Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. A minority of us, myself included, are able to squirrel away a hundred bucks here and there and create a modest savings (that is all but wiped out any time there is an emergency, like a major auto breakdown or Christmas), but are still very much living for that bi-weekly check. A very small minority of us have enough extra cash, enough savings, enough "capital," that the income from those non-wage sources contributes significantly to our bottom line.
When George Bush touts his proposed second-term "ownership society," what he doesn't tell you is that regular people, those of us who live paycheck to paycheck, those of us for whom saving, especially in any significant amount, is a pipe dream, don't have a place in that ownership society. While removing tax burdens from savings accounts (whether for personal or medical or Social Security purposes) seems an intriguing proposition, it is all built on an assumption that, when bills are paid, you've got enough left over to contribute significantly to those tax-free accounts. For the 43+ million Americans who do not have health care, for instance, because they can't afford the $100 - $300 per month for base-line HMO coverage, what good is a tax-free savings account? Those folks are not buying health insurance because they can't afford it -- how can they afford to save $300 a month, even tax free, if they can't afford to spend $300 a month on health insurance?
Bottom line: we live in an America where most of us are scraping to get by. Those of us who are fortunate enough find ourselves in the dwindling "middle class" are desperately trying to keep ourselves there -- sixty-hour work-weeks, no pensions, piddly savings, constant fear of job loss. This is not an America where a second-income is a source of extra money for a married couple, this is a world where that second income is a necessity to keep the bills, the morgage, the school loans, out of default. The many millions of Americans who are working 40 or more hours each week and still riding below the poverty line (believe it, baby: the federal minimum wage at 40 hours per week amounts to less than $12000 per year, while the national average poverty line is around $15000), not to mention those who cannot work, or cannot find jobs in this "jobless recovery," aren't included in Bush's bold "ownership society." This administration's plans for our future economy are a fraud that no hard-working American should accept.
This group of articles highlight economic issues, and the Bush administration's inability to deal with, or outright exacerbation, of them:
*A note. All of these articles are availible to read for free. Salon.com articles require you sit through a 15 second advertsiement in order to receive a "Day Pass" to Salon content. Other sites may do the same. It's painless, I assure you, and worth it.
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