Friday, January 27, 2012

The middle class and the American Dream.

President Barack Obama used an election-year State of the Union address Tuesday night to frame the national debate not as a referendum on him but as a pivotal decision on how to save the American dream
He boasted that the nation's economy has improved, albeit slowly, from the depths of the Great Recession. "The state of our union is getting stronger," he said.
But he said the middle class has been losing ground for decades, and he urged a new agenda of taxes and government spending to tilt the playing field away from the rich and powerful and more toward the rest of the citizenry.
Once, he said, Americans believed "the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college and put a little away for retirement. The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive.
.The middle class and the American Dream that created it are under attack as never before. But there is a real uprising sweeping the nation to save the middle class … only a citizens’ movement can save an American dream that grows ever more distant. In the face of a failed economy and a corrupted politics, the only hope for renewal is that citizens lead and politicians follow.
A new survey by Yahoo! Finance shows Americans have a disturbing lack of hope and a frightening lack of retirement planning.
Among the highlights of the poll:
-- 41% of Americans say the 'American Dream' has been lost.
-- 37% of adults have NO retirement savings and 38% plan to live off Social Security.
-- 63% of Americans believe the economy is getting worse, including 72% of those over the age of 55
These findings are consistent with broader trends The Daily Ticker has reported on in the past year: Despite macro data showing the economy has technically recovered from the 'Great Recession', the majority of Americans just aren't feeling it. Considering 49 million Americans are living in poverty, the "real" unemployment rate is 16% and millions of Americans are facing foreclosure, it's no wonder many believe the recession never ended.
Consistent with that sentiment, the survey shows a plurality of Americans are less willing to take on debt, feel less confident about buying at house, and are spending less yet have lower savings vs. 1- and 3-years ago.
Dan Gross and I discuss the survey in the accompanying video. As is his wont, Dan focused on the glass half-full findings in the survey, including:
-- 53% of Americans ages 18-34 still see America as the land of opportunity.
-- 45% of parents believe their kids will be better off than they are.
-- 68% of Americans say their currency financial situation is either "excellent" or "satisfactory."
Here too, the survey is consistent with trends we've reported on: In an era of rising income inequality, those doing well in America today are doing quite well, indeed.
Conducted in September, the survey polled 1500 Americans between the ages of 18 to 64. Yahoo! Finance partnered with Ipsos OTX MediaCT to conduct the survey. It's less scientific but, as always,The dream wasn't lost. It was stolen by the corrupt, greedy and inept politicians we continue to elect. Until we change the way this government is being run, our hopes for a better life are gone. Let's make sure these morons in Washington have some skin in the game.

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