The following is an editorial letter to the papers written by my friend Bruce. He has authorized me to post it on my BLOG. I felt it worthy of sharing and I hope you feel the same.October 17, 2008
Subject: Upcoming Election
An open letter to American voters:
The upcoming election is nearly at hand and we all know that the results will have a historic impact on our country and our state. This writing is not intended to endorse any candidate, rather, to provide some factual information, education, and contrasts between the parties on the performance of the United States economy. I believe that it is not only important to us as Americans to vote, but also to vote based on established fact rather than opinion or innuendo.
There is no question that the upcoming election is first and foremost a referendum on the state of the economy in the United States. We are facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression (1929-1939) and history is in grave danger of repeating itself. The Great Depression in the United States began on Black Friday, October 29, 1929 and is said to have lasted until the onset of World War II and was accompanied by world wide economic collapse. Political and economic factors leading up to the Great Depression are eerily parallel to the current situation in the United States. The Great Depression started in the first year of the Republican Presidency of Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) following two terms of the Republican presidential administrations of Warren G. Harding (1921-1923), who died in office and was succeeded by Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929). Conditions of high unemployment, poverty, and deflation continued through Hoover’s term in office. Americans elected Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) in 1933. In 1935 Roosevelt created by executive order the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a relief agency to put unemployed American workers back to work and build American infrastructure. Also in 1935, President Roosevelt, with the backing of a Democratic Congress and Senate, signed into law the Wagner Act, today known as the National Labor Relations Act, which offered workers the ability of to organize unions and bargain collectively to improve their wages, hours, benefits, and conditions of employment. Union membership in the United States grew from one million workers to 12 million workers in the ten years following the passage of the Wagner Act and predicated the largest growth of the American Middle class in history.
As a matter of local parallel, the Great Depression occurred also ten months into the first term of Republican Indiana Governor Harry Guyer Leslie (1929-1933) following the term of Republican Governor Ed Jackson (1925-1929). Indiana was led out of the Great Depression by three terms of the Democratic governorships of Governors Paul Vorie McNutt (1933-1937), Clifford Townsend (1937-1941), and Frederic Schricker (1941-1945).
History is both a good teacher and a reliable predictor of the future. Facts of history clearly tell us that workers and the economy in general always fare better under Democratic leadership than they do under Republican leadership, and that it was Democratic leadership that led our country and our state out of the Great Depression. According to the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), unemployment has peaked in every Republican administration and been at its minimum levels during every Democratic administration since World War II. Characteristic differences in the economic policies of the parties are widely known and detailed in a new book called "Unequal Democracy," by Larry M. Bartels, a professor of economics at Princeton University. In a New York Times article dated August 31, 2008, Alan S. Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and a former Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve cites two key historic factors from the work of Bartels, which relies on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The first, which Blinder calls "The Great Partisan Growth Divide," is simply stated that the growth of the United States economy, on average, has grown faster under Democratic Presidents than it has under Republican Presidents. The unprecedented economic growth during the Clinton years and the historic decline of the economy during the Bush years is fresh in everyone’s mind. The current administration has presided over the loss of more than 700,000 American jobs in the past eight years and has yet to address that as a crisis.
The second, which is the focus of Professor Bartels’ work, is referred to as the "Great Partisan Inequality Divide." In his work, he unearthed what Blinder calls a stunning statistical regularity in regard to income inequality in the United States. Income inequality is defined as the gap in income between the poor and the well to do. Over the 60-year period since World War II this income gap widened substantially under Republican presidents and narrowed under Democratic presidents, resulting in an overall widening of the income gap. The New York Times Article of Alan Blinder (view this article at www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/business/31view.html) includes a chart adapted from Bartels’ work. This chart illustrates family income at various income levels and clearly shows that lower income families experience slightly faster income growth than higher income families when Democrats are in the White House, and in stark contrast much faster income growth for the better-off when Republicans are in the White House, a key factor in widening the income gap.
Many voters place their votes on issues other than the economy, such as gun and pro-life issues. It is important to note that there has been no significant legislation in recent history affecting these issues, save the ban on partial birth abortions and a ban on assault weapons lobbied for by national law enforcement in the interest of protecting our country’s public safety officers. Many of us do fairly well in terms of wages and benefits with our employers, a factor which I believe takes our focus from the economy. But every one of us has a parent, a sibling, a child, or a friend who is struggling in the face of the current economic crisis. We should consider them and all who are struggling when we cast our vote in this election. I would ask that every voter weigh the issue of the current state of our nation’s economy, along with the aforementioned historical data, against other issues when casting your vote on November 4th. According to Alan Blinder, " . . . statistical regularities, like facts, are stubborn things. You bet against them at your own peril."
If driving at speed toward a brick wall, normal human reflex would be to turn away from the wall to avoid a crash. There are clearly two choices in the upcoming election. We, as American voters can turn away from the wall or crash into it. We can put the Republican Party in power, which would effectively align the stars, so to speak, by putting in place every key political and economic factor that led us into the Great Depression; or we can put the party in power that led us out of the greatest economic crisis in the history of our country. The choice is ours.