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George F. Will: Ignoring the path to recovery: generational amnesia

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  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 31, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    Sven... you ask a reasonable question... why is the employment number going down? Funny thing is before the recession this was a much talked about issue. From a recent article in Business Insider, the issue has come back to light...

    "At 39.8%, the labor force participation rate for those 55 years of age and over is the lowest it's been since April 2009 (chart 1).
    Millions of "baby boomers" — a generation typically defined as those born during the post-war baby boom that took place between 1946 and 1964 — have retired from the workforce over the past six years.

    This is putting massive downward pressure on the total labor force participation rate, which currently stands at 63.0%"

    What is happening is we are having politically expedient amnesia. None of this is a surprise. It has been studied and discussed for over 10 years. In fact, before this, it was the Republican rallying point to warrant changes in social security - in that everyone knew there was going to be a smaller work force due to retiring baby boomers.

    But that does serve the narrative of the talking heads on the radio. Google it... data is all there.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    May 29, 2014 11:26 p.m.

    For some reason, Obama-bashers need also to bash FDR. So perhaps a few facts may be useful.
    In 1929, the US economy generated about 106 billion in GDP. It fell that year to 56 billion. By 1933, when Roosevelt took office, it had not recovered at all: stood at 54 billion.
    Under Roosevelt's leadership, it grew at 8-10 percent annually, every year except 1937, when Roosevelt grew unnecessarily nervous about deficit spending and slowed stimulus spending. But by 1940, the economy again stood at 104 billion.
    So, no, your 'Roosevelt prolonged the Depression' narrative is unsupported by evidence.
    Your 'Obama destroyed the economy' narrative is similarly counterfactual.

  • Sven Morgan, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:59 p.m.

    From the Article:

    “The reason unemployment fell by four-tenths of a point (to 6.3 percent) in April while growth stalled is that 806,000 people left the labor force. The labor force participation rate fell by four-tenths of a point to a level reached in 1978, which was during the Carter-era stagflation and early in the surge of women into the workforce.”

    =====

    Not a big fan of George Will, but he nailed it here. I discussed this very thing in another thread a few days ago. These bogus unemployment numbers that Obama and the Democrats like to tout, do not include those who’ve 1) stopped looking for work, and 2) those who’ve exceeded their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. These two groups have basically been removed from the economic pie.

    We’re being told by Obama, the Democrats, and the media that Obama has given us a strong, robust economy with his policies, resulting in an unemployment rate of 6.3%. Okay, if this is the case, how do you square that with: 1) 93 million Americans out of the workforce (62.8% labor force participation rate), 2) 46 million Americans on food stamps, and 3) demands by Democrats for an extension of unemployment benefits?

    Talk about Whistling past the graveyard.

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    May 29, 2014 4:18 p.m.

    George Will is becoming increasingly irrelevant. When he comes up with a new idea that might help solve some of our problems, somebody wake me up.

  • Jack Aurora, CO
    May 29, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    Yep, my party keeps blocking things you think will help......because they won't. No mincing words, no prevarication. They Won't Help. Digging deeper to get out of the ditch won't help. Raising taxes won't help. Putting more people on the dole won't help. Government jobs won't help, jobs need to be long-lasting, productive, private sector jobs to help. More government spending on social programs that duplicate what is already in place won't help, it's a drag on the economy. So, now that we see what won't help, let's do what will help. No more cronyism from the government, no more "freebies" from the government that we all have to pay for, no more government intrusion into the healthcare industry. Let's simplify the tax code, get government out of places it doesn't belong and let the economy recover so we can all enjoy it.

    There, clear enough?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 29, 2014 4:11 p.m.

    re: GaryO,

    I wonder whether your stating something makes it true? Is Obama responsible for the recession? When did that recession start? Wasn't it when Democrats controlled the House and the Senate? Do I have my history wrong? Didn't Obama vote FOR those bills that resulted in the recession? Those bills are public knowledge. Even Obama cannot say that he was not part of the problem.

    It may be convenient to try to hide his culpability, but even a 2nd grade student can search the Internet and find out what really happened.

    Obama was part of the problem long before he became President, and, since that time, he has aggravated the problem with his anti-business rhetoric.

    You may find that charming, but it has cost millions of Americans their jobs. Millions are in poverty because of Obama and will stay in poverty until someone with business experience changes Obama's policies.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 2:56 p.m.

    @happy2behere
    "I'd have to admit that it isn't working and he (McCain) needs to change course to get the economy running up to at least par again. I certainly would not be trying to defend his work just because I had voted for him and he had an R after his name. What good does that do?"

    Here's the thing though... it's one thing to get liberals to say we need to change course (I'll say that). It's faulty to assume saying that means "oh I guess we should try what the Republicans are saying". To me, as noted in my other comment, the problem is a lack of demand caused by high income inequality. So my course change is something more progressive not something more conservative so in that frame it'd be illogical for me to support a Republican in 2016 (presuming they have similar ideas to the current Republican party of course). As for defending Obama, well... that's simple. Your party keeps trying to block the things I think will help. Why should I blame Obama for that?

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 2:52 p.m.

    @Cats
    "The only thing that saved us was the Supreme Court that found the New Deal to be unconstitutional."

    Unemployment spiked again when his New Deal programs were being pulled back. The thing you say saved us is what made it drag on even longer. What ended the Great Depression for good was World War II which in effect was a really massive stimulus program.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    We won't get more jobs unless there's more demand and we won't get more demand unless there's more money available to the poor and middle class to spend on goods and services and we won't get that until there's less wealth inequality in this nation. Tax cuts... what'll that do? The rich have plenty of money they're sitting on, the issue isn't a lack of that. They aren't creating jobs because they aren't stupid, they know there's insufficient demand; why create jobs when there's no need (on the business side)?

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 29, 2014 10:41 a.m.

    UtahBlueDevil –

    “Returning to the past will not work”

    That depends on what we return to.

    Returning to higher taxes for higher earners makes all the sense in the world.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 29, 2014 10:19 a.m.

    "It's not only what Obama has done, but what he promises to do. Business owners know he's hostile to them. They're not going to take extra risks, knowing that he intends to cut them down and redistribute their wealth."

    Just plain goofy. I am sitting right now in a conference with 140 business leaders talking about global markets. If George Will or Nate think we are working under the same economic paradigm that we did when Reagan was president, they are the problem, not the ones pointing out the solution.

    Case and point, India and China. In the time of Reagan, both of these countries represented next to no economic power. Today, both represent the single largest growth of wealth that we have seen in the last 50 to 100 years. Half of want used to be a powerful IBM is now owned by the Chinese. China is the second largest automotive market in the world. They didn't show up on the charts in 1981.

    The only lesson we will learn from returning to the rules of 1950 or 1981 is how a once powerful British Empire imploded by ignoring global changes. Returning to the past will not work.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 29, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    Hey Happy . . .

    “ . . . attacking the messenger (Mr. Will).”

    Mr. Will is a messenger alright. George is a dutiful errand boy for the likes of the Koch brothers and their ilk, bringing the word down from up above for the consumption loyal sycophants who worship at their feet.

    No happy, it’s not the Ten Commandments, but “Conservatives” treat the words of Right Wing propagandists like it’s the word of God.

    Hey Mike Richards –

    There is absolutely no way you can logically blame GW’s Great Recession (and it’s hideous Tea Party infested aftermath) on President Obama.

    Obama’s Jobs’ Bill of 2011 would have had this nation sitting pretty right now, employing millions of Americans building infrastructure and in support industries, if only regressive Republicans in Congress had not shot down what would have been an extremely sensible and productive law.

    Face it man, “Conservatives” are America’s enemy number ONE . . . They’re just too willfully unaware to realize it.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    If only George's imaginary economy were reality. But it isn't. And if President Obama can be blamed for anything, it is for pushing too weak of a government intervention. The reason we have such a stagnant job market is because the Republicans were pushing European-style austerity measures instead of government stimulus. But it is the Republican way to blame Obama for everything.

    So, what it Will's solution? Simply more Reaganomics. More supply-side, trickle-down nonsense. The GOP really hasn't come up with a different economic theory, even though thirty years have proved how disastrous the Reagan Revolution has been. Will sees less regulation and lower taxes as a solution to our job woes. Please. Businesses aren't overly burdened by regulation, and taxes are already too low. Businesses have plenty of cash to hire people. Why don't they? Because there is insufficient demand. Why is there insufficient demand? Because American corporations have shipped too many jobs off to the Third World. If they would hire Americans and pay them decently, there would be more consumer demand and, therefore, more incentive to hire even more Americans. Wake up, George.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    May 29, 2014 9:14 a.m.

    @ Marxist
    "But none of you have answered my original question: why is capital doing so well? Business is not sitting this out waiting for the next administration. What they are doing is investing in low wage parts of the world, abandoning the American labor force - my original point."
    As someone who works for a large international corporation and has insight into it's labor you are correct. Companies took advantage of the recession to terminate American workers and invest in overseas labor. For those jobs to come back to America we'll have to lower our wages to compete. The world is a lot smaller than it was when Reagan was in office.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 29, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    "whose stated agenda was to turn America into an inferior country"

    Really? Obama "stated" that? Cmon Mike, Dont embarrass yourself.

    who had open hostility to anyone who opposed him on anything. But, people voted for him anyway.

    "We can blame the economic depression on the people who were so foolish. Yes, Obama caused it"

    Obama caused the economic depression? Had to have been as a Senator, because it began before he was elected president.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 29, 2014 7:44 a.m.

    Mr. Will wrote: "There is, however, something new under the sun. The Pew Research Center reports that Americans 25 to 32 — "millennials" — constitute the first age cohort since World War II with higher unemployment or a greater portion living in poverty than their parents at this age. But today's millennials have the consolation of having the president they wanted."

    That is the problem. People voted for a man who had no experience, whose stated agenda was to turn America into an inferior country, who had open hostility to anyone who opposed him on anything. But, people voted for him anyway.

    We can blame the economic depression on the people who were so foolish. Yes, Obama caused it, but he would never have had the opportunity if the citizens were responsible enough to vote for someone who believed in America.

    No business is going to expand with Obama threatening to tax them out of business.

    Actions have consequences. Obama is the consequence of voting. Stagnation is the consequence of having Obama in office.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 29, 2014 7:07 a.m.

    You know if this were the 6th year of McCain (who I voted for) in the White House, I'd have to admit that it isn't working and he (McCain) needs to change course to get the economy running up to at least par again. I certainly would not be trying to defend his work just because I had voted for him and he had an R after his name. What good does that do? However, I suspect we will see a lot of either defending Obama, or attacking the messenger (Mr. Will).

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 29, 2014 6:45 a.m.

    “President Barack Obama, forever young, has convenient memory loss: It serves his ideology.”

    George F Will is projecting again, on behalf of America’s plutocrat-controlled Right Wing masses. I’m wondering George, do you submit your columns to the Koch Brothers for pr-approval?

    “Ronald Reagan lightened the weight of government as measured by taxation and regulation.”

    Wrong! Ronald Reagan was a scourge, and the Reaganomics he left us is holding this nation back.
    The economy rebounded during the Reagan administration only because the price of World Oil had plummeted to less than 1/3 the price it had been during the Carter administration, not thanks to Reagan.

    The pre-Reagan Demand Side economics that had worked so well over the decades kept taxes progressively lower for lower earners. This makes sense because the less one earns, the more one is COMPELLED to spend that money and put it back into the economy.

    Reagan’s Supply Side economics reduced taxes for high earners, who tend to hoard money. Thus, under Reaganomics, the rich get much richer as the economy tanks.

    Right Wing Propagandists promote the rich at the expense of everyone else. Thanks for the demonstration Mr. Will.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 29, 2014 5:54 a.m.

    Dear Nate: You are right on target. Roosevelt was a terrible president domestically. He almost ruined this country with his totally wacky economic policies. The only thing that saved us was the Supreme Court that found the New Deal to be unconstitutional. It took many years for this country to recover from the damage done by the Roosevelt Administration. This is just historic fact.

    Obama has done so much damage that there is no telling how long it will take us to recover, if ever. Of course, there are always those who will continue to live in denial.

    When you hire someone who is incompetent, narcissistic, arrogant and completely off base, you will not get a good result. That is what we, as a nation, have done. Who knows how many lifetimes we will be paying for our foolishness.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 29, 2014 5:01 a.m.

    Yes, Reagan "lightened the load" when it comes to federal income tax. And it did work.

    So, what does that teach us? It tells me that if you lower the top tax rate from 70%, it is a good thing.

    And one thing to note. If you look at Reagan's tax rates AND tax brackets, it would be obvious to an 8th grade math student that federal income taxes were higher under Reagan then they are today.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 29, 2014 12:02 a.m.

    Re: Nate "Roosevelt made the same mistake. Potential job creators in his time decided it was prudent to lay low and wait out his term of office. Thus, the Great Depression lasted years longer than it otherwise would have. History repeats itself." Well that's one explanation among several explaining the depth and length of the Great Depression.

    Economists have not explained satisfactorily the Great Depression. One thing I know for sure is this: Roosevelt cannot be blamed for the depth of the initial collapse - by far the worst in American history. So one could say the reason for the prolonged depression was the depth of the initial hole - not a complete or satisfactory explanation.

    But none of you have answered my original question: why is capital doing so well? Business is not sitting this out waiting for the next administration. What they are doing is investing in low wage parts of the world, abandoning the American labor force - my original point.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:52 p.m.

    "Ronald Reagan lightened the weight of government as measured by taxation and regulation. Obama has done the opposite."

    It's not only what Obama has done, but what he promises to do. Business owners know he's hostile to them. They're not going to take extra risks, knowing that he intends to cut them down and redistribute their wealth.

    Roosevelt made the same mistake. Potential job creators in his time decided it was prudent to lay low and wait out his term of office. Thus, the Great Depression lasted years longer than it otherwise would have. History repeats itself.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 10:31 p.m.

    Re: samhill "He's [Obama] actually been pretty straight forward about implementing the socialistic agenda he has espoused."

    I wish we had a socialist in the presidency. If that had been the case we would have a much more robust health care system, emergency employment providers like the PWA, and encouragement of Worker Self Directed Enterprises. Under Obama capital calls the shots (mostly).

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 8:49 p.m.

    "But today's millennials have the consolation of having the president they wanted."
    ==============================

    Those who voted for Obama (twice) were warned. But, to be fair, I don't think Obama is to blame. He's actually been pretty straight forward about implementing the socialistic agenda he has espoused, more or less openly, for many years. The problem is not Obama, it is us!

    We are all paying the price for bad choices, before, during and after Obama. His dual elections and the ensuing aftermath merely indicate how badly we, as an electorate generally, need to wise up.

  • Jack Aurora, CO
    May 28, 2014 8:23 p.m.

    So the article is posted less than an hour ago, and if there aren't several comments on it in the first few minutes, it's not up to standard? Or perhaps it's evening and folks are doing something else than reading DN on-line?

    if Will's comments are rambling(which they aren't) and snarky(not really) then perhaps the perception of his very accurate explanations is the issue. He sums the issues up very clearly and I don't know if anyone else could have done a better job. To recover from the recession, government must get out of the way, stop the crony capitalism that dictates who will get the pass and who gets the shaft, and then the capital will flow. Uncertainty doesn't promote confidence in business expansion(which creates jobs)......but I guess the concept is difficult to understand......for some.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 28, 2014 7:49 p.m.

    I note that Will's pieces don't attract much comment, probably because they are so rambling and snarky. Will needs to explain why the owners of capital are doing so spectacularly well while the providers of labor are doing so poorly. If the business climate is as bad as Will says it is, capital shouldn't be doing so well.

    The answer is that American capital has abandoned their laboring countrymen. If I fault Obama for one thing, it would be his failure to hammer home this point and deal with it straight out.