Ed Driscoll

2009: A Forgotten Man Odyssey

11-09-unemployment1

This headline by Jim Hoft of Gatway Pundit sounds like something out of Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man,  her 2007 look at FDR’s Great Depression:

“No Justice-No Peace… Dems Plan Jobs March On Washington to Protest Their Own Failed Policies.”

Blogger “Snark and Boobs” (and in this instance, that’s likely not a nickname that one would have seen in the mid-1930s!) adds, “Democrats Threaten to Protest…Themselves!”

Democrat Representatives are threatening to stage a protest. Of themselves. You cannot make this stuff up.

Members of President Obama’s own political party are charging that the White House and the Democratic Congressional leadership are not doing enough to help the unemployed and are threatening to organize a march on Washington of jobless Americans.

Hey, instead of kedoodling around and marching, why don’t you, I don’t know, govern? Perhaps stop wasting time on ridiculous schemes that no one wants and that will debilitate our country and its economy further? Perhaps stop regulating and taxing good companies out of business? Perhaps get a damn clue? I know it’s hard since many of you haven’t worked a day in the private sector in your lives, but it’s time to not just put on big boy pants, but to also act like big boys.

“Obviously there’s something that’s not getting through to them,” said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois. “And we’re going to let the White House and everybody who’s concerned know that we have got people in our districts who are depending on us to deliver for them.”

Not getting through — to yourselves?! Well, luckily it IS getting through to your fellow Americans. You might want to wait and organize your jobless march for November of 2010 when y’all will be given the big old boot. Oh man, that really will be FUNemployment to me.

Last year, about a month before the Obamalection, Mark Steyn (shortly before beginning his new second gig of cutting Christmas CDs; his new one is just out) presciently wrote:

Lots of other places — from Britain to Australia — took a hit in 1929 but, alas, they lacked an FDR to keep it going till the end of the Thirties. That’s why in other countries they refer to it as “the Depression,” but only in the U.S. is it “Great.”

Exactly, and history repeats itself, as last month saw the following headline:

“Unemployment Skyrockets: ‘U.S. now beating European unemployment rates'”

And while those who cannot learn from history are condemned to hear George Santayana quoted to them for the rest of their lives, as his partner in punditry at NRO is wont to say, Investor’s Business Daily ponders if by also forgetting history, America itself could be doomed to “A Lost Decade for U.S. Growth:”

Some – like economist Paul Krugman – say the answer is still more stimulus spending, which would revive the economy, boost government revenues and thereby shrink the deficits. But this has been tried – and it failed spectacularly.

Remember Japan? After decades of rapid economic growth, in 1990 it entered a recession – which began, just as ours did, with a collapse in real estate prices and the stock market. Rather than slashing taxes, Japan decided to “stimulate” its economy – just as our $787 billion “stimulus” was meant to do.

Infrastructure spending was key. During the ’90s, Japan increased spending on infrastructure from 6.5% of GDP to 8.3%, the equivalent of a 28% real rise in infrastructure outlays.

After 10 stimulus packages, Japan had little to show for its efforts. It was what economists call a “lost decade.” During the ’90s, its economy grew a paltry 0.5% a year – way down from a 3%-plus average in the preceding 20 years. And its net wealth plunged by $16 trillion, more than three times the size of the Japanese economy.

Japan does have one lingering legacy from this: a total debt of roughly 200% of GDP, the developed world’s highest. This will hinder Japan’s economy and, along with aging demographics, slow economic and productivity growth for the rest of this century. We’d be wise not to follow suit.

So what should we do? Start by cutting unnecessary spending. There is no rationale for it. It’s absurd to suggest that taxing people and then wasting the money is a good idea.

The Government Accountability Office recently reported that upward of $100 billion in U.S. federal spending has no economic benefit at all. Private think tanks have identified upward of $700 billion in spending that serves no economic purpose. Let’s cut it.

And to get the economy going again, try tax cuts. Looking at OECD countries from 1970 to 2007, a study by economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna concluded: “Fiscal stimuli based upon tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than those based upon spending increases.” Yes, we’ve said it before: Tax cuts work.

In fact, they have worked time and time again, here and elsewhere. Yet it’s the one policy this administration refuses to consider. It’s time to consider a change of course on our road to fiscal ruin.

Otherwise animated unemployment charts such as this, and this mid-year version, whose final images looks like a game of Missile Command gone awry, are only going to get uglier, no matter how loud the fist-banging, or worse, fist-punching gets at the Democrats’ next blue-on-blue jobs protest.