This article I wrote appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on November 30, 2011.
Archive for November 2011
The following appears in the November 18-25, 2011 issue of the Long Island Business News:
Contrary to Obama administration claims that the $787 billion stimulus program and government expansion would solve our financial woes, the economic picture continues to be bleak.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke confirmed this view when he announced in early November that the Fed is lowering its economic growth projections for 2011 and that unemployment is expected to remain well north of 7 percent through 2014. The Wall Street Journal reported that economists it surveyed predicted U.S. gross domestic product growth would be anemic for the foreseeable future: 1.5 percent in 2011, 2.3 percent in 2012 and 2.7 percent in 2013.
In October, a pitiful 80,000 new jobs were generated, fewer than required by new entrants to the work force, never mind the millions unemployed around the country. And since the so-called recovery began two years ago, only 2.3 million of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the recession have been recovered. Unemployment has been hovering at 9 percent for seven months and has been above 8 percent for 33 months. There were 13.9 million unemployed Americans looking for work in October and a similar number has lost all hope and stopped looking for a job or is working part time.
Then there’s the white elephant that politicians are ignoring but households cannot: INFLATION. Significant increases in the cost of food and fuel is hampering economic growth. Retail prices for meat, for instance, have skyrocketed. Since 2009, the price of pork chops is up 17 percent, beef roasts up 15 percent, beef steaks up 14 percent and sliced bacon is up a whopping 34 percent.
As a result of steep increases in food and fuel staples, struggling households have even less to spend on the discretionary items that spur the economy: cars, computers, clothes, vacations, etc.
Poor economic prospects, high unemployment, inflation, the European debt crisis and a volatile stock market explain why a recent Siena College Research Institute poll indicated that in New York City and Long Island, consumer confidence is falling out of bed. The confidence index in October fell to 61.2, down 3.1 points from September.
According to Siena Institute spokesman Douglas Lonnstrom, “New Yorkers continue to see bad times, both now and in the future. No demographic group even approaches being more optimistic than pessimistic.” The poll also revealed that many New Yorkers were putting off purchasing big-ticket items they had hoped to buy in the next six months.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo succinctly explained why New Yorkers have a negative outlook: “You are kidding yourself if you think you can be one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, have a reputation for being antibusiness and have a rosy economic future.”
Pessimism is understandably rampant on Long Island. That’s because most of the Island’s economic indicators have been, of late, rather gloomy. State Labor Department data released in October indicate that Long Island lost jobs for the fifth month in a row. Home foreclosures, which began to decline significantly last December, have been on the rise since April. New vehicle purchases, which were robust in the first quarter, have been down in the second and third quarters. Since July, bankruptcy filings have been trending upward. Commercial real estate vacancies remain at all-time highs. And wealthy taxpayers are fleeing – the number of households earning over $1 million a year has dropped 35 percent since 2007.
Long Islanders are the highest taxed and most overregulated citizens in New York. Until elected officials come to grips with this crisis by responsibly governing, cutting bloated governments to the bone and eliminating antibusiness policies, expect the Island’s economy to be on a treadmill to oblivion that forces jobs and people to move to greener economic pastures far beyond the Island’s shores. Oppressive property taxes are causing even the well-off to sell their Long Island homes ahead of the race to cash in remaining equity and move to more favorable climes.
This article I wrote appeared on The Catholic Thing web site on November 16, 2011.
The following appears in the November 4-10, 2011 issue of the Long Island Business News:
In the late 1960s, protests were serious enterprises. Hundreds of thousands turned out in cities throughout the nation to express their views on the Vietnam War. For instance, on April 15, 1967, over 100,000 antiwar demonstrations hit the streets of Manhattan. One month later, on May 17, 1967, I marched down Fifth Avenue with 70,000 in a “Support Our Boys in Vietnam” parade.
Today, many on the left are attempting to portray Occupy Wall Street as the successor to the anti-Vietnam War movement. However, having viewed firsthand OWS assemblies in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, I can’t buy that line.
First of all, the crowds are miniscule – a few hundred at each spot. The only time their ranks swell is when municipal union bosses send in their members. (Considering the average salary of public-service employees is higher than private sector workers, I don’t understand what they have to complain about.) Also, what takes up most of the occupied territory are manned booths distributing radical literature and selling Che Guevara shirts, not protestors.
As for the protestors, they are a hodgepodge of old hippies, parlor anarchists, back-alley revolutionaries, professional agitators, environmental radicals and young narcissists. A survey conducted by top Democratic Party pollster Douglas Schoen revealed they are far removed from the American mainstream. Ninety-eight percent would support civil disobedience and 38 percent said they are prepared to engage in violence to effectuate their political agenda. These findings should not come as a surprise: Brian Phillips, an OWS leader in New York, told National Public Radio, “My political goal is to overthrow the government.”
Most painful for me is listening to inarticulate, ignorant students who condemn the American system as immoral, oppressive and evil, and are convinced they are the anointed ones destined to restore peace and beauty to the United States. These self-righteous kids, many of whom accept living allowances and tuition from their much despised middle-class parents, claim they are the champions of the “powerless” laborers and the poor – groups they never encountered during their sheltered suburban and gated-community youth.
In New York, these disparate protesters appear to have two common goals: They want Wall Street banks emasculated and taxes increased on the state’s wealthiest residents.
What the protestors fail to grasp is that the financial industry they loathe employs hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and is the largest component of New York’s economy. Prior to the Great Recession, 20 percent of state tax revenues and 13 percent of city tax revenues came from Wall Street.
After the 2008 market crash, New York lost more than 40,000 financial sector jobs and billions in tax revenues. And if the anti-bank protestors have their way, there will be more unemployed and even less revenues to finance local government. That’s why Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the protestors as job killers. “What they are trying to do is take away jobs from the people working in the city,” he said. “If the jobs they’re trying to get rid of in the city – the people that work in finance, which is a big part of our economy – go away, we’re not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees to clean the parks or anything else.”
As for New York’s “millionaires” tax, which actually would kick in for people with incomes at $200,000, OWS protestors do not understand that it has driven scores of wealthier New Yorkers to low-tax states. Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacting to OWS demands refused to reverse his opposition to the tax extension and warned the mob thusly: “You are kidding yourselves if you think you can be one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, have a reputation for being anti-business and have a rosy economic future.”
Thanks to the 24/7 news cycle, Occupy Wall Street, a creation of the media, has received far more attention than it deserves. But I have faith that common sense New Yorkers will realize this “revolution” is driven by fun seekers and adventurers and not those with real grievances.
This article I wrote appears in the New York Post on November 3, 2011.