Why can't Americans just enjoy our prosperity?

By any measurable means, the current generation of Americans has it better than previous generations. Our work days are easier and shorter, our houses are bigger, our health is better, our lives are longer, we have unbelievable access to travel and information, we make more money (inflation adjusted), we have more stuff, etc. than previous generations.

So why do so many believe things are so bad, or that these are the worst of times. Is it guilt, lack of perspective, lack of spirituality, constant negativity from the media, or something else?

By the way, if you dispute my idea that we are more prosperous than before, please look at the census data linked below that shows all income groups better off than in the past.



Thomas M - Even after inflation is factored in, we are far richer than a generation or two ago. That was in the data I supplied. In simpler terms, we CAN buy more than previous generations.

Update 2:

Uvula - the rich and middle class gap is irrelevent. Data shows ALL income groups getting richer over time. The middle class is getting richer, just not as fast as the rich are. Or is that your explaination why we are dissatisfied- because we can't afford mansions and lear jets like the rich?

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First off, I agree and disagree with you but people need to stop relying so heavily on statistics because those can be misconstrued to read any way someone wants them to. Especially anything the government releases.

    Second, it depends on who you talk to when you say "American is prosperous". Just because we have advances in some areas does not mean things like racism and sexism have been overcome. Our work days are shorter but you have millions of people still being layed off and forced into retirement for companies to keep operating costs down. Houses are bigger, but how many are in foreclosure and entire neighborhoods sit empty with weeds growing (quite a bit!)? Our health may better but the number of obese children far outnumber average sized children of earlier years. Our lives are longer, but communicable diseases run rampant and kill. We have access to travel and information but considering the acts of terrorism and still the inefficiency of airlines to be up to codes they set for safety almost 6 years lago still has some traveling in fear. We may make more money, but not in the big picture when companies are outsourcing positions to other countries so their employees dont make any more money than they think they are worth.

    More does not equate to better. This country is financially in shambles. Our deficit is in the multi-billions trying to fund a war people are really tired of us fighting in. Our jobs are being sent to other countries for cheap labor for the same job duties. Our children are now some of the least intelligent and overweight on the globe. We have so many illegal immigrants over here that they have come out of hiding and are now demanding to be treated like citizens and are actually succeeding to change local, state, and federal laws.

    You tell me....what prosperity are you forseeing because all I see is a nation taking major steps backwards.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I've been learning about Hindu culture this last month and most of my class was surprised when the teacher said that you could be in the untouchable caste and be a millionaire but be a Brahman and be a peasant. The answer she said was that unlike our culture, many other cultures are nowhere as fucused on money as we Americans are. People don't appreciate their wealth and strive to get more. They need to be most in style and most rich. Why don't they just appreciate what they have and at least realize that they are hundreds of times richer than about half the world! If they just moved to like Africa, even Australia or Asia (and some of Europe) they'd be the richest people there!

  • 1 decade ago

    You think that all that is needed is sufficient amounts of bread and circus? And because the homeless can now have two cigarettes in a day they should suffer the rich getting doubly rich too? When the prez is the biggest gunrunner and terrorist patron money can buy?A man whose income is 2,500 times the average can not claim social security programs to be too expensive. Poverty makes for indignity that will in time get a lot more expensive. Politicians and business tycoons have sold the American dream to the far east countries. You enjoy your relative well-being while it lasts. Jobs sliding to foreign countries will eventually affect you too. And do not forget the joke wages payed to illegals either. This won´t predict for a healthy financial future. Those stats do not tell the truth about great many people just fighting to make ends meet.

  • Blue
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    We cannot enjoy that which we have not earned. If it is handed to us, we do not appreciate it, we abuse it or lose it, and begin seeking for bigger and better.

    If we don't like the woman sitting next to us at work, we go find a different job.

    We have way too many choices when we are shopping. How many different flavors of Chex Mix are there now?

    Developers are eager to sell us a house beyond our means. That's ok, we leave and find a bigger house in a new addition.

    Young women give themselves to young men on the first meeting. Can you wonder that young men don't respect them? They are too easy.

    I'm bored. I flip a switch and can watch 110 channels or go online where there are a million web sites to surf. I can remember when the only channel we could watch was Channel 6 and in black and white.

    Were you one of those parents who was in line for hours at Best Buy waiting to grab the newest game system? And did the child who will receive that system do his or her chores last night?

    I will step down off my soap box now. You get the idea. We are not grateful for what we have and we want more.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    properly, actually lets SPEND our some time previous to prosperity. GDP is recorded by using output. by using inspired the buyer marketplace (noticeably because it makes up type of 70% of our GDP), we would get better a lot-mandatory GDP factors that could be functional safeguard self belief in this manner of worrisome era. At this element, we are actually digging a hollow crammed with debt, yet when we do not act now by using expenditure, we threat the fee of needed GDP quotas that many human beings desire will be done. Secondly, the Federal Reserve isn't printing anymore money than it has before. in case you look on the buyer fee Indexes for the 365 days, we are fairly lower than the organic fee of inflation (2-3% per 365 days). This "Deflation" is risky because it hinders client costs (Why purchase now at the same time as this is going to likely be more less costly in some months?). the authorities is receiving money by using promoting off "debt" interior of this kind of "treasuries," authorities issued bonds.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Well yea, its true we're not sleeping on rock bed inside our caves any more. Standards we use to measure quality of life change over time. Same goes for all parts of our lives(moral issues, ethics...etc. People use to tolerate slavery.) Much of criticism comes from the fact that gap between rich and middle class appear to be widening. If you think people are just going around saying 'things are bad' you haven't looked hard enough. There's more to it. But one answer might that it stems from same thing which your question stems from. People constantly seeking instant gratification, answers, 'I want it now', 'media is so biased'... etc, and really lack of patience.

  • 1 decade ago

    You answered your own question when you assumed that ALL Americans are in the same situations. Our Liberties have been slowly diminishing and no one really cares since it never seems to directly involve them. As a whole, sure things should be peachy.

    As for the income "increase".... just because they give me more dollars to spend doesn't mean I can buy more today than I could with less of them yesterday.

    Source(s): ADDED The actuall answer is much simpler than trying to say our dollar doesn't buy as much. I mean if you have been to any other countries you notice big differences in cultures and overall expectations of life really. In America we are all hoping,..almost expecting to get the mansions and nice cars etc... I admire a man I used to work with that owned a few houses, had no television in his house at all and really didn't care much about how much money he was making. He truly understood how to be happy. Our society and mostly from the television that tells us we need everything changes our prospective on what we think will make us happy. The more we have, the more we will want... In my opinion the only real way to break that is to basically break yourself away from the "normal" american life....easier said than done
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    well some do that don't get caught up in the rat race

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    People are never happy it depends on that one person.

  • ?
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago


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