Poor folks stick with strong values, not self-pity

The booming stock market is of little solace to middle-class Americans, who continue to express concern about their financial security and the overall condition of the U.S. economy. The poor are even more bearish, surveys show.

In fact, after falling significantly behind in the Great Recession, less-affluent Americans have continued to lose ground in what has technically been the economic recovery.

In the years since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released Census Bureau data.

Yet even in the depths of the recession and the difficult recovery, middle-class and lower-income Americans remained optimistic about the future of the country and their own long-term personal prospects. They acknowledged the truth of rising inequality and expressed frustration over what they saw as a political and economic system that gave unfair advantages to those who were already ahead. There was no sign, however, that class resentments were increasing…

This finding is contrary to worries expressed by the social scientist Charles Murray and others that American civic culture is at risk of breaking down at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. In his book “Coming Apart,” Murray argues that poorer Americans are losing social bonds to hard work, family values and community…

Over the past 25 years, value trends find no widening of the division between the upper middle class and working class with respect to self-confidence, individualism and a sense of personal empowerment. Poorer and richer Americans differ on questions of opportunity and the role of government, yet these gaps have neither grown nor shrunk since the late 1980s…

Middle and lower-class Americans continue to see their lives as better than those of their parents, and they expect that their children will be better off than they are…

If anything, less-affluent Americans are more convinced of the importance of work than are more economically successful Americans. A 2008 Pew study found 69 percent of low-income Americans agreeing that “being successful in a career” was very important to them personally, compared with 58 percent of upper-income Americans.

Our analyses simply indicate that people’s difficulties haven’t undermined their values and long-term optimism. And among poor Americans specifically, there is little evidence that they feel sorry for themselves, or see themselves as economically doomed or morally adrift.

One more Republican myth, one more talking point for upper crust political hacks used to support their belief in the natural superiority of people with more money than social conscience – gone to Hell in a handbasket.

5 thoughts on “Poor folks stick with strong values, not self-pity

  1. Jeff Nguyen says:

    5. Poor people wouldn’t need healthcare if they got a (low wage) job, stopped eating junk food (that we profit from) and stop leeching off the system (that we built).

    • moss says:

      Well, which prompts your remark? Irony and sarcasm trying to imitate what passes for today’s conservatism? Or just plain ignorance out life outside of some ivory tower?

      • keaneo says:

        And who really resents the results of scholarly analysis from a stodgy foundation like Pew – when it turns up results counter to bigoted populist ideology?

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