The bounce expected from Barack Obama’s Democratic convention speech collapsed the following day under the reality check that the current unemployment figure is 8.1 percent. And 40.7 percent of those unemployed Americans have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.
Those numbers tell only a small part of Obama’s failure to deliver on his promises. The real unemployment figure is closer to 19 percent because the official count doesn’t include (a) the 8 million unemployed who have given up and stopped looking for a job, (b) the people who have had to settle for part-time work, (c) those who had to take lower-paying jobs well below their qualifications, or d) the 11 million who are out of the workforce collecting Social Security disability checks.
The plight of young Americans is even worse. For 18-to-29-year-olds, the unemployment rate is 12.7 percent.
The majority of jobs lost during our current depression were well-paying jobs, while the majority of jobs Obama brags about increasing are lower-paying jobs.
The National Employment Law Project reports that occupations in construction, manufacturing and information, with median hourly wages of $13.84 to $21.13, accounted for 60 percent of job losses and only 22 percent of job growth. Meanwhile, 58 percent of the job growth Obama bragged about was lower-paying jobs with hourly wages of $7.69 to $13.83.
The jobs with the fastest growth were retail sales, where the median wage is $10.97 an hour, and food preparation jobs that pay $9.04 an hour. Some of these jobs are taken by entry-level workers, but many others are taken by older Americans laid off from well-paying jobs.
A Labor Day weekend report also came from the Department of Agriculture telling us that 46,670,373 Americans are now receiving food stamps at an annual cost to the taxpayers of $71.8 billion. Do we really believe that more than 46 million Americans would go hungry without a government handout?
One of Obama’s much-talked-about solutions for the jobs problem is to send more kids to college. But most recent college graduates cannot get jobs that require a college degree or justify the enormous debt they incur to attend college.
The jobs aren’t there that justify either individual or taxpayer debt to increase college attendance. The Labor Department predicts that of the top 10 occupations expected to provide the most jobs between now and 2020, three will require no more than a high school education, and five others won’t even require a high school diploma.
Even those jobs would be welcomed by unemployed Americans, but many of those fastest-growing jobs are taken by immigrants, legal and illegal. Obama’s refusal to enforce the laws against illegal aliens and his prosecution of states trying to do what his administration is failing to do, plus his illegal order to give work permits to 1.7 million young illegal aliens, add up to a direct attack on the job opportunities of millions of Americans.
Those who say we can just concentrate on fiscal issues and ignore social issues are refusing to face the reality that federal spending is driven by social issues, especially the low marriage rate and the high illegitimacy rate. The Census Bureau reports that the poverty rate of single-parent households is 27.3 percent, but the poverty rate of married couples is only 6.2 percent.
The current depression has not only changed the kind of jobs people take but is changing the American character from self-reliance to dependence on government. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when there were no entitlements, Americans didn’t look to government for handouts and they grew up to become the Greatest Generation.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, entitlement payments in 1960 amounted to $24 billion (in current dollars), but by 2010 had climbed to $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services. In 1960, entitlement payments were well below a third of federal government expenditures, about the same proportion as in 1940. But now, entitlements amount to two-thirds of federal spending, with all other government functions reduced to one-third.
America is now a very different country from what it used to be. That enormous growth of entitlements over the last 50 years has transformed not only the purpose of government, but also the American character. Barack Obama has taken us across a landmark threshold.
Many Americans now feel no shame in milking the taxpayers and seem to agree with Obama that “government is the only thing we all belong to.” It doesn’t seem to bother them that their handouts are financed by borrowing from Communist China, leaving a colossal debt to hang around the necks of our children and grandchildren.
Obama’s expensive stimulus plan failed, and now he offers no plan to create more jobs, or to build individual independence and self-reliance. We hope for a change in November.