Or, who should be in charge for the sake of middle-class prosperity, Mr. Potter or George Bailey?

Unemployment is a key economic indicator, as the rate is tied to whether companies are hiring or laying off workers. The whole point of unemployment benefits, after all, is economic insurance for businesses so that their customers continue to have money to buy the things they need, like food and housing.

The decreased and irregular purchasing power of wage earners in turn vitally affects the livelihood of farmers, merchants and manufacturers, results in a decreased demand for their products, and thus tends partially to paralyze the economic life of the entire state. In good times and in bad times unemployment is a heavy social cost, directly affecting many thousands of wage earners. Each employing unit in Wisconsin should pay at least a part of this social cost, connected with its own irregular operations, by financing benefits for its own unemployed workers. Each employer’s contribution rate should vary in accordance with its own unemployment costs, as shown by experience under this chapter.

Wis. Stat. § 108.01(1).

Bruce Thompson of Data Wonk fame crunches the numbers and comes up with the unsurprising result that:

Over the years, there have been a substantial number of studies that found the nation did better economically with Democratic presidents than with Republicans. Wikipedia does a good job of summarizing the studies and what they found.

The only real surprise noted by Thompson is why public opinion polling continues to show that many people think the economy performed better under Republican leadership. It’s almost as if the Mr. Potters of the world have convinced the people to ignore the George Baileys and even to blame poor George for what Mr. Potter has been doing all this time.

As Jake points out, much of current economic thinking just does not make much sense in light of the actual numbers.

The only real monkey-wrench in the economy right now is the rising cost in housing. While accelerating rents certainly are a problem, the “Mr. Potters” of the world are who created this housing problem in the first place. So, they certainly are not going to do anything to make housing more affordable.

Turning the battleship that represents housing around to point to lower rents is not going to happen over night, not even for George Bailey or his brother, the war hero. But, certainly the only chance for that happen is with the George Baileys, at least in our current political climate.