Tag Archives: National Economy

The national economic recovery (that wasn’t) and the tri-state area

Tri-StateThis morning while I was doing my daily morning four mile walk, I decided to listen to NewsTalk 1280 which is a local AM station out of Evansville, Indiana.  I am not sure what talk show was on, but the topic was about the current national economic recovery that has begun to take place across the nation in mid to late 2012.  As I was listening to the show, I could not help but apply this national talk show host to what I witness each day and what I hear others talk about within the tri-state area.  


All it takes is a little bit of research and one can see that many of the major news outlets are running stories that we are now have crossed a milestone in our nation’s economic history.  It has now been roughly 1,000 days where the national average for the price of a gallon of gas has remained above the $3.25 mark.  Every American household and business has felt the impact of the high cost of fuel; it has literally impacted all aspects of the American economy.  Since 2009, the inflation rate has roughly been 9% and while that is significantly lower than the 23.7% inflation between 2001 and 2006, the inflation rate alone does not address the problems faced by the local tri-state consumer.  While the annual rate of inflation has remained near around the 1 to 1.38% annual percentage rate, the price of consumer goods has steadily increased to offset the increasing cost of energy for the manufacturing sector of our national economy.(1)

Mr. Obama’s war on coal and other fossil fuels has been negatively impacting the tri-state area. All three states, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana have massive coal deposits and coal mines employing thousands of workers whose very livelihood depend on the coal industry.  These mines not only provide jobs to the residents of these states but also, through the income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes paid by the miners, provide financial stability to the communities where they live. It is the money from coal, either directly or indirectly, that pays for many of the schools, roads, libraries, and other amenities that we have become accustomed to in modern America.  The mining industry is, outside the local county school board, often the largest employer that many of these rural counties have.  This new national energy policy has had a profound impact as mining in the tri-state has already begun to slow production, often laying off entire shifts of miners at a time.  The restoration of our regional economy cannot occur unless the Obama administration reverses its current anti-fossil fuel strategy.

Within the local tri-state area where I live, there are lots of signs that indicate that not only is the economy not recovering but that its very structure is changing.  This semester there is an increase in students in courses that I teach who are having some portion of their education paid for by the Kentucky Cabinet for Workforce Development.  Their former employer has either ceased operations or is currently downsizing its workforce in anticipation of the first series of changes under the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.  Those full time jobs with benefits are being replaced with lower paying 28 hour a week or less part time jobs.  Those that do complete their college education are facing fierce competition for the few full time positions that remain.  Not only do they face the younger traditional college graduate, but they will also be challenged by displaced experienced workers willing to undergo cuts in salaries and prestige to maintain full time employment.

Truth is that there has not been a national economic recovery.  While there may be some areas of the nation that are experiencing growth, such as Texas and Indiana, they are the exception.  Within both states, a pro-business attitude has been adopted that has not only encouraged the development of new start-up businesses but also the relocation of companies to those states.  Both states have lowered corporate state taxes, given property tax breaks, and in the case of Texas, included other incentives such as infrastructure redesign to accommodate the needs of the companies relocating into the state.  There are some lessons that can be applied in both cases to Illinois and Kentucky; however, both states remain firmly in the hands of the Democratic Party which has offered no real alternatives for the recovery of the economy of their states or the nation.  Instead of bringing wealth into the state, the states seem bent on additional taxation of the businesses that remain to make up for the budget shortfalls.

 

  1. McMahon, Tim.  (2013) “Current Inflation Rate.” Internet. Accessed on September 23, 2013.  Available at: http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/CurrentInflation.asp; Inflation Calculator. Internet.  Accessed on September 23, 2013,  Available at: http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/

 

Is the Syrian “crisis” a distraction from real domestic issues?

chicago_landscape-1920x1080For the last three weeks the world has heard Mr. Obama, in his capacity of President of the United States, explain why military action is an essential response owed to Syria for their use of chemical weapons.  Even as late as September 6, 2013, the Obama administration claimed that between 1,300 and 1,400 were killed as a result of Assad’s use of chemical weapons.  Since the early days after this tragedy has unfolded, the American Left has clamoured to whip up the drums of war.  Each morning as I wade my way through the various news websites I read, I have seen commentators for CNN, NBC, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post spell out justification of why American military action, even if unilateral, must be considered as the right thing to do.


During Mr. Obama’s first term as president, two of his advisors, Mr. David Axelrod and Mr. Rahm Emanuel were frequently quoted by Fox News and numerous right leaning news sources as claiming that “a good crisis should never go to waste.”  The crisis in Syria leaves little room for doubt that it will become another in a long list of crisis issues that have been used for political gain for the Obama administration. With the House of Representatives still firmly under the control of the Republican Party, it was evident from early news reports that the media and the administration were eager to paint Republican leadership as obstructionist and placing partisan politics before national security. Mr. Obama and his political advisors were more than willing to sacrifice the left elements within the Democratic Party to assure the American voter understood that it is the Republican Party that is the enemy of true national security and not the chemical weapons that may still be in the hands of the Syrian government or those in rebellion against the Assad regime.

Yes, it is a tragedy that 1,400 people have are now dead in Syria. It is a tragedy that men, women, and children were indiscriminately killed by a weapon of war that has been outlawed by numerous treaties.  While it is a worldwide tragedy that such weapons have been used, there are other serious tragedies – some which are within our own cities – that demands attention.  Right now, the United States has seen a near stagnant economy; unemployment remains between seven to eight percent, not because of steady job growth but the sheer number of American workers that are now unemployed and are no longer trying to find employment.  The jobs that are being produced are part time (under 30 hours) and have no prospects of promotion or benefits.   Within Chicago alone, there have been 300 homicides and 1,700 injured during the commission of crimes since January 2013. Added to this is that other  American cities, such as Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles, and Detroit are also experiencing higher homicide rates than was reported a year ago today.

Even today, during a press conference that is scheduled to take place, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to continue to make the case why a military option must remain a valid option for the Obama Administration. This amid new fears of a strengthening recession as the price of crude oil topped $109 per barrel and a report that indicates that the growth of employment opportunities in the current economy has been within the food service industry – women, about a third who hold college degrees – are increasingly employed as waitresses.(1)  The dollar plunged to its lowest trading value in seven months and more economists are alarmed at the continued quantitative easing policy of the fed that is currently fueling the stock market gains.  More Americans are currently receiving food stamp assistance than any other period in American history; 13.6% of current American households receive some sort of food stamp assistance (September 2013) versus 8.6% at the lowest point of the recession in 2008 during the presidency of George W. Bush.(2)  Any of these economic problems is a serious issue by itself; when considered all together, there is the potential for a complete realignment of the Senate in 2014 and the presidency in 2016.

In all fairness, it has been the strategy of nearly every administration to bring national attention and focus to external events as a means to redirect public attention and frustrations away from domestic issues.  During a faltering economy at the end of the nineteenth century, both Democratic and Republican progressives were in favor of the War with Spain as a means to secure more natural resources, to increase foreign trade, and to implement new domestic policies that were designed to limit opposition to much of the progressive agenda. The McKinley and Roosevelt administrations used the War with Spain and the following Philippine War provided an external distraction to the sagging economy, debate over the rights of women and African-Americans, and environmental conservation concerns.

The pattern repeated itself under the administration of Woodrow Wilson and the progressives under his era with American involvement in Europe during World War I.  Woodrow Wilson and his allies had become convinced that a international body of nations – the League of Nations – could solve all future international problems.  It would be his die-hard attempts to mingle the acceptance of the Charter of the League of Nations with the Treaty of Versailles as a means to end World War I in a single treaty that would be his ultimate political and personal failure.  Facing increased public opposition to his War on Poverty, the newly enacted draft, civil rights, and other domestic issues, President Lyndon B. Johnson attempted to concentrate America’s domestic frustrations on the external threat of Vietnam.  While I do realize that this is a pessimistic view of external events as distractions, I still must pose the question, “Why Syria and why now?”

Continued on next page.