Walter Williams had a particularly mind-numbing column in WND a while ago right before the big bailout bill debacle which reminded me a bunch of the "blacks shouldn't complain about slavery because at least they weren't being eaten by lions" dreck you sometimes see out in dark corners of the blogosphere. Except Walter's was about the economy and how we should have some perspective about things. The basic argument seems to revolve around the theory that people only have the right to be pissed off about things once per century.
Sen. John McCain took his economic adviser, former Sen. Phil Gramm, to the woodshed for saying that America had "become a nation of whiners" and described the current slowdown as a "mental recession." Had Sen. Gramm added that economically today's Americans are better off than at any time in our history, he might have lost his job altogether. Let's look at it.
Dr. W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, in the July/August 2008 edition of The American, have an article titled "How Are We Doing?" Wages and income are frequently used to measure progress, but Cox and Alm say that a better measure is consumption. For example, while gasoline prices have skyrocketed, the average worker has to work about two hours to earn enough to purchase 10 gallons. In 1935, it was six hours and in 1950, over two hours. A basket of groceries that took four hours of work in 1950 to purchase now takes 1.7 hours. Annual hours of work have fallen from 1,903 in 1950 to 1,531 today. Real total compensation – wages plus fringe benefits, both adjusted for inflation – have been rising steadily for several generations. Fringe benefits have become a greater share of our earnings, thus dampening statistics on wage increases.
So, the fact that workers make more than they do seventy-plus years ago means that we should ignore all economic problems now. Yeah, I'm sure people losing their homes are going to take a lot of comfort from the fact that if they lived 100 years ago they would be made into indentured servants of their bank instead of being let off so easy by "just"becoming homeless. What lucky times we live in. Incidentally, wasn't the car still a largely unaffordable luxury back in 1935 (particularly given that it was right in the middle of the Depression)? This is like telling someone mad that his car died that "at least you don't have to get to work on a mule!"
Today's Americans are healthier than ever. In 1950, life expectancy was 67 compared with today's 78. Death rates from diseases, once considered a death sentence, are in steep decline. With advances in medicine and medical technology we're receiving much better health care.Hey, and we don't even have to deal with things like Black Plague, either! (Just SARS and poisoned pet food from China.)
Recall that during President Carter's last year in office in 1980 what was called the "misery index," which was defined as the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates, was about 22 percent: inflation averaged 14 percent; unemployment was 7.5 percent. Today's inflation just became 5 percent, having been between 1 and 3 percent for a decade, and unemployment is 6.1. Cox and Alm say that today's problems "will turn out to be mere footnotes in a longer-term march of progress." They add that, "Since 1982, the United States has been in recession for a mere 16 months, the present slowdown notwithstanding. Over that period, the country more than doubled its inflation-adjusted output of goods and services and created jobs for an additional 50 million workers."
How about the fact that our National Debt is presently over 10 trillion dollars and grows over 500 billion a year? Under what "big picture" circumstances will that become a footnote? Nuclear winter? Discovering oil underneath the Capitol?
Things are not nearly as gloomy as the pundits say. Most of today's economic problems, whether it's energy, health care costs, financial problems, budget deficits or national debt, are caused by policies pursued by the White House and Congress.Oh good, well, since they're "just" caused by the government, clearly we don't need to worry about them. Brilliant. I sure am glad Walter wasn't around in the 1920s to convince suffragettes that since we already had the 15th Amendment that fighting for a19th would just be greedy.
Lest you think Walter is the only loose screw over at WND, well, you'd be mistaken. Jack Cashill has been beating his chest since July that Obama did not write his autobiography "Dreams from my Father." Who knows, maybe he's even right. Obama would certainly not be the first politician to have used a ghostwriter. But what's so great about Cashill is his dead certainty about who the ghostwriter MUST have been:
As I have documented earlier, one thread that ties Ayers to "Dreams" is the repeated use of maritime metaphors throughout both books, a testament to Ayers' anxious year as a merchant seaman.
I re-examined the one relentless linguistic thread that ties Ayers' "Fugitive Days" to Obama's "Dreams," a thread that leads back to Bill Ayers's stint, after dropping out of college, a merchant seaman.
The experience had a powerful impact on Ayers... Although Ayers has tried to put his anxious ocean-going days behind him, the language of the sea will not let him go.
"I realized that no one else could ever know this singular experience," Ayers writes of his maritime adventures. Yet curiously, much of this same nautical language flows through Obama's earth-bound memoir.
...In reading Ayers, one senses that he is unaware how deeply his seagoing affects his language. "Memory sails out upon a murky sea," he writes at one point.
Indeed, both he and Obama are obsessed with memory and its instability. Obama also has a fondness for the word "murky" and its aquatic usages.
"The unlucky ones drift into the murky tide of hustles and odd jobs," he writes, one of four times "murky" appears in "Dreams." Ayers and Obama also speak often of waves and wind, Obama at least a dozen times on wind alone.
"The wind wipes away my drowsiness, and I feel suddenly exposed," he writes in a typical passage. Both also make conspicuous use of the word "flutter."
Not surprisingly, Ayers uses "ship" as a metaphor with some frequency. Early in the book, he tells us that his mother is the "the captain of her own ship," not a substantial one either but "a ragged thing with fatal leaks" launched into a "sea of carelessness."
Obama, too, finds himself "feeling like the first mate on a sinking ship." He also makes a metaphorical reference to "a tranquil sea."
More intriguing is Obama's unusual use of the word "ragged" as an adjective as in the highly poetic "ragged air" or "ragged laughter."
Both books use "storms" and "horizons" both as metaphor and as reality. Ayers writes poetically of an "unbounded horizon," and Obama writes of "boundless prairie storms" and multiple horizons – "violet," "eastern," "western."
In "Dreams," we read of the "whole panorama of life out there" and in "Fugitive Days," "the whole weird panorama."
Ayers often speaks of "currents" and "pockets of calm" as does Obama, who uses both as nouns as in "a menacing calm" or "against the current" or "into the current."
The metaphorical use of the word "tangled" might also derive from one's nautical adventures. Ayers writes of his "tangled love affairs" and Obama of his "tangled arguments."
On at least 12 occasions, Obama speaks of "despair," as in the "ocean of despair." Ayers speaks of a "deepening despair," a constant theme for him as well. Obama's "knotted, howling assertion of self" sounds like something straight from the pages of "The Sea Wolf."
In Obama's defense, he did grow up in Hawaii. Still, he gives little hint of having spent time at the beach or on any kind of real ship, and yet his memoir is awash in aquatic imagery.
Wow, let's hope Cashill never develops a grudge against Nathaniel Philbrick; he'll probably accuse him of having Ayers write his books, too.