The author calls this - Financial Impotence, referring directly to the shame of having failed to be appropriately masculine. The inability to provide financially for my family is located precariously near the inability to sexually satisfy a mate. Men, to be real men, should be able to do these things, and when we can't - we aren't going to talk about it.
47 Percent of Americans cannot come up with $400 for an emergency, without selling something or borrowing. That was my family from 2010 until a few months ago. The article reminds us that during our personal boom-bust cycles, we go into debt during the bust, but do not save during the boom - we spend. Without details, that sounds irresponsible.
During the first 6 months of my family having an income that actually went beyond our minimal basic needs - we spent like crazy. Why? Because over the course of the last few years of subsistence living, everything we owned was broken, held together with tape, and on it's last legs. Our coffee maker leaked water all over the counter, the car had no air conditioning (In Phoenix Arizona), the computer that generates income had to be restarted several times a day - we didn't spend on lobster dinners and movie memorabilia, we spent because our daily tools were falling apart.
Second Point - and this may be my main point - is why do middle class white Americans get into this kind of trouble? They make a very good income, but the expenses are right in line with it - so even those who are above middle class cannot come up with emergency money? Easy - because we believed the lie that we would do better over time. We were told that hard working college educated white males could expect to increase their income over the prime working years (like our Father's did), so if we can barely make the payment on that great house you buy when you are 35 - that's fine. By 45, you will be earning so much more, and you got into that house at the right time, so it's value went up, your earning went up, and now the extra money is in savings.
That didn't happen. No one got a raise in the last 15 years, except the CEO. We did the math and got into the best house we could afford, with very little margin for error, but 5 years later, we didn't have a bigger check. Didn't see that raise 10 years later, either. Housing increases floated us, but that went bust, and there was nothing left.
We did what we were supposed to do - I was a middle class white male, military veteran, good State University education, technical and sales skills, joined the workforce, got married, bought a house, stuffed money into the 401(k), and bought the best house I could barely afford. Just two years later, I was homeless with a baby. I didn't have any savings, because I put everything I had into getting that home and making the payments. I was told, and believed, that this was the right thing to do, because I could count on making more in the near future.
The only ones who got a raise, were the Owners. Those who had jobs were lucky, so they didn't complain when the workload doubled, and their wages remained static. That double productivity on half the payroll expense went straight to the bottom line, and was distributed to shareholders, who liked the new arrangement. We are in our 6th straight year of staggering profits and stagnant wages. Those who managed to keep their houses, and appear to be doing well, are only keeping their nose above water. They look good to the already-drowned.
America will not recover without a Raise. Wages need to go up. Maybe all those unions we complained about in the 80's for being greedy and corrupt, were the only people looking out for the workers. I've never been in a Union, but I've lived in the post-union workforce, and I got screwed. I'm betting that you've been screwed, too.
Maybe Union empowerment isn't the answer, I don't know. But the only way we can start to find the right solution is to talk about it. If you can't afford a $400 emergency expense, ask your friends and colleagues if they can. Pass around an article like this - hey, it's 47% of us, it's me, is it you? You probably aren't alone.