Every time I hear someone utter the words "the economy is bad," I get an intense and nervous urge to slap someone. Reality check, please. If you put things into perspective I think it's quite clear that the economy is still in relatively good shape, albeit true that we have myriad issues facing us in today's economic climate; such as the subprime disaster, lowered consumer confidence, falling markets, and ever-rising oil and heating costs. We have a big mess to sift through right now.
Still, unemployment hovers only slightly above 5%, inflation remains around 3%, and mortgage rates which although did see new highs in the past couple of years have fallen back down. Today you can get a 30-year fixed mortgage for less than 6%, and that number still may go lower as mortgage rates catch up to the recent cuts made by the FOMC to the overnight lending rates between banks.
Consider that in the years of the Great Depression it was the basic amenities which people could not afford, like food and clothing. The jobless rate then was a staggering nearly 33%. Many of America's poorest cities had as high as 50% unemployment. Not a single person in today's generation, nor many of the baby-boomers, can truly relate to the absolute destitution and despair that people experienced during that ten-year span. If you take a really hard look at where the US economy is today, and you look at the historical data, it is clear that we have made an astounding recovery, and that times are not nearly as tough nor as bad as they can be, and have been in the past.
Today people complain when they have to cut back on things like the Big Mac, or Netflix. They have cable, cell phones, a TV in every room, home computers and laptops, 2,000 square foot homes and the Wii. The list, of course, goes on.
We have no room to complain. We can relieve ourselves of many of our literal self-inflicted financial woes.
Of course we want the best for ourselves and for our children. Of course we want the rewards to compensate for the tedious daily grind. There is nothing wrong with that. But we cannot kid ourselves that we are living in bad times, or that there is something wrong with the economy. The simple fact of the matter is that we, as a people, have become complacent. We have become unappreciative and materialistic. Frankly, we've become confused about what is and what is not necessary to get on to the next day of our lives. Furthermore, we simply expect too much, too soon.
Consider as well that it was the result of massive deficits and the beginnings of World War II that finally ended the US's longest depression in history. And back then there was no talk whatsoever about a "rebate" check from Uncle Sam to go out and buy more stuff you don't need to survive. Perhaps back then a check from Uncle Sam to buy a much needed loaf of bread might have been more in order.