WRITTEN BY CHRISS W. STREET
Broke-ass is an urban slang term for someone who either has no money or is in debt beyond their means. This used to be a term for inner city ghetto dwellers and folks “Living in a Van Down by the River.” But since 2008, 2.2 million net jobs have been lost among the prime American working demographic of 25-54 year olds, even as their numbers grew by over 3 million. A Google search of “broke-ass” generates 33,900,000 hits. There are broke-ass brides, dads, home, gourmet, bizness, and thousands more. Young people who thought they would scrimp by until they “moved up” in a career, now expect to never have a decent life and are trying to adapt to their new reality. Since 2008, America seems to have failed many Americans.
The United States was founded through a revolution against the colonial tyranny of the richest and most powerful nation on earth. The revolutionaries triumphed because they authentically stood for liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire economics; virtues their British imperial elites sought to deny them. In the 1920’s, the American Communist Party in frustration referred to this unique lack of class distinction as “American Exceptionalism” to explain why the mentality of American working class was not ripe enough to rise up and violently overthrow the factory owners.
In the most recent Rasmussen Poll, 63% of employed adults still consider themselves middle class, 21% self-identify as upper middle class, while only just 3% view themselves as wealthy and 8% regard themselves as the working poor. These numbers have remained fairly stable for the last 30 years.
What has not remained stable is the percentage of “employed adults” in America. The labor participation rate, the measure of the number of people working or looking for a job, has declined for each of the last four years from 66% to 63% and now stands at the lowest rate since Jimmy Carter was President in 1979. The decline in this statistic is virtually the mirror image of the historic percentage gains in the labor force participation from 1980 to 1988. Last month’s decline was extraordinarily brutal as job growth was cut in half to only 88,000, while 496,000 workers gave up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force. Although media reported unemployment figure declined slightly to 7.6%; the total unemployed that includes those who want full time work but can only find part-time employment, stands at a Great Depression level of 13.8%. For those Americans lucky enough to have a job, one in four is working for $10 an hour or less.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately one out of every six Americans is living in poverty and over 146 million are either “poor” or “low income”. Nearly 20% of all children in the United States currently live in poverty and approximately 57% live in homes that are either considered to be either “low income” or impoverished. More than a third of children in the U.S. live in a home without a father and families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37%. There are over a million public school students in the U.S. that are homeless.
The federal government responded to the broke-ass America crisis by annually increasing deficit spending by $800 billion and increasing taxes by $400 billion. About $100 billion a year is being spent increasing the number of Americans enrolled in at least one federal welfare program to 100 million.
No one is exactly sure where Congress has been “investing” the other $700 billion per year, but accountants tell us that every American’s share of the national debt has risen from $31,847 to $54,140. Maybe over the next four years if jobs keep disappearing and debt keeps rising, we might all be broke-ass Americans living in a van down by the river.
CHRISS STREET & PAUL PRESTON
“The American Exceptionalism Radio Talk Show”
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