The left blames economic woes on everything except its hero president.Sep 14, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 01 • By STEPHEN MOORE
Two weekends ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its annual monetary conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The left flew in hundreds of protesters donning green T-shirts that demanded “Higher Wages for America” and chanting, “We’re Fed Up.” The crowd was an assortment of college kids on their summer break, disgruntled middle-aged teachers, senior citizens, and blue-collar union members. Think Occupy Wall Street.
I attended the Jackson Hole conference and chatted with protesters who came in from places as distant as New York and North Carolina and California. What was their beef? Two black men who appeared to be in their seventies explained the agenda: “We demand higher wages.” “We want an increase in the minimum wage.” “The Fed is intentionally holding down pay.” “Corrupt corporations have all the power.” “Unions need to be returned to power.” A social worker from Kansas City almost sobbingly told me of the plight of the poor who she cares for in her job, of the “women and minorities [who] are being left behind,” as she made an abstract plea for “social justice.”
These were generally nice, sincere, and well-meaning people. They are hyper-concerned about the direction America is headed. They seemed to be earnestly parroting what the union organizers had drilled into them. They have no confidence in the decisions made by arrogant and elitist central bankers, and they are convinced that Republicans care only about the wealthy.
I would guess that 98 percent of them voted for Barack Obama joyfully and twice. What I encountered wasn’t so much leftist rage—that only happens when Republicans are in power—but leftist despondency. They reminded me of the bumper sticker: “How’s that Hope and Change thing working out for you?”
Many of these folks also sounded the themes of Trump supporters and Tea Partiers. At last, we have a consensus growing in this country on the left and the right—and presumably among many people in between. The wheels have come off. It is time to make America great again and rebuild our middle class.
So how should conservatives and Republicans respond to this pervasive despondency and fear? First, many of the left’s complaints about the economy are regrettably true. Yes, wages are stagnant. Yes, the rich are getting richer and poor poorer. Yes poverty is a massive problem in America. Yes, college costs way too much. Yes, too many neighborhoods in cities like Baltimore are blighted pockets of crime, joblessness, godawful schools, and hopelessness. Yes, of course, black lives matter. Yes, race relations have taken a leap backward.
But second, all of this has happened under the most liberal president since Woodrow Wilson. That is the unavoidable truth the left keeps trying to sidestep. Obama is trying to spin that things have gotten much better on his watch, while his own voters are saying they are getting worse. The latest Census Bureau income data show that since January 2009, the median household income has dropped by more than $1,500, and the biggest percentage declines have been among single women, blacks, Hispanics, and workers under the age of 30—i.e., the heart of the Obama coalition. People aren’t just imagining all of this. Where’s the recovery?
During this era of malaise, the Fed has held interest rates at zero for seven straight years, and yet Washington and Wall Street are in full agreement that the only way out is heavier doses of this crack cocaine of easy money. At the Fed meeting I met central bankers and their gaggle of Keynesian economists who for the first time worryingly and grudgingly admitted that their mathematical models about how to get to full employment have gone haywire and may not be reliable. Ya think?
Meanwhile, Barack Obama and the left’s biggest puppeteer/financial supporter, Tom Steyer, the billionaire green giant, keep telling America that the “moral crisis of our time” is climate change. That’s easy for a billionaire to say. Too bad no one in the middle class agrees. All that progressives want to talk about is global warming, and yet every poll shows that out of the top 20 issues, Americans rank climate change close to the last among things they are concerned about. The moral crisis of our time is an economy that has left American workers without a pay increase for nearly 15 years.
8:00 AM, Jun 21, 2015 • By ANDREW B. WILSON
As this father’s day coincides with the summer solstice, it is an appropriate time to recall the astonishingly accurate calculation of the circumference of the Earth that was made on this same day more than 22 centuries ago by one of the founding fathers of mathematics and scientific measurement.
Gleanings and observations.4:20 PM, Apr 27, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Every liberal knows that poverty breeds crime, although data are unable to show such a correlation, much less causation. This understanding of what is called the root cause of crime was best expressed in one of those Woody Allen flashbacks in which his father is defending the family maid against his mother’s charges that she is a thief, “Of course she steals, she’s poor,” a truism and in this case a call to ignore the maid’s appropriation of the property of a family struggling to remain above the poverty line.
Mar 30, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 28 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
"Why Are So Many Seattle Restaurants Closing Lately?” asks a recent Seattle magazine headline. The Scrapbook is no restaurateur, let alone knowledgeable about the local economy, but we’ll guess it has something to do with the fact that Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage starts phasing in on April 1. However, the first rule of liberals confronting the laws of basic economics is deny, deny, deny.
Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
A poignant notice from the website of Borderland Books, an independent bookstore in San Francisco’s Mission District:
At the beginning of 2014, the future of the business looked, if not rosy, at least stable and very positive. We were not in debt, sales were meeting expenses and even allowing a small profit, and, perhaps most importantly, the staff and procedures at both the bookstore and the cafe were well established and working smoothly.
Nov 10, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 09 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It turns out Elizabeth Warren, favorite senator of the left, is not only a self-described Cherokee without evidence of Cherokee ancestry, but a self-described consumer -finance expert without evidence of any financial savvy. Joining two of her favorite themes, women’s oppression and the cruel inadequacy of the minimum wage, she wrote this in a “tweetstorm” she cohosted the other day with fellow Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “2/3 of minimum wage workers are women, but the minimum wage no longer keeps a mom & her baby out of poverty.”
5:47 PM, Oct 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A Nevada man complained to Vice President Joe Biden that it's hard for small businesses to operate these days:
"It's real hard for the small businesses," said the Nevada man. "It's not so easy."
He added, "Right now it's very hard for a small business to make it--and everybody."
"Yeah," said Biden, seemingly in agreement.
"It is very hard," the man said.
The vice president is in Las Vegas, Nevada today.
2:09 PM, Apr 3, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In the midst of the Obama administration's latest push to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released an analysis showing the the percentage of hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage is down to 4.3 percent, or 3.3 million workers.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By FRED BARNES
President Obama talks, talks, talks about jobs. The first 20 minutes of his State of the Union address in January was all about jobs. Immigration reform would “create jobs for everybody,” he said. His energy policy “is creating jobs.” Obama said he’s assigned Vice President Biden to make sure training programs match workers with “good jobs that need to be filled right now.” Last week he described his new budget as “a road map for creating jobs.”
1:08 PM, Mar 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the White House is focused on making the argument for raising the minimum wage. In just a few minutes, Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest will be joined on the phone with Governor Malloy of Connecticut, Governor Chafee of Rhode Island, and Governor Shumlin of Vermont to make that case.
Conservatives and the unemployed.Mar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Millions of Americans, glutted with benefits that until now have seemed likely to be renewed and renewed again, have suddenly become devoid of ambition, shed the work ethic, and taken to the couch and the TV remote. Or found a back pain or emotional problem that entitles them to the even higher benefits designed to ameliorate the plight of truly disabled workers.
8:18 AM, Jan 29, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
President Obama called for a minimum wage hike in his State of the Union Address, but to hear Washington state Democrats tell it, wages aren't the main concern: The real problem is the modern American workplace itself. The minimum wage in Washington state is already $9.32 an hour, more than two dollars an hour higher than the current federal minimum wage.
There are better ways to help workers than the minimum wage.Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By IKE BRANNON
There is a vintage Corvette parked on the street nearby, a 1977 canary yellow model in perfect condition. The NADA Blue Book says it’s worth around $15,000.
The car is someone’s toy: I know that because it hasn’t been moved for an entire year. I’ve seen the owner visit it a couple of times to rev the engine and give it a sponge bath, but it’s been in the exact same spot since last Christmas.