Mark Dolliver’s Takes: Nationally Glum

High gas prices make Americans feel they’re witnessing the end of civilization as we know it, so it’s no wonder nearly half think the economy is tanking. The upper of the two charts below, using American Research Group data, reflects this. But optimism (relatively speaking) about one’s own circumstances is a perennial force, too, which explains why the numbers in the lower chart are less grim. Rating their current finances, 15 percent of respondents called them “excellent,” 9 percent “very good,” 38 percent “good,” 19 percent “bad,” 12 percent “very bad” and 6 percent “terrible.”