Hovering Above Poverty, Grasping for Middle Class
By Michael A. Fletcher and Jon Cohen Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, August 3, 2008; A01
Low-wage workers in the United States are gripped by increasing financial insecurity as they inch along an economic tightrope made riskier by pervasive job losses and rising prices. Many struggle to pay for life's basics -- housing, food and health care -- and most report having virtually no financial cushion should they stumble.
Still, they remain inspired by the American dream, with most saying they are more apt to move up economically than slip backward even if they are frustrated now. Most also expect better for their children.
Interesting, although it (like so much of life today) is based on polling rather than research. Apparently, those on the edge of American economic life are the last to leave the ship and head for the life-boats before traditional American opportunity sinks below the surface.
I read something similar not all that long ago, someone interviewing those below the poverty-line found unexpected responses. When asked how they felt about 'the poor,' the overwhelming reply was that "someone should surely move to help them--thank God we are not poor."
That speaks volumes about the still-vibrant spark of hope in traditional American values of opportunity. Amazingly (but perhaps not so unusually) those who are well-educated and come into the work-force with higher expectation, are the most depressed by where their life-choices have gone.
If there is a clear difference between presidential candidates, it is that one of them speaks to both ends of this economic-opinion paradox.