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sábado, 16 de enero de 2016
that job growth since the Affordable Care Act went into full effect has been the fastest since the 1990s – which is simply what data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says – I got a barrage of mail from people claiming that I’m crazy or a liar.
Similarly, but on of course a much bigger scale, a lot of what I’m seeing in reactions to President Obama’s final State of the Union address amounts to the assertion that only an imbecile or a hack could believe Mr. Obama’s talk about the strength of the United States economy relative to other advanced countries – when that’s just a simple fact.
Though to get there, you have to grade on a curve, one where the average is dragged down by the awful performance of Europe.
What does our economic record look like compared with our own past? Not great, but not too bad either.
Unemployment in the United States is more or less back to precrisis levels, but that’s in part because of falling labor force participation. What’s happening to family incomes? Unfortunately, the Census Bureau data on those incomes comes with a long lag, but Sentier Research now produces much more timely estimates. What they say is that after a severe drop, median real household income is also roughly back to its precrisis level.
That’s not a great result; once upon a time we expected median income to be markedly higher at the peak of each business cycle than it was at the preceding peak. But that wasn’t true under President George W. Bush, who also more or less only presided over a return to the previous peak on the eve of the Great Recession – and the Bush-era economy only got there thanks to a disastrous housing bubble. (As an aside: Median income didn’t rise much under President Reagan either.)
So the Obama macroeconomic record isn’t just one of stabilizing the economy after a terrifying crisis; he has also presided over income growth that, assuming we don’t have another recession this year, will have been better than his predecessor.
We’ve also seen a dramatic reduction in the number of uninsured Americans. So while income has been flat, income security has gone up substantially. Of course, none of this will make any dent in the conviction of the usual suspects that everything has been a disaster. But really, Mr. Obama has cause for satisfaction, though not triumph.
When Trivial Things Induce Rage
Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo, has come up with a great term for the standoff happening in Oregon: “white privilege performance art.” We have people engaging in armed insurrection over the vast oppression of being asked to pay a small fee when grazing their animals on public land. Surely an important part of the story is the fact that the perpetrators know that they won’t face the consequences that would follow if, say, a nonwhite group pulled a similar stunt.
Something that strikes me, however – and which I don’t fully understand – is that when people like this turn to angry rhetoric with at least a hint of violence, the issues in question tend to be remarkably trivial. There are plenty of real grievances that could rile up working-class white Americans, but what really sets them, or their would-be spokesmen, off are things like the belief that President Obama is giving debt relief to Those People (which basically never happened).
Or remember when the conservative commentator Erick Erickson engaged in what could be considered an incitement to violence in 2009: “At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell?” Mr. Erickson asked in a piece for RedState. com. “At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?”
So what motivated all this rage? Regulations banning phosphate in dishwasher detergent, which Mr. Erickson believed was causing his dishes to get inadequately cleaned.
There has to be some significance in the awesome triviality of the things that induce this anger. But I don’t understand what it is.