Monday, February 4, 2008

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

I noticed in the Washington Post today that pessimism about the economy is at its highest in 17 years. However, I can't help wondering how much of this sentiment reflects real weakness in the economy and how much is a reaction to the news media's endless predictions of DOOM! If you tell people ghost stories for long enough, eventually they'll get scared, and we've been telling some wicked ghost stories.

Every day we're served up a feast of statistics cataloging the latest terrifying trends. It's messing up the stock market, doncha know, and politicians tell us we need stimulus (and change!), and we need it fast, lest the DOOM! overtake us. Perversely, it seems the best way to get economic news with some perspective is to include the word "doom" in your search terms. Apparently professional doomsayers don't actually like to use the d-word. Go fig.

Meanwhile, last month I found this Gallup Poll on personal satisfaction in an article on Cafe Hayek. How to reconcile pervasive pessimism with general contentment? Apparently, people are pretty satisfied with their own lives, but they figure, what with all that DOOM! going around, that everybody else must be having a pretty rough go of it.

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