2004 former Independent Challenger for CA Governor
Real Misery Index: highest level ever in April 2010
In a revised take on the original Misery Index--the measure that combined the unemployment rate with the rate with the consumer price index to condense the state of the economy into one neat, digestible number--The Huffington Post created the Real Misery
Index. Incorporating a more extensive host of metrics, including the most accurate unemployment figures; inflation rates for essentials such as food, gas, and medical costs; and data on credit card delinquencies, housing prices, home loan defaults, and
food stamp participation, the Real Misery Index is a much more accurate estimate of economic hardship. In April 2010, as the unemployment rate remained stubbornly high, the Real Misery Index, which charts data from 1984 to today,
hit the highest level on record. And the bull rally that sent the stock market up an impressive 56% from March 2009 to April 2010 surged in tandem with the Real Misery Index, which climbed 16% in the same period--reflecting a "two-tier economy."
Crisis was inevitable byproduct of maximizing profit
There are those in our country who look at the struggles of the middle class--mortgage underwater, foreclosure notices, mounting credit card bills, bankruptcy--and think "They got into this mess of their own free will; they're just getting what they
This response ignores the ugly truth of what brought about this crisis. It wasn't a sudden spike in irresponsibility on the part of middle-class Americans. It was an inevitable by-product of tricks and traps deliberately put in place to
maximize profits for a few while creating conditions that would soon maximize misery for millions.
The housing bubble was no accident. Fueling the boom was the development of securitized mortgages. The Fed did its part, too, contributing extremely
low-interest rates and lax oversight. Bush helped inflate the bubble by pushing to dismantle some of the barriers to homeownership--part of Bush's vision of "an ownership society." The road to hell continues to be paved with good intentions.
Obama's senior economic advisers are convinced we live in a Wall Street-centric universe to rationalize their approach to dealing with Wall Street. It's no surprise that people such as Tim Geithner and
Larry Summers believe in bank centrism--they're both creatures of it. And in a bank-centric universe, funneling no-strings-attached money to too-big-to-fail banks is the logical thing to do.
The longer this remains the dominant cosmology in the
Obama administration--and the longer it takes to switch to a plan that reflects a cosmology on which the
American people are the center of the universe and are deemed "too big to fail"--the greater the risk that the economic crisis will be more prolonged than necessary. And the greater is suffering. There is an enormous human cost to this dogma.
1990s excesses: corporate tricksters got away with millions
In the super-heated nineties we were told repeatedly that "the democratization of capital" and unparalleled increases in productivity would level the playing field and produce unprecedented gains in everyone's standard of living.
Well, far from closing the vast gap between the haves and the have-nots, the lunatic excesses left America's 401(k)s and pension plans in ruins and more than 8 million people out of work. Meanwhile, despite the much vaunted Corporate Responsibility
Act and the highly publicized round up of a few of the most heinous offenders, the awful truth is that the corporate tricksters have pillaged the US economy and gotten away with it.
They're still living in their gargantuan houses, still feasting on their wildly inflated salaries, and engorging themselves on staggering sums of stock options, while the rest of America tries to figure out how to rebuild for retirement.
In 2002, there was an increase in business in the state of 3.7%. This state right now is taxed at a lower rate than when Pete Wilson was governor.
The gloom and doom statistics about businesses leaving are simply a perpetuation of the Republican idea that if you simply do everything businesses want, if you simply let them have all the loopholes they want, then all will be well.
And we saw in the 90s that was not the case. We ended up with Enron, Global Crossing and billions of dollars lost in shareholder wealth and in pensions.
And I would really like you to tell the people the truth, because these illusions are simply hurting us.