More losers than winners

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By John Barnhart

    I was recently talking with a local businessman who has a business that includes automotive repair and service. He noted a change in some things that people want. There are now folks who want used tires (I think he meant retreads) instead of new ones. He also said that people have been asking him about used brakes, something he does not sell. Both of these are items that nobody was asking him about just a few years ago. This is leading him to believe that half of the people in Bedford County are living hand-to-mouth.
    I don’t know if it’s quite that bad, but I’m convinced that our current economy is creating more losers than winners. It’s certain that the increased interest in retread tires and the fact that people are looking for used brake parts are a sign of people who are financially hurting and need to cut corners wherever they can.
    Even teachers took hits in this last recession. Bedford County Public Schools wasn’t the only school system to eliminate teaching positions. Teachers weren’t getting routine raises like they used to get either. The 3 percent raise they got this year was the first they had received for a few years.
    I doubt that a lot of workers in the private sector got a 3 percent pay raise this year, and didn’t get one last year either. Private sector wages have been, for the most part, stagnant since the recession began while prices have been creeping up. While inflation is low, it still takes a bite out of your income if you haven’t had a raise for the past four years.
    Fortunately, the unemployment rate has been slowly dropping, although it still remains high. The number of applicants for each job opening is also going down. The most recent figure I’ve seen, published in the “Vital Signs” block at the bottom of the Wall Street Journal’s front page, indicated that there have been an average of three applicants for every job opening. That’s down from an average of six applicants for every job opening four years ago. However, that’s still a tough situation for anybody who is out of work right now.
    Maybe the way the economy is impacting most people’s finances is another thing, along with a deluge of scandals, that’s contributed to the steady slide in President Barack Obama’s approval ratings. People are still hurting from the recession and what have his legislative priorities been this year? He began his second term with a big push for gun control, taking full advantage of an elementary school mass shooting at the end of last year to push for something that’s important for denizens of his party’s left wing. This did not resonate with the rest of us. Many, like myself, were strongly opposed to any new federal gun regulations. The rest were more concerned with their sagging finances and President Obama got nowhere.
    What about Virginia “Democrats?” To judge from Rick Howell’s Liberal Agenda last week, jobs are the last thing on liberals’ minds. While accusing Republicans of focusing on social issues, that is exactly what he did as he compared the Donkey Party’s candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. There wasn’t a word about what any of his boys plan to do to help create jobs for Virginians. It was all about calling the Republican candidates extremists while claiming that the “Democrats” are not.
    Maybe this is because all we will be able to expect from the Donkey ticket is higher taxes and more government regulations. Higher taxes will make your personal finances even worse than they already are. More government regulations will strangle Virginia business.
    That would be a recipe that will guarantee an economy that will continue to produce more losers than winners.