In 2011 I Said...
My Autumnal Equinox missive (!) in 2011 contained a “promise” that things would be getting worse rather than better. For the last two years the US economy has been showing what economists believe to be signs of recovery after the massive recession of 2009. Some people will look as numbers like the declining unemployment percent and see the cup half full with hope for the future. A few other standard measures of economic growth have been slightly on the positive side of MEH. On the face of it it seems hardly the case that things have gotten worse. At worst you could say the economic situation hasn't gotten worse even if it is only bumping along.
What we are calling better or worse, of course, is the health of an economy as gaged by its growth rate. For me that is a poor attribute to measure since it is unbridled growth that has caused this condition of malaise in the first place.
Regardless, I have to take pause and ponder my claim in 2011. Was I right or wrong?
Are things in general worse today than they were in fall 2011? If the US economy growth rate is the standard by which we will judge then it is clear that we are not worse off. But neither are we particularly better off. Still, is the US economy the standard to use? What about the Chinese economy? For the last decade the economic growth of China has been the great hope for the global economy. Significantly high (double digit) growth in their economy would compensate for the sluggish growth (or even the decline) in certain other countries and regions. China was consuming and buying so that helped keep our heads above water.
There are other qualities of life that might serve better as standards for saying whether we are better or worse off. How about the health of our various institutions like government, education, financial institutions? How about the health of people, their physical and mental well being? What about the health of families and communities? Are these showing signs of being better today than in 2011?
As per my last post on the refugee crisis in Europe I think I am seeing a steady decline in living standards around the world. MENA is exploding. Several European Union members are still in serious financial trouble with no apparent way out. Many parts of Africa and the Arctic circle regions are suffering major climate catastrophes. Even the US has been getting its share of climate-related problems.
Readers are invited to weigh in on the question: Are we better off, the same, or worse off overall today compared with 2011? This is essentially asking: Is the world system better off (meaning stable with people generally leading more fulfilling lives), the same (meaning just some kind of stability), or worse off (meaning every subsystem including the human social system) from 2011 to now? Think about it and share your thoughts. But really do think about it before answering. Many of us have invested a lot of emotional energy into the situation and have some already formed opinions. What I am asking is for you to really weigh the evidence you can bring to bear and give a reasoned opinion.
Meanwhile, try to enjoy the changing seasons. I've been harvesting and starting some general clean up of my gardens. I get a great deal of joy from the food harvest. And the clean up work is good for my body and the that of the garden. It is something to enjoy.