Economic growth has been increasing at a phenomenal rate; with the United States in the last quarter of 2013 reaching a point where there was a surplus, more money coming in in taxes than was being spent. Dr. Ben Bernanke, the then chairman of the Federal Reserve felt that it was growing too rapidly. Apparently complete economic recovery with a 6 ½ to 7 percent unemployment level does not really denote a healthy economy. This would mean that we have an excess surplus percentage of the population that exists within our so-called healthy economy.
The question is how can you have economic recovery with 6 ½% to 7 % of the population still actively looking for employment? And what about the group that has given up looking for work or those that are underemployed? While we don’t know the exact numbers of these people they could make up another 6 ½ to 7 percent, or for that matter, the number could be greater.
Can we truly have prosperity with 10 to 14 percent unemployment and underemployment? If we look at the statistics the amount of money available in the country, the GDP, has increased exponentially but the distribution of these massive funds have been and are in the process of changing with a greater and greater percentage going to the upper echelon of society and a smaller and smaller percentage going to everyone else. General wages have essentially stayed the same or risen very slowly with prices rising at a slightly more rapid rate. People are finding that their incomes, which may be slowly rising, are buying less and less each year. This situation is reminiscent of the 16th Century when inflation existed for a 90 year period. Wages remained essentially the same but the value of money, which was gold coins at that time continually decreased in value; that is, every year it bought less.
The 16th Century was the time that Spain looted the gold supply from the New World, the Americas, and yearly brought to Europe shiploads of gold that were almost immediately turned into coins and circulated throughout the continent. As the amount of gold in circulation rose the value of the money dropped. A small group became fabulously wealthy while the rest of society suffered without having an inkling of what was causing their misery.
We are essentially in the same position today. A small group, the upper earning percentage of the population of the United States, is seeing their incomes explode while the bulk of the population is being pushed slowly economically downhill. The country is recovering, both from the Real Estate Debacle of 2008 in terms of the amount of currency in circulation and seeing a growth of funds beyond that point, but the distribution of those dollars is giving that money to the upper echelon with a fractional increase to the general population and the high unemployment level continuing.
This is a scary scenario for the welfare of the country. We have more money available in the general society but a goodly number of people are excluded from any part of it. The minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour and we still have unacceptable levels of unemployment throughout the country. As a note of irony we have couples working in the U.S. at the minimum wage level and still having to apply and receive Government aid in order to survive with a family of four.
The country seems to be returning to prosperity and misery at the same time. Recovery would be better at a slower pace with unemployment decreasing as economic recovery is increasing. Massive changes are necessary if overall economic health is to come about.
We are currently living in a society where the bulk of the population has no real understanding of economics. They see everything in terms of their household budgets. They see the government spending money it supposedly does not have, therefore throwing the country deeper and deeper into debt.
This, common sense approach, is all nonsense. Most people still think of money as gold. This is untrue. There is nothing behind the dollar but the word of the government. It prints and issues money as needed. It also, through it many agencies like Social Security and Medicare and otherwise owns at least fifty percent of its own debt. In 2013 the Federal Reserve turned over, well over seventy billion dollars to the Treasury. Most, if not all of this, was interest from the National Debt which the Federal Government owes and owns.
Recovery would be better at a slower pace, but whether or not it occurs, changes are necessary if massive economic health is to come about. We have to decide whether all people have a right to a minimum level of economic functionality or if one group deserves to have all the benefits that society can provide and the rest deserve to persist as best they can. Actually if nothing is done the latter will occur.
Today money is a tool of the Federal Government used to effect economic health within the society. There is no gold behind the dollar. The Government prints what is needed for the society to function. Its value is based upon the word of the Central Government. The amount in circulation in the United States is controlled by the debt limit which is set by Congress.
Also the amount of money in circulation is determined by an inflation factor. If there is too much money available, more money than goods and services available, then the value of the money decreases. If, on the other hand, there is too little cash circulating in the general society then the value of the money increases and deflation occurs. The Federal Reserve monitors this and attempts to keep a proper balance.
To the individual, the members of Congress, money has value. It provides for their and their family’s needs. If the members of Congress apply this position to National Expenditures then they are actually shrinking the economy and exacerbating negative conditions, tightening government spending and adding to unemployment.
It is an interesting conundrum. Applying “common sense” family budgetary rules to the running of the United States could possibly bring about a recession or depression.
The basic principle, which is a hard one to comprehend and accept, is that consumption is as important as production. Without consumption there is no need for production. By allowing an ever increasing majority of the National Income to go to the upper percentage of the population there is less and less money available to the rest of the population. Consequently the amount of goods and service they can consume is continually decreasing. The system is working against itself.
Are we having real economic prosperity or is the country working toward economic disaster? An interesting question!