In the latest sign that the U.S. continues to hurtle toward Third World nation status, a Federal Reserve report released yesterday underscores the depth and breadth of the devastation to the American middle class that is a direct result of conservative economic policy:
WASHINGTON — The recent economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, erasing almost two decades of accumulated prosperity, the Federal Reserve said Monday.
A hypothetical family richer than half the nation’s families and poorer than the other half had a net worth of $77,300 in 2010, compared with $126,400 in 2007, the Fed said. The crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss.
Of course, the “crash of housing prices” has a direct cause: after more than a decade of deregulation in homage to the “free market” gods, America’s Owners — that is, the Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks — engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy. It’s true that the Masters of the Universe do suffer so very much from hurt feelings whenever people mention what they did. This is why every time a reporter writes a sentence like “the crash of housing prices directly accounted for three-quarters of the loss,” it should be followed by a phrase explicitly stating that said crash was the fault of “Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks who engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy.”
Speaking of economic devastation, the Fed report also provided additional facts that should be forevermore linked to the same bankers:
Families’ income also continued to decline, a trend that predated the crisis but accelerated over the same period. Median family income fell to $45,800 in 2010 from $49,600 in 2007. All figures were adjusted for inflation.
The Fed found that middle-class families had sustained the largest percentage losses in both wealth and income during the crisis…
Fewer said they were saving for retirement, or for education, or for a down payment on a home.
Families with incomes in the middle 60 percent of the population lost a larger share of their wealth over the three-year period than the wealthiest and poorest families.
One basic reason for this disproportion is that the wealth of the middle class is mostly in housing, and the median amount of home equity dropped to $75,000 in 2010 from $110,000 in 2007. And while other forms of wealth have recovered much of the value lost in the crisis, housing prices have hardly budged…
“…all of which is the fault of Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks who engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy.” (Sorry. Just a suggestion.)
Costs led 58 percent of people to put off or go without health care they needed in the previous 12 months, a increase from 50 percent last August, says a survey released Monday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research organization based in Menlo Park, Calif. Americans skipped doctor and dentist visits, didn’t receive diagnostic tests, didn’t take their medicines, cut pills in half or took other steps to save money that could make them less healthy, the survey found…
Americans spent $2.6 trillion on health care in 2010, a tenfold increase since 1980, according to federal government figures. Higher prices for medical procedures, tests, drugs and other health care goods and services are increasingly burdensome on American households, contributing to higher health insurance premiums and fostering a population of uninsured people that’s approaching 50 million. That money isn’t buying Americans higher-quality care than is available in other rich countries, either.
An American family of four with job-based health insurance will spend more than $20,000 on premiums, deductibles, co-payments and other expenses this year, according to a recent analysis by Milliman, a firm that consults with companies about employee benefits.
So let me get this straight: the average American family of four has a yearly median income of $45,800, and a $20,000 health care bill. What’s wrong with this picture?
Not surprisingly, the uninsured are worse off than those who have health insurance, the Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows. Almost half of the uninsured, 47 percent, reported difficulties covering their medical expenses and 81 percent of them said they’d put off health care they needed. But having health insurance doesn’t guarantee access to affordable health care: 23 percent of people less than 65 years old who have health insurance said they faced trouble paying medical bills and 55 percent said they didn’t get health care they needed because of cost.
That’s right: almost a quarter of the people who have health insurance are struggling to pay medical bills, and more than half are forgoing needed health care due to the expense. Obviously the insured fare a bit better than the uninsured, 81 percent of whom are forgoing necessary medical care. But the larger point here is that President Barack Obama sold out the public option and the potential promise of single-payer for a private healthcare system that doesn’t even work.
To be fair, this state of affairs is not entirely the fault of the Masters of the Universe at the nation’s largest banks who engaged in a massive scheme of fraud, recklessness and criminality, and subsequently paid no meaningful price for their perfidy. No, this particular state of affairs is mainly the fault of the insurance companies themselves, enabled and abetted by craven, corrupt, cowardly conservative politicians like Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama. Selling out the American people for the sake of your own power and wealth is bad enough in principle. But the devastation and pain inflicted on the American middle class as a result of doing so is unconscionable. And unforgivable.
Whatever you do, don’t get sick in the United States of Jesus’s Free Market America:
A large share of those who need health care the most reported these difficulties. Forty-five percent of people who said they were in fair or poor health had problems with medical bills, compared to 29 percent of individuals in good health and 19 percent of those in excellent or very good health. Among the sickest people, 77 percent said they didn’t receive necessary treatments.
This is nothing short of a national disgrace. What kind of country lets its sickest people go without treatment, when under a single payer system we would all (a) pay less for health care, (b) have better health outcomes, and (c) ensure access for everyone?
I’ll tell you what kind of country: a conservative country.