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A whole bunch of Americans are not living in reality

A recent Harris poll indicates:

  • 55% of Americans believe the economy is shrinking, and 56% think the US is experiencing a recession, even though the broadest measure of the economy – gross domestic product (GDP) – has been steadily growing and outpacing most other developed nations.

  • 49% of Americans believe the S&P 500 stock market index is down for the year, though the index went up about 24% in 2023 and is up more than 12% this year.

  • 49% of Americans believe that unemployment is at a 50-year high, though the rate has been under 4% for more than two years —near a 50-year low.

  • The vast majority of respondents, 72%, indicated they think inflation is increasing. In reality, the rate of inflation has fallen sharply from its post-pandemic peak of 9.1% and has been fluctuating between 3% and 4% per year.

In comparison to other nations, the United States is doing exceptionally well in this post-pandemic world, recovering faster and broader than almost every other comparable country.

Despite all of these incontrovertible facts and undeniable data, about half of Americans believe the opposite is true.

Are they trapped in a media bubble that serves them constant lies?

Are they tragically incurious and willfully ignorant about the economic realities that govern our country?

Are they sad-sack pessimists who simply assume the world is falling apart?

Are they blindly assuming that their own financial struggles apply to everyone else?

Are they just plain stupid?

I don’t know. Probably some combination of the above, with other rationales I have yet to consider.

But the burning question I have is this:

If faced with this incontrovertible, undeniable economic data, would these ignorant Americans be willing to change their minds and revise their thinking about the economic state of our nation, or would they simply find a way to say, “Yeah, but…” and continue to believe in things abjectly false?

I fear the latter.