Wednesday, December 20, 2006
We Will End The Year Biting Our Nails
According to US News & World Report, "our nation's core bargain with the middle class is disintegrating... Exposed to greater risks in job security, they feel abandoned, left to fund their own health and retirement programs out of static or falling real incomes." The middle class is, not to put too fine a point on it, getting royally screwed. While the cost of health care, housing and higher education have skyrocketed between 2000 and 2005, median household income for working people fell five years in a row. American workers are continuously losing their jobs and, even though they can find new ones, those pay on average 17 percent less than the jobs they lost - thus giving lie to the "feel-good" illusion of an unemployment rate that remains relatively low. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says, "If the anxious middle's concerns about fairness are this serious when the unemployment is 4.4 percent, there will be far greater concerns whenever the economy slows down."
The plight of our faltering middle class is eroding core American values. Most Americans are now so insecure that they are afraid of risk. Once a nation of pioneers and inventors and entrepreneurs, we have become a sad mass of nervous nellies, twice as desperate to hold on to what we've got than to take a risk on anything new. Health care is so expensive, and health care insurance so difficult to get and retain, that Americans live in fear of any illness or accident that might cast throw them into bankruptcy. Family values mavens claim to revere the ideal of marriage and children, while supporting a heartless economic system in which families are twice as likely to file bankruptcy as singles or childless couples. Both middle class parents must work for the family to survive, and if any one of them got sick or downsized, their entire house of credit cards would fall. Meanwhile, those politicos who bloviate about the sanctity of marriage give tax breaks to the same corporations that make the lives of American families so precarious.
Just something to consider, as the season of "giving" commences and the year draws to a close...
"America's High Anxiety" from US News & World Report