Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Worried about your wallet? Why this week is important for you.

Imagine you are a single person, out living on your own. Your annual salary is $44,000. Yet, all told, you spend about $74,000 a year, putting the $30,000 difference on a credit card. You've been spending money like this for a long time, and over the years, you've racked up about $294,000 in personal debt. You keep telling your skeptical creditors you're trying to cut back... but you recently negotiated a deal whereby your debt is projected to rise to about $400,000 over the next ten years.

Now, imagine yourself as one of ten people who live in a small apartment building. You're still working, but the guy down the hall lost his job and is struggling to make ends meet as he looks for work. Another person is fortunate enough to have a job after having been laid off, but they're making less than a few years ago because they're "underemployed."

If you all met in the hallway to discuss politics, seven out of ten of you would say the country is on the wrong track. Looking back at the past year, four of you would likely say that things have gotten worse for you economically over the past year, and five of you would say things are no better or worse; only one of you would say your lot has improved. And seven of you would say we still have a ways to go before we hit the bottom of the current recession; half of you think there will be another recession over the next few months.

Does all this sound too imaginary to be true, or does it seem like just another set of meaningless statistics? Well, it's very real. The numbers in the first paragraph are proportionately accurate representations of America's financial position given how much we spend each year as a nation and where our national debt stands. The second paragraph is based on current national unemployment figures. And, the statistics in the third paragraph are based on a recent MSNBC/Wall Street Journal national poll (click here for poll).

This is the context in which the GOP candidates will speak tonight as they vie to replace President Obama and seek to fix these problems. And, it's the same context in which President Obama will give his jobs speech to a joint session of Congress tomorrow night.

The question on the mind of many Americans will be which side has the most credibility to solve the problems we face. After all, one thing is for sure -- whether it's the Democrats or the Republicans or someone else, American needs someone to do something for fix things, fast. Because, if things don't turn around, America itself is in danger of being just another statistic.

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