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Sunday extra: More families are struggling as the economic divide widens

More families are struggling as the economic divide widens

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  • Solution
    Feb. 8, 2009 3:07 a.m.

    I have a solution, more tax breaks for the rich!

  • Poverty in america
    Feb. 8, 2009 5:28 a.m.

    It took time and was eventual to happen, once the fuzzy debt syndrome kicked in. All of a sudden business and the american people realized they are not middle class or even close. It was well disguised with high debt to income ratios and the ability to pass debt around like it was a cash bonus. What is making it worse is the devaluation of the dollar and how it forces higher cost of foods and goods made and grown outside the U.S. It has taken a few generations now to realize that their grandparents were not gifted with what they have, they had to fight for a decent income from their employers to become middle class americans. The american labor market has lost its united efforts to keep jobs and income levels abreast of cost of living and inflation. Large corporations and business were able to convince our government that we americans expected too much for their employement so they moved out of america along with decent jobs. We are at pre WWII level jobs and income again. Government put more emphasis on business profit than on american workers needs, now we are losing in every way.

  • This is the reason
    Feb. 8, 2009 6:54 a.m.

    Our pocketbooks don't go very far. We voted for a change in policy for that reason. There is a huge gap between the very rich and those of us everyday people who are just trying to get by in this world.

    Life if difficult for people who have been laid off and are in the situation of raising a family.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 8, 2009 7:12 a.m.

    I would die to have what they have, and so would many other Utahns! OMG, the middle class is hurt by the downside---try being the little guy. And I am not talking the little guy who still drives around in a car, but the little guy who has never been able to afford a car. That kitchen is about half the size of my whole apartment. This is a very poor story about the "demise of the middle class". What we need to do is get off this sense of entitlement we have, gets our butts out there and work for the little things -- then there would be more appreciation. I have too many relatives that worked on the work projects just so they could have a job and a sense of accomplishment.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 8, 2009 7:30 a.m.

    Hamburger and Chicken...Nice luxury. Thank goodness for the years of building up food reserves, making your own bread, growng your own garden. Turn off the cable and get a converter box and watch free tv. Our parents and grandparents did it. We are a spoiled generation, I think our great grandparents would be ashamed at our lazy, spoiled legacy. This generation needs to figure out what a "want" and what a "need" is. Food, clothing and shelter...the necessities of life. Everything else is a bonus. Think about it.

  • jenny
    Feb. 8, 2009 7:37 a.m.

    Would someone please identify the fathers of all these deserted families? It is time for the fathers to be held accountable. So easy to go find the 20yr and leave the family he helped to create. Bring home the men and hold them accountable to their children. It is time for the community programs to lower their prices for playing on community teams. Bring back the spirit of fun and games without it costing an arm and a leg - Damn the torpedoes(fathers)

  • Julie
    Feb. 8, 2009 7:39 a.m.

    The problem here is there has been too much playing and not enough work. People of the US, are used to having more play than work. We now need to buckle down. My grand children go to Gymnastic, dance, soccer, football, pre kindergarten, etc. this all cost money. They are all frills that we need to cut out. Sorry if it hurts.

  • To Anonymous
    Feb. 8, 2009 7:40 a.m.

    You would die to have what they have? Their husband and father DID die! Would you want that? They have to spend hundreds per month on medications. You would want that?

  • Matter of choice
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:00 a.m.

    Poverty does not have to be a lifestyle! It is a choice!! I am middle class and cannot find a scholarship for my caucasian, average son because we make too much. If we were anything but average middle class people, we could have school paid for to help him get a better edge in life. Stop making excuses- there is every kind of program out there with free money for poor people. You don't have a car because you choose not to have one. If you really wanted one, you would find a way.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:03 a.m.

    I like Elizabeth Warren. I have admired her scholarship for years. I like her because her diagnosis is not simple or easy. Unlike many religious leaders, who attribute debt to "living beyond your means," she says that's not it at all. Goods and services cost more, she writes, which takes a huge hit on the middle-class family. I wish the churches in Utah would do more to help people adjust to the economic realities of their lives. Just saying have faith, you'll get through it, is trite and meaningless.

  • midwest
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:27 a.m.

    to Jenny-and the rest who are so critical-- before you paint everyone with the same brush- this lady is working. She is a school teacher. She is a single parent. If you bothered to read the article she became a widow a year ago. She has had alot of adjustments. If she is not making them per your schedule, I would have to ask if you have walked in her shoes at all.

    I am sure every one who criticizes this woman has totally lived within their means, has no debt,knows exactly how all those terrible people who are struggling got there. Afrer all, they sit in their smug world and will never be in that position.

    Are there plenty of people who set themselves up? Of course. But it is ignorant to smugly judge one and all.

  • Puzzled Pauline
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:27 a.m.

    I agree about the games part.

    We were a poor family but my cousin always played on the local little league team. I don't remember it costing much - if anything.

    When my own children were soccer age (@1980), although we were a complete family - there was little extra to play league games. So they didn't.

    It is time to get back to some simplier things and not let kids expect that things are a given.

  • small business owner
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:49 a.m.

    If I wasn't taxed so heavily I could expand my business to one more location and hire more people. And I pay well... $17-24/per hour for employees with no formal education. Don't tell me that taxes don't have an impact... I know first hand that they do.

  • samhill
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:52 a.m.

    What nonsense!

    If people want to figure out why they have less than they would like, the reasons are exactly the same they have ALWAYS BEEN.

    First, and foremost, work to find work that you can enjoy AND which is in a job market that is likely to be in demand enough to pay you what you think you will need. If that means trade schools, go there. If that means college, go there. If that means starting your own business, do that.

    Do all this as early in your life as possible (a recommendation I can provide as someone who waited much longer than I should have).

    As much as possible, buy ONLY what you can pay for as you can pay it. Use credit cards ONLY for NECESSITIES that come along unexpectedly and pay off the balance AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

    Save, SAve, SAVe, SAVE! And, invest.

    In other words, work to work in a job that is likely to pay you what you need and then do all you can to make that pay work for you.

    We live in a country that is still a land of promise and opportunity. Never forget that.

  • RE: Anonymous 8:03....
    Feb. 8, 2009 9:19 a.m.

    You don't get ahead by spending more than you earn. Living within your means is essential. Some churches stress the need for education & self-sufficiency. If you increase your means, you can easily afford the necessities of life. By the way, has the cost of a car really increased? Back in the day a car didn't have leather, power seats, MP3/DVD players, power windows, etc. Many things only cost more because they come with more. Look at the price of wheat & gasoline. They are cheaper today than they were 40 years ago when you consider inflation.

  • Watch for envy
    Feb. 8, 2009 9:28 a.m.

    The amount of envy in some of these posts is alarming to me. "We have less and they have more... it's not fair" seems to be what they're saying. It's not only childish, it's dangerous.

    The only way to satisfy that kind of logic is to forcefully take from the haves and give to the have-nots. And that's even more dangerous! Not only is that NOT fair, it's not what Jesus would do!

    Remember the parable of the talents... everyone should be rewarded--or punished!--for what they do with what they have, not how much they have compared with others. In that parable the Master actually took the talent from the servant who had only one and gave it to the one who already had ten! What's the principle behind that? There are many! Envy, industriousness, accountability, jealousy, true fairness, etc.

    Any time I hear people comparing incomes and complaining about how much they make compared to others it scares the dickens out of me!

    Stop comparing your income and situation to other! Stop envying and coveting and instead, invest the talents that you do have to make things better!

  • To Anonymous
    Feb. 8, 2009 9:49 a.m.

    To Anonymous who feels that churches who teach members to "live within their means" and to exercise faith, I ask: what would our country be like if everyone did just that? Instead of seeing how quickly we can spend it all to get the most possessions and pleasures possible, why not try saving and just spending time with your loved ones? Who is our neighbor? What are their needs? This isn't an easy thing to do, but what worthwhile things really are?

  • John
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:08 a.m.

    I do feel bad this woman's husband died. But her home does appear to be nice and I think she'll find that cutting out the cable is a blessing in disguise.

    I make more than all of my siblings but yet we are the ones without cable, TiVo, new cars, fancy vacations, etc. It's not what you make, it's what you spend.

  • micki
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    People are finding it more and more difficult to just live, let alone "within their means"...the means has been reduced, and the "minimum" cost of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, has risen prohibitively. Real wages are at their lowest in 40 years! No wonder people are hurting. But CEOs are not.
    Not if they can afford trips to Cabo and private jets on our bailout money. This must stop. What would Jesus do? He'd make sure everyone on this abundant planet would have enough because it is only greed that is keeping that from happening. Envy may be a problem, but GREED is much worse.

  • SAVE don't spend
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:37 a.m.

    People need to cut back on their worldly vacations. This is not a time to be spending money on wasted gratifications. It's a time to save.

  • middle class guy
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:48 a.m.

    This article makes some good points, but is pretty one sided. Sure, the top 10% own 70% of the wealth, but they also pay more than 70% of the taxes. Someone else making a lot of money doesn't make me poor.

    I have been out of school for four years now, and, as the sole bread-winner, have worked really hard to increase my income. Meanwhile, we have pinched our pennies. As poor students, we learned early on how to scrimp and save. We use a pre-paid cell phone, make almost all of our meals at home, drive used cars, and we don't have cable tv. We have strict budgets and stick to them. It's not easy, but I feel lucky to have our little home and to be able to put food on the table. Most important, we have plans and goals, and we're (slowly) working towards them, and that makes me feel good.

    You can live a fine life in the middle class. If that life isn't enough for you, come up with a plan for something better, and get after it!


  • Living within means
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:54 a.m.

    The lady in the story appears to have been doing just that, living within her means. She may have spent money on frivoulous things in good times, but when a financial storm comes, she is just fine. She has a home that she can comfortably afford even in bad times, is not losing her car, still eats well. She has absolutely no threat to her basic necessities because she chose to live in a home that she didn't have to streach to get. This is a good example to everyone. And I'll bet her net worth is continuing to increase because of her good money management. She will probably go back to some frivolous spending when the times are good.

  • Stop being selfish
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:56 a.m.

    How about instead of all of this hyperbole, you actually go out and help someone who needs help. If you have all the answers to all the economic questions, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who could use some hands-on assistance with running their lives in the perfect manner in which many of you apparently manage.

    If helping others when you have the means isn't your *thing*, it's unlikely to be others' *thing* when you need help. It starts with you doing something.

  • housing problem underestimated
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:06 a.m.

    One thing that I wish was emphasized more is the housing crisis. As our population grows, and we all continue to want to live in our single-family homes on 1/4 acre lots, home prices will continue to escalate. Homes in the neighborhood I grew up in have increased from $90k to $300+k in only 20 years. There's no way incomes can keep up.

    There's only so much land- we can't haul in cheap land from China to fix the problem. People are forced further and further out in search of affordable housing. The result is that many families are forced to sacrifice more money on gas and other auto costs, more hours of their time commuting each day, and we all pay more to build roads to service these sprawling communities.

    We need innovations that will slash the cost of living for the middle class. Urban apartments that are family-friendly, and appealing to the middle class, more public transportation and car-sharing programs that allow more people to limit auto ownership, or forgo it altogether. The side benefits of urban living are huge also, cleaner air, more open space, etc.

  • Jan
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:11 a.m.

    "And the RICH get RICHER..."
    It is troubling hearing about the middle class loosing SO much ground. The article mentions that we are in company with Mexico. When I first visited Mexico in the 1970's, heard about and saw first hand what a country is like that has no middle class, I was shocked. Of course, I came back to Utah and enjoyed the middle class life for the next 25 years. Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of economic ground as of late...my 401k is about gone, no pension, wages not keeping up with inflation, ill health, and the latest news that my employer is cutting out health insurance-but giving us a $1.00 an hour raise so that we can "buy our own". We do not want to loose the middle class America! America needs to get back into balance. The middle class need to RULE! I know I'm prudent in my spending too...no cable, home phone...just a prepaid cell...a vegetarian diet with lots of beans (not by choice), a garden, and home baked bread. My entertainment? A game or puzzle (no expensive video games even with a teen).

  • Shanna
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:12 a.m.

    I must admit, I find it really hard to feel sorry for a family with so many luxuries and extra things for their family. They have much more than a lot of other families out there--cable is not a necessity and I am hard pressed to pity someone who had to downgrade to a basic package.
    Come on! Hamburger and chicken for dinner? As opposed to what, a steak every night?

    The families interviewed in this article have the basic necessities of life, and many of their wants already. I think happiness beyond that point is a matter of choice, not money!

    I consider my family and I to be well off, and even we don't have many of the luxuries listed by these people!

    If these families are the worst off during this economic recession, than I don't think anyone has the right to complain!

    This article would have been much better suited to families who really ARE suffering during this time. People who are having a hard time putting food of any kind on the table, let alone cable and extracurriculars for the kids.

    Can anyone say entitlement?

  • Stay Home
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:31 a.m.

    You are right , STOP all the unnecessary vacationing. Most travel agencies are HUGE rip-offs from the word GO! We also need to save fuel-- less pollution in doing so. My solution is to stay home and work in your gardens and grow some healthy veggies.

  • SAD
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:42 a.m.

    I don't think any of us out here haven't heard of a family or friend who has lost job. It is happening in all families and all people. These people thought they were safe in their jobs only to learn they ended up without a job. Nothing is safe in our world. This is a tough time for millions of Americans.

  • Idaokie
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:59 a.m.

    I agree with John, "it's not what you make, it's what you spend".
    You know what is wrong with the middle class today?
    They WANT too much. Not saving and raking up credit card debt is a choice.
    I grew up in the 70's. We had a 900 sq. ft house with three bedrooms, 1 bath. We drove one car, had one TV, one phone, and one income. The statistic "15% credit card debt" and "we have less savings today" compared to the 70's.... it's because people today WANT too much. You live in too big of a house, drive too many cars, have too many cell phones and other gadgets, and sign up to play too much.
    Frankly, this may be just what we need to get back to what really matters.

  • Not So Common Sense
    Feb. 8, 2009 12:56 p.m.

    This article is right on target.

    If you look back at the tax structure in this country you will find that over the last 100 years the tax burden has been shifting from the rich to the middle class.

    Any attempts at reversing this trend is called, "Socialism" or "a transfer of wealth".

    100 years ago the rich paid 100% of federal taxes. PERIOD. The poor and middle class had no federal tax burden.

    Amazingly, then the government had experienced frequently balanced budgets.

    Now the rich, or top 10% pay about 70% of federal taxes. Some say this is wrong and unfair. Think about that. Whats unfair about asking those with the most to help the most.

    Before someone goes on a rant about me envying the rich STOP. I am in the top 10%. Like Warren Buffet (the second richest man in the counrty), I believe I should be asked to pay for tax increases before anyone who makes less than I do.

    Why because I started out poor. I know what its like on both sides. I'd rather be well off and pay more in taxes so that those less fortunate can take care of their children.

  • Small Business Owner II
    Feb. 8, 2009 12:58 p.m.

    I too am a small business owner. I employ 47 FTE's (Full Time Employees) in Utah and I am planning to lay off 12 of them by the end of the month. Why, because I have ROI objectives to meet. Profitability is essential to the success of any business, and due to my need to meet certain margins, labor is the first to go because I can control that, but I cannot control my cost of taxes. Taxes truly make a HUGE difference to the small business owner. Lower business taxes = higher employment, higher business taxes = lower employment!

  • Sarcasm Ahead
    Feb. 8, 2009 1:03 p.m.

    *cough* That's it, Idaokie! These people wanted to delude themselves into thinking they were middle class when they should just admit they are poor and live in humble cottages, doing grunt work for their betters and being happy with their lot. The problem isn't that wages are lower and costs are higher at all... it's the whole mass delusion that there is a "middle class". Live like a peasant, be happy, and respect and serve your betters with a cheerful servile smile! That's the ticket!
    *cough-cough*

  • Tadpole
    Feb. 8, 2009 1:16 p.m.

    How judgmental and arrogant can some people get? Apparently some are not down on their luck as others are, and they feel they have a right to tell everyone else how it is. I'm gagging over such repulsiveness!

  • No need for sarcasm...
    Feb. 8, 2009 1:19 p.m.

    The current wage today is lower than the inflation-adjusted average wage from 1973. Any Utahan who is part of the cult of "husband brings home the bacon" should find this alarming, to say the least. Any of you who think salaries for the working class deserve to be lower, whilst salaries for "the man" continue to rise... well, what is wrong with you? Your priorities are completely nuts.

  • I am the man ...
    Feb. 8, 2009 3:52 p.m.

    Higher taxes means I quit. Find your own job. My business is closing. I'll be back when I am paid for investing. And I'll dust off that help-wanted sign. Lower taxes helps us all.

  • For those looking for help..
    Feb. 8, 2009 4:26 p.m.

    I know finances can be tough. I've been very poor and I know what it's like to not have money for food.

    My advice is for people to find a specific program that will help them be financially successful. Google Dave Ramsey. He has an excellent radio program and system that has helped us to pay off our debt and save a lot of money. We've sacrificed quite a bit, but with food storage and money in the bank I don't worry so much about the storms. Please take a minute and get good information that will help you.

  • Screwed Up
    Feb. 8, 2009 4:33 p.m.

    It should have been obvious to everyone that trouble was coming when jobs requiring little or no education (realtors, mortgage brokers, etc) were producing, relatively, the kind of income that historically only the very well educated (doctors, lawyers, MBAs, etc) had made. Everyone felt and still feels that they should have a big house, an SUV, great expensive vacations, etc if they are middle class. The whole idea of paying your dues through education, sacrifice, saving, going without is mostly gone.

  • Re: I am the man ... | 3:52
    Feb. 8, 2009 4:39 p.m.

    Yes, please do everything you said. The idea of your choosing to make *no* money, rather than pay taxes on what you make... well, knock yourself out. Because the rest of the people who are willing to invest in their business, rather than themselves, will still be out here making things happen without your greed and selfishness.

  • concerned
    Feb. 8, 2009 4:48 p.m.

    We had four family member laid off their jobs this past week, and these families are very desperate. This is not fun and games folks, it is reality! I just hope the suicide rate doesn't go up from unemployed Americans, with so much depression. Very scary times for everyone.

  • We've never
    Feb. 8, 2009 7:27 p.m.

    made much money, although my husband returned to college in his thirties. And though he always did extra work on the side. I canned and sewed and repaired everything from furniture to houses. We have always driven used cars (if we don't get 250,000 miles from a car, we feel bad). In the 70's and 80's our kids could get part-time jobs. They picked fruit along with the migrant workers from the time they were 10 or 12. We weren't able to help much with their college, but all but one of our kids has finished college, one is a lawyer, 2 have Master's, one is working on a Master's, and our son in law just finished his (while fully employed.)
    Life has always been hard work for us, but it was possible because we STAYED OUT OF DEBT, lived frugally, grew a garden, had food storage, and learned to do most of our own repairs.
    Now we're in our mid to late 60's, medical things are beginning, and it's scarey. People who never saved and lived off the government are better off than the middle class.

  • Hard
    Feb. 8, 2009 8:51 p.m.

    I have a very hard time feeling sorry for the "middle class" when I'm already at poverty level. Where did the reporter get their "poor are getting a little less poor?" The only reason our family isn't homeless is because we have family helping us. That's NOT acceptable. Schooling doesn't seem to be helping. That was always the answer in years past, as well as being a good hard worker with integrity. Doesn't cut it anymore. People blame Bush for it, and I am so sick of hearing it. As well as amazed and dumbfounded that people are that stupid. It's been happening for so many years, but no one was paying attention until lately. I won't be holding my breath that Biden is going to help. He's just another selfish career politician with his own power and livelihood in mind. (Not to mention the favors he must keep for promises made to other powerful people.) Until people get over themselves and are truly concerned about their neighbors' well being, it will continue to get worse. You'll be where my family is at.

  • Re: We've never | 7:27 p.m.
    Feb. 8, 2009 9:14 p.m.

    I feel for you. As a young person, I see what medical care is doing to my even relatively healthy family. My parents in their 50's are paying over $30K/py on health care simply because my mother had breast cancer 20 years ago. With the direction this health care system is going, they could easily end up in the poor house just from any major medical issue that might crop up again.

    People who followed the rules and lived within their means are the people who are being punished right now. Predatory lending made sure that the criminals on both extremes would come out smelling like a rose. I feel sorry for anyone in Utah who comes out of this scathed because of their own blindness to the policies they themselves have been supporting that were against their own best interests.

    If we don't get socialized medicine, increase taxes on the rich, and stabilize the labor force in this nation, I really fear we are going to end up just as bad as the Soviet Union, or I hate to even think... Iceland. This is the time to act.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 8, 2009 9:36 p.m.

    We are almost 60 and have no health insurance, and the only thing we own is our car. These are hard times for everyone.

  • Observer
    Feb. 8, 2009 9:48 p.m.

    Time to read (or reread) Ayn Rand's classic work, "Atlas Shrugged". Some of the thoughts expressed on these posts are disturbing.

  • What we need..
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:23 p.m.

    Is to raise taxes, that should really help in tough economic times.

    We know that letting people keep more of what they earn by cutting taxes doesn't work. So it only makes sense to raise taxes to help our government fix the mess we made for them.

  • Instereo
    Feb. 8, 2009 10:28 p.m.

    Unbridaled greed has brought us to this. The worship of the all mighty dollar and free enterprise. There's more to being human then money. We are better off when we don't have such a great divide between the haves and have nots. We can be just as imprisoned with economic tryany as we can with political tryany.

  • K
    Feb. 8, 2009 11:05 p.m.

    Salaries are also up dramatically from 20 years ago.

    Your parents actually had to put a down payment down on the thing. Maybe that's why they had it better? It took them a long time to get everything they have, we want everything now.

    I hate to tell everyone this but if you look at the table when you fill out your returns each time you make it too a new income bracket, that bracket takes a greater hit. The more you make the higher the taxes on the increased income. This idea that the rich should pay more actually already happens, it's not something that needs change in order for it to happen. Already in place folks.

  • Re: K | 11:05
    Feb. 9, 2009 1:13 a.m.

    "Salaries are also up dramatically from 20 years ago."

    Missed it. Adjusted for inflation, wages are lower than they were 20 years ago. They are lower than they were 20 years ago because every time taxes are cut, companies stagnate wages to match the tax cuts.

    Tax cuts never ever ever benefit the middle class over the long run. For about 5 years, it helps them... and then class disparity grows as wages stagnate for the working class, and increase for the rich.

    And whomever it was that mentioned "Atlas Shrugged" before... fantastic piece of literature, but absolutely garbage as it relates to the real world, and anyone trying to apply this to real life should be watched.

  • ALL AMERICAN HAWK
    Feb. 9, 2009 1:01 p.m.

    WHEN I WAS A KID,WHEN MY PARENTS BOUGHT A NEW CAR,
    IT WASN'T EVERY YEAR LIKE SOME PEOPLE DID.MY PARENTS
    BOUGHT NEW CARS WHEN THE OLD ONES WERE 13-14 YEARS
    OLD AND WORN OUT.I WAS GIVEN MY DAD'S 1954 CHEVY
    BEL AIR IN 1967 AFTER THEY BOUGHT A NEW 1967 DODGE
    POLARA.THE CHEVY NEEDED A NEW ENGINE AND TRANNY WHICH
    I INVESTED $900.00 TO DROP IN.(REBUILT '56 CHEVY V8
    3 SPEED STANDARD TRANSMISSION ,HURST FLOOR SHIFT KIT AND ADAPTER KIT FOR THE V8.)I DROVE THAT CAR FOR 3 MORE YEARS AND WAS QUITE HAPPY WITH IT ,ESPECIALLY SINCE I DID THE WORK MYSELF.I ALSO EARNED THE $$$
    FOR THE REBUILD,GAS AND INSURANCE.SOMETHING THAT SEEMS TO BE LOST ON SOME OF TODAY'S YOUTH.