Monday, March 21, 2011

Why People Are Angry # 2

So the problem was, how could working people maintain their life style, when wages were not going up? At first, women went to work. This was not simply feminism. This was need. When this turned out to be inadequate, American families turned to debt, running up their credit cards and taking out second mortgages on their houses. This last was possible because of the housing bubble: real estate values kept going up, and the money in houses could be tapped.

Then the economy crashed, and the housing bubble popped. Housing was the main wealth that most Americans had. It was their retirement savings and whatever extra money they might need. Gone. At this point, many people have mortgages that are underwater and mortgage payments they cannot afford. Instead of having a retirement fund, they have debt. If their kids graduate from college, they likely to be burdened by debt and facing a truly lousy job market. As for Mom and Dad... almost 20% of American workers are unemployed or underemployed. It is especially difficult for older workers to find new jobs.

The American Dream was always modest: a steady job, decent pay and benefits, a house and car, vacations, a decent retirement, education for the kids. This wasn't a lot to ask in the richest country on Earth. Now this moderate future is gone, and Americans are looking at uncertainty, low wages, bills they cannot pay.

Why am I writing about something everyone knows? Because I'm trying to understand why people are so angry. They are right to be angry, but too many are angry at women, nonwhites, nonChristians, everyone except the rich, mostly white and mostly Christian men who are profiting from this system.


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