Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reason #1: The economy

Welcome to my blog, gentle readers. I've gathered you here today to answer a challenge given by certain beloved parties: Give me reasons to vote for Obama. In keeping with a time-honored, downright hokey format, I'll attempt to put up one reason each day between now and the election. Think of me as an advent calendar for the Democratic messiah, but without the fun toy surprises.

Today's reason: Democrats are better for the economy.

Now, there are many ways to judge the overall health of the economy, from the total economic activity, to the ever-jittery numbers of the stock market, to the number of people employed. Each of these measures may say something different. Stocks often go up because a company announces plans to lay off workers. But as I've written before, I don't find the first two to be particularly useful as measures of "how we're doing."

Not so with employment numbers. As happiness researchers have discovered, short of the death of a loved one, almost nothing is as injurious to a person's happiness as losing his or her job. My personal experience confirms this. Being unemployed just sucks.

So we get to the meat of reason #1. Democratic presidents have an astonishing history of creating more jobs than Republican ones. Here's a recent article from the LA Progressive: Who creates jobs? Democratic presidents do. The figures show that even the worst-performing Democratic job creator (Kennedy) quite evenly matched with the best Republican job creators (Nixon and Reagan).

Toward the bottom of the article, the author points out that, on occasions where the Democratic party controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress, job growth has been a rocking 3.8%, compared to Reagan's 2.3%. He also indicates that, while the correlation is less clear for Congress, Democratic congresses have tended to outperform Republican congresses.

Let's call this the trickle-up theory of economics. When you do things to improve the lives of the impoverished and the middle class, the economy improves. When you expand access to health care, you create jobs in the health care industry to feed that demand. When you raise the minimum wage, you make employment more desirable, and put money in the hands of people who will use it to buy goods and services, rather than sending it chasing across the globe in search of some unsustainable 20% return on investment. When you invest in public infrastructure, you create jobs today, and build the things which will support the economic activity of tomorrow. When you invest in public education, you do the same.

For the last eight years, the Republicans in Washington have been fighting for their own form of "trickle-up economics." Only now it's become a torrent, which has led to many of the problems we see today. More on that tomorrow.

Final note: this blog has often been written without accounting for possible consumption by my family. I usually write angry, and I sometimes express worrying opinions, and use bad words to do so. Go ahead and explore, but be warned.

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