“Even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all.
Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts [Charles] Whitman’s rifle and [Richard] Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in world.”
— Robert F. Kennedy
“You Can’t Eat GDP”: Reminder That Most Workers Are Struggling As Trump and Corporate Media Tout Economic Growth
By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (7/27/18)
As President Donald Trump and corporate media outlets on Friday enthusiastically touted new GDP figures showing that the U.S. economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018, many economists and progressive commentators were quick to counter the glowing headlines by pointing out that corporations and the rich are feasting on most of the growth while workers see their wages fall.
“What the president won’t talk about is that there is slow—and even negative—growth in real wages adjusted for inflation. So if GDP is rising, but wages [are] falling, the money is going to the top,” Timothy McBride, a health economist at Washington University in St. Louis, noted in response to Trump’s celebratory speech on the White House lawn on Friday.
“You can’t eat GDP,” writer Dante Atkins added on Twitter. “GDP doesn’t pay the bills.”
“Any administration would tout a strong GDP report like today’s, but if it’s not reaching workers’ paychecks, which it isn’t, then cease the applause.”
As Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, observed in an analysis of the Commerce Department’s new numbers for the Washington Post, “in our era of high economic inequality, GDP should definitely not be taken as a signal of broad well-being. For that, we have to look at not just how ‘the economy’ is doing, but how all the people in the economy are doing.”
On Twitter, Bernstein pointed out that—even in the midst of steadily rising growth, record-breaking corporate profits, and lofty promises from Trump and GOP lawmakers—most workers are not seeing a noticable boost in their paychecks.
“Any administration would tout a strong GDP report like today’s, but if it’s not reaching workers’ paychecks, which it isn’t, then cease the applause and get to work on policy to reconnect growth to much more broadly-share prosperity,” he said.
More tax breaks for wealthy
News this week that the Republican Party is quickly moving ahead with their “tax cuts 2.0” plan—which would double-down on tax cuts for the rich and corporations—seems to suggest that Trump and the GOP are wholly uninterested in working to ensure that economic growth is distributed equitably.
“The new line from Republicans in Congress is that Americans are ‘better off’ because of last year’s tax cut, so we have to extend it,” Morris Pearl, a former managing director at Blackrock and chair of Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement. “Well, some Americans are better off—people like me who are wealthy enough to not need work—but most Americans are still struggling.”
While GDP growth may not be a good measure of workers’ well-being, it is a good indication that the wealthiest Americans are seeing their incomes climb, given that most of America’s economic growth in recent years—particularly after the 2008 Wall Street crash—has been hoarded by the top one percent.
In an analysis of recent economic trends on Thursday, New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall highlighted the “continued failure of wages to advance, despite job growth, while corporate profits shoot up to record levels.” …