When Did The U.S. Recession Really Start?

So I’m listening to Glenn Beck (yeah, I know. I’m getting tired of talking about him too) and he’s extolling his own virtues yet again. He’s explaining how it is that because he is so much smarter than his audience and, indeed all of America, that he just “sees” things coming that the rest of us morons don’t. In so doing, he’s going back through audio of past shows by way of example of all the times

The All Powerful Oz

he was right and Obama lied.

Two things struck me (well three, actually, if you include the fact that it occurred to me that I was going to have to write about Beck again). The first was… um, hey Glenn. Even a blind pig finds a truffle every once in a while. The second was that much of what he was talking about has to do directly with the current state of the economy. The audio evidence he was using was from 2007 or more recently. One particular piece featuring a younger, but no saner, Beck warning listeners that by the time the election rolled around in 2008, we would be in a recession. Really, Nostradamus? No shit? You had that figured out by 2007? You must be psycho… I mean PSYCHIC. Yeah, psychic.

Here’s a newsflash. By 2007, regardless of what the “official” state of the economy was, most of us were already in recession and it didn’t take any particularly brilliant prognostication to figure it out. Well, maybe if I were making $23 million a year from my radio and television shows and deals with Goldline Inc. like some people it may have been harder for me to really feel that recession. Especially if I really didn’t have much regard for the working class despite what I say and the fact that they are my target audience. If that were the case, I might not have known intrinsically that the national economy was in a state of steady and unstoppable decline by 2007.

It didn’t matter to me or millions of other Americans what numbers the stock markets closed at on any given day before 2007. What mattered to me was being able to put food on my table and enough gas in my car to be able to do so. I didn’t much care what our national credit rating was, I had four children to take to the doctor and dentist and buy clothes for. I knew the score in my house long before it was announced in the Wall Street Journal.

Just how did I know, you might be asking yourself. Of course, if you’re asking that question I have to assume you were living out of the country at the time, but I’ll answer anyway.

My first clue was when we elected George W. Bush in 2000. No, no! I jest (sort of). My first clue was being deployed for the second of two unfunded wars. Not only were the wars unfunded, but unlike past wars during which our forebears sacrificed for the war effort by rationing and buying war bonds and paying war taxes, we enjoyed a tax cut and even a refund. Wow! Trillions of dollars worth of blood AND a tax refund? Is this Nirvana?

I think I started to become more concerned as the negative job growth our country had enjoyed since 2002 continued unabated. I was affected by this personally when I lost my job in 2005. It didn’t take me until 05 to figure it out mind you. We had been losing jobs steadily, especially in manufacturing, long before they came for mine. So, while I wouldn’t have foreseen a huge crippling recession, I had an inkling of a bad moon rising by 04.

All the pics on this page are links

Now I started adding things together, like the skyrocketing price of gasoline. I went from putting $25 to $30 of gas into each of our two cars once or twice a week to putting $75 into each. Hmmm. That was about $400 more per month. And while prices have come down, they are still about twice what they were pre-price spike. And didn’t these high gas prices affect many other aspect of our lives? The cost of shipping goods and services increased, so too the price of goods and services. Utilities? Remember when it was more economical to have a natural gas furnace and water heater?

By 2007, no one I knew wasn’t in worse shape than they had been 7 years previously. Some were struggling to pay the mortgage. But hey, let’s blame Freddie and Fannie for putting those lazy good-for-nothings into houses they couldn’t afford in the first place. It didn’t have anything to do with the bumbling incompetence of the administration and legislators that created the environment that made paying the bills difficult in the first place. How many mortgages went under because families couldn’t afford that $4.50 per gallon gas and $500 home heating bill? But sure, it was those damned Democrats who were to blame for deregulating an industry that is apparently too mercenary to police itself.

And these are just things I could observe personally in my life and in the lives of those around me. It doesn’t take into account paying any attention to the news or politics (notice how I separated the two?). It doesn’t factor in the increased size of the Federal government or spending or foreign borrowing to support the spending. It doesn’t include the widening gap between the rich fat cats (who were actually prospering) and the poor. And every time there was more deregulation or more tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich, we were told that is how the free market works – that it is how jobs are created. But we kept losing jobs and the economy kept getting worse. I’d ask how many times can they tell the same lie, but the real question should be how many times are the voters going to believe it?

Now, counting on mass amnesia (and getting it from an astounding number of voters) we are being told that not only did Obama and the Democrats create the problem, but we must further cut taxes on the rich to get us out of it. I, for one, certainly don’t need Glenn Beck’s astonishing powers of clairvoyance to know what will happen if we get back on the path the GOP put us on that led us into the recession.

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