NY Times: This Prolonged Recession Is The Fault Of You Consumers

by William Teach | July 17, 2011 8:11 am

Because, darnitall, you silly consumers just won’t spend yourselves into massive debt in the manner (NMP) Obama has

THERE is no shortage of explanations for the economy’s maddening inability[1] to leave behind the Great Recession and start adding large numbers of jobs: The deficit is too big. The stimulus was flawed. China is overtaking us. Businesses are overregulated. Wall Street is underregulated.

Missing is “Obama is clueless, doesn’t understand how the economy works, and has surrounding himself with advisors that still think they are in a far left college bull session.”

But the real culprit – or at least the main one – has been hiding in plain sight. We are living through a tremendous bust. It isn’t simply a housing bust. It’s a fizzling of the great consumer bubble that was decades in the making.

The auto industry is on pace to sell 28 percent fewer new vehicles this year than it did 10 years ago – and 10 years ago was 2001, when the country was in recession. Sales of ovens and stoves are on pace to be at their lowest level since 1992. Home sales over the past year have fallen back to their lowest point since the crisis began. And big-ticket items are hardly the only problem.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently published a jarring report on what it calls discretionary service spending, a category that excludes housing, food and health care and includes restaurant meals, entertainment, education and even insurance. Going back decades, such spending had never fallen more than 3 percent per capita in a recession. In this slump, it is down almost 7 percent, and still has not really begun to recover.

See? Lilliputian consumer spending is not a symptom or result, but a cause. Which, let’s be honest, at this point, two years from when “economists” declared the recession over, could be considered a cause of the recession continuing on at the deepest level since the Great Depression. And, if that’s so, wouldn’t it make sense to enact policies that leave people with more of their own money, especially those evil rich people who have more buying power? Actually lower income and capital gains taxes, sales tax and property tax, at least for, say, 5 years? Increase consumer choice, like with incandescent light bulbs? Stop groping people at the airport who do not fit the profile of an Islamic terrorist? Stop putting more burdens on the auto industry which drives up costs? Let Big Oil and Big Coal (again, I’m not a fan of coal) do their jobs on American soil? Stop mandating the use of food as fuel? Heck, let little kids run a lemonade stand without a permit? All those, and others, would make sense, right? Au contraire, Rabbit!

THE notion that the United States needs to begin moving away from its consumer economy – toward more of an investment and production economy, with rising exports, expanding factories and more good-paying service jobs – has become so commonplace that it’s practically a cliché. It’s also true. And the consumer bust shows why. The old consumer economy is gone, and it’s not coming back.

In simple words, what seems to be suggested is an economy run by government (investments) with everyone at the same blue collar income level doing blue collar jobs (not that there is anything wrong with blue collar jobs, they just aren’t for everyone): in other words, their old buddy, communism.

The consumer driven economy will come back, as it always does, because people, like the article writer, David Leonhardt, and all the other high end progressives at the NY Times, want stuff. They all talk a good game for the way Other People should act, but, when it comes to themselves, progressives are uncharitable, refuse to send extra money to the IRS, and refuse to give up their own capitalistic lives.

And, just as obviously, this is an attempt to shift blame from Obama and the Democrats to Someone Else.

Meanwhile, Vox Popoli[2] catches Leonhardt using a quote that Leonhardt doesn’t understand in the article, and all the “smart” liberal commentors have failed to call him on it.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove[3]. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach[4].

  1. THERE is no shortage of explanations for the economy’s maddening inability: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/sunday-review/17economic.html
  2. Vox Popoli: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2011/07/danger-of-wikipedia.html
  3. Pirate’s Cove: http://www.thepiratescove.us/
  4. @WilliamTeach: http://twitter.com/WilliamTeach

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