The Symptoms of Economic Tension
Unease and fear over the economy has become a part of popular culture now, with money worries permeating most industries and government agencies. Thanks to the media and the mortgage crisis, this fear has trickled down into the lives of most American families, affecting how we anticipate our futures and how we visualize the American Dream we once so revered. But most of us don’t consider the economy weak simply because of the bells and whistles thrown at us by news show pundits. We experience the weakened state of our industries and financial systems through shared grief, troublesome trends, and bottlenecked funding. Here are a few of the more obvious indicators of our national money worries:
College graduates not finding work. “I’m on food stamps,” middle class college graduates now proclaim without shame. “What is My Green Dot?” They may ask, searching for a credit line with which to subsidize their living expenses. It used to be that if you went to a good school and got a degree, you were almost guaranteed to find high-paying work and repay your student loans within a number of years. These days, not only are graduates finding it difficult to pay down loans, they’re hardly able to find gainful employment period. And we’re not talking about promising careers. Many graduates can’t even land menial, minimum wage work. Indeed, Generation Y is likely to be the first generation of Americans to be in worst economic shape than their parents.
Small businesses not getting loans. Despite getting bailed out by the federal government, too big to fail banks continue to fail. As a result, they claim to be short on money and short on enthusiasm for making risky loans, which many analysts agree was the reason for the collapse of the housing industry. The unintended victim of this has been small businesses who are finding it harder and harder to acquire loans, resulting in the inability of many burgeoning companies to invest in new infrastructures and markets. This has slowed one of our most important economic engines.
Retirees not staying retired. It used to be that when you retired you were well supported by social security and a retirement savings. Unfortunately, many retirees are being forced back onto the job market, where they’re discovering the same job-hunting difficulties as graduates.
National Endowment of the Arts not receiving funding. It was recently revealed that the crowdfunding site Kickstarter provides more money for independent artists than the NEA.
These indicators have been around for over four years now. Only time will tell when the current economic malaise will recede. In the meantime, Americans will have to buckle down and ride out the storm.