DOW Goes Wild

Eight years ago, my friend James Glassman wrote a book called DOW 36,000.

Well, we’re still far from that stratospheric level, but — hey! — 13,000 ain’t bad. And, like every other red-blooded capitalist, I say: Break out the champagne!

Not so fast. Before hitting the bubbly, it’s important to remember that the market is just one indicator of the overall health of the economy. Considering all other factors, the Bush economy is still in the dumps.

Yesterday, for example, the same day the market soared above 13,000 for the first time, the Center for American Progress put out a new report on the level of poverty in this country.

Consider this: 37 million Americans live in poverty today. That’s more people than live in the state of California! Poverty, by the way, is defined as a family of four making less than $20,000 a year.

Now consider this: 5 million Americans who live in poverty today — were not poor in 2000.

And, finally, consider: During the last two years, after taxes, the richest 1 percent of Americans took home an average additional $145,000. The bottom 20 percent took home an average $200 more.

In other words, John Edwards is right. We do live in two Americas today — and the gap is getting ever wider.

DOW 13,000 means a lot to those lucky enough to have their own stock portfolio. To 37 million Americans living in poverty, however, it doesn’t mean beans.