America, you're not looking so hot these days.
That's the only conclusion one can draw from recently released reports on a number of economic and social indicators that paint a rather bleak picture of life in the USA. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median income dropped from $52,163 in 2007 to $50,303 in 2008. That's lower than the median income in 1998, meaning the average American has gotten poorer over the last decade even though G.D.P. and productivity continue to increase. Not surprisingly, this is reflecting in a rising poverty rate, which reached 13.2% of the population in 2008, up from 12.5% in 2007. One in five American children now live in poverty, an absolute scandal in the richest country in human history.
Things get even more depressing when considering the 2009 edition of the OECD's Social Indicators report. As Doug Henwood reports, Americans are on average poorer, sicker, undereducated, and massively overworked in comparison to our peers in the rich countries of the world.
There's a lot of misery and a deep sense of grievance out there, as the inchoate populist anger toward almost everything the Obama administration has done shows. But most of it is coming from the right. Most liberals and many "progressives" continue to trust against all evidence that the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress have a program to effectively deal with these problems, and until they're forced to face reality the danger posed by ascendant right-wing radicalism will only increase.