How Strong is the U.S. Economy? It depends on your understanding of what “Success” means!

How Strong is the Economy? The answer depends on how you measure success.
This is an essay as a follow up to the recent cover story titled “Riding high: The lessons from America’s astonishing economic record.” in the Economist magazine.

The Economy is not measured only by GDP or the glittering electric cars driven in either coasts. It is driven by the wellbeing of a society using the resources of nature for a better livng. Having promoted “Global Economy” for the past four decades, now there is glorification of national economies. This by itself is a failure of the analysis. It is is this revulsion to “national” preservation that left the global population exposed to the global Covid pandemic! Imagine a world constrained to local economic activiies within their national borders of the early 20th century. There would have been so little global travel and avoidance of such rapid spreading of the disease. This single evidence alone suggests the flaw in analyzing and extolling individual nations and their economic success in isolatetion.

Following is a passage from the famous play “Merchant of Venice” by Shekespeare. “Although Bassanio has arrived back in Venice and offers to repay Antonio’s debt twice over, Shylock demands nothing less than his full legal rights.  The Duke is stalling for time when a young lawyer, “Balthasar” (Portia in disguise), arrives with Nerissa (also disguised) acting as her clerk.  When their appeals to Shylock’s mercy fail, Antonio’s fate seems sealed and Shylock prepares to make the fatal incision.  Suddenly, however, Balthasar/Portia stops him, pointing out that although he is entitled to a pound of flesh he may not shed a drop of blood while obtaining it.   Stunned by the use of the legal technicality, Shylock agrees to take the money after all.  But the judgment is not complete:  Balthasar/Portia also informs him that, as an alien attempting to take the life of a Venetian, he faces the death penalty”

Measuring economic success in terms of GDP is like Shylock seeking his wealth in gold! Economic success – a measure of economic wellbeing – does not come only in terms of share holder benefits (i.e.) GDP. Like the “drop of blood”, economic success also comes from the economic wellbeing of the citizens of the nation and indeed that of the global population in this “global economy”. Glorifying GDP alone as a measure of success is a disservice. Anyone promoting such wrng narrative such as the Economist and NYT should be held accountable and demanded for conversion of their views, for larger common good?

The NYT essay does point out these broader measures of the “Economy”: “When you look at broad measures of well-being, the U.S. stops looking so good. We have the lowest life expectancy of any high-income country, a relatively recent development. Americans have uniquely poor access to health insurance and paid parental leave. Surveys show that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the country’s direction.

We have repeatedly described the evolving “Binary Economy” since the late 1970s.

Any nation that fails to address this “Collapsing middle”, a natural outcome of the BINARY ECONOMY can never claim to be an economic success, no matter how high the GDP. This is not a Republican or Democratic point of view. It is not a liberal or conservative point of view either. It is solely based on three measures of good living for any human being.
The first is the rapidly falling GDP for the “middle class” and their being driven to poverty. Need evidence? Just stand outside the sprawling soup kitchens! You will see people in a stream of shiny looking cars drive by to pick up free food donated at these soup kitchens in the heartland of American Economy (i.e.) Silicon Valley in CA.
Second measure of economic wellbeing is the social wellbeing! Being shot at – leading to death – simply because one stepped into a wrong door in the neighborhood may be due a reflection of racial fear as much as a built up anger for loosing economic standards (GDP) and their way of life.
Third and finally, in the Shakepeare’s story, Shylock was not just greedy. He lacked an Emotional intellegence, a genuine desire to care for the nedy, being the neighbor’s keeper. Any society or economy that does not promote that – which one can identify as “Spirituality in Practice” – can never claim to be a success, no matter how high the national GDP!