Consider the standard of living among the average family today. From the single parent household to the family of four; in order to maintain a decent life, people need a job, an education or a skill, a place to live, a car, a health plan, and at least an emergency fund for unexpected circumstances. Now look at the circumstances under which these necessities are negotiated and accessible.
Under the disguise of opportunity, over the past 40 years these so-called opportunities have become more difficult to achieve and not any easier, thus creating an inequality gap and plunging many more people into a state of lack and in a spiral of downward mobility. Though politicians promise to make things better, in the meantime, citizens tighten their grip on hope and work their butts off to stay afloat during every administration.
However, after years of hanging on and trusting in politicians, lawmakers, democratic institutions, medicine and science, the overall situation of society and the opportunities afforded the people have become unreachable, not achievable. We have become blinded to the downward trend because we have been distracted by pleasurable indulgences such as the Internet and media propaganda through flight of the imagination via binge-watching. These distractions project success but when we look deeper at our individual situations, we are far from successful.
For instance, workers are working longer hours than 40 years ago. The "estimated average weekly hours worked" in 1970 was 40.3. Today that average is 47 hours and up to 60 hours or more. Yet, the average media income level has not kept up with the cost of living. We are working longer and harder but not making enough money to afford the necessities.
In order to earn enough to scratch the surface, a person needs a good education, at least a bachelor's degree, but the cost of education has risen. "The average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260%. As long as wages are stagnant, it is harder to afford a college education. Politicians promise to lower cost, but the cost constantly rises, year after year.
These same statistics can be found in the rise of home prices. Not only have the cost of housing risen since 1960, by 114%, but the quality of the home is cheaper, making them less durable and costing more to maintain. As a result, less people can afford homes and in addition, rent has increased at the same or higher rates also. More young people coming out of high school and college are rooming together or living with a parent than at any time in the past 40 years.
Since the dismantling of vocational schools and job-training programs, the for-profit sector has taken over career training and charge university-rate tuition, in the form of loans, which has increased the student debt crisis in the country and leaving less disposable income without the risk of debt. Overall, companies find it hard to recruit skilled workers and have to go outside the country or outsource for labor. Thus America has an undereducated workforce and large pockets of poverty in many rural and urban areas.
Automobile cost has risen slightly yet cars are easier to come by today; however, the maintenance, taxes, fees and fines have risen sharply, especially on the newer model cars. In addition, an increase in licenses suspension and more stringent criterion to get and maintain a license have become a judicial and almost criminal matter with the policing of drivers, which adds to the cost of living overall. Car insurance also, has seen a tremendous increase in cost and has become mandated by the courts, which adds to the cost and burden of driving.
Credit, banking, and interest rates have all increased along with fees, fines, and penalties. These have a hidden effect on the cost of living that people see, but are helpless in changing. Politicians and the main stream media never address these issues unless it is in reference to making the wealthy, wealthier. As stated earlier, most people simply go with the flow of these cost of living increases but are too overworked and time constricted to do anything about it, or to even care.
One of the most burdensome cost of living come from the health insurance companies, who have forsaken the average working person matters of health and have gone the way of profits and shareholders. It is the workers who actually turn the engine of the economy and without good health, the engine will fail in due time. The price of healthcare has quadrupled in less than 50 years.
Not only is healthcare unaffordable, but so-called advancements in medicine, medical technology and science has not actually advanced at all, given the fact that the same diseases (and even more and worse) still plague society. Cancer has not only increased among the population, but has spread into other forms: lung, breast, brain, colon, skin, and many other forms of cancer are gaining strength despite research, technology, and charitable giving. Many other illnesses stem from cancer along with virally transmitted diseases, bacterial viruses and infections that all add to the cost of health and living. Not to mention the food industry and their contribution to society via chemically contaminated food sources and environmental hazards.
Though politicians promise change, nothing ever gets better, but only more costly.
People cannot afford to save money or properly invest in something that will actually put them over the top and prepared them for a tragedy. The average citizen lives under the old adage, "if it ain't one thing, it's another." The concept of private-profit has taken this country into an era of debt and servitude to the wealthiest 1%, and the wealthy continue to enforce their models of survival of the fittest on the very people who have made them wealthy, without considering that survival is a key to human life and their own existence.
Do not be deceived; things have not gotten better in the past 40 years. Things are getting worse. The cost to live and the penalties enforced on society is turning people into criminals' more than productive citizens. The rise of private prisons is a testimony to that fact, and the policing of the public by government agencies are nothing more than protection of the wealthy.
Regardless of the administration, who's in Congress or the Senate, from Reagan to Clinton, the Bushes, Obama's and now the Trump administration (who are tightening the screws of poverty ever tighter), politicians have done everything to help the wealthy, not the working class. The only way to take back the power of the economy would be reboot it by shutting down the engine of the wealthy, which are Wall Street and the stock market. This will soon come to pass but we need leaders who are not corrupted by greed, apathy, or engaged in maniacal ideologies of world domination, to lead us into economic liberation.
© Nov. 2018
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