Is the prosperity motor idling, anticipating some double clutching to shift back into gear, or have the pistons seized requiring us to undertake a massive overhaul of our economic engine?
On the one hand the markets are rallying, companies are earning record profits while sitting on nearly two trillion dollars in cash. Ninety percent of people who want to work have a job. Nearly eighty-six percent of Americans live above the poverty line. Eighty-three percent of Americans are covered by health insurance. Household income is up seven percent amongst our oldest citizens - those over 65 years of age. The top one percent of earners are accumulating wealth at unprecedented rates, amassing fortunes the likes of which have not been seen since the blossoming of the industrial age.
Looked at this way, the evidence suggests the economy is on the rebound - the economic engine is rumbling to life. However, there is another perspective.
Household income is falling for every age group, except those over 65 - the median annual household income is hovering below $50,000.00 and has not increased in inflation adjusted dollars in decades. The number of Americans without health insurance has reached an all-time high of over fifty million men, women and children. Over forty-three million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters live in poverty. Tens of millions are unemployed, while millions more have given up looking for gainful employment altogether. Families are struggling with record levels of personal debt while corporations and state and federal governments plumb new depths - borrowing from foreign powers to sustain untenable entitlement growth, fuel a culture of consumption and finance foreign wars.
It seems from this latter perspective our economy still remains stalled.
We have had lots of tinkering under the hood - financial bailouts, corporate bailouts, a massive stimulus package and the loosest monetary policy possible. The master mechanics cannot seem to clearly diagnose the problem nor can they determine a viable way to reignite the engine. Though the motor may not have completely seized, the reality is - the economic engine is idle. We are broken down at a crossroads.
The choices before us are to repair the motor as best we can and attempt to squeeze every last gasp of performance out of the dated design, or we can begin anew and rethink and retool the engine that drives prosperity - rebuild the economy from the ground up.
A new design is needed for America to return to prosperity. It is time to reengineer our economic engine to perform better - to produce results for more people with greater efficiency and increased effectiveness. Oil, consumerism, and finance are spent fuels. We need to realign our priorities and slow down. We must envision a new future - dream a grander dream. We must test and challenge ourselves to achieve greatness. Success is not a spectator sport. Do your part, contribute to the redesign - start your engine.
About the Author
Scott F. Paradis, author of "Promise and Potential: A Life of Wisdom, Courage, Strength and Will" http://www.promiseandpotential.com publishes "Insights" and a free weekly ezine, "Money, Power and the True Path to Prosperity". Subscribe now at http://www.c-achieve.com