Our out of control tumbling downhill may have slowed but we are still headed for the cliff. When we start thinking of our current economy as improving we are really kidding ourselves. One problem is that anybody under 40 can’t even remember "good" times. Even if we went back to the five years ago we would still be in trouble. Oh sure, many individuals have experienced high incomes and have accumulated some wealth, but if it’s in a 401k, good luck with that.
Do you have your "wealth" in your home? It could easily become more valuable to copper thieves than to anyone else. Own a small business? My condolences. Family farmer? Rest in Peace. Union job? New hires are getting half wages and reduced benefits (if any). When is the last time you heard of an increase of pay let alone a strike?
Much has been made of people maintaining their lifestyle with credit cards and home equity loans. The group with some of the highest card balances are the elderly, blamed mostly on health care costs, it’s a question of maintaining life. Boomers as a group have no savings or even home equity left and are often shocked to find their parents don’t have enough to support themselves let alone leave anything to the kids.
Recent college graduates are benefiting from the increase in the minimum wage since this is where many of them are employed. Teenagers who want to get an service job (read that as low pay and no advancement) to help support the family can find themselves in the same hiring line with their fathers as Dad is being told his middle-class job is gone forever.
We are losing 500,000 jobs a month with no plan or even any intention of bringing these jobs back. Each unemployed person is producing nothing and the rest of the economy must support them one way or another. We’ve been masking this lack of productivity with cheap imports purchased on credit from China. When our credit runs out the full magnitude of this folly will become apparent. Comparisons to the Great Depression are inadequate. Comparisons to the Dark Ages would be more appropriate.