Saturday, June 02, 2018

Taxes, Jobs, and the Pit Bull Effect

The news was good this week when the Labor Department submitted its monthly report on new job growth and declining unemployment rates, signaling an economy steadily recovering from the economic collapse of 2008.

I am trying to understand why my reaction was tepid at best, more like a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I think it's the pit bull effect.

It's like a family who keeps a pit bull in the house to scare away solicitors, despite the fact it keeps biting the children. When the monthly report comes out the family is thrilled that there have been no pest control salesmen, kids peddling candy for a school fundraiser, or Jehova's Witnesses distributing the latest issue of Watchtower. The children appear to be recovering, but they flinch every time they hear a dog bark.

I'm sorry if this offends pit bull fans who will come rushing to their defense, citing tales of lovable pits who have rescued children from drowning and posed for Christmas cards. Maybe so, but keep them away from my grandkids. I'm just using them for illustration purposes. See below for my penance.

I'll speak only for myself, although I don't believe I'm alone. When I think of pit bulls, Donald Trump comes more readily to mind than Florence Nightingale. And that's why I'm less than thrilled by the current economic news. Apparently, in order to get economic growth, improved wages, full employment, and other desirable outcomes, we have to tolerate in the White House a deeply flawed leader who is self-absorbed, misogynistic, racist, dangerously uninformed, culturally insensitive, and intellectually lazy. And worst of all, he is a pathological liar, unlike anyone we have known in public life for generations.

A pit bull is sitting in the Oval Office, watching cable news, destroying the environment with the click of a pen, offending global partners with tariffs and broken treaties, waving nuclear missiles in his hands like they were popsicles, enriching the monied class with unconscionable tax breaks, rescinding in one fell swoop consumer protections that have taken decades to secure, and handing out pardons to personal friends and celebrities implicitly threatening to use them to save his own neck. And at a more foundational level, he attacks the cherished institutions of our republic, including, most dangerously, the separation of powers.

But that's okay. We got a tax cut. (If you have received yours, please raise your hand.)

I know that political campaigns run to a large degree on economic issues. James Carville, a senior political strategist for the successful 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign, is famously known for coining the phrase, "The economy, stupid." I am as happy as anyone to see my taxes reduced and my unemployed friends secure a job. but I cannot allow myself to celebrate financial gains that crush the social contract that guarantees fundamental freedoms, equality of opportunity, and the promise of a society that works every day to provide our children with affordable education, healthcare for all, safety in schools, security from threats abroad, and the privilege of living in a world where we are admired for our values and honored for living them in our everyday life.

A pit bull sits in the Oval Office, staffed with a chorus of complicity. He brags about the economy and ignores the trail of broken lives that are this administration's refuse. Some say his bark is worse than his bite. It is not. His bark may come as a tweet, but it is ferocious nonetheless.

Don't ask me to rejoice in a growing economy. As long as the pit bull is in the White House, the cost is way too high.

This is my penance for treating pit bulls in an unfavorable light.
I kind of like the image of the nurturing pit bull. Wish we had one.

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