A recent New York Times headline used the word "soft" to describe today's economy. Soft? 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 during the three summer months was pathetically weak. Tens of millions of our people remain unemployed or underemployed, with millions of them having been mired in joblessness for nearly two years.
Even those who do still have jobs have seen their hours cut or wages slashed, so the nation's income growth was an abysmal 0.5 percent this summer — and the bulk of that came from the richest Americans, who've enjoyed a nice rise in their stock portfolios.
The way out of this, says the 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," 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 within 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 these savings are the result of millions of hard-hit families having to default on their credit card bills, student loans, mortgages and other unbearable debts.
This is Jim Hightower saying: 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.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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