ROSE NOLEN: Americans are losing hope in the dream

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | 4:49 p.m. CDT

America isn’t what it used to be. The country once prided itself on being the most affluent society in the world. Now the stories of poor families living in dire circumstances among us are heartbreaking.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is that the rich are getting richer every day. We have virtually become a society of the rich and the poor. People who have jobs are working every day and not making enough money to pay for their own upkeep.

One of the statements we can feel good about is that trade unions were responsible for establishing the middle class. But we allowed manufacturing companies to leave the country, which ultimately killed the middle class.

Now, it seems we have great technological enterprises, but unfortunately, we have more millionaires and a working class that is made up of poor people.

Consequently, we are no longer the people we were. We no longer believe if we get a good education and work hard, we’ll be able to achieve the good life we believe in.

Too many people we admired have worked hard and fallen on hard times. The only people having the good life seem to be those who are rich and never have to worry about losing their money.

Many of our children are still at home with us. They have taken on families, but they cannot afford to live alone, and many of us have a second and third generation living together as one family.

We hadn’t planned on it being that way. But so many young families cannot afford the cost of having people care for their children, so grandmother and grandfather have to take their turns.

Somehow, our dreams have begun to wither. Many who started out buying homes have lost them in the shuffle. The good jobs have been lost, and now it is taking two jobs to replace one income. Husbands and wives often pass each other in the doorway.

Parents are finding it difficult to remain married to each other. When dreams begin to die, it’s hard to keep hoping. It was easy to believe when you once saw others realize their dreams and watched them come true. Today you wonder if anyone will live that long.

We want to believe that our politicians will pull themselves together and remember that we are Americans and we work together.

We set our goals and struggle until we reach them. We need jobs. It’s time to go to work.

Wake up, Washington! The country is waiting.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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Ellis Smith May 7, 2014 | 7:37 a.m.

Well, Rose, we could put EVERYONE to work at federal government-created jobs. That was pretty much the case with the late and unlamented Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics when it finally "tanked" in 1991, where a woman could make more money as a prostitute (as part of the then illegal underground economy) than she could earn legally as a physician.

Be careful what you wish for.

Should the federal government also take on the task of making it easier for parents to live together? Really? Do the parents themselves have NO responsibility for doing that? Is no person today supposed to exercise responsibility for anything?

" doesn't matter what we want, it's what we do with what we have." - From the book "City of Plaster," by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer, Seattle, 2014)

Also, with our public education "system" (many public universities included) which is currently preparing youngsters for dead-end jobs, what sort of jobs would you expect them to end up with?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 7, 2014 | 8:06 a.m.

"People who have jobs are working every day and not making enough money to pay for their own upkeep."

There's one more HUGE difference between the middle class of today and three generations ago.


There's so much more STUFF for people to spend money on these days, and this is a big part of why the middle class seems to be standing still. Once you figure out you don't need most of what these companies are selling, it's a lot easier to make ends meet even on a modest salary.

Marriages fail because of unrealistic expectations.

Globalization has caused the loss of manufacturing jobs, not anything politicians have done. If someone in China will do a job for $2/hr that someone here wants $25/hr to do, it's pretty obvious who's going to get the job. And that's an awful hard thing to fix (without a severely protectionist trade policy, which has its own problems).


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 7, 2014 | 9:08 a.m.

The one thing Rose carefully avoids is this: The litany of really poor past decisions that were made in many of these folks lives.

To Rose, things "happen" TO folks rather than things "happen" BY folks.

She and her ilk have little regard for how past decisions lead to where a person is today. The recognition factor...the link between then and simply not there. It's as though you asked your 4 y/o grand-daughter how she got wet and muddy....and she replies, "I don't know. Somehow, into the creed I went." (Yes, this actually happened).

When you have such a mentality, it's actually no wonder why people like Rose turn to others (i.e., gov't) in their angst. It's also no wonder why folks who practiced delayed-gratification for much of their lives, paid attention to finances and job choices, plus recognized how today's decisions affect tomorrow, find little sympathy for Rose's world views.

Reaping always reflects the quality of the sowing.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 7, 2014 | 10:25 a.m.

@ Michael:

Rose and Rosman also carefully skate around the fact that during the most recent federal administrations, regardless of which party had/has the White House, no serious attempt has been made to curb jobs going overseas or to Latin America. In fact during the Clinton administration it was very much the opposite (one of several situations where Clinton and big business apparently agreed).

Those who today prepare for the future will OWN the future! Others will look back on today as having been far better than what they are going to face.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 7, 2014 | 10:51 a.m.

Ellis: " serious attempt has been made to curb jobs going overseas or to Latin America."

Only one serious attempt can be made.

Buy American. Be willing to pay the price. After all, that price reflects about 80-90% of expenses.....and expenses are ALWAYS nothing but someone's salary....either with direct employees or those folks who make the stuff a company buys wholesale to make it's own retail products.

All those jobs can be brought back here in a heartbeat: All we have to do is be willing to support salaries demanded by American workers.

PS: Folks do not understand....each and EVERY dollar spent in commerce somewhere, someplace, down the road, goes to pay someone's salary. All that follows stems from the financial math behind that fact. You want American-made shoes? You better be willing to pay the American wages of the person who made those shoes. You want American steel products? You better be willing to pay the American wages of the person who mined, refined, melted, and fabricated that steel.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 7, 2014 | 11:29 a.m.

In other words, you can have high wages, lots of jobs, or cheap goods. Pick any two.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams May 7, 2014 | 11:59 a.m.

MarkF: It took ma a bit on the high wages/cheap goods comparison, but I finally got it.

I think I agree with your post.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 7, 2014 | 12:30 p.m.


I KNOW I agree with Mark's post, and I think Mark gets the "game ball" for today. Brilliant!

It is definitely possible to have both high wages AND inexpensive product IF you have automated or even semi-automated production. It's already being done, here are in some other countries. When you have very few people involved in making a product, you can easily afford to pay them well and still have low labor cost. But every one of those employees MUST have some serious skill (in order to keep the production line running).

However, such operations require considerable capital to be built. Who supplies that capital?

The absolete LAST thing we need for this country's future is lots of unskilled workers. That will sink us for certain!

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