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Hope, Change, and Unemployment

Well, that didn’t take too bloody long, did it? Within 48 hours of the takers overpowering the producers at the polls, the following companies have announced layoffs:

Westinghouse, Research in Motion Limited, Lightyear Network Solutions, Providence Journal, Hawker Beechcraft, Boeing (30% of their management – gone), CVPH Medical Center, US Cellular, Momentive Performance Materials, Rocketdyne, Brake Parts, Vestas Wind Systems, Husqvarna, Center for Hospice New York, Bristol Meyers, OCE North America, Darden Restaurants, United Blood Services, Welch Allyn, Dana Holding Corp., Stryker, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, Abbott Labs, Covidien, Kinetic Concepts, St. Jude Medical, Hill Rom. 

Among those companies announcing preliminary office and store closings within 48 hours after the election:

Caterpillar, Albrecht Sentry Foods, Target, Millennium Academy, KMart, The Andover Gift Shop, Grand Union Family Markets, Movie Scene, TE Connectivity (closing it’s Greensboro plant with 620 layoffs expected), Fresh Market, AGC Glass North America, The Roses, Meanders Kitchen, Harley-Davidson, Townsend Booksellers.

Additionally, according to Human Events, the New York State Comptroller anticipates Wall Street layoffs to number approximately 10,000 by the end of the year. And just to add a little lagniappe to the mix, the Obama Interior Department has unveiled a plan to shut down 1.6 million acres of federal land to oil shale development. Think of it as energetically un-energetic.

I’ve seen some back slapping and mutual congratulations amongst a few of my brethren on the road now that their guy won the election. I can’t help but look at the list of companies who are down sizing and notice those whose freight we carry. I wonder how many of these cheerful drivers just voted themselves out of a job? I wonder how many people look at the above list and notice the amount of cuts taking place in the medical industry. That can’t be good.

No worries, though, because even as all reality breaks lose, Dear Leader is on the case. He announced today that his flexibility includes the inflexible demand that tax rates go up for the people who do the producing and the hiring, virtually ensuring still further layoffs and closures as businesses fight their government just to survive. “You know, at a time when our economy is still recovering from the great recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth,” said the President, even as pink slips rain upon hapless hopey changers across the land, from bureaucracy to shining bureaucracy.

“If we’re serious about reducing the deficit,” says the man who added almost $6 trillion to it in four years, “we have to combine spending cuts with revenue.” Uh oh. “And that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.” Hear the moving vans yet? Because you see, the wealthiest, who make about 18 percent of the nation’s income, also pay about 38 percent of the nation’s taxes.

Question: Why so timid? If it isn’t enough that the top 1 percent should pay 38 percent of the tax burden, how is paying “a little more in taxes” going to correct the imbalance? The President won, right? The people are on his side, correct? So why not hammer down, as we say on the CB? Gas on it, driver! Crank the rate back up to Jimmy Carter levels, with a top rate of 75 percent! As my grandfather used to say, “If you get your feet wet in the river, jump in!”

Claim your mandate, sir, and assume the mantle of Your Royal Fairness. Why cheat your legions of supporters from the pink slips and catastrophes they so earnestly desire? God knows the Republicans won’t stand in your way, having lost first the election, and now their spine. Hell, they’re even congratulating you on your victory, which, come to think of it, is like congratulating the burglar for ransacking your home. So go for the gusto and let ’em have it. Meanwhile, we’ll just keep score on the ratio of hope to despair, of change to disaster, and of fundamental transformation to destruction, in the hope that when Americans have had enough there will still be enough of a country left to salvage.