The richest, poor country in the world. How can this be? I’ve been reading articles about this for several years. Why have I not been aware of this trend?
Well, I live in an area with other retired seniors. All my friends grew up in the ’50s ’60s and ’70s, which were the golden age of the middle class. When you looked for work there was no question that you would have health care provided by your employer. You also knew you would be working a 40-hour week with holidays and vacation included. You made enough money so your wife could stay home and take care of the children. There was no such thing as a 401(K) — you had a fixed pension. If you wanted to take up a trade, you could go to a high school that offered vocational training or you would go to a high school that enabled you to go to a college that you could afford. Life was good. Then came along Ronald Reagan in the ’80s and the assault on unions. Membership in unions at that time was about 35%; today it is less than 10%. Then he gave all his wealthy friends a tax break. He reduced their taxes from 70% to 30% and tried to pay for it by taxing Social Security benefits. This did not really work and that was the beginning of our national debt.
So here we are in 2019, where almost half of Americans can’t afford the basics of life. American incomes have not kept up with the exploding cost of living. Health care and education did not cost as much as a house, which in the ’70s averaged $21,500. Eighty percent of families are living from paycheck to paycheck; 50% can only get a part-time job; 50% of Americans cannot put their hands on $500, and the average worker is $8,300 in credit card debt. Economists point out that the top 1% gained $21 trillion in wealth since 1989, while the bottom half lost $900 billion.
What do we call people that live and die in debt? Poor! Americans are known though out the world as a hardworking people, most hold several jobs and still struggle. If the majority of people in a rich society are poor, even though they’re employed, then the problem isn’t the people, it’s the system.