You Have to Be Asleep to Believe It

The crisis of middle-class America (FT, 7/30/10) offers a couple of stirring portraits in chronicling the decline of the American dream. Most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1% have tripled.

In the last expansion, which started in January 2002 and ended in December 2007, the median US household income dropped by $2,000 – the first ever instance where most Americans were worse off at the end of a cycle than at the start… Nowadays in America, you have a smaller chance of swapping your lower income bracket for a higher one than in almost any other developed economy – even Britain.

If incomes were declining during the last expansion, think of where they’re headed now. The accompanying anger seems to be driving the Tea Party, but in what direction?

It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.

— George Carlin

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