Barack Obama, Prince of Gloom
With almost perfect and abject symmetry Barack Obama stood at a podium in the Rose Garden addressing the nation's latest depressing employment figures as the last space shuttle flight prepared to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center.
Our ever-worsening levels of joblessness and the end of American manned space flight are both Obama's handiwork. He owns them. Everything he touches seems to crumble to dust. He is national failure incarnate and even the famous Misery Index -- unemployment plus inflation -- is higher now than at any other time since 1983. It's becoming increasing clear that we have to retire Obama from politics in 2012 not only to rescue our economy but to lift the pervasive air of gloom that hasn't weighed as heavily on America since the days of Jimmy Carter.
The June jobs report that Obama had to fess up to was described by two noted economists as "extraordinarily disappointing" and "abysmal". While most expectations for the number of new jobs created in June ranged from 100,000-150,000, the number in the real, over-stimulated, over-indebted, over- regulated world was 18,000. And May's payroll additions were revised downwards from an already feeble 54,000 to 25,000.
As if the misery associated with unemployment weren't enough, the government reports that the average person who finds himself jobless stays that way for 40 weeks, longer than at any time since the Labor Department began collecting this data in 1948.
The reported 9.2% unemployment rate was an increase over May's number, as was the underemployment rate of 16.2%. With these stubbornly high unemployment rates, that simply refuse to budge, it's hardly surprising that Americans are losing confidence in the economy month by month. Among advanced nations, unemployment rates approaching 10% were once the exclusive province of the sclerotic western European welfare state, and for decades those rates were twice as high as America's. (The average unemployment rate during the two George W. Bush terms was 5.3%). Near full employment was a tribute to America's devotion to capitalism and work rather than to socialism and unemployment benefits. The dynamism and flexibility of our economy was the source of our wealth and pride and happiness.
But the June report was so dismal that economists of the left, in unembarrassed imitation of the French 35-hour work week model, are now urging our remaining full-time workers to reduce their hours so that fewer of their co-workers need to be fired. Obama promised in the fall of 2008 that he would transform America. And so he has, turning us for the time being into Europe. If Obama is not stopped we will next be transformed into the third world.
Third world nations lack many capabilities we take for granted. Among them is space flight. After Atlantis returns to earth, Russia will become the only country in the world able to take men regularly into space. The Wall Street Journal estimates that the costs of the entire space shuttle program amounted to $209 billion, one fourth of the wasteful Obama stimulus of 2009. With that stimulus and his endless other intrusions into the working of private markets, Obama has secured the vote of every coddled public school teacher, every deadbeat mortgagee, every UAW union member, and the growing army of food stamp recipients now numbering 21 million households. But there are no soaring achievements in Obama's America. We are earthbound, even literally.
Ronald Reagan was the last president able to deliver the country out of a deep funk. He asked the country, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" In the same spirit, republican presidential aspirants need to remind American that the pursuit of happiness is written into the Declaration of Independence. We weren't destined to be this glum. As we approach 2012 they need to continue to pose the questions that Reagan might have:
Are you happier now than you were four years ago?
Is your house worth more than it was four years ago?
Are you more likely to find a job than you were four years ago?
Are you as proud of your country as you were four years ago?
And they should hammer home the point that Barack Obama hasn't just makes things worse, he has made them unbearable.
Claude can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org