Reagan said “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job”.
Recovery, he continued, was when Jimmy Carter lost his job. Well, we’ll have to work on that in 2012. But until then, “recovery” really happens when you, the laid-off American, finally job up and get back to work.
And that is a great moment. My only really significant period of unemployment in my life – my five months of unemployment and six more of subsistence-level contracting – was punctuated by a sudden burst of intense work at the end of ’03 and the beginning of ’04, as the Bush tax cuts kicked into high gear. The dotbomb was a fairly short recession (depression, for me), and it ended because the economy, recovering fast, needed people, including me, to be getting the job done.
America is a big, throbbing place that needs people to do stuff. We have incalculable pent-up demand for everything from bread to Escalades (or Priuses, or whatever) to houses to B-2 bombers.
Of course, companies need to feel that the recovery is solid enough to warrant hiring the people to start building all those Mister Coffees and Target stores and construction bulldozers and flavored condoms and everything else that makes up a consumer and capital market.
Why has this recession generated such bad job opening rates? Isidore quotes Robert Brusca of FAO Economics as saying that “fear is running the show right now,” and small wonder. Instead of trying to calm the nation, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have transformed themselves into Chicken Littles, abandoning FDR’s “All we have to fear is fear itself” in favor of “We’re all going to DIE!” Why? Their stimulus package keeps losing support, and only fear can propel it to passage, but that same hysteria has employers locking their doors, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of economic doom.
Look, even if you leave party identification out of it – don’t bother with “Republican” or “Democrat” labels for now – we need a “Ronald-Reagan”-type personality in this nation to reassure people that the end is not near, that the sun will come up tomorrow, that best thing to do with wolves at the door is go outside and shoot them, tan their hides, and make a fortune on wolf-skin wallets.
Barack Obama, to date, is not that person.
Question for all you Obama supporters; do you think Pelosi, Reid and Frank will allow it?