The Labor Department released its latest employment numbers this morning, and the only good news is that the situation hasn’t gotten any worse. Official unemployment (BLS-U3) still sits at 9.5%, and real unemployment (BLS-U6) — which includes both the underemployed and those who have stopped looking — is stuck at 16.5%. Here at home in Contra Costa County, it’s even worse with the “official” rate up slightly for June at 11.1%, but still better than California overall, which remains over 12%.
Sadly, as job growth remains stagnant, more and more people forget how we came to the disaster that we now face. Memory of the policies that gutted federal tax revenues, sent millions of American jobs overseas, and culminated in an economic crash that extracted a third of the wealth of the middle class and gave it to Wall Street fat cats, has become obscured. The awareness that drove the American populace to reject conservative politics just 20 months ago has somehow been crowded out by impatience and clouded out by Republican propaganda.
We are living today in an America designed and produced by Republican policy. Concentration of wealth is at its highest level since the Great Depression. The GDP continues to grow but unemployment is steady and wages are dropping. We’re told that we have a “jobless recovery,” which for all but the most wealthy means NO RECOVERY AT ALL. The very term is oxymoronic and should cause fits of cognitive dissonance. When the metrics used to gauge the economy show improvement but the quality of life for most Americans continues to decline, it should be clear to everyone that we’re focused on the wrong target.
But even in the pits of massive unemployment, distraction and subterfuge prevail. The Republicans continue their fight for the upper 2%, even to the extreme of deliberately sabotaging progress for the middle and working classes — and still people remain oblivious. They’ve bought the lie and embrace those who seek to exploit them while rejecting the very vehicle established to ensure their prosperity.
It’s Operation MindCrime, and it started 30 years ago, when Reagan sold the notion that government is the problem. Belief in that myth still lingers today, providing the fertile ground for the misinformation machine known as the Republican Party. They know that the true power does still reside with The People, but they also understand that the power is only realized in unity, and that The People can be divided through the unethical use of lies and distortions intended to play on fears and prejudices.
It doesn’t take an economist to understand what’s happened over the past 30 years, what conservative politics has wrought. It doesn’t even take an intelligent person; it simply requires a pause to look at the actual evidence.
The record is clear: the deficit originated with Reaganomics under the pretense of “trickle-down” which was later even refuted by the elder Bush and termed “voodoo economics.” But still, in spite of its detrimental effect on the well being of most Americans, the Republican Party has maintained loyalty to the self-serving fallacy. This allegiance has done nothing to help anyone but the upper 2%. It has resulted in concentrating more wealth in the upper 1% than the bottom 90%, the slowest rate of average job growth of any cycle since 1945, the first decline in median household income of any cycle since 1967, and the 2008 crash and present “jobless recovery.”
This is class warfare, plain and simple. It’s between the top 2% and everyone else. Sadly, far too many conservative middle class Americans have mistakenly taken the wrong side. They’ve bought the lies and fight toward their own demise. The solution is not in raging against these people but in understanding their concerns and sharing the facts with them. The line has been drawn in the sand, and although this truth is too often swept up in the maelstrom of conservative misinformation, it needs to be communicated.
The Democrats certainly have their share of issues, but they alone promote policies that will benefit 98% of Americans. Voters will have another chance in November to put an end to corporate exploitation of our nation. They already know what Republican policy will produce — we’re living in it! They need to open their eyes and give the Democrats a real chance to turn things around.
When speaking earlier this week at the AFL-CIO, President Obama summarized the decision to be made. He first reminded people that it took a decade to drive us into the ditch, and that it will likely take that long to dig us out. He then offered an analogy, "When you're in a car and you want to go forward, you put it in D. You want to go back in the ditch, you put it on R.” Which direction do you want to go?