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Economic Perspective

How bad is the current crisis?

While the media keeps reminding us of the bad news–which is one of its jobs–I keep reading stories that try to put our current economic woes into perspective. Here is a paragraph from an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal ("Where's the Outrage? Really. By Arthur C. Brooks.)

In some countries, a depressed economic climate means mass unemployment, political instability and large-scale deprivation. In America this decade, we have reached the point at which even in a down economy, our unemployment rate does not reach 6% (lower than the rates in Canada and the European Union, let alone those in the developing world). Any unwanted unemployment is terrible; but it is worth remembering that this stability especially benefits the economically vulnerable.

Furthermore, no matter what the state of our economy, we can realistically count on uninterrupted provision of critical public services, high business start-up rates, the world's highest levels of charitable giving and volunteering, and countless other benefits that come from living in a successful nation.

We may well be unsatisfied with the current state of affairs. Some Americans are suffering, and cannot be faulted for seeking substantial political change in the coming election. But most of us are reasonable people, and can see the difference between correctable problems within a strong system of democratic capitalism and the kind of catastrophic failure that justifies real outrage.

This reality should be a part of all our conversations about the current economic crisis–which is a crisis in some ways, and in some ways not.

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