This post is straying a bit off topic for a tech blog, but I’ve had the need for some time now to vent about the economy here in America. Let’s see, how do I begin? How about this:
Chicken Little apparently is controlling the media, because all a person hears recently is that the sky is falling. In fact, the media has been down-in-the-mouth about the economy for several years. The reality is that things could be a lot worse. Here’s what Gregg Easterbrook of the Brookings Institution recently had to say about the economy:
“The fact is that basically things are pretty good. Unemployment is at 5.5%, low by historical standards; income is rising slightly ahead of inflation; housing prices are down, but the typical house is still worth a third more than in 2000; 94% of Americans do not have threatened mortgages, and of those who do, most will keep their homes. Inflation was up in 2007, but this stands out because the 16 previous years were close to inflation-free; living standards are the highest they have ever been, including living standards for the middle class and for the poor.”
Somehow us Americans have gotten the idea that if we cannot keep up the Jones’ the economy must be to blame. That fact is that the Jones’ either have better-than-average fortune or are drowning in debt. In a world where many are still living in mud huts, we seem to think we deserve a huge house and a pair of SUVs. Go ahead and finance those luxuries, but don’t complain to me when the slightest economic dip or spike in energy prices breaks your budget.
I’ve been saying it for a while now: having lots of money does not bring happiness, but the right handling of money can work wonders in that regard. Show me a person living high and drowning in debt, and I’ll show you someones who is probably miserable and trying to cope with a bad marriage. Money problems, after all, are a leading cause of divorce in America.
We have the highest standard of living of any country in the world, much higher than even other developed nations. And most other developed nations are paying twice the amount for fuel that we do.
Here’s what Robert Rector has to say about the “poor” in America:
“The average ‘poor’ American lives in a larger house or apartment than does the average West European (This is the average West European, not poor West Europeans). Poor Americans eat far more meat, are more likely to own cars and dishwashers, and are more likely to have basic modern amenities such as indoor toilets than is the general West European population. ”
In my opinion, the biggest factor causing hardship for Americans is that many folks simply do not know how to handle money. Add to that the lack of personal responsibility and work ethic, and you have a society of selfish complainers that think the sky really IS falling.
In case you’re interested, you can find some solid Biblical advice on money management over at www.crown.org.