Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Week To Remember...Or One To Forget?

"Good judgements usually require accurate information".  Commencing with the Supreme Court's Arizona immigration decision, to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) decision, immediately followed by Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt by the US House of Representatives, confusion has reigned in the media.  Broadcast, print and online media has been filled with inaccuracies, opinion, anger, intellectual dishonesty, spin, obfuscation, demonizing, racism and outright lying...complicated by the looming November election and an economy which is clearly on life support.  Good, honest and dependable journalism has been at a premium.

So how did the average "American" sort through, process, and critically assess the avalanche of information.  Not all tried...some just "didn't tune in" or simply "turned it off"... justifications, to name a few, ranged from nobody knows, they all lie, or I'll find out later.  Some, the very partisan, turned to the ideologues they follow and were pleased to hear their beliefs confirmed.

But some, and I hope a growing number of Americans, actually tried to understand and think through the consequences of these events.  Many felt more information was required and further investigation would be necessary.  However, arguments about whether it was a tax or a penalty, or if chief justice Roberts responded to pressure, or who won and who lost were not of real importance to these conscientious people.

Nevertheless no person, not even a careful assessor; democrat, republican, independent...; liberal, moderate, conservative; young or old lives in a vacuum.  They evaluate information through the prism of their perception (truth)...their reality.  A reality which could include...Are they or members of their family unemployed or underemployed?...Do they believe the near/intermediate future will bring an improving job picture or economy, less or more regulation, higher or lower taxes, more or less reliance on the government, or its intrusion into their lives, or a higher or lower deficit...Has their home or neighbor's home been foreclosed?

The reality is: 
  • An 8.2% and probably rising unemployment rate.  Total unemployment and underemployed increased to over 23 million people in May or 14.8% from 14.5% in April; meaning involuntary part-time workers equaled 8.1 million people of this total (Bureau of Labor Statistics-BLS).
  • Job creation declined for the 5th consecutive month, falling from 275,000 net new jobs in Jan./2012 to only 69,000 in May/2012 (BLS).  The labor participation rate also declined to 63.8%; meaning 7.7 million fewer workers are employed today than when the recession ended in June 2009 (per the US gov.).
  • The median net worth of an American family dropped from $126,000 to $77,300, a decrease of more than 39%.  In other words to the level existing in 1992 (US Federal Reserve).
  • The Federal debt has increased to $15.69 trillion (May/2012) from $10.57 trillion (Nov/2008),  just 3.7 yrs., more than in the prior 8 years (US Treasury Dept.).
  • The poverty rate is now 15.1%, up over 14% in 3.7 years (dept. of HHS & Congressional Budget Office).
Take a deep breath and read on or yawn and skip to the next paragraph! 

The reality is: (cont'.)
  • That food stamp usage has risen to 44.7 million from 30.9 million, also in 3.7 years and the current administration is promoting more usage (dept. of HHS).
  • The average price of a gallon of gasoline is now $3.60 verses $1.83 only 3.7 years ago (election day).  The price, however, has retreated from $4.15 to $3.60 over the previous two months...largely due to a weakening economy and demand.
  • The home ownership rate is down from 67.8% to 65.4% (Wall Street Journal).
  • The growth of GDP has fallen, erratically, from 2.9/3.0% in the past 15 months to 1.9% in the 1st quarter of this fiscal year (2012).
  • The number of Federal civilian employees has grown from 2,672,000 to 2,749,000 in 3.7 years and the Federal civilian unemployment rate is 4.2% against the overall unemployment rate of 8.2% (BLS).
In the face of the above statistics/realities and more, how have political leaders, many broadcast, print, & online mainstream "journalists", columnists/opinion makers and others responded to reduce the "fog" of information overload?  Unfortunately and too often with bias, blatant partisanship, intellectual dishonesty and worse...some have even ignored one or even two of these seminal events.

My conclusion is simple, we sometimes live in a "Looney-Tune" world and this appears to be one of those moments.  Unfortunately the White House is seemingly occupied by Daffy Duck, although a denigration of Daffy is unintended.  This writer believes Daffy would do a better job than the current President.