Pouring salt on a big wound

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By Jeffry Gardner

Among the many bad communication ideas the George W. Bush administration came up with was the famous “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln.
It would prove a shaker of salt in the open wound that would become the long-running conflict in Iraq.
So it was with great interest that I read the headlines on Internet news sites and in local papers declaring the “End of the Great Recession.”
Experts said this. You know, like the financial experts or economic experts. So many quarters of growth equal life is grand. In fact, according to the experts, the Great Recession wrapped up in June.  Not last June, either. June 2009.
That’s right. Unbeknownst to you, your family, your friends, even your enemies, the good times have been rolling for almost 15 months.
Which explains why President Barack Obama’s economic experts, Lawrence Summers, Peter Orszag and Christina Romer, all philosophers who’ve never experienced the private sector, left with flags flying high, I suppose.    
“Mission accomplished!”
Save a slight unemployment problem, which doesn’t factor into the measurement of the recession.
Last June the Bureau of Labor Statistics said real, non-adjusted unemployment was just under 17 percent. That was June 2010.
Here in the Land of Enchantment, state unemployment, seasonally adjusted, at that, is up a tick to 8.3 percent. In Nevada unemployment is at 14.4 percent. That’s a state that went for Obama in 2008.  Bad karma, I guess.
Another sign the Great Recession is over: Bill Richardson holds a yard sale. Rats. I missed it.
If the Great Recession is indeed over and unemployment is still off the charts, what exactly does that say for the future of jobs coming back?
Does this mean employers – who currently have no incentive to create new jobs anyway, given the increase in health insurance costs with Obamacare – have adjusted to making fewer of us work that much harder? And, as if the end of the Great Recession weren’t enough good news, wages are stagnant.
Now that’s a recovery we can believe in.
If you can find a copy of the Sept. 21 Albuquerque Journal you’ll find that directly above the headline, “It’s Official: Great Recession Ended Last Year, Just Doesn’t Feel Like It’s Over” is a story about a sadly small protest in Santa Fe over the Environmental Department’s plan to impose a cap and trade “program,” according to the Journal.
It’s a tax. A big one. It’s a tax on oil, gas, coal – the energy sector that has long helped New Mexico’s economy inch along over the last 95-plus years.
And even though the Great Recession has ended, the sliver of private industry that New Mexico has – including our energy sector – can’t absorb another tax. Taxes cost jobs.
You see, 8.4 percent unemployment in “recession proof” New Mexico is an indication of just how bad things truly are across the nation.
Technically, perhaps, the Great Recession has drawn to a close. But take a look at the polls.  More than 60 percent of us feel we’re headed in the wrong direction. The president’s numbers are awful, but they shine in comparison to how the people feel about Congress.
Is there anything shining from beneath the rubble of our economy?
I believe the answer is yes. It’s not the fact that Congress is going to massively change in roughly 30-plus days.
It’s Ford. Ford Motors stands out because its demonstrated leadership and innovation trump government management every time.
Think of it as something akin to Capitalism, 1, Socialism, 0.
The private sector, not government, will determine when we’re truly out of this mire.
As the saying goes, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
It’s pretty clear growing government isn’t part of the solution.

Jeffry Gardner is a
columnist for the New
Mexico News Services