Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

The economy is sliding backward, not moving forward

In recent days there has been much talk of the presidential debates. We are preoccupied with relatively trivial perceptions of who "won" or "lost." There has also been endless discussion of whose policy proposals are better. Rather than entertain these meaningless debates, however, we would do better to look at our track record as a nation in comparison to other nations. I bring this up because in 2008 too many of us were blinded by "American exceptionalism" to realize that the recession that we suffered was global in its reach and not isolated to the U.S.

All of the research has already been done for us, via the CIA World Fact Book. The chart for 2011 shows our GDP growth at 1.5 percent, which tied us with nine other countries, including Lebanon, Bahrain, Thailand and Cuba. One hundred fifty-three countries out of 214 enjoyed better growth than we did (14 more used data from prior years).

Included in the countries that grew at a faster rate than us are Mexico (3.8 percent), Kosovo and Kenya (both at 5.3 percent), and Afghanistan (7.1 percent).

Now, one may argue that developing nations (Mexico excepted) have nowhere to go but up. But France, Germany and Switzerland, (to name a few "old economies") have also fared better than we have. With unemployment in 2011, we were tied with France at 96th out of 199, at an average rate of 9.1 percent. Interestingly, Mexico was at 5.1 percent.

In 2010, we ranked 54th out of 97 countries with a GDP growth rate of 2.8 percent. (Mexico outshined us at 5 percent.) Growth-wise, we are trending backward, not forward.

Debt-wise, we are spiraling down the "rabbit-hole." In light of this, when an unemployment figure of 7.8 percent is spun as "good news," American exceptionalism is truly dead. It has been replaced with mass delusion.

To be back where we were four years ago is not progress, and it is not "good news." As the economist Benjamin Ola Akande wrote to President Obama in the beginning of 2009, "Hope is not a strategy."

Unfortunately, with ever-increasing debt, coupled with two credit downgrades, and economic growth shrinking to a near-standstill, "forward" has become nothing more than a platitude supporting the delusion. Rhetoric aside, the actual metrics indicate we need a change in leadership.

Bill Paparounis, Parkville

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Free community college is a bad idea

    Free community college is a bad idea

    Free community college is another poorly thought idea from President Barack Obama ("Obama turns populist in State of the Union speech," Jan. 21). Am I against opening up the opportunity for many who cannot afford college? Absolutely not, but here is my concern. We already require K-12 education...

  • It's not the size of the government that's the problem

    It's not the size of the government that's the problem

    Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They're wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

  • If the economy isn't as rosy as it should be, blame the GOP [Letter]

    If the economy isn't as rosy as it should be, blame the GOP [Letter]

    Commentator Peter Morici's recent column on President Barack Obama's job numbers is a real flight of fancy ("The economy under Obama is not as rosy as numbers suggest," Oct. 7).

  • How Republicans are ruining America

    How Republicans are ruining America

    On the national level, the cost of citizens not voting is quickly becoming apparent. Economically, the seeds of the next recession have been sown by the Republican weakening of financial controls so once again the greedy of Wall Street can gamble on dangerous financial derivatives with failure...

  • Regulate the banks

    Regulate the banks

    Dan Rodricks' recent column attributing amnesia to our Congress and president for dispensing with the requirement that big banks refrain from making risky investments with taxpayers' deposits was right on target ("For too many in Washington, a phantom recession," Dec. 21).

  • Milking the rich is not a solution

    Milking the rich is not a solution

    I was saddened and disappointed to read The Sun's editorial regarding President Barack Obama's State of the Union address ("Mr. Obama's tax plan," Jan. 21).

  • Mr. Obama's tax plan

    Mr. Obama's tax plan

    It's a pretty safe bet that Congress is not going to react to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address by immediately turning around and agreeing to his priorities like free community college and mandatory sick leave. When was the last time any presidential initiative got that kind of...

  • Obama's middle class 'help' is useless

    Obama's middle class 'help' is useless

    All we hear from President Barack Obama is that he is for the middle class. Well, I consider myself middle class. I am a retired homeowner, so let's see how this pans out for me.