This will not be a normal post for me. But, it bubbled up and out onto the page.
Government reports a week or so ago held this startling information: the average American family had lost 40% of its net worth over the past 4 years. We have all been transported back financially to the early 1990's. That is enough to cause anyone some serious stress and make the words satisfying retirement almost like an oxymoron.
The early 1990's: Desert Storm, a decade before 9/11, even longer before Iraq and Afghanistan, several presidents ago.
The early 1990s: my kids were just entering their teens, I was traveling 100,000 miles a year, my mom still had twenty years to live.
The early 1990's: many have pagers, a very few have large and expensive mobile cell phones, laptops are unheard of and tablets wouldn't be invented for almost two decades. The dot.com meltdown is 8 years in the future.
How can it be that all of that time and all our efforts were wiped out in the relative blink of an eye? How can it be that this news story passed with barely a ripple in the press? How can it be that we are calmly accepting the negation of 20 years of work, toil, savings and investing?
How can it be that many of those responsible have become richer and we seem OK with that? How can it be that the mentality that stole 40% from us continues to repeat itself with certain people making huge gambles to pump up their wealth even more (JP Morgan's recent $2 Billion loss come to mind?)?
What I just don't understand is that this report was met with a shrug of the shoulders. Some folks today go ballistic if their Medicare bill goes up $5 a month, gas costs more, or banks tack another $2 a month fee on something that used to be free. But, lose 20 years of work and 40% of net worth and we are focused instead on the Queen of England's 60th Jubilee.
Have we simply given up and assume the deck is so stacked against us we can only grin and bear it? Have we heard so much bad news in the last 4 years that this is just more of the same?
I am more scared of the passive acceptance of this news than I am of the news itself. I continue to lead a satisfying retirement, mainly because what makes me happy and satisfied is mostly under my control. Attitude and adjustments are mine to change.
But, I am not immune to the continued attack on my lifestyle. The problem is, there isn't much I can do about it, particularly when it seems as though so many are simply accepting this turn of events.
Before you add a comment that is political in nature, stop. There is enough blame to go around. The seeds for this disaster started decades ago, was allowed to develop by a blind Congress, bureaucrats and several misinformed or inattentive presidents. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. Regardless of who occupies the White House and fills the seats in Congress this fall, nothing will change as long as the average person learns he or she has lost two decades of net worth and thinks more about the upcoming NFL season instead.
OK, I needed to vent. I feel better now.