Tuesday, August 03, 2004

GIVE UP HOPE -- VOTE BUSH! The New York Post's Nicole Gelinas acknowledged on Monday that selling the voters on his rancid economy was "W's challenge." Whereas Kerry offered a "fuzzy-headed promise to create 'millions of good-paying jobs,'" wrote Gelinas, Dubya can only offer them blood, sweat, and tears, and Gelinas is forced to admit that "after four years of tough times, voters can't be blamed for seeking out a shining economic vision" -- of eventual emergence from crippling debt, one supposes, or of someday sending a child to college.

Despite a weak effort to "blame the fact that Bush has never had a charismatic Treasury or Labor Secretary" -- yes, we all remember how Robert Reich and Lloyd Bentsen set our hearts aflame! -- the article ended on a note of despair.

That was Monday. Did Gelinas get a call from Karl Rove in the middle of the night? Because the next day, she had an answer to W's dilemma. Yes, you guessed it -- 9/11:
...whenever I hear the Democrats' exultant invocations to those years, I feel a retroactive, physical dread. Much of late-1990s growth — that not already purged by early September 2001 by the reality induced by the burst tech bubble — was built on a false bottom: World Peace...

But we can't go back — and the financial markets can't go back, either. After 9/11, institutional and individual investors were forced to re-price for a costly and permanent new peril: al Qaeda's physical and ideological threat to the miracle that is the Western economy.
Gelinas goes on to explain that, because corporations have had to invest in more insurance than before, and "have spent billions renting and outfitting permanent backup sites far from Manhattan to house employees and data in the event of another attack," it's unreasonable to expect the jobs picture to improve, despite what fuzzy-headed Kerry promised and even despite what the President himself says on the stump ("This economy is strong and it's getting stronger").

The old 9/11 "everything has changed" now seems to also mean, no more getting ahead by working hard. It's kind of a grim analysis -- if you take it seriously. But who's that stupid? Certainly not my readers!

The fact is, while you and I are suffering economically, the market -- even with all those poor, brave investors so overtaxed by terrorism-related outlays -- is not doing so bad. Despite today's oil-related jitters, the Dow remains well over 10,000. On September 10, 2001, it closed at 9,605.50 -- having dropped about 2000 points since Bush's inauguration.

If you can't get a job, or can't get one that pays what your last one did, it's not because Morgan Stanley had to build a safe house in Jersey.

It's because the economy responds to things other than terrorism -- like a decline in consumer spending. Greenspan blames this on high oil prices, but the simplest explanation is that people are running short of disposable income, and of faith that they can safely run up their debt till more money materializes.

Also, the rise in productivity that Republicans like to trumpet is not necessarily a good thing for you and me. In the short term at least, it means that businesses large enough to work it right can make more with less -- including less payroll and less personnel.

Greater heads than mine could submit this to further discussion, so let's just cut it short and say that pulling 9/11 out of one's ass to excuse this Administration's lousy economic performance is probably not going to fly. But that may just be my natural optimism and faith in my fellow man talking.

No comments:

Post a Comment