“President Obama doesn’t know how to stop the economic freefall. Neither does Wall Street or the members of the G-20 group, or for that matter, neither does anyone else in the world … except us.”
That’s how we ended yesterday’s commentary and we were dead serious. We also recalled Abraham Lincoln’s simple logic when he remarked that nothing can be sold unless the buyer has the wherewithal to make the purchase. And he was dead serious. Why, then, are folks in authority speaking about this country’s economic future without giving a second thought to how we can to put an end to our present crisis? They think it’s a gimme. It’s just gonna happen, that’s all.
A leading economists was heard to say that one of the lessons we’ve learned from past recessions is that downturns always come to an end. It’s a simple matter of just waiting … with our heads in the sand. Another was heard to say that the economy will pick up as soon as manufacturers rebuild depleted inventories and consumers replace aging cars. It’s just gonna happen, that’s all.
Abe wouldn’t buy that. “Where,” he’d ask, “would the manufacturers get the wherewithal to rebuild their depleted inventories? And where would the consumers get the wherewithal to replace their aging cars?”
But it would never occur to those manufacturers and consumers to ask those questions. Folks in this country are living in a dream world and are allowing themselves to be misled just as Robert Browning’s Pied Piper misled the unsuspecting children of Hamelin.
In his most recent column Bob Herbert, the thoughtful Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times, stated that Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute reminded us that the current “recession” is now in its 16th month and the labor market is shedding over 600,000 jobs every month. About 23,000 men and women are being added to the jobless rolls every day, she said.
In the same article, Mr. Herbert quoted the authors of “The MetLife Study of the American Dream”. According to that study, “With the erosion of social and corporate safety nets, tightening credit and declining home equity, most Americans have little financial cushioning to survive a job loss. Without a steady paycheck, 50 percent of Americans say they could not meet their financial obligations for more than a month – and, of that, a disturbing 28 percent couldn’t support themselves for more than two weeks of unemployment.”
So where will the “manufacturers” get the wherewithal to rebuild their depleted inventories? From the unemployed who can’t even support themselves for more than two weeks? And where would the “consumers” get the wherewithal to replace their aging cars? “We’re not doing nearly enough to address the most critical need of all: putting people back to work,” Mr. Herbert concludes.
He’s right, of course, but no one knows how to create those millions of jobs. Not President Obama, not Wall Street, not the G-20 group, nor anyone else in the world … except us.