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Column - Mark Figley: Is economy really better?


August 23. 2013 12:06PM
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Increasingly, Americans are left with a lingering question, “Are we really on the road to economic recovery?” Pundits would have us believe that the recession of 2008 is ancient history and our efforts should be concentrated on avoiding a new recession, but did the first one ever truly end?



One doesn’t need to look far to research this question. Wall Street still has jitters, banks and lenders continue to sit on large sums of money, gas prices continue to surge, real estate and housing values have yet to recover and unemployment /underemployment are much higher than statistics would indicate. Then there is the precarious state of the world economy, especially with the continuing debt crisis in Western Europe.



So-called experts have long traced this economic crisis to the greed and excesses of Wall Street, but how long can we lay the blame there? Politicians have passed laws and regulations ie. Dodd-Frank in 2010 to prevent Wall Street from repeating bad mistakes, yet is the economy remotely improving?



When President Obama took office, the national debt was $9 trillion. At the end of his first term, it exceeded $16 trillion, and by the end of his second term it is projected to top $22 trillion. Are we to believe that such insane spending by a government that borrows 46 cents of every dollar it spends has led us out of the recession? What kind of parallel universe are we living in?



If we are truly beyond the 2008 recession, why is government dependence at 47 percent, the highest level in U.S. history? Why are 21 million households dependent on food stamps, the highest number on record? Despite job numbers that we are told continue to improve, why are Hispanic and black unemployment at 11 percent and 16 percent respectively, while true overall unemployment exceeds 16 %? Inflation also continues to climb, yet the majority of Americans receive wages which fail to keep pace. For an economy that has truly been rescued by government-paid bailouts and oodles in new spending, why are we still mired in conditions that guarantee a recession that seems infinite?



Could it be that the very government that seeks to convince us that we’ve recovered from the 2008 recession is the prime reason we are still stuck in an economy grasping for air? The sad truth is we have long been witness to an ever-growing federal government with a drunken sailor-like spending mentality. Our current president has simply amped up a process that insidiously taxes, regulates and penalizes success as far as the eye can see. When these forces are combined, they stifle economic prosperity, which is government’s intent. Then it can “rescue” us with unceasing government action.



Those who believe that government policies have rescued us from recession infer that the private sector plays no part in economic success. Yet our troubled economy and the other assorted crisis we face seem to become only more problematic the more that government enters the fray. This can be seen in a myriad of ways, most obviously with Obama care and its negative and far-reaching affects on our existing health insurance system.



So as real, everyday Americans continue to look for signs of an economic recovery, we can all rest easy in knowing that we’re no longer suffering from a recession that is long behind us. Never mind that Washington is spending an apparently endless amount of cash that we can’t even conceive of. Rest assured, we have turned the corner due to the brilliance of politicians who have consistently led the way! After all, only a strong central government can soften an economic collapse or lead a nation out of a recession. Just ask Greece how that’s working out.



Mark Figley is a resident of Elida and occasional guest columnist of The Lima News.





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