It should be of concern to all of us – regardless of our political leanings – that the middle-class in America is slowly and painfully disappearing. Most of us were raised by parents who instilled in us the basic values and principles that made our country great, prosperous and free. Youngsters were taught at an early age that if they did the right thing, got an education, worked hard and respected their fellow man, they would end up living a good, comfortable life, and would also be good citizens.
But things have certainly changed. Over the past decade, our faith and beliefs, and even aspirations, have been shaken to the core. The rules have changed for many Americans even though many of them were totally unaware of the changes. As we all know, the consequences haven’t been good. To put it in simple but understandable terms, the deck has been stacked against the middle-class in this country.
No matter how hard folks worked who were considered to be in the middle-class, they found themselves being ignored by many of the leaders they elected. As a result, they fell farther and farther behind both economically and socially. Even though they followed the rules and did what ordinary folks have always done to work and support a family, they were being squeezed out by the rich and powerful in this country. The divide between the super-rich and the rest of the American citizens became much wider and today, it’s farther apart than ever. In fact, the division is commonly reported as the super-rich at one percent, with the rest of our citizens in a 99% grouping.
We can ill afford to allow the middle-class to be treated like second-class citizens any longer. Our economy was almost destroyed because of the greed of the persons who were running the big Wall Street banks and who were engaged in some of the worst conduct that I have ever seen. As a result of what they were doing, our nation’s economy almost collapsed. Unemployment in the U.S. grew to very high levels and in 2008 it appeared we were heading toward another Great Depression.
Many Americans who had realized the American Dream lost their homes to foreclosures, and still today the foreclosure rates are extremely high. Many folks owe a large bank more than their home is worth. At the same time the corporate bosses, who were responsible for our economic woes, were receiving record bonuses. All of the efforts by government to right a sinking ship were ultimately designed to put the burden of fixing things on the backs of ordinary folks. Those who can best afford to bail out the economy have been virtually left untouched. That, in my opinion, is just plain wrong.
Our elected leaders – both on the national and state levels – must put aside petty and disruptive partisan politics and work together to solve our nation’s problems. They must do more than talk and make promises that can’t be kept. It doesn’t take an economist to realize that we must put folks back to work in this country. In that regard, it’s critically important that we get our manufacturing jobs back. We have needs that are not being met. For example, our schools and highways must be rebuilt, and our healthcare system must be made accessible for all Americans. Our leaders must deal with the host of other economic problems that we are all familiar with, and quit the bickering and stalling on finding solutions. But the bottom line is that we must all wake up and fight to save the middle-class!
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