In the Belly of the Beast, too — Capitalism Sucks

[Once again, reality is a stunning refutation of the claims of the irresistable American Dream, ever-progressing, of US superiority over all others, greatness, a “gold mountain” for migrants running from poverty and oppression elsewhere.   Since most of the statistics cited here come from official sources, which routinely give all such stats a cosmetic “uplifting sheen”, the situation on all fronts is actually many times worse, as the re-proletarianization of the falling middle class becomes the main stream.  — Frontlines ed.]

Sobering New Evidence: at Least Half of Americans are Broke

 

“Happy Monday! S&P 500 now up 10% for year” CNN Money
“Third-quarter U.S. economic growth strongest in 11 years” Reuters
“The U.S. economy is on a tear” —Wall Street Journal

Half of our nation, by all reasonable estimates of human need, is in poverty. The jubilant headlines above speak for people whose view is distorted by growing financial wealth. The argument for a barely surviving half of America has been made before, but important new data is available to strengthen the case.
1. No Money for Unexpected Bills  A recent Bankrate poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans didn’t have savings available to cover a $500 repair bill or a $1,000 emergency room visit.  A related Pew survey concluded that over half of U.S. households have less than one month’s income in readily available savings, and that ALL their savings — including retirement funds — amounted to only about four months of income.  And young adults? A negative savings rate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Before the recession their savings rate was a reasonably healthy 5 percent.
2. 40 Percent Collapse in Household Wealth  Over half of Americans have good reason to feel poor. Between 2007 and 2013 median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with negative wealth (because of debt), and a full 60% of households owning, in total, about as much as the nation’s 94 richest individuals.  People of color fare the worst, with half of black households owning less than $11,000 in total wealth, and Hispanic households less than $14,000. The median net worth for white households is about $142,000.

Continue reading