Are we better off than we were four years ago? | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Are we better off than we were four years ago?

Posted: September 27, 2012 - 4:43pm

A campaign question from the Reagan-Carter era has been popping up on the national political scene this year as the Obama-Romney campaign swings into high gear. That question: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

Provoked mainly by the Romney-Ryan camp, the question is being posed from every angle on every media. So, the question is, are we better off than we were four years ago?

Yes, to some degree we are. We are no longer facing 10 to 12 percent unemployment, it’s now at 8.1 percent. General Motors (GM) has been pulled out of the pit it had dug and thousands of GM workers are cranking out 2013 model vehicles. Wall Street has survived one of its worst downturns since the Great Depression. The nation’s housing market is seeing signs of recovery, with the surge in sales of existing homes and a slight uptick in new home starts. Banks are generally in good condition, but getting a loan is more difficult than it was four years ago.

In those areas, we are better off than we were four years ago when we were heading into one of the bleakest economic downturns in our nation’s history.

However, not everyone is going to agree that we are better off than we were four years ago, when President Obama was swept into office.

The U.S. went from No. 1 in global competitiveness in 2008-09 to No. 7 in 2011-12. The average cost of college tuition increased from $6,591 in 2009 to $8,244 in 2012. The price of gasoline skyrocketed from $1.85-per-gallon in 2009 to $3.86-per-gallon in 2012. The Obama administration has added 11,327 new pages of government regulations. In addition, the federal debt has ballooned from $10.6 trillion in 2009 to $16.06 trillion in 2012.

One disheartening bit of news was released on Thursday, Sept. 27: “The third reading on Q2 GDP just came out and the report was ugly,” according to Business Insider. “The headline growth number was revised down to 1.3 percent on an annualized basis. Economists expected the number to be unchanged at 1.7 percent.”

Worldwide, something that we Americans now have to consider as part of the new world order, the head of the International Monetary Fund called on government leaders in Europe and the United States to take urgent action in dealing with a faltering global economy. “This time we need a sustained rebound, not a bounce,” said IMF Chief Christine Legarde.

I guess it’s up to each of us to decide whether we’re better off now than we were four years ago.

Keith Hansen