Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Dose of Reality...

As usual, Robert Samuelson gives us some perspective on where we are economically. Using just released census data, he concludes:
For most Americans, living standards are increasing, albeit slowly, over any meaningful period. But rising health spending is eroding take-home pay, and immigrants are boosting both poverty and the lack of health insurance. Unless we control health spending and immigration, the economic report card will continue to disappoint. Unfortunately, neither Obama nor McCain seriously addresses these problems.
To clarify, I am not endorsing specific courses of action here (especially regarding immigration), but Samuelson's article is worth reading, although I'm not clear what he wants to do about immigration exactly when he talk about "controlling" it. He seems to be saying that illegal immigrants are skewing the numbers (i.e. making it look like our problems with wages and health care coverage are worse than they are because they're due to an influx of low wage workers, and don't accurately portray what's happening to the rest of us).

Meanwhile, looking at the same new census data, Brian Wesbury notes that good news:
Contrary to the often-repeated doom and gloom portrayal of the US economy – where workers are always working “harder and harder for less and less” – the report showed incomes have been rising, poverty remains low, and inequality shrunk dramatically in 2007.
Greg Mankiw notes the that the census data, even as positive as it is, paints a more negative picture of the economy than warranted.

If you're reading Samuelson, Wesbury, and Mankiw, you have a pretty good read on our economic situation.

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