Not What We Expected
Political Animal – The suicide rate continues to soar; or, how our dysfunctional economy is literally killing us
Our pension system is a shambles and we’ve seen a wave of mortgage foreclosures. Many people in this economy have lost their jobs and everything they’ve worked hard for all their lives, and have no realistic prospects of finding a decent job ever again. They are understandably freaked out, stressed out, and depressed. Losing one’s job is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a person, especially in this dismal economy. Moreover, when people lose their jobs, they also tend to lose their health insurance. And without access to decent mental health care, many depressions go untreated.
In the Times, one expert has this to say:
“The boomers had great expectations for what their life might look like, but I think perhaps it hasn’t panned out that way,” she said. “All these conditions the boomers are facing, future cohorts are going to be facing many of these conditions as well.”
How many people in this country will end their working lives having seen a significant decline in their living standards, relative to the standards their parents enjoyed? For the first time in America, declining economic mobility is a reality for many of us. The dashed dreams and expectations so many Americans are experiencing may explain much of the increased suicide rate. This economy is literally killing us.
I was a little boy when Walter Cronkite had a program called “The 21st Century.” It talked about the wonders we could look forward to in the new century. We had a lot of hope and belief in continuous progress. The United States had done so much and had been so successful, we knew things could only get better.
We were wrong. The 21st Century is not what we expected, not in our wildest dreams. Some of what people thought was supposed to happen was silly: personal robots, etc; but economic insecurity? in the United States? No one would have believed that.
The middle class is severely damaged, opportunity more circumscribed than the Gilded Age. The dreams of building great cities, great wonders, etc. don’t even seem to exist.
For the 1% this is a golden age beyond all imagining, and yet they do not have enough. They want more.
Yes, some people in the face of this kind of world are opting to die. I’m not surprised. We were supposed to be better off not worse.