A Few in the Media Come Out of Their Trance

Quick, someone call 911. A reporter from the New York Times has strayed from the liberal flock. She is actually reporting on the bad economy. Catherine Rampell did this the day after Friday’s glowing reportage about the rise in the unemployment rate in the face of a negative GDP and falling consumer confidence.

Mort Zuckerman, an early Obama fan, has added his voice to the tiny chorus-ette of dissenters. He writes in U.S. News and World Reports that things are bad, even daring to use the D word.

How did this viewpoint manifest itself in New York? We in flyover country know we can’t possibly comprehend why higher gas prices, higher food prices, lower home values and fewer jobs are a good thing. We depend on the brainiacs at these liberal outlets to ‘splain it all to us rubes. But these two seem to share our powers of observation.

Rampell writes, “Young graduates are in debt, out of work and on their parents’ couches. People in their 30s and 40s can’t afford to buy homes or have children. Retirees are earning near-zero interest on their savings.” For the mainstream media, this is quite a confession.

Her article continues:

In the current listless economy, every generation has a claim to having been most injured. But the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.

These Americans in their 50s and early 60s — those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security — have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.

Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”

New research suggests that they may die sooner, because their health, income security and mental well-being were battered by recession at a crucial time in their lives. A recent study by economists at Wellesley College found that people who lost their jobs in the few years before becoming eligible for Social Security lost up to three years from their life expectancy, largely because they no longer had access to affordable health care.

The rest of the article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/business/americans-closest-to-retirement-were-hardest-hit-by-recession.html

Zuckerman paints an even worse scenario:

If you went out this morning and saw hundreds of people lining up at soup kitchens, you’d think you were in a time machine, transported back to the Great Depression of the ’30s, or the victim of a hallucination incubated by powerful images of those times. In fact, it is the absence of such images that is the illusion. We believe we live in more normal times—and we do not. Millions of people today are experiencing exactly the same struggle as the millions did in the Great Depression. They can’t find work. They depend on government and philanthropy. They live on hope denied.

The big difference: Today millions are assisted by checks from Social Security and by food stamps. Food-stamp enrollment has been rising at the rate of 400,000 per month. More than 47 million Americans now depend on that program, an almost incredible record, for it is 15 percent of the population compared with the 7.9 percent who received food stamps from 1970 to 2000. Meanwhile, nearly 11 million Americans are now collecting federal disability checks from Social Security, and half have signed on since President Obama came to office. In 1992, there was one person on disability for every 35 workers. Today it is one for every 16. Such an increase simply cannot have been caused by direct disability experienced during employment. This is in effect another unemployment program, one without end. Many of the people on disability would normally be considered unemployed.

The reality is, we are experiencing a modern-day Depression. It is harder to find work than it has been in any previous economic recovery period. Typically, it takes 25 months to close the employment gap from the employment peak near the start of a downturn. But this time around, five years after employment peaked in January 2008, non-farm employment is still roughly 4 million below where it started. Never before has the job level not been at a record high during the fourth year into a business cycle.

In fact, 4.5 million fewer Americans are working today than when the recession started, and fewer are working today than in the year 2000, despite the fact that our population has grown by 31 million and our labor force by 11.4 million. Though the White House forecast four years ago that, with its stimulus policies, the jobless rate would be down to 5.2 percent by now, the real unemployment rate is 14.4 percent.

The Pew Research Center reports that for the first time in the post-World War II era, middle-class families finished the decade significantly poorer in terms of household net worth—which is down almost 40 percent since 2007—and with lower incomes than a decade earlier. This has hit the middle class harder than any other group. According to Pew, one third of Americans now identify themselves as lower class or lower middle class, a deterioration since 2008 when one quarter identified themselves that way.

Well, well, well. Someone gets it. There is more here:http://www.usnews.com/opinion/mzuckerman/articles/2013/02/01/mort-zuckerman-how-we-can-end-our-modern-day-depression

Don’t expect the media damn to break, however, and an outpouring of truth and facts to prevail. But it is a start.

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