American dream under attack
The recession has had many implications for Americans and, according to data released by the US Census this month, has further deepened the economic inequality.
The data show that the wealthiest top 5 percent of Americans who earned $180,000 or more had slight increases to their earnings — while families at the $50,000 median level slipped even lower. Additionally, the top 20 percent of Americans who earned more than $100,000 each year received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the US, compared to the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line. For working people 18 to 65 years old, poverty is the highest its been since 1965.
Aside from massive widespread unemployment, the increase in poverty has been caused by another aspect. Wages have stagnated — or even declined. For the first time, Americans can no longer expect that their children will have greater economically mobility.
Since the method for measuring poverty has not changed since 1963 and does not account for the costs of soaring transportation, childcare and healthcare costs, the actual number of Americans living in poverty is probably much higher.
“Income inequality is rising, and if we took into account tax data, it would be even more,” said Timothy Sneeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who specializes in poverty.
While President Barack Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for individuals making less than $250,000; Republicans are pushing for permanent tax cuts for everyone, including wealthy Americans. This just highlights the disturbing rate at which wealthy Americans are devouring up this country’s economic pie and the protection they receive while doing so.
This absolutely threatens the American dream.
The data shows that if this was ever true, it certainly isn’t anymore. The harder Americans work, the more they will be met with economic disappointment, such as the protection of the status quo of the wealthy.
What has contributed to this is the personal responsibility crusade lead by conservative politicians who advocate the freedom and responsibility of Americans in making choices for their economic future, further strengthening the misconception of the American dream. Moreover, they seek to protect the wealthiest of Americans. The ramifications of these actions leave Americans in a world of economic insecurity.
Mai Tran is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected].