Spooky Economy

   Transparency and Knowledge Dispel Fear

Let me... tip my hat to Ross Perot, the Texas businessman who ran for president in 1992 and 1996. Perot was the only national candidate in my memory who faced the American people with charts and graphs to pound home the point that the politicians were driving America into bankruptcy.—David M. Walker, U.S. Comptroller General

Ross Perot is an American businessman who entered politics to address what he saw were serious problems with the U.S. Economy [4@11:50], and a lack of leadership and care for the nation's affairs.

Presidential Campaigns

In 1992, Perot drew from his personal wealth to run as a third-party presidential candidate against William Jefferson Clinton and George H.W. Bush. As the campaigns progressed, Perot, a political outsider, surprised many with his broad appeal among voters of differing political ideologies. [5][6][7].

In addition to the more common types of campaign commercials [1], Perot starred in a number of half-hour "infomercials" where he personally addressed the issues with his television viewers [3]. The bypassing of the news media and political commentators was something new in presidential campaigning [2].

In both the presidential debates, and his campaign commercials, Perot always spoke frankly, even if his opinions had the potential for embarrassing the sitting president or if his opinions spoke to the corruption of government. [3@23:17] [5@2:52]

Perot repeatedly voiced concerns over the national debt and the legacy it would leave future generations. [4@11:50] [4@13:24]

His campaign videos famously featured graphs and charts that showed the economic challenges that the United States faced - another method of presentation new to presidential campaigning. Speaking plainly and with folksy humor [3], Perot used the charts to illustrate as he gave interesting and compelling explanations for the country's economic troubles and the general declines in key areas of middle-class American living. [3@17:33]

The charts and graphs covered the national debt [3@15:20], the decline of the U.S. Dollar [3@16:52] and the increase of government employees over manufacturing employees [3@17:48].

In the area of labor, Perot addressed the issue of American's job losses to foreign countries due to unfair advantages. He explained that those countries had a lower standard of living and that they did not have to follow the same fair labor regulations that the United States did. By not having those costs, American wages would be undercut and those jobs would leave the U.S. [5@3:10]

Perot also expressed concern over what he believed were politically-motivated delays and apparent corruption in the handling of major financial fraud. [3@23:17]. He went public with information that news of imminent bank failures was being suppressed until after the election. [3@24:14]

Perot's television commercial grew popular and received more market share than some of the popular television series running in those slots. [7] Despite his continued popularity, Perot stated that he had difficulty in getting networks to sell him the air time. [8@1:35]

Appeal grew among middle-class voters with him receiving support from 20% of liberals, 30% of conservatives and 49% of moderate voters. [6] In polls held prior to the election, he was found to be in the lead to win the presidency. [9]

At the height of his popularity, Perot suddenly dropped out of the race, with little explanation at first. After a time, he reentered but had lost his lead in the polls and ultimately lost the election.

Perot continued to receive support from passionate supporters and he went on to help form the Reform Party. He ran a second time for the presidency but was excluded from the presidential debates by a bipartisan panel on the grounds that the independent Perot did not "have a realistic chance... to be elected the next president of the United States". [10@0:24] This decision was openly questioned by Sen. Warren Rudman who argued "It shouldn't be whether or not you can win. It's whether you have ideas that ought to be heard by the American people."

Following the presidential campaign, Perot wrote a book [16] that spoke out against the NAFTA agreement that would create a unified North American common market. [11] Perot opposed the treaty at a time when the four living presidents, Presidents Clinton, Carter, Ford and Bush, were making media appearances together to support it. Perot had repeatedly expressed concern that the treaty would cost American jobs and impact American's standard of living during a time when the country was already trillions of dollars in debt. [11@3:35]


At 80 years old, Perot remains concerned about the future of the country. He now supports a web site called PerotCharts.com [14]. It was created “to provide accurate information to every citizen about the serious economic problems facing our country”. [15@0:10]

Personal Concerns

During the 1992 campaign, while leading in the polls [9], Perot suddenly dropped out of the race stating that he had come to believe he could not win. This caused confusion and distress among his supporters [12]. He later added that a political operation had been set to harm one of his family members. [13]. This explanation did not seem adequate or complete to some of his supporters.

In the weeks and months that followed, Perot was derided and ridiculed in the news media and political pundits. Newsweek magazine published issues with featuring Perot on the front cover with the words “The Quitter” and “Ego Trip” as captions.


"They just don't know how to manage money. The money they are managing used to be your money. The debt they're building up belongs 100% to you and me." [3@6:14]
"[The] dollar continues to deteriorate. What used to be a dollar in 1950 is now 18 cents today. As you know, it's not only how many dollars you make. It's what will a dollar will buy. The dollar is buying less and less and less because of the mismanagement of our country's economy. " [3@6:53]
"Our problem now is to rebuild our country to re-industrialize our country and to put our people back to work." [3@17:26]
"The number of manufacturing employees in our great country is now less than the number of employees, local, sate and federal at all levels. To be a superpower, we have to make things. To be a great country, we must manufacture." [3@17:53]
"During the past 12 years when President Bush has been in Washington, as vice president and president, and was in charge of deregulation as vice president, we've shipped whole industries overseas. One of the reasons this happens is [that] people leave the White House staff, become Federal lobbyists, have access to the White House and have enormous influence on trade negotiations." [3@18:12]
"If you want to see something that I cannot understand at all, it's a number of very senior-level people in the President's campaign staff are foreign lobbyists on leaves of absence. They're certainly not representing our interests. And I find it obscene that he tolerates it." [3@18:35]
"In the 80s, vice president George Bush was in charge of deregulation. In 1984, the President and Vice President were officially told about the Savings and Loan problem. They were told it was a $50 billion problem. But the PAC money kept coming in and the biggest crooks in the world were around those Savings and Loans, and they were buying and paying for Washington at every level. In the most flagrant way you can imagine, whole books have been written about this." [3@23:09]
On the Savings and Loan problem, Perot says "Our government didn't even act until after the 1988 election. At that point, the problem had mushroomed to several hundred billion dollars. That's coming right out of your pocket and my pocket." [3@23:43]
We want the budget balanced, we want the debt paid down, we want the 21st century to be the greatest century in this country's history - and that's the greatest legacy we can leave our children and grandchildren. [17@2:00]
"Not since the great depression have we seen an economic crisis of the magnitude that we are facing today. Our enormous national debt almost $9.4 trillion on April 30th of this year [2008], and it is increasing by over $1 billion every day. We are living our children and grandchildren with a burden that they cannot possibly manage." [15@0:39]

Proposed Solutions

The suggestions listed here were gathered from his persidential campaign videos and interviews. For specific plans, please see his books.

Must-see Resources

  1. Video: Perot Economy Ad '92 [1992]
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhS82F_I3DU
  2. Video: The FIRST political infomercial [1992]
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERlGndQ_xtM
  3. Video: Video: Perot Campaign Commercial 1992 [October 30, 1992]
    URL: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/34277-1
  4. Video: Presidential Debate George H Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot [Oct 15, 1992]
    URL: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8606672422143118757
  5. Document: A Report of the 1992 Presidential Election [UC Davis]
    URL: http://pss.iga.ucdavis.edu/perotrpt.html
  6. Document: The Perot Vote [March 14, 1997]
    URL: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/case/3pt/perot_vote.html
  7. Document: Perot's 30-Minute TV Ads Defy the Experts, Again [October 27, 1992]
    URL: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE0DC1F31F934A15753C1A964958260
  8. Video: Interview with Charlie Rose [October 18, 1994]
    URL: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=585471070703086345#
  9. Video: Poll Gives Perot a Clear Lead [June 11, 1992]
    URL: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE7DB133EF932A25755C0A964958260
  10. Video: Perot's exclusion from the 96 debates [date unknown]
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B-hLteMluQ
  11. Video: Interview with Charlie Rose on NAFTA [September 15, 1993]
    URL: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4973936116673972750
  12. Document: Perot drops out, leaving anger, tears
    URL: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9NYlAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Rf0FAAAAIBAJ&pg=6786,1709411&dq=perot+drops+out+leaving+anger+tears&hl=en|
  13. Document: Dirty Tricks pushed Perot?
    URL: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7K8zAAAAIBAJ&sjid=njIHAAAAIBAJ&pg=7002,7076658&dq=perot+dirty+tricks&hl=en
  14. Site: Perot Charts.com
    URL: http://perotcharts.com/
  15. Video: Perot Charts welcome video
    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfTDlxM2LKU
  16. Book: Save Your Job, Save Our Country: Why Nafta Must Be Stopped--Now!
    URL: http://www.amazon.com/Save-Your-Job-Our-Country/dp/1562827111
  17. Video: Interview with Charlie Rose [May 11, 1993]
    URL: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7882768863724620414

Added December 5, 2010 Posted January 10, 2011 Revised January 12, 2011

This is my opinion. It's a work in progress. I hope it's helpful.

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