Americans lost 38% of our wealth in the three years between 2007 and 2010 according to US government data published last week. More than any other country the dominant ideology explains this as the fault of the individual. After all, if Warren Buffet's accumulation of $70 billion or so or Bill gates' similar wealth is the result of individual efforts and hard work, and the imbecile George W Bush's success due to him "pulling himself up by his own bootstraps" the average member of the working or middle class losing what we have built up is a result of individual failures. We bought a home we couldn't afford or simply made the wrong decisions. It's nothing to do with the market, with a "system" we call capitalism.
What's more, and extremely worrying as Maria Panartis commented in the Philadelphia Inquirer is the staggering financial assault on the generation that followed the baby boomers, "Generation Xers" she writes, " those who hit the workforce in the late 1980s and early 1990s — got more scorched than any other group." This group lost 55% of their net worth between 2001 and 2010 according to Fed data. A study by the Pew Research Center last year found that this generation is 74% poorer than its 1984 counterparts. That gap now has reached the point where the difference in the assets owned by each is staggering with generation Xers having 47% less assets than their 1984 counterparts according to an analysis reported in Huffington Business.
One of the reasons for this is the massive decline in home prices the source of wealth accumulation for the average American. When I came to the US I was stunned by this obsession with buying a home until I realized that this was driven by US society in general. The tax code is written to benefit homeowners. We are encouraged to invest in them which basically drives up prices artificially also. Big developers accustomed to investing in apartment blocks as they like their victims in one place, are buying up foreclosed single family homes as the profit potential looks good to them. A home is human shelter and should not be an investment.
So rather than being able to rely on decent government pensions, government guaranteed health care or education which is a productive allocation of the wealth we create in society providing us with a more secure and less stressful existence, we are forced to use our shelter as a bank, as a form of investment. After all, anything the working class gets from the state is communism isn't it? If we could, better paid workers bought rental property in an effort to have some other poor folks pay their mortgage for them and as a means to secure capital that might give us more security in our old age, or pay for our child's education; we can work longer hours, take another job---anything to secure peace in our later years if we are lucky to avoid the heart attacks, strokes and other diseases like alcoholism that are a product of this lifestyle. US society, the belly of the capitalist beast, pushes us all in to the open arms of mother market.
But this era has gone, never to return. Losing 38% of our wealth has consequences. The drugs, alcoholism and even the total family annihilation's that occur frequently are a product of the market and in particular, the dominant ideology propagated by the capitalist class that controls the media, the institutes of education and information that the individual is in control of their own destiny----it's all out there if you simply work hard and make the right choices. As Warren Buffet's son points out in his autobiography, "Life is what you make it". The $90,000 "nest egg" he received from his father, the coupon clipper in 1979 never had any influence on his life path.
Losing close to half of all you have accumulated through hard productive work cannot be blamed on the favorite bugaboos of the capitalist propaganda machine", alleged militants" "Muslim extremists" or "enemy combatant " al Qaeda or otherwise, . And the so-called "free market" system, or capitalist production cannot be blamed, after all, we don't live in a "system" we are simply a lot of individuals all running around like mice making our own decisions that determine our destiny independent of society class, race, gender or social position. We are all born with the same chance in life.
So generation Xers, the poor, the unemployed, the veterans that crack up, the mom and pop small business that fails and casts the family in to the ranks of the working class, or the unemployed working class, or even the prison industrial complex---you only have yourselves to blame.
Freedom isn't free as Rush Limbaugh, the multimillionaire waster from a bourgeois family might say.
You're on your own baby.