Disturbing News on the Economy

For those caught in the middle and lower income brackets, the economic news looks bleak, very bleak. This is not actually news to those affected, but is something we are not hearing enough from the MSM, let alone the liberal blogosphere, who are for the most part trumpeting Cindy Sheehan, bring the troops home and Plamegate. Not to discount the importance of these issues, however, other issues that affect average Americans are falling by the wayside, as we struggle to get by daily with raising prices at the stores and pumps, and falling wages.

Thomas Oliphant writes in the Boston Globe today, “For more than a year, hard-pressed Americans have been trying to signal the political establishment that something is upside-down wrong in an economy that is producing soaring costs and flat incomes.” No one is listening.

Given the blinders associated with his fervent ideology, President Bush’s deaf ear is expected and unremarkable.

“It’s progressive politicians who should be paying more attention.” But, this issue has been overshadowed by the myriad of other issues being pushed by the progressive grassroots. The very sector that liberal and progressive grassroots need to reach out to, are being left by the wayside. To many of these people, their pocketbook is the number one concern, yet no one is listening.

More than a hundred years ago, Charles Dickens’s cockeyed optimist, Wilkins Micawber, explained to David Copperfield that the difference between happiness and misery involves the positive or negative difference between income and expenses.

The signal coming from working Americans (and retired ones, too) has been precisely that. As the government confirmed once again last week, rising costs have outpaced stagnant wages in ten of the last 12 months. The only positive news was recorded last September and in June. But that was overwhelmed by the trend that has eroded the value of the ordinary paycheck. As almost always happens in such spirals, the problem involves wages and prices. The former are as close to stagnant as it’s possible to get; these days, a 2 percent raise is heralded as generous and the employee who gets one is considered lucky.

It’s the prices people pay, especially for necessities, that have exploded. For more than a year, the cost of gasoline and heating oil has been soaring. And for five years, the cost of healthcare has been exploding, too, even as the value of what care people can buy has been eroded via sharp increases in deductibles and copayments.

I’m not suggesting here that we should drop all of the other issues so important to all of us, but as Thomas Oliphant points out, the issue of economy should not take a backseat. Average Americans are struggling to make ends meet. There is no relief in sight. We need to stop and listen to these concerns if we want to get this sector of voters to the polls in 2006.

The Bush administration is in an ideological straitjacket. But progressive politicians have several issues they should raise, particularly long overdue increases in the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit — kitchen table matters that should not take a backseat to the latest fears about John Roberts.

With corporations sitting on more than a trillion dollars in idle cash, with tax breaks helping create astonishing increases in wealth at the top, the people who make this economy work deserve some cash of their own. They also need it.

The Economic Policy Institute shows Inflation trumps wage gains again in July.

A few weeks ago we learned that hourly wages of blue-collar, non-managerial workers rose 0.4% in July, the fastest monthly growth rate in a year. Today we learned from the new consumer price index (CPI) report that inflation gobbled up that increase and more, causing both the real hourly and weekly wage to fall slightly in July (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/realer.pdf).

I write about this here today, because I feel the pain. As a small business owner who supplies retailers, I’ve watched my sales spiral down for nearly two years. When people ask why, all I can answer is “it’s the economy, stupid.” I speak to other small business owners on a daily basis, they too feel the same pain that I do. Isn’t it time someone listen to this large sector of voters? Thomas Oliphant thinks it is, and so do I.

UPDATE: Thanks to Crystal Patterson of TedKennedy.com for giving this post a nod!

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17 Responses to Disturbing News on the Economy

  1. Marjorie G says:

    You are so, so correct. And Thomas Oliphant is rarely wrong, maybe post DNC.

    Our people are so pleased they are vindicted with the war issue, building a movement, justifying the IWR vote rationales, that we are not taking care of business, the business engine that creates jobs, and how are tax base has shifted so badly. Every tax cut has somehow created an opportunity to move money offshore, or further line the pockets of the already rich.

    And Pamela, my tech guru, Teresa, one of the influential people working on e-voting here in NY and for the past few years, thinks there are too many operatives within the party allowing e-voting. She says millions of votes lost last November. Joe Andrews, former DNC and Diebold spokesman on 50-state tour to burnish the image, just the icing.

  2. Teresa says:

    I think this is the real tragedy of our times in this country. Witnessing the tradition of hard work and individual enterprise being rewarded, eroding rapidly. I know how the wealthy would love to create a permanent underclass of just about everyone but it will all backfire.
    It really saddens me, Pamela, when I see someone like you with creativity and a desire to deliver something good to the market, being forced to struggle and see hope being chipped away, while the greedy and uncaring get away with murder.
    I think it will correct itself in time, so maybe the best approach is to live as simply as we can and adjust completely as we go. Maybe we can beat this unjust system by starving it.
    I’d like to see more local co-ops and pooling of resources. Getting away from the credit card companies who are just about to screw us this fall with some new games. And forming our own lending institutions with fairness in mind. I guess it leads toward local grass roots political efforts.
    So the end result could work out well if we can get power back to the states.

    I think this war might have to end soon and then the reality of our domestic problems will hit home.

  3. Marjorie

    As I expected … I sent this around and other than some discussion on DU, no one seems to be interested. Sad isn’t it. Can we only focus on one issue at a time?

    Oliphant is always on the money, and on this one he is again. I hope JK and TK pick up on this and some others as well.

    I have no doubt we lost millions of votes last year. How to fix it? What’s the link for that website again?

  4. cryofan says:

    i agree. The GOP and Dems are essentially evolved entities that serve the elite. It is good for the elite that the political debate is centered on NON-economic issues. Hence the GOP and Dems focus on identity politics, which makes us see ourselves as members of various racial, gender, sexuality, subcultural identity groups, which takes the focus off of class issues and the MONEY, the better for the rich and the corporations to continue to rob us blind.

  5. Teresa

    Other economic news that people are flocking to file bankruptcies before the deadline for the new bankruptcy bill.

    We have no choice but to live simply. When my larger vendors are hurting I know there is a problem. My industry has been usurped by the larger corporations as well. Once a novelty, major companies are mass producing the same stuff I am cheaper. Target and Walmart sell there goods, cheaper. So us little people keep plodding along… but we’re staying focused and keeping the faith (atleast I am).

    I see nothing here from my grassroots people but Iraq, Sheehan and Plamegate.

    Local grassroots people are targeting the schools about the NCLB statute that allows the military to contact our kids, yet they don’t even have anyone speaking to those who are affected, the poor families whose kids feel they are getting something by joining up.

    The ecomony is a big issue. How long will we ignore it.

  6. Cryofan

    So true… so very true. Needless to say it’s time to speak out about this, as loudly as possible. With exception to Thomas Oliphant and Krugman who writes about the economy in real terms who is talking about this?

  7. Marjorie G says:

    Interesting LTE on DCP about the $300 billion spent on Iraq as an offline item, and how we need to be very good to China, as they hold our paper. Somewhere else about how the same billions in China are spent on education, safe nuclear reactors, and credit cards to grow the middle class to participate. I suppose that last item is both good and bad, given our bad spending habits.

    I know Grover Norquist wanted to shift the wealth, extremely, but how did they think this would really work, and America staying powerful, their only concern?

  8. Marjorie

    We’re in huge debt to China and they are advancing in areas that we are not.

    Grover Norquist needs to be knocked down a few notches, but so do the rest of his cabal. It’s horrifying how much influence they have.

  9. Marjorie G says:

    Just saw Joe Andrews page at his law firm, and he is apparently interested in election reform. I mention above how he is the new goodwill ambassador on a 50 state tour for Diebold.

    He may one of those misguided people, and there are many, embracing inappropriate technology for voting. Many articles back me up on this. We need to call Joe at work and suggest he is putting Dem stamp of approval on bad technology and destroying the work of many computer people and activists trying to make the voting secure and verifiable.

    Phone: 202/408-5210

  10. Marjorie

    Do you want to write something to post about this?

  11. Marjorie G says:

    Pam, wish I had time. Need to do a group missive and save my job tonight. Really wish I could help, but this issue is not going away. I will do one, for another certain crisis.

    Thanks for asking.

  12. Marjorie

    Any time… You are much more involved with this than I and can expalin it more in depth.

  13. Genia says:

    Pamela: apparently one should write a compelling argument to get attention to the subjects they think are important — instead of griping. That’s not my opinion, by the way, I’m just passing it along. I’m guessing, based on the “compelling argument” line of thinking, that if your subject has gotten very little attention, your argument isn’t compelling enough. In other words, it’s not the liberal blogosphere’s fault that the economy isn’t a hot subject. You just haven’t done your job pushing it to the frontline.

  14. Genia

    Maybe if you had posted the actual crux of the blog post about the economy, rather turn to your post about my blog post into your own gripe session, your readers would have understood the point.

    Thanks for sharing. Others got it, sorry your readers didn’t.

  15. Oops… My Bad…

    Genia has informed me by email that I misunderstood her post here and her post on her blog. So sorry Genia… Chalk it up to having a bad software day … I’ve been hassling with a reinstall of Norton’s Internet Security for a few hours now.

  16. cali dem says:

    # Teresa Says:
    August 21st, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    “I think this is the real tragedy of our times in this country. Witnessing the tradition of hard work and individual enterprise being rewarded, eroding rapidly. I know how the wealthy would love to create a permanent underclass of just about everyone but it will all backfire.

    I think this war might have to end soon and then the reality of our domestic problems will hit home.”
    The expense of the war has been shifted to our kids and their kids but our economy is also being propped up by war too right now. Your comment is powerful on many levels. I wonder what we’ll see when the fog of war finally clears…

  17. Cali Dem

    I hate to think about what we will see when the fog finally clears…

    We’re already seeing that the lies being told about the economy are lies, like everything else from this administration. This all may well backfire on the wealthy cabal that is supportive of Bush and he of them, but in the interim, it’s going to be a harder struggle for many.