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In Europe many states have went from dreams of a better tomorrow to merely hoping to survive. Those that live in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain in particular have gotten used to crushed expectations and disappointment. Spain is in a deep depression and is essentially bankrupt, something the ECB loathes to admit. The Greeks in essence did go bankrupt, paying out cents on Euro for its old debts for promises of new ones. France with its socialist ideologue leader is committing financial suicide and is on its way to joining southern Europe’s poor man’s club.

Across the pond America is touted as the shinning star of the western world. Its economic engine, while not performing very well, seems at least to be running. If the grand coach seems to be moving better it is likely because it has thrown off some excess weight. A lower percentage of its people are working than anytime since disco and bell bottoms were in style. When unemployment drops it is either because more people dropped out of the work force or, as in the latest drop, a move towards making more people part time. Like people applauding a magic trick, the media gives a standing ovation with each down tick in unemployment no matter the reason.

Real estate is improving but the reason is renewed speculation. In nearly every market sales agents will tell you much of their business is investors. What they will also tell you is homeowners are staying put. There is no an uptick int the numbers of people wanting to move up or move out. With the exception of the few limited areas that are experiencing real growth, this is a speculation driven real estate market. A fact backed up by affordability studies that show home prices are rising back above what many area incomes can support. No matter what you hear, re-creating the bubble that started it all is not a formula for success.

Stores are also taking a hit. With an average growth rate of .1 for the year retail sales are not even keeping up with inflation. Even this does not tell the whole story. Suppliers are feeling the pinch even more than they retailers. Tyson foods for example increased sales 2% but lost 43% of its net revenue in doing so. Businesses are being squeezed between consumer demands and increasing costs. Cost not just associated with obtaining the raw materials they need but also due to increasing regulatory and tax burdens, especially from ObamaCare.

The truth is American incomes are continuing to drop while prices and taxes are going up. One report says insurance cost alone could quadruple over the next year. Not surprising people are buying less and often choosing cheaper products. Store brands are filling up more of peoples shopping carts then ever before. Even McDonald’s announced it is dropping its high end sandwiches and expanding its dollar menu. Premium items, once all the rage, are taking a hit across the board. This is what is President Obama calls a recovery.

There are those that say this and other sites that point out the obvious are just trying to talk down the economy. They would rather ignore the fact that mufti-generational households are becoming the new norm and the American standard of living is falling. Pretending these things aren’t happening does not negate the reality. Maybe those that think the current economic strategy is working should ask the millions who now are employed part-time or have taken lower paying jobs how it is working for them.

Photo by Brett Rogers (http://www.beatcanvas.com)Last month the media outlets were ecstatic when millions of women found jobs as waitresses and nurses aids, many of whom were once managers, loan processors and secretaries. A celebration of disappointment and disillusionment predicated on the belief it could be worse. For those forgotten faces behind the statistics success is measured in ones ability to adapt and get by. People trying too hard to just survive to waste time crying over the disappearing American dream.

“The Conservative Mind”

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