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A recent New York Times headline used the word “soft” to describe today’s economy. On what planet does that wordsmith live? Soft implies cushions and comfort, while the economic reality that most Americans are experiencing is one of unrelenting hard times.
Indeed, the content of the Times’ article defied its own headline, reporting that national economic growth this summer was pathetically weak. Tens of millions of people remain unemployed or underemployed, with millions of them having been mired in joblessness for nearly two years. Even those with jobs have seen their hours cut or wages slashed, so the nation’s income growth was an abysmal 0.5 percent – and the bulk of that went to the richest Americans, who enjoyed a nice rise in their stock portfolios.
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The way out of this, say a flock of economic gurus roosting on their lofty theoretical perches, is for consumers to spend more. Yoo-hoo, wise ones – spend what? The Times conceded that, with incomes of the masses plummeting, consumer demand remains “flaccid” (yet another word for soft). As noted by James K. Galbraith, a down-to-earth economist grounded in reality, “The problematic factor is that consumers remain fundamentally insolvent.”
Still, reaching for a silver lining in a dark and stormy cloud, the Times noted that American families are at least shedding some of their consumer debt. Good! Except that much of this is the result of millions of hard-hit families having to default on their credit card bills, student loans, mortgages, and other debts they can no longer pay.
The only thing “soft” in today’s economy are the heads of economists who keep blaming consumers, rather than fingering the big bankers and corporate CEOs who continue to knock down America’s wages, the middle class… and America itself.
“Economy Grew 2% In Uncertain Trend,” The New York Times,” October 29, 2010.