Washington politicians know little about that because this is a company town and the company is Uncle Sam. It doesn’t matter if you are a politician, a pundit, a media type or a government drone, your livelihood relies on the government. You live or work within the bubble.
In good times, the federal government taxes and grows. In bad times, it does so even more. We’ve seen 100 percent growth in government in 10 years. That spans two recessions, including the worst one since the Great Depression. It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia, but it sure is in D.C.
Outside of our nation’s capital, things are tough in ways the media aren’t describing.
A recent trip to High Point, NC, the “Furniture Capital of the World,” showed the nation’s capital is doing a lot better during the downturn than the furniture capital. Walk down Main Street and empty buildings and closed stores abound. A handy map lists dozens of local eateries, but many are shuttered.
The local Economic Development Corp. called its 2008 annual report: “HIGH POINT: Extraordinary Success in Extraordinary Times.” By 2009, the annual report title included a line about “Tackling Challenges.” That’s marketing language for job losses. Two-thirds of High Point’s top 20 employers in 2008 had job losses by 2009.
Ordinary Americans are left to cope while the media and Obama talk about the turnaround we’d all like to see. But talking doesn’t make it so. Talk is unfortunately what the White House is good at. Since May 1, the White House Web site has included 109 postings on the economy and another 91 on jobs. Can you imagine how many there would be if they had genuine good news?
But they don’t. And it doesn’t matter how many trips the president makes to Elkhart, Ind., Buffalo or High Point to “feel their pain.” The truth is, he doesn’t. He makes six figures and has an army, literally, at his command. The same goes for Congress. Congressmen might worry briefly about unemployment, but they land at lobbying firms or in some other high-paying position. That’s life in the bubble.
But to the other 300 million Americans, life outside the bubble is a scary place to be.