Loss of wealth. Loss of security. What’s behind the election of 2012.
For the first time, I’m beginning to truly believe that my parents had a better life than their daughter has and will have. Think about it, my parents, your parents, your grandparents, who came of age during the Great Depression of the 30’s, WWII, the 50’s of Richie Cunningham, the 60’s of the Beatles and Stones. They believed in, and probably to a great extent, lived their American Dream. And they passed that Dream on to their children and grandchildren in the forms of values, morals and yes, wealth.
With the recent articles in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post regarding the erosion of American wealth by 40% between the years of 2007 and 2010, the middle class, the group that bears the brunt of the taxes, took the biggest hit. The wealthy remained shielded to a large extent by their assets and diversity of investments; the poor were shielded to a certain extent by social program safety nets. But, we in the middle class saw jobs disappear, our homes devalued by double digits, our salaries stagnant or declining, 401k(s) devastated. According to the The Washington Post article:
That puts Americans roughly on par with where they were in 1992.
Over a span of three years, Americans watched progress that took almost a generation to accumulate evaporate.
The recession caused the greatest upheaval among the middle class. Only roughly half of middle-class Americans remained on the same economic rung during the downturn, the Fed found. Their median net worth — the value of assets such as homes, automobiles and stocks minus any debt — suffered the biggest drops.
With only four and one-half months to the November election, what is really the force that will drive the outcome. We saw the recent victories of Scott Walker in Wisconsin and the voters in California’s second and third largest cities embrace public sector pension reform. But is this a repudiation of public sector unions, or unions in general. I think not. What the public is, was rejecting, is the unaffordable, under-funded largesse being paid to the public sector that far outweighs the benefits received in the private sector. In other words, the taxpayers said, “we’ve had it, we’re tired, we can’t afford it.” The Associated Press edition reporting the outcome:
In San Diego, two-thirds of voters favored Proposition B while the landslide was even greater in San Jose, the nation’s 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B.
Unfortunately, many American families are still in chaos. A new norm has developed as people are under-employed, or take several part-time jobs to make ends meet, or in worst-case scenario have stopped looking for work. This chaos has affected family and social structures, as people grapple with the financial stress, and for many, aging parents and other factors.
The middle class has long been the bulwark of this country and we’ve participated, albeit unwillingly, in an historic change during the last three years. We’re not the same people we were three years ago. No one is unscathed. Our psyches have been shocked.
This election, I believe, will be driven by the mindset of this middle class populace — gender, ethnicity, marital status — doesn’t matter. Is the mindset be of determination to emerge from this downturn more determined to succeed, still believing that there is an American Dream. Is that dream driven by limited government or more government, fiscal responsibility or more deficit spending, entitlement reform or kick the can, less regulation or more nanny-state “you can’t drink large sodas”.
You tell me.