Saturday, September 8, 2012

Has Obama Murdered Hope?

Near the opening of The Divine Comedy Dante saw these words  written on the gates of Hell: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” In the original Italian, it reads: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"

It’s a great lead-in for a post about the Obama economic recovery, especially in regard to  unemployment.

Writing in The New York Post John Crudele emphasized that a large number of people had given up the hope of finding a job.

Last month, three times more people abandoned hope than got jobs.

Then, Mort Zuckerman, a man whose trenchant analysis of the Obama record has drawn my interest, wrote that by any metric the nation has fallen into a depression.

Of course, depression or despair is the absence of what Dante’s Italian called speranza, hope.

As the best description of depression has it, when you believe that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t… to the point where you give up trying, you fall into depression.

Zuckerman’s analysis of the numbers behind the numbers is sobering:

First, the number who have abandoned the hope of finding a job:

How many people are out of work but not counted as unemployed because they hadn't sought work in the past four weeks? Eight million. This is the sort of distressing number that turns up when you look beyond the headline number.

He continues, examining the number of chronic unemployed, those who face ever dimmer prospects of finding work:

The alarming numbers proliferate the deeper you look: 40.7% of the people counted as unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or more—that's 5.2 million "long-term" unemployed. Fewer Americans are at work today than in April 2000, even though the population since then has grown by 31 million.

We are still almost five million payrolls shy of where we were at the end of 2007, when the recession began. Think about that when you hear the Obama administration's talk of an economic recovery.

By any measure, Zuckerman says, the Obama stimulus has failed:

In short, the president's ill-designed stimulus program was a failure. For all our other national concerns, and the red herrings that typically swim in electoral waters, American voters refuse to be distracted from the No. 1 issue: the economy. And even many of those who have jobs are hurting, because annual wage increases have dropped to an average of 1.6%, the lowest in the past 30 years. Adjusting for inflation, wages are contracting.

Not only are wages contracting, but older Americans cannot afford to retire. With interest rates kept artificially low, they cannot live on the interest from their savings. Also, they have lost much of their family equity in the declining housing market.

Zuckerman explains:

Older Americans can't afford to quit. Ironically, since the recession began, employment in the age group of 55 and older is up 3.9 million, even as total employment is down by five million. These citizens hope to retire with dignity, but they feel the need to bolster savings as a salve for the stomach-churning decline in their net worth, 75% of which has come from the fall in the value of their home equity.

Moreover, as The New York Times and now Zuckerman notes, most of the new jobs that have been created are bad jobs.

In his words:

Furthermore, the jobs that are available are mostly not good ones. More than 40% of the new private-sector jobs are in low-paying categories such as health care, leisure activities, bars and restaurants.

Among the signs of the depression, the number of people on food stamps and the number of people taking social security disability:

We are experiencing, in effect, a modern-day depression. Consider two indicators: First, food stamps: More than 45 million Americans are in the program! An almost incredible record. It's 15% of the population compared with the 7.9% participation from 1970-2000. Food-stamp enrollment has been rising at a rate of 400,000 per month over the past four years.

Second, Social Security disability—another record. More than 11 million Americans are collecting federal disability checks. Half of these beneficiaries have signed on since President Obama took office more than three years ago.

These dependent millions are the invisible counterparts of the soup kitchens and bread lines of the 1930s, invisible because they get their checks in the mail. But it doesn't take away from the fact that millions of people who had good private-sector jobs now have to rely on welfare for life support.

Reading through these glum statistics one is forced to conclude, echoing Macbeth, that Obama has murdered hope.

Barack Obama ran in 2008 as the Pied Piper of hope. In less than four years he has wiped the optimism from far too many American minds.

How has he done it?

Everyone knows that Obama has rigged the system to favor government over private enterprise, the takers over the givers. He has stifled entrepreneurship with Obamacare and onerous banking regulations.

Second, think about the example that Obama has set. Barack Obama is clearly in over his head; he has set an example of weak and ineffectual leadership, of someone who is floundering.

It is demoralizing to see that your chief executive does not know what he is doing. Think back to Jodi Kantor’s New York Times profile of President Obama.

Regardless of your political proclivities, Kantor, who is most likely an Obama supporter, paints a picture of a man who is so obviously clueless that even she, sympathetic, cannot cover it over.

How does it feel to be a passenger on a ship that is out of control, heading for an iceberg and knowing that the captain is hard at work trying to perfect his pool game or his three-point shot?

Had Obama set the example of someone who is in charge, in control, who knows what he is doing and knows how to do his job, don’t you think that that, in and of itself, would inspire people to do the same.

Put someone who can’t do it at the top of an organization and everyone else will find themselves imbued with a can’t-do spirit.

When you see ineptitude and incompetence at the top, you are more likely to emulate the example.

The best sign of the leadership vacuum was Obama’s need to tell people in his acceptance speech Thursday that he was the president.

Mickey Kaus commented:

I cringed–literally literally, not Biden-literally–when Obama said “I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President,” If you really are the President–i.e., if you’ve filled the role–you don’t have to say “I’m the President.” You don’t let that line get written.

Unfortunately, if you are Barack Obama you do not just let it get written. You probably write it yourself.


Dennis said...

It would seem that the mantra, "It could have been worse is not one to inspire hope and is poorly selected. It follows that "IT could have been better," if Obama knew what he was doing and had this country's citizens best interests at heart.
I am surprised that the young have not figured out that if seniors are staying in the market longer that affects their ability to find work. It would require the young to ask the question as to why seniors, given what the Obama administration has done to their savings and retirement funds, are still in the market. Many of these seniors planned on a nice retirement enjoying their time away from work.
Another question the young might ask is why their parents, the "boomer" generation, took strategic action to walk away from mortgages that helped to create the fiasco in the housing market along with aiding the government forcing banks to make loans that would not have been make under other conditions.
Much of these condition were driven by Clinton and further exacerbated by Obama.

Anonymous said...

Yep, we went from "Hope and Change" to "Despair and Regress," depending on whether you want to treat the antonym of change as a noun or a verb. Obama's current campaign slogan is the socialist's perennial favorite "Forward," while we continue to go backward. There's nothing real about Obama at all. He is a fiction, his campaign is a fiction, his self-congratulatory "recovery" (with all its cherry-picked numbers) is a fiction. Yet what Barack Obama has given us is typical of someone who is a tail-end Baby Boomer. He got the full dose of everything the Baby Boom had to offer. Dante's new line could be "Abandon all hope, ye born after 1964..."

Obama didn't "murder" hope. He gave us the kind of hope the Baby Boomers and their entitled offspring believe in: hope as a vacant, lovely-sounding concept, rather than creating a real environment where hope can thrive. Nobody gets hurt. Nobody has to hear the word “No.” Without limits, hope dies.

Dennis said above that enough Boomers calculatedly abandoned their mortgages and drove the fiasco. Agreed. A sizable minority did, and screwed everyone else. Clinton kicked the whole thing off in the 1990s with his expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act's mandate and putting his cronies in charge of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, much to their own financial benefit and our nation's economic destruction. But these were droplets in a large lake that’s been growing for decades. Expansion of credit, everywhere, has created huge problems. The Baby Boomers disproportionately benefited from all this loose credit, and built their material lives on an economic house of cards, and those after them are going to get the bill.

I read a piece from Peggy Noonan's WSJ weekend column with her interpretation of the Democrat convention. I usually agree with Ms. Noonan, and have great respect for her as a writer. This time, she chose to speak about the Baby Boomers as a generation, rather than specific members of that generation. She talked of Bill Clinton, her generation's political poster boy, as "The Master." She drew several generalizations about the Baby Boomers' present travails, and those generalizations cannot go unanswered.

See my 2nd post below…

Anonymous said...


Ms. Noonan's weekend column (“The Democrats Soft Extremism”) talks about the "shallow, selfish" caricature of the Baby Boomers, and how they are now "holding the country together." She describes these Boomers as "stressed, stretched and largely uncomplaining." She goes on to say that Boomers are "financially and spiritually holding the country together." She says they're "the only generation not allowed to complain," and on she goes... complaining. Her point is that Clinton "put Medicaid into play" for this election. Of course. Clinton the triangulating political master is going to pander to the selfish interests of Baby Boomers and get them to think of their pocket book. The message is clear: y'all have an opportunity to put one more item on the national credit card, and it's a biggie. Barack Obama will make sure this happens, and you'll have gone through your whole lives without having the responsibility of citizenship. What a great deal, huh?

What a load of crap. I cannot express in strong enough terms what rubbish this is. The Baby Boomers have received so many cultural and economic benefits the past 40 years with their demographic superiority. Now they're at the (predictable) point of the human life cycle where they have to take care of others, with their elderly parents experiencing life changes and supporting their grown children. I feel no pity for them. What I accept as a personal failing is that I have no compassion for them, either.

I've grown up listening to Baby Boomers go on and on about how they were going to change the world, how they stopped the war in Vietnam, how they enjoyed unrestrained sex until AIDS came along, how they fueled the boom-boom 1980s economy, how they were discriminated against in the 1990s when corporate America axed middle management, and listened to their bragging about their trophy kids and the prestigious colleges they went to. During the Baby Boom journey, they were spoiled as Dr. Spock children, rocked and rolled through their coming of age experience, were spared the military draft, got access to contraception/abortion, had another Baby Boom, drugged their own kids with Ritalin, asked your parents to raise them while you worked so your life had "meaning," set your parents up in nursing homes, demanded low taxes when it came time they had to pay them, ignored deficits, and otherwise ran up the Federal credit card. And LO! now we find out that there are consequences to all this. Just like Baby Boomers, they're surprised. "Whoa, that timeline just went from really groovy to really heavy, man." They've never had to deal with consequences. Responsibilities? That's someone else's problem. Kick the can down the road. Generation X, Y and Z can pick up the bill, just like Fletch did to the Underhills.

Now they want my sorrow because they have responsibilities? Certainly they must be kidding. Their generation is what made an empty suit like Barack Obama possible... a generation so in touch with its spiritual feelings and love of swooning oratory that they bought into this guy hook, line and sinker. There's no "there" there. It's not real. It's never been real. Just like everything the Baby Boomers have touched. I'm sorry, Ms. Noonan, but your description of the Boomer generation's real interest in Medicaid and how it's going to need to be there to finance your parents' nursing home bills is falling on deaf ears. You wanna know why? Because you expect the younger people to pick up the tab! It's the same old story.

See 3rd post below…

Anonymous said...


I've got a better idea: Maybe you can take one lesson from ancient human history (that's pre-1946) and make a spare bedroom available for your aging loved ones to live in and be cared for in dignity... by YOU. Oops, I forgot, you can't do that because the extra bedroom is occupied by your entitled little Millennial golden child who needs your help to "get a start in the world." Give me peace. Kick the fully fledged offspring out of the nest so you can demonstrate to them how you care for your elders. Remember, in between nostalgic viewings of "American Graffiti" on your 60-inch HDTV, you might think far enough ahead to realize that someday you'll need to be cared for, too.

I'm a Gen X'er. I'm not a victim. I'm making my way through life like everyone else, and I'm not asking for you to feel sorry for me or offer a handout. That said, I do become bitter (bordering on enraged) when I hear Baby Boomers lamenting about how difficult their circumstances are. Get with the program. You're the only generation that convinced yourselves that the game of life was supposed to be easy, and that others should catered to (and fully fund) your every whim. Everyone born after 1964 has had to clean up after you, and we expect we're going to have to until well after you pass into the great beyond. Don’t worry, we'll do our job. We won't let you down. We'll pay for the programs you expect under the existing social contract (notice Paul Ryan’s proposal exempts those 55+). But for the sake of your own dignity, keep your whining to yourselves. If you keep it up, you'll end up with nothing, because that may be all our nation has left before you're done.

Is this just a 3-post rant? Perhaps. But the Baby Boom media gave up holding politicians accountable, so long as they weren’t Democrats and those with fringe/loony/lefty positions. I don’t hear a lot of people talking about this stuff.

Thanks for the inspiration, Stuart.


Nick Carter M. said...

They also divorced at a higher rate than any other generation.

Probably their most destructive behavior.

Obama's poll numbers are up. Yikes! Obama is a joke, I can't believe the double standard he enjoys at the expense of the country.

Jehovah help us.

Dennis said...


Someone who has as little use for the 'Baby Boomers" as I do only I am older than they are and I think it a sin how they have treated those who have to follow them. I have watched them destroy almost everything they have touched. They have destroyed the family, morals, degraded a college degree, made public education a farce, killed millions of children to satisfy their own desire to self actualize and are in the process of destroying a country that used to be free. They did it all by spending other people's money and putting the following generations in debt so far that my grandchildren will be lucky to be able to afford to live in this country.
Are we better off because of the 60's generation? The answer to that is NO in most cases. This may sound like generational warfare, but is that not what the "Boomers" have been committing on succeeding generations by not every taking responsibility and saddling those who follow with mountains of debt.

Dennis said...

Do we have better racial relations in this country?
Do we have better gender relations in this country?
Do we have less violence in this country?
Do we have less wars?
Do we have a freer country?
Do we have a better education system than existed before?
Do we have more civility?
Do we have better neighborhoods?
Are our children safer from those who would prey upon them?
Do marriages last longer?
Do people show others more respect?
Do we have a market place for ideas?
Do we have a place for Freedom OF Religion?
Do we have a government that provides only those services that are essential and let the states and its citizen become the best they can be thereby enriching us all.
Does our art, music, et al reflect the strengths of our culture?
For that matter do we still have an American culture?
Do we still have that "melting pot" made up of the richness of favors provided by a stew of combined flavors or do we have a fraying "Coat of many colors?"
Do we honor and respect the success of others and want to strive to accomplish that very same success ourselves?
Are we the engine of new and innovative ideas that help to make people's lives better?
I could go on with a larger number of questions, metrics of a healthy society, but one needs to recognize what the Clintons, Obamas and so called Democrats have done to us and what they are doing to our children. When they say, "Its for the children," the only children they are talking about is themselves.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Great questions, Dennis... they articulate the issue as well as I have seen anyone do it!!

Dennis said...

Thanks Stuart. I would posit that the Clintons, Obamas and the so called Democrats have militated against the solutions to these problems they have exacerbated on purpose. Once people find out, no matter their sex or racial makeup, that they have the capability and capacity to succeed then the Left is done.