For Americans living through the recent months of crisis, some of the latest economic data may come as a surprise. Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) over the past six months remained far above what we could have achieved even a decade ago. Investors have driven key stock indexes back above their February peaks. But rarely have such economic indicators been so entirely beside the point. Seriously: Who cares?
What good does G.D.P. do, if people we love are falling seriously ill and dying in unprecedented numbers; if the rhythms of daily life vital to our happiness have gone haywire and our social connections have atrophied?
Typically shielded from such problems, the country’s professional class now finds itself experiencing a taste of the insecurity and anxiety that the working class has felt for decades: The dissolution of community; the suddenly prohibitive distances separating friends and family; the anger at experts selling ineffective, poorly planned schooling as adequate to their children’s needs.