Explain this to me, if you can. Why is it that we, the people, know how bad the economy is, yet it seems our politicians and those big government think tanks don’t seem to know it? Rather, why is it they keep saying things are getting better when there’s really no visible signs of it happening?

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department said that the GDP, gross domestic product, had gone up, but not at the rate they’d previously said it had. Instead of going up 3.5% it actually only went up 2.8% in the last quarter.

Before we go on, let’s look at the brief definition of what GDP is from the website I linked to above:

The total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports.”

This report is based on what’s being made and what’s being sold. It’s a very global number, which means it includes the real estate market, food, and of course flat screen TV’s. After all, we’ve all been reading how there’s going to be a price war on flat screen TV’s this season. What it doesn’t seem to drill down to, although I’m sure somewhere along the line it does, is that the cost of everything has gone up drastically from last year.

Even a 2.8% growth in the quarter could mean that people purchased less stuff, but that stuff just cost more. Last year at this time, the price of gasoline was under $2.00 in my area; now it’s sitting around $2.75, and everyone still needs gas. A carton of large eggs was around 99 cents; now it’s around $1.50. Even bread last year was around $1.79, now it’s $3.19.

How many of us know someone who’s lost their job and is still looking, or has had to find something that pays a lot less? Even consulting opportunities are down for a lot of reasons. Other businesses start to suffer when people can’t earn a living, especially retail. And we’re heading into another holiday season where retail is hoping that consumers will come ready to buy, even though more of them are out of work.

Why is the government working so hard to try to make us believe things we don’t believe? Why don’t they see what we see? The Labor Department came out with its survey on Wednesday saying that unemployment claims have gone down. They didn’t say it’s because there are fewer workers who can still be losing their jobs. The report never mentions how many people have dropped off the rolls at the limit of receiving unemployment benefits, and those people aren’t counted anymore, yet are still unemployed. In the same breath, by the way, they also predict that the unemployment rate will rise to at least 10.5% by next summer; aren’t those conflicting numbers?

I want good news as much as anyone else, but we’re not in a good way. Grasping at every economic straw pointing to a potential upswing in the economy then posting negative news alternatively doesn’t help. We need to hit the low point first before we can say we’re truly going. And we haven’t hit that yet in either unemployment, housing, or credit status. We still have large companies that received bailout money that are struggling and might not make it.

Give it some time. We will have a recovery if we can figure out a way to create jobs that pay a nice living wage. Then the country will have an opportunity to grow again, and you’ll see some real consumer confidence. I might even buy one of those TV’s then.

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