In the past I’ve cringed a little when critics called our President the “liar in chief,” if only out of respect for the office, but there comes a point where the spin and deception coming out of his flaks and showing up on his teleprompter go beyond what I can excuse.
This week, while speaking in economically ravaged Wisconsin, President Obama had the gall to boast about the fact that unemployment in Wisconsin has apparently dropped by 1 tenth of a percent in the last month from 7.9% to 7.8%. I guess it sounded good to an audience of paid union cheerleaders, but it’s a classic example of the maxim that “there are lies, damned lies and statistics.”
In our ongoing recession in which there has been no recovery, despite the President’s continued laughable claims to the contrary, we have learned that the official unemployment figures mask a reality in which, even with endless extensions of unemployment payments, more and more people have just given up on finding decent jobs, have taken temporary work, gone off the books, or taken jobs far below their skills and pay level. Many of them have just stopped looking for work entirely and are living hand-to-mouth with one income in a former two income household or getting by on the kindness of relatives.
Wisconsin provides a perfect example of this. Sure, the official unemployment figure is down by .1% in a month. It’s even down by 1.1% over the past year. But the actual figures tell a different story. In fact, 3200 fewer people have jobs in Wisconsin than did last month and 38,000 fewer have jobs than did at the same time next year. That’s not more people working as the President claims, that’s more people walking the streets or sitting home watching TV in despair drinking a beer they can barely afford. Maybe some were lucky and packed up to look for jobs in another state, but they aren’t working in Wisconsin.
Perhaps President Obama should have focused on another figure which is up in Wisconsin — the suicide rate. Reports of calls to suicide hotlines and the number of actual suicides in Wisconsin are at record levels, exceeding the rates in neighboring states and more than 15% higher than the national average. Experts suggest that the increase may be directly linked to the desperate economic conditions in the state.
Perhaps President Obama should have stirred up his supporters at his Wisconsin speech by mentioning that they were more likely to lose their jobs and take their own lives than ever before as a result of his economic mismanagement.
A version of this article appeared previously on Blogcritics Magazine