Wow, how about that Dow?
The Dow-Jones Average of corporate stock prices, I mean – the one economic indicator that our nation’s establishment watches religiously. They’re like ancient priests watching a burbling, hissing volcano to determine if the gods are pleased or angry. Bizarrely, despite the pandemic recession that’s knocking down millions of Americans, corporate profits are soaring. So, believers in the infallibility of the Dow exclaim that these are boom times, with the economy showering shareholder wealth on us like manna from heaven!
But most Americans are asking: A boom for whom? America’s real economy is a shambles. Joblessness is still above 10 percent, with a tsunami of new firings coming as airlines, retail chains, the restaurant industry, state and local governments, Main Street businesses, and so many more are now collapsing right in front of us.
Forget the Dow-Jones Average, we need policymakers who give a damn about the Doug Jones Average – how are Doug and Desiree doing? Telling them about the booming stock market is stupid, for the Jones don’t share in that wealth. In fact, the number of Americans who own even one share of corporate stock has plummeted in the past two decades as the rich and superrich have grabbed the bulk of our nation’s wealth. Today, nearly 90 percent of all stocks are in the hands of the richest 10 percent of Americans.
Yet, the menagerie of laissezfairyland ideologues and lawmakers now in charge of our economic policy continue genuflecting to the Dow, insisting that the price of stock equates to a high standard of living for all. As Republican Senator Pat Toomey recently proclaimed, “Life is better today than it ever has been for the majority of the American people.” His proof? Toomey pointed to the fact that cars now come equipped with seat warmers.
“National Employment Monthly Update,” National Conference of State Legislatures, September 2020.