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This is What Democracy Looks Like

Weekend Madman

Friday-Sunday, December 8-10, 2006


Economic Numbers

"The economy is looking up."

How many times have we heard that very statement only to find out that it simply isn't true? Let me tell you the last time the economy was actually looking up: January 20, 1993. That was the day that Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd president of the United States. Using only real employment numbers as a barometer, we can see that proof.

Here's a fact that you all might not be aware of: Out of a total Civilian possible workforce of 192.8 million people in 1993 (the Civilian non-institutional population aged 16 years and over), there was a 7.5 unemployment rate with 66.4 percent of that possible workforce employed.

This means that out of 192.8 million people who could have a job, almost two-thirds were working.

At the end of 2000, Bill Clinton's last year in office, there were 217.6 million people in that possible workforce with an unemployment rate slightly under four percent (the chart shows it rounded off). That translates to 67.1 percent of the possible workforce was employed at that time. As a matter of public record, 67.1 percent of that whole possible workforce were employed in each of the final four years of the Clinton Administration.

In other words, over two-thirds of those who could hold a job were holding jobs.

Remember that today, a one percent change is indicative of approximately 2.4 million Americans, or the population of America's forth largest city, Houston, Texas.

In 1992, when the Clintons took over from Bush (41) with the mantra "It's the Economy, Stupid", 33.6 percent of all Americans who were part of the possible workforce didn't have jobs. That number shrunk to 32.9 percent under the Clintons. If you round out those numbers, you'll discover that an additional estimated 1.2 million Americans had jobs during the Clinton years.

Today, Bush (43) has not only worsened the numbers he was left by his predecessor, but his numbers as compared to his father's are hideous as well. Taking into account population growth, an additional 5 million American workers are left jobless today who would have had jobs under "Papa" Bush. Those 5 million are now either unemployed or, as the REPUBLICANS put it, "they are simply not in the workforce".

The Bushies attempt at spinning these numbers start with telling us that the economy is doing so well that less people need to work. They point to a booming stock market and rising housing prices. They ignore the fact that, during his one-and-a-half terms in office, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. They also ignore the fact that real wages have decreased while staples like gas and home heating prices have sky-rocketed. The rich have gotten richer during the Bush years; the national debt went from a surplus to the such a large deficit that the congress had to raise the debt ceiling; and those who qualify as living in poverty have also risen. While all this has been happening, health care costs have gone up so much that almost 50 million Americans do without health care coverage. When these people and their children go to the hospital for emergency care, or use the ER as their primary care physician, it's you and I, the middle class, who foot the bill.

An improving economy? Now THAT IS SPIN!


Year Civilian non-institutional population (16 & Over) - Total Possible Workforce Civilian Total Workforce Civilian Percent of Population Employed Civilians Employed Percent of Civilian Population Unemployed Number Labor Force Unemployed Percent Not in Labor Force Percent of Civilian Population Not in Labor Force Percent of Employed Civilian Population
1992 192,805 128,105 66.4% 118,492 61.5% 9,613 7.5% 64,700 33.6% 66.4%
1993 194,837 129,199 66.3% 120,259 61.7% 8,940 6.9% 65,638 33.7% 66.3%
1994 196,814 131,056 66.6% 123,060 62.5% 7,996 6.1% 65,758 33.4% 66.6%
1995 198,584 132,304 66.6% 124,900 62.9% 7,404 5.6% 66,280 33.4% 66.6%
1996 200,591 133,944 66.8% 126,708 63.2% 7,236 5.4% 66,647 33.2% 66.8%
1997 203,133 136,297 67.1% 129,558 63.8% 6,739 4.9% 66,836 32.9% 67.1%
1998 205,220 137,673 67.1% 131,463 64.1% 6,210 4.5% 67,547 32.9% 67.1%
1999 207,753 139,368 67.1% 133,488 64.3% 5,880 4.2% 68,385 32.9% 67.1%
2000 212,577 142,583 67.1% 136,891 64.4% 5,692 4.0% 69,994 32.9% 67.1%
2001 215,093 143,734 66.8% 136,933 63.7% 6,801 4.7% 71,359 33.2% 66.8%
2002 217,570 144,863 66.6% 136,485 62.7% 8,378 5.8% 72,707 33.4% 66.6%
2003 221,168 146,510 66.2% 137,736 62.3% 8,774 6.0% 74,658 33.8% 66.2%
2004 223,357 147,401 66.0% 139,252 62.3% 8,149 5.5% 75,956 34.0% 66.0%
2005 226,083 149,321 66.0% 141,730 62.7% 7,591 5.1% 76,762 34.0% 66.0%
2006 236,702 152,381 64.4% 145,564 61.5% 6,817 4.5% 84,321 35.6% 64.4%
Numbers times 1,000

A couple of weeks ago, conservative Michael Barone had an article in the US News and World Report which attributed all of the great economic advances of the 1990's to Newt Gingrich and the GOP House majority. If I had the chance, my question to Mr. Barone would have been: "Then why, with a GOP majority in both houses and a Republican president, did the economy tank so badly since 2001? Maybe it's just bad luck.

It has gone from "It's the economy, stupid," to "It's your stupid economy, President Bush."

By the way, has anyone bought gas since this past November 7th? I bought gas that day in the morning, before I voted, and headed out to work. The price I paid was $1.94 per gallon at my corner gas station for regular unleaded. Today, that price was $2.20 per gallon, an increase of 24 cents. While the Consumer Price Index (inflation) shows a drop of 0.5 percent, the price we pay for gasoline has risen by about 24 percent! What happened after the election that caused gas prices to climb so much a anyway?

And has anyone looked at their electric bill lately? While my family's electricity consumption has gone down a small amount, my charges have skyrocketed. Included in the new rates I pay have been the division of the charges. I now pay the "supplier" and the "deliverer". This, of course, all falls under the guise of deregulation, known to the ultra-rich Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" as "the market". Bush's "market" has allowed the electric company to divide their charges and make a profit on both sides ("supply" and "deliver") of the scam. Here's how it works: The Electric company produces the "product" for a profit, then sells it to itself, as a jobber (middleman) at another "profit", then sells it to us for a steeper profit than one would think that "competition" would command.

You see, it only appears that the electric companies don't have a monopoly any longer. Much in the same way that cable television companies tell us that we have a choice, there really isn't any. have you ever heard of an "energy" or "cable television" sale?

Bush's "stupid economy" keeps attempting to sell us on selling our stuff. Even now the Bushies are trying to take over Social Security and give it to the bankers and special interests so that they can make a buck at our expense. The 2006 election will keep that from happening for the rest of his administration's term.

But while that was happening, the Bushies did succeed in selling off our elderly to the pharmaceutical industry. With their Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Has anyone else noticed that they dropped the word "Benefit"?), the Bushies had forced through congress, Medicare doesn't even have the ability to negotiate prices for prescription drugs. There are numerous companies supplying their own brands of prescription drug cards, so if you sign up for a particular card because your medicine "A" is the cheapest on that plan, your medicine "B" might be no bargain at all. There are so many companies issuing these cards that they don't have the bargaining power to lower the costs that a single entity, like Medicare, could do easily with its bargaining power.

The Medicare plan, which we were originally told would cost about $400 billion will really cost us, the US taxpayer, more than twice that amount. The Bushies got the estimated price down by threatening the job of the chief actuary.

This is "The Bushies' Stupid Economy," stupid.

-Noah Greenberg

The ISG Blues

Said an exasperated Jim McGovern (D-MA): “I’m hearing the Baker-Hamilton (Iraq Study Group)) report is going to call for more benchmarks and more training of Iraqi soldiers. Well, what the hell have we been doing for the last several years?”

Exactly Mr. McGovern! Why should we believe that the Iraq-ization process is going to improve? First, we need to understand why it has been such a failure the past two years. Either the Pentagon has been lying about the progress or the trained Iraqi are deserting.

-Robert Scardapane

Lew's Skewered Crystal Ball

Noah, I’m sure you will characterize my comments as just a reprise of the old domino theory that kept us in Vietnam far too long after JFK’s unhappy commitment to salvage his reputation as a Cold Warrior after he scuttled the Bay of Pigs operation and brought the US and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war. But, nevertheless, and no matter what you may think about Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in the first place or the sorry manner in which his administration handled the pacification/unification of Iraq after our brilliantly executed military assault, there will be certain consequences of failure.

After a blood bath, the much larger part from the Sunni middle south to the Gulf will be totally controlled by the Shi-ites, who will then turn to carving up the Kurdish north with Iran and Turkey. Eventually Iran will control the Middle East and its vast petroleum resources to the shores of the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. Bin Laden and his kind will quickly depart Iraq and go to work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our positions there will soon become untenable. The Muslim radicals will also soon control Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the small states of the Arabian Gulf, some kind of an accord between the Iranian/Iraq Shi-ites and the Sunni Arabs will be reached, the Pakistanis -- their present ruler being long since assassinated or a resident of the US -- will go back to rattling their nuclear missiles with India, oil will become the weapon of choice and gasoline will go to $20/gallon at our pumps, and the “mighty nation” the Lord promised Abraham and his Arab descendants will again become a reality.

But of course you Democrats, being such learned intellectuals, understood this would be the consequence when you started your propaganda campaign against Bush when he was first elected. So in your mad pursuit of vengeance for the way the Republicans trashed Clinton, you will have managed to sell Western civilization down the river. Bon appetite!

You have to be careful what you ask for – sometimes you may get it.

-Lew Warden

In response to, "Senator Joseph Lieberman (DEMOCRAT - For the time being - CT)", Robert Scardapane writes:

Sorry Noah, H's no longer a Democrat. He's an Independent now. There's nothing wrong with that per se. My favorite politician is an Independent - Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. To note, Lieberman is no Sanders (and visa-versa).

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-Noah Greenberg