Liar, liar: Jobs, education and the economy

Courtesy of chronicle.com

As the political issues come into focus leading up to the presidential election, public education and jobs are becoming increasingly important to students across the nation.  Students can no longer afford to accept claims by those who seek to lead this nation, regardless of party affiliation.  This is about surviving a trillion dollar student loan debt and escaping the highest ever unemployment rate among young adults in America. 46 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, but who are we to believe when political rhetoric falls carelessly from the pulpit with our futures at stake?

Last month, in his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “In the last 22 months businesses have created more than three million jobs.  Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.”  Immediately Politifact, a fact-checking organization operated by the Tampa Bay Times, came out and said, “His statement is only half true,” in essence characterizing him as a liar, because they believed Obama was taking credit for job growth.  Politifact later upgraded his comment to “mostly true” not because his statement wasn’t true, but because Politifact still perceived Obama to be claiming credit.  Yet nowhere did “I” appear in President Obama’s statement.

Politifact’s purpose is to check facts, not interject their opinion based on their perceptions.  I found Politifact’s statement to be “mostly not true” because, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, job creation and Obama’s stimulus package have traveled along the same path in time, but Obama chose to give the credit to business, as he should have.

When campaigning in New Hampshire, Romney characterized Obama as a “job destroyer,” responsible for losing “two million jobs” since taking office.  Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the decline in jobs Romney refers to began with the recession in 2008 during the Bush Administration.  Jobs plummeted from approximately 138 million to 129 million, but Romney did not declare his party responsible for losing 9 million jobs.  This free fall continued into Obama’s first year in office (2009), but when Obama’s stimulus package was implemented monthly job-loss began to decline and job-creation steadily increased. This continued for a period of 20 consecutive months, resulting in over 2.2 million jobs by Dec. 31, 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Where’s Politifact now?

Let’s now turn to Romney’s claim of having created 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital.  According to Glenn Kessler, the fact checker for the Washington Post, Romney’s spokesperson, Eric Fehrnstrom, said the 100,000 jobs to which Romney refers were the results of growth in three companies that Romney helped start or grow while at Bain Capital, which included Staples, Sports Authority and Domino’s Pizza.  Kessler writes for the Washington Post, “This tally obviously does not include job losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved—and are based on current employment figures, not the period Romney worked at Bain.”  Is this a liar, liar pants on fire moment?  If misrepresentations begin at this level will they continue into the deserts of Iraq in search of more weapons of mass destruction?

Examining our recent past may help us understand the connection between education and future jobs.  According to The National Science Board (NSB), the United States lost 687,000 high-tech research and development (R&D) jobs between 2000 and 2009 under President Bush (2001-2009).  The NSB attributes the loss to a 20 percent reduction in funding for research at our public research universities from 2002 to 2010.  As a result of this reduction, 85 percent growth in R&D jobs created by American companies occurred abroad, thereby reducing jobs in the United States. This is referred to as a causal relationship with a negative directional association.  When one goes down so does the other, but maybe Bush skipped that class in college?

How are students to compete when public education is underfunded and the cost of education has outpaced inflation, when the relationship between education and jobs is something of the past?  So when Romney touts his economic policy as a return to Bushism, you may want to ask yourself, “Who do I believe and will they represent my interest or line the pockets of the wealthy?”

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