American Morning

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January 18th, 2011
05:13 PM ET

Share your story: "Good-bye, middle class"

The American Middle Class is hurting.

More and more people are struggling just to get by paycheck to paycheck, and the assault on the middle of the country seems relentless...

* Millions have lost their jobs and their homes
* Life savings and pensions have evaporated
* College tuition costs are up, and students are having trouble paying off loans
* Health care costs are still high despite health care bill passage
* Unemployment is still high, with fewer union jobs available
* Food and gas prices are going up

We want to hear from you. How has the Great Recession affected your life?

Tell us your story and it might be considered for an upcoming series on American Morning.

Filed under: Economy • Great Recession • Middle Class
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Ralph, I am proud to have served so that ignorant people like you could exercise their 1st amendment rights and make stupid comments like yours.
    NEVER, EVER in my comments did I ever mention everyone should serve. Please get your facts right before you bash.
    As a matter of fact, I was PROUD to have served my country.
    How about you??

    January 31, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  2. Steve

    I was raised a military brat, traveled a lot. High school in Yokohama Japan with the likes of Mark Hamill (star wars) and graduated high school in San Diego. Now that I'm almost sixty and look back, each recession had a more shallow rebound for the middle class ( blue collar) folks. At the time I graduated, 1970, a guy could make a pretty good living working for a union company.

    I worked for Bethlehem Steel Corp. for 32 years. 50 miles southeast of Chicago (cold winters) in a middle class blue collar community. When Bethlehem liquidated assets, I moved on to work for the federal government because they're the only ones that would look at a 50 year olds resume. My retirement from BSCo was halved when they closed. My 401K was just about gone. But I feel lucky. Some did worse. This government retirement isn't as great as they tell you in the news. With 14 years, I get a pension that will just about pay for my health insurance each month. But I have been able to add a little to my TSP (401K). And that helps.

    I do not proclaim to know anything about our trade policies such as Nafta. And all the others that have come along. But it seems to me that the people that ratify these treaties are disaffected and therefore unconcerned about the consequents.

    January 30, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  3. Mike

    I have lived with few possessions other than a pc , a tv, clothing, and a decent running car for years. I gave up on what was obviously an American nightmare instead of a dream long ago. People live way above their means and it changes their sense of freedom. it's not freedom, it is slavery LITE. Owning a home is nice, but you really don't own it for 20-30 years. Then you retire and struggle to pay the property tax. I would rather buy a chunk of land and build with alternative materials. And that may be the future for many. Being deep in debt is not freedom. Freedom is doing what you want without all the material wants that bring endless credit struggle and endless paycheck to paycheck. People need to look at alternatives to living instead of feeding the credit beast. Americans are chumps and they took the bait because they wanted what their parents had or their neighbors have.
    I would rather live cheap and enjoy what I know is real freedom.

    January 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  4. Phil

    I am a teacher in Las Vegas. One of the reasons I decided to teach was that I believed that the education profession would be a "safe" profession, one that most people would believe to be untouchable in times like these. Government think that they know what is wrong with education. They treat kids like a product in a business. In Nevada, we have already lost much that we have worked hard to get. This year we get to look forward to lower pay, less money per students, and an expectation to fix students whose parents don't give them motivation and casinos who will hire without high school graduation. Yet the low graduation is always the teachers fault. Parents MUST assume responsibility for their children's education.

    January 28, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  5. Bill

    I used Old Spice for 65 years, and I discontinued using it when they came out with the old spice guy. I will never use it again, I don't want to smell like them.

    January 27, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  6. Ralph

    Right Dan. Everyone should join the military and put their lives on the line fighting pointless wars in order to get government run health care. The same health care you would deny average citizens. Real bright!

    January 27, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  7. Pauly

    On Parker/Spitzer, John Boehner, (don't call me Boner), stated we're broke. This didn't stop him & his fellow GOP from fighting for & getting a 2 year extension of tax cuts for the wealthy at a cost of more than $130 billion. And they still want to extend them for 10 years at a cost of more than $700 billion.
    They also aren't concerned that the CBO says the cost of repealing HCR will cost more than $230 billion, while HCR will cut the deficit.
    Now I am all for cutting the deficit/budget. I propose that we can start by eliminating the Congressional payroll. Actually, lawmakers' salaries arr mre pittance compared to the money they receive from lobbyists, PAC's, etc.
    Many GOP lawmakers have complained about the minimum wage. How about paying them the minimum wage? A lot of talk about cutting pensions & SS. Why never any talk about cutting their pensions which are the best in the world? And let them give up their "govt run health care" & let them purchase insurance on their own.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  8. Eddie

    Unfortunately this is one of the problems with society across the world, throughout history. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    January 26, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  9. richard whitbourne

    Your fact checker found that Rep. Bachman was false when she stated that the second stimulus was ~1 $ trillion. That opinion overlooked the $250 BB doctor fix, which gets the second to over $1 T.
    Your fact checker will probably rely on a lame excuse that the Doctor fix is more or less an annual ritual. However, it is stil more $ that goes into the economy, and unemployment remains over 9%.

    January 26, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  10. anonymous

    I have worked for the richest company in modern history, Microsoft as a software engineer. After ten years of 60-70 plus hour work weeks, stagnant wages, boom and bust economy- I now earn less today than I did in 1999. I do most of my shopping at Wall Mart, because I have to, not because I want to, and am just able to get by in one of the most expensive areas of the country to live.

    Wanton labor violations, H1-B offshoring of jobs, trade deficit, high prices / low wage / debt driven corrupt American monentary system etc... continues to put immense financial pressure on my single income family. This year I will be losing my health care, and before long plan to be in China making their Microsoft Intellimice for 35 cents an hour.

    I would go to the polls to vote to burn down the White House and Congress; but since our politicians only serve the people that bought their way into office I will save my gas.

    I am ashamed to be an American.

    January 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  11. Tara Leonard

    I come from a lower middle class family in Levittown, PA just north of Philadelphia. I sent myself to college and graduated Temple University. I am thirty four years old and have a three year old son Maximillian. In an unlikely event: I inherited 900,000.00 plus a 140K in a 401K, which will be projected at 740K when I retire. I paid off existing debt at 100K, put 160K into my small historic two bedroom home I mortgaged for 250K, rented a house for 1.5 years after my husband passed, and set a standard of living at 250K a year (nanny, the best health insurance, the best car insurance), I bought a landrover at 45K, a rolex at 10K, plastic surgery at 40K, that puts my spending at 605K so far. I took my son to disney world and trips 15K, and most of all, I helped my middle class family. I sent my mother to Italy for her life long dream at 5K, I loaned thousands of dollars to some friends and family that never was paid back. I offered health insurance to other members of my family but they were too proud and refused. I gave money to charities like clean air. Mostly because I watched the news every day I felt almost ashamed to inherit this money and I can't say I had any "fun" with it. I would buy strangers groceries, in disney world a woman's credit card declined and I would pick up the bill, I didn't donate to charities nearly as much as I randomly helped strangers. I paid one person's rent I barely knew because he got laid off. People often sent me money back and I realized I live amongst good americans. I have many family members with sick children. I couldn't go down that road. My middle class family came with middle class guilt in a way. I couldn't make sense of financial advisors because interest rates were so low, they kept saying at 2%- 4% returns I still have to work so there was no option but to do the bad deed- dip into principle.
    I felt horrible for inheriting money. All I wanted was to work, and later go to law school – send myself- when my son is older. I felt like an alien, and although people said they were happy for me, as they were loosing their homes and jobs, I lost everyone near to me in a sense by having this money. I quickly breezed through it, without regret, and now am pleasantly returning to the existentialist I was, should be, and have to be in order to thwart the jealousy and envy that nearly ruined my relationships.
    In short: the worst time in history to inherit money. A million bucks just aint what it used to be!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  12. Mark

    Keep on voting the Republicans in office, and the smaller the middle glass will get. They wan't two classes of people, the " poor ", and the 'rich". This way they get more, and more people to work for hardly nothing, while they get richer, and richer. I agree with James Mask. CNN is looking out for the Republicans, and the rich.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:06 am |
  13. Jack

    I have had the opportunity to be a faithful Democrat for years and I can honestly say that after years of watching the Democratic Party do their best to destroy the middle class people I am very happy to do my best to defeat them at every level !! Their policy used to be to help the "working class" people, but anymore their goal is to make everyone equal at the expense of the working people.

    January 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  14. James Mask

    why is cnn always willing to tell negative stories about the obama adm.?we as americans need more balance in the news, none of us is all wright or all wrong we need more true stories told, reather repeating the same unsubstuanted closed mined put down stories thank you James Mask

    January 19, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  15. trooper

    Here a new idea "JOBS". Pay things off before adding new.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  16. trooper

    It's eazy to blame unions. But the truth is it all the goverment and them wanting to keep there fat bank roll.The goverments keep adding more taxes and keep saying that need more money.When are they going to learn to do with out the fancy crap and new stuff every 6 mounths. Make things last for years, buy thing cheap,and cut the utilitys down by use other power means and save tax payers money. It is time for them to grow up and act resposable not like child that found mom n dad credit card.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  17. Dan

    I am retired Navy, now working Civil Service. Have great health care. Not saying this to brag, but I am saying this because, 25 years ago, I made the choice to serve my country, I stuck it out for 20 years, and now I reap the benefits.
    This economy is just a reminder that there is NOTHING on this earth that you can put your hope and trust in.
    True hope and trust can only be found in the almighty.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  18. Jaysea

    I'm 61 yrs old & have been cut to 1 day of work a week at a casino in Atlantic City! The NEW "headhunter" bosses don't want to pay towards benefits anymore for p/timers. They've let go more than 300 employees in a few months. I've been there 15 yrs p/t ..A+ employee. There hasn't been any promotions or raises in 10 yrs! I'm on partial unemplymt (which actually pays more clear than I make if I don't work at all but won't last forever) I'm deciding whether to let my condo foreclose & save what I can to make a move where I may possibly get work. It's so sad as I only had 5 more yrs til retirement. I'm worried about my benefits as I'm older; thank heavens' I'm healthy. Don't know what to do or who to turn to at this stage of the game?

    January 19, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  19. Stefanie Fuqua

    well, let see.. chapter 7 in 2009, seperation from hubby in march 2010, had to go back to hubby because me and my son could not get a place to rent with the money i made working for the state. got fired in august 2010 since then no job and still living with my hubby, so how did the recession affect my life?
    not at all, lived before in a bs life and still do, just more .... conditions

    January 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |