The Growth Fairy has a lot of work ahead

As predicted, when things are not going well for him, Donald Trump returns to the campaign-style rallies that he loves, because they have crowds cheering for him and his fragile ego needs these kinds of periodic affirmations, however artificial and staged, when he is feeling like a failure. But as I said some time ago, at some point the audience will not be that enthusiastic because the campaign is over and one cannot maintain that kind of energy over a long time. The crowd will increasingly consist of people like Trump who also need these events to affirm to themselves that they made the right choice.

Yesterday, the 100th day of an administration that has precious little to show for it, Trump again held such a rally and one can see the signs of exhaustion setting in that the arena had rows of empty seats despite Trump’s typically lying boasts during the event, when he could see the empty seats for himself, that “we have a lot of people standing outside” and that he “broke the all time record” in this arena.

This has not been a good week for Trump. His second attempt at repealing Obamacare did not get a vote and he hurriedly released a laughably vague one-page description of his budget proposals that clearly seeks to give big tax break to wealthy individuals and corporations. Of course, this will balloon the deficit but Republicans only care about deficits and balanced budgets when Democrats are in power or when they want to cut spending on things that benefit the poor or the middle class. When it comes to tax cuts for the rich, they throw those concerns to the winds and instead invoke the Growth Fairy, that cutting taxes on the wealthy and on corporations will unleash such massive growth that it will generate more than enough revenue to offset the cost of the cuts.

The fact that this has not worked in the past is ignored and the Trump administration has invoked the Growth Fairy again when it unveiled its tax proposals this week. Unfortunately, the day after that, the government released a report that current growth is abysmally low, at an annualized rate of 0.7%, well below the 4% growth rate that would be needed to get anywhere close to closing the revenue shortfall caused by the cuts.

That is not the only problem facing the US economy. Another is the fact that men seem to be increasingly dropping out of the workforce.

America’s working man has taken a pounding over the course of the past half-century. According to the most recent data available, 15 percent of men in their prime working years (between 25 and 54) had no job—5 percent were unemployed and 10 percent were neither working nor looking for work. Fifty years earlier, in the summer of 1966, only 5 percent of men in that age range had no job.

Why are men dropping out of work? There are many suggested reasons but no single, conclusive one has been established. How do these men survive? “Most rely on family. Their employed wives, cohabiting partners, and sometimes even grown children support them. Many get benefits from federal and state programs, but the government does not know how many do so.”

Given the image promoted by the present administration and some conservative and religious leaders that men should be the leaders and breadwinners in the family, and that accepting welfare from the government is a sign of weakness and even moral failure, one can see how this can be a breeding ground for frustration for the men who internalize such sentiments and possibly lead to violence as they seek to vent their feelings of inadequacy. The language of the Trump administration that has stoked resentment against women, minorities, Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, and immigrants is not helping.


  1. Smokey says

    I wonder what the numbers would be if they were adjusted for current incarcerations and previous convictions of not-really-crimes, like smoking pot. Not only are people currently in prison for non-violent crimes the most peaceful transgressions imaginable, but they’ll have a much harder time getting a job after they get out of prison.

    But hey, war on drugs. Thanks, Nixon, for keeping us safe from “public enemy number one”. Your legacy lives on. I (Bellamy) salute you.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    If Republicans were being honest when they say “Our number one priority is jobs,” then they would love taxes and big government — just like the did in the fifties and sixties. When you pay taxes to the government, the government is going to turn around and spend it, mostly, on hiring people — maybe to fix highways, or build battleships, or manage social security checks, or whatever. That money gets turned right back into the workforce.

    When you give money to rich people, on the other hand, maybe they’ll create jobs. Or maybe they’ll buy a chateau in the south of France. Or maybe they’ll say, “Hey, with this big windfall, we can finally afford to get rid of all those folks on that assembly line and replace them all with robots.”

  3. Canadian Steve says

    adding to your list: or stash it off shore away from sight, removing it from the economy all together.
    So called “dead money” is a huge problem right now, and one of the things ignored by the people that claim cutting taxes will cause growth by freeing up profits for re-investment. The profits are already at record highs, and they aren’t reinvesting.

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