Monday, January 03, 2011

a wondrous unicorn

We're experiencing economic recovery, right? Depends on who you talk to.

I think everyone is aware right now that America has two economies, not one: one for the haves, and one for the have-nots.

So while the Dow Jones Average climbs steadily toward 1200 and the price of crude oil creeps up above its "new normal" price of $90 a barrel, generating mega-profits for the mega-rich, nearly one American in three is having trouble scratching up enough money to put food on the table,

The latest national poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that:

*Nearly half of Americans -- 48 percent -- say it is difficult to afford their home heating and/or electric bills;

*29 Percent report difficulty with being able to afford food.

I didn't see a figure in this report for how many people are having difficulty putting gas in the car, but I would guess it's comparable to the number that are having trouble coming up with the monthly heating bill.

Significantly, the government's half-baked inflation figures, which are calculated to arrive at "core inflation," don't include food and fuel -- the two things besides housing that people can't do without. Is this because food and fuel prices are "too volatile," as the statisticians say, or are they omitted because including them would give us a clearer picture of the real world, of what's actually happening to us?

There is barely a hint of reporting in the national media about the kinds of difficulties ordinary people suffer in trying to keep their lives on track. When we read the newspapers or watch to cable news on TV, we get the impression that the national deficit is the only dangerous economic problem. Yet the Pew poll just cited tells us that 47 percent of Americans think that unemployment is the worst economic problem we're facing, while only 19 percent say the deficit is our major worry.

And despite all the propaganda to the contrary, only 17 percent of us think there really is an actual recovery. That's good news because it shows most of us are no longer fooled by the happy chatter of CNN and CNBC. Recovery may be happening on Wall Street and other financial districts, but for those of us on Main Street recovery is a unicorn.

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