The American Dream Gone Sour
In May 2009, economists Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein wrote in Forbes that the recession is over. Nearly a year later, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that the U.S. faced a serious debt crisis and the Fed was not going to print money in order to pay the government’s bills.
Recession or not, a large number of people are seeing their American Dream evaporating quickly.
This morning CNBC told told the story of Michael Blattman, who lived in the suburb of Potomac, Maryland, earning $225,000 a year as a senior vice president for a student loans company. In January 2008, Blattman was laid off and is still looking for work today. Blattman now lives in a one-room apartment and had sent over 600 applications to companies, receiving just a few regret letters; others did not even bother to respond. Blattman is not alone; he is part of the four million unemployed baby boomers.
Glenda Green works for Heinnies Backbarn Restaurant in Elkhart, Indiana. Her bartender hours were cut and boosts her earnings by serving food at the bar. Green said, “The owners are working more, the employees are working more ... just to try to even maintain what we were making before.” She is one of the millions of Americans who are now being subjected to work more for reduced earnings — the victim of increasing productivity.
So how are people to survive? Open up a new business, right wing advocates would advise. Bright people always make money in business.
Remember John McAfee? Yes, of the McAfee anti-virus software. He built his fortune to in excess of $100 million, then invested in real estate multiplying it manifold. When the recession struck, McAfee’s luck ran out.
San Jose real estate developer Ken Tersini and his partners began their project of high-rise luxury condominium called The Axis. Units were to be sold for between $400,000 and $2 million. By the fall of 2007, The Axis was on the market. But the housing crisis had begun, and 70 percent of the 329 condominiums in Axis remain unoccupied.
Last night my daughter told me about a friend who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience working at Wal-Mart. There was a time I would strongly argue that a Ph.D. is virtually a lifelong guarantee against poverty. Not anymore.