June jobs report: the sloth factor

The June jobs report is out and it’s dreary, showing the U.S. economy added only 80,000 jobs in June, all of them at Taco Bell. The unemployment rate remains at 8.2 percent, and does not count the millions of people who have either despaired of finding a job or, like me, have a job but feel disinclined to go to the office. Come on, it’s summer, it’s 117 degrees in the shade, half the bosses are either on vacation or took a buyout, the swamp fevers are kicking in and there’s no electricity in much of the city, and performing any kind of work seems as irrational at this point as trying to flap one’s arms and fly to Venus.

Sorry to get so far into a blog item without the obligatory “What does this mean for Obama” comment. The jobs report is bad news for Obama because America in its chronic infantilism believes the president runs the economy in addition to foreign policy and in addition to deciding whether there should be a college football playoff. The bad jobs report is good news for Romney. He can say that Obama is suppressing the economy with all his regulations and taxes and mandates and health-care shenanigans and whatnot. Some voters may buy that argument. The problem is that Romney looks like a man who would outsource your job faster than a NASCAR pit crew changes a set of tires.

This country has some structural issues. Tom Friedman in Aspen warned that even after the economy cranks up again there’s going to be persistently high unemployment because this is the new normal, a consequence of the disappearance of manufacturing and of the “average” lifestyle supported by a blue-collar job. There are forces at work that are global and very hard to turn around.

But back to me! I’m trying to slip into summer mode, famous for its sluggishness and sloth. The problem is, relaxation is something that I fleetingly accomplish just prior to receiving the email telling me I’m late on a story. Serenity, for me, signals imminent chaos and misery.

This morning I’m busy watering my lawn and feeding my mosquitoes. I feed the mosquitoes simply by being outside. I’ve been bitten so much I surely have all four points of the compass of Nile Virus — West, East, North, and the dreaded South. I’m down a couple of gallons of blood at this point. I look like a vampire. You could hack me with a machete and I’m not sure anything would come out of the gash. I’m all tapped out, friends. Put that somewhere in your jobs report.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."
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