Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Just the Facts

Let me make this clear before I start this column. I didn't vote for Bush in 2004.

I'm not a big fan of the guy.

I remember the day we invaded Iraq back in 2003 while in Europe watching the events unfold on CNN World. My wife and I both said almost simultaneously that we aren't leaving here anytime soon. I distinctly remember saying that this is going to be street warfare at its worst. Any local or national news program today will confirm that assessment we made back in '03. Little did I know that this would continue for more than five years. Three years, I thought, maybe four but definitely not five plus as it looks now. I have no formal education on foreign relations or a doctorate in middle eastern studies. Yet yet my analysis that day of what would happen as the fighting would esclate wasn't that far off unfortunately. Many others the same writing on the wall. While this has no direct relation on what this blog is about, I felt it necessary to establish this before I continue.

I have heard alot of comparisons/contrasts to the last 8 years of Bush to the previous 8 years under Clinton and what might happen if a democrat (Obama or Clinton) gets into office versus John McCain who just won the GOP nomination. Many are trying to compare/contrast the economy, the global landscape (how will Iraq be handled), domestic programs, etc to how it was under Clinton (1993-2000) and Bush II (2001-2008) to what might happen in the years 2008 through 2012.

Foreshadowing any of these areas would be an exercise in futility for me. So I've decided to keep it somewhat simple to what I know...that ain't much I confess.

The purpose of this writing isn't to sway an opinion either way but rather to lay out some facts on two distinct, hot-button areas: The Economy and Foreign Policy. I'm not an expert in any of these areas. I don't pretend to be. What I try to do is put issues in their proper national context with information that I do know. Information that is not suspect or debated. Information that is void of political dogma. Information that is not jaded or purposefully leaning to the right or left. Information that might not be on the evening news. If the conclusions that you draw from these facts are left-leaning? Great. If they are right-leaning? Great. I could care less either way. Here are a few I found listed in no certain order...

From 2002 until late 2007, the stock market has regained all that it lost after the dot com bubble burst in from 2000 to early 2002. Since March of 2007 through March 2008, the S&P 500, a pretty good measure of market growth, lost 3.9%.

The unemploymment rates for the presidents from Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II are as follows: 7.6%, 6.4%, 5.1%, 5.3% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These numbers are found by taking the average employment level throghout each presidency.

The manufacturing sector employment numbers have fallen sharply over the last 10 years from 17.6 million in June of 1998 to 13.8 in June of 2007, a decline of almost 22% according to the BLS.

We have now occupied Iraq more than 15 months longer than World War II. The military lives lost over the last year is more than in the previous 4 years.

Our relationship with the middle east has existed since the turn of the century. Based on that fact, the relationship seems to be driven by oil. Anyone will find it hard not to argue against this fact.

We had oil independence (from the middle east) until the early 70s when the middle east nationalized their oil companies. Most of the information on these companies are national secrets so much estimating is done to gauge quantities and production. The spike in oil prices is due to a combination of middle east unrest (no doubt our occupation of Iraq a huge contributor), increased demand in China and other "developing" countries, Venezuelan political unknowns (Chavez isn't exactly running his country with his people in their best interes--huge infrastructure problems, weather, terrorist attacks and a decrease in supply from many countries belonging to OPEC just to name a few.

My thoughts on what I would like to see from 2008 to 2012 coming in Part II.....