By Daniel Chejfec
Economic activity indicators, as measured by the government, appear to indicate a growth in economic activity as compared with last year. So we are recovering, right? Maybe...
Everything depends on what is that you consider to be the chief indicator, the one that refers to the fundamental values of our country. After all, same as with organizations, the country needs to be measured against its goals and objectives as stated in the Constitution. And the constitution clearly describe as an inalienable right, the right to "Life, Freedom and the pursue of happiness" - who is the constitution referring to? - Why, its citizens of course. American Democracy differs from those that came before in that it focuses on the individual and value individualism as a virtue. It is, after all, what made this country the leading power in the world.
So when we measure the economy, we need to measure it in regard to its impact on the individual, for the individual is the keystone of the system. And when we look at the situation of individuals, the picture that emerges is quite different from the one the government presents. Unemployment, according to the economic pundits, will continue high for the next decade because this is a "recovery without jobs". Real Estate values, a traditional cornerstone on how middle class income families built their wealth over time, will continue to decline according to the same experts, as will the value of stocks which is the cornerstone of IRAs and other retirement instruments.
In short, the individual can look forward to at least a decade, according to the experts, of an erosion of his (or her) retirement savings, a decline or even the vanishing act of the Home Equity. And on top of it all, job insecurity. While I'm "happy" that companies are making more money, I'm certainly baffled at using that fact to measure the country's economic success. At least in Democracy as understood in the American context, economic success must be measured by the success of the individual in providing for her (or his) family, and the ability of the State to provide for the basic services needed for society to function - which brings me to another point.
The Federal Deficit was underwritten in part by cuts in Federal help to the States, while quite a few States - including New York - dealt with its own deficit by cutting funding for local governments, while the local governments were forced to cut essential services and reduce funding to basic functions such as Education and Social Services. This is today's version of the trickle down economics - not of the wealth but of the deficit, with the common citizens paying the price in the form of taxes applied to over-valued property and income tax increases. I'm not economic expert, but it looks to me like the government is failing to achieve its goals and perform its functions.
I believe in the ability of our country to come out of the current situation, I believe in the strength and adaptability of American Democracy and I believe in the ingenuity of the American people. These are the issues we need to focus on. We need to face the new challenges with a fresh approach, thinking out of the box. Calling a situation "economic recovery" when working families are hurting, is betraying the fundamental principles of our society, because these families are being denied the right to "Life, Liberty, and the pursue of Happiness"