Its one of my pet theories that when this is true (mass perception or mass reality) a society is in a lot of trouble,
I think of this when I read an article over at the Atlantic today
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.--One day when John Sherry was 10 years old, his parents picked him up from school and drove to a Ford dealership. They walked into a large showroom with Mustangs parked out front. He watched his parents, neither of them college graduates, ink the paperwork to buy a new, dark-green Taurus. Greg and Beth Sherry let their son sign his name at the bottom of one of the pages, just for fun.
John, who's now 29, says it was the first time he realized that purchasing a car was a bigger deal than buying groceries or a shirt. "I thought, 'Someday, I'm going to be doing that.' " But now, he says, his lips tight and flat, "I don't see myself buying a new car"--ever. "That seems out of my grasp."
John is part of the Majority of Americans with no college degree that our political and economic system are permanently exluding from the economy. Now I won't buy a new car unless I get a substantial amount of money, because I find the purchase of a new car to be wasteful. John as he was demoralized by being a part of his parents process views it as part of becoming a man and a fully actualized citizen thats being denied to him by the constitution of our society.
Greg Sherry, who works for a railroad, is 58 and is chugging toward retirement with an $80,000-a-year salary, a full pension, and a promise of health coverage for life. John scrapes by on $11 an hour, with few health benefits. "I feel like I'm working really hard," he says, "but I'm not getting ahead."
This isn't the lifestyle that John's parents wished upon their younger child. But it reflects the state of upward--or downward--mobility in the American economy today.
You see a generation working harder outside of the home but failing to get ahead like their parents expected them to.
And when the generation of John (and my ) Parents leave the work force in larger and larger numbers should people like John and I get jobs that pay as well as theirs: We will be stuck paying the bill for a retirement that our Parents and Grandparents generation ran up on a credit card.
We also have a health care system where the Insurance Industry and government are selling a bill of goods that are impoverishing even those Americans who never see a doctor.
When people talk about large scale political violence in the United States I tell them we are a long way from there. But the saga of John and people like him are how we might get there