Go ahead and protest, but think a little, too
As I was driving to the grocery store after work Wednesday, I noticed some young folks who I assume were W&J students protesting at the corners of Lincoln and Beau in Washington. It appeared they are not pleased with the president and were taking considerable pains to point out that unemployment is currently very, very high. The impetus for the protest, I assume, was the first anniversary of President Obama's election. Yet, it's been only about nine months since Obama took office, and blaming him for the country's high unemployment rate is shortsighted and rather thoughtless. Certainly, the jobless rate is painfully high and will, no doubt, creep higher in the coming months. At the same time, however, it should be noted that other economic signs are trending in a better direction. We've recently seen encouraging reports about housing. The national economy actually grew in the last quarter. And just today, there was positive news about retail sales, giving businesses hope that this holiday sales season won't be a huge downer. Also today, there was even a report that the number of new jobless claims was lower than expected. The overall unemployment rate is expected to hit 10.5 percent in the coming months, but analysts expect that to start improving by next summer. A little history, semi-ancient and recent, might be in order for the campus protesters. The jobless rate was close to 11 percent during the first term of Ronald Reagan, but I doubt anyone who currently is pillorying Obama wants to be reminded of that black mark on the record of the hero of modern conservatism. To Reagan's credit, the rate got better. Under Obama, it's likely to do the same. I'd also remind the demonstrators that when George W. Bush took office, the rate was 4.2 percent. At the beginning of 2008, it was still only 4.9 percent, but it was 7.6 percent when Bush left office and already well on its climb to where we sit today. I have to confess that when I saw the protesters Wednesday evening, I wondered to myself how many of them come from wealthy homes from which Mommy and Daddy dispense checks for more than $40,000 annually so that they can enjoy college life at a top-notch school. I also wondered how many of them had heard their parents griping that Obama wants to tax them into the poorhouse. Young people are very impressionable. But at the same time, this group apparently was paying no attention during the previous eight years when "W" took a strong economy and ran it right into the ground, in part thanks to his "war of choice" in Iraq. No one could fix in 10 short months the economic devastation that Obama faced on the day he took office. He deserves more time to see if his policies can help to lift us from our current mess. If he fails, those protesters at W&J will have plenty of company in voting Obama out of office in 2012. Bottom line, I'm glad that the young demonstrators were taking an interest in our government and exercising their freedom of speech, but it's a shame that they seem to be taking their marching orders from Fox News.