It’s been going on for months. Conservatives have been pointing their fat finger of blame at Barack Obama. Somehow, perhaps by mystical Voodoo spells, Obama managed to cause a global economic collapse even before he was elected President. Earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh declared that…
“Barack Obama has been the controlling political authority on the economy for six months.”
Sean Hannity places Obama’s omnipotent dominance back even further, to May 2008. Never mind that in the first half of 2008, Republicans were insisting that the economy was in swell shape thanks to the financial acumen of their beloved George W. Bush. But all of that must now be swept aside because a new culprit must be found guilty of having soured what everyone now concedes is a disastrous economic meltdown.
To further that end, Fox News conducted a poll (pdf) to ascertain the mood of the public and their views on the leadership of the new President. Unfortunately for Fox, the poll revealed that broad majorities of the people support Obama and his policies. Democrats and Independents are distinctly separating themselves from Republicans, who are the lonely naysayers of the nation.
One question in particular stood out as I was studying the results:
Do you think all the doom and gloom talk and constant focus on the economy is actually making the economy worse, or is the talk not making much of a difference?
Total 55% 38% Democrats 44% 47% Republicans 69% 28% Independents 57% 36%
You’ve got to hand it to Fox, the domain of doom and gloom, for asking a question about “all the doom and gloom talk.” Their incessant chatter bemoaning the Obama administration and agenda is the core of their programming. No wonder Republicans in the poll are so far removed from other respondents. It is well documented that Fox has a disproportionately large majority of Republican viewers. But if Fox is truly interested in an inquiry into economic gloominess, they need look no further than themselves and their own on-air propaganda spewers:
Rupert Murdoch: …the downturn is more severe and likely longer-lasting than previously thought.
Bill O’Reilly: …our financial system is rigged and Americans should be very wary about buying stocks in this environment.
Glenn Beck: Be wary of anyone who says you should just leave your money in the stock market, because they are proving themselves incapable of seeing a real worst-case scenario.
And for good measure, Rush Limbaugh: The market is plunging. Investors are shorting it. They’re not putting money in the market. The economy is getting worse. This is being done on purpose, I believe, just as they are trying to sink the stock market.
Add to this list the names of Neil Cavuto, Sean Hannity, Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Steve Doocy, Bill Sammon, Megyn Kelly, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, Karl Rove, etc. Virtually every Fox News contributor is contributing to the doom and gloom. And what’s more, the hard times ahead are all the fault of Obama, who has only been president for six weeks.
At a deeper level, it needs to be noted that the main thesis that these pundits peddle is simply wrong by any objective standard. They are promulgating the falsehood that Wall Street is an indicator of the nation’s economic health. It’s not! The stock market is a facility within which to assign value to shares of corporations and commodities. That value is the result of traders negotiating with one another with the purpose of generating profits for themselves. Anyone who tells you that the price of a stock at any given moment is an actual representation of a company’s worth is a liar. The only thing it represents is what a broker was able to get for that stock at that moment. If you have any doubt, just consider whether you believe that General Motors is actually worth less than $1 billion today, but was worth over $9 billion just six months ago – with the same products, the same people, and the same plants.
Wall Street isn’t tanking because of some random chatter in Washington, DC. If that were possible than Fox News is more at fault than Obama. Stocks are declining for the reason they always decline: dismal corporate earnings, collapsing markets domestically and internationally, and four million Americans unemployed and not consuming.
So let’s get this straight once and for all. The interests of Wall Street are unique and distinct from the public interest. The manic volatility of the Dow Jones index is no more an indicator of the state of the national economy than an eBay auction for a Hummel figurine. And Obama didn’t cause the decline on Wall Street by articulating a vision for improving the real fundamentals of the economy – productivity, consumption, and jobs. Progress in those areas is what will lead to the recovery that Wall Street needs.