There is a wonderful Hans Christian Andersen story entitled, “The Princess and the Pea,” (brought to Broadway starring Carol Burnett with the title, “Once Upon A Mattress.”) This children’s story was published in 1835.
The story concerns a prince who wants to be sure that he marries a real princess. He is unsure of the royal background of those who have come forward as his possible consort. So he devises a test based on physical sensitivity.
One stormy night a young woman comes to the castle and claims to be a princess. The prince’s mother, suspicious of this dripping wet “pretender” places a pea under twenty mattresses which are then covered with twenty featherbeds. In the morning the young woman complains that she spent a restless night. There was something hard in her bed which prevented her from getting a good night’s sleep.
The prince realizes that only a true princess could possibly possess this sensitivity and so he makes her his wife.
As I watched the Democratic National Convention, somehow this story came to mind. I hadn’t thought about it for years – since I saw Ms. Burnett give her extraordinary performance on stage. But the similarity between this story, the financial and social condition of the country and the response by the speakers at the convention was rather startling.
Of course, it would have been a surprise if anyone had anything bad to say about how President Obama has mishandled the economic “recovery.” Many of those who spoke have been part and parcel of enacting the policies which led to today’s very disappointing August jobs number of 96,000 which is less than half that would have to be created monthly for a three year period if we were to get back to an unemployment rate of 6%. The following link allows you to do your own job creation calculations, courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta:
In addition to the disappointing news for last month, July’s number was revised down to 141,000 from 163,000 and June’s number was revised down to 45,000 from 64,000. It is hard to disagree with President Obama’s statement that there “Is a long road to travel” before this country returns to prosperity – a longer one thanks to the policies he and his fellow party members have implemented.
There was some good news in the jobs report. Unemployment declined from 8.3% to 8.1%. That, on the surface, would seem to be encouraging. But if we look at the facts they tell a different story.
Beginning in the 1970’s the number of participants joining the labor market increased substantially as more women entered the work force. This trend continued for over 30 years. Beginning with the start of the Recession in 2007, there has been a dramatic decline in those counted in the unemployment statistics, either because they have retired early or just given up looking for a job.
If we were to measure “true unemployment” based on the percentage of eligible people who could be seeking a job, the actual rate of unemployment would be 11.6% and the number of jobs we would have to create monthly for three years to get to a 6% unemployment rate would be 334,000 which is a number that has never been achieved in the history of the United States.
Notwithstanding these rather dismal statistics, I applaud the sensitivity of the speakers at the DNC in being able to put a positive spin on the President and their record over the last four years.
Our “leaders” have acted as though they are aristocracy for a very long time. What I didn’t realize is that they could each of them have passed the prince’s test and detected the pea under all those mattresses and featherbeds. Perhaps they are what they believe they are – the new American royalty – and Prince Obama is leading the charge.