Over the last few weeks, the Obama campaign and their friends in the main stream media have had a field day. First, going after Romney for having a Swiss bank account and several offshore accounts. This line of attack, has been followed by a relentless series of attacks over exactly when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital.
Both of these attacks were opportunities for Romney and his campaign team to turn the tables aggressively on Obama and on the media. At a time when unemployment remains over 8% and with our nation teetering on the verge of fiscal collapse, the Obama/media fascination with the minutiae of Mitt Romney’s background is an example of grotesque political slight of hand. It is the ultimate distraction from the issues that matter most.
Unfortunately, Mitt the timid and his camaign have - so far - failed miserably at fighting back.
On the issue of the offshore accounts, why didn’t Romney come forward and say “yes, I had accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, but guess what? There is absolutely nothing illegal about these accounts and, indeed, these accounts are the product of an overly complex and uncompetetive tax code that Obama and Democrats are hell bent on defending!”
On the issue of when he left Bain, why hasn’t Mitt and his campaign said “who cares!?” What if Romney was still at Bain after 1999? Does that suddenly change Obama’s failed record as President? Does that suddenly balance our budgets? Does it suddenly create jobs? Of course not. Why in God’s name is the Romney campaign taking the bait on these distractions?
If Mitt the timid thinks he can just run out the clock and win this election, he is sorely mistaken. The Obama campaign has shown how ruthlessly it will distort and distract, and Obama has the giant megaphone of the main stream media as his willing accomplice.
“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Each day we see proofs of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in the creation of a federalist form of government which gave superior authority to a central government within a very limited sphere, and left all other functions to the states, or the people. Far from being the limited government which our Founders envisioned, the federal government today is a monstrous leviathan which is equal parts incompetence and avarice. This is what happens when government attains more power. Government is the only entity legally able to use force to achieve its goals. Government is a monopoly, and therefore does not have to be efficient or innovative on order to retain its “customers.” It is essentially immune from the disastrous consequences of its decisions and actions. It can compel continued allegiance and higher payments.
A timely example of the results of government expansionism is in the continued stagnancy of our economy. In the last days of the Bush presidency, and expanded throughout the Obama presidency, the federal government took steps which would supposedly save the economy from a financial collapse (which itself was the result of government interference in the market). With the passage of the “stimulus” bill, unemployment was not supposed to reach 8% according to the Obama administration, yet it did that and more. Unemployment spiked above 10% AFTER the near-trillion dollar stimulus was passed, and stayed at or above 9% for almost three years, before dropping to above 8%, a point we were not supposed to have reached at all.
In politics and in business, a consistent message is usually seen as a sign of strength. With the slow trickle of a consistent message, your brand is defined almost imperceptibly by the consumer until your message and brand are linked subconsciously.
When is this a bad idea? When there is inconsistency between your actual product and the “message” you are consistently promoting. You might get away with it for a while, but in time it creates cognitive dissonance in the consumer - they just know something isn’t right.
Case in point — the Obama administration and the jobs reports. Have those monthly talking points become a little, uh, stale? Sounding familiar? Were you expecting hope and change? Below are excerpts from jobs reports from November 2009 to present:
June 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/07/06/employment-situation-june)
May 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/06/01/employment-situation-may)
A few months ago, conservatives sought to gain politically by going after the contraceptive mandate implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services. This immediately became an issue of religious liberty for conservatives because it would have required religious institutions to cover contraceptives even if it was against their teachings.
Thanks to some rather nutty comments by Rick Santorum, who openly questioned the use of contraceptives, Democrats were able to spin the issue into a so-called “war on women.” The situation was exacerbated thanks to comments by Rush Limbaugh aimed at Sandra Fluke, who had argued that taxpayers should fund contraceptives. Even though Fluke’s reasoning was flawed, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize her contraceptives, Limbaugh’s comments were completely unnecessary and wrong.
The strategy was successful in the short-term, as wedge issues usually are. However, it eventually backfired on them when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic operative, said that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, had never worked a day in her life.
Romney took to Twitter to defend herself, setting off a firestorm that caused Rosen to later apologize. The argument from conservatives is that Democrats are waging a “war on stay-at-moms,” largely silencing Democrats on the issue and swinging momentum back to Republicans — at least temporarily.
It’s pretty hard to kill oneself when you’re already dead. I suppose some vampires have tried it, to end their miserable existence, but I don’t recall any zombies doing so. New York state may be the first to try, however.
The reason being is that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (the Assembly being New York’s equivalent of a “House of Representatives”) has introduced a bill that will raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.25 an hour:
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, joined by dozens of colleagues from his chamber controlled by Democrats, said census data show nearly half of the U.S. population has fallen into poverty or joined the ranks of the working poor. He said New York’s minimum wage has risen 10 cents in the last six years, it is lower here than in 18 other states, and increasing it is “a matter of human dignity.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has supported previous proposals to raise the minimum and his office will review this one through the legislative session, spokesman Matthew Wing said Monday
Scott Reif, spokesman for Republicans who control the Senate, said the Senate GOP would “continue to promote policies that encourage job growth and make New York a more business-friendly state, just as we did last year partnering with Governor Cuomo.”
The New York Farm Bureau and the state Business Council said raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses, farms and nonprofits that are struggling to meet payrolls now. Farm Bureau President Dean Norton called it “a stealth tax.”
Before Democrats, the Obama Administration, liberals, and progressives start crowing about the updated unemployment figures—which the Bureau of Labor Statistics say is now down to 8.6%—there’s something you should know about the why it is down—and it’s not pretty.
The BLS divides up the unemployment numbers into six figures, U-1 through U-6. U-3 is the “official” number, the one that’s always toted on the primetime news channels. U-6, however, is the real unemployment figure, which counts marginally attached workers (those that have stopped looking for work for the time being) and underemployed workers (those working part time but want full time work), among others. And the worst part is?
Even that is rosy compared to the “real truth.”
The truth comes in near the middle of the Bureau’s press release:
In November, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)
The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 64.0 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.(See table A-1.)
Though I didn’t notice it at the time, techPresident’s Nick Judd makes a very astute observation about the recent Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP presidential debate on the economy:
- Number of times the Internet was mentioned by name in a debate about the economy: 2.
- Number of jobs that were in the American information sector in 2007: 3,496,773.
Texas Governor Rick Perry will unveil his economic plan in Pittsburgh (emphasis mine):
My plan is based on this simple premise: Make what Americans buy. Buy what Americans make. And sell it to the world. We are standing atop the next American economic boom…energy. The quickest way to give our economy a shot in the arm is to deploy American ingenuity to tap American energy. But we can only do that if environmental bureaucrats are told to stand down. My plan will break the grip of dependence we have today on foreign oil from hostile nations like Venezuela and unstable nations in the Middle East to grow jobs and our economy at home.
It is human nature to seek those things which are most rare and beautiful, and therefore the most prized. In the physical world, few things elicit visions of such stark elegance and grandeur than Carrara marble. Marble is highly sought after and desired in our most beautiful edifices. Expensive and often difficult to work with, its very temperamental nature makes it all the more desirable, the elemental equivalent of a beautiful, tempestuous woman that will not be tamed.
Marble comes in a myriad of types and colors, but Carrara marble, known for its pure, milky white character, is prized above all other marble by the world’s greatest sculptors. Centuries ago, in the “Golden Age” of Tuscan sculpture, it was considered the highest honor for a sculptor to be commissioned by a wealthy benefactor to create a statue from a block of Carrara marble.
It was also an endeavor that came with great pressure for the sculptor. Before the chisel was ever applied to the marble, the sculptor must first study the block in exquisite detail, memorizing its characteristics, noting the direction of the grain and any tiny flaws in the stone. He had to map out every strike with precision, completing the sculpture in his head before ever touching the stone. It was critical that he understand the flow of the marble’s grain. If not, a single strike with hammer and chisel against the grain could crack it. To strike with excessive force could cause the crystalline structure of the stone to be crushed, which in turn led to sub-surface holes that could ruin the entire piece.
No doubt all of us would take some good economic news right now, but that won’t come from the jobs report for June, which was released this morning showing the unemployment rate rising slightly to 9.2% and adding only 18,000 jobs:
U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in June, with employers hiring the fewest number of workers in nine months, dampening hopes the economy was on the cusp of regaining momentum after stumbling in recent months.
Nonfarm payrolls rose only 18,000, the weakest reading since September, the Labor Department said on Friday, well below economists’ expectations for a 90,000 rise.
Many economists raised their forecasts on Thursday after a stronger-than-expected reading on U.S. private hiring from payrolls processor ADP, and they expected gains of anywhere between 125,000 and 175,000.
The unemployment rate climbed to 9.2 percent, the highest since December, from 9.1 percent in May.
Numbers from the two previous months were revised down by 44,000 jobs; April dropped from 232,000 to 217,000 and May from 54,000 to 25,000. In case you’re wondering, the economy needs to create around 120,000 jobs each just to keep up with population growth.
Another bad sign is the U-6 rate, what many economists call the “real unemployment rate,” jumped from 15.8% to 16.2%.
Just like government intervention in the economy in the 1930s prolonged the Great Depression, intervention and uncertainty with President Barack Obama’s economic policies are slowing the pace of recovery today.
Now that Weiner is out of the way, let’s get back to a more pressing issue: jobs. It’s something that Obama and the Democrats haven’t been doing well on (though I’m not convinced the Republicans have the silver bullet, either.) The most recent unemployment figure rolled out has it back up at 9.1%. But that’s not really a big problem. The real big problem is here is what unemployment is doing to our youth, those aged 16-19. Looking at Table A-16 and doing a little math to combine enrolled and unenrolled, it’s 24%.
And that’s only today’s problem. Like most things political, it’s an even bigger and more disastrous issue for our country down the road. That’s why just tinkering at the edges isn’t going to help; we need to do drastic things. My solution: totally overhaul how minimum wage works, with an eye towards helping youngsters find employment.
You need a combination of two things to land a job: education and experience. As a teenager, you really don’t have experience, and whatever you’re getting out of school, its not an education. An employer could hire you, at at least $7.25 an hour, but when there are older, more experienced workers jostling for any job in this economy, why? You have no skills, no record, and who knows if you’ll be at work on time. It’s a vicious Catch-22, where you need skills and experience to get a job, and a job to get skills and experience. The only role the minimum wage law plays in this is keeping these kids unemployed and unemployable.