Phil Grant’s gushing — and disturbing — praise of Donald Trump’s “pro-growth economic” policies (“Why growth in GDP? It’s President Trump’s policies, July 25) focuses primarily on the gross domestic product (GDP). He contends that these policies have led to a rejuvenated economy, unlike those of his bête noire, President Obama.
Cited are the Dec. 22, 2017, Trump tax overhaul, reduction of “burdensome [business] regulations,” streamlined government operations and more oil and gas drilling operations — and more. The result is a “greater distribution of working funds” leading to a higher GDP and minimal inflation. A wonderful picture — only it lacks context.
What is disturbing is the indifference of his piece as to how Trump’s purposefully bigoted, divisive political and social policies, if such gutter-like actions can be characterized as policies, are contributing to an increasingly dangerous deterioration of America’s political, social and economic matrix. That matrix binds us together; it helps distinguish us as Americans — not the cold, statistical unfeelingness of the “GDP.”
The GDP, adjusted for inflation, is the sum of the market values or prices of all final goods and services for the year. But what Grant’s tome overlooks is what the GDP leaves out, things like unofficial income sources (the black market, volunteer work, household income) and the profits of foreign nations, which are subtracted from the GDP. Most importantly, it ignores the overall well-being of the nation.
Our well-being means contending with the costs of the negative environmental impacts of businesses (see oil extraction industry), income disparity, underemployment, unemployment, those who have given up seeking work, those robotized out of jobs, an economic picture aggravated by persistent racism. Then there is the cost of millions of our fellow citizens having little or no health insurance. These unresolved societal issues, worsened by the high-tech age, grind away our sense of well-being and millions are denied an equal opportunity to participate in achieving the freedom presented by our Constitution.
But Grant implies that only “leftists” or “socialists” question the wonders of the economy under Trump. And we are admonished that the sirens of the “leftist media can mess it all up…” with their “false narratives.” Really?
According to Grant, Trump’s economic policies have uniquely bested anything Obama accomplished, totally ignoring (as Trump does) that the economy has been growing ever since 2010, with the GDP even reaching 2.9 percent growth in 2015 and 2018 (GDP statistics can be found in Statistas, a leading provider of market data). All this made possible solely by the latest reiteration of “trickle-down economics,” i.e. Trumponomics.
Finally, that income disparity is growing is highlighted by a recent analysis of a Federal Reserve report. Over the past 30 years, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their net worth grow $21 trillion while that of the bottom 50 percent of Americans decreased by $900 billion (New York Times, June 24.) $21 trillion? Now we’re talking a figure the size of our national debt!
Great GDP? Context, context!
John Bradford of Orland served four terms as a state representative in Massachusetts (1985-1992) and as administrative judge for the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (1992-1997). He is now a former Republican.