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Treating the economy in the abstract

The AP has conducted a poll of Americans that shows that 80% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. You can read a summary of the findings at the HuffPo rag here, but I found this to be rather interesting:

People with lower incomes were more likely to frame the economic situation as their own “cost of living,” while wealthier people listed the economy more abstractly _ a sign that those hurting the most personalize the issue a bit more.

For two reasons this intrigues we — well, for two mostly: First, it seems that if you are actually ‘hurting’ due to an economic downturn, you tie it into your everyday subsistence. Your ‘cost of living’ is a concrete thing. If you are of more substantial means — that is, if you are not worrying about starving or being booted from your home or filling up your gas tank — the economy is something you view ‘abstractly’. Something that doesn’t really affect you, perhaps something you read about in the paper. Ok, clear enough. But the second thing is what is most interesting: those being hurt personalize the issue? As if this were anything other than an assault on their livelihood — don’t take it personally! AP, showing its condescension for those who take these things personally.

ETA: You’ve got to love this as well:

The survey reinforces the notion that consumers are particularly gloomy _ possibly more than economic statistics justify. Despite record energy costs, slumping stock prices and the housing and credit crunch, reports show the economy to be still growing, if slowly. Inflation and interest rates remain at relatively tame levels. And the unemployment rate is lower than it was during the past two recessions, in 1990 and 2001.

I’m not an economics reporter. I don’t write for the AP. But I know this is a load of horseshit. I mean, where do they get these people, and where do they get off giving this pep talk to consumers. Relatively tame levels of inflation! Inflation is rising, whether the AP wants to admit it, and it is rising most in the basic necessities. In fact, so is unemployment! Those two things are old news. And yet we’re being told that, golly gee, it’s not as bad as it was in 1990 and 2001? When the Fed raises interests rates to curb inflation, we’ll see whether it really is!

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