The Strawman Returns – Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold

October 8, 2012


Posted initially at Illinois Review on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012.

As expected President Obama is back in stride, angry and animated, continuing to attack the strawman, Mitt Romney, for things he never said.  Obama’s morning speech at George Mason University (Virginia) on Friday, October 5th says it all.   At least Clint Eastwood had the courtesy to provide a chair for the person in absentia!

In the President, we see a man who cannot stand up to anyone who challenges him, and won’t even tolerate it from people who should be advising him, rather than cowering in the corner. We’ve all known men who would talk big in front of their supporters (or subjects), then flee from confrontation. It’s called “Leading from behind.” Real leaders don’t crow about what they are going to do, they just get things done. They inspire their followers by leading the charge.
We know that Mitt Romney rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics from ruin, a cesspool of corruption and accusations of bribery. Typical of Governor Romney, he did not repeat these accusations made either before or after he made that event a success. He made it work without playing the “blame game.”

Mitt Romney used the same principles of leadership to rescue hundreds of companies, save thousands of jobs, through the investments and governance of Bain Capital. Did some fail? You bet! Companies like Bain Capital are like doctors – they only treat the sick patients, and not all get well. In Bain’s case, 80% of their “patients” did get well, and those that didn’t survived years longer than expected. Medical doctors should do as well.    .

Contrast Mitt Romney, as a former governor of Massachusetts and one who turned many companies around to make them financial successes, with a man who never ran a business or headed a state, but who served as a unimpressive IL state senator before his short stint as a U.S. senator from Illinois before becoming president..

We’re going to continue to hear a lot about the drop in unemployment from 8.1% to 7.8% in the most recent tally. ( It looks good for the President, even though 7.8% is still pretty grim.

Unfortunately, the tally system is almost meaningless.  It does not deal well with an economic system which is turned upside down and inside out. Furthermore, the “corrected” September figures won’t be released until November 5, just a day before the General Election.  By that time many Americans will have already voted by mail or by Early Voting.

The ugly truth is that the 114,000 jobs added in September are not enough to keep up with monthly population growth. The unemployment rate of 7.8 is exactly where it was back when Barack Obama took office in 2008, yet the economy has still not recovered all the jobs lost before Obama’s inauguration.  Only 4.3 million have been added back out of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the financial crisis, and the job pool has grown by another 3 million with the population.  The administration’s forecast upon taking office was an unemployment rate of 5.8%  at the end of Obama’s first term.

Question to ponder:

*How does the unemployment rate fall, when the number of new jobs has fallen steadily from the beginning of the year, each year for three years running?

*How do 114,000 “new jobs” jive with the fact that nearly 370,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week alone?…

*The fact that there are fewer people employed than when the President’s term began 2008?

*The fact that for over 11 million people who should be working are now idle or working part-time, compared to 2008?

How indeed? Simple!  We rig the accounting system. (…) You are not “unemployed” unless you respond to a survey that you are still looking for work. You don’t have to respond personally. Anyone in the household surveyed can respond for you. Since the survey is conducted by phone, those without phones are not included. The 7.8% number was based on a survey of fewer than 5000 households with an estimated error (reliability) of 10%.

The “Jobs Created” number is even more confused. It is based on a survey of about 150,000 companies, then adjusted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the Executive Branch, to correct it for “seasonal” variances. “Variance” is not synonymous with ” variation”. It is an economic term which means, tongue-in-cheek, the difference between the actual data and what you would like it to be. This number does not indicate the quality of job – burning burgers or building an airplane are both jobs – nor does it reflect the increase in government jobs, which contribute strongly to reducing the unemployment figure. Without making accusations, who controls the government hiring, and who would benefit from a short term boost a month before the election?

Equally important, labor statistics don’t allow for the steady increase in population, consequently the number of jobs needed to maintain the same level of employment. If we don’t “create” 200M to 250M new jobs each month, we are actually falling behind. We may be running in the right direction, but we’re getting lapped by the pack. The horse we’re betting on stopped to graze. 

If the economy were a horse race, would we stay the course?,” as President Obama asks voters to do this Fall, or would we tear up the ticket?   It would be folly to expect that horse to win, place or show, and disastrous for this nation to allow Obama’s failed policies of the past four years to continue!


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