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Economy: Roaring or Limping? You Make the Call

by Christopher Chantrill
April 28, 2006 at 11:32 am

WITH THE DEPARTMENT of Commerce expected to announce a 5.0 percent annual growth rate for the first quarter the New York Times was worried this morning. Wrote David Leonardt and Vikas Bajaj

Gas prices are rising, as are mortgage rates. House prices in many once-hot markets have started slipping. The American automobile industry shows no sign of recovery. And the paychecks of most workers have not even kept up with inflation over the last four years.

Yet the national economy continues to speed ahead.

What on earth is going on? Well, it turned out that the Commerce Department reported a mere 4.8 percent annual growth in the first quarter of 2006, 0.2 percent less than the forecast. No doubt the shortfall was President Bush’s fault. You can understand the New York Times’ disappointment. Anyway, the rich are doing well.

Spending by upper-income families appears to be driving much of the economy's growth. The average hourly wage for rank-and-file workers — who make up roughly 80 percent of the work force — has fallen by 5 cents in the last four years, to $16.49, after inflation is taken into account. Yet most well-paid workers have continued to receive raises.

You’d expect Larry Kudlow to look on the bright side, and he does.

Today’s economy may be the greatest story never told. It’s an American boom, spurred by lower tax rates, huge profits, big productivity, plentiful jobs, and an ongoing free-market capitalist resiliency. It’s also a global boom, marked by a spread of free-market capitalism like we’ve never seen before.

So let’s pull out all the stops.

Recent data on production, retail sales, and employment are stronger than expected. The latest durable-goods report shows huge gains in orders for big-ticket items like airplanes, transportation, metals, machinery, and computers — even cars and parts. These orders suggest that the economic boom will continue as far as the eye can see... Just what the doctor ordered.

Will angst about gas prices cost Republicans in the Fall? Who knows? But at least the mess over ethanol shortages should force the government to make some sensible decisions about energy. And maybe we could even dip a drilling bit into the sacred groves of ANWR.

“Let free markets work. This is the new worldwide message of freedom, prosperity, and optimism.” That is also the message from Larry Kudlow. New York Times please copy.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill