85% of US Unhappy with Economy

Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2008

You would expect Americans, in a period of falling home prices, a wobbly stock market and an ongoing war, to be less than satisfied with the direction of the country. It’s natural. But Americans are not simply dissatisfied. They are very unhappy. O.K., deeply, pessimistically unhappy. Un–American Dreamy unhappy: 85% of respondents in an exclusive TIME/Rockefeller Foundation poll believe that the country is on the wrong track.

It’s an unprecedented downer from an optimistic nation, and depending on whom you talk to, the numbers simply get worse. Among blacks and Latinos, the dissatisfaction levels are 96% and 88%, respectively. And fewer than half of Generation Y believes that the country’s best days are ahead.

The kids are not all right. Nearly half of those between ages 18 and 29 say America was a better place to live in the 1990s and will continue to decline. Some of them are living that decline already: 58% of Gen Yers said they have had to borrow money to make ends meet in the past year.

A majority of Americans still believe that their kids will live better lives than they did, which means the American Dream isn’t exactly dead. (Although America’s kids aren’t so sure.) But most also believe that the social contract — the benefits corporations and government once guaranteed — is busted and needs to be rewritten to reflect the realities of economic life in a global marketplace. A majority (78%) say there is more risk to their and their family’s financial future than in the past, and rely more on their friends and family for financial support. More than a fifth (22%) have had to borrow money from a friend or relative to meet their expenses.

Most intriguing, a majority of those surveyed believe in the power of Big Government to solve the biggest problems of our time. They support major government investments that create jobs — 82% favor public works projects — and they remain sympathetic to the economy’s victims: 70% say more government programs should help those now struggling. It is a shocking shift in sentiment, a counterreformation of sorts in a Republican-led era that emphasizes deregulation and self-reliance. Do Americans really want more government? The answer to that question may be provided in the November election. But history has shown that when the going gets tough, even the tough expect their Uncle Sam to get going.

For more on the TIME/Rockefeller Foundation poll, go to http://www.rockfound.org/index_caw_bm.shtml


One Response to “85% of US Unhappy with Economy”

  1. cloaknbadger Says:

    Who’s unhappy with the economy? My refrigerator box has never been so well decorated!

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