S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Accountability by the Numbers -- 2

Four soldiers died in Iraq and it marks another milestone in the seemingly interminable war in the Middle East. It was a war of aggression that should never have been undertaken. The threat level of terrorism from Iraq did not rise until after we invaded. OCP (our current president) is directly accountable for it. Today's post is the second in a series on accountability by the numbers. I do not know whether there is a connection between the war in Iraq and our current economic situation. But it feels like there is, somehow. We begin with this disheartening news.

4,000 and counting -- Monday's New York Times reports that the A.P. announced that the U.S. military death toll in Iraq has now reached 4,000. To quote:

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The overall U.S. death toll in Iraq rose to 4,000 after four soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Baghdad, a grim milestone that is likely to fuel calls for the withdrawal of American forces as the war enters its sixth year. The American deaths occurred Sunday, the same day rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone in Baghdad and a wave of attacks left at least 61 Iraqis dead nationwide.

. . . One widely respected tally by Iraq Body Count, which collects figures based mostly on media reports, estimates that 82,349 to 89,867 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives in the conflict.

. . . Iraq's National Security Adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie said he sympathized with the American losses but warned against pulling out U.S. troops before Iraqi forces are ready to take over their own security and the situation is sufficiently stable.
''Honestly, this war is well worth fighting. This war, we are talking about war against global terror,'' he said Sunday in an interview with CNN.

Southwest news by the numbers connected to the job situation caught my eye this morning. One way the war is connected to the unemployment rate is that people sometimes go into the military in order to make a living. Experts say that one of the key indicators of an economic downturn's level of seriousness is connected to the unemployment rate. According to a recent editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, whether or not we are in a recession is all relative. To quote:

Yes, the stock market took a dive last Friday when the Labor Department announced that the economy had lost 63,000 jobs in February. But the unemployment rate was still just 4.8 percent, which is pretty good. (The rate's most recent high was more than 6 percent in 2003.)

Texas is still adding jobs -- 28,000 of them in January and 277,200 in the previous 12 months, according to the latest figures available from the Texas Workforce Commission. The statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in January.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area added 35,616 jobs from January 2007 to January 2008 and has an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent.

The bigger picture looks very different -- The war and the economy are inextricably intertwined. As the war has dragged on OCP has been distracted from anything much more than reacting to the most headline-grabbing business events. Assistance for higher education has suffered cuts in competition with a bloated defense budget. With the financial drain of the war, effective help for the unemployed has also been limited. A McClatchy article published an astonishing figure about job losses since the current administration took office. Headlined "Less-educated workers particularly at risk," the story was written by Tony Pugh for McClatchy Newspapers. Quote:

WASHINGTON -- The steady loss of "good jobs" for less-educated workers has left them more vulnerable to recession than at any time in nearly 30 years, and signs are mounting that a recession is either already here or coming soon.

. . . The Center for Economic and Policy Research defines a "good job" as one with health insurance, a pension plan and earnings of at least $17 per hour. That works out to about $34,000 a year, the inflation-adjusted median income for men in 1979, when U.S. manufacturing jobs numbered 19.6 million, an all-time high.

Since then, the economy has lost nearly 6 million manufacturing jobs -- 52,000 in February alone. Among them were many of the 3.5 million "good jobs" lost from 2000 to 2006, according to CEPR economist John Schmitt.

Our next president will certainly be challenged after taking office. We are currently in a very big mess by the numbers. It might be a good idea to think about Senator McCain's thin economic portfolio before casting a vote in that direction. It could be throwing good money after bad, for any of you Clinton fans who might be considering a protest vote for McCain.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is about space at Making Good Mondays.

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