"All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."
~ Benjamin Franklin, letter to Robert Morris, December 25, 1783
On Friday, June 8, President Obama addressed the press, and in the course of his comments, made the following statement:
“The truth of the matter is that, as i said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government"
Those who were paying attention—on both sides of the political spectrum—flew into a tizzy, calling it a "gaffe," and compared it to John McCain's ill-timed and utterly wrong statement—as the economy plunged precipitously into recession—that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."
Democratic strategist James Carville, along with the Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research Group, held some focus groups and concluded (pdf) that even though it's true that the Private Sector is "doing fine," most Americans don't feel that it's doing fine. And there's a very good reason for that. For most Americans who were affected by job loss during the recession, though they may have returned to work, they haven't returned to any level of prosperity.
The discussion always begins with discussion of their experience with job losses for themselves and their families -- and how that has left them struggling to pay for groceries.
Most have jobs now, but speak about their lower wages and benefits. Because wages are down, there has been a dramatic rise in discussion of very basic pocketbook issues. And this does not seem like some passing phase.
This has not been a pocketbook-level recovery for ordinary Americans. This is especially true for non-college-educated voters, who have been uniquely hit by this economy. They, their families, and people they know are on food stamps, on unemployment, and on disability.
It's heartbreaking to hear and read the stories of hard-working Americans who just want to work for a living, make a decent wage they can support their families on, start college funds for their kids with, have enough to set aside so they can enjoy their retirement, and perhaps have a little left over to spend a bit frivolously (who doesn't want a cool iPhone or Android, or the latest kicks on the market—and why shouldn't they?), but who are forced by economic circumstance to feel "lucky" to have any job at all.
Well there's a really good reason that the Private Sector is actually "doing fine," but most Americans—middle class, former middle class, and working class families all across this nation—aren't feeling the least bit "fine." And this is it ...