Reason for optimism

Optimist or PessimistA few months ago a certain head of a certain private SC university and Dew reader called me a “fatalist.” I’m not. I’m an American. Americans are always optimists. I’m just happen to be near the top of my personal bell curve of cynicism. It seemed at the time, for good cause, but not now.

A new study just out for 2009 says that despite the record unemployment, layoffs, furloughs, downsizing, off-shoring, Wall Street crash, real estate crash, and worst depression since Prozac was allowed to advertise on TV, it seems that millionaires in the US grew by 16% to 7.8 million and those whose worth is over $5 million was up 17%. The study goes on to project that the concentration of wealth, should it continue as it did during the Bush years, will have us looking like Mexico in 2048*. Now I know what you are thinking: that will solve the illegal immigration problem. See? I’m not a fatalist.

More statistics out: the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of unemployed workers age 55 and older jumped 70% in 2008 and AARP reports it has jumped 331% during the Bush years (from 2000-2009, the numbers rose from 490,000 to 2,114,000). Those in this demo know full well that their experience, work ethic and talents aren’t worth the cost of pension plans and health care anymore and that Walmart is always an option. Age discrimination be damned, seniors still have it better than convicted felons and those wishing to have an experience with an airline terrorist. See? I’m not a fatalist.

More statistics also from the Bureau of Labor Statistics… Men, it seems, have it worse when it comes to unemployment during this “worst recession since the really great one” at least percentage wise, than women. White men, it seems, have it worse, at least percentage wise, than black or hispanic men.** See? There’s no plot. The Bushies surely wouldn’t have done this on purpose. See? I’m no fatalist, this is a great step forward in narrowing the disparity of racial and gender unemployment rates.

Now I could go on with reports on foreclosures, credit card defaults, business closings, tax collections, and those who lost their health insurance, but that would be the type of tactic a fatalist would employ. Not me. I’m truly optimistic that the markets will correct and all will be just wonderful if we can only kill this health care bill; quit supporting the unemployed; stop the government regulation of banks and Wall Street; reform those torts which allow people to sue when their lives have been destroyed by our innocent corporations who are just trying their tiny little hearts out to employ as many people (in the third world) as possible; and, for gawd’s sake, get that deficit under control while cutting taxes and increasing highway and military spending. Oh yeah, and protecting marriage. And, supporting Israel. And, getting rid of that awful socialist program Americorp. And, of course, make everyone start carrying guns. And, protect that super minority rule in the Senate. And, well, I’d better just stop there, ‘cause I’m sure the markets will take care of everything for everyone.

Sarcastic, you decide.

* Closer to us than 1970.
**Black men still have higher unemployment rates than white men, just the percentage increase last year was lower, which, statistically, is probably because it was sooooo friggin’ high already.

11 thoughts on “Reason for optimism

  1. Cliff Green

    Hey, Lee, did you see this one?
    The IRS says that in 2007, the last year figures were available, the 400 highest earning households in the United States averaged $345 million in income?
    I feel so sorry for these people. Although their incomes doubled between 2001 and 2007, it was only up 31 percent from 2006.
    Jeez! Do you think we should a fund raiser, or something?

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      Fortunately, almost of all of their income is capital gains and with the right accountant, they should qualify for the special 0% rate (the super rich version of the AMT). They ought to be concerned, though. With the super minority saying no to everything, the chance of extending this tax incentive to invest on Wall Street (expires this year) seems small. No telling what it would do to our economy to have them start paying rates like they used to back in 2003 -- could cause a financial meltdown.

  2. Brenden

    I think your delusion leads you to despair. I know you want to blame all of the following on George W. Bush, but in reality, the following are the fault of insolvent New Deal, Great Society and other massive leftist entitlements that have been mismanaged into the ground for more than 50 years:

    “foreclosures, credit card defaults, business closings, tax collections, and those who lost their health insurance”

    Granted, the GOP acquiesced to many of the corrupt gov’t practices that lead to income inequality. But you’re constant braying of “Bushism” demonstrates your wonton politicized delusion. It further implies that somehow Obama, Pelosi and Reid might attempt to repair these legion failures — when in actuality they are compounding them at an alarming rate.

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      On the other hand, you present evidence that delusion leads to demagoguery.

      I do not hold any delusions that Bush acted alone. Our society is one that continues to change and evolve (devolve). The political attempts to shape its outcome are far from precise. The snapshot the statistics presents is the result of Republican, Democrat and bipartisan policies. However, Bush was in office for 8 of the 10 years covered and it is fair to refer to that wonderful time as the Bush years.

  3. eleanor ringel cater

    I’m going for…sarcastic?

    I’m putting this is the form of a question because i have a lot of time for JEOPARDY these days….

      1. Frank Povah

        Ah, Keith: Being still largely unfamiliar with US/Chinese cuisine I had not heard of hot and sour soup – no doubt a dish to be reckoned with. Now there’s a subject for another time: the differences between Australian and US Chinese food.

  4. Farmer Dave

    Be as sarcastic as you like. All of those “filthy” rich people, that didn’t earn their money, will be just as broke as everyone else unless all of their riches are in vodka and gold. Our clueless federal government ran up the largest monthly deficit in history in February. The monthly deficit was $220.9 billion. The present administration is projecting a 2010 yearly deficit of $1.56 trillion toping last years $1.4 trillion and says it will remain above $1 trillion in 2011. That will be 3 years of $1 triilion-plus deficits. Add that to the current deficit and my adding machine doesn’t have enough zeros. I suppose no one in Washington is aware of the Greek debt problem or the Spanish debt problem or the Portugese debt problem. They are all blind but we now have change in which we can believe. The current “Bush” administration will leave us all with worthless money after they default on our HUGE debt. What the hell? If we’re all going down, why don’t we let the federal government pay for our health care too? I’m sure it will be just as solvent as social security.
    I enjoy your columns. We are like oil and water. You choose which one you want to be.

    1. Lee Leslie Post author

      I’m all for people getting rich, regardless of their grooming. And I believe that we all loved those few moments in our lives when the government was running a surplus -- made all of us have reason to believe in a secure and hopeful future. Our government has acted recklessly and seemingly clueless. Many believe they were not. The idea of tax cuts to buy votes with unfunded “emergency” spending to starve government, is well documented as a strategy and now we are at the end game. Problem is, of course, that the only short-term method government has to spur the economy (since interest rates are effectively at almost zero), is to spend. Many believe that taking a trillion or so out of the economy would kill any growth now beginning to happen. While many do not believe the words he says, our current president has stated over and over that he will not sign a health care bill that increases the deficit and has formed a bipartisan commission (Congress wouldn’t) to tackle runaway budgets with the goal to have a balance budget in 2015. Impossible without growth. Impossible without cuts. Impossible without reforming health care. Impossible without bringing our troops home. And impossible without new revenue sources. Sounds like a very important time for all sides to come together to solve this before it solves us.
      Regarding the oil and water -- oil is more valuable now, nasty stuff to get off, smells, but you don’t need to survive -- while water, on the other hand, is abundant, generally clean and odorless, but without it you’ll die in a couple of days. Tough choice. Why don’t we just get some degreaser and mix it together?

  5. Cliff Green

    To the character “Brenden”: I hope you did not include me among those who blame everything on Bush. If believe that if you re-read my response to Lee, you will find that I did not once mention the former president’s name.
    Also, you continue to demand solvency of all “leftist” programs. For the education of all the people who read The Dew, would you please list all the “rightest” government programs you support and explain to the readers why they are “solvent?”


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