The headline above describes how I feel about the glimmers of “evidence” being put forth by some economists and commentators that the Great Recession is starting to wind down and could be history by year-end.
All these signs that are noted as signs of hope are on the macroeconomic level, however. And while, literally, it may be true that two consecutive quarters of GDP growth mean we’re out of the recessionary woods, in this case the macro signals mean squat.
Flash to the ivory tower: The recession is very much alive at the micro level.
It just goes to show that you can use statistics to prove anything you want.
This is also playing out in the great debate over healthcare reform where the same statistics are often used to reach opposite conclusions.
Thus, one faction will emphasize that 85% of the population is covered by health insurance and there is no need–pressing or otherwise–to change a system where so many are covered.
The other side will respond with the fact that 15% of the population is around 47 million people who aren’t covered and that this kind of situation is untenable in a country like ours.
The response to this–and believe me I know because any time I mention the 47 million I get the same response–is that of course there are not 47 million people uninsured and that once you take out the illegal immigrants, the young people who can’t afford health insurance, the rich people who won’t buy health insurance and other assorted groups, you are left with around 2 or 3 million who are really uninsured.
(I didn’t really intend to get into the healthcare reform quagmire in this column, but there’s no avoiding it, it seems.)