The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans: Nearly Half Would Have Trouble Finding $400 For an Emergency

middle class

“So I never spoke about my financial travails, not even with my closest friends—that is, until I came to the realization that what was happening to me was also happening to millions of other Americans, and not just the poorest among us, who, by definition, struggle to make ends meet.”


The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans

Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency

Since 2013, the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?

Well, I knew. I knew because I am in that 47 percent.

I know what it is like to have to juggle creditors to make it through a week. I know what it is like to have to swallow my pride and constantly dun people to pay me so that I can pay others. I know what it is like to have liens slapped on me and to have my bank account levied by creditors. I know what it is like to be down to my last $5—literally—while I wait for a paycheck to arrive, and I know what it is like to subsist for days on a diet of eggs. I know what it is like to dread going to the mailbox, because there will always be new bills to pay but seldom a check with which to pay them. I know what it is like to have to tell my daughter that I didn’t know if I would be able to pay for her wedding; it all depended on whether something good happened. And I know what it is like to have to borrow money from my adult daughters because my wife and I ran out of heating oil.

You wouldn’t know any of that to look at me. I like to think I appear reasonably prosperous. Nor would you know it to look at my résumé. I have had a passably good career as a writer—five books, hundreds of articles published, a number of awards and fellowships, and a small (very small) but respectable reputation. You wouldn’t even know it to look at my tax return. I am nowhere near rich, but I have typically made a solid middle- or even, at times, upper-middle-class income, which is about all a writer can expect, even a writer who also teaches and lectures and writes television scripts, as I do. And you certainly wouldn’t know it to talk to me, because the last thing I would ever do—until now—is admit to financial insecurity or, as I think of it, “financial impotence,” because it has many of the characteristics of sexual impotence, not least of which is the desperate need to mask it and pretend everything is going swimmingly. In truth, it may be more embarrassing than sexual impotence. “You are more likely to hear from your buddy that he is on Viagra than that he has credit-card problems,” says Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist who teaches at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and ministers to individuals with financial issues. “Much more likely.” America is a country, as Donald Trump has reminded us, of winners and losers, alphas and weaklings. To struggle financially is a source of shame, a daily humiliation—even a form of social suicide. Silence is the only protection.

Full article from The Atlantic here…

Read it…


2 Responses to “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans: Nearly Half Would Have Trouble Finding $400 For an Emergency”
  1. mike Drouin says:

    I’m totally disgusted !!!! Why would our Government allow the financial sector to go after the wealth that had built up in the private sector Mortgage industry ??? even creating the conditions for the Banks to ” steal ” millions of homes , or gut equity ???? They hid that theft behind the documentation of a legitimate business transaction that was never executed other than on paper ….and concealed the evidence of what was really taking place behind our backs and without our permission??? Is that how capitalism works in a democracy ???? When wealth builds up in the private sector , The Government aids and abets its confiscation , even if it’s by criminal means ??? Then protects the criminals and vilifies the Homeowner ??? And what about a Government that allows no assimilation ???Are We are witnessing the Purge of E PLURIBUS UNUM ??? These are third world Country conditions !!! What the hell is going on ???

  2. lvent says:

    Where is the money?

    It’s been digitized unlawfully by those who want to use resocialism to cover up for gazillions in bank fraud theyre resocializing by coveting what is ours.

    They’ve taken their bank fraud & tried to legitimize it by calling it something other than it is which is dishonorable by how that’s being hidden.

    What’s being hidden is false claims in tort & that means foreign espionage is the RPII trying to be us.

    I certainly don’t want no part of that because that’s fraud in the essence which means they’re trying to make us complicate in their bank fraud post factum & thats forced slavery by false condemnation.

    That can only happen by falsification of evidence & that’s why they use false imprisonment to hide they’re undocumented, unregistered & unlicensed fraud redistributors of something unknown.

Leave a Reply