Archive for May 20th, 2007

The Misery Index

jimmy-carter.jpg From the man that brought us the “real life” understanding of the Misery Index (as first articulated by economist Arthur Okun), Jimmy Carter has now declared that George Bush is the “worst President ever”…….whewww!  He has been waiting for 25 years with hopes to transfer that title to some Republican.  His only options have been Ronald Reagan, Bush the 1st and Bush the 2nd.  For those of you that don’t know, Okun came up with a term that first took on popular meaning during the Carter Administration.  It was called the “Misery Index.”  This is an economic indicator that measures how badly Americans are suffering economically.  Carter blew this index off the chart.  The index was formulated by taking the inflation rate and unemployment rate and adding them together.  Some have added the interest rate to this to further quantify the impact of economic suffering.  When you combine the Misery Index and inflation rate during the Carter Administration you establish an aggregate that likely will never be reached again.

Under the Carter administration the Okun Misery Index was 16.27 (worst ever).  Under G.W. Bush during the first term it reached 7.98 and at this time for the 12 month period ending April, 2007 for the inflation rate and the February, 2007 unemployment rate Bush’s Misery Index has dropped to 6.8.  (the lower being the better)  The best rate ever since the numbers have been kept is the Eisenhower Administration (6.26) and the second best is essentially a tie between GW Bush and the Johnson Administration.

So by the standard that most Presidents are measured by the “voters” Carter is the worst President ever, but I suspect that he is trying to change the subject to the war in Iraq which I would like to call the war on terror.

Let me state here that I vividly remember the day our embassy was invaded on 11/4/1979 and Americans were taken hostages in Iran and held for 444 days under the Carter administration.  It was this “crisis” that launched Ted Koppel and the program Night Line.  I remember being glued to Night Line every night throughout the crisis.  Each program was opened with Day 35, Day 36, Day 37, ………Day 421, etc.  On almost every broadcast the program stated that the administration “said today that a military option is not on the table.”  Well guess what, Iran realized that they had nothing to fear from Uncle Sam and kept the hostages until the next big event.  The Hostages were released on 1/20/1981.  Do you know what occurred on that day?  It was the inauguration of Ronald Reagan.  I remember watching the inauguration on a split screen broadcast with the boarding of the hostages on an airplane to return to the US on the other half of the screen.  Yes folks, the Iranians were not going to allow one day to pass under the Reagan administration while they held U.S. Citizens as hostages.

It is also my firm conviction that (as some say) our past foreign policy has a lot to do with our situation today and that I STRONGLY BELIEVE it is the way Carter handled the Iranian Hostage Crisis that has had a tremendous amount to do with the problems we have with Iran today in particular and with terrorist in general.  They learned that we could be intimidated.

Carter also stated that we have now endorsed the use of the “pre-emptive war” which means to attack a country when our own security is not directly threatened.  Who is he kidding, we have done this often and recently by Clinton in Kosovo, so he is lying here and knows it and so are others that claim that Iraq is the first time it has happened.  But there should be no surprise here that Carter is against “pre-emptive action” to protect American interest when he was too timid to use military action after the terrorist or terrorist countries struck us first.

So when you add the Misery Index to the Carter legacy of the Middle East I have to say the Carter still holds on to the title of WORST President ever although he would like to avoid that label.  In short, no doubt the Carter Presidency is a major contributor to the United States problems today in the Middle East and I am not surprised he is eager to transfer some of that blame on others.

UPDATE 5/21/2007: Jimmy Carter took the opportunity to clarify his remarks concerning President Bush today.  He said that his comments over the weekend about the Bush administration were “careless.”  Carter said he was answering a question about the foreign policy of former President Richard Nixon, as compared with that of the current administration. He said he wasn’t comparing the Bush administration with all those through American history.  This is a bunch of crap as though he was comparing bad foreign policy (of Bush) to bad foreign policy (of Nixon).  If Nixon was understood to be a good President about anything it was considered to be Foreign Policy.  After all to absolutely everyone’s surprise he opened up dialogue with China.  Also in his own words he said “of all time” not just versus Nixon, so again the heat is on and he is lying while trying to dodge the reaction to his comments.  I’m not buying it.  It is time for Jimmy to head for the pasture and fade away.

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