Sometimes the newspapers actually tell us something we need to know, even if it is inadvertent. On Monday there was a report on how the American middle class has been devastated by the past five years, with the average family having lost 40 percent of its net worth. As one whose own income has declined sharply and whose wife has lost her job, leading to a short sale of our retirement home, I can testify from personal experience that the media report if anything understates the case for many Americans. Many of our neighbors here in prosperous northern Virginia and also among my family in New Jersey are similarly suffering, with job losses among former white collar professionals in their fifties at catastrophic levels.
The government, which has been up until recently boasting of an essentially bogus economic recovery and the creation of 4.3 million jobs (as if it were responsible), is conveniently ignoring the millions who are now only partially employed, earning far less than they previously were, are no longer statistically considered unemployed, or who have given up looking for work. Loss of job also means no access to healthcare or other “benefits,” creating real problems for folks in their fifties and early sixties who are beginning to have health issues but are too young for Medicare while too old to find new jobs with health insurance.
But now it seems at least some chickens are coming home to roost. Thursday’s Washington Post featured a front page article “A slowing economy sharpens 2012 debate,” describing how the Obama-Romney conflicting visions regarding the formula for economic recovery will play out politically. Politically is the key word as it is really a debate over the suitable role of government taking place between two big government advocates. Neither “vision” will actually benefit many Americans and neither presidential aspirant will be able to find any genuine solution to the surging federal deficit and a declining economy. Unfortunately, given the two party dominance of the electoral process disgruntled American voters will not have the option of throwing out both the bums together with their visions.
It’s odd how neither party ever mentions defense (sic) and homeland security spending, which are major contributors to the unbalanced budget. Homeland security spending, driven by a clueless foreign policy, is also a budget buster at state and local levels. Ironically, above the Post article on the economic debate appeared another, the front page headline piece “Military expands spying in Africa.” There have also been other reports that the US soon will have a permanent troop presence in Africa at brigade level consisting of about 3,000 soldiers. Local conflicts in Africa in no way threaten the United States except in those cases like Somalia where it is the intervention itself that is producing the blowback, but just as nature abhors a vacuum, the Pentagon cannot stand a continent on which it does not have a few bases. Given the Washington foreign policy consensus that more is always better, it seems that no matter what happens to the American people incessant constabulary conflict throughout the world will be considered affordable and will go on because for Democrat and Republican alike “we have always been at war with Eastasia.”