March 01, 2005

Placing Blame

DISCLAIMER: I'm not an economist. The following post is based purely on my own observations and opinions. I fully admit that the information contained within this post could be wrong. Feel free to tear me a new butthole if you wish. It wouldn't be the first time.

There's plenty of items I could dismantle with this post, but it's this part that I most want to address:

The year after I graduated from college your presidency (W. Bush, of course) hailed in the worst economic downturn since Hoover.

This is something that bothers me whenever someone holds the economy forth as some sort of stinky fish that's the direct result of the Bush administration. Here's the deal: I don't blame Bush OR Clinton OR Reagan OR Hoover OR Freddy OR Jason OR aliens OR predators for the borderline recession that greeted us at the turn of the Millennium, and I think it's entirely stupid to place blame on any one administration for something as complex as economic stability. And, keep in mind, I was laid off in late 2001 pretty much as a direct result of the constricting economic woes of the time, so I should be more than willing to place blame on someone. . . ANYONE. So, here goes:

Back in 1998, in my Winona Daily News reporter days (WARNING: phony baloney street cred and folksy wisdom alert!), every time the stock market--NASDAQ in particular--did one of its 100+ point drops, I was tasked with exploring whether that particular drop was an indication of serious drops in the future or whether the said drop was just a "correction." Generally, the sources I interviewed chalked it up to a "correction" and, sure enough, in the next couple of weeks, the stock market would rebound, and everything was puppies and kittens again. Still, I couldn't help thinking that something wasn't quite right. The drops and rises were just so. . . big. And regular.

Also that summer, I was assigned an article that explored the Y2k "crises." If you don't remember the Y2k crises, let's just say, it meant a lot of jobs for a lot of techies. Hell, it was pretty much its own mini-industry. There are still soda machines here at IBM sporting stickers that say "Y2k compliant." SODA machineS, for crying out loud.

Come 1999, the stock market tech bubble started to deflate which, in retrospect, was hardly surprising. But, few people really grasp what the bubble burst really was, or what it meant. Hundreds, hell, maybe thousands, of Internet start-ups were largely behind the stock market boom of the late 90s. Those Internet start-ups were all vying for online advertising dollars which, apparently, nobody realized that there was a finite supply of online advertising dollars. Only so many companies were willing to pay for a banner ad for

The other thing about all those Internet start-ups was that they all basically bought new technology hardware. Nobody was digging through trash heaps and rebuilding an old Compaq to act as a Web server. No, everybody was buying new, and expensive, technology hardware. Companies like Sun Microsystems were up to their ears in orders.

And, again, this all was building up under the Clinton adminstration, pretty much without any real input from said administration, which was busy dealing with blowjob-gate. For the record here, I wanted everyone to just STOP with the witch hunt during blowjob-gate. I mean, jeez, who really freakin' cared? Anyway. . .

The year 2000 rolled around, and Y2k did not, in fact, result in accidental global nuking and computers coming to life to feast on human brains. What Y2k DID mean was that a whole lot of people were suddenly not necessary any more, and a very lucrative and important part of the economy was pretty much shut down. Good news, bad news.

Oh, and all those Internet start-ups? They discovered they couldn't make ends meet because there wasn't enough advertising dollars and/or interest in their sites. So, they continued to shut down as well, leaving companies like, say, Sun Microsystems, with all these orders (expensive orders) that no longer needed to be filled. Thus, people got laid off. A lot of people got laid off. A lot of speculation didn't pan out. It wasn't the first time rampant speculation laid an egg, and it probably won't be the last time.

Again, not Clinton's fault. . . not Bush's fault. Bush inherited a crumbling economy that was, by 2000, not even nearly finished crumbling yet. What should the Bush administration have done? Pumped millions of dollars into Hardly. That would have been stupid. Hell, for my birthday in 2000, my parents gave me $1,000, with the stipulation that I had to invest it in the stock market. I put the money in a savings account instead, because I didn't trust the market. It was too volatile. And I didn't know shit. Still don't.

Thing is, rampant speculation wasn't limited to Internet start-ups. Everyone was pumping the stock market like a $20 prostitute. Enron comes to mind here, as well as others. If the market hadn't collapsed under its own inflated weight, we may never have known about all the malfeasance going on at Enron, and Arthur Andersen and the like. But, the market did tank, and companies went belly up like fish in a freshly dynamited pond. You can't blame Bush for that. You can't blame Clinton for that. You can blame greed, I suppose.

So, you have an economy and stock market on the decline, with technology companies getting a big old splash of cold water in the face. In the midst of that economic seizure, 9/11 came around, an attack that sliced the aorta of America's world economic headquarters. What did the market drop when it opened up again days later? 700+ points or something like that? Unheard of. Not something you bounce back from overnight, or even over four years for that matter.

The Bush administration inherited some pretty freakin' impossible economic circumstances and, given those circumstances, I think it's more amazing than anything else that we're still economically viable, let alone competitive.

So, when I read that Bush hailed in the worst economic downturn since Hoover, I usually think: wow, that's a really stupid thing I just read there. Really, REALLY stupid. Like, Titanically stupid.

Then I go watch Strong Bad, and I laugh.

Posted by Ryan at March 1, 2005 09:57 PM

i totally agree with your theory. clinton wasn't responsible for the bubble that made him look so good, and GW wasn't responsible for it imploding. changes the Administration rarely have any sort of immediate effect; it takes years for both increases and cuts to trickle down. GW got nailed HARD b/c of 9/11 - if that would've happened during Clinton's reign, who knows what we'd think of him today. he had it easy.

Posted by: leblanc at March 2, 2005 02:30 PM

Blaming/crediting the President is a venerable partisan tradition. If your guy is in the big house and the economy is great then he's the reason. If the economy is tanking it's because of what the last guy did.

The truth is that the President has negligible tangible (two -gible words in a row!) power to affect the economy.

Posted by: Jim at March 2, 2005 02:30 PM

So, when I read that Bush hailed in the worst economic downturn since Hoover, I usually think: wow, that's a really stupid thing I just read there. Really, REALLY stupid. Like, Titanically stupid.

I guess the first thing to say, obviously, is fuck you, you bald-headed ass-swinging squarehead cocksucker.

The second thing would be to suggest that you actually peel open your baby blues and read the thing you're criticizing. You may, on second reading, notice the word "hailed". Hailed means "greeted", and may be taken to imply encouragement. I know I don't write for IBM magazine or any of those other fancy publications that sport your work, but I do have some craft as a writer and, believe it or not, I chose that word on purpose. Because I didn't much want to get into whether or not Bush caused the recession. That wasn't really the point. The point was that Bush was a harbinger of doom for my economic future. I know those semantic distinctions are hard for you but the next time you're confused how 'bout cracking open a fucking dictionary before you devote a whole post to calling me "Titanically stupid" Captain fucking Brainchild.

The Bush administration inherited some pretty freakin' impossible economic circumstances and, given those circumstances, I think it's more amazing than anything else that we're still economically viable, let alone competitive.

That's extraordinarily charitable of you. I think you're wrong, and I think history backs me up on that one. But we've argued that often enough.

As far as all this shit about the dot cumbubble; IT workers account for something like 3% of all U.S. employment. Believe it or not, that bursting tech bubble was in many respects the least important aspect of the recession. Off-shoring of manufacturing due to deregulation of international trade restrictions eliminated a lot more jobs in the US than the popping tech bubble did. Clinton signed us onto WTO and NAFTA. If I'm "placing blame", I tend to blame Clinton and the congresses that ratified the measures for those outcomes. I've even written about it. You even commented on the post, so I know you read the fuck'n thing. But that's okay; you just leap at any old chance that presents itself to spread that folksy wisdom. Who knows; shovel enough of that stuff around, maybe flowers'll present themselves.

Posted by: Joshua at March 2, 2005 05:05 PM

As long as we're going the semantic argument route, you'll notice that I didn't call you stupid, I called your statement stupid, but go ahead and read into it what you will. Lord knows you've never done THAT before.

3% of all U.S. employment

You know what? The burst wasn't all about IT workers. For every failed venture, there were a lot of secretaries and PR people, and HR people and a whole lot of other non-IT people who ended up on the unemployment line. You want to blame off-shoring and deregulation and NAFTA, you go ahead and do that. The fact of the matter is that the NASDAQ plunged over 3,000 points in a ridiculously short period of time (a drop unheard of since the Great Depression), and the DOW didn't do too well either. Point being that a lot of fortunes were lost practically over night, to say nothing of the financial security of a lot of middle income families. Result? They didn't have the money to inject back into the economy, so the economy stagnated and is just now starting to get its legs back underneath. The burst had a lot more to do with the economic stagnation over the last couple years than your piddly 3 percent suggests.

You made a stupid post, Joshua. Hell, I've done it more times than I can count. Doesn't mean I'm stupid, or that you're stupid. The occasional stupid post does not mean the author is necessarily stupid. Sorry I bruised your ego. Next time I'll call your post laughable or ridiculous. Would that make you feel better?

Posted by: Ryan at March 2, 2005 05:38 PM

Okay Ryan, I didn't want to get into a whole thing about 3% without going and looking it up. In 2001, ISPs, search portals, data processing, electronic shopping, and software publishing accounted for 1.4% of all private employment in the United States. That same year, goods-producing jobs accounted for 21% of all private employment in the United States. I guess this is obvious, but those manufacturing jobs also have all kinds of support staff: shipping, distribution, marketing, administration, etc.

To put that another way, for every IT worker who lost their job between 2001 and 2004, 70 goods-producing jobs were lost.

You made a stupid post, Joshua.

You have yet to prove this in any way shape or form. But go ahead and gloat. I know you've got a lot to compensate for.

Posted by: Joshua at March 2, 2005 06:14 PM

Ooh, a dick compensation jab, and I didn't even have to slap your face with it or anything.

The year after I graduated from college your presidency hailed in the worst economic downturn since Hoover.

And yet, strangely enough, the recession (sorry, economic downturn) that transpired wasn't anywhere near the Depression of Hoover's time. Gosh, that could almost be considered an endorsement of the Bush administration's handling of the abysmal economic downturn it was handed.

Thanks to your foreign policy I can't go within 500 miles of the Middle East for fear of being kidnapped and decapitated.

Yeah, considering that the kidnappings and beheadings have pretty much exclusively been coming out of Iraq. But, hey, the FEAR of being kidnapped and beheaded within 500 miles of the Middle East is what permeates.

And now that I'll be leaving the country your economic policies are treating me to the worst exchange rate since 1982.

Oh, you poor man. Darn this country! It's so dangerously powerful and forcing world hegemony, and yet it doesn't have the common decency to provide me with a solid pound-to-dollar exchange rate! They just can't do ANYTHING right.

And hey, if I forgot to mention it before-- congratulations on finally getting elected.

Yup, Gore actually won in 2000. Uh huh. I'm curious here: if Gore won the right to a recount in his cherry-picked Florida counties, and managed by some amazing coincidence to find a few extra votes to push him over the top, would you consider THAT legitimate? Dude, I voted for Gore, and even I thought his behavior after the election was embarrasing, and quite possibly illegal.

So, yeah, it was a stupid post; something I'd expect to read at the Democratic Underground, not something coming from a usually-level-headed liberal who usually makes for thought-provoking blog content. Mmkay?

As for my penis size, I guess I'm not quite up to Jeff Gannon's measurements, but I do all right. Maybe someday I'll show you. If you're lucky.

Posted by: Ryan at March 2, 2005 06:50 PM

Hey, I never said anything about the size of your penis. Evidently you're just sensitive about that.

And yet, strangely enough, … of the abysmal economic downturn it was handed.

That's a good campaign button: "Bush: Better Than Hoover"

As for the rest of it: gobble gobble gobble gobble.

pretty much exclusively?

How reassuring. I'll now go to Turkey or Palestine or Morocco with complete assurance that I'm "pretty much" safe. Thanks, Ryan.

Oh, you poor man… do ANYTHING right.

Gobble gobble gobble gobble.

Yup, Gore actually won in 2000… and quite possibly illegal.

The opposite of "Bush wasn't elected in 2000" isn't "Gore was elected in 2000".

So, yeah, it was a stupid post

Whatever, Ryan. Mostly it was a, "Hey, thanks for nothing, asshole," post directed at the chief executive of my country. It wasn't a "the shitty economy is all Bush's fault" post. Nor was it a "Bush caused the shitty economy" post. And it really wasn't a "placing blame" post. It was a, "Dear Mr. President, you keep saying you're helping the country but, to the extent that I'm even aware you exist, you mostly just make my life harder. My opinion: you're one useless motherfucker," post. Honestly, I didn't have that much behind it. But you and Scott are just raring at the fucking gate to turn it into something it wasn't. "Josh says the recession is all Bush's fault! What a Titanically stupid thing to say! What a really really stupid thing to say!"


I wasn't talking about your dick before; I was talking about your president. Your "record deficits, no child left behind, shitty drug policy, paying journalists to boost his polices, dragging out the war, can't find his ass with both hands and a flashlight" president. Your incompetent Jesus freak dipshit of a president. The guy you figured would make the best choice because, contemptible as you find him, at least he's better than John Kerry whose big screw up was… what? Pandering? Being smug? Wanting to raise taxes?

But you know what, Ryan? I can't be fucked over it. Bush is in for his second term. Nothing anyone says or does can change it. I don't particularly want to argue about his economic policy: my opinion doesn't matter and neither does yours. You're copping all this fucking attitude about "something I'd expect to read at the Democratic Underground"? Fuck you. It's 95 words, none of which are demonstrably untrue or even particularly misguided.

Just get over it. Mmkay?

Posted by: Joshua at March 2, 2005 07:28 PM

while i'm all for animal rights, cockfights sure are fun to watch.

Posted by: leblanc at March 3, 2005 12:37 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!