Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The US Broken Dreams

A much-publicized study documents the early deaths of white Americans with less than a college degree. Many of them suffer "deaths of despair" – death by drugs, alcohol and suicide, attributed in part to a deterioration in economic well-being. One out of every six Americans—the great majority of them white—has taken a psychiatric drug such as an antidepressant or sedative in the past year. Incredibly, a half-million of our children under the age of four are taking anxiety drugs

The Centers for Disease Control reported that deaths involving opioid use have quadrupled since 1999. Drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and automobile accidents combined. Drug overdoses killed more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS at its 1995 peak. In some states, there are more painkiller prescriptions than there are people. And the painkiller plague is spreading into previously little-touched areas. According to a new study, "large suburban metro counties went from having the lowest to the highest rate of premature death due to drug overdose within the past decade." 

Americans are also dying from alcoholism at a record rate. Suicide is at its highest level in 30 years


The poorest 90% of Americans lost nearly $2 trillion in wealth in 2015-16, an average of $8,500 per adult. Every sector of society lost money except for the richest 1%, whose members gained an average of $1.5 million in that single year. 

Wealth is down in part because income is down. Median household income is about $2,000 less than it was ten years ago. 

There's much more evidence for the decline of all sectors except the upper class. Almost three-quarters of American consumers die with debt. Anywhere from two-thirds to 80% lack the savings needed for unexpected expenses. 

major U.S. metropolitan areas experienced significant growth in upper-income and lower-income households since the year 2000, with a dramatic dropoff in-between. Two out of every five middle-income households, as reported by the New York Times, have dropped out of the middle-class income range, becoming either upper-income or lower-income. 

If WEALTH is considered rather than INCOME, it becomes evident that most of the middle class is heading DOWN rather than UP, because the total net worth (home and financial assets minus debt) of the richest adult in the bottom 70% of North Americans is only about $150,000.

Princeton study concluded that a stunning 94 percent of the nine million new jobs created in the past decade were temporary or contract-based, rather than traditional full-time positions. There are a lot of high-tech jobs with six-figure salaries available today, but those jobs are out-of-reach for most of the new members of a swollen lower class. 

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