Ref: The Romney campaign, and layoff summaries 2010, 2011, 2012 (Challenger, Gray & Christmas, http://www.challengergray.com)
Well, I suppose I am a foolish old curmudgeon, expecting effective, incisive Democratic responses to the relentless Republican repetition (don'cha just love that alliteration?) of the Big Lie about high unemployment and low job growth. The facts are clear enough, and the Republican claims are, if not easily refuted, surely vulnerable to serious counterfire. But President Obama seems unable to frame an effective riposte, and keeps replaying the broad, inspirational generalities that were effective in 2008, and that could cost him dearly in today's bitter, bare-knuckle street brawl that passes for an electoral campaign.
Perhaps having taught constitutional law, a discipline steeped in abstractions, has fatally compromised Obama's ability to think tactically. But where are his advisors? What we need to counter the Republican lies, in my curmudgeonly view, is not a scholar, but a tough politician with integrity. Like Harry Truman, whose tactical sense was honed in the Kansas City back rooms of Tom Pendergast machine politics. For some reason I keep seeing the ghost of Woodrow Wilson, whose noble Fourteen Point philosophy was steamrollered by bitter and intransigent French and British post-WWI vindictiveness, which led to the disastrous Treaty of Versailles and, of course, to Hitler and WWII.
Let's look at the numbers. According to a summary by Challenger Gray, the aggregate job cuts for the first seven months of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were: 339,353 (2010), 312, 220 (2011), and 319,946 (2012). That's about one million people laid off. So we would need one million new jobs just to keep abreast of these losses. As the Red Queen said to Alice (yes, Virginia, we do live in a bizarre Wonderland): "You have to run as fast as you can just to stay where you are, and faster still to get anywhere."
And Mitt Romney goes on, ad nauseam, about the unemployment that he and his cronies caused simply to increase their profits and raise their dividends. It has the same sweet morality as Richard Speck (remember him?) running for public office by promising to fight crime....
What do these numbers signify? Not the statistics, but the fiscal and societal reality? In the first seven months of the last three years, fiscal responsibility for almost one million employees was transferred from the private sector to the public sector. Which means that almost one million persons were placed on the unemployment rolls, and the burden for that was borne by the taxpayers (read: you and me), while all those corporate bottom lines showed improvement, to the satisfaction, if not the delight, of their majority stockholders.
One million persons suddenly unemployed, places an enormous burden on already precarious state finances, paying no taxes, etc., etc., etc.. But the distribution of federal and state finances, in these hard times, has become a zero-sum game. For every winner there is a corresponding loser. One shrinking pie, too many mouths to feed. How 'bout that, Mitt? Do you feel the pain? Do you even understand the pain? Or are you clueless, like the other conservative idealogues? I didn't realize that food stamps for the elderly and indigent encourage dependency, and that poverty is a therapeutic incentive to counter sloth.
These one million people are not Romney's infamous 47 per-cent. They are folks who came to work one day and were told to clean out their desks and be out of there in an hour, escorted by Security lest they steal their pencils and pens. How quickly the bottom can drop out of one's world. Like going to the doctor for a routine checkup, and being told that the odd lump really is a Stage III cancer. Sunny day going in, damned bleak day coming out.
And there also is the devastating effect on local economies and on... errr... what is that favorite conservative phrase? - - oh, yes - - on Family Values. You know, things like medical bills, college expenses, mortgage payments, car payments, food, clothing, having one parent at home when the kids come home from school, etc. Subtle and unexpected consequences, eh Mitt? Almost enuff to make even a Goldwater Republican have second thoughts. To paraphrase Beloved Barry: "Extremism in the defense of profit is no vice!"
Years ago, in the dusty trash-heap of discredited electoral excesses, we were warned about "unwed welfare mothers" who, in a reproductive explosion of the Unworthy Needy, were causing our economy to founder under a surfeit of illegitimate foundlings. And the conservative Paul Reveres saddled up and raised the alarm: "Stop Welfare Cheats and Save the Economy and the American Way of Life!!" Gosh! A close call! But a cadre of right-thinking patriots saved the day by warning us of that insidious threat. And the tax-and-spend liberals went back to hugging trees and fighting to save the Snail Darter.
Now, it seems unlikely that President Obama issued a secret protocol urging corporations to outsource jobs and lay off workers to improve their bottom lines. Gee, guys! If not this irresponsible Administration, who dunnit? That's really hard to figure out, isn't it? Must be the Liberal Underground, I guess. Or Militant Islam. Or the Elders of Zion. Or the Sierra Club. Or the secret Eastern Commie Gay Militia. But God-fearin' Republicans? Naaaah. They stand for social values, the 'Murcan family, full employment, and Responsibility to Their Stockholders.
Aahh! Of course! The stockholders! All those frail little old ladies holding twelve shares of Con Ed, whose daddies told them, during awfulness of the Great Depression, never to sell their Utilities stocks.
A touching story, just loaded with pathos, social justice, and the Good Feelings of kindness run amok. But, as Kipling said, it is "the truth.... twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools..."
Of course only the majority stockholders in these large corporations (who endeavor to pay as close to zero personal and corporate tax as possible) are the ones who benefit most liberally from these layoffs (the only time the word "liberal" can be used in connection with Republican policies).
Eight years of Dubya Bush, four more years of Republican lock-step Congressional obstruction, and the Democrat strategists evidently haven't learned a thing. Obama continues to repeat inspirational abstractions. What we need, I believe, is a Harry Truman, whose tactical sense was honed in the Kansas City back-room politics of the Tom Pendergast machine, not the restrained nuances (there's Dubya again!) of a constitutional scholar. Why, dear God, doesn't the Obama campaign roll up its collective sleeves and tell it like it is - - and not play 2008 all over again.
It has been said (correctly, but not necessarily of today's military) that generals typically prepare to fight the last war. And then lose the next one.
And then, today, CNN reported that the Administration will soft-pedal the aggressive shoot-em-up War on Drugs and concentrate, instead, on prevention. Lordy! Is there really a Democratic death wish? It might make sense intellectually, but announcing this change in policy only 40 days before the election, and handing the Republicans a new issue that seems to confirm their pseudo-macho claim that What This Country Needs is Strong Leadership, seems insane to me. Well, fellas, hit seems lak the Dems cain't even spell "s-t-r-a-t-e-g-y."
Bah! We really need to re-elect Obama. I don't believe the country can stand the destructive consequences, social, economic, or international, of an ultraconservative Romney administration. But I sometimes wake from a nightmare in which Dubya Bush is elected for another term. It is truly said that the two most abundant elements in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity....
As Tiny Tim said: "God bless us, every one!" Or, at least, almost every one. I'm not that forgiving.