How and when did the United States become such a terrible place to live?

The US middle class has been eroded to the point where 50% of households live paycheck to paycheck with no savings...

How and when did the United States become such a terrible place to live?

This question was asked recently on Quora, and got several answers - stirring almost the "yanni vs laurel" controversy. Check yourself, and compare to your perception: Robin Levin's "Yes, it is" vs. Brett Fazio's, "No, it's not".

"YES, IT IS" - I was born in 1949. The America of the 1950s and 1960s was prosperous. We had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the planet. People from all over the world wanted to immigrate. What happened?

First there was the Vietnam War. It was extremely expensive, causing deficit spending, and spurring inflation. It cost 55,000 young American lives and many thousands more lives that suffered long term physical or emotional damage.

Nixon precipitated our present health care crisis by overturning the regulation that had previously forbidden health care from being a profitable concern. The biggest cause of personal bankruptcy became medical debt.

Then were were the “trickle down” economic policies of Ronald Reagan. The principles of John Maynard Keynes were abandoned and programs helping the poor were curtailed. Taxes on the wealthy were sharply reduced. Subsidies for higher education were sharply curtailed. Higher education became so expensive that millions of college graduates are burdened with a lifetime of debt that they can never pay off. Many of them can’t afford to leave their parents’ basement, let alone get married and raise children.

​The New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt instituted a number of banking regulations including the Glass Steagall act which separated commercial from investment banking. The Clinton Administration overturned this act. Lack of regulations on banking and real estate led to the crash of 2008, in which millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes.

George Bush started two long term and unnecessary wars which caused thousands of American deaths, injuries and long term psychological damages to soldiers and vastly increased the federal debt. His tax cuts were also a large factor in increasing the federal debt.

Do tax cuts for the wealthy improve the economy? History shows that the answer is a resounding NO. The wealthy hoard the money or invest it abroad. Nothing has trickled down. The vast bulk of the wealth has flowed up to the already wealthy. We can expect the same results from the Trump tax cuts.

We are now in a situation where the middle class has been eroded to the point where fully fifty percent of American households live paycheck to paycheck with no savings at all. For these households a $500 auto repair bill can make them have to choose between paying the rent and utilities or putting food on the table.

​Our wars and our economic policies that serve only the desires of a small clique of billionaire oligarchs are what have destroyed America.

The original answer above was written by Robin Levin and published on Quora. We highly recommend checking more of her writing. Start with: Who is more dangerous, Donald Trump or his most rabid supporters?

NO, IT IS NOT. - America is a huge country with over 300 million people. Some things are bad, but for the majority of people its not like some third world war zone.

From your phrasing it seems that you hold some grudge against the US (or perhaps the current administration) and you are approaching the topic from a biased point of view. If you only look at the poor aspect of health care, police brutality, income inequality, and a large national debt then about every country has become a “terrible place to live.” But every country is not a terrible place to live so we know that can’t be right. People still flock to the United States (and now Australia as well) so it can’t be that terrible. We are still #10 overall on the UN HDI rankings (tied with Canada and beating such countries as New Zealand and Sweden), so the data also things we are still a good country to live in.

There are bad places in the United States, and some people have had deadly and terrible experiences here but it is by no means a terrible place overall. Orlando is a perfectly fine place to live as is the case with most suburban center of population throughout the US. America has always been a leader in technology and innovation and as we continue to attract higher level talent from throughout the world we will continue in this regard.

Some aspect of the US have gotten worse over the last 20 or so year but they have not tarnished the nation entirely. The US is still a good place to live and the citizenry continually try to make it better.

The original answer above was written by Brett Fazio and published on Quora.

  • 1