A new study reveals how many American families are struggling with debt and savings in the “greatest economy ever”
More than 80 percent of American families define the “American Dream” as financial security and homeownership, and more than half think this dream is unattainable, according to revelations in the latest State of the American Family Study released by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).
The bottom 90 percent of Americans (remember the middle class was wiped out) are trapped with insurmountable debts, including auto loans, credit card debts, payday loans, and student loans. Only one if four families have enough emergency savings to cover more than six months of expenses.
It was the Golden Age of the US economy, the quarter century between 1948 and 1973, when America reigned supreme, manufacturing exploded across the country and the American middle class greatly expanded. Those days are gone as the empire is in structural decay.
The “American Dream” is starting to look a lot different. This time around, there is no white picket fence, and if you were to believe the “American Dream” — you would have to be asleep or in a zombified state intoxicated on opioids listening to the mindless government propaganda of how today is fantastic.
The “greatest economy ever” was actually during the post–World War II economic expansion, where the male of the household had one high paying career as his wife stayed home raising the children. That was enough to buy a home, auto, and experince the “American Dream” of consumerism without massive amounts of debt. Those days are gone not because it is politically incorrect to say women should stay home, but instead, today’s gig economy in a failing economy provides households with low skill/low paying jobs (not careers). How times have changed…
Some 82 percent of Americans now say their “American Dream” is financial security for themselves and their family, three-quarters say it is owning a home, and 71 percent believe it is achieving financial independence. And here is the shocker: One-third of Americans believe the American dream has vanished. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.
“It is clear that people are taking steps to help secure their financial future and dreams, and more can be done to help to keep the American Dream alive. Starting earlier appears to be part of the solution as ‘not starting early enough’ was the top financial regret across all consumer groups,” Fanning added.
Some 64 percent of those surveyed (3,200 people during January and February 2018) said they have a home mortgage, 56 percent said they have credit card debt, and 26 percent have student loans. A majority of those surveyed said they do not feel financially secure. More than 25 percent said they regret not being fiscally responsible.
The evaporation of the American dream seems to be correlated with increasing debt loads. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. Another $1.5 trillion in student loans, $1.1 trillion in auto loans, and $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.
Rachel Podnos, a certified financial planner and attorney based in Washington, D.C., told Market Watch that investments in education and property could be paid off, but for many, that debt is a major obstacle in making life decisions.
“I don’t get anymore why owning a home is essential to the American Dream,” she said. “It’s a really bad idea if that is going to cause you to buy a home you can’t afford, which could jeopardize your dream of ever reaching financial independence.”
Matt Schulz, the chief industry analyst at credit-card website CompareCards, said with the recent decline in unemployment, many people still feel they are not benefiting from economic growth. “There is a lot of hopelessness and a lot of concern, simply because the Great Recession isn’t that far in the rearview mirror,” he added.
MassMutual’s survey also said many Americans are in poor financial health. Some 18 percent said they had less than one month of expenses saved for an emergency. Another 26 percent said they have one to three months’ expenses saved. And 21 percent said they had three to six months’ expenses saved.
Podnos said Americans should redefine what the “dream” means for them:
“That may not mean owning a home, at least for some time, and I think that’s OK,” she said. “Maybe it just means financial independence, living comfortably within your means and being able to build wealth.”
Here is the issue: Americans are discovering the “dream” was merely a fantasy provided by the government and blended with corporate propaganda. Many have also figured out their existence is meaningless as the institutions of what made this country great are being systematically dismantled. America is entering its terminal stage — the damage has been done — and today is by far not the “greatest economy ever.”
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For more color on America’s slow death. Here is Chris Hedges, “America: The Farewell Tour”: