The Oracle

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How success is fabricated and propagated

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“I am having fun. I’m enjoying it. We’re accomplishing a lot. Your stock market is at an all-time high,” President Trump told a Forbes reporter in October of this year, referencing reports published on the economy in August. “Your jobs, your unemployment is at the lowest point in almost 17 years. We have fantastic numbers coming out.”

At six months into the Trump presidency, one million jobs had been added to the American economy. Of course, in President Obama’s last six months in office an average of 181,000 jobs were added a month – clocking in at 1.8 million jobs in the same amount of time. Moreover, the first six months of President Trump’s tenure – while historically noted as typically a president’s most apt period to pursue congressional goals – were unusually devoid of any such meaningful legislation to promote job growth. Any jobs gained within this six-month period are more likely a result of the previous administration’s presidential and congressional legislation.

On the surface, one million jobs in six months sounds like a remarkable feat and an easily digestible one; a good number of family and friends told me as such when the fact was publicized by the president in a series of tweets and followed up by conservative media outlets. It doesn’t take much to understand that it’s a statistically negligible increase from the Obama years (let alone that it’s most likely attributable to the Obama years).

It’s a PR pursuit that willingly relies on its targets remaining ignorant of economic functions, and indeed, setting those supposed high-water benchmarks upon greater ground than the lasting effects such a presidency has on legislative standards, executive accountability and overall integrity. After all, we elected Trump to say it how it is – right? Never mind that, in that very Forbes interview, President Trump boasted of frequently inflating numbers when making business deals, and readily admitted that he’s pursuing the same tactic with the U.S economy.

Take for example Trump’s oft-repeated musings that the stock market regularly sees record-breaking closings under his administration. In August of this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average made headlines by tapping 22,000 points for the first time in history. Again, this seems a clear example that what he’s doing is working.

The truth of the matter is that the Dow, and the stock market as a whole, has reached a new high, on average, once every seven days since March 2013 – the general economic recovery from the Great Recession. In fact, CNN reported that as of this past August the stock market “…hit an all-time high in 30 of the last 54 months since fully coming back from the market collapse of 2007-08. And it happened more than 100 times under Obama since 2013.”

Specifically, the market hit its all-time high for the 154th time when Trump took to Twitter announcing that he was on his way to a booming economic powerhouse the likes of which Reagan could only dream.

“The fake news media doesn’t like talking about the economy,” Trump said separately back in February, “I never see anything about the stock market set[ting] new records every day. I never see it.” This is, of course, because the stock market has been setting new records for around the past four years – none of it due to Trump. He does paint a fairly convincing picture of the oppressed presidential dealmaker and the biased, liberal media, but only when you’re playing exclusively with his cards. The fact that this is so often and repeatedly lied about receives little media attention or correction, which is itself – intentional or not – the entire point. Plainly, it seeks to overwhelm, dissuade and distract the public with repeated and constant lies.

For the most part, such a stratagem seems to work with extraordinary flair. According to the Pew Research Center, Democrats have had a steady view on the economy since recovery began in 2013, even after the 2016 election. Republicans, however, went from 31 percent expressing positive economic feelings before the Trump victory, to 61 percent immediately after. In September, Pew also found that the American public expressed the most positive views on the economy in 16 years. All without any real substantial change between Obama and Trump thus far.   

The recent passage of the Republican tax reform bill in the U.S Senate, as of Dec. 2, is the first true test of the Trump administration and the wider GOP Congress. If it passes in the House again it will be the first major piece of legislation thus far – and more than capable of influencing the American economy. The only issue is that expert consensus has been fairly universal in its condemnation of the plan: the Tax Policy Center, the Congressional Budget Office, the IGM Forum, AARP and economists at large have predicted negative economic results.

Make no mistake, the economy and its performance are immensely integral aspects of quality of life and the basic moral concerns of human life in any country. It’s just difficult to illustrate when we’re talking about job growth and stock market closings. For every one percent unemployment goes up, 37,000 people die. Moreover, false conceptions of an economic renaissance brought about by the current president serve to distract us from true deliberations on the very real and lasting impacts he is having on American institutions and discourse.  

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How success is fabricated and propagated