As part of our special Election Issue, we’re asking Bloomberg Businessweek readers to tell us: Are we better off than we were four years ago?
Today we’re featuring testimonials from readers who believe life in America has not improved in the past four years. Tomorrow we’ll highlight more positive assessments of the nation’s progress.
Teresa Seaman, high school history teacher:
“Things are not better off than they were four years ago, and I don’t believe they will get better unless something drastic is done to the economy. I consider my family middle American. My husband is self-employed: He runs a small, one-person business appliance repair business, which he built totally by himself. This afforded us the American dream: a house on two acres, Christian school for our two sons, and enough to take a two-week vacation most years. I teach high school history at a private school. During the past four years, we have seen my husband’s business drop by 50 percent, while the cost of gasoline has risen from about $2.09 per gallon to $3.79. He uses 3-4 tanks per week to serve his customers. Four years ago our contribution to our health-care costs was about $160 per month with a $500 deductible. Four years later it is $240 per month with a $2,000 deductible. The price of groceries has went up at least 25 percent to 50 percent in our area. At my school, we are in year two of a three-year wage freeze. We lost 50 families from our school last year because their parents were either laid off or lost their jobs. My son’s employer will not pay for his health care because he is afraid he will get sucked into the Obamacare nightmare. Our family is suffering, as are many other families in middle America. I don’t know that we will be able to live the middle class life if the next four years are as bad as the last four.”
Roy Tanner, business analyst:
“This administration has created such an environment of uncertainty, new hiring and business investment [have] all but ground to a halt. I consider their indolence on budget, tax, and entitlement reform to be a dereliction of duty. If you want the trillions being held in abeyance by the private sector to be put in play, we must remove the fear and uncertainty that plagues the nation.”
Rita DaCorsi, retired:
“No, no, no. ALL prices have gone up—gas, food, utilities, etc. People are either unemployed or underpaid to keep their employer’s business going. We are being lied to by the administration, and we have economic, class, and political-party warfare. Our allies do not trust us, and our enemies do not fear us. This is not the America I know.”
Gary Hargrove, retired:
“Absolutely not. Small businesses in our area are suffering. More people are trying to find full-time work. Our country is a lot less safe, because [of] the Middle East being a total wreck. America has lost respect with all its allies. Why? Because of all of President Obama’s reckless policies here at home, and all over the world.”
Maureen Rowland, clerk:
“Rents and real estate are way up, the stock market is way up, people are moving here from all over the world and within the U.S. for jobs. Of course, the wealthy have benefited the most.”
Jerry Brown, sales:
“Only one in four eligible workers is working in this household. That’s 75 percent unemployment, not very easy to get by, you know? Do you have anything a college graduate can make a living at? If so, please let me know.”
Joanne Bedard, self-employed:
“I lost my job in 2011—the choice was unemployment or self-employment. We have lived on much less during each of last four years. Groceries, gas, clothing, basic necessities have skyrocketed. We have cut all that we can cut. I’ll be very worried if Obama gets back in.
“In 2008, I had a good position that paid a good salary. Since the recession I have to work two part-time jobs, and I’m barely scraping by. That’s what four years has done for me.”