Obama’s 8.1% Funhouse Mirror!

Do you know anyone who has been seeking work in the last several months, and has suddenly found openings?

Since hardly any jobs were added to the economy in April, your answer is probably “no.” I know mine is.

And yet, the headlines are blaring that unemployment is down to 8.1%!

So, no jobs to speak of are being added, in fact — as Ed Morrissey notes here, our total employment level actually fell by 169K — and yet the unemployment numbers sound encouraging!

Welcome to the funhouse mirror of the Obama Presidency, as reflected (and protected) in the mainstream press.

It’s a game. The press understands all too well the power of a headline in creating perceptions. Outside of news junkies and the moderately curious, there are huge numbers of people who read a headline or a lede — or listen to a 30-second soundbite — and figure that’s the news; that’s what’s true. They don’t bother to read what is (and often is not) spelled out further in the story, and they never know about corrections to the blaring headlines of last week.

Yes, there’s power in that; it’s not an absolute power, because alternative media exists, but it’s enough power to corrupt.

A headline or a soundbite or a bellowing broadcaster, in the tank for Obama and touting an “improved 8.1% unemployment rate” simply makes it so, for many. Repeat a distortion often enough, it becomes “true” for enough people to make a difference.

Here is a difference you should know about:

In April the number of people not in the labor force rose by a whopping 522,000 from 87,897,000 to 88,419,000. This is the highest on record. The flip side, and the reason why the unemployment dropped to 8.1% is that the labor force participation rate just dipped to a new 30 year low of 64.3%.

So, 64% of the nation is working. Some more of this “improvement” and soon we’ll get that down to 55%.

And yet, somehow, government programs are going to take care of all those people who are not working (and address its soaring deficit), from the reduced tax revenues gleaned from a reduced workforce which is already being squeezed every which way. Somehow a government with 1950′s tax revenues is going to afford 2012 entitlements. Forever.

Was it really only six years ago — just before Mrs. Pelosi brought her clown gavel to Congress — that the NY Times was reporting record high tax revenues that were actually curbing the deficit because people had jobs and payroll taxes were being collected?

The president has squandered his term in office; instead of using stimulus monies to create genuine “shovel-ready” jobs that he later said didn’t exist, he allocated the money to cronies hyping “green” endeavors that quickly went belly up, and to the public service, unionized sectors upon whose votes he relies. Instead of focusing on job-creation and reaching out to the business community, he focused on ramming through an unpopular healthcare bill, demonizing corporate job-creators or over-regulating small businesses.

With Obama, what you get is always the exact opposite from what you need. His presidency is the personification of disorientation. Which is why fewer people working translates into lower unemployment numbers. Nothing actually makes any sense at all, and hasn’t for some time — at least not since the press decided that the best person to elevate onto their shoulders and shove into the White House was a fellow so secretive he wouldn’t even release his college transcripts, a guy with little experience in governance and no experience in business or finance, but with a real sharp crease in his pants.

But hey, unemployment is 8.1%! Things are getting better. “Change is slow”, but of course things are getting better; don’t believe your own stinking eyes as your kids come back to live with you because they can’t find a job; don’t believe your own stinking eyes when you take over their student loans because — since they can’t find jobs — they can’t pay their bills.

So much of what is wrong with this country right now can be laid at the feet of a mainstream press that no longer wants to do its job, and has not wanted to for, oh, a good while, now.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    You’re right. The media are misleading, and in my opinion consiously so to support Obama’s re-election chances. It’s up to people who want to spread the truth to get out the message. This is going to hurt Obama in the long run for two reasons. Once the truth comes out, the media will have to acknowledge it, and the real voter, the one that goes beyond the media, will become cynical of whatever Obama says. That will undermine Obama’s over all message. Second, the piss poor job growth will show up in the numbers eventually. Economic growth is supposed to be at 2.2%. That’s the current today. The trend is not going up. 2.2% is not good, and by election day it may be around 1%. It was supposed to be at 3% today. No one (well, very few) will be hiring with that kind of growth expectations. The numbers will be worse for Obama as we go through the summer. And the jobless people, since they can’t afford to spend, will continue to be a drag on the economy.

    If that’s the hope and change you were expecting in 2008, how do you like it now?

  • Klaire

    I was just out running an errend and Rush was on the radio. I heard him say that the youth unemployment rate is 25%, longest and highest since the great depression. Imagine that, and yet those bamboozled college kids (at least many of them), cheer him like he’s a rock start. Rush also reported that if the jobs that were lost were factored in, the true employment rate is over 11%.

  • http://www.friendsofportia.blogspot.com Judith L

    Truth to power! Thank heavens for the internet! Thank heavens for The Anchoress!

  • Katherine

    I’m sorry to drop a cliché on your site, my dear Anchoress, but who are you going to believe the government or your own lying eyes?
    Look around at all the commercial space for lease, look at Kraft Mac n Cheese has shrunk the macaroni; a 12 oz. package of Nestle chocolate chips is now 11 oz.
    Everything not securely attached to the government teat is feeling the squeeze. And that’s just the way they want it.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    Nice to see you’ve picked up on Michael Moore here. It’s well known that unemployment rates don’t reflect the ratio of people who are actually working. They haven’t for years, going back a few presidents at least. It’s indeed likely that unemployment rates are hovering around Depression-Era levels–probably the high teens. But the federal government–both parties–and their donors in Big Business don’t want people to get upset, to wonder too hard about it, and such.

    I welcome the kind of scrutiny some conservatives have begun to bring to Western culture. We can only hope you maintain your skepticism when or if the GOP can overcome its mismanagement of government in the last decade and get elected to high office again.

    Since we’re all on shorter rations these days, do you know of any businesses actually tightening their belt, and hiring a person in need of a job? Why are we waiting for our Corporate Masters to do what they’re clearly unwilling to do? How many jobs will your main street bakery ship overseas? Likely less than Mitt Romney.

  • MarkC

    In our current context, fascism may be alternately described as either liberals clinging to power or liberals in a hurry. We are experiencing soft fascism propped up on a bed of deceit ..

  • Fiestamom

    Klaire, did you hear Rush play Cher singing “HalfBreed?” at first, I thought it was a parody, b/c The “Cher” voice was too over the top, and it IS Cher. lol hilarious theme song for Elizabeth Warren,though.

    I so wish the media would just tell. The.truth! If I only had a dollar for every time I’ve thought “what if Bush had done x?” since january 2009.

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  • DWiss

    Years ago – more than 20 – I worked for a man who warned me that the day would come when more people took from the system than contributed, and that day would mark the beginnig of the end of the United States as it was conceived. I thought the guy was a nut. Guess what. The day has arrived. Polls say that half or more of voters will again vote for Obama in November. People like him; they think he’s done a good job. I suppose that many of the young people in the 25% who are unemployed (Klaire’s Rush reference above) don’t much mind sleeping in their old bedrooms and having Mom do their laundry. Beats workin’. And if they can get health insurance from Dad’s employer until age 26, what’s the rush? Productive, self-supporting people are on the wane. The govermment openly campaigns against them. The first lady proudly brags that her husband’s shot against the Catholic church in favor of “women’s health” was progress. Economic results are a horror (if you bother to dig for the truth), and worsening. This year we will spend a trillion dollars more than we have to spend. A trillion. One year. We’re already 15 trillion+ in debt. Nothing is being done. Obama’s big idea is to raise taxes on the rich. OK, but that incremental difference in revenue will re-pay the debt in 500 years. No kidding. So that’s not a real proposal, it’s just more social warfare. If we raise taxes enough to matter we’ll crush the economy. But at least as many voters want this man to serve another four years as will vote to replace him. ‘Cause he’s doin’ a good job, dontcha know. Friends, we are so hard over the barrel now that only prayer will help. Romney is not the answer; no mere mortal is. That’s the truth of how bad it is. So pray. Pray for Obama’s defeat in November and that the constituancy will realize that the government doesn’t have the solution – to anything.

  • Don

    Well, the news media aren’t actually lying, because the “unemployment rate” never has been “the number of people not working”. It has always been the number of people out of work who are “actively seeking employment”. It might behoove the media to mention this once in a while, but most likely the staff writers who put these stories together don’t understand the nuances of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I don’t know about now, but at one time unemployment rates also did not include farm workers. Interestingly, the news casts I listened to this morning (I live in Canada) mentioned the drop in the US unemployment rate in the financial news and said that the drop was due primarily to people dropping out of the job search market.

  • Will

    The news I listen to, or read, often mentions that many unemployed and underemployed have dropped out of the official job market and statistics.

    Oh well, Mr. Romney and the new Congress will fix most of the problems.

    [I doubt anyone actually believes that, but the hopes are that someone, somewhere will actually think about ways to help create some jobs. -admin]

  • Klaire

    Yes Fiestamom, I did catch the “Half Breed” Cher song right before I got back home from my errand. It cracked me up. I’m not a regular Rush listener, but I have to admit, the 15-20 minutes I listened to today were quite funny, informative, and entertaining.

    He also mentioned that the lower interest rates had a big impact on jobs not being created. I’m not sure I agree that it’s more than the impact of Obamacare, because I talk to CEO’s all the time, and I can’t even tell you how much money is on the sidelines. Between excessive regulations (which end of taking the place of job slots)and the wild card O’care, most companies are simply too afraid to make hires or spend much money.

    I predict that if O’care is overturned by SCOTUS, the floodgates will open like the Goldrush. To quote a former Treasury Sec, “We are only one great leader away from a mind blowing recovery.” We might be better if it’s overturned by electing Romney and a majority house. My fear is if SCOTUS overturns it, the economy will come roaring back, just long enough for Obama to get re elected and destroy us again with his next 4 years. Many won’t understand thgat Obama Policies are the problem.

  • Gerry

    Oh yeah, the economy is improving! That explains why I only worked 11 hours this week at my job. And why I haven’t worked a 40 hour week in months.

  • Steve

    Well said Ms. Scalia. The most disheartening thing of all is that the press is so corrupted but at least half the people don’t know or don’t care. So this rat……. gets away with his conniving and jiving. I foresee terrible trouble.

  • doc

    So, Will, Dan, and Todd, can I assume you are in favor of removing job-killing restrictions on oil drilling and refining in this country? You are all tuned in to the facts, it seems, and must surely be aware that encouraging the oil industry would very quickly produce thousands of good, and often union, jobs. If we get a Romney presidency and a Republican senate, and these changes take place, would the Republicans then deserve the credit for pumping the economy back to life after gas prices fall following the anticipated rise in supply?

  • MaryS

    Every couple of weeks, I find myself thinking: “Surely, they’ve jumped the shark now!” – such as when a co-ed whined on national TV about not being able to afford her Pill. But unemployment at 8.1%?!?? Aren’t they afraid that somebody will notice how unbelievable that is??

    I hate to think what’s next…

  • Will

    Good luck with those gas prices falling, Doc.

    I live less than two miles from a 820,0000-plus gallon oil pipeline leak that occurred in 2010. They are still cleaning up the river. Yeah, let us have fewer restrictions.

  • Will

    That should have been 820,000-plus gallon oil pipeline leak.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    No, doc. Fossil fuel is a dead end. In a few centuries it will be a dinosaur. I’d rather see jobs created locally and stay there.

  • TeaPot562

    If you include those with part-time jobs who would prefer (and have time available and energy and skills) to work full-time jobs, the current rate of unemployment for US residents in the 16 to 65 age group is closer to 15%, rather than 8.1%. We live in an Orwellian world.

  • http://wademichaelstonge.blogspot.com Wade St. Onge

    One wonders in reading this blog if President Obama does anything right, if he has any good qualities.
    It is as though if a president is pro-abortion, we can only speak about him negatively.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    No, Wade, Obama has plenty of other strikes against him, not just abortion. (The subject of this post wasn’t abortion, but the dismal job situation.)

    Our trillions of dollars in debt, the health care program that could lead death panels, the attempts to bully the Catholic church into going against its teachings on birth control and abortion, “Fast and Furious”, the mishandling of the Chen Guangchen matter, the above-mentioned employment numbers—-there’s a lot to criticize Obama for.

  • Kirk

    I just hate to hear the word “Fossil Fule” there is and has never been such a thing. Our oil and gases come from the earth the same earth God gave us to use and govern over. The earth actually makes them and continually is making more. How many people know that much of the old oil wells that where capped off are now fiiled back up with oil? What stops us is the FEAR of a disaster. If we even look at the Gulf spill, the ocean cleaned itself up and the fish and shrimp are safe to eat. The oil that leaked dosen’t even come close to what the ocean floors leak daily. God gives us so much but Satan puts FEAR in us so we can’t enjoy it. Look at the wars over food, water, oil, money; we FEAR not having enough so we fight for more. And now he has used FEAR to make people want and use less. And if you have noticed they do that for the preservation of the earth “mother nature”. How delighted Satan is with that one.

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    “It is as though if a president is pro-abortion, we can only speak about him negatively.”

    You have hit on the exact reason why this crowd sidelines itself on political discussion where the president is concerned. Why would anyone pay attention to an echo?

    Few enough conservatives or Catholic Republicans are willing to admit their party is as much to blame (if not more so) for a lack of leadership and for overcoming adversity. It would be better for the US if the two main parties were to die off, and other political movements–people willing to build rather than tear things apart–were allowed to come to the fore.

    I’ve been deeply disappointed with the federal leadership in the US for the past thirty-one years. We keep switching back between Dems and the GOP without much movement, or really, much difference between the two. And yet many otherwise intelligent conservatives seem willing to sell their souls for a mess of pottage.

  • Oregon Catholic

    I about fell off the couch last night when I heard Scott Pelley on CBS actually state with wonder that the unemployment rate doesn’t include those who have fallen off the unemployment roles because they have been out of work so long they are no longer counted. I suppose some people in this country really are dumb enough not to realize that for themselves but anyone who has lost their unemployment benefits without getting a job knows full well there is no one counting them anymore.

    There is a volcano about to erupt and the admin will do everything it can including lie about the numbers (I’m shocked!) to get re-elected. Why anyone would want to preside over the coming downfall makes no sense until you realize there is money to be made even during a collapse.

  • dry valleys

    There are already cases of governments slashing spending in the hope that the private sector will pick up the slack, in Britain and most other European countries. You’ve got what is basically a laboratory of millions or hundreds of people in which the theories of people like Romney and Paul Ryan are being tried out, with consequences that go from bad to worse as the “austerity” goes on. So who says it will work in America when it’s a disaster everywhere else? David Camoron used to be a poster-boy for American conservatives because of his approach, but they don’t mention him now because neoliberalism isn’t a way out.

    Of course Obama has disappointed on the issue, like a lot of other issues, but why? Because instead of listening to people like Paul Krugman he used up his energies in failed attempts to get conservatives to work with him instead of wanting him to fail.

  • Oregon Catholic

    We have had 20 years of trickle-down Reaganomics and the only one’s who have benefitted are the rich and a few lucky small investors because we have forgotten that greed is bad but it is part of capitalism and fallen human nature that will take over if not held in check. We have cut taxes and tariffs and globalized business making it attractive for the wealthy to hold on to and spend their wealth or start businesses overseas instead of starting new US businesses and creating US jobs. We’ve destroyed the checks and balances that once controlled the greed of the financial sector and now the wealthy make money off of paper transactions and pyramid schemes that create nothing of value and destroy the economy as most investors are left holding an empty bag.

    If we taxed progressively up to 90% and made it unprofitable to do business overseas but gave tax breaks for job creation in the US we would be well on the way to restoring our economy and our middle-class. BUT, the uber-wealthy and financiers who make the laws don’t care anymore about a strong US middle class. They have to whole world to rape and pillage now and if we become another 3rd world economy it’s no skin off their wallets. It’s recently been reported that China is moving some manufacturing to the US now where the customer base is. The tides will be shifting more and more as people become desperate enough to work in sweatshop conditions for single digit wages. Look at manufacuring in China and SE Asia and you will see the future of America.

  • Oregon Catholic

    OOps, that should have said 30 years of Reaganomics

  • dry valleys

    Also there will be encouragement of huge-scale immigration to feed the need for a cheap workforce who won’t get uppity and ask for decent, safe living and working conditions. All from the people who are happy to use nationalist language against the left, whilst “patriotically” outsourcing millions of jobs, selling publicly owned utilities to foreign companies, and threatening to move to Hong Kong or Switzerland or Singapore if a democratically elected government does something we don’t like.

    Then, people who have lived in certain local communities all their lives have their livelihoods taken from them as part of a political experiment which has basically decided that whole districts can be abandoned. And they tell us to get on our bikes and look for work elsewhere, although this is often literally impossible, and undesirable when it can be done.

    One of the things that drove me further and further from the centre (I used, not so long ago, to try being moderate and conciliatrory and nice) is that our ruling classes, and this includes people like Obama, continue to follow neoliberalism unquestioningly. But they reject this approach in countries like India and Brazil, which are also wildly successful.

  • http://wademichaelstonge.blogspot.com Wade St. Onge

    Rhinestone Suderman, sure he has other strikes against him – about as many as W., I dare say.
    The difference is W. was pro-life – which is why this particular blogger has nothing bad to say about W. but nothing good to say about Obama. I don’t see things so black and white – because things aren’t so black and white.

  • LisaB

    Wade, what has Obama done right?

  • Teresa

    There are far too many voters in the country who are completely dependent upon the government, or are lazy when it comes to making an effort to understand what is happening to this country. And, harsh as it may sound there many voters who are just plain stupid. Those are the people Obama is appealing to. When was the last time you have seen him speak to an audience of adults (other than fundraising)? His speaches are so embarrasing, as if he’s talking to a group with an 8th grade education. It is deliberate on his part and I’m afraid there may just enough of those voters to put him over the top. God help us.

  • doc

    Todd, you think oil is a dead end? Why? What will replace it as an efficient and plentiful energy source? Wind power (cuisinarts of the sky, as Steve Hayward says while the birds die faster than oil spills can kill them)? Why do we always see oil drenched birds when there is a spill but never see all the mangled ones at the bottom of the windmills? It’s almost like the corporate media (D) are trying to manipulate us into hating oil companies or something. Seems to have worked already on some of you guys.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    After watching Obama proudly crow about the economic numbers, I’m beginning to wonder if he intends it to be just this bad. ;)

  • http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/ Todd Flowerday

    doc, there is a finite amount of hydrocarbon fuel on the planet. In another thousand years, oil-fueled technology will be the stuff of legend. Your love for oil companies and my love for the ICE in my car is totally beside the point.

  • SKay

    Killing an innocent child IS very black and white.

    Todd F
    “Fossil fuel is a dead end. In a few centuries it will be a dinosaur”
    Perhaps in a few centuries–but in the meantime we still live in this century and we need oil and gas to keep our economy going. Any alternative ideas on getting planes in the air? A lot of our electricity comes from coal and Obama promised to regulate coal mines out of business. That might be a problem for electric cars.
    Giving millions in government loan guarantees to failing “green” companies like Solyndra was a terrible decision.They were supposed to create 4000 jobs but that did not happen– Of course it’s just the taxpayer’s money so — no problem.

  • dry valleys

    The specific topic of energy is quite interesting. I don’t support pushes for more oil, nor do I support wind farms (because they are inefficient, and by ruining landscapess- some of which I’ve seen with my own eyes- they actively cause environmental harm). Additionally, the encouragement of first-generation biofuels, such as ethanol, has been tragic in its consequences. I will not view it as environmentally friendly or otherwise good for the state to subsidise wealthy landowners and companies in a cause that does more harm than good.

    But unlike certain greens, I would at least consider expanding nuclear power. The hysteria over “Fukushima” has led to what I’d call a horribly ill-advised attempt to scale back nuclear power in countries like Germany and Japan. Did you know they’ve raised their imports of fossil fuels in Japan? That, in my view, is an own goal for those greens who lobbied for an end to nuclear whatever the context.

    The interested can visit George Monbiot, a lifelong environmentalist (and presumably not the darling of most commentors here!) to find this elaborated.

  • Lawrence Cunningham

    One reason the unemployment record is bad is that public sector employment is in severe decline due to loss of state and local taxes. The private sector is actually on the increase. Goodbye teachers, paramedics, nurses, cops, fireman, road workers, etc. Welcome to the darwinian realities of RomneyWorld.