In 1850 sub-Saharan Africa had about the same GDP per capita as America. The difference between America’s average standard of living today and that of Burundi is a mere 0.9 percent of extra growth a year. If Presidents Lincoln through Reagan had put in place policies, taxes, or regulations that slowed economic growth a mere 1 percent of what it actually was, 99 percent of us would now be living in soul-crushing poverty.
That is why America’s anemic 1.3 percent growth rate last quarter is worrying. Moreover, what was by comparison a sterling 1.8 percent growth rate in the first quarter has been revised almost out of existence, to a measly 0.4 percent. Despite a massive government stimulus program that added trillions of dollars to the nation’s liabilities, real GDP has risen just 0.7 percent over the 14 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9 percent in past recession/recovery cycles.
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