Once again, the federal statistics for unemployment are not providing a source of hope that the American economy has turned a corner. A recovery has been declared and celebrated by the White House, but this recovery does not appear to have trickled down to the common man.
Despite an overall unemployment rate of 7.3 percent, the “U-6” rate that covers all forms of unemployment (including those who are able-bodied yet quit looking in despair) is still an astronomically high 13.7 percent. Only 169,000 jobs were created in August, less than what economists were hoping to see.
As he usually does at this time, Project 21 member Derryck Green provides analysis and comment about the economy. This month, he does so in the form of an open letter to President Barack Obama on behalf of a worried and concerned America:
Dear Mr. President:
With all due respect, your record of economic stewardship has been a nightmare.
No amount of spin can change or erase this unfortunate fact.
Whether our nation’s current economic peril is caused by a misunderstanding of basic economic principles, your rigid and religious-like devotion to political progressivism or because you simply and intentionally give lip service to an economic situation that isn’t a priority to you, no one can be sure since you are not willing to share your inner thoughts with us. It doesn’t matter if you like it not, as our nation’s president, credit and fault begins and ends with you.
As such, I’m writing this letter to you right now on behalf of America in an appeal to the one thing that didn’t contract during your presidency: your ego.
I’m thinking that if the American people appeal to that which you hold so dear, which your reactions have proven sensitive to when challenged, there may be a possibility that you just might realize the massive error of your economic ways.
The employment situation is behaving in a manner our nation would rather not go, nor can it afford to go. No matter how your administration attempts to spin the news, clear-thinking Americans know – many from personal experience – that the economic situation isn’t improving.
Statistically, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says the national unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent. The rate for Latinos dropped to 9.3 percent. Unfortunately, the rate for blacks has increased to 13 percent and the rate for black teens is now 38.2 percent.
Obviously, this isn’t cause for celebratory chest bumps or misrepresentations by your press secretary.
America is still millions of jobs short of where is was before Obama took office, and many of the jobs that are being created during his “recovery” do not pay as well as previously.
The labor force participation rate is at a thirty-four year low at 63.4 percent and has been under 64 percent for nineteen straight months. Ninety million Americans are no longer in the labor force. Teen employment is tragically low and almost a million people have given up hope of finding a job because of the weak job market. This also says nothing about the more than 250 companies reportedly forced to reduce employee hours and actual employment in proactive attempts to comply with and survive under your signature legislation, the misnamed Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare).
As captain of this rudderless ship, Mr. President, more Americans have been on disability insurance than people living in New York City during your presidency. Reinforcing this sad and unfortunate reality, the Cato Institute notes that federal welfare programs in 35 states provide more of a financial incentive than actually working. In 13 of these states, the welfare equivalent is above $15 per hour. In your homes state of Hawaii, welfare recipients receive the equivalent of almost $61,000 pre-tax income per year in a state where minimum wage is $7.50 an hour and the median salary is just above $36, 000.
Mr. President, since you were elected in 2008, the median family income has dropped for most Americans. For whites, there’s been a 3.6 percent decline. For Hispanics, a 4.5 percent decline. And for blacks, your most loyal constituency, a 10.9 percent decline.
But that’s not all. Your economic policies also resulted in a spike in the poverty rate, particularly distressing for blacks as it’s almost 26 percent. This is in combination with the black labor force participation rate having been at 61.4 percent and an unemployment rate that has been continually near or at 13 percent during your presidency.
According to the National Urban League’s 2012 State of Black America, the economic gains that blacks have made during the past 30 years in most statistical measures, particularly as a result of the economic policies of Ronald Reagan, were wiped out due to the recession and the so-called recovery that followed. As a result, though the middle class has been negatively affected by your policies, with the black middle class the hardest hit.
These statistics aren’t abstract numbers, Mr. President. These numbers represent real people who continue to press on despite losing hope and faith in you as our leader. These prolonged, negative economic indicators are a confirmation in many minds of your unpreparedness for office.
Many will continue to excuse your lack of leadership qualities, preferring to lay the blame for the economy on everything from obstinate conservatives to the repercussions of slavery.
You have even blamed your poor stewardship on the obstruction of “phony scandals.” Sir, these excuses, characterized by the “soft bigotry of low expectations” you seem to have for those you claim to care about most, does you no favors. Actually, these excuses further expose your inability and reluctance to accept responsibility and embrace leadership.
It’s precisely why the American public no longer trusts what you say or what you do. It’s also why you have been found wanting as a leader in the international community.
These critiques aren’t because of your blackness, but rather because of your ineffectiveness. The frustration is palpable. In the spirit of Dr. King, whom we all just celebrated for his leadership, you’re rightly being judged on the content of your character – along with the actions brought forth from it – and not by the color of your skin.
Mr. President, again, we appeal to your ego. History may not be as kind to you as the bubble in which you currently reside. Being the first black president of the United States is historical and it’s a remarkable testament to the character of the American ethos. But being “the first black” simply isn’t enough.
Your novelty has worn off. It’s time you actually do something of substance to warrant the reverence in which you see yourself and which American posterity will remember you. You have three years left. The clock is ticking.
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