The 2000’s – What The Hell Happened!?

January 5, 2010

Updated January 6, 2010 with “a link”.

From 1940 to 1999, job growth in America averaged nearly 27 percent each decade. But during the 2000’s that all changed. Job grow was stagnant at 0 — yes, that’s no typo — that’s zero percent. The U.S. needs between 100,000 and 250,000 new jobs added each month (depending on which report you read) in order to accommodate the growing work force. Net household worth declined for the first time since the 1950’s. The average American is more in debt and worse off today than they were in 1999. And the outlook doesn’t look any better. Had you went to sleep in 2000 and woke in 2010 no doubt you’d ask what the hell happened. So what did happen?

I debated over whether or not to even address the past ten disastrous years. When you think about it, where would one really start; what would one say; what facts would one point to and which to leave out? In truth, it would take more than a volume to address it all. So I simply decided to ignore it and just wish it away. Then I read three articles, which referenced a couple of others, that seem to bring it all into focus. So here I am  — throwing in my two cents worth.

E.J. Dionne Jr. wrotethe past 10 years will be seen as a time when the United States badly lost its way [bold added] by using our military power carelessly, misunderstanding the real challenges to our long-term security and pursuing domestic policies that constrained our options for the future while needlessly threatening our prosperity”. Quite frankly, the use of Dionne’s term “badly lost its way” is grossly understated. We didn’t just loose our way — among so many other thing, we lost our sense of values, truth, and honesty. The prominent contributing factor to this is, I believe, as individuals we adopted the mindset of truth, in whole, and facts, in totality, is what I want them to be; not what they really are. This resulted in the preverbal ostrich syndrome of sticking our heads into the sand.

Certainly not to place all the blame on the previous administration, but George W. Bush, heavily influenced by the likes of the Karl Rove’s and Dick Cheney’s, as well as others, played a leading roll in what happened during the 2000’s. Just as important as what Bush actually did was the mindset that flourished beyond Bush during his tenure. Before it was over, nearly half of the country fell prey to his way of thinking, and many still covet that today. This fact is reflected in another of Dionne’s observations: “Much of the contention surrounding Barack Obama’s presidency is simply a continuation of our argument over the effects of George W. Bush’s time in office”. He adds “Bush’s defenders know that Obama’s election represented a popular reaction against the consequences of the Bush presidency”.

Although encouraged by the actions and mindset of the political environment during the last decade, other major factors contributed to the devastation. Greed and its consequences played just as big of a roll, if not bigger. We could argue over why it happened, but we can’t deny that it did happen.

The 1990’s offered a taste of the fruit-of-evil that was made available to us. (Remember that it was early on in the 1990’s that we simpletons were granted easy access to the stock market). In that, I mean the apple that dangled on a string which was tied to a pole that was attached to our heads. The resulting fortunes and near-fortunes realized during the tech bubble of that decade taste too good to be ignored (hell, even I made a buck or two). Everyone wanted a bite of that apple. But what eventually perpetrated the disaster-that-was is the fact that many wanted the whole apple — not to be shared with anyone.

In the “Aughts Were A Lost Decade”, Neil Irwin said “the past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth”. In simple terms, the most disastrous decade of the last eight for the common people of America. In contrast, the 2000’s was the banner decade for just under a half-million citizens. That’s the estimated number of Americans that prospered beyond belief during the last decade. Of course, they had to kill the golden goose in order to get more eggs quicker. Their fortunes may stagnate, but for those that follow, another batch of golden geese will have to be found and cultivated. In the meantime, the vast majority of Americans have to contend with digging their way out of the mess so graciously provided by those half-million. At the same time, many commoners have to find a non-existent job so they and their family don’t have to depend on the soup line.

There is another key contributor to what happened to the 2000’s. But I won’t address that here and now — that will appear in a near-future post; possibly the next one. When published, I will return here and leave a link to it. For now, I will close with the following, which is another quote from Dionne’s above referenced article.

Dealing with the [financial] wreckage required a large expenditure of public funds that increased a deficit already bloated by President Bush’s decision to fight two wars and to cut taxes at the same time. Bush’s defenders, preferring to divert attention from this period of irresponsibility, act as if the world began on Jan. 20, 2009, by way of saddling Obama with the blame for everything that now ails us. But the previous eight years cannot be wished away [bold added].


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