Economic Recovery: Those Boulders Of Uncertainty

In a bizarre campaign speech last week, President Obama likened the economic recovery to slavery. “Slaves sittin’ around a fire singin’ freedom songs, they weren’t sure when slavery would end, but they understood it was gonna end.” He also compared the recovery to women “marchin for the right to vote” and workers “organizin’ for the right to organize.” His punch line was, “We are bringin’ about change and progress is gonna come, but you’ve gotta stick with me. You can’t lose heart.”

Is he kidding? We’re in extreme economic distress and all we get from our Leader is a bunch of emotional analogies that don’t apply. Enough already. If heart is all we’re in danger of losing, we’d be way better off. But, we’ve lost jobs. More than 8 million of them. And according to Vice President Biden, this Administration will not be able to restore all of those jobs. Of course, lamenting the Government’s impotence is ridiculous since it isn’t in the job creation business. But, then again, Biden is a perennial headliner in the theater of the absurd.

One of the worst long-term effects of this recession is that Obama’s economic policies are promoting unskilled job creation while skilled jobs have vanished. Of the jobs lost in 2008-2009, 35% were from industries paying the lowest 40% in wages. But, 76% of the 2010 net job growth happened in those industries. By contrast, the industries paying the top 40% in wages contributed 48% to job loses but only 5% to recent net gains.  And, of course, GDP growth is so slow, it’s not keeping pace with the increase in eligible workers just due to population expansion. If you think any of that is worth sticking with, just jump in the nearest unemployment line and see what stuck really means.

The best we can hope for in a speech like this one is that Obama was way, way off the teleprompter. Another one of his embarrassing slips of the lip that he mistakes for persuasive communication. Either that or his speechwriter needs a new job because the analogies to slavery, the women’s movement and unionization backfire when we’re talking economic recovery. The gist of his PT Barnum impression – just watch the thing – is that these three groups were uncertain about when their goals would be achieved. But, they absolutely knew success would happen so they persevered.

Forgetting that the three analogies he uses are not analogous (unlike women marching and workers organizing, slavery didn’t end because slaves sang), they are scary. He’s uses them to say that we, the People, are totally at the mercy of forces we don’t control. The best we can do is believe things will improve and rely on someone else to make it happen. If there’s something we can actually do, other than stick like glue to Obama, he didn’t mention it. Great news for those with totally dependent personalities. Not so great for those who see the Government as a huge obstacle to private sector recovery.

Speaking of which, last month the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the Great Recession ended in June 2009. But, no politician, not a single Democrat or Republican, is pushing that message. That’s because the millions of us who fell into the Recession’s economic impact crater are still stuck down there. The walls are steep and the way out is difficult enough. Obama’s economic policy of throwing huge uncertainty boulders, like taxes and regulation, down on our heads makes the climb close to impossible.

It’s way past time for him to dump the phony analogies that would tie us to him while he holds us down for the count. We need a definitive recovery plan with sound economic policies. Stop all the tax increase talk as if money in taxpayers’ pockets already belongs to the Feds. Lay out a strategy for the next two years that makes business sense. Give employers the certainty and minimal support they need within their own near term planning periods. And then get out of the way.

Oh, wait. Obama won’t do any of that. So, you can stick with a guy who uses false analogies and even falser economic recovery strategies. Or you can figure out something to do this election year that might actually end up working for you.

See you in the mirror.