Is hitting a snag. Well, the Market hasn't been happy. I'm not an economist, financial expert, accountant, or anyone to do with money. I struggle to keep my checkbook balanced and my bills paid. My wife and I are both searching for 'gainful' employment, so my skepticism about the great Economic Recovery that has been the focus of recent reporting should be noted. Still, I can't help but see this last week has caused others to notice something is amiss.
I know, when something goes wrong, we're reminded that it all happened before, usually around another successful president's term. Many have pointed to the sluggishness of the 1982 economy, no doubt expecting us to draw the logical line to Reagan's overwhelming landslide in 1984. The problem there was that by 1984, just about every major indicator showed that the economy was clearly rebounding. In addition, contrary to expectations, Reagan hadn't stumbled in and inadvertently caused World War III. In fact, it seemed that cracks in the Soviet armor were beginning to show.
Not that all was perfect and wonderful. It never is. But by 1984, even being surrounded by a family of Democrats, we all had to admit things were looking a world better than they did five years earlier. That is not the case today. Even with the MSM's clear desire to help Obama get reelected, the attempts to frame our economic recovery in such positive terms is obviously half-hearted. Even in their most optimistic takes, I can hear clear qualifiers being dropped and disclaimers about why the great recovery doesn't look so great to so many.
We just took a round trip to Florida over Spring Break (more on that some other time). Driving almost 2500 miles all around from Ohio down through Alabama, up through Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee. We saw many cities, towns, states. And my wife and I noticed something: There is nothing out there to suggest the economy is improving. We saw lines of closed up stores, for sale signs on private property, foreclosed homes. We noticed that more than I can remember, the bulk of the vehicles on the road were older models. Oh, there were new ones. But not as many, and it didn't seem odd at all that we were driving a minivan almost ten years old, because we saw hundreds of similar makes and models and years. We've noticed that hobbies and other 'little luxuries' have been reduced. Little things that suggest people just don't have the spare change anymore. Or perhaps they're not willing to go into debt to get it. I dont' know.
I just know there is nothing out there that looks like across the board economic recovery, when in 1984 - the last time we had to recover from something on par with the economic collapse of 08 - things were clearly getting better. My biggest fear? That a huge swath of the American society has been hit and permanently knocked off the middle class shelf, and will not be returning. Unemployment, shrinking labor force, lower pay, fewer benefits will keep this segment of America in the lower rungs. Those not affected, mixed with growing markets overseas, may well help American manufacturing or industry. One thing we saw more than I've ever seen was a constant stream of RVs with cars attached to trailers in their back. Someone has the money for those.
But I fear that an entire block of our country has fallen, and won't be getting up again. I also fear that the media, that might be able to light a fire under this dilemma, is going to remain eerily silent in the hope that we ignore this trend and instead believe that light is on the horizon, if only we vote for The One. I could be wrong. But I don't think I'm too far off on either the current predicaments, or the reason why we're not hearing more about it.