If you work on Wall Street you're celebrating the news: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the best-known stock market average in the world, is at an all time high. If, on the other hand, you fall in the somewhat broader classification of "regular people," you're not cheering... because you've received utterly no benefit.
Even though the stock index has doubled since March 2009, making this the third-best rebound since World War II, it's simultaneously marked the single worst labor-market recovery since World War II.
It's up, it's down, it's meaningless.
Experts admit that the Dow, as a statistical measure of anything realistic, is deeply flawed. It only counts 30 companies, for one thing and, for another, companies with lower stock prices exert more influence than those with higher prices. Google and Apple are left out completely.
So, why use it? The Dow may be a lousy tool for calibrating anything realistic but it is an excellent tool for illusion manipulation. With headlines about recovery and breaking records, we're inspired to believe things are getting better. And even though they're not, we keep buying those lottery tickets on the American Dream, we keep chasing happiness, and we keep buying/consuming, to keep the Dream Machine fueled up.
"We," of course, doesn't include the growing number of people all over the world who are waking up from that dream. We know differently. Things are as they are... that's the truth that no "index" can ever accurately calculate or predict.
We feel it, the richness of being alive, influenced not by markets but by the degree of our presence. We breathe it in, the fullness of this moment, experiencing our shared wealth, the abundance of life, a dimension with no price tags, no interest rates and no class structure. We're all one in life.