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The ONLY way to Measure Economic Health

For those of us paying attention, the signs of America’s decline have been as clear and crisp as the toll of a church bell in winter air.  All that is needed is a willingness to hear it and a stout heart to accept what it means.

Lots of “experts” say that I’m overstating the crisis.

They claim that America is doing fine, and all is well at the epicenter of global capitalism.  To make their point, these experts will trot out statistics to show that the economy is still growing and the stock market is doing better than ever.  The GDP and the DOW are doing fine, they crow.

Of course, these statistics tell us little about the current and future health of the economic system.  The value of any human built system isn’t measured that way.  It’s measure by what it does.  What it accomplishes.  For example, if doctors measured the success of a medical procedure the way the Federal Reserve and economists measured it, its success would be based on the amount the doctor got paid for it and not whether the patient lived, died, or was healed.   

This means — and this is as simple as it gets folks — the only measure of economic success is whether American families are becoming more prosperous, or not.  The answer to that is very clear and simple too.

It’s a resounding NO!   We’re worse off.

We are worse off than we have been since the 70’s:

  • Less income, fewer good jobs, more underemployment.
  • Fragile financials — more debt and higher costs.
  • Little savings and evaporating pensions.

Join the movement to restore America's prosperity

Discussion — 7 Responses

  • Bruno Behrend February 24, 2014 on 2:57 pm

    This is oversimplified. In 1970, you couldn’t get fifteen million songs for free on line.

    We worked longer hours for less benefits.

    Etc Etc.

    You’ve heard these arguments, I’m sure. There is benefit in analyzing them, not ignoring them.

    Take a poll. Who of us that lived through the 70s would return there?

    Pintos, Mavericks, and Rabbits.

    Let’s make the analysis fair, at least.

    Reply
    • John Robb Bruno Behrend February 24, 2014 on 5:54 pm

      Bruno,

      Not seeing it. Longer hours for less benefits? I’m not seeing that at all. Almost all of us work longer hours for fewer benefits than ever before.

      Songs for free? The only people able to spend time listening to them are the un or under employed. The rest of us are working multiple jobs.

      JR

      Reply
  • Dan Lynch February 24, 2014 on 4:13 pm

    I think you should qualify being “worse off” by a clear assessment on how we’re also better off.

    * We’re rich in consumer products, many of which are affordable (I am always amazed at how someone buying food at the cash register will pay with stamps while texting on a smartphone). There’s a wider arrange of choices (though some of this is threatened by cartels like data providers).

    * Medical treatment is vastly better than 30 years ago. We can complain that the price is out of line, and medical services are reduced—but medical technology is far better than it used to be (I’d rather get cancer or heart disease in 2014 than in 1974).

    * Many pollutants of yesteryear (acid rain, raw sewage, smog, DDT, CFCs) have been greatly reduced. In many parts of the US, the environment is actually better than in the 70s—its far from perfect, but has improved nonetheless.

    * Mutually Assured Destruction has been set back a few notches. In spite of worries about dirty bombs and terrorism, a massive exchange of nuclear arsenals is a smaller possibility than in yesteryear.

    That’s off the top of my head.

    Your argument that “things are worse” must be balanced.

    Reply
    • John Robb Dan Lynch February 24, 2014 on 6:06 pm

      Dan,

      This is an analysis of our economic viability. The stuff you mention is outside the framework of the post, but here’s some feedback.

      Medical treatment is better, but only if you can afford it. But even if we added four years of life expectancy since the 70’s, it’s more than cancelled out by the fact we have to work until we die now. More consumer products? Yes, but much less disposable income to buy them with and the time to enjoy them. Less environmental degradation? Very dependent on where you live, there’s been lots of build out since then and we’ve unleashed GMO crops.

      Is the world more peaceful now? Hasn’t changed much since the 70’s for America since the draft ended. MAD now? Some analysts actually claim its higher today than ever due to proliferation and a lack of focus on command/control (note the cheating scandal recently in the US missile fleet).

      I could go on and on. I get the impulse to turn lemons into lemonade. I do that too. However, the fact is we’re losing ground.

      JR

      Reply
  • Cliff February 24, 2014 on 9:43 pm

    “Less environmental degradation?” Hey Dan, you might want to go southwest West Virginia and ask the folks there about their smelly, toxic water – from a spill of toxic chemicals – which the state government insists is clean, but won’t allow out-of-state labs to test. Or go the Virginia/North Carolina border and ask the people there how much less environmental degradation they see since the gigantic Duke Power toxic coal ash their pipes recently dumped into the Dan River there. Oh, while I mention Virginia, don’t forget the many, many dead and dying trees in large parts of the Shenandoah National Park – which I’ve seen with my own eyes from lots of travel there. All from midwest air pollution, and to this day. And what about the ginormous BP oil spill in the gulf a few years back, and which is still affecting it? (Look at this Wiki site, “List of Oil Spills” for many, many more in US and rest of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_spills). And when I visit the Carteret/Perth Amboy, NJ area, the air *stinks* of pollution just as bad or worse now as when I grew up there as a a kid. What about the recent *epic* fires in the West, the California/West drought? Like John, I can go on and on in connection to this subject and others he mentions. Unless one is very selective and ignores so much else, there is *no* evidence the environment is getting better at all. These and so many more examples prove the environment is getting worse, not better.

    Reply
  • Bruno Behrend February 27, 2014 on 8:36 am Reply
  • Bruno Behrend February 27, 2014 on 8:43 am

    No one is arguing that things are peachy. But the simple access to goods and services that are vastly improved from the 70s, and the ability of even the poor to buy them, is an indicator, at the very least, that the “science isn’t settled.”

    I’m as worried as you are about some of the trends, but pining for the 70s, when one stat said we were all making more money, isn’t persuasive.

    Reply