Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bad News

It seems all news is bad news lately, and I hate to pile on, but James Pinkerton has a good overview of what the Obama administration has brought us in such a short time:

Warren Buffett, a strong Obama supporter, compares the stimulus package enacted in February to "Viagra" and "candy," predicting that unemployment will hit 11 percent.

(When you think about it, that is the perfect analogy. We are being screwed after all)

These gloomy points were further underscored by Mortimer Zuckerman, the real estate/media mogul, whose a editorial last week for The Wall Street Journal appeared under the ominous headline, "The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think."

Zuckerman cites a grim armada of statistics to bolster his argument, the most telling of which is that the average work week for private-sector employees slipped to just 33 hours, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data 45 years ago. That is, more and more "employed" people are really only able to work part time. Meanwhile, hourly compensation is flat, averaging $18.53 an hour in June. So do the math: Declining working hours, multiplied by flat wages, equals declining income--the further erosion of the American Dream.

And in his grim litany, Zuckerman doesn't even mention the "cap-and-trade" legislation the Obama administration has already pushed through one house of Congress; that bill would cost the economy millions of jobs. Fortunately, Alaska governor Sarah Palin addressed that incoming torpedo on the op-ed page of The Washington Post recently; she correctly labels "cap and tax" as a way to "kill responsible domestic energy production or clobber every American consumer with higher prices." And of course, to accelerate the wipeout of manufacturing in the Heartland.

No worries. Obama's Council of Economic Advisers says aerospace and pharmaceutical industries will counterbalance all that. But....Obama is promising a cut back in defense spending and "controlling costs" in healthcare would seen to mean a dearth of new jobs in the healthcare industry.

OK, so let's see here: The first stimulus didn't work for anyone except a few favored constituencies. "Cap and tax," if it passes, will strangle the economy; and even if it doesn't pass, the continuing threat of anti-carbon dioxide activism--from litigators, state legislatures, and future Congresses--will cast a dark shadow over future economic activity. (Ask yourself: Would you build a factory in the same country as Carol Browner?) And the Obama administration is targeting two economic-driver industries, aerospace and health care, for drastic reductions.

Here's Zuckerman's conclusion:

"No wonder poll after poll shows a steady erosion of confidence in the stimulus. So what kind of second-act stimulus should we look for? Something that might have a real multiplier effect, not a congressional wish list of pet programs. It is critical that the Obama administration not play politics with the issue. The time to get ready for a serious infrastructure program is now. It's a shame Washington didn't get it right the first time."

God help us all.