The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released their year-end survey on December 15, 2010. Their pollling revealed that for the public, a tough year ended on a down note.
Consistent with the mood of the nation all year, 2010 is closing on a down note. Fully 72% are dissatisfied with national conditions, 89% rate national economic conditions as only fair or poor, and majorities or pluralities think the country is losing ground on nine of 12 major issues.
Pew's survey results are not surprising, and I would cover them in depth if it weren't for some rather important information that was buried in the next to last paragraph.
The survey finds that a majority of the public (57%) says it is very difficult or difficult to afford things they really want. About the same percentage said this two years ago (55%). And for many Americans, affording basic necessities remains a struggle – 51% say it is difficult to afford health care, 48% say the same about their home heating and electric bills, and 29% say it is difficult to afford food.
I just quoted Pew, and you read the quote, but I want to make sure all of us truly absorbed what it says. So let me repeat the information as a series of bullet points.
- Affording basic necessities remains a struggle.
- 51% say it is difficult to afford health care.
- 48% say the same about their home heating and electric bills.
- 29% say it is difficult to afford food.
Why isn't this information Front Page News? Can you see the headline? I can see it, splashed across the top of the front page of the New York Times—
29% of Americans Say It's Difficult To Afford Food
Why haven't we seen this headline? Or this one?
48% of Americans Say It's Hard to Pay Their Heating And Electric Bills
January 3rd, the first working day of the new year, is an excellent time to call out those in the media, our elected representatives, those setting policy at the Federal Reserve, others making hay Inside The Beltway, and many, many right-thinking economists—tell me again what a great country this is. Tell me again we're all going to be OK. Tell me again that this isn't an Empire in decline. Tell me again about the "business cycle" and recessions.
Tell me again that wealth inequality is nothing to worry about, or something that need not be discussed. Tell me again how monumentally important the Big Banks are, about how we had to save them to save ourselves. Tell me again that my life would be impossible without Goldman Sachs. Tell me again that the rising stock market is good for us all. Tell me again how soaring corporate profits made overseas are making life better and better for all Americans. Tell me again how making iPhones in China is part of the best of all possible worlds.
Tell me again about how Trickle-Down Economics works. Tell me again about why the 99ers can be written off, if you haven't already forgotten who they are. Tell me again that rising oil and gasoline prices don't matter. Tell me again that there's no food inflation, that the rising cost of groceries is all in our heads. Go ahead, tell me again.
The obvious problem is that anything these media-types or politicians or policy-makers say would be rendered meaningless by these headlines, which is why we don't see them. The gap between the Official Story and day-to-day Reality could hardly be larger. Isn't it shameful that nearly 3 in 10 Americans find it difficult to afford food? That nearly half of them find it hard to pay their utility bills? If it's not, then what is it? Just a minor bump in the road? If you're in the media or Inside the Beltway, and you're shoving this news under the rug—and of course, most of you are doing just that—you yourself are part of our National Shame.
Denial is not just a river in Egypt.