With all the talk of a government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling deadline, we’ve been distracted from the faltering economy.

The president warns against derailing a fragile recovery. Republicans agree but insist on wrecking it anyway, as the media hypes a jobless recovery. The recession grinds on, and neither party has an exit plan.

The incomes of the top 1 percent have increased an average 31 percent since 2009. If you can call going from obscenely rich to insanely richer a recovery, there it is.

The income for the other 99 percent gained an average of less than one-half of 1 percent during the same period, while the median income dropped almost 10 percent, underscoring the fact that not all recoveries are improvements.

Until 2008, American workers were distracted by credit-fueled consumption. The credit they gained was perverse compensation for the raises they never received for their increased productivity.

To ease the pain of that rip-off, we obsessively consumed things we were taught to desire. Now, household debt is unsustainable because of stagnant wages and credit woes.

What will kill the pain now that there is nothing left to borrow?

Hyping the recovery gives the 99 percent the illusion that, although they are struggling, somewhere in America other people are experiencing a recovery. This ideological ruse encourages people to blame themselves instead of questioning the system.

The basic idea is this: It’s not dysfunctional capitalism that is failing the American people. It’s the American people who are failing capitalism.

We blame ourselves. We are too young, too old, unskilled, inflexible, technologically challenged and under-educated.

How convenient for the 1 percent.

The recovery hype has replaced easy credit as the primary pacifier, perpetuating the myth that capitalism is the best we can do. It isn’t.

Christopher N. McKinnon, Augusta