The Chart from Hell
On August 7, 2009 Barack Obama thumped his chest in the Rose Garden and proclaimed "We've rescued our economy from catastrophe." Supposedly, the economic recovery had officially begun two months earlier.
That was 1328 days ago. But, try telling that to somebody that has to work for a living. Median Household Income continues to fall.
While the President pretends that the end to life as we know it is near because of the incy wincy sequester cuts, families have been forced to live on less for years – and, it's still getting worse.
As reported by the New York Times:
"For the first time in over a year, median annual income fell by a statistically significant amount from the previous month, according to a report from Sentier Research.
Median annual household income in February 2013 was $51,404, about 1.1 percent (or $590) lower than the January 2013 level of $51,994. The numbers are all pretax, and are adjusted for both inflation and seasonal changes.
… The longer-run trends are even more depressing.
February’s median annual household income was 5.6 percent lower than it was in June 2009, the month the recovery technically began; 7.3 percent lower than in December 2007, when the most recent recession officially started; and 8.4 percent lower than in January 2000, the earliest date that this statistical series became available."
Note that these numbers are "pretax." In January, the Payroll Tax was increased by 2 percent by Obama's $600 billion fiscal cliff tax hike. On average, that tax increase will suck another $700 per year out of the wallets of 160 million Americans.
Little wonder that 6-in-10 Americans believe the economy is still in recession. And, the really big hit from ObamaCare is right around the corner.
And, what do we get from the White House? Denial. Last month, Joe Biden said Americans are "no longer worried" about the economy.
1913 — the final days of the old regime in the United States
In 1913, exactly a century ago, the United States was a flourishing, economically advanced country. Its real output per capita was the world’s highest. It produced a great abundance of agricultural products and was a leading exporter of cotton, wheat, and many other farm products. Yet it also had the world’s largest industrial sector, producing as much manufactured output as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined. It brought forth new technological marvels almost daily, and its cities featured well paved and lighted streets, automobiles, modern sewerage and water-supply systems, central electrical-supply systems, skyscrapers, street cars, subways, and frequent intercity train service. During the preceding fifty years, its real income per capita had grown by about 2 percent per year, on average, and its total real output by about 4 percent per year, on average. All races, classes, and regions participated in this progress. In 1913, the rate of unemployment was 4.3 percent, and the price level was roughly the same as its average during the nineteenth century.
Yet the United States in 1913 had no federal income tax, no central bank, no social security taxes, no general sales taxes, no Securities and Exchange Commission, no Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, no Department of Health and Human Services, no National Labor Relations Board, no federal this, that, and the other as far as the eye can see. Except for restrictions on Chinese and Japanese immigration, nothing but perfunctory health examinations impeded the free flow of foreigners into the country, and hundreds of thousands arrived each year, mostly from Europe. All governments combined spent an amount equal to about 7 percent of GDP; the federal government’s part amounted to only about 3 percent of GDP. Local governments were the biggest actors in terms of regulations and expenditures. The average American had no regular contact with the federal government aside from the postman and little or none with the state and local governments aside from the school teachers and the public streets. The country was on an official gold standard. Gold and silver coins circulated as normal media of exchange, and gold certificates issued by individual commercial banks, as well as their checking accounts, served the public for making larger transactions.
Never before had so much prosperity been attained by a comparably large population, and never before had so many people enjoyed such spacious freedom to live their lives and go about their business as they chose in a context where voluntary transactions dominated economic affairs and governments were relatively inconsequential factors in the economy and society. Such was the garden in which the serpents of war would soon whisper in the ears of politicians and government officials, who shortly afterward would blast this auspicious scene to smithereens.
The Old Regime would then be lost forever, as the war’s pervasive legacies insinuated themselves permanently into economic and political life. Gone forever was a world that, notwithstanding its many defects and crying needs, had been traveling a sure road to improvements and remedies largely within a nurturing spontaneous order. Henceforward, the intrusion of politics and governments into ever more aspects of social and economic life would poison the people’s public affairs and turn them away from creative activity and self-responsibility toward more and more political conflict, suppression of freedom, and plunder of one another.
The Left's Continuing War on Women
The New York Times caused a sensation with its kazillion-word, March 17 article by Michael Luo on the failures of state courts to get guns out of the hands of men in domestic violence situations.
The main purpose of the article was to tweak America's oldest civil rights organization, the National Rifle Association, for opposing some of the more rash anti-gun proposals being considered by state legislatures, such as allowing courts to take away a person's firearms on the basis of a temporary restraining order.
It's a new position for liberals to oppose the rights of the accused. Usually the Times is demanding that even convicted criminals be given voting rights, light sentences, sex-change operations and vegan meals in prison.
Another recent Times article about communities trying to keep sex offenders out of their neighborhoods quoted a liberal saying: "It's counterproductive to public safety, because when you have nothing to lose, you are much more likely to commit a crime than when you are rebuilding your life."
But that was about convicted child molesters. This is about guns, so all new rules apply.
As is usually the case when liberals start proposing gun restrictions, they assume only men will be disarmed by laws taking guns from those subjected to temporary restraining orders. But such orders aren't particularly difficult to get. It doesn't occur to liberals that an abusive man could also get one against his wife, whether or not his accusations are true.
Rather than helping victims of domestic abuse, this -- and other Times' proposals on guns -- only ensures that more women will get killed. A gun in the hand of an abused woman changes the power dynamic far more than keeping a gun out of the hands of her abuser, who generally can murder his wife in any number of ways.
The vast majority of rapists, for example, don't even bother using a gun because -- as renowned criminologist Gary Kleck notes -- they typically have a "substantial power advantage over the victim," making the use of a weapon redundant.
As the Times eventually admits around paragraph 400: "In fairness, it was not always clear that such an order (taking guns from the accused wife abuser) would have prevented the deaths."
No kidding. In one case the Times cites, Robert Wigg ripped a door off its hinges and heaved it at his wife, Deborah, after having thrown her to the floor by her hair.
Deborah Wigg moved out, got a protective order and filed for divorce. But doors were not an impediment to Robert Wigg. He showed up at her new house and, in short order, broke down the door and murdered her.
He happened to have used a gun, but he might as well have used his fists. Or an illegal gun, had the court taken away his legal guns. Or another door.
As her husband was breaking in, Deborah called her parents and 911. Her neighbors called 911, too. But the police didn't arrive in time. Even her parents got to the house before the cops did, only to find their daughter murdered.
The protective order didn't help Deborah Wigg; the police couldn't help; her neighbors and parents couldn't help. Only if she'd had a gun and knew how to use it -- after carefully disregarding everything Joe Biden has said on the subject -- might she have been able to save her own life.
Numerous studies, including one by the National Institute of Justice, show that crime victims who resist a criminal with a gun are less likely to be injured than those who do not resist at all or who resist without a gun. That's true even when the assailant is armed.
Liberals' advice to rape and domestic abuse victims is: Lie back and enjoy it. The Times' advice is: Get a protective order. The NRA's advice is: Blow the dirtbag's head off. Or, for the delicate: Resist with a gun, the only effective means to stop an attack.
Apparently a lot of abused women prefer not to lie back and take it. Looking at data from Detroit, Houston and Miami, Margo Wilson and Martin Daly found that the vast majority of wives who killed their husbands were not even indicted, much less convicted, because it was found they were acting in self-defense.
But the Times doesn't want abused women to have a fighting chance. Instead, it keeps pushing gun control policies that not only won't stop violent men from murdering their wives, but will disarm their intended victims.
In the U.S. we like to think we’re all about enabling people. We ban discrimination based on creed or color. We insist that facilities be accessible to the disabled. We brag about an America where anyone can climb the ladder of success.
We’re also a compassionate people, eager to help each other. That’s why there’s a generous safety net in place, to catch anyone who happens to fall while climbing the ladder. Welfare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps and many other programs are in place to help those who are down-on-their-luck.
The problem is when the safety net becomes an actual net, ensnaring people and preventing them from rising.
Consider the Social Security Disability program. Here’s a safety net built especially to catch those who are severely injured and simply unable to work. That’s been a problem throughout human history, of course. People get hurt at work, lose digits or limbs, or simply wear out after decades of hard labor. Many have needed some help over the decades.
However, in our time, most work is less physically taxing than it’s ever been. Rather than plowing the fields, most people ply computer keyboards. Rather than working with big industrial machines such as Stephen King’s “The Mangler,” most people work in safe office buildings. Even smoking on the job, once ubiquitous, is a thing of the past.
And yet, the share of the U.S. population on Social Security Disability almost doubled between 1985 and 2005. And that’s before the 2008 recession hit.
“A record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program,” Investor’s Business Daily wrote last year.
Not only are there more people filing for disability benefits, there are more people getting stuck on disability.
“Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce since then,” NPR’s Chana Joffe-Walt reports. “Disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills. But it wasn't supposed to serve this purpose; it’s not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet.”
Something scary is going on here. Far from enabling Americans to rise, we’re trapping millions at the bottom. And once they’ve gone to the government and announced “I can’t work,” the chances are slim that they’ll change their minds five or ten years later. “Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That’s the deal. And it’s a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for,” Joffe-Walt adds.
Disability programs can be mentally as well as physically disabling. A friend who used to handle worker’s compensation claims told me about a woman who “tested out” of the disability program. A third-party medical review stated she was fit to return to work, so her benefits were scheduled to end. The recipient was so upset she threatened to jump off her balcony. “That’s when I knew I had to leave that job,” my friend comments. Luckily, she left it for another job, not to go on disability.
The message of empowerment remains powerful in American politics. “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else,” the president announced during his second Inaugural Address.
Set aside questions about whether that is true (it will simply never be possible to give a child born in “the bleakest poverty” the same opportunities that Bill Gates’ children enjoy). Instead, we should ask whether we’re really empowering poor children, and poor Americans in general, today.
Today’s bleak economy has many fathers, so there will be no easy solution. But as a starter we need to regulations and encourage companies to hire again. And we need to enable more Americans to work, by reducing the number stuck on disability. Only when we do that will we be true to our American creed.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
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