Over at Peter's place I found some graphs from Shadowstats, an alternative economics blog that continuously harps on the amount of cooking that goes into the official government books.
In this chart, is the government line too optimistic? Yes. Is the SGS line too pessimistic: Yes. The government is trying to stay off the lamp posts and employed/elected and SGS is, to my observation, taking every single bit of bad news and sweeping it into a single heap which distorts things a bit at the margins, still...
Since population is growing at about 3%, any GDP growth of less than that represents a drop in well being for the country on average. An even more depressing chart could be made by averaging the 2 graphs so as to acknowledge the discrepancies, and subtract the population growth from that number. The difference is how much you lost in that year. 3% GDP "growth" coupled with 3% population growth = net gain of zero. Yes, I know it's not distributed evenly and last year while the great unwashed were taking a net 4.5% beating, the .gov parasites were seeing boom times. C'est la vie.
A fellow I know is getting a job making prayer wheels for progressives. You know, the kind that are erected in open fields, get connected to coal fired power plants to keep them from freezing in the winter, turn in the wind and collect federal subsidies. I don't see this as entirely ethical, but if that's where the money is, then that's where we work I guess.