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American Living Standards Have Never Been Better

Gallup released a series of polls in the last few weeks that contradict the narrative that the US economy is performing poorly and that Capitalism isn’t working for everyone. This is a narrative that I have been trying to convince people of for much of the last 5 years. I’ve called this period of US economic growth the Era of Irrational Apathy because living standards have continued to increase, but the Financial Crisis and a handful of misconstrued media narratives have created the illusion that Americans are somehow worse off.

Now, in fairness, there’s no doubt that things could be better and that we still confront many problems. I believe that one of the greatest mistakes of the financial crisis was allowing ourselves to get scared into beliefs about high inflation thereby foregoing larger fiscal stimulus at a time when we really needed it coming out of the crisis. So yes, things could definitely be better. But that doesn’t mean the US economy and living standards more broadly, are not better. Here’s what the Gallup poll showed:

6 in 10 Americans say they’re better off financially than they were a year ago. This is an all-time high in the poll and at levels we last saw in 1999 during the tech boom.

Worries about the economy are also at all-time lows.

Perceptions of the labor market have never been better.

And speaking more broadly, 90% of Americans say they are satisfied with their personal lives.

There are always problems in the world and I think there are good arguments for reducing inequality and passing bigger social programs, but the broader narrative that Capitalism is failing us is blown out of proportion.