I'd like to suggest a metric besides GDP or the stock market or whatever else warms the cockles of Daddy Warbucks' heart: food insecurity.
The most troubling thing is that last bit about how food insecurity has been rising for the last few years. (Gee, five consecutive years of more and more people not having enough food? You'd almost think something happened five years ago, something not good . . . .) Add to that the fact that Americans are spending less of their incomes on food than ever, and you see this is not a sign of an economy that's lifting all boats.
BOSTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- At least 38 million U.S. citizens can't count on having enough food throughout the year -- and Tufts University scientists say the number is increasing.
The Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture announced in October that household food insecurity increased last year 2004.
Assistant Professor Parke Wilde of the university's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy said, "This increase represents the largest one-year jump since data collection began in 1995." Wilde, a food economist, tracks household food insecurity, food stamps, and related measures of hunger.
The percentage of U.S. households classified as food insecure rose from 11.2 percent in 2003 to 11.9 percent in 2004. While that one-year increase might not seem like a lot, it represents the fifth consecutive year of worsening food insecurity.
I know, this sounds like your typical anti-Bush post: don't like the good news, go find some bad news. Of course I like the good news; I'd rather have the usual indicators going up instead of down. But this is a case where the bad news is real bad. We're not talking about buying a bigger TV for junior's room, we're talking about putting food on the table. Can we really say the economy is improving when more and more Americans are struggling just to get enough to eat?
(By the way, even though it doesn't really fit, I had to use that post title. It's a line from an old British rock song that I like a lot, and the number of days left in 2005 for me to use it is dwindling. Can you name the song?)
Update: Thanks to some friendly prodding by reader Tokyo Joe, I did some more searching for the above-mentioned research paper. You can't get it from the journal in which the paper was published, but you can get it for free from the USDA. Yes, I am an idiot.