Factoring in adults on the sidelines who say they would seek employment if conditions were better and part-timers desiring full-time work, the jobless rate becomes 12.3%.
Remedies to slow growth and unemployment challenge the hardened ideological position of both the Obama-Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party and the conservative wing of the GOP.
Neither President Obama nor House Speaker John Boehner accepts the urgency -- or at least has the stomach-of addressing Chinese and Japanese currency manipulation and other protectionist practices.
Democrats act as if shutting down U.S. energy development would reduce environmental risks, when it merely exacerbates risks by increasing dependency on production in developing economies where hazards are less well managed.
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Meanwhile, the GOP sees few risks from shale gas development, and would like to export the commodity to countries that refuse to develop their own resources and share in environmental risks.
Regulating banks has failed to the point that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is shy about prosecuting Wall Street institutions that are now dubbed "too big to jail."
Meanwhile, Republicans won't embrace structural remedies -- in particular separating government- insured, deposit-taking institutions from the casinos and breaking up the largest banks to encourage competition and increase small business lending.
Germany enjoys health care costs about one-third lower than the United States by running an all-must-play insurance system but with genuine price controls, recognizing the monopoly power near universal coverage affords drug companies and other providers. Still it's tough to find a politician or policy analyst in Washington who wants an honest discussion about that.
So it goes. Ideology bordering on idolatry reigns in the nation's capital, the economy grows too slowly and Americans go jobless or suffer from sinking wages.
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This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.