Living in a Dream world – and poverty
Grinding poverty in the world’s richest nation is an old story.
Take the express train from New York to Washington DC and from the whoosh and whisper of the Quiet Car you can watch a landscape of urban decay that is worthy of a disaster movie set.
Less than a mile from the ITN bureau in DC and thus only a stone’s throw from the splendidly white-domed Capitol, you will find plenty of windows boarded up with plywood, iron bars on doors or sofas spilling their guts on the front porch.
When living room furniture migrates to the front of the house, you know that something has gone horribly wrong.
Washington DC specialises in African American poverty. Drive to West Virginia and you can witness the white rural variety.
These images are not new. What is new is the alarming trend at which poverty is growing. The ranks of the nouveau-poor have been expanding for four years in a row. They now embrace more than 46m Americans.
Not surprisingly the numbers are far from equal across America’s ethnic landscape. 38 per cent of black men have slipped from the middle class into poverty. The number for white men is 21 per cent.
These statistics are courtesy of the Pew Foundation in their report called Middle Class DOWNward mobility, Waking Up From the American Dream.
It makes for sobering reading. But the dismal numbers are not matched by the mood. Americans still cling to the American Dream, even though reality would warrant a wake up call.
I still haven’t decided whether this is delusional or admirable, or both. What’s more this economic crisis has coincided with an election cycle and an American politician is as likely to declare that he doesn’t believe in the Dream as he is to admit that he doesn’t believe in God.
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