Dangers of the Growing Financial Gap in America

The efforts of the government to help Americans financially have done little in the way of providing relief. The loss of jobs is still growing at a faster pace than job creation, causing the divide to grow wider between the rich and poor.

How Bad is It?

In 2009, approximately 44 million Americans were living below the poverty line. This equates to a household of four with an annual income of $22,000. This is the highest number recorded in 51 years. 19 million people were living in extreme poverty, which amounts to a family of four with a household annual income of $11,000. These alarming statistics have caused individuals to take notice, and have renewed efforts to fight poverty in America.

Gap or Canyon?

With little signs of the economy improving, the divide between classes is becoming more apparent. There are currently more poor people living in America than there has ever been. Some professors and economists believe that America has become a low-wage nation, and this is the reason for the increasing divide of classes. They describe the economy as being structurally broken. Some argue that individuals have created these economic problems for themselves. That argument is seeing little support as the economy becomes weaker, and more people find themselves struggling financially.

To make matters worse, The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund created under the stimulus package expired on September 30. The fund was used by 37 states to create subsidized jobs for nearly 250,000 low-income, long-term unemployed workers. The expiration of the fund will only add to the currently high unemployment numbers.

It was estimated that nearly 20,000 people would lose these jobs in Illinois alone. California, one of the states hardest hit by the recession, had 10,000 jobs created by the fund. The unemployment rates are expected to rise from 10.4 to 10.7 percent and 12.3 to 12.5 percent, respectively.

The House voted to extend the fund, but it later died in the Senate. Republicans opposed the extension because of concerns about the growing deficit. The bill was dropped in the Senate along with $16 billion in Medicaid assistance to pass an emergency extension of unemployment benefits for 2.5 Americans.

As congressional representatives debate on what measures to put in place to help those who are struggling, individuals are finding themselves in dire straits. Home foreclosures have increased substantially, and more people are finding themselves homeless.

Weak Establishment, Growing Extremist Faction

The alarming socio-economic divide in America is dangerous. Extremist groups like the Tea Party may gain a foothold as dissatisfied Americans look for an outlet to voice their anger. This political group believes in lowering taxes, gun rights and clamping down on immigration.

While each of these arguments may have some merit, when taken to extremes, the results can be disastrous. Until the government takes stronger actions to help struggling Americans, our very way of life is in danger. Will we embrace freedom, or will we embrace control?