How Healthy is the American Economy?
This is a muckdog special.
Muckdog reported that Americans are richer on the average than Europeans. True, but as Maha reports, most Americans are significantly worse off than their European counterparts.
Europe developed its own social institutions -- universal healthcare, generous retirement systems, free or subsidized child care for working parents, less commercialized and more robust elections, far less extremes of wealth and poverty, less militarism. And much of the world sees this as a more attractive model than the one the Bush administration is promoting. America, statistically, is slightly richer on average than western Europe, but more than 80 percent of western Europeans live better than their US counterparts because our wealth is so concentrated at the top. [emphasis added]
This is what the extremists in power in America don't want us peons to know. That's because the rich and powerful people at the top need our ignorance and our compliance to stay rich and powerful.
Muckdog also likes to tout the unemployment rate as a good sign for the economy.
Yet, the Big Picture notices that the unemployment rate isn't doing a very good job of reflecting the actual number of people that are jobless.
The 5.2% rate has been decreasing from a peak of ~6.3% in mid-2002. This number represents the percentage of people working, relative to the total labor pool.
So what's the problem? It seems that the labor pool is shrinking even while the actual population is increasing. As Barry says, this will have a significant impact on our overall economy even though the numbers look good in today's report.
And Brad noticed today that although the economy is supposed to be doing well, the signs are not exactly good.
We are still very, very far from full employment. If we were anywhere close to full employment, real wages would not still be falling.
The moral of the story? We can have an economy that does well for the majority of Americans or we can rig the game so that a few do very, very well. It isn't very hard to see what Bush's choice has been. And, of course, we haven't said anything about the deficit or oil prices or the collapsing healthcare system or the neverending war. Yup, the economy is doing just peachy these days.