Economics 101: Groceries, Gasoline, And Gut Checks

Opinion

on March 20 2013 3:54 PM

Allegedly our economy is getting better. Or at least that is what Vice President Joe Biden asserted in late 2011.

Standing in front of an oligarchy of supporters outside of Detroit -- apparently the secret service won’t even put its two feet in the mayhem that is now Motor City -- and pounding on the podium, Biden talked about how Osama bin Laden is dead, but General Motors is still alive.

He told us it would be a long way to go, but reminded of the safety nets put into place by President Barack Obama’s administration. A stimulus package plus $875 billion, bailouts for two of the “Big Three” automakers, and extensions of programs such as unemployment benefits, which can effectively support Johnny or Janey for almost two years while they watch jobs numbers still place close to 7.8 percent, give or take a percentage. But we would recover, Biden said, and soon.

And it still isn’t true.

The above isn’t particularly surprising considering the vice president is known to speak out of place. Remember his “this is a big [expletive] deal” comment on national television right before Obama was to announce the controversial health care reform package he rammed through Congress and the Senate, despite polling indicating the American people didn’t want or need it?

It would seem Biden again spoke before he thought when he talked about the bettering economy. Then again, if looking to Wall Street is the standard on the health of our economy, we should be living like it’s the mid-90s under former President Bill Clinton.

In 1995, federal debt was a measly $492 billion -- that’s billion with a capital “B.” A gallon of regular gasoline topped at $1.19, a gallon of milk was $2.96, and a loaf of bread was about $2.

Yes, that was 18 years ago, but here’s how I see it today.

While Wall Street watchers point to the Dow exploding Thursday, a two-week high and the most in years, as an indicator that the economy is on the mend, those of us in the trenches -- we who ride the trains to work, shop in the corner bodegas, buy gas at the corner Getty station and face the monthly increases in utility bills -- know better.

For we working Americans, the job reports mirror the reality that hiring has slowed to almost a screeching halt, and we have accepted that there will be no pay increase or bonuses in our checks for the foreseeable future. We’ve even been forced to face the end of the Twinkie. Even packaged cakes couldn’t make the cut.

We might never have taken Economics 101, but we know the economy isn’t getting better. Gasoline is close to $4 a gallon, milk at nearly $5 a gallon, bread at $3.50, and $16 trillion plus in debt. Just take a looksee at Detroit. The city is a hollowed out core with people leaving the once third-largest metropolis in the nation in droves. It’s in Cleveland and St. Louis, and the empty strip malls in upstate New York that once boasted mom and pop store fronts now house “Cash for Gold” depots and pawn shops.

The Obama administration isn’t to blame for the bulk of this. The global slowdown was due to reckless spending and risky investments by big banks left unregulated by those set in place to make sure these entities weren’t playing with the house’s money like a drunken sailor at a port poker game.

But it happened and we are all aware of the damage done. If not most noticeable in the wallet, it can be seen in the faces of those affected by the actions of the AIG’s and Lehman Brothers of the world.

Obama and his administration, however, are to blame for traipsing Biden out in front of a crowd of rowdy Obamaites in a town that is the poster child for the reckless abandon shown by those entrusted with the peoples’ money, standing there bathed in the sparkle of an early afternoon sun, and saying that the economy is getting better.

I would ask, you know, going forward, that Biden’s script be proofread, or perhaps have those advising the vice president that maybe the economy is getting better isn’t the most accurate description.

Mike Figliola is executive producer of The John Gambling Show on WOR Radio 710 AM in New York City. He is a resident of Queens. You can follow him on Twitter at @mikefigs.

More News from IBT MEDIA