One Step Forward, Eleven Thousand Steps Backward

When are politicians going to learn that they should not brag about “good news”, especially when that “good news” isn’t really that good at all? You would think, after years of practice, they would realize that their attempts at spinning bad news into political gold just does not work and Rumpelstiltskin is not going to come to their rescue.

The November jobs report was quite shocking to many people. Shocking because the numbers were far better than “experts” thought they were going to be. When I say better, that does not mean it was good news. In fact, it was far from it.

The number of jobs lost in the month of November was just 11,000. The unemployment rate fell from 10.2% to 10%. While both of those numbers are a good sign, and definitely an improvement over last year, there is no logical way anyone could classify the jobs report as “good news”.

November payrolls fell by much less than expected – declining by just 11,000 – and the unemployment rate fell to 10.0%, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. But while it’s becoming more apparent that the U.S. job market is closer to growth, caution is still the buzzword as the jobless recovery continues.

When growth does return the consensus is that getting back the roughly 7.2 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 won’t be an overnight phenomenon.

In other words, it’s going to be a long hard road. Families are struggling more than ever, and I think it’s rather brash to make statements which spin this news as anything exciting or in anyway permanent. How many times has the government had to revise the job numbers because they realized they screwed up? Shouldn’t we wait a bit and see if these numbers hold up before we start telling everyone that the loss of only 11,000 is good news?

Earlier today I was hanging out on Twitter, and I noticed a message from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). She said,

“December of last year we lost more than 600,000 jobs. November this year we lost 11,000. Good news. Progress. Still work to do.”

If the goal is to stop job loss, and the target is employment, how can you consider the loss of 11,000 as progress? That’s insane.

If you compare the loss of 11,000 jobs solely with the loss of 600,000 jobs, you may feel like your making progress, but let’s look at it realistically. If you need to walk a total of 10 miles, and last month you walked backward 600,000 steps are you really making progress to complete those 10 miles this month if you walk backward another 11,000 steps? Like I said, you’d have to be insane to think so.

Anyway, I don’t have that many characters on Twitter, so I responded to her message with the following,

@clairecmc Only you could see the loss of 11,000 jobs as “progress”.

I have replied to a couple of Sen. McCaskill’s tweets, but she has never responded directly to me, and I don’t expect her to. She’s not my senator, so why should she? Of course, she only follows one person on Twitter, so she doesn’t even see what her constituents say unless they direct their message directly to her. Twitter must be a lonely place for Sen. Claire McCaskill. Just imagine how engaged she could be on the conversation if she just listened to what people had to say.

I have no idea if her response was directed toward me, but minutes later she responded with the following tweet.

So weird when politics turns good news into cynical disappointment.

She thinks it’s weird when politics turns good news into cynical disappointment? Is she serious? Isn’t she using politics to try and turn a very bad situation into a feel good story for all who will listen to her? Isn’t it weird to think moving backward should be considered progress? Talk about being a cynical disappointment.

Do her constituents really think moving backwards another 11,000 jobs is good news? Maybe it is good news for those who aren’t one of the additional 11,000 who now find themselves unemployed, but I doubt those 11,000 think the report was good news.

I responded to her again, of course with Twitter’s 140 character limit.

@clairecmc I don’t think those 11,000 ppl (or the 15million looking for work) consider it good news at all. Only politicians do.

The truth is, politicians want you to believe these job numbers are good news. No matter how negative the numbers still are, if you believe the numbers are positive, you’ll tend to forget the “bad times” when you walk into that voting booth come election time. And that my friends it the worst kind of cynical disappointment there is.

Apathy at the voting booth leads politicians to believe they can say anything they want because no one really cares and the majority of people aren’t going to do anything different when they walk into that voting booth the next time around.

This type of behavior results in the House and Senate being filled with politicians like Claire McCaskill who will do their best to pull the wool over our eyes as many times as they can as long as they can.

The next time someone tells you the “good news”, sit back for a moment, look at the entire story and make up your own mind. You just might surprise yourself and wake up in time for the next election.