The poor economic condition of the United States has ravaged lives and destroyed faith in the American Dream. The country has been in a recession/depression for years now, as Americans have lost their homes, their jobs, and any type of stability or security for the future. “The market” pays close attention to the state of the economy, and the United States government’s performance is a good indicator of the strength of the economy. Because of this relationship, in August 2011, when Standard & Poor downgraded America’s credit rating, the market took a sharp downturn. Oddly, the subsequent upgrade of America’s credit rating from “negative” to “stable” didn’t seem to affect the market much. So we seem to be stuck at the bottom now, despite our improved rating. However, this is not the full story. This “stability” does not go for everyone. Income-wise, the top 1% of our population has benefited enormously from the recession, while the neglected 99% has been left out in the cold. The most disappointing fact seems to be that while corporations and the wealthy seem to be thriving, regular Americans seem to be resigned to their much bleaker fate – suffering financial grief (if the word “grief” interests you, please check it out on OBES).
Few analysts give much weight to the upgrade because everyone seems to be predicting “doom and gloom” for the market in the foreseeable future; market experts are saying that this upgrade is most likely only temporary. And it’s no wonder, as the rich are pampered the vast majority of the rest of the population is stuck living paycheck to paycheck. In fact, some experts are predicting that the “mother of all market crashes” will happen in the next few years. This scenario is seeming more and more realistic because we are content making the same mistakes we made before: as soon as Wallstreet was bailed out, they were at it again, pushing for the same legislation which got us into this mess. This begs the question: if everyone is so certain that the market is headed for disaster, why is nobody able to prevent it?
In short, the answer is money. Corporations only care about the financial standing of their own company. Why would they want to spend resources to “fix” the economy if their business is doing fine? In fact, the dearth of regulation and reform that has tanked the economy is also what has been responsible for record-breaking corporate profits. These bloated giants are now allowed to spend an unlimited amount of anonymous money to influence elections and to legally bribe legislators. So our “recovery” has hugely benefitted those who need it the least: the wealthiest Americans, who are kept comfortable and are therefore . We need to push for campaign finance reform and more transparency if we are ever going to know who’s interests our “representatives” are fighting for. If we aren’t working together as a society to find a solution, the problem will become much harder to solve as more and more legislation is passed to create a permanent upper class. Only once we realize that we are affected by the world around us, we will realize that, for self-preservation, we must work on problems together – even ones that may not have drastically affected us yet.
Another problem is the apathetic general public who has lost faith in their power to enact change Maybe it’s because of bought-off politicians, or a “two party system” which seems to only look out for the rich, or a political arena that has been made into an obvious farce by mainstream media, or maybe folks are simply busy making ends meet in a recession. Whatever the reason, it is time that we stop wallowing in ignorance as a country, and learn enough about the system and the issues to hold those in power accountable.
It has become clear that our “representatives” tend to side with wealthy special interests instead of their constituents. Many Americans feel out of touch and helpless when it comes to the economy. We are forced to trust that the government will correct the market, when in reality many government officials are on the payroll of the very people who are killing reform and rolling back necessary regulations to pad their own profit margin. Someone will eventually have to take drastic measures to reform the way that the market works, but the question is: how bad will it get before action is taken? How high will the elite rise and how low will the rest of us sink before we put down our collective foot and take to the streets out of desperation? We are on a slippery slope towards an irreversible plutocracy in which the will of an empowered few is imposed upon the helpless mass. Our civil rights are being constantly rolled back in the name of safety and the elite are destroying the safety net for the rest of the populous because they have no use for it. If we would collectively, as a nation, hold representatives accountable and try to right the market and the financial system now – before we pass the point of no return – we may be able to avoid the bleak future that we are currently hurdling towards. We need to have more foresight and gumption as a nation. If we wait for another crash who knows if we will ever recover.
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