Since the dawn of western civilization, economics has been an important issue among the people. It is the fuel that drives our society, playing right into our most basic needs as a materialistic species bent on obtaining power. Power is derived from the influence that money can buy and, for those who have it, there is no letting go. Thus, as international communication has expanded alongside rapid technological advances, economics has transmogrified into this complex beast that few laymen have a complete grasp on, turning it into the perfect tool of deception for those with influence.
This creates an impasse in the debate over what constitutes a strong economy, as the current squabbles between George W. Bush and John Kerry are clearly demonstrating in this presidential election. Despite the lack of a definitive answer on economic strength, Bush’s stance in defending his economy as solid and growing is increasingly disturbing.
According to the Census Bureau’s report last week, this is the second straight year that poverty has risen by 1.3 million people, marking the third consecutive year that there has been a national increase. Poverty, as defined by the United States government, indicates that a family of four pulls down a yearly income of $18,810, with a descending threshold of $14,680 for a family of three, $12,015 for a couple and $9,393 for an individual. That means there is a collection of people equal to the population of Maine now living with a yearly income that couldn’t even purchase a year’s tuition here at Temple.
Not surprisingly, this development has mirrored that of the growing number of uninsured Americans, an additional 1.4 million people this year alone. Just like poverty, it is the third straight year that we have seen a dramatic increase in that category.
And if one were to confront Bush with this statistic, he’d probably say something similar to what he started saying a few years ago and has been repeating ad nauseum ever since: “The attack hurt our economy.”
And there you have it; Bush’s tireless trump card laid down for yet one more hand in the game of shamelessly exploiting a national tragedy. September 11, 2001 truly was a catastrophe and its far-reaching effects may never be fully realized. But how many more years must pass before we hold Bush accountable for his flaws and stop attributing his mistakes to the tremors of an event from three years ago? Is it not the president’s duty to persevere through the times both good and bad? Or have we simply allowed ourselves to regress so much that it is sufficient for our national leader to gloss over reality with rhetoric by shifting blame onto anybody but himself?
The true roots to our economic woes are not hard to find. We could focus on the tax cuts that see the wealthy enjoying a 4 percent increase in yearly income with their rebates while the working middle class only receives a 1 percent increase. An important statistic recently reported by the Wall Street Journal is that those laid off and re-employed in the past three years are now earning 16 percent less than they were in their first job. Oh yes, the economy is certainly strong like a bull.
We have reached a point where Bush’s decisions must be called into question. Years of rising levels in unemployment, poverty and the uninsured cannot continue to be attributed to an event from three years ago. We entrust our president to prevail through such times, not fall back on them.
Noah Potvin can be reached at email@example.com.