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How Real is Economic Hardship in the US?

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posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 04:33 PM
As someone who doesn't know what life in the US is like first-hand, it's difficult to gauge what economic hardship means to Americans.

On the one hand the impression you get from the movies is that the average family is immensely comfortable. Obviously it's not an objective measure, but it does leave a powerful impression.

On the other hand, over the years I've heard many accounts of a virtual sub-class. Stories of people who don't get the health care they need as they can't afford the insurance. Stories of gang-infested city neighbourhoods and widespread homelessness. Stories of racial divides - most recently as a result of hispanic immigration - which mean it is more difficult for people of particular backgrounds to find jobs.

Are the divisions as real as all this, or is the nation more homogenous in terms of the standard of living it enjoys?

And more's the point - how much more difficult is life becoming in the current economic climate? Is it a case of denying yourself luxuries or is there widespread difficulty with paying essential bills?

Or is it a case of feeling real hardship is just around the corner?

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 04:42 PM
i've seen "poor" people drive suv's w rims and wear air jordans.

i have a "homeless lady" in my neighborhood that wears brand new nike air shoes and columbia jackets, yet panhandles. this lady is always clean and u wouldnt even think she was homeless. i really dont think that many americans know what it feels like to be in a 3rd world country. i have been to mexico and have seen kids with no shoes, and shack housing neighborhoods w unpaved roads. unless you have lived through the great depression, i really think we are grateful in this country and have not even come close to seeing how bad it could be.

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 05:07 PM
First of all, movies and TV give a wrong view. Very few people live as luxuriously as the people in the movies. For example, take "sex in the city." She is supposed to be a columnist, yet lives in a very nice Manhattan apartment. On a columnist's salary, she would really be living in a dirty place maybe 1/3 the size with a roommate. Whenever they show middle-class people, they show them living more like the way well-paid doctors and bankers live. I don't know why they do this...maybe they think people don't want to watch scenes of true daily life and would prefer to escape into a fantasy world.

So actually, very few people live as nicely as "regular people" in the movies and on TVs.

However, this said, even the poor live better than the poor in the third world. Nobody starves in America. So in that sense, people do live well. However, compared with the rest of the "developed world" (Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Japan) the poor in America live rather badly. They have no healthcare, they live in dirty, dangerous places, and they have to struggle to pay for the basics of life. I would say its harder to be poor in America than it is in Europe, but much easier than it is in Africa or Brazil, for example.

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 05:15 PM
Regardless of how it has been in the past, every class and economic group is about to be lowered down a peg or two.

By the time this depression that we are plummeting into takes full effect it will give millions of Americans a first hand idea of what desperation and poverty truly mean.

The business class will become the lower middle class, the former middle class will devolve into the working poor, and the current working poor will starve and be forced to sleep in the dirt.

So I think a more applicable theme for this thread would be "what WILL economic hardship mean for Americans".

The ones who are already poor or homeless will continue as past, but you are about to see an entire new class of poor here in America. People who lost everything.

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 05:32 PM
You bring up a very, very interesting point!

Personally, my life has not changed since this "economic crisis." I do not own a credit card. I don't have any stocks. My only debt is school loans. Rent is paid on the first every month. I eat just as well, I still wear clothes.

I don't know anyone personally who's house has been forclosed upon. My mother (single mother) is $2,500 from paying off her house she took out some time in the late 80's. The average person doesn't even know we're in a "crisis."

I was taught from a young age debt was bad, and I was taught in school you could lose big just as you could win big in the stock market.

As far as I can tell, in my own real life, the only people saying we're facing economic hardship are people wearing designer suits with designer shoes with designer wrist watches on the television. Or of course the government.

I think the only thing this has done (the economic crisis) has exposed the United States as a debt hungry, corrupt, naive nation. We truly are sheeple for the most part. Our country lives on credit, yet somehow no one understands what that ultimately means. If I went out and asked 100 people what the Federal Reserve was and where and how they get their money, I would honestly be surprised if 5 gave me a right answer. You can be openly told that the stock market will fluctuate and change and it's anything but stable, but when it takes a massive downturn (after it hit it's RECORD all time high) and it's the only thing anyone wants to talk about. I applied to a call center for National City not to long ago for some extra cash and as soon as I found out what they wanted me to do I said thanks but no thanks and went elsewhere. The job was to SELL MORE PRODUCT to customers, EVEN IF THEY EXPLICITLY SAY THEY'RE NOT INTERESTED. They wanted you to TALK PEOPLE INTO SPENDING MORE MONEY. We're seeing now that the majority of our businesses are ran by greedy, sorry SOBs and they are literally in bed with our own government. And the people allow it.

I read something interesting about the bailout of AIG where Paulson's company had something like a 20 billion dollar stake in AIG, which is interesting when AIG got the save and Lehman Brothers (an AIG competitor) was allowed to fail.

Free market? HA, we were never a free market, it says something for all these who ever believed this.

I guess, economic hardship is what you believe it is.

Americans are more or less robots waiting for their next set of commands coming through the media, whether it's the news channel or the next fancy "high tech" toy.

My gut tells me this crisis is manufactured and it's going to further weaken our currency (that is a GIVEN) and serves a higher purpose we're not aware of at the moment, can anyone say 9/11? Whoever is running the show is way more intelligent than I would say at least 90% of America. They're good, they're damn good.... and those 90% will # their pants in the face of a strong thunderstorm and do whatever the government asks...

I love the land here, I love some of the freedoms we still have, I respect those veterans who stuck their necks out on the line for the country (my father, uncle, and grandfather included), I love what America used to stand for a long time ago, I love that I can sit here and type on a nice computer with internet access, but man do I hate every last ignorant person that lives here and all of our "leaders."

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 05:33 PM
It is a hardship, yes. Our society has officially gone insane. I only realized this as I dove deep into the lives of the candidates my fellow citizens are agreeing to choose between in order to get them out of a mess that doesn't exist except in their own minds. We are stuck in repetitive behavior as a society. We are stuck and we are insane. There is no other truth.

[edit on 15-10-2008 by justamomma]

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 05:43 PM

They have no healthcare, they live in dirty, dangerous places, and they have to struggle to pay for the basics of life. I would say its harder to be poor in America than it is in Europe, but much easier than it is in Africa or Brazil, for example.

I disagree. Anyone who walks into an emergency room must be treated, by law. I have lived in some dives in my time, but they were never dirty. Cleanliness is your own problem. I work in dangerous places in a major city. Crimes do happen, but the difference between the ghettos of the cities and the ghettos we call small towns are not always very different. Both experience murders, rapes, etc. We do have a serious problem with crime but no one is exempt from it. The basics of life are much less expensive here than in Europe. Jobs are also plentiful, IF one is willing to swallow his or her pride and take the work that is available. All you have to do is look at the current wave of Hispanic immigrants and see who is really working and will be middle class in twenty years.

Living standards in the U.S. are quite high, in my opinion. Furthermore, the current recession has impacted my sales by perhaps 10%. That does not make me happy, but I am not preparing for the food line, either. Most Americans could easily cut 10% from their budgets if they wanted to. It is just not that bad here.

Don't believe all the doom and gloom propaganda you see.

posted on Oct, 15 2008 @ 05:48 PM
Personally, we are having hard times, but we aren't homeless and can still afford to feed ourselves and our cats. We can't go out anymore. No movies, but we do allow ourselves the luxery of satellite TV. That gives us enough entertainment to help the hours go by. My hubby and I are simple people , we both work, me full time, him part time due to his work. They wont let him work fulltime and hes currently trying to find another job, who knows if he will but at least he HAS a job and that's what is most important. Luckily for us we don't have a mortgage so we are not in any danger of losing our home. The only problem we have is paying off the credit card that we maxed out. We still have about 3000 to go and it's a hefty payment each month. It leaves us with just enough money to pay the bills and enjoy that TV. We don't go out to eat, we don't go out to the movies, we don't go out to see live music anymore and those are all things that I do miss. We can't really afford to buy any new clothes unless we go to walmart or somewhere where the clothes are super inexpensive. My husband can't afford health insurance so he can't go to the doctor when he's sick which really scares me sometimes cuz he does get sick every now and then. Thankfully I do have health insurance but there is still a co pay and because of my disability we have to pay about 100 a month in prescriptions. We would be paying more but my insurance does cover some of the medications which keeps it low. We are struggling, and some days we don't have any money at all. Thankfully we have family that can help out sometimes but that isn't going to be there everytime we have a hardship. It's scary, specially when the gas tank gets low, or I look in the fridge. We do have some canned goods and water stored in case of emergency x and we try to add to that when we can.

That's our life right now. Please try not to judge me for it. I'm just being honest in hopes that it will help pause4thought to understand what a regular 2 person working, household is going through right now.


posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 02:27 PM
The impression I am gaining is that many people have clearly been feeling the effects of the economic downturn. The personal stories and perspectives really are informative. I admit to some surprise regarding the degree to which people in the States are already finding things tough.

I take on board comments about the suffering not being on a par with the third world, but then again many people there don't have mortgages and other debts to deal with, not to mention huge utility bills, so the pressures, while not the same, are still potentially severe.

I just came across this thread, which brought things home even further. OK we don't know all the ins and outs, but who knows how many people might soon find themselves in a similar situation?

ATS-er Amaterasu is Facing Homelessness

It really makes you feel powerless - and that's just watching from the sidelines. What must it be like being in her shoes?!

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 02:43 PM
Those posting in this thread are correct, compared to other emerging countries, we have it made.

The reason this is posed as ane economic crisis is because of what is to come. The credit markets are gradually thawing, although companies are now requiring Americans to pay for cars/houses with much more cash than they ever have before. In the past, one would just finance almost the entire purchase.

Most Americans don't have a clue just how much power has been provided to the Treasury department, nor have they considered we may soon have a Democratic President, Democratic US Senate, and Democratic House of Representatives.

Most Americans also don't know that only selective media outlets are reporting that we will have a sustained recession, or an all-out depression. Unfortunately for Americans, the moment we saw positive gains in the stock market, everybody began to trust the crisis is over.

The real pain is still months away...Americans are in for a very rude awakening.

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 05:18 PM
I have not suffered any problems yet. I retired last year so I was fairly well set after working since I was 11 years old.

I have a relative that has a pawn shop that I visit often in search of good deals.

People are pawning everything they have that is of value. Carpenters and other skilled labor are selling and/or pawning their tools. My relative even took in a man's gold teeth last week. It seems the building industry is hurting most down here.

The pawn shop is a big gun shop also. The number of older men and women buying guns is staggering. Seems there is a growing fear among the people.

Another relative works for a collection agency. She is in fear of loosing her job as collections have dramatically gone down.

It is very puzzling to me. I see restaurants, big department stores and malls still filled with shoppers. Something is amiss that I can't wrap my mind around.

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 05:30 PM
reply to post by pause4thought

It is important to note, and you somewhat alluded to it, that it is all in perspective. If you took the poorest person (material wise) in a third world country and put them into the place of the poorest person here in America, they would likely thank the gods for their good fortune. You take someone who would be considered well off here and put them into the position of the poorest person here, they will have felt they were cursed by the gods. Both people are being put into the same position, but because of what they have been accustomed to through their own experience, they both will describe their new situation in a way that will leave an objective person believing one had more than the other physically. They both would be cursed if they failed to realize the worth of a new situation and both will be blessed if they see it for what it really is.

I am learning not to accept others perspectives at face value. You will never get a decent idea of what people are experiencing here because you are not here and the descriptions will vary widely based on the person's own previous notions of how life "should" be.

[edit on 18-10-2008 by justamomma]

posted on Oct, 18 2008 @ 05:38 PM
reply to post by pause4thought

Well if you check the reports that no even the government can manipulate anymore, Americans are losing homes by the thousands everyday, we have lost our wealth builders, Americans are living on credit and our best companies has been outsourced.

Then on top of that you must have to heard about the "bail out to he rich" because they can not live without their wealth, and the bill will be pay by the same tax payer that already are getting buy.

posted on Oct, 19 2008 @ 07:36 AM
Granted, there are obviously still areas in the country that are not "feeling it" yet.

However, I live in one of the areas hit hard and fast due to the housing bust. The layoffs are rampant, it has trickled down to every sector, as are the people walking away from rentals they can no longer pay, and homes are being foreclosed on every day. Many of the people who still have jobs (that were not liveable wages to begin with) have had their hours cut as much as in half. They aren't making it where I am, and there seems to be no relief on the horizon.

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:13 PM
It's been some time since this topic was last discussed. Last time we got some really fascinating insights into what the current crisis means to everyday people, and hopefully we can hear some more.

So just how is it actually affecting you, or the people around you?

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 03:54 PM
How is it affecting me and how real is it?

I live in California and we are one vote away from getting nailed with massive taxes that not only will I have to fork over, but will drive up the price of goods and services and chase out jobs.

posted on Feb, 18 2009 @ 04:03 PM
reply to post by wutone

It's going to be tough with even less disposable income once taxes rise. But even tougher for the jobless.

Not to mention the state (& the State) are virtually bankrupt & won't even be able to provide basic help.

It really is beginning to sound like Americans are going to experience something of the poverty suffered by much of the rest of the world.

It's happening in front of our eyes, but it's hard to believe.

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