by Pa Rock
There are different ways of judging the health (or lack thereof) of the economy. My father, who is invested in real estate and the stock market, tends to see the Dow Jones as the basic barometer of our nation's health. Coming at it from a social work perspective, I give more credence to tangibles like housing foreclosures and joblessness. The past two years have seen all of these indicators head toward the toilet, so my dad and I can both agree that things are bad regardless of our unique perspectives.
Today was a terrible day for the American economy. All day long news kept coming of big layoffs. Caterpillar is doing away with 20,000 jobs, Sprint Nextel is losing 8,000, and Pfizer Pharmaceutical is buying up Wyeth Pharmaceutical (funded partially by banks that received bailout money), and the new organization will cut over 8,000 jobs. (The bailout is helping to fund an 8,000 job loss!) Home Depot is cutting 7,000 people from their payroll, and General Motors announced that they are trimming 2,000 more employees. One estimate that I saw late in the day said that 68,000 layoffs had been announced today alone, and the total for January, which is not over yet, is in excess of 200,000!
But get this - the nation's three basic market measures - the Dow, the S&P, and the NASDAQ - all went up today, albeit modestly. Apparently cutting jobs is a good thing to stock traders - just as long as it isn't their jobs that are being cut - or those of their spouses, children, or parents! It's all relative.
What does the loss of 200,000 jobs matter in the overall scheme of things? It means that mortgage payments won't get paid, new cars won't be purchased, schooling will be put off, vacations will be scaled back or not taken, and medical treatment will be postponed or completely ignored. It means the economy will keep shrinking, fewer goods will be purchased, fewer services required, and more layoffs will be implemented. It also means that crime will necessarily increase.
The government has already kicked in a huge wad of cash to try and end the vicious downward economic spiral, but at last reading the banks and financial institutions that received our tax money were focused on not telling us how it was being spent. So far it appears that most of the money is being hoarded and not pumped back into the economy as originally intended.
That may, however, be changing. Some of the bailout loot was apparently loaned to Pfizer today so that they could eat up Wyeth - and cut a butt load of jobs! It was also announced today that Citigroup, which received $43 billion in government money, will soon take possession of a new $50 million corporate jet - a very sleek affair that seats twelve people comfortably!
Perhaps the time has come to nationalize the bastards!