Excuse me for not breaking out the eggnog in celebration of the Department of Labor’s announcement earlier this week that 120,000 jobs were created in November, lowering the rate to 8.6 percent.
After all, joy is not what comes to mind when Americans have had to endure a record 35 straight months of above 9 percent unemployment. Especially when the government has been taking an estimated 149,000 people off the unemployment rolls every month this past year that were not working or actively looking for work (It says much when the number of Americans joining the "no longer in the labor force" list exceeds the number of Americans who actually found jobs).
When we read that African-Americans continue to suffer from a gloomy 15.5 percent unemployment rate and Hispanics are enduring a dismal 11.4 percent rate, forgive me if elation is not the emotion I feel either. When we see the national poverty rate rising above 15 percent once again, and the Office of Management and Budget reports African-Americans are at 27.4 percent, followed by people of Hispanic origin at 26.6 percent, my apologies if my first instinct is not to place Tiny Tim over my shoulder and utter yuletide cheers this holiday season.
The economic numbers besetting us this holiday season have unwelcomingly come upon us like a Ghost of Christmas Past, and its forewarnings of impending doom are all too real if we don’t change our ways.
The winter of 1980 had Americans enduring similar economic conditions - an unemployment funk of over 7 percent, a poverty rate of over 15 percent, incomes that were declining, and talk of economic collapse was a common theme at kitchen tables across America. Those who were small business owners were also finding it exceedingly difficult to purchase inventory, expand their businesses, or hire new workers.
And just as in Christmas Past, adding to the forlornness this Christmas Present is a decimated housing sector, dwindling consumer demand, and despite holding vast resources of energy, recent decisions by the Administration are making exploration and production of energy exceedingly difficult.
But unlike this winter of discontent, Americans in 1980 had just elected a president who had assured them a leaner, more effective government would bring better days. Ronald Reagan was elected on his promise to cut tax rates, slash government spending, reduce needless regulations, and stabilize the dollar. During his term, unemployment would fall to 5.3 percent, and over 2 million new jobs per year would be created. Most importantly, the economy would grow by almost one-third, 6.8 percent in 1984 alone – the highest in 50 years.
These measures set America on a path that would result in 25 years of unprecedented growth and prosperity.
In contrast, this Administration has played the role of Santa to its political supporters, public unions, and anyone supposedly promoting green energy, while the rest of hard working Americans received a lump of coal in their stockings. The threat of increased taxation, failure to curtail runaway deficit spending, refusal to increase energy development, and the increased cost of regulatory compliance has significantly hampered our ability to rebound and prosper.
The result - three years into the Obama Administration - is the anticipated economic growth for the United States stands at a meager 1.25 percent for 2011.
Washington’s belief that it can spend your money better than you can has also significantly impacted Americans in very real ways, particularly younger generations. According to a recent Generation Opportunity poll, 77 percent of young Americans either have delayed or will delay major life changes or purchases due to the state of the economy. Specifically, 44 percent have delayed buying a home, 27 percent paying off student loans or other debt, 27 percent delaying going back to school or getting more education or training, and 23 percent delaying starting a family.
And I suspect declining salaries and fewer economic opportunities will mean less presents under the Christmas trees for more Americans than in Christmas’ past.
In hopes of a prosperous Christmas Future, let’s remind Washington that small businesses, entrepreneurs, and investors who have been responsible for generating 60 percent to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade, must be allowed to keep more of what they earn. Tell the White House to stop gumming up the process for new business start-ups, to stop pushing class warfare while pushing its own brand of cronyism, and stop cutting into the shrinking profit margins of hard-working Americans.
If we are to fend off further economic stagnation and the debt nightmare, Americans must remove reckless political spenders from office who act with unlimited power under the pretense of fixing every social ill under the sun, regardless of party affiliation.
Just like Dickens’ character in his timeless book, A Christmas Carol, which I have been making shameless references to, it is not too late to change. I figure if obstinate Ebenezer Scrooge had a change of heart, maybe it’s not too far-fetched for leaders in Washington to experience a similar epiphany – without having to go through a paranormal intervention.
Merry Christmas, and oh yeah, God bless us, everyone one!
Daniel Garza is the Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative and former White House staffer from 2001-2006.