The following is data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
You’ll notice that last month’s unemployment (5.6% in green for 2004) is the lowest in two years going back to 5.6% in January of 2002. This, of course, is welcome news but not all that much to cheer about.
Unless you look at the January numbers for the final year of Reagan’s first term. First of all, the number was 8.0% (green in 1984). Two years earlier, the number was lower than any month in between, but it was still higher (8.6% in gray for 1982) than that January. To get as low as the January 84 numbers you have to go back three more months to October of 1981 (yellow.)
Let’s see. Reagan took office and the budget skyrocketed. Taxes were cut and military spending increased despite this fact. “Reaganomics” was a term of derision. There were 2.3 million more people out of work than when he took office. Terrorists had struck US interests and the President had dispatched the military to deal with international threats, some of which turned out to have been not so dangerous as claimed. US military personnel were killed, in part because planners didn’t plan as well as they should have. French citizens protested American military might.
Reagan certainly was vulnerable, right? Right?
Now, I’m not really comparing George W. Bush to Ronald Reagan, especially on Mr. Reagan’s birthday. I might be crazy, but I’m not nuts.
Still, let’s not get all worked up about how bad things are. Sure, they could be better. They could be a lot better. By all rights, they should be better.
But I’m thinking that they could much more easily be far worse.
Happy Birthday, President Reagan.