Obama’s Last Stand | A Level Playing Field

Unemployment and Educational Attainment

– By: Larry Walker, Jr. –

In a speech given on December 6, 2011, Barack Obama, the Debtor-In-Chief, called for a Level Economic Playing Field. “This isn’t just another political debate. This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and all of those who are fighting to get into the middle class,” he said. “At stake is whether this will be a country where people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home and secure their retirement.” Yeah whatever! His populist tone, however, has fallen mostly upon deaf ears, as America has come to realize that the $5 trillion of debt, which he has racked up over the last 3 years, is the real defining issue of our time. And that in spite of all of his irresponsible borrowing and spending, Obama has delivered next to nothing in the way of improved permanent living standards for any American.

Newsflash! The recession ended in June of 2009. The economic crisis is over. What we are witnessing at this point is what an economy looks like, some 29 months after a recession has ended, when an emaciated government Administration has miserably failed its people. No, this isn’t a recession, it’s an Obama recovery. If things aren’t moving fast enough for you, it just may be that the Class-Warfare-Instigator-In-Chief has been focused more on disarming the economy than fortifying it. Those who are content with waiting on Obama to remake America, in his own image and likeness, will find themselves waiting a long time, as it originally took some 244 years to get where we were prior to his anointing.

But as for the rest of us, we don’t have to wait any longer than November of 2012 to bury Obama’s dated ideals of crony capitalism and political pandering back underneath the trash heap from which they emanated. As the self-ascribed millionaire, and so called, spokesman for the poor and downtrodden, engages in an irrational personal conflagration to extend a contrived $8 to $16 per week payroll tax cut for most working Americans, while at the same time bankrupting the nation as a whole, most of us realize that it’s going to take a lot more than a temporary handout to fix what is likely a systemic problem.

Does Obama seriously believe that someone hearing his class-warfare vitriol will suddenly be inspired to run out and enroll in a G.E.D. program, or college; or to start a new enterprise? Because I don’t think his divisive tone cuts the mustard. Will an $8 to $16 per week bounty seriously be enough to usher us into the Promised Land? Yeah, right! So Obama has chosen to make his last stand — the act of doling out a one-year, deficit-financed, premature social security distribution (for the 3rd year in a row), while at the same time handing each American citizen our “fair share” of a national debt, that is now $48,254 for each and every one of us. But it seems to me that he might want to take care of his own issues first, since he (Obama) has already inflated the national debt by 50% of the amount incurred by the first 43 presidents, in just 3 years. The thought of another nickel of reckless spending coming out of this White House makes me want to see him rot in a federal penitentiary, for the rest of his days. After all, has he not essentially stolen the future away from my children and grandchildren?

What is the Playing Field?

So let’s look at the facts surrounding what would be involved in leveling the so called playing field, as Obama so ineptly echoes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate among those, 25 years of age and older, who have attained less than a high school diploma is a whopping 13.2%, while it is only 4.4% for those with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, households with a householder 25 years old and over, with less than a high school diploma have median incomes of $24,787, while those with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher have median incomes of $82,109. So what does that tell you? It tells me that some people achieve more than others, but it doesn’t tell me that the playing field is not level.

The following table, courtesy of the BLS, was split up into four parts, mainly due to the overall size, but also to focus on the characteristics of each category. First, as of November of 2011, the unemployment rate among those age 25 and over who have attained less than a high school diploma was a colossal 13.2%, while the labor force participation rate was a mere 47.0%. That means that while some 10.2 million in this category were employed, another 1.5 million were unemployed, and that there were another 13.2 million people somewhere out there who never made it through high school. Although this is the smallest of the four categories, one’s chances of employment are greatly diminished by not finishing high school.

Next, according to the BLS, the unemployment rate among those 25 years of age and over who are high school graduates was 8.8%, which is still rather high, while the labor force participation rate was 60.3%. That means that while some 33.8 million in this category were employed, another 3.3 million were considered unemployed. Note: It’s curious that the overall unemployment rate dropped from 9.0% in October 2011 to 8.6% in November of 2011, primarily due to the fact that 315,000 workers dropped out of the labor force, and that the civilian labor force among high school graduates — with no college, fell by 302,000. Is this just a coincidence?

In comparison, for those equipped with a high school diploma, along with some college or an Associate’s Degree, the unemployment rate was 7.6%, which isn’t all that great, but better than the former categories, and the labor force participation rate was also an improvement at 68.4%. This means that while some 33.9 million in this category were employed, another 2.8 million remained unemployed.

Finally, among those with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, the unemployment rate was a mere 4.4%, while the labor force participation rate was a tolerable 76.0%. What a dramatic improvement. This means that some 45.0 million college graduates were employed, while just 2.1 million were considered unemployed. Thus, one’s chances of employment are immensely greater after attaining a college degree.

So from the above, we can state that we have a civilian labor force of 132.7 million people, 25 years of age or older, and that among these, as of last month, 123.0 million were employed, and 9.7 million were unemployed. And as far as the unemployed, 2.1 million have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, 2.8 million attended some college, 3.3 million stopped after high school, and another 1.5 million never graduated from high school. Among those who are employed, 45.0 million are college graduates, 33.9 million attended some college, 33.8 million stopped after high school, and 10.2 million dropped out of high school.

What should be rather obvious from the preceding tables is that the higher one’s level of education, the greater one’s chances of employment, especially in a tough economy. So how does Obama propose to level this playing field? Will he give non high school graduates honorary diplomas? Or will he take money and opportunities away from achievers and hand it over to non-achievers? For the most part, all I ever hear from Obama is nonsense such as, ‘tax high achievers and give a portion of their earnings over to non-achievers’, or ‘tax the rich, and give $8 to $16 per week tax cuts to those who already have jobs’. But how would either method fix the achievement inequality gap which is evident in the preceding tables? They won’t.

You see, there is no way to make this playing field any more level than it already is. I mean it is what it is. If you want a good life, the first step is to finish high school, and if you don’t, it’s not the responsibility of those who did to take care of you. If you want to do a little better, then plan on attending college because, even if you don’t finish, your life will be immensely better. Heck, I’m not ashamed to say that I didn’t finish college until I was 32 years old. And I managed to trudge through it with a full-time job, and a wife and four children at home. Had I not done so, my advancement would have been limited at best. And when I finished, I didn’t have a dime of student loan debt. So it can be done, and it must be done in order to obtain anything in this society. That’s just the way it is.

Digging a little deeper, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 3-Year Estimates, among those 25 years of age and over, only 27.8% attained a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, while 15.1% didn’t make it through high school (see table below). According to the data, 29.0% graduated from high school (including equivalency), 20.7% attended some college but did not get a degree, 7.5% attained Associate’s Degrees, 17.6% earned Bachelor’s Degrees, and 10.2% obtained Graduate or Professional Degrees. So although 84.9% of Americans graduated from high school, a much smaller percentage went on to complete college. So that brings us to the big question: Does one’s level of educational attainment make any significant difference in economic standing?

Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 3-Year Estimates, we can see (in the table below) that the poverty rate among those with less than a high school diploma is 24.5%, while it was 11.8% among high school graduates, 8.2% for those with some college, and only 3.7% for those with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. So the chances of living a life in poverty are greatly enhanced for those who fail to graduate from high school, while being very slim for those attaining at least a Bachelor’s Degree. So does this mean that the playing field isn’t level? Do high achievers have a responsibility to take care of non-achievers? Did some of us start out on a different playing field, other than kindergarten? And is it possible for Obama’s wealth redistribution vision to turn back the hands of time and place everyone back on Square One? The answers to all of the above — a solid “No”.

As I mentioned in, Obama’s Square Deal and Just Deserts, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, households with a householder 25 years old and over with less than a 9th grade education earned median incomes of $21,254 and mean incomes of $30,232, while those with some college earned median incomes of $48,722 and mean incomes of $61,026, and those with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher earned median incomes of $82,109 and mean incomes of $104,555 (see table below). So anyone who wants to earn their ‘fair share’ should be prepared to plot their ‘own course’, and to complete the necessary steps. How high you reach, and how you get there is simply a matter of free will. So unless Obama is proposing to take away free will, or to somehow make college education mandatory, all of this “level playing field” rhetoric is just smoke.

I will go ahead and submit that America is firmly planted on an even playing field. It begins in kindergarten and ends where it ends, due to personal choices, parental upbringing, and life experiences. I will also state that high achievers do not owe non-achievers a single solitary dime. Nor is it the responsibility of the federal government to improve the lives of those who make bad choices. Sure, government can and should encourage upward mobility, but as the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” It is not the federal government’s responsibility to knock high achievers back a few steps so that non-achievers can catch up. Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Just like God helps those who help themselves, governments should only venture to help those who help themselves.

Now will somebody please explain to me how giving out $8 to $16 per week deficit-financed handouts (i.e. the payroll tax cut), to people who are already working, will manage to level the playing field for the 11.7 million civilian workers who, for one reason or another, didn’t bother to graduate from high school? Or for that matter, for the 37.1 million who chose to climb no higher than high school? My short answer is that it won’t. In fact, nothing that Obama has been spewing will miraculously turn lower levels of educational attainment into higher learning, nor bigger paychecks. For all his rhetoric, Obama hasn’t inspired one American to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and try to make progress.

In truth, all that I’ve heard from Obama are the following misnomers — society isn’t fair, and under-achievers are owed something by those who have been more successful. Yet it turns out that the most successful members of our society are mainly those who finished high school, and went on to graduate from college. Hopefully someone in the ‘class’, that either didn’t finish high school or is thinking about dropping out, will be inspired by what you have just read, to indeed pick “yourself” up and move forward. And I would to God that some Ronald Reagan protégé would take up the mantle, and again speak those words that so inspired me to pick myself up by the bootstraps, return to school, and seek a better life.

We must not look to government to solve our problems. Government is the problem.” ~Ronald W. Reagan

Black Employment | Back to the 1970s

– Halfway to Nowhere

– Larry Walker, Jr. –

One of the figures that stood out in the July 2011 Employment Situation Report was that Black labor force participation had declined to 60.4%, or to the same level attained in March of 1973, from a rate of 63.2% in January of 2009. The rate has fluctuated between a record low of 58.5% during 1975, to a record high of 66.4% in 1999. It stood at 63.4% in December of 2007, the first month of the Great Recession, and clocked in at 62.6% when the recession ended in June of 2009. In fact, the rate hasn’t dropped below 62.0% since May of 1984. But since February of 2009, the Black labor force participation rate has declined by 2.8 percentage points, and most of that decline, 1.7 points to be precise, has occurred since the beginning of 2011. So why did Black labor force participation suddenly plummet during Obama’s 3rd year in office, over two years after the recession ended?

Black labor force participation rate – The labor force participation rate measures the labor force as a percent of the civilian non-institutional population.

From Black Employment – July 2011

Why hasn’t a Black White House resident correlated with improvement in the lives of Black and African American people, or anyone else for that matter? It’s one thing to be giddy that a Black man made it into the White House, but entirely another when you take a look around the community. The fact that the Black labor force participation rate has fallen back to 1970s levels, and exclusively on Obama’s watch, either means that his policies aren’t working; or that they are, but just in reverse.

For example, does the act of extending unemployment benefits to an historic 99-weeks mesh with increasing labor force participation? Is the act of handing out record amounts in government food stamps somehow in lock-step with prosperity? Does legislation providing a $50,000, per unemployed household, government subsidy to cover mortgage payments for up to two years help get folks back to work? Will Obama’s policies of doling out record amounts of unemployment, food stamps, and $50,000 per household mortgage subsidies, concurrently, lead us out of the ditch, or over a cliff? When ‘shovel ready’ turned out not be so shovel ready, it appears that this was Obama’s Plan B.

The Black employment-population ratio is also at 1970s levels; while the Black unemployment rate, although not the worst ever recorded, has averaged 15.6% since February of 2009.

Black employment-population ratio (Current Population Survey) – The proportion of the civilian non-institutional population aged 16 years and over that is employed.

The Black employment-population ratio has fluctuated between a record low of 48.8% from December of 1982 through January of 1983, to a record high of 61.4% in April of 2000. It stood at 57.7% in December of 2007, the first month of the Great Recession, was 55.2% in January of 2009, and clocked in at 53.3% when the recession ended in June of 2009. It has since declined to 50.8% as of July of 2011, a decline of 4.4 percentage points since Obama’s inauguration.

From Black Employment – July 2011

Black unemployment rate – The unemployment rate represents the number unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

The Black unemployment rate has fluctuated between a record low of 7.0% in April of 2000, to a record high of 21.1% in January of 1983. It stood at 9.0% in December of 2007, the first month of the Great Recession, was 12.7% in January of 2009, and clocked in at 14.9% when the recession ended in June of 2009. It has risen to 15.9% as of July of 2011, an increase of 3.2 percentage points since Obama’s inauguration.

From Black Employment – July 2011

At a fundraiser in Chicago on August 3, 2010, Barack Obama remarked, “…But the thing that we all ought to remember is that as much as good as we have done, precisely because the challenges were so daunting, precisely because we were inheriting so many challenges, that we’re not even halfway there yet. When I said ‘change we can believe in’ I didn‘t say ’change we can believe in tomorrow.’ Not change we can believe in next week.”

Well, it’s been about two and a half years already, so if they’re not even halfway “there” yet, does that mean it will take another 3, 4, 5, or 40 years? And exactly what does Obama mean by, “we’re” and “there”? Who is we, and where is there? It looks to me like our nation is around three-fourths of the way to declaring bankruptcy; the economy is maybe four-fifths of the way towards a depression, and the labor force statistics for Black and African Americans have receded to levels not seen since the 1970s and early 1980s.

So if I’m reading this correctly, as long as Obama has the bully pulpit, change will kick-in after my girls graduate from college, but not right now when it’s needed? Just wait a few more years, after my twin granddaughter’s start pre-school, but not now, two month’s before their birth, when my son needs it, eh? Heck, it may take another 40 years just to fill in the trench Obama has dug. I guess since ‘shovel ready’ wasn’t as shovel ready as he thought, and since “we’re not even halfway there”, unemployment benefits will have to be extended for another 99 weeks, while those who are able to endure carry the water. Heck, we might as well extend unemployment benefits for the rest of Obama’s term, since according to most of today’s Democratic Party, unemployment compensation and food stamps add more to the economy than the private sector anyway?

Obama has turned this economy around alright — back to the 1970s. Now he wants another four years, after he campaigns his way through the remainder of this term? Thanks, but no thanks. Every policy he’s put on the table has failed. The fact that he lost the USA’s triple-A credit rating, through devil-may-care spending, ought to say it all. What would the USA’s credit rate be after another term, since he’s only halfway there, BBB? Four more years to bobble his head from one teleprompter to the other, lecturing us on bugged out Socialist ideals from decades past, yeah right! If his plans don’t work in the real world, it may be that they are simply outdated. I say it’s time for Conservatives to take the horns of this democracy, and make a quick U-turn.

Halfway to nowhere – Heck, Obama’s policies might be succeeding beyond our wildest dreams, but we just can’t see it. Maybe where we get confused is when we open our eyes and look around. After all, he never said it was change we would be able to see, or change that would actually occur. He merely said it would be something intangible, an idea that we could believe in. In other words, a fairy tale, a chimera of the way we wish things were, but know they could never be. A world where electricity is generated without power plants, where heating oil rains down like manna from heaven, and where a big government hands us everything we need. But when we keep it in the day, and open our eyes, what do we see? – An incompetent, partisan, rascal, spouting half-truths, and railing away at his enemy, which turns out to be at least half of America.

“The best social program is a good job.” ~Bill Clinton

“I do not believe we can repair the basic fabric of society until people who are willing to work have work. Work organizes life. It gives structure and discipline to life.” ~Bill Clinton

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ~Calvin Coolidge



  • Labor force (Current Population Survey) – The labor force includes all persons classified as employed or unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary.

  • Civilian non-institutional population (Current Population Survey) – Included are persons 16 years of age and older residing in the 50 States and the District of Columbia who are not inmates of institutions (for example, penal and mental facilities, homes for the aged), and who are not on active duty in the Armed Forces.

  • Employed persons (Current Population Survey) – Persons 16 years and over in the civilian non-institutional population who, during the reference week, (a) did any work at all (at least 1 hour) as paid employees; worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family; and (b) all those who were not working but who had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent because of vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor-management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, whether or not they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs. Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. Excluded are persons whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and other organizations.

  • Unemployed persons (Current Population Survey) – Persons aged 16 years and older who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed.

  • Not in the labor force (Current Population Survey) – Includes persons aged 16 years and older in the civilian non-institutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary. Information is collected on their desire for and availability for work, job search activity in the prior year, and reasons for not currently searching. (See Marginally Attached Workers.)

  • Marginally Attached Workers (Current Population Survey) – Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for work, and who have looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Discouraged workers are a subset of the marginally attached. (See Discouraged Workers.)

  • Discouraged Workers (Current Population Survey) – Persons not in the labor force who want and are available for a job and who have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months (or since the end of their last job if they held one within the past 12 months), but who are not currently looking because they believe there are no jobs available or there are none for which they would qualify.


Data Tables