How do Americans feel? Pessimistic says Bloomberg’s Rich Miller:
What optimism there is about the immediate future doesn’t carry over to the longer term. Pluralities of those polled say they’re not hopeful they will have enough money in retirement and expect they will have to keep working to make up the difference. More than 50 percent aren’t confident or are just somewhat confident their children will have better lives than they have.
“I don’t think they’ve got a chance,” says Brian Rich, a 65-year-old retiree with three children in their 20s who lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts. “I’m very angry at what’s going on in this country. Change is being forced upon us.”
A year after the official end of the recession, economic growth has slowed, slipping to a 1.7 percent annual pace in the second quarter from 3.7 percent in the first and 5 percent in the final three months of 2009. Unemployment stood at 9.6 percent in September, down from a 26-year high of 10.1 percent in October 2009 while still above the 5 percent rate that prevailed at the start of the recession almost three years ago.
Here’s how the future will be. Right now, folks in states like New York, Michigan and California make do on less. They sacrifice more. They miss opportunities–like my nephew not taking flying lessons. Why? His parent pay that much or more in taxes that they wouldn’t pay here in Texas.
Now, imagine this loss of potential nationwide as families fight back from personal debt and are on the hook for national debt thus paying more taxes. Depressing, right?
Andrew Malcolm talks about the old-fashioned American optimism and what’s changed culturally:
Warranted or not, optimism and confidence in a better future for the next generation has been present throughout decades of modern American history.
It fueled millions of 19th century immigrant dreams. It sustained parents through the Great Depression and the world war that followed. And fueled the optimistic baby boom that ensued after. It drove the postwar generation of simultaneous fulltime workers and parttime students. It tempered the ubiquitous anxiety of the long cold war. And the domestic violence, tumult and dissension of Vietnam. And the later inflation. And on and on.
You just hang in and do your best and your kids will have it better than you do. Guaranteed. Even though you may not live to see all of their better future, you can count on it. And anything smacking of struggle now will surely pay off later for them because that’s the knd of country this is.
But not now. Not, at least for half of those surveyed. Perhaps more.
Andrew also notes that the December deficit commission report is timed perfectly (or unfortunately) for the holiday season. Sigh.
This all feels inevitable, doesn’t it? You simply cannot ride the roller coaster forever and not get sick. America realized, with the TARP bailout, that it was time to get off the ride.
The federal government decided to increase the speed and now, it feels like we’re dangerously close to flying off the rails.
Pessimism. These days, it’s rational.