Wade Gilley: Meet the next president, Barack/Mitt Hoover!
It is becoming highly likely that our next president, whichever man it is, will suffer the same fate that Herbert Hoover did after being elected in 1928. Soon after Hoover took office, the stock market crashed and the economy was thrown into turmoil. With a substantial increase in federal spending and market corrections, the economy seemed to stabilize slightly in 1930 before it went south again, and America and the world experienced the Great Depression.
America is sitting on a potential Great Depression once again. The economy seems to be settling in as mediocre but somewhat stable like in late 1930. However, the aftermath of the 2008/2009 crash is worrisome; it is worse than just having 23 million workers unemployed.
Fifty percent of college graduates under 30 are unemployed or underemployed, and 47 million are on food stamps, among other critical indicators of economic turmoil. Federal debt has surged to more than $16 trillion and will explode once inflation sets in worldwide (the Federal Reserve hopes to solve the coming stag-flation by printing more and more U.S. dollars, ignoring the fact this is like deficit spending which robs America's national equity using a credit card).
Our government has drained the Social Security Trust Fund of more than $2 trillion to spend on other things and at the same time we have cut the "payroll tax" that funds the Social Security Trust Fund. For the time being, the payroll tax can fund Social Security benefits but the rest of the federal budget is totally out of whack. We borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend and we borrow it from our competitors in the economic world, such as China.
There is no easy way out -- period! It is going to be a difficult task, and the next president has an excellent chance of being the next Hoover for the odds are high against a traditional economic recovery.
Let me pause and compare the three men: Herbert, Barack, and Mitt. All three have great credentials on paper. Hoover graduated from Stanford with an engineering degree, and Obama and Romney have advanced degrees from Harvard. Hoover served in the cabinets of two presidents and won international acclaim for his efforts to bring support to millions starving in Europe after World War I. European Jews and others, for example, saw him as a hero before he was elected. President Obama has been a state senator, a U. S. senator, and president of the USA for one term. Romney is a remarkably successful businessman who succeeded as governor of Massachusetts and gained international recognition for saving the Salt Lake City Olympics.
But history treated a talented and able Hoover roughly, and forces very similar to those in the early 1930s are now swirling around the globe. Both candidates have put forth plans with differing activities but similar goals. However, none of the so-called plans will work because they will continue to drain the national equity built up by the "Greatest Generation."
For example, both candidates throw out a plea for more college graduates without any real specifics. This is not the panacea people say it is. Since 2001, America has not seen any new net jobs created but has awarded more than 11 million new college degrees. Half of the college graduates from this past year are unemployed, and half of all college graduates over the past four years are unemployed or underemployed. And according to the Center for Immigration Studies, hundreds of thousands of Americans who hold engineering degrees are unemployed or underemployed.
At this point in time I have not heard either candidate talk about sacrifice, tightening our collective belt, rebuilding our infrastructure, and building a future for our children while admitting that having everything we desire immediately is just not possible!
Thus, the next president will face a reality check immediately after being sworn in next January, and a set of the same old ideas will not work. And if he does not take this dire situation seriously and ignore party politics, he could well become the next Herbert Hoover.
Wade Gilley, now a resident of Reston, Va., was president of Marshall University from 1991 to 1999. He also served in the administrations of Virginia Gov. John Dalton and President Ronald Reagan.