A man born with a silver spoon, who failed at every business venture he ever attempted, can no more understand the hardships of economy than a man who avoided military service (yet charaded as a fighter pilot for the cameras) can understand the hardships of war.
The president tells us the economy is strong and assembles a chorus line of neocon ideologues, charading as economists, to tell us he is right, yet none of these silver spoon pretenders live in the economy they have created.
If they can find numbers that tell us how fortunate and prosperous we are, it is the final proof that numbers lie -- or rather, the unscrupulous can bend them to any purpose.
The numbers the administration and its shameless promoters use to inform us of our good fortune are job creation, the unemployment rate and income relative to inflation. Using these numbers to document a strong economy is analogous to recalculating the casualty rate in Iraq by expanding the definition of “non-combat” death and discounting those soldiers who are mortally wounded in the war but die in a German hospital.
The key to interpreting these numbers is: We’ve been down so long it looks like up to us. Unfortunately, for most of us, it only looks like up if you’re living in castles of privilege behind the walls of greed.
It is fascinating to observe this president speak and to realize that he actually believes the things he says. Despite photo opportunities with a chainsaw on the Crawford ranch, he has never worked an honest day of labor in his life. He has never needed or wanted beyond the most grandiose ambitions. His idea of a crisis is having to ask daddy to ask the Saudis for another bailout or losing a congressional election. His tight circle of neocon advisors informs him that everything is rosy and he believes them. It’s his job to believe them.
No one is so pleased with the accomplishments of little George as little George himself.
For those of us who live in the world, the picture is infinitely darker and less fulfilling. No matter where you live in this nation, take a good look around: How many of your friends and family members are finding good paying jobs with decent benefits and a realistic chance of a career? By contrast, how many have lowered their expectations, settling for that job at Wal-Mart, K Mart or Starbucks -- sales, service or retail? How many are content with their jobs and wish to make it a career?
After nearly six years of George W. Bush, most Americans are reaching the point of desperation, buried in debt, mortgaged to the hilt, unable to cope with the high cost of housing and gasoline, petrified that a crisis will leave them at the mercy of friends or family, who are themselves faced with the same desperate circumstance.
The administration has reduced the unemployment numbers by cutting the length of benefits (after a fixed period, the numbers magically vanish but the people they represent do not). They cut the inflation rate by conveniently omitting housing and energy costs though the burgeoning commuter swarms swallowing our freeways can hardly do the same. By the same distortion, they claim that wages are outpacing the cost of living but the purchasing power of real people, by any objective measure, has dramatically decline while our savings have been consumed by high-interest credit card debt.
Beneath the towers of avarice, the future is clouded and dark. We must eventually come to grips with the solemn fact that things will not get better without systemic change. The improvements trumpeted by politicians with a vested interest will be illusory, temporary and insignificant. Organized labor (owing partly to their own corruption) has been marginalized and the working people are being transformed (through the magic of neo-liberal policies of corporate dominance) from a middle class, consumer society to a low-cost labor force.
Like the family farmer, the middle class worker is facing extinction. Like the farmer, they have buried us in debt and when we can no longer pay, they will take our homes, our land and everything we have of value.
It is a serpent that swallows itself. When the consumer society has vanished, who will be left to buy their corporate goods? No matter: He who dies with the most toys wins.
The ten-ton elephant looming just over the horizon is the real estate market. When the workers evacuating the great urban centers have reached saturation and can no longer afford their new homes in the commuter kingdom, the vultures of finance will swoop in for the final kill. Because there are no buyers left, either the price of housing will collapse or the money will stagnate for lack of a market to move into. Either way, the darkness will lower upon our house.
We will allow the Asian giants to gobble up our vital resources because, in the end, we will have no choice. What then?
The neocons and neolibs are globalists. To them, there is no nation; there is only the corporation. To them, the rights of labor to a living wage and descent working conditions are barriers to be overcome -- an objective they have very nearly achieved.
If the new globalists have solved the conundrum of the vanishing consumer, they have not let us in on the secret. Like an occupation without an exit strategy, we can be sure it will not go easy for the foot soldiers.
Yet the president assures us that the future is bright. He knows because his advisors have told him so. When have they ever led us astray?
Come down from the tower, Mr. President, and smell the decay. It is the stench of a dying American middle class. Won’t you at least attend the funeral?
* See: “Watching the Economy Crumble” by Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch, August 9, 2005.
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: www.jackrandom.com.
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