There was the ol' one, out for a spin in his kinetic KIA, when he heard the news. 57,000 jobs had been created in September, came the report over the wireless. However, it was pointed out that most of those were low-paying jobs in the "service sector."
Ah, the "service sector." Included in that classification are retail clerks (now known as "associates" or "partners" in some companies) who can make a whopping $7 to $8 an hour. Now, if you're in high school and want a part-time job, that's not a bad rate for starters.
Granted things were much different in the last century, but the ol' one remembers working a part-time job during his high school days for 85 cents an hour. That job, at the Nu-Look Car Wash which was just around the corner from the ol' one's ancestral home in the northeast section of Philadelphia, tied up Saturdays and Sundays, and, if they needed you, you could grab a couple hours on a Friday afternoon right after you got home from school. But who complained? The "wash" provided the ol' one and most of his neighborhood chums income for prom expenses and one or two mild diversions.
To add some insult to this supposedly good news, President Bush said he was pleased, and that these 57,000 jobs are a good indicator that the economy is starting to gain momentum. Well, momentum has to start somewhere, but, curiously enough, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the nation's unemployment rate for September remained at 6.1 per cent, pretty much the same level as in August and July. Translated into workers it means 9 million Americans were unemployed! Where's the momentum? Now, here is another interesting fact from the Department of Labor. People who worked part-time for economic reasons numbered 5 million. These are people, the Department of Labor said, who "indicated that they would like to work full time but worked part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job." For good measure, 24 million people continued to work at part-time jobs.
Overall, the 6.1 per cent rate is the worst unemployment rate this nation has experienced since 1994 when the rate was a similar 6.1 per cent. Oh, but not to worry. We're nowhere near the all-time record unemployment rate of 21.7 per cent, which occurred during the Great Depression.
So, what's going on here? Are President Bush and his advisors content to let market forces have their way at the expense of hard-working Americans? So, he throws the American public a bone in the way of a tax cut that puts about $300 on average into our pockets. What can $300 buy? You know the answer to that, good readers.
Then, a couple Fridays ago, Vice President Cheney came to Chester County to stump for Congressman Jim Gerlach. In the ol' one's opinion, Gerlach is a good man and a good U.S. Representative. However, everyone knows that to attend any party's fund raiser, you need to be prepared to shell out as much as $300 a head.
If you wanted to break bread with the Vice President and Rep. Gerlach at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center over there in the Route 202 Corridor on that Friday, you had to ante up $1,000 per plate. The ol' one has to laugh at the veep's remark about getting out of Washington, D.C. to "talk to real folks." Not doubting any of the attendees' humanity, but how many "real folks" do you know, good reader, who can plunk down $1,000-a-plate for a menu that offers prime rib and salmon? The Vice President went on to say of the Bush administration's efforts to address the state of the economy that "we believe we've made significant progress" by reforming the tax code and relieving the "burden on the taxpayer" with tax cuts.
Let's balance this off with another cold fact of economic life: The nation has almost three million fewer jobs than when President Bush was inaugurated.
Isn't there something wrong with this picture? The President, as his party has traditionally done, has pandered to the whims of big business. Just look at the way air pollution and conservation laws have been relaxed, among other notable accomplishments of this administration.
Ah, but the GOP is starting to get nervous over the President's chances of winning a second term next November. Party bigwigs are in a sweat over a recent CBS-New York Times poll that revealed 56 per cent of Americans don't care for the direction in which the administration is taking the country compared to only 37 per cent who do. To complicate the situation, 37 per cent approve of Bush's approach to the economy while 56 per cent of the populace disapprove.
Then the President comments at an event in Milwaukee the other Friday the labor statistics came out, "Things are getting better." Better for whom?
Put all this together and it looks like we have an administration in Washington that has overlooked the economic well-being of its nation's citizens.
Leaning back in his rocking chair on the porch with a cup o' joe, the ol' one has this advice for President Bush: Don't go shopping at a J.C. Penney like your father did. That would only add more insult to the injury already inflicted on the economy and on hard-working Americans.
By the way, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, since April, temporary help has added 147,000 jobs. Hmmm. Does temporary mean what the ol' one thinks it means?