Wednesday, September 15, 2004

What Cheney Really Means

Dick Cheney's remark that official government statistics don't show the true health of the economy because, for example, they don't count the 400,000 people selling stuff on eBay, "a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago," obviously inspired us , in part, to launch this site along with We're tired of the auctioning of government policy to the highest bidders.

But if you stop and think about what Cheney is really saying, what you get is even more chilling. As Francis Volpe, a writer for The Sentinel (Carlisle, PA), points out in this sharp essay, "what Cheney is really talking about is counting the underground economy when we gather statistics." Volpe then puts this in context:

The underground economy is always with us, but my guess is that more people participate in it when real jobs are scarce. The harder it is to earn a paycheck, the more likely it is that people will peddle their junk instead of putting it out to the curb.

When they run out of Cabbage Patch Dolls and baseball card collections, they'll have to put their more valuable possessions up for sale to make ends meet. Like the computer they were using to post auctions on eBay. And so on down the economic ladder.

No doubt some folks do OK working the Internet auctions, although my experience has been that people who spend a lot of time on those sites end up spending as much -- or more -- than they earn. That's a pastime, not a profession.

And professions are what the job creation statistics tell us are trickling away rather than multiplying. The 144,000 jobs created last month were barely enough to cover population growth, let alone put any of the unemployed back to work.

So it occurs to me that the real argument to be made in this election is whether the next administration's employment policies will require Americans to periodically liquidate their possessions to keep up with rising prices.

Of course, Cheney doesn't have such worries. He's still drawing a check from Halliburton, while helping it get multi-billion no-bid contracts!

And what other kinds of items are traded in the "underground economy?" Drugs. Huge part of our general economy that no one wants to discuss. Does anyone wonder why Afghanistan is all the way back into the heroin trade, now that we've "won" that war? Hardly seems accidental. U.S. corporations are deeeep into laundering drug money and, indeed, our economy benefits greatly from it.
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