ECONOMICS

Master Of Misrepresentation, Limbaugh Affixes Great Recession Economy To Obama In The Name Of Trump

One of Rush Limbaugh’s great talents is his ability to simply utter just a couple of sentences, and be able to concentrate an almost immeasurable amount of idiocy into such a small statement.  Below are four quick points to counter one of those very statements in which he tries to compare the Trump vs. the Obama economy (see his full Facebook post here):

Limbaugh: “There’s some great economic news here today, ladies and gentlemen. Trump’s first year economic growth is now officially at 2.3%.  In Obama’s first year, the economy shrank 2.8%.  This is a 5.1% turnaround in economic growth, from minus 2.8% to plus 2.3%. This is simply phenomenal.”

This is a truly remarkable statement that does nothing short of purposefully misrepresenting economic climates for partisan purposes.  Here are the actual facts and context:

a) Obama took office when we were losing 750,000 jobs a month with GDP growth bottoming out several months later amongst the economic turmoil of the second worst crash in U.S. history that occurred under the Bush administration’s watch.  Contrast this to Trump’s first year in which he inherited an economy that had 75 straight months of job growth, with millions of jobs being added over this period, including hundreds of thousands of new jobs added during Obama’s final months.

b) Using the “first-year” metric to argue the success or failure of a president’s economic accomplishments is nonsensical.  Legislation isn’t written and policy isn’t passed the very second the President is sworn into office.  The economy of a president’s first year is more of a product of residual legislation already in the books from the prior administration.  It takes time to propose, debate, and pass new meaningful legislation, and after implementation, it takes even more time to see its effect.  I attribute very little of the 2017 economy to the Trump administration, good or bad.  But since then, his GOP tax-scam passed along with other GOP economic initiatives that have been written into law.  Now this becomes the economy he is responsible for from this point on.

c) The “American Recovery and Investment Act” was signed into law by Obama in February of 2009 which led to the ending of the recession five months later.  By March of 2010, the economy was now adding around an average of 250,000 jobs a month, beginning the streak of 75 straight months of job growth with sustained positive GDP growth that continued throughout his remaining six years as president.  Rush isn’t going to mention that though.  Instead, he’d like to keep the discussion centered only around the economic record of Obama’s first year which, like any other first-year president, was operating based on the prior administration’s economic policies.  And as an added bonus, Obama hadt to deal with the clean up of the unfathomable mess left by the Great Recession that had occurred just before George W. Bush left office.

d) Perhaps Limbaugh’s most asinine idea here is comparing the economic growth of each president’s first year in office, and then declaring that this somehow represents a “5.1% turnaround in economic growth”, completely disregarding Obama’s seven years that occurred between each president’s respective first years in office ( and thus conveniently excludes Obama’s 75 months of consecutive job growth).  Limbaugh’s statistic is simply a meaningless number that cannot be used to gauge any measurement of presidential economic performance.

As much as Limbaugh complains about mainstream media slanting and misrepresenting figures, the number he did on these statistics to manipulate them into positive Trump propaganda is truly mesmerizing.  Any unbiased source would never allow a statistic to be used in such a blatantly dishonest manner- but somehow Limbaugh gets away with it once again.  Because his loyal followers are not looking for the truth.  Instead, they’re looking for confirmation that the incompetent sociopath they voted for is a good president.  And they will seek out this reassurance regardless of its honesty. ■

 

Prager U’s Fatally Flawed Minimum Wage Argument

More inaccuracies and false information from Prager U, this time about the minimum wage.
See video here.

1) To explain who gets harmed by raising the minimum wage, they use a boy named “Ned” who is just the neighborhood kid who mows your lawn. 

But, this is not applicable to the type of worker the minimum wage attempts to help as this analogy chosen by Prager U is hardly a typical business/employee relationship.  The average kid mowing your lawn is fully supported financially at home and doesn’t “need” the money.  He does not have any real financial obligations and will not be seeking unemployment benefits if he cannot find a lawn to mow.  Furthermore, many of Ned’s neighbors hire him not because it’s a wise business decision that helps their bottom line.  They do so because they’re being good neighbors, helping teach Ned the value of work, while admittedly getting their lawn mowed at a rate much cheaper then the local landscaping companies charge.

But in the real world, we have minimum wage workers who are completely dependent on their paychecks, having a family to support and bills to pay.  Our federally mandated minimum wage is @ $7.25/hr which equals $15,080 a year for a worker working 40 hours every week.  Even at $10/hr, that just barely gets you over $20K a year which is simply an unsustainable income if one simply accounts for just the very basic living expenses.  And these wages have been stagnant for the better part of 40 years, while while business profits, the stock market,  and CEO pay have skyrocketed during that same timespan.

2) They present a hypothetical minimum wage increase, then claim that Ned will be fired because the family will now seek out a lawn boy with more “detail” because they now have to pay more for the service.

But a minimum wage has little to do with this.  As a business owner, you’re always looking for the best person for the job, whether you have to pay them $7.25/hr or $14/hr.

Take a moment, and try to think about a successful business owner who has the following mentality:  “Well, since I’m only paying my employee $7.25/hr, I will expect low standards as to the quality of their work, work ethic, and the way he represents my company.  But if I’m paying him $12/hr, well that’s different!”

A successful business owner would not think or utter such words in this hypothetical.  They hire and retain workers whom they view are of good quality and will prove themselves to be an asset to the company, regardless of what they pay them.

3) They then attempt to tug at the heartstrings because the big, bad, minimum wage cause Ned to lose his job.

But they don’t mention that someone else is needed to replace Ned – i.e. someone else is hired.  A lost job + job added = wash.  And this point is carried on to the next:

4) They conclude by making the often cited right-wing point that an employer will have to lay-off employees because of the increased business expenses imposed on them by minimum wage law, as if it’s a foregone conclusion.

But further examining this claim in another hypothetical:

a) Take a fast-food restaurant which is a much more accurate real-life example of an industry that regularly implements minimum wage pay.  Let’s say you have three cashiers, three cooks, and a manager. Because you’re a successful business owner, you have all of your employees staying very busy and working very hard,  and they are perfectly filling the demand that the restaurant creates on a day-to-day basis. No one is sitting around doing nothing, as everyone is needed to serve the customers, keep the store clean, etc.  A savvy business owner, along with a sharp team of upper managers ensure this efficiency occurs in their well-run business.

An increase in the minimum wage takes effect and you have to pay these workers more. Who do you let go? The business will suffer if you only have six workers instead of seven.  Keep in mind that upper management were using all seven of their employees in full capacity.  So what happens when their only choice (according to Prager U) is to fire one of them and reduce the staff to six?  Now the service suffers and the restaurant is dirtier, not to mention you’re adding a heavier workload and stress to the six remaining employees.  Unfortunately if the job market is weak during a depression, it’s likely that these employees will stay and accept their added workload, as they realize that there’s only one job available for every eight people looking (as it was during the worst moments caused by the 2008 crash).  Desperation keeps them there, and quitting or complaining is a risk too big to take.

AND

b) They never mention the obvious and honorable point of raising the minimum wage – working individuals now may have extra money that they can pump into the economy.  And it is those consumers who create demand, not wealthy “job-creators.”  With the income boost, they can now buy that new car they were holding off on, new clothes that they’ve been needing, or even eat at that same very restaurant that they work in – all are activities that stimulate and grow and economy.

This is how economies thrive. This is economic stimulation. The middle and working class provide the spending power to enable businesses to operate.  This is how it was in the “good old days” when one could work full time in nearly any occupation and earn enough to buy a house and support a family.  One must wonder why a strong minimum wage isn’t a position supported by nostalgic Conservatives until you look at the construct of the party today and are forced to realize that the Conservative Party of Dwight Eisenhower is long gone.

And it is today’s perverse form of Conservatism that preaches these anti-minimum wage fallacies, mostly coming from billionaire funded big-business think-tanks and organizations such “ The Heritage Foundation,” “The Cato Institute,”  “The American Enterprise Institute,”  and the “Business Roundtable.”  In  observing their economic positions and related policies which they support and attempt to implement, their efforts are based on cutting their own tax rates, easing protective regulations which allow their facilities to operate with less expenses, and voraciously claiming that government is inept, with hopes to transfer those very government entities to themselves and/or their acquaintances in the private sector so personal profits can be reaped.

And even a hint of these details are hardly ever overtly spoken by them.  Instead they urge us not to look behind the curtain, and remind us that they represent traditional values, the belief in God, and “freedom”.

When one speaks using ambiguous language,  a sizable group of loyal supporters will flock regardless of actual meaning.  Utter the phrase “They’re coming for your guns!” or “Traditional values!” and that’s all some people need to support the party and be blind to everything else.   However, if those who bought into that message actually look behind that curtain, they’ll see fiscal policies that are destructive to themselves and their family.

This is nothing new, as we’ve seen these same sort of contradictory blind ideologies come to fruition on countless occasions in world history.  The poor becomes further degraded while the positions of the wealthy become further entrenched as they promote irrational fear under the guise of God, liberty, and tradition.  Where Prager U and today’s conservative movement get it wrong is their refusal to recognize that God, liberty, and tradition are abstract concepts to which different people affix different meanings to.   The real shame is that it is Prager U wishes to define, or assumes the viewer shares the same definitions as they do, therefore not expanding the conversation, yet only reinforcing the viewers already pre-defined concepts.

Side note: Seattle’s gradual implementation of the $15/hr minimum wage will take full effect shortly, and it’s anticipation has not been the catastrophe that many Conservatives have hoped for. The economic stimulative benefits of an increase in the minimum wage (as well as an increase on taxation of those on top) can clearly be seen with the work that Gov. Dayton has done in Minnesota here. ■