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                                       politics + culture

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

are times tough?

It's an interesting question.

Certainly for anyone with family in Iraq, or unemployed, or uninsured, or in poor health, or in an industry that is undergoing huge changes. Times are tough, now, and they have been.

Of course, most Americans still make much more than we need for the basics. You see these folks on any morning commute. Late model cars...well-kept appearances...the "well-employed" American majority.

How many of these folks have debt problems? Have unsustainable mortgages on their homes? How many look down the road twenty years and don't see...well, what folks saw in this country fifty years ago...a better future with more security for you and your kids?

What are the indicators for "tough times" in the USA anymore?

Certainly not the sale of staples like lentils, rice and beans. Almost no one thinks about the cost of food anymore. Certainly not whether one has a color TV, or a DVD player or a cordless phone. Cheap products at big box stores takes care of that. Not the sight of poor people on the street. This country, as a whole, has become inured to that.

I guess the most shocking thing about this question to me is how, frankly, times are tough for so many people around the world in a completely different manner. Their lives are not based on houses and computers and cars and washing machines.

Most of America is so wealthy, in human terms, that we might not notice a real crisis in our midst.

I guess that makes it a radical question: Are times tough?

JaninSanFran asks that question on a tour of US cities.

2 Comments:

  • It's all relative, isn't it?

    I think that, in order to properly address the question, you have to define how you measure *good* times, or, more to the point, happiness and fulfillment.

    Are we asking whether or not Americans should just shut the f*** up and stop whining? Or are we saying that, even in the midst of all of our hedonistic and materialistic splendor, we are still the single most unhappy, self-hating, hopeless country in the world?

    An interesting question, indeed.

    By Blogger Belinda Yamate, at 9:40 AM  

  • I think about this a lot. I used to work construction, at the bottom end, small scale remodeling and earthquake retrofitting. In those days I knew when times were tough: we didn't work.

    Since then, I've gotten skills and experience that seems to find new niches as needed.

    Nowadays this country is so rich that it is hard to grasp where tough times are, except in clear cut pockets among folks who never had a chance, like East Oakland, for example. This fall I had a job that took me on a tour around parts of the east and midwest. I kept trying to figure out whether people were doing okay in the places we went. Detroit was obviously hurting, but most everywhere else there seemed to be considerable life. But hard to tell. Wrote it up here FWIW.

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 9:33 PM  

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