Just for fun, here is a gleaning of opinions that go under the general headings of “How bad is …?” and “What now?”
How bad is our national jobless situation? This from Mort Zuckerman of U.S. News and World Report:
“Altogether, the 9 percent headline figure is an illusory portrait of the situation across the country, representing 13,863,000 men and women out of work. What happens if you add to that the 8.4 million ‘involuntary’ part-time employed, whose hours have been cut back? Then you get a household unemployment rate slightly under 17 percent. …
“It all adds up to a shocking figure: More than 25 million Americans are now either jobless or underemployed. That’s nearly twice as many Americans out of work as there were in the black year of 1933 — 13 million then. (Only in one year before 1940 and the war did unemployment dip below 8 million.) Of course, the labor force was much smaller then, so the unemployment rate was higher. In the Great Depression, between one third and one quarter of the working population didn’t have jobs.”
So, the jobless rate is not nearly so bad, but we’ve just got nearly twice as many actual humans in America in a bad way as we did in the darkest depths of the Great Depression.
And how bad is the job market in government? Let’s check in with the taxpayers’ best friends, unionized government workers, as reported in the Wall Street Journal Feb. 14:
“Government-employee unions maintain considerable influence. About 7.6 million public employees, or 36.2 percent of all public-sector workers, belonged to unions in 2010, down slightly from the year before. In the private sector, the unionization rate slipped to 6.9 percent.
“In the 2010 midterm elections, public-sector unions contributed $20.5 million to federal candidates, parties and outside groups, up from $19.1 million in the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The share of contributions to Democrats rose to 92 percent in 2010 from 89 percent in 2008.”
Gosh, do you suppose we can expect any help from Democrats in lowering government wage and benefit costs?
How bad is our situation in the volatile Middle East? This from Newsweek’s Niall Ferguson:
“The result has been a foreign-policy debacle. The president has alienated everybody: not only Mubarak’s cronies in the military, but also the youthful crowds in the streets of Cairo. Whoever ultimately wins, Obama loses. And the alienation doesn’t end there.
“America’s two closest friends in the region — Israel and Saudi Arabia — are both disgusted. The Saudis, who dread all manifestations of revolution, are appalled at Washington’s failure to resolutely prop up Mubarak. The Israelis, meanwhile, are dismayed by the administration’s apparent cluelessness. …
“The defining characteristic of Obama’s foreign policy has been not just a failure to prioritize, but also a failure to recognize the need to do so. A succession of speeches saying, in essence, ‘I am not George W. Bush’ is no substitute for a strategy.”
Commentator Mark Steyn of SteynOnline says this:
“Amidst all this flowering of democracy, you’ll notice that it’s only the pro-American dictatorships on the ropes: In Libya and Syria, Gaddafy and Assad sleep soundly in their beds.
“On the other hand, if you were either of the two King Abdullahs, in Jordan or Saudi Arabia, and you looked at the Obama Administration’s very public abandonment of their Cairo strongman, what would you conclude about the value of being an American ally?
“For the last three weeks, the superpower has sent the consistent message to the world that (as Bernard Lewis feared some years ago) America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.”
And so what of our political future in the U.S.?
Says Salena Zito in Real Clear Politics about “Our New Jeffersonian Era”:
“Apropos of our democracy, Alexander Hamilton’s and Thomas Jefferson’s statues stand miles apart here.
“America always has been at odds with these two Founders’ philosophies of where the nation’s exceptionalism would be found.
“Today we are in the midst of a cultural U-turn away from a Hamiltonian meritocratic-elitist, centralized-power society to a more Jeffersonian Main Street focus, with state and local governments as the primary powerbrokers. …
“The Democratic Party has cast itself as the progressive party, leaving little or no room for conservative Democrats. It appears to be out of sync with where the country is heading, despite Main Street’s message last fall.
“Over the 234 years of our nation’s Jefferson-or-Hamilton debate, we never really compromised on either man’s vision. We zigzag, progressing slowly along the way, adopting a small part of their values in each new era.
“Republicans were elected in November not because Americans love Republicans; they were elected because their values are in line with this new Jeffersonian era.”
Do you feel better now?