No, I am not talking about listening to heavy metal—this is the other misery index.
Economist Arthur Okun years ago famously created what he called the economic misery index to calculate how bad things are for everyday Americans.
It is calculated by adding together the inflation rate and the unemployment rate as measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number when combined generally characterizes the current economic condition—the state of the economy. On it fortunes rise and fall, people thrive or fail, and yes, politicians are elected or rejected.
Empirically, a high unemployment rate and a high inflation rate have a negative impact on economic growth.
Recall in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter was swept from office by Ronald Reagan, who asked the American people a simple but timely question: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Well, you may ask, how bad can things really get as we look into the crystal ball of our coming future? What could things look like in 2024, in the last years of the Biden Administration? Would there be more or less misery or so much misery people would do anything just to be free of the senile nincompoop?
Barack Obama’s misery index stood at 9.41 at the end of his term, not as horrid as Carter’s at 16.26, or even Gerald Ford’s for that matter, but it was nothing to brag about. In fact, it was poor compared to most presidencies. Economic growth during Obama’s two terms was anemic to say the least. When it comes to job creation, he was a disaster. Donald Trump on the other hand, was very solid on both numbers and did more to create wealth for all groups of Americans, not just the wealthy, than any other president. So, how is Scranton Joe doing for the little guy, or for the economy as a whole?
Let’s review his dismal numbers.
It’s true that 6 million jobs are coming back after the horrible and unnecessary COVID lockdowns. That was expected. Unemployment stood at 3.6 percent in April. That means some 5.9 million people are unemployed while there are over 11 million job openings. Those openings have been going up and now stand at a 49 percent increase from just a year ago.
Unfortunately, it appears many people don’t want to work and many have left their jobs altogether, preferring a government handout. One other thing Biden has done that harms the middle class is open the borders—wide. Illegal immigration is up a whopping 317 percent in just a year and a half.
Inflation is going through the roof under Biden. The consumer price index is up to 6.8 percent, the highest in 40 years, and the real measure of overall inflation puts the total closer to an out of control 10 percent. Gas alone is up an astounding 49 percent. Food is up close to 15 percent and baby formula is practically unavailable. Widespread food shortages are forecast.
When you do the math, all that means total wages are down 2.2 percent, which is hitting the average Joe very hard. Many families cannot afford rent, food, or the basics and it is only going to get worse. I will predict now the Biden misery index will hit or exceed 16 percent.
What will Biden, or for that matter Kamala Harris, provide by 2024? Realistically, how bad could things get?
The answer: They can get far worse. If the policies the Biden Administration want come to fruition, we will be in a full-blown recession. The stock market will have collapsed. Housing prices will be through the roof and gas prices will not abate, given that Biden and his leftist stalwarts insist on a decarbonized economy and persist in canceling oil and gas development here in America.
Recent research in technical economics shows that unemployment is much more closely correlated with unhappiness than inflation. Underweighting the effects attributed to unemployment rates is therefore politically and economically dangerous. Would the next Democrat be able to establish sustained economic growth?
No. That party has clearly gone socialist and it will never return.
And here is what we know about the present unemployment rate. It is not good if measured correctly as the participation rate, given that so many people have dropped out of the economy altogether.
We have more than 10 million unemployed persons in the United States, if counted correctly, and 47 million people on food stamps. In other words, unemployment looks much worse than the numbers suggest. In the African American and Latino communities, and especially among young people, unemployment is high and will go higher as the economy contracts.
So, the question Donald Trump and Republicans need to ask of Biden-Harris at the debates in the fall of ’24 and on the campaign trail constantly between now and then is this: How miserable do you plan to make the American people?
Let’s list the ways Biden misery could rise:
- His tax plans will raise taxes and hurt middle class Americans in the pocketbook.
- His trade policies (and bad deals) will cost the country new job creation while shipping jobs overseas and to Mexico. China will be the big winner.
- His health care regime will keep people from affordable healthcare and continue to raise the costs under extended Obamacare.
- His military policies will cost Americans their safety and weaken our national defense.
- His economic policies will keep the unemployment rates in terms of participation high and fail to create badly needed economic growth. His monetary policy will cause a recession.
- His over-regulation of business and over-taxation will stop companies from building new facilities and expanding.
- His open immigration policies will continue to let droves of illegal aliens cross our borders unabated.
- His foreign policy and lack of a strategy to defeat Islamic extremism, China, North Korea and Iran (he can’t even utter those words) will threaten our ability to function as a society as well as our personal security.
By the year 2024 America will be poorer, sicker, more terrorized, and economic growth will not have recovered from what it was in the Trump years. Our misery index, and our unhappiness, will likely be the worst it has ever been. Biden won’t just be a joke or a woke mistake, he will be hated as the source of America’s decline according to every definition of the term.
And what would a second term President Trump do to improve our misery index overall?
- He would change the tax regime making taxes dramatically lower for individuals, the middle class and corporations, thereby putting more money into circulation. Economic growth would rebound.
- He would curtail our current trade policies and cancel the problematic new deals, put China in its place, thereby bringing jobs back to our shores.
- He would end Obamacare and institute health savings accounts providing better and more cost-effective insurance to Americans.
- He would build back our decimated military forces so as to defend the country.
- He would work in every possible way to increase jobs for all classes and colors of Americans and make the economy competitive.
- He would cut regulation and bring back companies and entire supply chains that have relocated for tax reasons elsewhere.
- He would finish building a wall on the Mexican border and control illegal immigration.
- He would end the trade imbalances and the intellectual property theft with China, and enact a comprehensive strategy in intelligence, policing and coordinated rapid military action to insure America’s status as the preeminent power in the world.
In 2024 which scenario would you prefer?
Taking a page from the Reagan playbook, ask: Will you be better off after four years under Joe Biden and Kamala Harris?
Does the American public want jobs, security, and economic growth or more and deeper misery?
Framed this way, Donald Trump defeats any Democrat, and we can restore America’s greatness.
Trump says he wants to be the “jobs president” again. That is what we need: more, good, high-paying and rewarding jobs. It is what he did in his first round and what he would do again, if given another chance. Why wouldn’t the entire country jump with joy at the prospect?
Failure to vote on the part of the electorate—and that means every American voter, as an act of responsible citizenship—will doom us to greater misery by 2024. We will have no one to blame but ourselves. The midterms in November will get us partly there but the boom will not return until Trump himself is back in the White House.
Never before in American history have the stakes been so high or the choice so clear. Our very future as an economy, as a people, and as a country, depend on it.