Things Change (For Some of Us)

Jeff Alworth

I was listening to a podcast of a batch of talking heads recently.  It doesn't actually matter which heads are talking, of course--they all say the same things.  The left-wing talking heads (who are really center-right Democrats) talk about the very dire circumstances the country is in and how it will take drastic, radical action to change it.  The right-wing talking heads continue to invoke incantations that once fooled the media types who hired them (if not the languishing middle class, falling ever closer to lower-middle): mumble mumble "tax cuts," murmur murmur "spending cuts" grumble grumble "damn unions."  I'm not sure if it's because the talking heads still think the bankrupt ideas have the power to move opinion or because they got nothin' else, but it's always the same.  Usually delivered with the derision that carried them through the bullying early aughts.

But things do change.  Pew has a rather shocking report out on just how much.  Some of this is blatant contraction to the talking heads' prattle:

                                         2000     2008
                                      (Clinton)  (Bush)

Satisfied with how things are going      55%      13%

Approve of President's performance       61%      24%
Think history will judge pres favorably  44%      11%


But there are a few facts here so stark no amount of demagoguing can erase them.  These aren't opinion, but the kind of statistics that tell the tale of the Bush catastrophe.  Every time a conservative talks about the massive growth of prosperity under Bush, recall these stats:


                               2000              2008
US GPD (2000 dollars)      $9.8 trillion    
$11.7 trillion
Per capita GDP (2000 $)      $34,700           $38,500 
Median income (2007 $)       $50,557           $50,233
Unemployment rate              3.9%             
Consumer debt              $1.7 trillion     $2.6 trillion
National debt              $5.7 trillion     $10.0 trillion

Bushonomics wrought this: vast wealth for the very rich through deficit spending and huge debt for the rest of us.  While the rich got richer (citing rising per capita incomes is a favorite lie of the right), the middle class got poorer (a fact falling median incomes explains). 

Until the media can find some conservatives with opinions that are not verifiably insane, I've listened to my last podcast.  Things have changed so dramatically that we now face a crisis not seen since the 1930s.  Yet for Republicans, it's 2001 all over again.

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    Jeff, do you know what the unadjusted per capita and median income comparisons are in absolute dollars? Just wondering.

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    No, JV, I just grabbed the stats from the Pew piece. I suppose you could calculate backward with a currency calculator--or Google it.

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    Sorry, I meant inflation calculator.

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    This is a great summary. You might add this:

    '92-2000: Employment growth 16.6 million Civilians not in labor force growth 5.3 million

    '200-2008: Employment growth 7.4 million Civilians not in labor force growth 10.2 million

    This says that during the Bush years job growth was less than half of the Clinton years while the number of people not in the labor force doubled the growth of the Clinton era.


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