The Labor Department announced today that 651,000 new unemployment claims were filed in February, raising the national unemployment rate to 8.1%. Unemployment has been on a steady rise since December of 2006.
The stock market has lost 53% of it’s value since peaking at over 14000 in October of 2007.
RealtyTrac reports that 1 in every 466 homes nationwide received a foreclosure filing in January of 2009.
Despite this steady decline that has been going on for quite some time, though largely unnoticed until last September, fringe elements in the media are starting to organize themselves to lay blame for the crisis on the 45 day old Obama administration.
Really, it’s ridiculous to even mention the Obama administration in the same breath as the financial crisis in any way other than to address the merits of the plans. A new administration is not like replacing a fuse. The problem didn’t get to this point in a day, and it won’t be fixed in a day.
There are some legitimate points to debate in the current Obama plan. We can argue about the stimulus, or the housing plan, or if the healthcare plan would have any appreciable effect on the economy. We can talk about how TARP funds should be distributed and what rules should apply, or any number of other things, but ultimately we’re not going to see the effects of ANY of these things before September or October, and the truth of the matter is, even then the loss in confidence may not be restored, not to mention the nearly 6 million jobs that have been lost since the end of 2006.
Further, there are some things that have yet to be publicly addressed that desperately need to if confidence is ever to be restored. Regulations regarding the markets, the agencies that provide credit ratings, and lending practices, perhaps the things most responsible for steep decline in September, must be addressed before anyone will feel comfortable investing their money. This problem is deep and wide, and the only solution is to treat the disease, not just the many symptoms.
Of course, that takes time, and doesn’t fit into a 3 second sound bite. Systemic solutions will be picked apart, and a great deal of focus will be given to obscure specifics, with the intention of damning the entire program over the minutiae, rather than looking at the broader impact of the whole. This is the nature of the beast, but if we REALLY want to fix the problem, we have to be ready to swallow the bitter pill.
As uncomfortable, and disturbing as this whole mess is, it’s only going to get more uncomfortable before it gets better. We, as a nation, have to “sweat out” the fever in order to get better. This means we’re also going to have to do some things that we’ve been told by pundits and conventional wisdom are “bad” for us. Of course, these are the same people who said everything was fine and the system was working until the pressure of reality became so great they could no longer feed us their line of bull.
In the end, we will continue to suffer from Bush’s economy, until Obama’s plans have time to germinate. This won’t stop the TV talkers from trying to tie Obama to the problem, but until his plans have been proved a failure, they’re far better than the “nothing” being fed us by the right.
Xmas is a time for traveling. After traveling 900 miles in a mere 60 hours to Illinois and back, I find myself longing for some non-car oriented time. Thankfully, I don’t have to work, unlike the lovely and talented s.mac, however, I find myself reflecting on the gifts that Santa couldn’t fit into his mighty sleigh. So, without getting too far ahead of myself on the “wishes for the New Year” tip, here is my belated “wish list” of gifts for those who help keep the train derailed.
Congress – With all the toys, gifts, and other consumerist delights of this holiday season loading down his sleigh, delivering 535 spines to our representatives in Congress was probably too tall an order for Santa. Of course, merely delivering spines does not guarantee that they will be used any more than the treadmill collecting dust in the corner. I’m sure there are plenty of Congresscritters that are perfectly content with their current state of amorphousness. So, I’m wishing for an Xmas miracle that would be the envy of bio-tech firms worldwide. For 2008 I’m hoping our Congresscritters will grow a spine and come together to do what they were elected to do, clean up the government and get us out of Iraq. I’m not betting the farm or anything, but a lowly blogger can hope, no?
Self-Righteous Christians – This has been a bad year for you guys. First, your Congress got kicked out in a landslide, then a litany of your leaders got caught with their…um, privates in the, um, well, you know. Can’t you see you bring this on yourselves? My wish for you is that you will read the parts of the bible that you can’t recite from memory. You know, the parts of the bible that talk about humility, unconditional love, and charity. Who smote/begat whom, Leviticus and the ever-popular Deuteronomy are fun reads, but last time I checked, those recount what happened BEFORE CHRIST. As believers in the “post Christ era” perhaps you would be better studying the gospels and trying to emulate Him rather than parrot those who would use you as a blunt instrument to hurl the world back into the dark ages. Just sayin’.
The Punditocracy – Hurtling towards irrelevance, this group of “opinion makers” has taken the once noble art of political reportage and turned it into a collection of elite blowhards who focus on stories better fit for the pages of the National Enquirer than an honest discussion of the issues that confront our nation and our world. $400 haircuts, Obama-Osama who ha, Joe Klein’s admission of ignorance and muscle flexing malevolence toward the blogosphere has marked your steady decline. Whaddya say you take your ego and self-interest out of the equation and start REPORTING on something of substance. Your jobs may depend on it.
Thanks for reading. I hope all of you had a great Festivus – Solstice – Christmas – Hannukah – Ramadan – Kwanzaa…etc.