The Real State of the Union
1) Freedom--still on the march.
2) Isolationism--a menace lurking in the shadows. (Although, one wonders what on earth our born-again Wilsonian president is talking about.)
3) Domestic "surveillance" (please don't call it "spying")--still a necessary ingredient to winning the "war on terror," or, as they're calling it now, "The Long War."
4) The economy--stronger than ever.
5) Deficits--what deficits?
6) Free trade and open borders--still a vital element of American exceptionalism.
To all of which I say, pish posh. Here's the "real deal" about life here in these United States. Caution, you're about to enter a "No-Spin" zone.
On the home front, Paul Craig Roberts continues to chronicle the demise of the American economy:
The state of the union is disastrous. By its naked aggression, bullying, illegal spying on Americans, and illegal torture and detentions, the Bush administration has demonstrated American contempt for the Geneva Convention, for human life and dignity, and for the civil liberties of its own citizens. Increasingly, the US is isolated in the world, having to resort to bribery and threats to impose its diktats. No country any longer looks to America for moral leadership. The US has become a rogue nation.
...Median household income has fallen for a record fifth year in succession. Growth in consumer spending has resulted from households spending their savings and equity in their homes. In 2005 for the first time since the Great Depression in the 1930s, American consumers spent more than they earned, and the government budget deficit was larger than all business savings combined. American households are paying a record share of their disposable income to service their debts.
Globalization is wiping out the American middle class and terminating jobs for university graduates, who now serve as temps, waitresses and bartenders. But the whores among economists and the evil men and women in the Bush administration still sing globalization’s praises.
The state of the nation has never been worse. The Great Depression was an accident caused by the incompetence of the Federal Reserve, which was still new at its job. The new American job depression is the result of free trade ideology.
Meanwhile, the red-hot housing market is beginning to stall, meaning that the big piggybank American consumers have been tapping is about to run dry: "The economy only grew at a 1.1% rate last quarter... Last month saw a steep drop in the sales of existing houses, down 5.7%. That means they’ve been falling at a 36% annual rate for the last three months. The backlog of unsold houses is now 25% greater than it was a year ago. The median price for a house in America fell in December - 4% below its August peak. If consumers are going to keep on spending, we don’t know what they’re going to keep on spending with."
In case you missed it, Alan Greenspan is heading for the door--just in time. Pat Buchanan writes that while the elites heap praise upon Greenspan, the hosannas may be misplaced: "While the economy appears healthy, a disease is eating away inside, a disease that Dr. Greenspan has been treating with oxycontin. The chairman, they say, was a friend to presidents and kept them happy and himself in power by the greatest expansion of money and credit in history. And just as the easy-money Fed policies of the Coolidge-Hoover era led to the crash of ‘29, a day of reckoning is ahead."
With a negative savings rate, ballooning federal and trade deficits, and a coming demographic explosion of oldsters, things don't look so great. Well, we can always keep borrowing from the Chinese to buy the goods they're selling us, right? Isn't that how it's supposed to work?
Take a look at this report, and you will see that since the 2000 election, median income has flat-lined, the poverty rate has increased, and the number of uninsured Americans has continued to climb. Not exactly a record to boast about.
Of course, immigration is one primary component creating growing inequality, rising health care costs, increasingly sub-standard education, and the general diminution of the American nation-state. How is the administration doing on that issue? According the Center for Immigration Studies, "Between January 2000 and March 2005, 7.9 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the country, making it the highest five-year period of immigration in American history." Nearly one-half of the post-2000 arrivals were illegals. So much for border security. But wait, didn't 9/11 "change everything?"
Well, so maybe things aren't that great at home, but haven't you heard that, as the president says, "our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal -- we seek the end of tyranny in our world?" Isn't that going well? Didn't they just have elections in Iraq?
According to a brief statistical overview from Knight Ridder, the situation in Iraq leaves much to be desired. In the past year, insurgent attacks have increased, oil production has decreased, and unemployment still hovers around 40%. As Al Gore might say, "Everything that should be UP is DOWN, and everything that should be DOWN is UP." I know, I should stop being so negative because things will definitely improve in 2006. Of course, by the end of 2006, we may have also invaded Iran and Syria, but that's another matter for another time.
"Yes," my conservative Christian brethren say, "things aren't going as well as hoped in Iraq, but we did get Alito. Even you were happy about that." OK, I admit that I am hopeful about Alito--though less so after his first decision, where he sided with the Court's libs in stopping an execution in Missouri.
So how stands the state of our union? You decide.