Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm Not Buying What DeVos is Selling

I only saw a couple minutes of the final debate between Granholm and DeVos the other night and I noted DeVos' stage prop right away - his eyeglasses. What was that all about? I assume someone told him they would make him look more intelligent, but I think words are more important than appearances, and what I heard didn't impress me too much. DeVos continues to repeat the same mantra over and over again:
[...]49 other states are doing great. 49 other states are moving forward. 49 other states are adding jobs. And yet, Michigan is the only one lagging behind.
Really? Dick might want to put those glasses back on and read this news:
Ohio pushed President George W. Bush's reelection over the top in 2004, but in congressional elections next month economic hardship in the rust belt could turn the tide against incumbents from Bush's Republican Party. [...]

But the manufacturing heartland is still feeling the lingering effects of a recession in 2001 and reeling from the loss of thousands of jobs to factories in China, India and Mexico.

While the nation's unemployment rate is at a five-year-low of 4.6 percent, joblessness is 5.7 percent in Ohio, 7.1 percent in Michigan and 5.3 percent in Indiana. Together, the three states have lost nearly half a million jobs in six years. [...]

John Gordon, 54, is a 10-year veteran at the plant who makes $16.58 an hour. He voted for Bush in 2004, but now he wants change.

The 25 cent raise he got last year didn't keep up with inflation, he said. His health insurance premiums have doubled in recent years, while coverage has shrunk.

"I just got a bill for $300, and our plan pays $72," he said. "George Bush wants to do away with overtime compensation, while everyone else, big oil, gets their handout."
Here's some more "great" news about conditions in Ohio and across the country: [emphasis added]
[...]The announcement this month by diesel engine maker Cummins Inc. that 600 to 800 jobs would be created at its once-decimated Columbus plant drew two U.S. congressmen and the state governor, Republicans all, to celebrate the success of drawing new jobs to their district.

"We still have challenges, but there are more people working today in America than ever before ... and it's good news," said Rep. Mike Sodrel, who is trailing Democrat Baron Hill in polls for the November 7 election, when control of Congress is at stake.

That there are more Americans working now than ever before is not really much of an accomplishment -- there are more Americans, period, due to population growth -- but in the rust-belt states of middle America, any job growth in an election year is reason to revel.

Indiana's unemployment rate has climbed from 3.0 percent six years ago to 5.3 percent, well above the 4.6 percent national average. While job growth in the state has outpaced neighbors Ohio and Michigan, there are still 21,400 fewer jobs there than in 2000, before Republican President George W. Bush won the White House.
Moving further west, the story is similar:
Not only has the median income of Kansas and Missouri dropped an average of 12 percent over the last six years, the cost of state-supported higher education has increased some 50 percent. More specifically, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Education Department, and the state departments of higher education, the median income in Kansas dropped over 10 percent while tuition increased 59 percent. In Missouri, average income dropped nearly 15 percent and tuition at the state’s universities increased 51 percent.
Of course, having that college education isn't the ticket to upward mobility it used to be:
The recently released 2006 Economic Report of the President reported that earnings for workers with college degrees declined between 2000 and 2004.
In fact, the middle-class is feeling the squeeze across the country:
But through September, the growth in hourly wages was flat or negative for 27 of the previous 29 months, according to Labor Department data. Wages for blue-collar and nonmanagerial workers - 80 percent of the work force - are growing at a 3.9 percent annual rate, the Labor Department reported in September. Consumer-price inflation, however, is rising at the same rate. That means prices are rising as fast as wages.

Workers are barely keeping up. Health care, wages and energy prices are consumers' top three economic concerns, according to a Gallup poll in September.

"That has to do with things like stagnant wages, fears of jobs being outsourced, income security. These are on people's minds, particularly in lower- and middle-income areas," said Dennis Jacobe, chief economist in Charlotte, N.C., for Gallup.
Nope, I'm not buying what DeVos is selling. There's no denying Michigan is struggling, but 49 other states are NOT "doing great" like he's trying to convince us. Of course, DeVos is a billionaire, and his world is different from ours, but just because Wall Street workers took home nearly $300,000 on average last year that doesn't mean the rest of America is doing well.

Related reading:

The Undeclared War on America's Middle Class
Working America: Less isn't more
Worker's Are Ready for a Change
About That Single State Recession
More on the Single State Recession Myth

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