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Hidden Reality in America

Updated on January 16, 2017


I saw a program on ABC 20/20 recently hosted by Diane Sawyer. It was called "My America - A Hidden Reality." It featured some Americans around the country struggling to make ends meet in 2016. It was a sad and disturbing story of real people and real families facing harsh times in America, the richest nation in the world. How is this possible?

- Jan. 2017


The stories are familier. A person working at a low wage job with no future and barely meeting the daily expenses. Some have government assistance such as food stamps and housing and yet they are still struggling. Meanwhile, on wall street and silicon valley, people are making absorbitent amount of money and bonuses and stock options that are insane. There ar two Americas.

My frustration with this program is this. They don't seem to want to ask the "right" questions to get at the underlying causes. The concept of income inequality is being presented as a fact of life and the wealthy are getting much more than their share and that low skilled workers are not being paid a living wage. If we only raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, all will be fixed.

This is a false narrative. The main factors driving low wages are not being discussed.

Our current economic problems are due to many factors. Some have been brewing for a very long time. There are no magic fixes. The solutions will take time to reverse years of niglect and bad policies. Let me just list a few main drivers.

  • failed public school system
  • Failed welfare programs
  • Illegal immigration in the est. of 12 million or more
  • teenage pregnancy out of wedlock
  • single mothers as head of household
  • lack of job training programs
  • housing policies in cities that discourage construction of affordable housing
  • illegal drug use and gangs in inner cities

The Problem...

The elephant in the room is why are we in such a state in 2016? How did we get here? What behavior and policies lead us to this sad reality?

This state of affairs did not happen over night. It is years of progressive policies and government programs that created this mess. To blame this on income inequality is just disingenuous.

The solution is not so simple and it will take time. It will require a fundamental change in our government from federal to local. It will take some personal responsibility of the individual as well.


This program has opened my eyes. It is a snapshot of America and over 50% of our populace. What is wrong with America is captured on this screen. We as a society needs to reflect on our part in creating this mess. We can work towards fixing it or continue down the path of destruction. Destruction not only of our society but of the human spirit.


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    • jackclee lm profile imageAUTHOR

      Jack Lee 

      18 months ago from Yorktown NY

      rock_nj, you might be right as far as trade goes. I also think the outsourcing of jobs by large corporation is another related piece. How can we have a global economy that is level when labor cost in China and else where is so low compared to US?

      The other components in my piece has to do with our failed social policies which helped create this under class.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 

      18 months ago from New Jersey

      I think one of the main factors that has driven people to be "working poor" in the US is the "free trade" agreements the US has entered into with various 3rd world countries since the mid 1970s. That was about the time when this problem started getting a lot worse for the middle class (future working class), as high-wage manufacturing jobs started to move in large numbers to the now open 3rd world with their poverty wages. It got even worse with the acceptance of China into the WTO in 2000, as US manufacturers really ramped up their move overseas. You can really see an exodus of US manufacturing to overseas countries, like China, after the year 2000.

      I think Trump is onto something here. These "free trade" agreements have been skewed to helping move manufacturing out of the US and need to be challenged and changed to benefit US citizens. Of course, US citizens benefit from cheap goods from overseas markets, but when you're struggling to just put food on the table, it's hard to really benefit from such luxuries.


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