The government continues to grow in expense and intrusiveness. The economy continues to splutter along, like an engine missing on several cylinders. It now appears the gummint is cooking the books* on the unemployment rate. I suppose there are nicer ways to say it; what is reported out of a formula depends on the inputs and assumptions, but this is looking like a case of garbage in, garbage out. As it happens, the reporting bias just happens to make the administration look better than it would if the numbers were reported more on the square.
The public is being habituated to more and more government intrusions into daily life. The founding principle of America, that of limited government, seems to have been thrown away in efforts to. . .run things. If you begin with the assumption that government ought to run things, to assure everything works out right--well, you are in for a disappointment.
For starters, we have to remember that government is by nature parasitic. It produces no increase in wealth. It can only take and spend. When it attempts to get into the venture funding business it makes mistakes, because government decisions make political sense, not business sense. Tax money is apportioned by fiat--to failed auto makers, to 'green energy' companies offering dreams not reality, to Wall Street firms that should have sunk into well deserved bankruptcy--skewing markets and subtracting needed cash from the real economy that works and grows wealth by responding to market demand, not political whims.
Government 'stimulus' efforts are a bad joke. Keynes was a very bright man and right about a lot of things, but not about this. The Keynesian theory about government spending stimulating an economy simply does not match the way things work out in practice. The rationale has been retained, though, in public rhetoric. It amounts now to self-serving fraud, a convenient pretext, on the parts of those who feel government should always grow, grow, grow. Stimulus didn't work in the 1930's and it does not work now. It drains vitality from the real economy into the shadow economy of government spending.
In short, the government in Washington operates on beliefs and assumptions, or maybe just pretexts, that are divorced from reality. This is quite a problem: The people calling the shots do not know, or cannot admit, what is really going on. They act instead upon a fantasy they have built for themselves, one that says all that is separating us from nirvana is the need for one more law, one more program, or a new government department.
That will be our undoing. The government is incapable of ever saying, we now have enough government in place, enough governing is now going on: It is a monster that does not know how to stop growing.
At this writing, the federal government's indebtedness is 100.3% of the entire output of the economy for a year. This is a horrible number, like those seen in the socialist pseudo-economies of Europe. What is happening there will shortly happen here.
Watch Europe! There we can see our own future, for they are several years farther down the road to ruin than we are. The whole sorry fraud of meeting the people's needs with money the government takes from the people is coming unraveled.
I don't know just what will happen as the situation deteriorates. I will have to wait and see. Since this is a gun column, when I don't get sidetracked into politics, I probably ought to mention something to do with guns. Good news: we may not need them. Unrest in Europe has so far been slight. Its perpetrators are those who don't understand the situation, and feel government spending should continue unabated. Since the troublemakers are drawn from the small subset of citizens who do not understand arithmetic, we can expect a less than apocalyptic reaction there, or here, to the dawning realization the nanny state was a fraud all along, and the people have been had.
Here is an update, 3 Feb. 2012, about the government adjusting downward the labor force participation rate number. Of course when they do that it looks like there is less unemployment.