I have to admit that the two most recent columns by Bucks County’s big mouth pundit J.D. Mullane (last Sunday and today) have been absolutely startling, definitely “Exhibits A and B” for not having to pay online if you’re a non-subscriber to the paper (actually, for reasons I will note shortly, I think the paper should pay us if we happen to ingest any of Mullane’s drivel).
He told us the following on Sunday (here)…
Unemployment has bolted to 8.5 percent, the highest in 25 years. From January through March, 2 million jobs have been lost. It’s grim.J.D. goes on to tell us that he conducted further “research” at Game Stop in the Oxford Valley Mall and Best Buys, presumably on Commerce Drive in Fairless Hills, PA. And as a result, here is his “analysis”…
So why did I have to wait 45 minutes for a table at a restaurant the other night?
The eatery’s parking lot was packed. So was the bar, where people crowded two deep to pay $6 a drink.
A couple easily drops $100 on dinner at a chain restaurant like that, which made me wonder: Where’s the recession?
If millions are unemployed and the president says it is the worst economy since the Great Depression, where is it?
…(Last week), I conducted a search for the worst economy since the Great Depression — let’s call it the “Great Recession.” I figured it would be evident in places where middle class people are most likely to spend discretionary cash, since that kind of spending stops in tough times.
I did not find soup lines, suffering or struggle.
Not at Dunkin’ Donuts, where a steady line of cars clogged the drive-thru for $2 coffees.
Not at a Wal-Mart, where a woman was waiting to purchase a $54 Sunbeam bread-making machine with “12 baking functions.”
We go to Dunkin’ Donuts rather than Starbucks. We eat at a chain restaurant, rather than a chic place downtown. We buy off-brand water, not name-brand.And in response today to those who wonder what universe Mullane inhabits that somehow renders him unable to see the reality faced by an ever-growing number of people in this country, he tells us this…
Hard times. They ain’t what they used to be.
Oh, there's "suffering" - especially for those who spent the good years maxing out their credit cards, tapping the equity in their house to buy unneeded goodies, and trading in perfectly good cars to buy new ones because, well, because.I really don’t know what else there is to say in response to such appalling literary smegma except to provide this excerpt from some actual reporting on Sunday from business writer Jane M. Von Bergen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who tells us the following (from here)…
Seventy-two truck drivers and warehouse workers at the USF Holland truck terminal in the city's Tacony section are losing their jobs. The terminal closed Friday.Every now and then the Inky reverts to its past form, as it does so admirably here (and God, does philly.com have some hideous trolls).
In Blue Bell, a Montgomery County suburb where homes cost upwards of $800,000, three out of 10 neighbors in adjoining culs-de-sac are laid off.
In West Philadelphia's 5700 block of Spruce Street, in one of the city's zip codes hardest hit by unemployment, the block captain worries about prospects for the young men on his street - bleak, when unemployment among African American male teenagers stands at nearly 40 percent.
"I can't offer nothing to these kids," said Thommie Hampton. "You can't get a job."
In Cheltenham Township, a business-process manager laid off in January for the second time in two years struggles to reinvent himself - again - as his middle-class lifestyle slips away.
In Mount Ephraim, a young woman who graduated from Rutgers University in Camden last year is still looking for a librarian or government-research job this year. "It's pretty disheartening to apply for so many positions and get rejected," said Stephanie Kurek, 26. Older workers, willing to take pay cuts to stay employed, are competing with her for entry-level positions, she said.
If there is anything that these tales tell us, it is that misery is everywhere in the Delaware Valley. It crosses all geographic lines, all economic lines, all gender lines, all race lines, all age lines.
All these people, the unemployed executives in Blue Bell, the unemployed teenagers in West Philadelphia, the lawyers, the doctors, the truck drivers, and the managers have their own difficult and individual stories.
But collectively, their loss is our loss.
And I know J.D. wouldn’t get caught dead reading that bad liburuul paper The New York Times, but they told us the following also on Sunday (here)…
On Friday (4/3), reality bit back with the news that the unemployment rate spiked in March, to 8.5 percent, a 25-year high. The government’s report also showed that employers had shed 663,000 more jobs in March. Nearly two million jobs have vanished this year — 5.1 million since the recession began in December 2007. The ranks of the unemployed now stand at 13.2 million.And I’ll go Mullane even better than that – if he wanted to find a clue, all he had to do was read the same Sunday issue of the very paper in which his column appeared; his fellow writer Jo Ciavaglia tells us this (here)…
There is no longer any doubt that the current recession will be the longest yet in America since World War II. The previous record-holders — the contractions of the early 1970s and the early 1980s — each lasted for 16 months. As of now, the economy already has been in decline for 16 straight months.
The questions now are how much longer the recession will be and how much worse it will get. Measured by the labor market, the answer to both questions is “a lot.” That is because employers will continue to cut jobs as long as the economy is weakening and will resume hiring only once they are sure a recovery is under way. In this recession, the traditional paths to recovery are especially blocked. Economic rebounds — especially from steep declines — are generally led by recovery in the housing market. This time, housing is unlikely to provide the spark. By prudent estimates, housing sales and prices will not begin to turn up appreciably until 2010 at the earliest.
To get perspective into how bad the U.S economic crisis is, ask someone who works in mental health.I have to admit that citing this stuff really isn’t that difficult – there is plentiful evidence to support the fact that Mullane doesn’t know what he’s talking about; shooting his arguments full of holes is about as satisfying as kicking the crutch out from underneath the arm of Tiny Tim (and by the way, I conducted a bit of “research” myself at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Fairless Hills, PA on Sunday, and except for a couple of other families, it basically was a ghost town).
Suicide call volume has doubled, according to one local emergency hot line. Bucks County's largest short-term psychiatric unit is seeing a significant upswing in involuntary mental health commitments - eight since Wednesday alone.
A New Jersey behavior health center is seeing notably large increases in first-time psychiatric hospitalizations, particularly among nontraditional patients.
Demand for outpatient mental health treatment also is increasing, but so are requests for copay waivers and other financial assistance, local providers say.
The growing demand for mental health services also is outpacing the limited resources of providers. Most Bucks County mental health agencies the county contracts with are in danger of running out of money for uninsured patients before the fiscal year ends, a county official said.
"We can feel the tempo. People are incredibly nervous, anxious and upset. We get calls about rents, mortgages and even food," said Lenore Sherman, executive director of Contact Greater Philadelphia, a crisis hot line. "People are obviously in chaotic shape, so worried over the situation."
So I attempted to find out how food banks and social service agencies in Bucks County are being affected by the economic conditions, calling some numbers from this list (I am currently awaiting “call backs” from the Penndel Food Pantry and the Emergency Relief Association in Levittown; I will call again if I don’t hear from anyone – part of the issue with tracking these people down is that these agencies are usually based in a church or community center during “off hours” in the evening when the need for their services is the greatest).
I have to admit that I was unsuccessful for the most part, though I did speak to a lady named Stephanie Sides of the Family Service Association of Bucks County. She told me that, in addition to running a food pantry, the association partners with the Bucks County Opportunity Council to help lower-income residents of the county achieve self-sufficiency. She said that the demand for food seems to “ebb and flow” more centered on the holidays, though the number of people seeking food has increased in recent months (she was careful not to draw a direct link to the economic conditions).
In addition, she mentioned that the association runs a teen center near One Oxford Valley (the office building next to the mall, for local-area folk) on Thursday and Friday evenings; the center is located near the FedEX and UPS mail stops. The center allows the teens (14-21) to socialize with one another and seek counseling, and it’s difficult to keep up with the demand for food (always a need for microwaveable dishes such as Raman noodles, turkey dishes, etc., as well as snacks such as crackers and chips).
As I say, I have some calls outstanding on this in an attempt to gauge the impact of the recession, for which you can blame solely those who made bad purchasing choices, according to Mullane. If I find out anything else, I’ll let you know.