The incessant talking-down of the economy by our friends on the left (media and Democrat) is good for their party of choice, but largely unhinged from the facts. Let’s have a real discussion on this that goes beyond mail-piece and TV spot sound bytes:
1. Gas prices are being driven by global demand (China and India) and a bubble caused by investor dollars chasing what looks like a safe bet (gas prices staying high). Dems (and even McCain with his vote against increasing supply) are contributing to this problem by creating market conditions that drive investor “confidence” that supply will not increase (because of their dogmatic insistence on no new supply) and by their refusal to acknowledge publicly (because it’s not good for them politically) that China and India’s emergence from third-world conditions is driving up the cost of everything (gas and food particularly). For example, not a single media outlet in the US that I saw reported that there was a trucker riot in England last week because of 7 dollar a gallon gas there (that would be inconvenient since a left-leaning Labour Government runs England and can therefore not be part of the Bush-causes-all-world-ills storyline of the Dem party and the “mainstream” media).
2. China and India are an economic reality that is not going away, and Dem burying-of-the-head will only make the pain worse for American families. FACT: the Strait of Malacca (the narrow waterway near Singapore that is the chokepoint for oil headed to China) now carries almost as many gallons of oil per day as the Strait of Hormuz (the narrow waterway at the exit of the Persian Gulf), and the trend is growing. That’s amazing but true. That doesn’t make a good mailpiece, but if you can’t see the economic reality behind that you are either economically ignorant or intentionally ignoring facts because it helps you politically. If we don’t make a decision as a government/society/economy to compete on the basis of economic reality rather than try to convert international economic facts into domestic political demagoguery, the pain is only going to get worse.
3. This goes directly into food costs. Now that upwardly-mobile Chinese and Indians have decided a rice-only diet is not their first choice, food costs are increasing. In addition, domestic demagoguery on fuel costs (aided and abetted by nervous Republicans) that “ethanol is the cure” is exacerbating this trend. Investors looking for “safe bets” just like on oil are also driving up costs. All of these problems are treatable in a way far more politically easy fashion than energy costs (America has got plenty of good farm land and people willing to farm it), but action is the cure – not political scare tactics. Republicans should be leading the way on this, but we shall see if they do so.
4. Unemployment is 1 tenth of a percentage point from “full employment” (5%). Yet, the daily media diet can convince anyone they are a few days from a pink slip. We wonder why consumer confidence is so low. We are losing jobs slowly, but considering the shocks delivered to the economy in the last six years, (housing situation, energy costs, food costs, terrorism and war), the fact we are still at 5% is a success story, not a storyline for drumming Republicans out of office – unless one is so invested in partisan success that the facts don’t matter.
5. We are not in a measurable recession of any kind at the present time according to all objective standards. We are growing painfully slow, but we are still growing. Yet, a media story earlier this week (noting that growth was actually a little stronger last quarter than expected) somehow became a diatribe about how not only was the “two quarters of negative growth” definition of a recession a bad definition – it actually tried to make the argument that a quarter in which there was GROWTH (1st Q 2008) was actually a RECESSIONARY quarter – because the story said if you “exclude exports” then the economy shrunk by 1 tenth of a percent. Since when are American exports a business activity to be excluded? And if you exclude the fact a frog doesn’t have wings, then he wouldn’t bump his you-know-what when he jumps. Amazing.
6. 93 to 95% of homeowners are paying their mortgages on time. Yet, as Rep. Tom Price reported recently, he could not get a group of very-educated high schools seniors from a very good local high school to agree that even half of Americans were paying their mortgages on time. Why? Because of the media and Dem diatribes. Those who are having mortage problems have been victims of both their own arrogance/overreaching for homes they could not afford as well as a failure of mortgage lending oversight in the private and public sectors. You want to ding somebody for this, you can rightly ding state and federal regulators (in my opinion), but remember there are plenty of Democrat state banking regulators as well as Republican ones. But we must also ding our own culture, in which we believe there is something for nothing: we can have the million dollar home without the income to justify it; we can win a war in Afghanistan or Iraq without real sacrifice (my major gripe with Bush is here); we can sit still while world markets change in India and China and still have $1.50 gas and Cheerios. That’s a problem that begins with you and me and has nothing to do with Dems or Republicans.
As McCain recently said, “We belong to different parties, not different countries.” I did not start as a McCain supporter, but I could not agree more passionately with anything he has said than this. I do believe Republicans are unfairly tagged with the situations we face now, but we do share blame in many keys ways and ought not shrink from acknowledging that.
On a larger level, until we come back to the realization that some problems transcend partisan politics, the REAL looming problems (particularly economic dislocation caused by China and India and the continued threat to world peace from rogue Middle Eastern elements) will cause us to suffer needlessly if our only response to it is competing mail pieces and TV ads designed to microtarget an Independent voter in Pennsylvania.
That’s not Pollyanna. In fact, as much as I have sometimes disagreed with him, it is the essence of the McCain campaign (and why I personally hope he picks Lieberman to be his running mate to demonstrate that fact new-and-afresh). The fact some think it is naive shows why Republicans could do not do better for America right now than electing a TRULY bipartisan ticket that is willing to be grown-up and tell us the truth, the partisan consequences be damned.