?BuzzCharts is in a nostalgic mood this week and has decided to play a hit from the “’70s, ’80s, and ’90s” ? the misery index. During the stagflation days of the late ’70s and the deep recession of the early Reagan years and the high-unemployment recession of the late George H.W. Bush years, reporters couldn’t get enough of it. In fact, like most hits, it eventually become over-played.?
Buzz Charts is apparently a lib website that is trumpeting now the misery index. Well, the reason that they’re not citing the misery — I mean you would think there’s a big misery index the way they’re reporting the economy, correct? Why we’ve got soup lines, we’ve got the homeless, we’ve got people that can’t work because of outsourcing, people are not getting work, don’t know where the jobs are, oh, woe is us, we are in doomed, defeat, trouble, gasoline prices are rising.
By the way, I got in a conversation about this last night with a bunch of people. Does it seem odd to you that — this is a departure from the story but I don’t want to forget this — does it seem odd to you that a gallon of bottled water is more expensive than a gallon of gasoline, and nobody complains about this? Now, you don’t buy gallons of water. You know, a tankfull at a time, but still let’s examine this. Imagine you’re in the oil industry. What do you have to do? First you have to hire all kinds of gizmos and people to find where the oil is. Sometimes it’s out in the Gulf or in the North Sea miles down. You have to find it, then you have to drill down there, then you have to find a way to get it up. Once you’ve got the oil up then you’ve got to transport it from wherever you found it to a refinery, then you have to refine it, then you have to distribute it to gas stations and airports and wherever else the refined product is used. And after you do all that, a gallon of that product costs less than a gallon of bottled water. Can you imagine this oil industry exec saying, “This isn’t fair. Look it all of my up-front costs to get that barrel of oil that will become X-number of gallons of gasoline, and these water guys are simply turning on a faucet somewhere, holding a jug underneath it, saying it’s from a well, not even putting fluoride in it, slapping a label on it, and selling it for more than gasoline.” And when the price of gasoline goes up a nickel, there are shrieks of outrage and conspiracy and shortages. Nobody even notices what the price of water is.
The question is popularly asked, “Okay, senator, what’s the price of a gallon of milk?” I now know it’s $3.19 depending on where you are. But ask somebody, what’s the a gallon of water, nobody can tell you. They don’t buy it by the gallon. They buy it in these little six-pack, 1.6 liter bottles and they chug it out there while they’re pretending they’re athletes, while they jog along the bike path, bike trail and so forth.
Now, if you had to go to a pump and get your water by the tank load, and you saw the pump zinging up the price as gasoline does, you’d be complaining about it, and plus we can live without gasoline, I mean we couldn’t, of course, but literally could not live without water. We would shrivel up and die. Not true with gasoline. We’d have to find other things, but it just amazes me what people get upset about. There’s no production costs in water. All you’ve got to do is wait for the rain then find a faucet. In fact, you let the government purify it for you. You don’t even pay for that. You just put your jug underneath the faucet say it comes from a well or a spring that nobody else can find, and then sell it. It’s the same stuff for the most part. It’s not regulated; we don’t know what’s in it. Could be a bunch of amoeba in there for all we know. But yet the price of gasoline goes up and (screaming) panic, “Mabel, we’re not going to be able to have our vacation this summer, we’re not going to be able to drive to Del Rey Beach and get to the Disney cruise boat.” It just struck me, it just strikes me funny.
Now, if you were taking a shower and they had a gasoline pump in there as the shower water is running and you’re being charged I guarantee you people would be worried about the price of water. So it’s just different. But I pitty these poor oil executives, can you imagine, they’ve got to hate the water guys that are making billions, and you go to a grocery store, do you know what the biggest section in the grocery store is now? One single product is water, bottled water. After that it’s the beer, after that it’s the wine, then the potato chips, the healthy stuff takes up the smallest part of the grocery store now because we are obese.
Anyway, back to the misery index, uh, you’d think that we are just in a world of hurt here. So why isn’t the press using the misery index? Well, the fact of the matter is, the misery index — we don’t even talk about Carter because the Carter misery index was on 18, right? The misery index is a combination of unemployment and inflation, or interest rates and inflation, something like that. Yeah, well, skyrocketing high, that’s where it was invented to explain the malaise during the Carter years.
All right. The misery index during Clinton’s second term was about 6.8. George W. Bush’s current misery index is 7.6. The average for Clinton’s first term weighs in at a moderate 8.8, and the World War II period, post-World War II average is 9.5. George H. W. Bush’s average misery index, 10.7%. The point is, if you look at George W. Bush’s current misery index, 7.6%, Bill Clinton’s first term it was 8.8. The misery index during Clinton’s first term, worse than it is today. Clinton’s second term it was 6.8. Current misery index, 7.6. There’s hardly any difference. That’s why they can’t use it. There isn’t that much misery is the point.
All of this opinion that the economy is sour is simply the result of media propaganda is the point. You know, it’s interesting too, every day here, and I must admit, and I am falling down on the job here, every day I’ve got economic stories that are good. This amount of manufacturing up, this job sector up, and I never report them to you because I think you’re just going to think I’m a propagandist. So I don’t tell you about it on purpose, because I think you probably aren’t going to want to hear the good news since you think I’m just going to be trying to give you a phony reason to feel good. Well, I’m going to change my policy here, because the fact of the matter is this good news isn’t being reported and I ought to be the one reporting it when I have it. But I don’t. Instead all this bad news, misery, is up there, and everybody is falling into line thinking that that’s the reality of the day when it isn’t.