Friday, May 06, 2005

Faith-Based Economy 

I’m trying hard to make sense of the economic news. Granted, I’m no economist, and I’m lousy at capitalism, but I’m reasonably intelligent and should be able to figure this out. Unless the idea is to make it so complicated that nobody can figure it out.

First, jobs were added in April, but mostly from what I can tell, McJobs in the “retail and service sectors,” while manufacturing is still tanking. So, jobs that don’t pay well or carry benefits are being added.

Yet, “consumer confidence” is down, and unemployment remains the same.

The logic of this defies me. If consumers aren’t buying, how in the hell are jobs being added in retail and services? Unless we’re talking about dollar stores and Waljobs (which is like a job, but not really). And how does unemployment stay the same when jobs are being added? It must be a numbers game. Especially when I hear about all of these massive layoffs.

Economic growth is dropping, but productivity is up. So, more people are working harder to produce more, but that doesn’t translate into growth. Huh? And, in my simple mind, if the jobs that are mostly available are in retail or service, what the hell are these workers producing at a greater rate? Ten McBurgers a minute instead of five? Five shoe sales an hour instead of three?

And the stock market wankers are excited about this. Why? They make more money on their stocks when the workers are getting screwed, I guess.

Wait, if most folks are spending more and more of their income on housing and fuel, how are they affording burgers and shoes? Maybe the retail and service industries include credit card companies? You know, those folks who call the poor schmucks who are late on their payments with threatening messages?

Most people I know who are lucky enough to have decent jobs still live from check to check, and who would be mad enough to live on credit unless they absolutely had to, especially with the new screw-the-sick-and-poor bankruptcy “reform”? Even those with benefits are one serious illness away from going down in flames, and there is no help for those who are employed but don’t have benefits. A diabetic friend of mine was hospitalized following a bout of flu that left his metabolism all out of whack, his kidneys shutting down, and all other manner of badness. He was employed making about $24K at a non-profit and was already signed up with one of those credit counseling places to make reduced payments to creditors. No benefits, but he “made too much” to qualify for any kind of aid. So they wanted to stiff him for $200 a month to pay off a $12,000 hospital bill. He was barely making enough to scrape by already, living with friends, buying insulin and test strips and such without script insurance, making his payments to the credit counseling place. He eventually went bankrupt, and just in time, too. You can bet he was on the phone and mail, but that bastard Salazar voted for the bill anyway, along with 72 other Dems.

I know, none of this is news. But I heard all this chirping on the radio this morning about the "great economic news" and began throwing things and ranting.

The economy is GOOD? Good for whom? Arrrggghh! Sorry. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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