It’s Worse Than You Think

Census Poverty

The U.S. is a poorer country than most people realize. According to Alternet:

    The IRS reports that the highest wage in the bottom half of earners is about $34,000. To be eligible for food assistance, a family can earn up to 130% of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 for a family of four.

There is also this:

    The median debt level rose to $75,600 in 2009, while the median family net worth, according to the Federal Reserve, dropped from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010.

There’s not a lot of talk about this in the mainstream media. They don’t like to talk about depressing topics such as poverty and unemployment. They prefer to talk about crime, terrorism, political scandals (both real and imaginary), and, of course, celebrity gossip. What also makes talking about poverty difficult, however, is the fact that Americans tend to believe that they are better off than people in other countries. They are taught this in public schools and by the media. When you tell some people that the U.S. lags behind some other countries in some respects, they simply don’t believe you. Part of the problem here is cultural. With the exception of Native Americans, native Hawaiians, and perhaps some Mexican-Americans, Americans are all descended from immigrants. These immigrants came here thinking they would be better off here than in their native countries, and in some cases this was actually true. However, this belief has been handed down through the generations, with the result that many Americans believe they have somehow lucked out, when they actually haven’t. There sometimes seems to me that there is a collective state of denial about the fact that wages have been declining for the past thirty years. (It doesn’t help that the decline in labor unions has led to a decline in class consciousness.) The interesting question here is: how long can people deny reality?

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