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Jewish World Review April 16, 2004 / 26 Nissan, 5764

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Misery | "You must feel so miserable!"

"No, I feel OK. Things could always be better, but I feel well."

"But you have to be miserable. John Kerry's new misery index proves it."

"This I got to hear."

"The old misery index - the sum of the jobless rate and the inflation rate - does not accurately reflect the pain and suffering of America's middle class. That's why John Kerry had to invent a new one."

"But the old misery index has been a standard measure for years. It soared to a record 21 when Carter was president. But under President Bush it's down to a low 7.7."

"Bunk! The American middle class under Bush is more miserable than ever! The Kerry misery index focuses on seven components to prove it: median family income, college tuition, health costs, gasoline prices, bankruptcies, private-sector job growth and the homeownership rate. Only the last one has improved under Bush!"

"Wait one second. FactCheck.Org, a watchdog group affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, says the Kerry index is "selective" to make the Bush record look miserable."

"More bunk! Kerry invented a new middle class misery index to accurately measure the misery that has resulted from Bush's tax cuts for the rich - cuts that came at the expense of reduced health costs or aid to families with tuition expenses."

"But Bush's tax cuts have increased median after-tax income, something you fail to point out!"

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"What good is more after-tax money if Bush's massive inflation eats it up anyhow?"

"But inflation is extremely low under Bush. You left the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index out of your calculations entirely, which is the standard measure of inflation. It rose only 1.7% in the prior year. Perhaps you chose to dwell only on gasoline, health care and college tuition BECAUSE all three are rising faster than inflation."

"But gasoline is going through the roof, thanks to Bush."

"But aren't the reasons for the increase in gasoline prices complex? China is gobbling up supplies, which drives up costs. The low value of the dollar is causing oil producers to boost prices. And let's not forget about the boatloads of regulations and taxes that drive up costs."

"But health care costs are out of control under Bush."

"Health care costs have been out of control under every president in recent times. Our health care system is a mess - a maze of complex regulations and perverse incentives that keep driving up costs. Malpractice costs are out of control thanks to lawsuits that are out of control. Bush could do plenty more to push for market-based incentives and reforms, but only a fool would expect Kerry's big-government plan to solve the problem."

"But college tuition is out of sight and that is Bush's fault."

"That's a good one. The Philadelphia Inquirer did an expose on this a few years back. They found that every time college loans and grants increased, tuition jumped. They also found that the higher the tuition, the more "value" parents thought they were getting. Colleges charge more because they keep getting away with it. What does this have to do with Bush?"

"But according to the Kerry index, Bush is responsible for the largest three-year fall on record and the worst record of any president ever!"

"OK, if you want to play that game then how do you like these apples: based on the Kerry middle class index, Americans were far less miserable under Carter than Reagan. According to the Wall Street Journal, Carter saw a six-point Kerry index improvement, whereas Reagan saw almost a six-point decrease. Does any sane person really believe the middle class was better off under Carter than Reagan?"

"Surely, sir, you are miserable about something!"

"Yes, gimmicks such as the Kerry misery index make me miserable - but not so miserable as I'll be if Kerry becomes our next president."

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04/09/04: Bush's Secret Weapon: Bo Derek
04/02/04: On baseball and politics
03/26/04: Guy talk
03/22/04: Kerry meets his master
03/17/04: When Americans pretend to be 'Irish'
03/12/04: Didya hear the Anti PC Irish Joke about ?
03/05/04: I Wish I Was Russian
02/27/04: Vinny the Number Cruncher takes on Greenspan
02/20/04: The birds and the bees, updated
02/13/04: Dr. Laura plays Cupid
02/06/04: The Investigation
01/23/04: Weighty adjustment
01/16/04: Bucks for betrothals
01/09/04: Decisions, decisions
01/02/04: Making New Year's resolutions for others
12/27/03: Holiday Pork
12/19/03: FOUND! The captured-Saddam transcript
12/12/03: Peace, Man
12/05/03: Who are you, Miss Manners?
12/01/03: Joyless, selfish children
11/21/03: Thanksgiving, updated for our times
11/14/03: Hang in there, tubby America, your day in the sun will come
11/07/03: Morale at Veterans' Day
10/31/03: The Big Picture
10/24/03: A sorry bunch
10/17/03: Conversation with a typical poll respondent?
10/10/03: Men and women and brains
10/03/03: Iraqi Pork
09/26/03: They would not leave
09/19/03: A radical idea
09/12/03: Food Guide Pyramid has a "stupidity factor"?
09/05/03: Flag waving and football cheering
08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't
08/25/03: Attack of the 'virus twits'
08/08/03: Why not have a whole slew of the world's dignitaries and leaders come by to visit you?
08/01/03: Do you really want to live until 500?
07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2003, Tom Purcell