Sunday, August 1, 2010

Invert a dream and you have a nightmare.

This long, depressing article in Financial Times yesterday, you can be sure, will not be discussed by your favorite cable screamer, left or right. Or by any spokesperson for the administration or for the (dis)loyal opposition. Or pretty much any public figure this side of maybe, Paul Krugman. There are things you are not meant nobody wants you to know.

The whole piece is worth reading if you want to really understand what has happened in this country over the past two or three decades and see what the future holds for your children and grandchildren and maybe even for you personally. It is why I keep saying (and am mostly ignored) that it would be wise for my grandchildren and yours to be prepared to move to another country when they become adults.

As I said, read it all if you dare, but here's a brief segment which sums up the larger picture (the bold emphasis is mine):

In the last expansion, which started in January 2002 and ended in December 2007, the median US household income dropped by $2,000 – the first ever instance where most Americans were worse off at the end of a cycle than at the start. Worse is that the long era of stagnating incomes has been accompanied by something profoundly un-American: declining income mobility.

Alexis de Tocqueville, the great French chronicler of early America, was once misquoted as having said: “America is the best country in the world to be poor.” That is no longer the case. Nowadays in America, you have a smaller chance of swapping your lower income bracket for a higher one than in almost any other developed economy – even Britain on some measures. To invert the classic Horatio Alger stories, in today’s America if you are born in rags, you are likelier to stay in rags than in almost any corner of old Europe.


  1. Jeez, that was a spot on but killer sad article. Too damn true though all throughout. This country will never be what it was. All empires fade and all governments fall, eventually.

    Thanks for the link to this, even if it IS depressing.

    Still waiting to find out why the logo is reproduced inside the postings though.

  2. Interesting article, but I will admit that a few things about it gave me pause. I would have liked to hear more about the circumstances that led to the Freemans almost losing their house to foreclosure, because on the face of it, with a $50,000 mortgage and income of $70,000, under normal circumstances it shouldn't have been too hard to keep up the payments - I'd like to know more about how they became "only" three months behind (bad old me, I'd be foreclosing on someone three months behind myself).