Nation of Whiners Redux

Donald Luskin wants you to think that the economy is just dandy:

It’s a virus — and it’s spreading. Do a Google News search for “since the Great Depression,” and you come up with more than 4,500 examples of the phrase’s use in just the past month.

But that doesn’t make any of it true. Things today just aren’t that bad. Sure, there are trouble spots in the economy, as the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jitters about Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers, amply demonstrate. And unemployment figures are up a bit, too. None of this, however, is cause for depression — or exaggerated Depression comparisons.

Overall, the pessimists are up against an insurmountable reality: In the last reported quarter, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, adjusted for inflation. That’s virtually the same as the 3.4 percent average growth rate since — yes — the Great Depression.

Luskin, naturally, goes on to blame Barack Obama for this.

Now, there’s an important caveat that deserves some mention here, namely that Luskin isn’t, factually, wrong. But that’s really only half the story, because he’s also exposing how elites look at the economy, particularly elites who aren’t really looking for a total picture of the “everyday economy.”

To that end, GDP growth is the end all be all of economic soundness. And to be sure, watching the growth rate of GDP is probably a good way to measure the overall health of any economy. But it certainly doesn’t encompass the entire picture, and when you start to get to the microeconomic conditions of middle and working class people, it’s largely meaningless. To that end, you need to look at all of the factors Luskin is, roundaboutly, trying to tell you don’t really matter and, I assume, your selfish ass ought to just get over already and be glad the people Luskin talks to are doing really well.

To that end, when the gas it costs you to get from your exurban house to your job and back every day costs $4 a gallon, when the cost of your kid’s check up and medicines are up, and when real wages are stagnant or even declining, and when the wealth gap is the largest its been since just before the Great Depression the 1920’s, you’re going to be looking at a real squeeze on lower and middle income households. Of course, Luskin and his friends don’t fit into that category, so that’s not really what he’s concerned with. But don’t worry, the economy is doing great by them.

Now, go elect the candidate who wants to give Luskin an even bigger tax cut.