Monday :: Feb 27, 2006

Snowed In On Broke Strikeback Mountain

by pessimist

We keep hearing from our Wrong-Wing Wregulars about how well the economy is doing. There is only one real way to know if this boast of theirs contains any merit, and that is by comparing the US economy to that of other nations. I do this, beginning below the fold.

But I warn you. What you are about to see has to be a Bu$hCo Top Secret, for the facts aren't matching the rhetoric coming out of the White Lie House. Reading this information just might get you sent to Guantanamo, or at least one of the new KBR 'detention' facilities as an Enemy of the State!

Here's a good sampling of the health of the world's economies:

* China's economy to slow to growth rate of 8 percent in 2006

* India's Economy set to grow at over 8%

* Hong Kong's economy grew 7.6%

* Taiwan's Economy Jumps 6.4 Percent

* Ugandan Economy on target for 6% growth rate


* Egypt economy grows 6pc

* Malaysia 2006 GDP expected to rise 5.5%

* Malaysian economy grows by 5.3 pct

* Jamaican economy sees robust 4.1 percent growth

* Israel's GDP growth exceeded 4 percent

* Brazil's economy grows 2.3 percent

* The economy of the euro region will grow 1.9 percent this year

* Japan's economy grew at a healthy 5.5 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter.

* Business leaders are optimistic on Thai economy

* Turkish Economy Leaves Belgian Behind

Now, here's how we Americans are doing in comparison:

Millions in America are going hungry while
King George claims that the American economy grew 3.5% last year.

The Second Harvest report, using figures compiled before hurricanes Katrina and Rita, showed that 25 million Americans had been forced to get food from the organisation's network of food banks, soup kitchens and shelters in 2005, up 9 per cent from 2001.
The hungry included 9 million children (aged under 18) and 3 million elderly people.

I guess that new Medicare Part D really stands for 'die - et'!

But I digress.

The trend is reflected in data collected last year by the US Department of Agriculture, which found that more than 38 million Americans lived in hungry or "food insecure" households -- an increase of 5 million since 2000.

Second Harvest questioned about 30,000 food distribution agencies as part of its survey. More than 40 per cent of them said funding problems threatened their future work.

But the statistic that stood out most was the one that said 36 per cent of people who came seeking food lived in households where at least one person worked. In the fine economy of George W. Bush, that is serious food for thought.

It means increasing numbers of working people in the US don't earn enough for their families to eat properly.

Want proof that things aren't so good? Look to Iowa:

How's the economy doing? See many new cars on the road?
Kurt Ullrich is a writer from Maquoketa, Iowa.

My view is, admittedly, an anecdotal way of judging an economy. But I think it has its merits and may be fully indicative of the reality of economic expansion out here in states where the minimum wage is discussed annually in the legislatures.

I spend two hours a day driving to and from work, and my unscientific observation is that a majority of cars on the road are not fresh off a dealer's lot. And the newest, most expensive vehicles seem to be large pickup trucks driven by working-class, ball-capped young men who can make large truck payments because they probably live in mom's basement.

In Iowa, fully a third of all school-aged children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at their school.
At first, I assumed such a statistic would fade with some close analysis. But information published by the Iowa State University Office of Social and Economic Trend Analysis indicates the percentages remain pretty consistent statewide, regardless of the wealth, size, or ethnicity of the district.
In Wisconsin, it's been reported that almost a quarter of a million school children qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, fully a third of the student population statewide.
These are remarkable, alarming figures.

In 10% of the 99 counties in Iowa the median value of a home is less than $50,000. I'll make that point again - less than $50,000. And the statistical data gets even worse as the values increase. In two-thirds of the counties, the median value of a home falls below $75,000.

And in the rural county where I live, property values are so depressed the amount of money the U.S. government spends to fight a war in Iraq for six days could buy the whole county - every house, every bar, every inch of ground.

I hope the Iowans are sorry they went Red in 2004.

To support Kurt Ullrich's claim, America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and homeland defense could cost $10 billion a month this year. [T]he war in Iraq has cost an estimated $250 billion since the US invasion in March 2003.

Meanwhile, US Government reports also show the number of hungry Americans increasing.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released last year said 13.5 million American households, or nearly 12 percent, had difficulty providing enough food for family members at some time in 2004. That was up from about 11 percent in 2003.

But, Bush Is Still a Fundraising Magnet for GOP Donors!

Last year, Bush raised about $60 million for the Republican Party and its candidates, said Tracey Schmitt, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. At six events in six weeks this year, he has raised almost $14 million, Schmitt said.

During the first five years of his presidency, Bush has averaged about one fundraising event — breakfasts, lunches, dinners and private receptions — every nine days.

One would think (yes, I know!) that lessons could be learned from the French experience:

French Paradox: Big Profits Don't Equal Healthy Economy

France's largest corporations are performing better than ever, but whether that profitability will help jumpstart the country's slack economy in 2006 remains iffy at best.

The French economy, which grew at a pathetic 1.4% in 2005, isn't likely to benefit from corporate outperformance anytime soon, according to experts. That's because France's largest companies do the majority of their business overseas, and have relatively little exposure to the domestic economy.

"These companies are really only French in name," says Jean-Michel Six, chief European economist at Standard & Poor's.

Allow me to make an analogy. Second Harvest (see any of the hunger links above) determined that the 'real' growth of the US economy was only about 1.5%, or about that reported here of France by Forbes. I believe that number, just as I'm sure Kurt Ullrich would. Let's see how this fits:

America's largest corporations are performing better than ever, but whether that profitability will help jumpstart the country's slack economy in 2006 remains iffy at best. The American economy, which grew at a pathetic 1.5% in 2005, isn't likely to benefit from corporate outperformance anytime soon, according to experts. That's because America's largest companies do the majority of their business overseas, and have relatively little exposure to the domestic economy.

Can you hear it now (I'm putting words into this expert's mouth - he really hasn't said this):

"These companies are really only American in name," says Jean-Michel Six, chief European economist at Standard & Poor's.

Sounds about right to me! It also sounds about right, if I interpret correctly, to Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, who asks the pertinent question:

The decline of manufacturing employment means the economy is producing fewer well-paying jobs for the less-skilled. These disconnected young men tend to go to the poorest schools, grow up amid concentrated poverty and in families that often lack fathers, and face persistent employment discrimination.
Face it: The one expensive social program we have for this group is incarceration. Can't we do better?

Are there no prisons? No workhouses? No? The funding got cut to pay for the 'tax relief' programs of King George?


I'm sorry to report, Mr. Dionne, that only the real Americans - the Haves and the Havemores - are doing better. The rest of us can just die off and decrease the surplus population. Or got to prison so that the Army can dragoon us into 'homeland security' projects and minimize labor costs.

This hunger-in-a-booming-economy situation makes the political realities in America today all the more painful. We've seen the Democrats fail the country time and time again, especially after they promised to do better next time after each failure over the last several years. It is getting to be the common understanding that the Dems aren't to be trusted to be there when they are needed, as Web Pundit Len Hart of Houston, Texas posits:

Blank Stares and Stupors!

Bush is all but universally reviled and vulnerable. But when the U.S. military starts dropping bombs on Iran, Democrats will be looking at one another with blank stares —stupefied, dumbfounded.
Democrats should be planning to retake both House and Senate, impeaching Bush, and restoring the Constitution and American Democracy. But are they?
Some recent history makes it all the more clear just how absurd this situation has become. Bush carried out a war crime when he attacked and invaded Iraq. He violated the Constitution and lied to the Congress, the American people, the United Nations, and, indeed, all the other nations of the world. And he's still lying about it.

The Democrats could be carrying the old glory over the barricades right now. They would be followed by millions. We could be making concrete plans NOW to restore Constitutional government; we could be putting forward an agenda to repair the harm Bush has done to education, the environment, our strained relations with allies, making the budget process accountable, re-affirming civil liberties.

Are we to believe that faced with the very worst administration in American history, the Democrats can't find an issue?

I don't have an answer for your questions, Len. I'm not sure anyone does. It's almost like the Democrats are snowed in on Broke Strikeback Mountain or something. We aren't seeing or hearing anything significant from them - and we need to.


While the world's economies expand, and ours is dissipated by a frivolous wastrel, the Democrats are 'Missing, Inaction'. And The War Band Plays On. And On. And On...

I guess the choice of Red to represent the Republicans was an apt one. Red - BLOOD Red.

That should make sense to the Blue Dead.

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