Thursday, March 1, 2012

More Reality Checks of Conservative & Liberal Rhetoric

1) Inferring that Obama was/is completely responsible for: job losses during his first few months in office, current food stamp rate, # of people below poverty line, and unemployment rate (which is actually closer to 16-20% due to people ceasing the job hunt or losing benefits).

Reality check- Obama, as all presidents do, had to accept the hand he was dealt and the snowball was already heading downhill. The food stamp, poverty, and unemployment rates are due to long term effects of the financial/housing collapses. Presidents inevitably get the blame and/or credit for economic conditions, but truthfully there's a relatively small correlation between most things that happen and one president's policies.

Claiming "credit" for the slowing of job losses is another example of rhetoric we see from all administrations (Obama's is no different). Regardless of who was in office, the rate of job loss was going to slow as Tarp 1 "began to" calm the markets turmoil and people's fears (although the recovery could have been faster, see here). However, from a "calming" standpoint, Obama "should" be given credit for being a smooth talker which was quite useful in stemming fear/panic during the economic/banking fallout. By comparison, Bush was a terrible communicator.

External factors such as innovation cycles (tech boom of 90's), world events (Japan tsunami, European crisis), political climate (congress), and emotional conditions have had far greater impact than what any single administration has done. Emotional? Yes. Emotions & confidence have a huge impact on how severe drops & climbs of things like financial, housing, and job markets will be. Those events, in turn, play a part in things like tax receipts, inflation, borrowing/saving rates, etc. Emotions had a great deal to do with the housing/banking implosion which was caused and/or extended by everything from greed , envy, naivete, and visceral hatred of "perceived bailouts". Blame extends from MBS creators and unscrupulous mortgage bankers, to the "make homes affordable" and deregulation acts of congress, and even to people with attitudes of "keeping up with the Jones" and/or "not wanting other people to get a deal/bailout" via loan modifications.

Two of the most important aspects of job creation are "demand" and "cost of labor". Employers won't create jobs just for the sake of creating jobs and they won't expand, ramp up production, of hire long term employees based on "fake demand" (i.e. temporary, stimulus money jobs). Currently, built up demand of delayed purchases is causing some economic numbers to look better (which improves the emotional perception of people). Those perceptions can extend this consumer demand, and therefore the length of the improved numbers. As people "feel" more confident they'll buy more (creating "demand") and that creates jobs, which creates more demand, and so on. The Q is for how long? There are other variables that could cause perceptions to look worse and easily de-rail things. Cost of labor impacts how many people an employer can afford to employ and also impacts where those employees are hired. As labor costs (shipping costs as well) rise some of those jobs will come back here. The congress has much more direct pwr and associated responsibility for what happens in the economy than a president but "all" presidents end up taking more blame and getting more credit than they deserve...

2) It's equally silly to give Obama so much credit for killing Bin Laden and stating that Clinton and Bush couldn't do it or weren't paying attention to looking for him.

Reality check- I used to participate in the planning of heliborne, mech, and boat assaults and can tell you that it makes me laugh (in a wow, those people are crazy sort of way) when I hear the accolades for Obama and slams on Clinton/Bush irt this. In reality you can't just say the others had chances and missed but Obama succeeded. Why? Because the overall conditions (i.e. intel reliability, threat assessment, friendly situation, location, weather, political climate at location, etc.) are wildly different in every scenario. Therefore making a simplistic assertion that prior presidents missed their opportunities, and saying things like "it took Obama to get Osama" are moronic "at best".

Along similar lines- The absurd argument that Bush wasn't concerned with, or paying attention to, Bin Laden based on some out of context sound bites from him answering a reporter's repeated Q's irt the topic back in 02' (or was it 03'?). Anyone who listened or watched the entire questioning process should be able to realize Bush was annoyed/dismissive of "the questions and reporter" more than anything else. There was also a degree of "showing" a dismissive attitude towards Bin laden in a "he's dead to me" sort of way that I appreciate because even now I dislike mentioning his name because allowing him to disappear into obscurity (while remembering the lessons learned of course) is the ultimate slap in the face to a terrorist who liked notoriety. Anyway, to imply that Bush didn't care about and/or wasn't concerned with Bin Laden is simply ludicrous.