Own It at 9.2%

“Never smurf a smurf while he’s smurfing” – Papa Smurf

In football, the quarterback generally gets too much credit for a win and too much blame for a loss. That’s just the way it is, and QBs learn to deal with it.

Compared to this though, the credit/blame received by the president for economic performance is orders of magnitude greater in relation to his actual abilities. That’s not to say that a president’s performance doesn’t matter. Rather, that no matter how good his intentions or plans are, the machinery of the federal government is not a simple beast to tame and drive in the right direction.

OK, enough with the pleasantries.

For decades (maybe even a century) the federal government has claimed authority over our productive measures. They have claimed ownership over our labor (we call it taxes). They have claimed ownership over our savings (we call it the central bank and fiat currency). They have claimed ownership over nearly every imaginable aspect of our economy. (I say that with a bit of concern – I’m sure these hucksters can imagine other aspects of the economy that they ought to control.)

As Peter Drucker says, “authority implies responsibility and vice versa.” That is, you cannot have one without the other. It’s both or neither.

If the feds have claimed authority over our productivity, then they own economic failures. And own it they shall.

So, president Obama, you inherited a mess, an absolute economic mess. Of course, the Bush policies that contributed to the mess (easy money, deliberately weak lending standards, budget deficits, etc…) are all policies that you have employed – even doubled down.

You own this 9.2%. You own it. Sorry. It’s a bad hand, but you have to play the cards you’re dealt.

If, for some reason you missed it, the unemployment report came in at 9.2% earlier this week. That was an increase in the unemployment rate even though there was a decrease in the participation rate. People stopped looking for jobs, but even more people lost jobs. Uh-oh.

To be sure, this changes the political dynamic somewhat. My guess is that, while this should strengthen the hand of the Republicans, it will actually encourage weak-spined Boehner to capitulate in the budget negotiations. My guess is the situation is so bad that he doesn’t want any spotlights on himself and his party. Instead, he’ll just force Obama to deal with continuing bad headlines.

I don’t support the strategy, of course. I want massive budget cuts (including entitlements!) now. Dare to dream …



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