Economic turmoil: Who’s to blame?

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by Hannah Schoenecker • 11/3/08 • For the past year or so, we have all been bombarded by one negative campaign ad after another, and if any of them have even a shred of truth to it, I’m not so sure I want Obama or McCain running my country. On Tuesday, the United States of America will sit on the edge of being plunged into a new era of economic policies. These policies will be—so they say—geared towards resurrecting what remains of our economy. But, regardless of who takes the Presidential Trophy, will these policies work?

As the 2008 election approaches, TCDP is receiving many thoughtful opinion columns about candidates and issues. The Soapbox blog offers a space for local opinion on (mostly) national and world issues, including elections.

Some would like to blame President Bush for all our economic troubles. But—I feel obligated to ask—is it solely his responsibility? What about all of the wonderful checks and balances that afford our Congress and House of Representatives to yea or nay the bills of the president? What about corrupt senators and representatives who let the power of their position go to their head, gleaning profits from faulty policies while Joe the Plumber takes the hit to his finances? The blame is much broader than the president alone. But, pointing fingers aside, our economy has been slipping, manifested in the massive amounts of home foreclosures, lost jobs, small businesses having such a hard time getting loans to keep themselves afloat, and the Wall Street crash in early October.

CNN’s Jessica Dickler quotes the Bureau of Labor Statistics and consulting firm Watson Wyatt in her article Job cuts: Who’s next? According to her sources, over 760,000 jobs were lost as of September and 25% of employers are anticipating making more layoffs in the next year. Dickler’s sources also claim that certain industries are at a higher risk than others, mainly the housing, finance, retail, publishing, automotive, and travel industries.

This is scary, especially to a lowly college student—such as myself—with no prior degree in anything, leaving only the previously mentioned industries to look for a job. How else am I to pay for tuition, car payments, rent, groceries, and other staple payments required of my bank account? Currently, I’m in retail. I really lucked out when I started working for Target three years ago, in that I honestly feel secure in my position there. But it is Target, and I’m barely making enough to cover my expenses. Where else do I look? For one with creativity zinging through my fingertips, just dying to be let out, obviously the art realm holds the most attraction for me. But, the catch to my infatuation with art is: very few people will hire me and pay a decent wage without a bachelor’s degree in design/fine art…whichever. So, that leaves me at Target, working a few bucks over minimum wage, contemplating which school to transfer to so I can continue my art education, all the while dreading having to take out more loans to cover the tuition. For now, I’m stuck.

The one bright spot lately, however, has been the dramatic fall in gas prices. I filled up my tank and got a car wash yesterday for less than a tank of gas cost two months ago. Considering I drive an awful lot between work, school, and family affairs, this is FANTASTIC news! Previously, when gas prices hovered right around $4 per gallon, I tried to cut back on driving. Which is saying something, considering I’m one of those yuppie people who loves to drive every chance I get. By cutting drive time, I also cut back on eating out, going to movies, bowling, and whatever other manner of entertainment I might come up with. Now, I feel a little bit freer to do more with my money. Like, put more into my savings account, invest in a winter car, something besides holding it closely, afraid I’ll have to funnel it all into my gas tank.

All that remains for me to do now is vote. This is the first time I’ll have been old enough, so I’m semi-excited. Politics have never been my favorite topic, but for once, I now get to cast my vote for what I believe in, instead of sitting by and watching my relatives bicker over the chronic faults of the party they oppose. So, Tuesday I’ll be at the polls. Hopefully, with a new team of political players, we’ll get some relief. God knows we could use it.

_Hannah Schoenecker is a student enrolled at Anoka Ramsey Community College_