America has always been seen as a land of contrasts. Big, geographically and numerically, strong militarily, it has been viewed as a country with innovative people and as an economic powerhouse. A lot of very rich people......and poor too. A rather bleak snapshot of the real America emerges in a piece "The Worst of Times, the Best of Time" by Andrew Cockburn on CounterPunch - suggesting all is not well in the land of the free and the brave:
"It’s the worst of times. America is plunging back into Depression. Only one out of every two Americans of working age has a job. Forty years ago that would have been okay. Dad went to the factory. Mom stayed at home to mind the kids. These days, just to keep the show on the road, mom and pop both work and the kids get daycare.
Start looking for work now and on average it will take till next April for you to find something. Across the last two months, more than a million Americans simply gave up seeking employment, even as benefits are running out. Ironically, if you quit looking for work you count as officially "discouraged", and don't figure in the official unemployment stats, which is the only reason that number hasn't shot up to record highs.
Somewhere near 10 million Americans without work aren't getting any kind of check. One in every five children is living below the poverty line, sometimes by as much as 50 per cent – classed as "extreme poverty". Across America, in state after state the till is empty. Barack Obama's home state of Illinois is effectively bankrupt. So is California. Forty-six of the 50 states are buried under huge deficits.
The stimulus has failed. The housing market is in free fall. A couple of months ago market analysts predicted there would be five million more foreclosures between now and 2011 and it looks like they're on target. Forty per cent of delinquent homeowners have already loaded up the SUV, thrown the plastic chairs in the swimming pool and tossed the house keys back at the bank. Only 30 per cent of foreclosures have been re-listed for sale. The banks have been keeping them back to avoid flooding the market."