I have always been a fan of the poetry of the iconoclastic Welshman, Dylan Thomas. One of my favorites by him was the poem “Fern Hill.” The poem is a kaleidoscopic rush of vibrant imagery that captures the loss of innocence and the dawn of adult reality in our lives. At some point, the poem tells us, we must grow up and replace fantasy with reality. I recently re-read the poem and it struck me as a metaphor for President Obama’s economic policies.
If the president needed a jolt of reality to understand that his policies are not working, he got it in spades with the recent economic indicators pouring out of Washington and New York. It was not a good week for his economic team. New job creation was a paltry 58,000 jobs in April. About 200,000 new jobs per month are needed to just tread water and 300,000 are needed to start making a dent in the over 8 million jobs lost during the recent recession. The official unemployment rate ticked back up a notch in April to 9.1 percent. The under-employment rate—which measures the percent of the workforce under-employed or no longer looking for work—still hovers around 16 percent.
Perhaps the president conflates economic progress with how well Wall Street is doing and how strongly he promotes the “green” economy. Wall Street is doing quite well, thanks to the trillions in stimulus and “quantitative easing” money shoved its way by the Federal Reserve and the federal government. It is hard not to make money when you are basically given no-cost money to operate with.
President Obama continues to attack the traditional domestic energy industry and pushes massive subsidies for “green” energy. He hasn’t paid much attention to the severe economic repercussions nations like Spain have endured when they sacrificed standard private sector jobs to create “green” jobs. Fantasy is enthralling until reality disturbs its sleep.
President Obama cannot afford to enter 2012 with an economy that looks anything like the current one. High energy prices and persistent unemployment will be a killer combination for his re-election if things don’t change soon. What is almost incomprehensible is the fact that the president doesn’t understand that his policies are part of the anchor dragging down his election prospects.
Employers still don’t know what their health care costs are going to be if ObamaCare survives the challenges pending in the courts. Another huge unknown is the impact of his Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation of greenhouse gasses. His avidly pro-union appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continue to try to impose by fiat what Congress will not pass as law. The NLRB’s recent order for The Boeing Company to close its yet unopened 787 plant in South Carolina (a Right-To-Work state) and move it to its heavily unionized facility in Washington is a prime example of how employers—large and small—have no certainty about how much government regulations will impact their investment and hiring decisions.
Barack Obama is a president politically imprisoned by his economic policies. The more he promotes an anti-business agenda, the more, predictably, the economy sours. Throwing money at Wall Street doesn’t spur investment on Main Street, and the fantasy of high-sounding political sound bites cannot trump the reality of failed economic policies.
At the conclusion of “Fern Hill,” Dylan Thomas writes:
“Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea”
Those words could be the epitaph for Barack Obama’s presidency if he doesn’t understand soon that his economic policies are hurting the nation—and his own chances for political survival.