A better question would be: When did we stop being better off?
I can point to a personal timeline when things started going South into the “not better off” category. In 2000, there was a lot of griping over the presidential election but that’s not when things started going bad. Although there was the contested election and all the bad press and everything, less than a year later, almost everybody in the country was glad there was a Republican in the White House to answer the assault to our nation and our sovereignty. Even with the economic situation on the stock market things weren’t all that terrible and once we geared up for an aggressive answer to our attackers things started getting better there, too. In spite of the ups and downs on the stock market, we weren’t any worse off than we were before 9/11 and in many ways were better off than when Clinton was in office. Lower taxes for one thing. Instead of paying out several thousand at tax time (on top of what was already paid in) we paid less than two thousand.
Eveyrthing was pretty even keeled until the 2004 elections although people were getting tired of the long war. Bush didn’t lie about that. He said it would be a long war. Unfortunately, the American people think long is like: next week instead of now.
In October of 2004, just a month before the elections, here came the meme, “Bush Lied, People Died.” If he did, so did Clinton and every member of Congress who stood for the war in Iraq but we’re not supposed to remember that. Kerry was getting stomped during the campaigning in spite of women drooling over him. They had to do something and this something was the precursor to the nation not being better off.
With yet another contested election to face, the Democrats also said they don’t recognize Bush as president. They continued the mantra of “Bush Lied, People Died” yet in spite of all the calls to impeach both Bush and Cheney, that’s all the Democrats had because they were the minority in Congress. In 2005, they ramped up the rhetoric against Bush and threw Cheney in as well and along came Katrina which created the perfect storm against Bush and Cheney. I have a personal story here so I’m going to sidetrack for a paragraph or so.
My mother-in-law was affected by Katrina. Her roof was badly damaged. She was at the time walking with the aid of a walker. She spents hours every day for many days trying to get aid to fix her house because she is on a very low fixed income. In fact, my husband and I, every Christmas, instead of getting her a present we paid her property taxes as our gift to her and her husband. After many days of this being told she wasn’t needy enough (not being from New Orleans) she gave up. I wrote the governor of her state and got no response. I wrote both the Senators in the state and got no response. (All of the previous were Democrats.) I wrote Vice President Cheney and within a week she had the help she desperately needed… in her hands. But the lie was” “Republicans don’t care” and the Democrats got a lot of mileage out of it straight into 2006. My father-in-law’s house in MS still isn’t fixed except what he has done out of his own pocket, but New Orleans is still the problem child isn’t it? It’s been a disaster waiting to happen since 1929 when the Mississippi was rerouted so people could build homes on a riverbed but, of course, it’s Bush’s fault, isn’t it?
We all took an economic hit from Katrina. Gas prices soared because of the damage to wells in the Gulf, which had the domino effect of prices for everything going up. Money was tighter and we were still in the long war so the “Bush Lied, People Died” mantra worked in this gloomy scenario aided by the disaster that was Katrina. This couldn’t be helped and by the time prices were at pre-Katrina levels, it was too late.
Another by-product of Katrina was a greater amount of illegal immigration as they saw an opportunity to make loads of money and came in droves to fill up labor and construction jobs on the Gulf. Illegal immigration has always been something of a problem, even more so after 9/11, but Katrina was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. We couldn’t absorb them into other jobs and the economic hit from having to deal with them on top of everything else just added to the Democrats’ gleeful meme of doom and gloom, although at the time the illegal aliens weren’t identified publicly as a big problem. I know this because my husband, being in construction was discussing with his boss whether they would be sending anyone to the Gulf to help with clean up when suddenly they were all told, they weren’t needed because crews were coming from Mexico. They came to make some quick money, but then, they stayed.
As Congressional campaigns got rolling in 2006, while we’re still recovering from Katrina, the Democrats promised a more open Congress and taking care of the people while villifying the Republicans as the tax and spend crowd… of which the Republicans happened to be guilty and not just because of the war in Iraq. Earmarks were out of control and so was the country, although the stock market was rebounding and gaining beyond the pre-9/11 levels. We were still in pretty good shape in our personal finances, too, once everything started settling back to pre-Katrina levels, but the doom and gloom from the Democrats was starting to wear on people. On the day to day, nobody worried about gas prices, the cost of a gallon of milk, or whatever they needed from local deparmtent stores and so on, except for the very poor who have always worried about those things regardless of who is president at the time.
The Democrats win Congress with their memes and that’s the turning point towards South. In the early months we didn’t see a lot of difference except for the fight against wholesale amnesty for untold numbers of illegal aliens. But then, Al Gore won an Oscar for his Global Warming scam which has profited him and anyone in it the scam with him but no one else. States raised taxes and the only real legislation that Congress has done in the last almost two full years, now, is mandates for ethanol and a host of other environmental indignities that have done nothing but take money out of our pockets because the price of basic foods went through the roof at an enormous pace. In addition, global demand for oil has risen as China has entered the global economy as a major player. So, gas prices go up as ever slave to the law of supply and demand. While global warming mandates had already brought about a price increase in basic foodstuffs, also tied to the law of supply and demand, the increase in fuel prices made a bad situation worse. By the way, they still haven’t impeached Bush and Cheney and there’s a good reason why. It might make a good campaign slogan but there’s not much meat in it and that’s all they have. Impeachment hearings would bring out the fact that they all saw the same intelligence that Bush had and also the fact that 4 of the 5 components which Saddam was accused of possessing were found. Instead of wondering where the 5th component went to, it was more politically expedient to say Bush lied.
Oh, and gasoline isn’t the only thing that comes from a barrel of oil. Nor diesel. Something we take for granted every day comes from those barrels of oil: plastics. Everything we use on a daily basis has some plastic parts attached to it: home and cell phones, household appliances, computers, the knobs on your kitchen stove, and more. Some fabrics are made with nylon, a byproduct of oil as well. Vaseline is called petroleum jelly in its generic name… key word: petroleum. Some cosmetics are made using petroleum jelly as the base. And more. In short, there is no such creature as oil independence. There’s nothing to replace it in all its forms.
And Congress’ more open government? Well, since the Democratic majority, Congress has attempted to slip through all sorts of legislation without informing the public about what they’re doing and have subjected the other side of the aisle to indignities of all kinds, yet, complain about partisanship. Earmarks that were considered out of control before are now the norm. Between entitlements and earmarks we’re bankrupting the country and that’s a fact. And the Democrats promise more of the same. I read somewhere or heard somewhere that for every dollar put in for subsidized health care only 4 cents of it is actually spent on the health care. That’s something for you proponents of government universal healthcare to think about. It may be expensive now but the government is going to give you only 4% of what you pay in. You may well find entire paychecks swallowed into universal healthcare at which point many will wonder why they work at all.
So, our government has thrown us into the global warming scam which has trapped us financially and ramped up earmarks, besides. They have passed legislation to bail out banks and mortgage companies who made bad business decisions. Case in point, Bank of America, which decided sometime early last year they were going to extend credit to illegal aliens. Those illegal aliens don’t have the same obligations that ordinary citizens do and just walked away from those obligations and left the rest of us to foot the bill. But Congress has the answer!!! Bail them out and let one of the bailees write the legislation. Wh pays for that? We do along with every other insanity.
On top of that, my state has raised taxes. People think we pay only 8.25% sales tax and they’re wrong. That’s what we pay for food. Everything else is 9.25% and I mean everything. In addition to sales tax, we’ve had an increase in gas taxes, utility rates (including water service), and property tax went up 1% as well. Oh, I forgot, we also got hit with a wheel tax which by itself isn’t that bad but when added to the rest it becomes a financial nightmare. Part of those unemployment figures are government workers being laid off or let go because of budget crunches while the Governor spends $700,000,000 on an underground bunker/banquet hall.
Now factor in depressed wages also a byproduct of the cheap labor from illegal immigration and all the indignities the government imposes upon us, although it swears to care about us, here we are: not better off.
Remember, I did say this is my personal perception. Others may have similar thoughts on this while some will have a different take. So take it at face value that this is my experience, not yours. I’m sure I’ve left out several items that could be added to this dialogue but I thought it was getting too long. Feel free to have at it, for or against.
Update: One other thing I’d like to add that has added to economic woes. This Congress enacted a hike in minimum wage. While laudible on its face, it has caused no end of problems for job seekers as operation costs for small businesses just went up on all fronts. The only costs that are within their control are labor costs. That wouldn’t have anything to do with the unemployment rate right about now, would it?