Re “All the news that’s fit for wealth” (Social Studies, May 9): A synopsis in last Sunday’s Ideas section discussed recent political science findings that newspaper reporting on the economy “was correlated with gains and losses for the rich but largely disconnected from [those] for the working class.” The researchers concluded that this was “because aggregate economic performance, which gets most of the coverage, had increasingly aligned with gains and losses for the rich.”
I would say, rather, that what we have been accustomed to think of as measures of “economic performance” have never been more than measures of returns to investors. We hear news reports daily, if not hourly, on the indices of the stock market. There is no analogous index for how working people fare from day to day or year to year — no Dick and Jane Average to compare with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, no index of living Standards of the Poor 500 to measure alongside the Standard & Poor’s 500.
Some enterprising economics or political science student should take on the project of constructing measures of the economic lives of ordinary people. As the saying goes, if you can’t count it, it doesn’t count.