Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 14. Sunrise is 7:16 AM and sunset 4:57 PM for 9h 40m 23s of daytime. The moon is waning gibbous with 70.8% of its visible disk illuminated.
How does a community measure economic success? True economic success comes from widespread gains in individual and household incomes. An economy might seem good nationally, but yet at the national or local level those nattional gains mean nothing without widespead uplift to families. That’s why, in a post about The Booming National Economy, I wrote that the
level of disposable personal income is a notable and critical national deficiency in an otherwise strong performance. Whitewater knows this well, as this city has been and remains a low-income community. There is no better measure of a society’s general prosperity than individual and household income.
It’s to the credit of the New York Times editorial board that, rather than simply endorse our present economy to support a president they’ve endorsed, they point out the deficiency of America’s present economic gains:
Measured by the value of the wages that workers take home, which this board regards as the most important metric for assessing the health of the American economy, President Biden’s first year in office was not a very good year.
The dollar figures on workers’ paychecks rose handsomely over the past 12 months. But for most workers, that wasn’t enough to keep pace with the highest inflation in several decades, which eroded the value of each of those dollars.
The purchasing power of the average worker’s weekly pay declined by 2.3 percent from December 2020 to December 2021. Data for the final 20 days of Mr. Biden’s first year, not available yet, is unlikely to improve that picture.
The White House finds itself in the position of a physician who has administered a successful course of treatment but who has neglected to prepare the patient for the side effects or to give the timeline for a full recovery. A lot of pain was averted, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that didn’t happen. The economic outlook is strong, but it’s hard to feel gratitude for things that haven’t happened yet. Right now, the pain of inflation is front and center for most.
The challenge now is to bring inflation back under control without undermining the economic recovery. The work will mostly be done by the Federal Reserve, not by Mr. Biden or his administration. The role of presidents in shaping the nation’s economic fortunes is generally overstated. But if the government can complete the work it has begun, this administration may yet deserve the victory laps it is taking for successful stewardship of the nation’s economy.
The discomforting truth is that the United States last year faced a choice between a protracted period of economic pain and an economic recovery whose benefits are temporarily attenuated by high inflation. Mr. Biden made the right choice. But it came at a real price — economically, for the nation, and politically, for him.
The Times might have avoided the subject of inflation and household income to please center-left readers. It’s much to the editorial board’s credit that they did not.
Whitewater has a large number of struggling families, but a tiny class of officials who ignore actual conditions for approaches of boosterism (accentuating the positive for development purposes) or positivity (accentuating the positive for its own sake). The city government now has a half-hearted policy of boosterism, and the school district one of fervent positivity.
The simpler way of describing these approaches would be as talking about anything except the meaningful truth.