George Graham

Better Days Ahead? Perhaps. But for Whom?

The pundits at ABC figure better economic times are just around the corner. Maybe. It depends, they say, on what the May consumer credit report reveals.  They’re guessing the report will show more consumers have taken out loans for autos and other major purchases.

They also note that:

Friday’s jobs report was better than expected. U.S. employers have added an average 202,000 jobs for the past six months, up from 180,000 in the previous six.

The network’s economists list several indicators to support the prospect of a break in the economic gloom.

So I guess we should beat the drum and sound the trumpet. Happy days are here again.

Not that happy for me personally, of course. The folks who dole out those happy days are getting set to trim my Social Security benefits. And as jobs increase and more cash flows in the marketplace, prices are sure to rise. So the grocery bill at our house will go up and my Social Security deposit will not. Neither will my pension checks. And you can bet Sandra isn’t going to get a raise when she ventures into those battle-zones that used to be classrooms.

No, I am not asking for donations. We will not go hungry. Neither will the nine cats that we feed. Nor the possum that gets the leftovers. But there will be economies. The Escort that sat in the garage going nowhere and costing us a bundle in insurance is gone. We traded it to the bug man for free pest control. We will make do with one car.

Still, Sandra and I (and our critters) will be a lot better off than millions of Americans.

Times are certainly not going to be better for all those American students who have to borrow money from Uncle Sam to fund their tuition. Their interest rate is doubling and their only hope for a reprieve is bipartisan Congressional action. When was the last time you can remember bipartisan action in Congress?

And I don’t see better days ahead for the undocumented immigrants hoping for a deal that would let them show their faces, pay their taxes and eventually become Americans.

As for minorities, well, you know they’re not doing so well. A recent study shows non-whites, a designation that included blacks and Asians, “continue to face higher unemployment than whites, although the difference has declined somewhat in recent years.” At about 14 percent, unemployment among African Americans is just twice as high as among white Americans. And Hispanics aren’t much better off at nearly 10 percent.

Teenagers aren’t sharing in the “better times,” either. While unemployment hovers around 7 percent for white adults, teenage joblessness is at 24 percent.

Meanwhile, across the land, the political climate seems to have turned away from the concept of sharing. Those that have want more, and those that have not are out of luck. Congress and state legislatures are slashing away at the social safety net set up by past generations. Food stamps and unemployment benefits are getting the ax, and some Republican controlled states are even refusing federal Medicare subsidies to spite President Obama and punish the poor.

There probably are better times ahead for some Americans. The merchant princes and cattle barons, the agribusiness millionaires and  the well-heeled professionals, religious leaders, sports stars and entertainment-industry oligarchs… A few crumbs from the new-found prosperity might trickle down to a lucky few in the petite bourgeoisie but I doubt any of it will reach America’s working stiffs. Their wages have been stagnant for a generation, and are likely to go down, not up.

One group that will undoubtedly bask in the sunshine is the financial community.

The stock market will keep rolling along. One investment guru, the renowned Ron Baron, predicts the Dow will hit 60,000 in 20 years. I won’t be around to see it, but he could be right. While the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, they say. And that’s certainly what’s happening in America today.

Do I see hope for change via the ballot box? I’m afraid not. The political system has been subverted. Congress and the courts have been bought. The democratic system itself has been corrupted – perhaps irrevocably.

Click for Baron’s interview.

Click for the ABC report.

Click for employment details.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com