Do you feel our economy is in recession?
Millions of Americans do. I saw one recent poll that claimed 28 percent of us believe the national economy is in recession.
One columnist from SmartMoney.com says he saw a poll that reckoned a majority of Americans feel we are in recession. I Googled around to find that poll. Without success. I did find the one I mention above.
I have a question for you.
Before I ask it, a word about recession. We are not in a recession. We have not been in one. We have not been close to a recession for years. We are not close to one now. Our economy has been booming. Our unemployment rate is way down. Average income for Americans is rising. Consumer spending has been strong.
Beyond that, the economy shrugged off recession and 9/11 in short order. That alone showed that we have an incredibly healthy economy. The 9/11 disaster sapped the economy with hundreds of billions of losses. Yet the economy rose above it.
Further evidence of health in the economy: Huge new jobs numbers. Huge surges of money flowing into Washington. Shrinking of our deficit. Big growth in the stock market. And even though the housing bubble popped, the economy continued to expand.
Now my question.
Why do you suppose nearly 30 percent of Americans feel we are in recession? Many millions more feel the economy - at best - is lackluster. Why do so many feel this way? When the truth is otherwise. And factual evidence is everywhere that the economy is healthy.
Here is a clue: Researchers at the Federal Reserve studied print media. They looked for the use of the word “recession.” They found it appeared most often after, after, after recessions were over. It appeared more often when the economy was improving.
The researchers found the New York Times used the word “recession” more often than other papers. Especially when the president was Republican.
I doubt whether CNN and the big three network news programming is any different. Mainstream media types cannot bear to give any credit to a Republican’s handling of the economy. Let’s put it another way. They cannot bear to praise our economy’s performance when there is a Republican in the White House.
Where do most folks learn about our economy? Do they pore over reports from economists? Do they read analysis from the Federal Reserve? Do they read Forbes Magazine? Or Investor’s Business Daily, or the Wall Street Journal?
No. Most folks learn about their economy from their daily paper or tv or radio news. Or they learn from people who get their news from these sources.
That news is biased. Slanted. Certainly not objective. Yet it is what most of us feed upon.
When Americans were asked about their own financial situation, almost 80 percent said “Excellent.” Yet most of the same folks felt the economy was anything but. They don’t get the news about their own situation from mainstream media. When it comes to their economy, they do.
The situation runs parallel in many ways to the global warming panic. Huge majorities of Americans feel we have a calamity on our hands. Majorities feel we have created a warming crisis with our cars and industry.
Yet thousands of scientists scoff at these ideas. More step forward week by week to denounce the calamity as pseudo-science or junk science. Many explain that the culprit in any warming is not us, but the Sun. As it has done in the past, it is gradually warming us - and other planets.
So why do so many Americans feel the debate is closed? Here is a clue: Researchers find our mass media barely cover the scoffers. They run wall-to-wall stories from the calamity crowd. They mostly ignore studies and opinions from scientists who disagree.
Most of us don’t read books or scientific treatises on the subject. We rely on mass media for our global warming news. And our economic news.
Is it any wonder so many of us see both of these in gloomy light?
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.