One of my favorite movies of all time is the hit movie Jerry Maguire starring Tom Cruise and Academy Award winner, Cuba Gooding Jr. And in a movie that was chock full of great lines (i.e., "Show me the money!"), one of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies is actually towards the very end where Jerry Maguire skulks back to the wife he for so long took for granted and lamented, "We live in a cynical, cynical world." In watching this movie this past weekend, I couldn't help but think that although this movie was made in 1996, it was successfully reflecting a 2012 mood.
On last Friday, we received the monthly employment (jobs) report which indicated that the U.S. had produced 120,000 jobs in the month of March 2012. While certainly not earth shattering (or even state shattering), gaining 120,000 jobs still beats what we faced just over three short years ago when this country was actually LOSING nearly 700,000 jobs per month instead. But to listen to the national media in this country, you would think that we were back in 2009 and we had just received the most dismal of jobs reports and that the sky was falling. Hey Chicken Little, where'd that acorn come from?
In what world do we live in where actually GAINING jobs and the unemployment rate FALLING is seen as a negative? All I could think of is that, in the words of Jerry Maguire, "We live in a cynical, cynical world!" The reaction to the March jobs report mirrored the Jerry Maguire from earlier in the movie who completely disregarded his wife's contributions and took for granted all that she had done for him. In short, I really don't believe that we as a country fully, fully appreciate where we have come from in just over three short years.
In February 2012, the Dow Jones closed above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008, the NASDAQ touched 3,000 for the first time since 2000, the consumer confidence level was clocked at his highest point since 2008 and the GDP was revised upward. The unemployment numbers have gone from above 10 percent to 8.2 percent, people are actually shopping, buying big ticket items like cars and houses in large numbers and General Motors is once again the No. 1 car maker on the planet! Do we even remember 2008 or 2009 and how abysmal the economic outlook for this country looked?
If we had lost jobs in March, I would join the choruses of "this is not good" comments across the media spectrum, but to go into such a tailspin over a report that indicates our country once again gained jobs (although 83,000 less than some predicted) is ridiculous. I can almost promise you that next month the March unemployment number will more than likely be revised upward and just like the bad news/good news newspaper stories, while the 120,000 jobs report was featured on the front page of almost every major newspaper in the nation, the jobs revision report will be featured somewhere on page 19 between an advertisement for carpet cleaning and a story about the benefits of eating beets.
Yes, we live in a cynical, cynical -- what have you done for me lately -- world and our bad habits reflect that fact. When good means bad (job growth, attending college and affordable health care for Americans) and bad means good (drone attacks, Stand Your Ground laws and unlimited money in politics), we have truly loss our way. Maybe this is why so many have such a negative view of politics and the media because so many in both professions seem to rely on bad news for good fortunes.
Is our economy even remotely out of the woods... NO! But is it anywhere near where it was three short years ago... NO! For those who want to say that gaining 120,000 jobs is a negative, I would simply point you to those individuals who actually received those jobs and let them tell the story. I would bet you that to them, actually CREATING jobs is not a negative!
Recently we learned that the New Black Panther Party and armed Neo-Nazis are convening competing conventions of hate in Sanford, Fla. following the unfortunate death of African American unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. And in the wake of this we have learned of killings in Tulsa, Okla., that are believed to be race-related and an actual member of Congress has come out as a birther saying that she believes that President Obama's birth certificate is not real. Is there any wonder why we now have military members openly throwing personal attacks at the Commander-in-Chief, something that once absolutely unheard of? Could you even imagine any member of the United States military attacking Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy? Not on your life! But this type of behavior now is not only allowed, it's celebrated. Congressman Joe Wilson actually had a record-breaking fundraising period after calling the president a liar in the House of Congress DURING the State of the Union... remember that? Gasoline is reaching record costs and some people are defending the record-profiting oil companies and attacking the president for it... really?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the atmosphere that we have all helped to create because very few of us speak out against it or even appear to recognize it. Remember bad now means good, which means that military members and members of Congress personally attacking the President of the United States now means free speech... which of course means good!
Yes, it's a cynical, cynical world and we helped plant the first tree. C'mon people, we're better than this!