For­get The Dow Jones, How’s Doug Jones?

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - OPINION - Jim Hightower

The stock mar­ket is owned by the rich. It tells you lit­tle about how or­di­nary Amer­i­cans are do­ing.

Lan­guage mat­ters. For ex­am­ple, the words that cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials use to re­port on the health of Amer­ica’s econ­omy can ei­ther make clear to us com­mon­ers what’s go­ing on — or hide and even lie about the re­al­ity we face.

Con­sider the most com­mon mea­sure­ment used by of­fi­cials and the me­dia to tell us whether our econ­omy is zoom­ing or sput­ter­ing: Wall Street’s in­dex of stock prices. The me­dia lit­er­ally spews out the Dow Jones Av­er­age of stock prices ev­ery hour — as though ev­ery­one is wait­ing breath­lessly for that up­date.

The thing is, nearly all stock is owned by the rich­est 10 per­cent of Amer­i­cans. So the Dow Jones Av­er­age says noth­ing about eco­nomic con­di­tions for 90 per­cent of us.

For the true eco­nomic health of Amer­ica as a whole, we need to know what I call the Doug Jones Av­er­age. How are your av­er­age Doug and Dolores do­ing?

As we’ve seen, stock prices keep ris­ing to new highs. But wages and liv­ing stan­dards for the mid­dle class and poor ma­jor­ity have been held down by the same cor­po­rate and po­lit­i­cal “lead­ers” telling us to keep our eye on the Dow.

To dis­guise this de­cline, they play an­other dirty lan­guage trick on us when they is­sue the monthly un­em­ploy­ment re­port. Cur­rently, with the un­em­ploy­ment rate down to 4 per­cent, they tell us Amer­ica’s job mar­ket is boom­ing.

But that only re­flects the num­ber of jobs, not the dol­lar value of those jobs in terms of wages and ben­e­fits. Hav­ing lots of peo­ple do­ing poorly paid work is hardly a healthy job mar­ket.

No­tice that they don’t mea­sure the stock mar­ket by the num­ber of stocks out there, but by their value. They should mea­sure our job mar­ket the same way.

Of course, they’d only do that if they gave a fig about all of us Dougs and Dolore­ses. And that speaks vol­umes about their bias for stock-own­ing elites.

OTHERWORDS COLUM­NIST JIM HIGHTOWER IS A RA­DIO COM­MEN­TA­TOR, WRITER AND PUB­LIC SPEAKER. HE’S ALSO EDI­TOR OF THE POP­ULIST NEWS­LET­TER, THE HIGHTOWER LOW­DOWN. THE OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR.

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