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Time to focus on ‘Doug Jones Average’

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POSTED July 16, 2012 5:50 p.m.

To measure how our economy is doing, media outlets keep a constant eye on the Dow Jones Average. But they're like cats watching the wrong mouse hole, for the great majority of Americans have between zero and next-to-nothing in the stock market.

The economic measure that matters most to most folks is the Doug Jones Average. The Doug is concerned about such key indicators as the pump price on a gallon of regular, the subprime value of today's seven-and-a-quarter minimum wage, and the impact of global inflationary pressures on the cost of a six-pack.

So, how're Doug and Dottie Jones doing? The number crunchers at the Federal Reserve have just answered that for us: not well, not well at all. In its latest Survey of Consumer Finances, the Fed found that from 2007 to 2010, all but the wealthiest 10 percent of American households have been downwardly-mobile. The median net worth of U.S. households tumbled in these four years by a startling 39 percent, falling to the lowest level in 20 years.

In short, Americans are not merely feeling poorer ­ they are. Foreclosures, lost jobs, wage declines, and other reductions (combined with rising costs of everything from gasoline to child care) have become the norm, shoving many proud middle-classers into poverty. Yet, Washington remains fixated on the Dow Jones Average and the stock market elite, with Republican leaders even clamoring for a return to the disastrous policies of tinkle-down economics that caused this decline.

Meanwhile, three-fourths of Americans today have more invested in their aging cars than in stocks ­with the consumer economy busted, America's cars are now, on average, 11 years old. Restoring American prosperity begins with restoring the Joneses to the middle class ­ percolate up economics, not tinkle down.

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