Friday, October 19, 2012

Economic Backdrop to a Grim Election

For the first time in recent memory, there are no signs supporting either candidate on my block in Brooklyn three weeks before a Presidential election ( unless you count the Obama 2008 sticker on my door). This coincides with what I saw in Eastern Long Island earlier in the week. I see little public enthusiasm for either Presidential candidate. But in my judgment, this is not just about the personalities involved. It is that people are so pessimistic about the state of the economy, their own lives, and their own futures that they find the candidates optimistic rhetoric out of touch with reality. *******This is something I see on a daily basis. Almost every week, a former students comes to me in frustration about working at a job they hate, often well below their level of education, where the pay is low and the atmosphere is toxic. Whether they are working in animal shelters, cleaning hotel rooms, doing marketing, or taking a success of temp jobs, they picture they give of the American work place in the private sector is a grim one. And that doesn't include the teachers, who increasingly speak of working in such fear of losing their jobs in they don't raise test scores of children who the stress of poverty is beating down that they are on medication. When you add to this the pressure from student loans, which jobs they have don't allow them to repay, you sense that tens of millions of people in this country are walking on an economic treadmill that is steadily wearing them out. ********And these are people still in the "middle class" albeit just barely. Poor people are increasingly on the edge of homelessness, living doubled and tripled up, sleeping in cars, bouncing between relatives and homeless shelters, often deferring meals or satiating their hunger with chips and soda. ********Given these realities, is it any wonder that most people are voting largely to prevent someone they fear or dislike from being elected, rather than putting a candidate in office who they think will make things better for them *********And given where our economy is not, and where it is heading, such a pessimistic approach makes perfect sense.

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