While the stock market keeps fluctuating up and down, the economic situation just keeps going downhill for a huge segment of the U.S. population. More people are in poverty now than at any time since the Census Bureau started keeping track, 52 years ago. A larger percentage of the population is living in poverty than at any time in the past eighteen years. Median household income, adjusted for inflation, has declined to the point that people are now making less than they did 13 years ago. Unemployment continues to be high, especially among minorities. Forty eight million people didn't work a single week last year. Nearly 50 million people now have no health insurance. More than a quarter of the country was uninsured for at least part of the year. The number of people living on less than half the income that is considered poverty has increased. More people are moving in with relatives because they can't afford to live on their own. The rate of poverty in the suburbs is at the highest level since 1967. Twenty-two percent of all children in the U.S. now live in poverty.
That's the bad news. There is good news – corporate profits are still healthy. Oh, and the rich still don't have to pay much in taxes. And rich people and corporations will be able to contribute unlimited amounts of money to elect candidates who will continue to do what they want them to do. Good news, for some. For a while. Until the whole society disintegrates. Until violence wells up among the desperate. Until the upper tier finds out it can't live the way it is accustomed to if the underclass refuses to wait on them or is too exhausted to do their bidding. Until the vision of suffering becomes painful to the eyes of those who can no longer look away. Until the awakening of conscience brings into consciousness that which has been too easy to ignore.
Economists are reluctant to even guess how long this state of affairs will continue, but they shouldn't be. The precise date when things will change for the better can be predicted with 100 percent certainty. Things will change when we make them change, and not a day sooner.
Who are the “we” who will bring about the change? This is not a question, really. It is an indictment. An accusation of negligence. A charge that demands an answer. “We” have a warrant out for us. “We” will be judged. “We” the people, the document says, established this union. Not “they” of long ago. We signed the Constitution. We committed ourselves to a country of the people, by the people, and for the people. We are our country. We are our present and our future. We are the only ones who can make change happen. Or we can let this country and all its promise fall apart and disappear.