little back, Mr. President, but don’t tell us we’re back. Remember the caricature of Bush as the eternal optimist in spite of the truth? I’m no Hindu, but the concept of karma is really starting to make inroads into my beliefs.
As for the other numbers, jobless claims and the stock market, they are deceptive, at best. The administration’s tinkering with the unemployment figures is well-documented, but often left out of the conversation is this: Employment grows and declines in spurts, not in a straight line. It makes sense from a macro perspective. Good news for the national economic outlook is not compartmentalized into sectors of the economy, as the TIME piece suggests, and so growth occurs in short bursts. Without getting too wonkish, here’s what that means: One month’s data, or even a cluster of data, does not always a trend indicate. (You can read the source for that here) But there is TIME magazine, carrying the economic water for the administration in its half-full bucket of pure optimism. And as far as the stock market goes, wasn’t there a President who said we can’t look to the stock market’s gyrations as an indicator of economic health? And wasn’t he, like, really smart?
The piece is designed to ease America’s fears that the economy might actually have established a “new normal” of 8% unemployment and GDP propped up by government spending, rather than investment, trade, and consumption. But the idea and message, like the people who wrote it, have no basis in reality. The average American has seen a 9% drop in their spending power during the Obama administration, and that is real to them. The stock market is not. They have seen real inflation (factoring in food and gas prices) at 8%, even though Paul Krugman swears this is not happening. The political left is going to have to face reality, which is something they hate. They are going to have to admit to themselves that they are the only ones trying to force good news down the throat of a terminally ill patient. This is a sad analogy, I understand, but I did not put them in this situation. They built this house of cards themselves. Since Obamacare is on the political horizon these days, let’s look at it like this: We have not yet fully recovered from this malignant recession, and it is too soon to declare victory over it. At best, we are showing signs of remission, but here’s the problem: We have not stopped the behavior that gave us the tumor in the first place, and we are actually increasing its frequency and scale. The most bitter irony in all of this is that we are being forced to continue this fatal behavior by elected politicians (Obama, Reid) and unelected bureaucrats alike (Bernanke, Geithner). I guess those “death panels” aren’t just for healthcare anymore. -JK
Joseph Kurt is the Unceremonious Master of Ceremonies. He would first like to apologize for the inabililty to indent paragraphs in WordPress. He is the host of The Joseph Kurt Show on NewsRadio 94.3WSC on Saturdays at 6pm in the Holy City of Charleston, S.C. He is also the host of the Charleston Tea Party Podcast. He actually managed to scare himself while writing this.