Who’s better off than four years ago?

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s videotaped remark to wealthy supporters that 47 percent of Americans “believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name it” and that “my job is not to worry about” people who won’t “take personal responsibility” literally went over like a lead balloon. But because of a reservoir of hatred against the entire Black family occupying the White House Gov. Romney still has a puncher’s chance to knock out the incumbent Pres. Barack Obama, win the presidency and lead the country back to the brink of its destruction.
Gov. Romney frequently insists that Pres. Obama can say a lot of things to the American people, but he cannot tell them that they are better off now than they were four years ago. That’s true, but it’s true because four years ago, nearly to the day, the country was teetering on the precipice of financial meltdown. In mid September the Wall Street mega-firm Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, and the country was introduced to the concept of banks that the administration of Pres. George W. (for Worst in History) Bush, and both major party contenders to succeed him agreed were “too big to fail.”
The bank bailout was proposed and eventually approved and more than $700 billion went into the pockets of the greedy mortgage bankers and other so-called financial “experts” who engineered the banking crisis in the first place, with their predatory loans, and their risky “investments”–most folks now call them “bets”–in questionable credit default swaps, derivatives, and other tools that bankers used to make money by buying and selling “money,” and not by making and selling “things” that people need to live their lives.
And how were these rich guys rewarded for nearly bankrupting the country? Were any of them “frog marched” out of their companies? Were any of them humiliated in the town squares in old-fashioned “stocks” where they could not move and where angry citizens could hurl rotten tomatoes at them like in days of yore? Absolutely not. Most of them had contracts providing them with so-called “golden parachutes” so they could land safely with lots of money in the bank, while everyone else faced the wolf at their door.
So, when Gov. Romney asks are folks better off today than they were four years ago, when the economy began to tumble into the dumpster, he scores his political points, because most folks have to say no. When Pres. Obama took office, he reminds us, the country was hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. Millions of jobs were lost. And even as the economy adds an anemic 95,000 jobs per month–all in the private sector, because Tea Party, slash-and-cut politicians are forcing more and more layoffs in the public workforce–the job creation is not enough. At least 14 million people are unemployed. Another 11 million are under-employed.
But the Republicans are asking the wrong question in truth. Because if they asked are CEOs–the lousy managers and culprits who are responsible for the Great Recession–are CEOs better off than they were four years ago, there would be a deafening silence because no one would want to answer that question in truth.
Even as average worker productivity–the amount of “widgets” workers produce in a standard period of time–even as worker productivity has increased exponentially over the last 30 or so years by a whopping 725 percent, worker pay has only increased a meager 5.7 percent. The gap between CEO pay and worker pay has grown from 18-to-1 in 1965, to 237-to-1 in 2011, this according to a report released Sept. 11 this year by the Economic Policy Institute.
So in reality, the “are you better off” question cannot be fairly answered yes by average voters for more than a generation, because wages have frozen, not even keeping up with inflation. But Gov. Romney continues to frame the question in the four-year time frame, in the same way Pres. Ronald Reagan did in his contest against incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter.
But for the crowd, who like Gov. Romney are in the top 1 percent of the population, rather than the bottom 47 percent as he sees them, the folks who like Romney who have wives who help the domestic economy by driving “a couple of Cadillacs;” the crowd who have elevators for their many cars, while the rest of us get the shaft, for that crowd, they are much better off, but unfortunately we’ll not hear the question asked that way.
Framing the question about how are the CEOs doing would, in Gov. Romney’s view, amount to “class warfare,” while blaming 47 percent of the population as moochers and freeloaders is not class warfare. Go figure.

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