People lie with statistics. It’s all about what you count and how you interpret your figures.
Take unemployment. We’re told that the “official” figure is around 10 percent. But years ago, the U.S. government changed the way it computes unemployment, which magically decreased the official unemployment rates.
Brilliant, but deceptive.
A truer picture of the current U.S. unemployment rate is around 20 percent. According to filmmaker Michael Moore, the unemployment rate in Michigan, one of the hardest-hit states, “hovers somewhere officially between 15 and 20 percent; unofficially it’s much worse than that. Probably in the 30s, high 30s maybe.”
But it’s even more dire for ordinary Americans than that. A Washington Post story in late June reported that a recent Pew Center survey found that: “The recession has directly hit more than half of the nation’s working adults, pushing them into unemployment, pay cuts, reduced hours at work or part-time jobs.”
These statistics are truly staggering and the human costs are heartbreaking: hunger, more children in poverty, homelessness and foreclosures, lost health care benefits, psychological trauma and depression, increased addiction, and domestic violence, to name a few of the consequences.
While unemployment and agony are hitting Main Street, the big Wall Street banks are doing great.
According to an article by Michael J. Moore of Bloomberg Businessweek, five of the largest banks on Wall Street — Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley — “posted combined net income of $16.2 billion in the first quarter… It was the highest combined profit for the banks since the second quarter of 2007.”
Moore reports that jobs on a popular financial website are up 75 percent and firms are offering top prospects between $2 million and $4 million.
Is this a class war on ordinary people? You betcha!
It’s time to say: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”
As filmmaker Michael Moore says: “It’s kind of dawning on everyone that the rescue party isn’t coming to Michigan.”
Get active for a federal jobs program, economic justice for all and real financial reform by calling Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center at 303-444-6981.
Carolyn Bninski is an associate of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.