The 1 reason why it's going to cost more to be rich.
At least it's still free to pray.
Undoubtedly, times are tough for the unemployed. Fortunately, there is a thin safety net that can help to meet some of their basic needs. But what about the underemployed? People who are underemployed frequently make too much to qualify for assistance, but have too little income to make ends meet. The latest figures show the ranks of underemployed are swelling and times are getting tough.
Don't spend all your COLA raise in one place.
While the underemployed still have it good compared to the unemployed, their situation isn't even close to the American dream we have all been fed since childhood. It's no longer enough to get good grades, go to college, then work hard to get to the top. As George Carlin famously said, "they call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."
According to Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, "wage problems brought on by the recession pile on top of a three-decade stagnation of wages for low-and middle-wage workers." Mishel acknowledges that debt is decreasing, but purchases are getting smaller, contributing to economic stagnation.
It's true. There are simply not enough jobs and hours available for every American that wants to work. Benefits are becoming sparse and expensive. Many defer or forgo medical care because they can't afford it.
Meanwhile, schools are cutting back. From kindergarten through university classes and offerings are shrinking while tuition is rising. Some students are graduating with over 100k in debt, enough in some places to buy a house. As bad as that is, it's worse not to have a degree. According to the Economic Policy Institute, entry-level wages for high school graduates fell from $15.64 in 1979 to $11.68 in 2011.
Last week, the Federal Reserve reported that household wealth is falling. The elderly are living longer and spending more on end-of-life care consuming savings that might otherwise be passed along to children. Baby boomers can no longer count on an inheritance to assuage their loss. The next generation may have to borrow from their children.
The weak economy also has interest rates low, so savings are yielding very little return, and few people have the money - or daring to enter the stock market.
The signs abound. From people seeking second jobs to people keeping jobs they don't like, all the economic indicators suggest it's becoming painful to be a middle-to-lower class worker.
It's more than paying rent and making do with a smaller TV. It's more people struggling to survive instead of doing other things, like school. This despite the fact that school can make workers more productive over their lifetime.
Prices continue to rise, as businesses contend with rising costs and shareholder demands to increase value. Companies have managed to deliver on these demands by cutting workforces, hours, and wages while raising prices. However, this burning of the candle at both ends typically burns the very people who are necessary to consume the products being produced. In economic terms, this practice yields diminishing returns.
Thankfully, the underemployed feed themselves, but not many others. While they pay taxes, they pay a small burden because they earn so little. Eventually, this tax burden will have to be shifted to the wealthy or swept into a growing national deficit.
Ultimately, it's the wealthy (those "job creators" we often hear about) that will either be compelled to put Americans to work with paycheck that can help them make their way and pay their share. This may cost more than the status quo, but it also provides a return since people are working more. Otherwise, the wealthy will be expected to pay more in taxes-and returns on cash paid to the government are virtually nil.
Rich or poor, people need to meet their basic needs, and those needs are growing, not shrinking. If thy can't meet them, they will expect others to help them do so. It is better to pay them and realize a return than to hand money to the government and trust the bureaucracy to meet them.
At least it's still free to pray.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Inflation, wages, underemployment, unemployment, economics, job creators, wealth, taxes
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