Service of a Disconnect

October 9th, 2014

Categories: Disconnect, Economy, Statistics

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On Friday, on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Scott Horsley ran snippets of President Obama’s speech on the economy that he gave last week at Northwestern University.

In “Obama’s Approval Rating Dragged Down by Economic Disconnect” Horsley also listed a bunch of the President’s claims of improvement since he took office: Corporate profits are up, unemployment is down; companies have created 10 million new jobs; there’s rising energy production here and, according to the President, lowering health care costs. [A savings, perhaps but at what cost. A friend’s dad was dismissed from the hospital long before he should have been, no doubt to keep their stats whistle clean, and was returned by ambulance a few days later. But I digress.]

empty walletWhat caught my attention was Horsley’s brief interview with Bard College economist Pavlina R. Tcherneva. She determined that while the economy may be growing, paychecks are not.

Most enlightening was her review of income gains in this country from the 1950s, when 90 percent of workers collected 80 percent of gains to the 1980s, only 20 percent to 2009-2012, where all income gains went to the top 10 percent. Worker’s real income actually shrank.

I had fun fiddling with a cost of living calculator that I found online. I chose to compare 2000 with 2014 to calculate the value of $100 this year with 14 years ago. As of August, 2014 it’s $137.21. That’s a chunk of a difference if your income has stayed the same or is less.

The results of Tcherneva’s historical review helps explain why the President’s approval rating for his impact on the economy was 35 percent on August 21, according to a Gallup poll and why I keep hearing disastrous news of layoffs and fruitless job searches that don’t match the President’s cheery [pre-election] outlook.

Do you agree that there’s a disconnect between “everything’s rosy and getting better,” and reality? Can you share other disconnects?

everything's rosy

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6 Responses to “Service of a Disconnect”

  1. Pete Parma Said:

    So what else is new? Politicians and economists have been manipulating this stuff ever since the first Babylonian PR guy issued the first clay tablet press release.

    For years I made my living finding out what was really going on in countries around the world. Initially, I read quantities of the baloney regurgitated by a bunch of various somebodies’ sincere staffers, but I soon learned that best, most reliable and accurate way to get what I needed was to talk to an assortment of local bartenders and cab drivers. They knew.

    You want to know what is going on here? Talk to any recent college grad who didn’t go to Harvard Business School and isn’t a member of some endangered human species. Chances are he’ll tell you that he owes $100,000 plus in student loans that he can’t pay, and can’t find a job except frying French fries or doing yard work at ten bucks an hour.

    Incidentally, does anybody know of a good plumber, who speaks English, under the age of forty?

    And things are getting better?

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wonder if the public, reading the clay tablets, swallowed the Kool-Aid as so many seem to be doing today? We’re stuck and I’ve not seen legitimate lubricant.

    Can’t help you with a plumber. I can only say that if I had any talents in that direction–or in carpentry, electricity or any handy trade–I’d run to learn the basics. That’s where the jobs are.

  3. lucrezia Said:

    In a way, the President is right. For starters, the stock market is at an all time high. What he neglects to add is that there are millions left out in the cold due to continued unavailability of desired jobs, fixed incomes which are insufficient to cover rising costs, loss of employment due to termination, injury and etc.

    What one calls this omission probably depends upon the category in which one falls.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    As you point out, that’s some list of omissions similar to “the operation was successful but the patient died.”

    The stock market is up. But is it helpful for everyone or just those in control of it or with plenty of extra to gamble with? Many lost their nut in 2008 and as a result of countless other sleazy goings-on–AIG for starters. Funny that corporate execs, who are in the 10 percent that’s doing fine and dandy as Pavlina R. Tcherneva reported, were the cause of this dynamic and they aren’t being troubled a bit: They pay a few cents of their $billions in “fines,” with no jail time, and go on their merry way. Meanwhile those who worked to set aside money and invested it to keep up with inflation have little left to invest. So what good does a growing stock market–that is much like egg white, ready to implode again at any second because of the other points you made about people not having jobs etc–do for most other than the 10 percent?

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I do think there is a disconnect between the cheery economic news and reality, and that we are in a sort of mid-20th century 3rd world situation in terms of socio-economic equality.

    I also think that this disconnect is a reflection of a national state of mind that appears to be riddled with huge “disconnects” in every area. We have a Secret Service that apparently is not even aware of what is blatantly apparent. The FBI is begging EVERYMAN to identify a video taped terrorist whom they know is either an American or a Canadian, while Eliot, Olivia and co. seem better able to locate people using their minds and technology on “Law and Order SVU.”

    Our Congress is forever going on vacation and not acting on anything while simultaneously chastising the always connected President for playing golf. We are riddled with threats and episodes of aberrant individual and mass violence every day. We also glory in macabre video games and endlessly repetitive violent movies and TV series. Our news dwells on the gory details of every act of terror verbally and visually, while lamenting the occurrences. Most recently I got an invitation to “Join Us to Help End Childhood Hunger in America,” a “No Kid Hungry Dinner” in Boston to be catered by noted local chefs at a minimum ticket price of $1,000. What are all these people thinking?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I am slapping my head at the childhood hunger in America campaign at $1,000/tkt. Had I been involved in such a campaign food would have not been on the menu for sure–a disconnect of catastrophic proportions.

    You made me laugh by pointing out how Olivia and Eliot can do what the FBI isn’t able to though it’s not a laughing matter and I know you didn’t mean it to be. The comparison evokes a Charlie Brown crooked smile–an “oh my” reaction to surprise [that great writing can do].

    Don’t get me started about the Congress and its vacations while NY, Boston, LA, Atlanta, Memphis, Washington D.C. etc. etc. etc. burn. And we’ll vote for all the same people again and again and again which is why I’m back where I started–slapping my head.

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