It’s no secret that men have been hit hard by the recession. From November 2007 to November 2008, the U.S. economy lost over 2 million jobs – 82 percent of those losses were male jobs and only 18 percent female jobs. The reason is because men are concentrated in the sectors devastated by the downturn: manufacturing and construction.
This employment gap prompted University of Michigan economist Mark Perry to dub the downturn a “man-cession in the lipstick economy.”
So in his Inaugural address, Barack Obama glowingly promised, “We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”
Within days, the newly-installed president unveiled his stimulus proposal, vowing it would create millions of “shovel-ready” jobs. And on Feb. 17, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.
That would get men back on the job and ready to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, persons assumed. And if you visit the government’s ARRA website – www.recovery.gov – you’ll see upbeat pictures of hard-hatted carpenters, energy-efficient courthouses and gleaming hospitals.
But following passage of ARRA, unemployment continued to rise, and the gender gap worsened. By May of this year, 10.5 percent of men, compared to 8 percent of women, filled the ranks of the unemployed. That’s the worst gender gap reported since 1948.
So where did the $787 billion economic stimulus package go wrong?
Part of the problem is the crass influence of pay-back politics. According to a July 8 USA Today report, counties that supported Obama in the November election received $69 per person, compared to $34 per capita in counties that voted Republican.
Another reason is the hefty outlay of stimulus money to state governments at the expense of local groups. “You don’t fertilize a tree from the top down,” quipped Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. “Too much of this is going to the top.”
But far worse is the fact that the Obama administration sold out to the feminists. Christina Hoff Sommers’ recent exposé, “No Country for Burly Men,” offers a stunning account of the legislative transmogrification.
As soon as Obama released his stimulus proposal, the National Organization for Women and other feminist groups swung into action. They knew the head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, Lawrence Summers, would be a push-over following the putsch at Harvard University.
So following a flurry of closed-door meetings, e-mails, petitions and op-ed columns that derided Obama’s “Macho Stimulus Plan,” the White House staff set out to revamp the proposal. They released a report assuring that 42 percent of all jobs would go for females, openly admitting the new approach “skews job creation somewhat towards women.”
When the final bill was signed into law, the feminists were ecstatic. NOW president Kim Gandy exulted how the law contained many of the “very specific proposals that we had made” with price tags carrying “numbers that started with a ‘B’ (as in billion).” And $325 million was allocated for family-busting domestic violence programs.
Less than four months later the Associated Press would report, “Most of the roughly $300 billion coming directly to the states is being funneled through existing government programs for health care, education, unemployment benefits, food stamps and other social services.” In Georgia, two-thirds of the state government’s stimulus money would pay social programs. In Mississippi, only 13 percent of the stimulus money is projected to go for road construction, according to the AP.
“We talked about ‘shovel-ready’ since September and assumed it was a whole lot of paving and building when, in fact, that’s not the case,” complained Chris Whatley of the Council of State Governments.
The irony is the male vote was a decisive factor in Obama’s improbable quest to reach the White House. During the primary campaign, the white male vote propelled Obama to victory in 10 out of 17 states. And last Nov. 4, males again played a crucial role, with 49 percent of men casting their vote for Obama, compared to 48 percent siding with McCain.
Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly believes the goal of the reverse discrimination that lards Obama’s stimulus plan is to “make men, husbands and fathers irrelevant as family providers.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 7.5 million American males are now listed on the unemployment rolls. That’s a lot of irrelevant men.
Carey Roberts has been published frequently in the Washington Times, Townhall.com, Conservative Battleline Online, LewRockwell.com, ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative and elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media Alliance.