The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

Democratic Depression Transforms Into "Jobless" Recovery

It really is amazing what happens to the typical economic story once the Democratic Party takes charge. Take, for example, our current economic mess:

The economy is bleeding jobs faster than it has in a decade, mortgages in the residential real estate market continue to march forward, the commercial real estate sector is on the brink of financial meltdown... and shock of shocks!, instead of telling Americans the obvious, which would threaten the Democratic power bloc in Washington, the press invents one of the most ridiculous story templates I've ever seen—with all of the gushy positiveness in italics:

Forget a jobless recovery. The economy may be entering a recovery with job losses.

Third-quarter estimates this week are expected to show that the economy grew for the first time since the quarter ending in June 2008. Despite the estimated 3 percent expansion and a stock market that has been on a tear since March, hundreds of thousands of people are still being laid off each month.

Eight million jobs have been lost nationwide since the recession began two years ago, and by some measures workers face the worst job market since the Depression. The average laid-off worker has been without a job for 61/2 months, a post-World War II record. Many of those workers will never recover financially.

California's hole, deepened by a state budget mess and volatile tax system, is far worse: Unemployment is at 12.2 percent, third highest in the nation; and adding discouraged and part-time workers puts it over 20 percent.

"It's not even a jobless recovery; it's a recovery with more job losses," said UCLA economist Lee Ohanian. "The idea of having essentially no net job creation after a remarkably severe recession is a real pathology for the U.S. economy."

Of course, when you compare the storyline to the first six months of George W. Bush's administration, in which the Republican party controlled the White House, and to a lesser extent, the Congress, the story being run in the media was much, much different.

From the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial on August 31, 2001:

GEORGE W. BUSH seems almost giddy at the prospect of recession. At a news conference Friday, he became the first president in memory to welcome a sputtering economy as "incredibly positive news." Why? Because it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress."

Though he campaigned as a moderate, Bush's larger ideological dream appears to be to curtail government spending for social programs -- his spin notwithstanding. Just last week, he tried to reassure skittish voters: "I've said that the only reason we should use Social Security funds is in the case of an economic recession or war." How convenient, then, that his huge tax cuts, coupled with a looming recession, have given him an excuse for raiding the Social Security funds.

I've underlined all of the emotional language for illustration's sake. Notice how negatively the editorial paints Bush's alleged "policy."

And notice also that there's nary a word about unemployment in the entire article, even though unemployment during August of that year was a paltry 4.1%—which seems almost luxurious when compared to this year's 9.7% unemployment rate.

"Hey! That was an editorial," you might be saying. "Certainly their news reports would be more accurate, even if they are emotional wrecks on the editorial pages!"

If they were an objective newspaper, maybe. Unfortunately for you, my hypothetical reader, they're not.

Consider this front page story from September 8, 2001—mere days before the 9/11 attacks. Sam Zuckerman describes the Bush economy thusly (scary negative words in italics again):

Unemployment rises sharply -- stocks plummet

The nation's jobless rate in August posted its biggest monthly rise in six years, threatening to add new momentum to the nation's economic downturn and igniting a sell-off on Wall Street.

The slumping economy struck at American workers with a vengeance as unemployment surged to 4.9 percent of the labor force, up 0.4 percentage point from July, the U.S. Labor Department reported yesterday. The jump was greater than economists had expected.

The jobless rate is now at its highest level since September 1997 and a full percentage point above its recent low of 3.9 percent, posted in October of last year. At the same time, the number of workers collecting paychecks dropped by 113,000 in August, while the ranks of people officially counted as unemployed jumped by 562,000.

Once again proving that the Chronicle's coverage of Barack Obama's economy is... Comical.


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