Washington hallucinations on unemployment

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According to our government there are currently about 154 million people in our national “work force.” 139 million have jobs; 15 1/2 million are unemployed.

Last week, the government announced that our economy lost another 85,000 jobs in December. However, the unemployment rate stayed at 10% because about 660,000 unemployed Americans just gave up looking for a job. If they were still looking, then the unemployment rate would have risen to 10.4%.

These numbers suggest two possible solutions to the unemployment problem. Either we have to find 15.4 million more jobs.

Or, if the President and the Congress can keep doing what they are doing, they could probably succeed at discouraging the remaining 15.4 million unemployed people still looking for a job… to just give up.

Then–because the Department of Labor does not count people as unemployed if they are without a job and without hope for a job–the unemployment rate would be reduced to zero—and unemployment would be eliminated from sea to shining sea.

Concededly, this doesn’t do anything to actually get paying jobs to the 15.4 million people who need them—but it does eliminate the negative abstraction known as unemployment.

To most people such an accomplishment would seem foolish—if not deranged. But, in truth, the Washington governing/lobbying/ PRing/journalisting/lawyering class actually use such reasoning, consider such objectives as valuable successes, and base governance on such methods and principles.

Let me give two examples.

The President has insisted that his healthcare bill be deficit neutral—because, like all of us, he is very concerned that the annual federal deficit and the accumulating national public debt is already dangerously too high. So, the Senate health care bill has been carefully crafted to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office as deficit neutral. This was accomplished, inter alia, by denying—in this bill–the doctor’s annual increase in what Medicare pays them, and by calling for unspecified cuts in Medicare spending of $400 billion over 10 years.

But the Senate also put–in a different bill—the 200 billion dollar doctors fee increase that was left out of the President’s bill, because the American Medical Association insisted on the increased doctors’ pay. Also, no one expects Congress to ever actually enact the Medicare cuts.

Thus, Washington may accomplish the abstraction of passing a budget-neutral health care bill that, by most estimates will–in reality—add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt over the next 10 years.

One more example:

Every one in Washington from the President on down to the most obtuse, backbench, freshman Congressman are insisting that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. To that end there is “serious” talk of soon proposing that the United Nations issue, “targeted” economic sanctions that will penalize the elites in Iran, but not harm the mass of people—a sort of a reverse, economic version of the neutron bomb that would have killed all people, but would have left buildings pristine and ready for occupancy upon our arrival after the war.

While Iran races to complete its nuclear program, China threatens to veto such sanctions, key European allies keep trading with Iran–legally and illegally–on essential technologies, and the international diplomatic and business elite correctly presume that Iran will not be deterred by any sanctions that might plausibly be passed.

Meanwhile, the elite journalists of Washington continue to report–without a sense of either irony or shame–these futile sanction threats as if they were plausibly going to protect us from Iranian nuclear armament in the real world. But as abstractions, such economic sanctions are quite respectable here in Washington. In fact they are the only respectable policy proposals for dealing with Iranian nukes.

All of the foregoing is by way of getting to my leading point in this blog. Last week on MSNBCs Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle–a cheerful supporter of President Obama during the campaign and currently—observed that the President faced a politically dangerous moment. Barnicle thought it was not the presidents ideology that was a problem—but perhaps his competence. (Oddly, John M. O’ Hara in his just released book, “A New American Tea Party”, coming at Barnicle’s point from the other, free market, side, argued that Obama was elected for competence, not ideology—the Republicans having failed to show competence.)

In a town where ideology triumphs over reality, there is little interest in rationally determining whether a particular (usually liberal) ideological theory is connected to reality. It is enough for important, preferred figures to assert it—and most of journalistic Washington will repeat it as true. Only if things get bad enough to raise powerful fears in the public that the policy flowing from the ideology is leading us off a cliff—does the media find interest—and then largely as a political fact, not as a substantively objective fact.

So, for instance, President Obama argued that we needed to expand healthcare to scores of millions of people currently not covered in order to bring down costs, which cost reduction was needed to improve the economy. The fact that covering more people would cost more money didn’t matter as a fact—as long as the theory said we could save money. And, to this moment, the Democratic leadership is still consciously playing silly accounting tricks (like starting the benefits in 2014 so that there will be a full 10 years of revenue to balance with only six years of benefits so that they can claim “deficit neutrality.”) And they are not being laughed off the stage by the elite press corp.

It is an almost inexplicable fact that America—the most powerful nation on the planet—is today being governed by a capital city that is run by hallucinators. We seriously make governing decisions in a pretend world where trillion-dollar deficits are called budget-neutral and toothless, probably never to be enacted economic sanctions are seriously being relied on to stop a determined madman from finishing his race to the nuclear bomb. It can’t go on much longer this way.

Here is hoping that this enterprise—Tucker Carlson’s defiant new digital launching platform for truth, realism and freedom—will strike telling blows against the growing madness.

Tony Blankley is an executive vice president at Edelman public relations in Washington, D.C.