Hooked on the Numbers

Posted on October 2, 2011 by

Worried about Obama losing in 2012, democrats pay close attention to those end-of-the-week government reports on unemployment claims, consumer spending and housing starts. 

Looking for a signal that the economy is “recovering,” we know this is a charade to give the president cover against republican attacks. 

If those numbers don’t budge, the white house could fall into the hands of a republican who would make George W. Bush look like Hubert Humphrey. 

Of course this president didn’t ruin the economy.  That was a 40-year project, engineered by business elites determined to “discipline the labor markets” through union-busting, deindustrialization and financial schemes to hook wage-earners on debt and speculation instead of pay raises. 

That’s one reason we’re so frustrated and disappointed that President Obama passed on an historic opportunity to channel public anger and take on wall street and the banks. 

And yet those very same corporate and financial institutions Mr. Obama let off the hook are paying him back by refusing to hire or lend. 

Even worse, the only way the economic picture will improve for now is for American consumers to start spending again.  Yes, we long for those days of traffic jams at Wal-Mart parking lots. 

Liberals and progressives are stuck. 

We can’t give ultra-conservatives the keys to the federal government but don’t believe that our side has the vision or the guts to lead the nation. 

So we will cheer a half-percent drop in the unemployment rate or an uptick in consumer spending and pretend that’s how America will find its way back on track.

Comments (6)


  1. Frank Stricker says:

    pretty good. Not the last parag. Are a lot of us cheering about the economy? It is a disaster.

  2. Jann Whetstone says:

    Yes Lou these are the realities we face today. President Obama has his work cut out for him, more importanty, WE as the Labor Movement has an even bigger job. Every week another union is on the verge of strike or lockout!

    We have a major undertaking to get the American public on our side. Tell the truth about the wealthiest 1%, that is controlling 99% of the country’s wealth and putting the blame on the working class’ pensions. Educating the community as well as our members should be a top priority.

    Labor leaders better start getting used to the fact that they need women, minorities, and youth to lead and contribute! The old way is not working, we must change our messaging and engage ALL workers!

    • Vivian says:

      Your posts are always relevant. Jann’s comments are right on the money. We in the labor movement and on the left have to reconsider how we build support for social justice.

  3. Charlie King says:

    Problem with your analysis is that you are putting what you think is best for the Democratic party as it stands now ahead of what is best for the American economy. That hurts the perception of our cause long term as being advocates for workers.

  4. Gavin says:

    No question the economic picture is driving the political picture. My concern is if republicans win, what prevents the previous pattern by Bush and others to continue to strip workers rights, widening the gap in wealth and keep the rich pilaging. The Tea Party is right there too by their idea of cut taxes, cut government and blame everyone else. There is no free lunch here. You get what you pay for.

  5. rod bradley says:

    Well, we already know audacity is just an empty phrase when it comes to the president — and the democratic party. The democratic party is corrupt (there are a few non-corrupt individuals) and unimaginative and soulless. The soul went out the window with the DLC and Bill Clinton who said, do what the Republicans do and get money and then you win.

    It worked because he had a good old boy charm that pulled the wool over our eyes and he got lucky because silicon valley was booming and sucking money out of the rest of the world. Slick Willie was very slick and continued the policies (elimination of glass-stiegal, getting rid of separation between speculative & commercial banking, etc — and continued the sucking of money from the working guy to the rich guy) at a rate comparable to Reagan & Bush. Yet this guy was the “real” Teflon president (and still is.) His organization of the repair of Haiti is a bad joke.

    The real mistake is to think we can continue to have a vital economy based on consumption. That notion is patently nonsensical on its face. The earth itself won’t take it. We need an economy based on creativity and sustainability and most of all, a respect for balance and mother earth. We need the transformative and visionary leadership we expected from Obama which of course is not in the man, only the words and he knows we know now (at least those who are not apologists or self-delusional) that his words were empty from the beginning because there was no inner core, no moral strength, no conviction.

    Labor has to enlarge itself beyond the unions (many of which are old school, staid and frankly, corrupt, defending people who don’t work — I know of this first hand) — and
    resemble in many ways the democratic party itself.

    We need both courage and imagination and it is out there, but it needs to be harnessed. And the vested interests don’t want that as they never do.

    We need to rise to the occasion against the empty rhetoric. We need a “revolution” — we need to hold Obama’s feet to the fire — fight for us, the little guy, leave your Wall Street guys behind or you’re a footnote in history.

    The Wall Street occupation must become the Congress & White House occupation. Wall Street only does what it does because that’s who they are, money mongers and snake oil salesman who are allowed to practice without restraint because they pay off Congress and the White House. Those “bad guys” can only be bad because they own our politicians. They are the drug dealers, the cartel. Kill off the leadership, a dozen will spring in their place. You won’t change Wall Street. You need to change the rules that allow them to do what they do.

    Occupy the place that is supposed to be ours — the place of, by, for the people. Make it so. And make those guys change the rules they’ve rigged for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. Then it will mean something.

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