Those Rich Americans

That’s the perception of our country around the world. It’s the perception of our country around America. We created the middle class. We are industrious and entrepreneurial, the land of opportunity. We have anything and everything we could ever want or need, 24 hours a day. We are prosperous. We are wealthy. And … it’s all pretty much a lie. Propaganda. Disinformation. Hype. Brainwashing. B.S.

The new Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report lets us know that the average American adult has a net worth of just over $300,000. Not bad! Puts us fourth in the world behind the Swiss, the Aussies and the Norwegians. Good company to be in, for sure. Then again, there is a caveat — always a caveat. We have millions of millionaires — 7.1 million of them — and nearly 500 billionaires. Their wealth radically skews the average. The real America is vastly different than the $300,000 perception. Median net worth (half above, half below) is far more modest at just under $45,000, placing us barely among the world’s top 20 wealthiest nations, trailing the likes of Taiwan, Ireland and Italy. Yet, we’re among the top five for consumer debt. We lead the developed world in childhood poverty. Nearly 70% of federal spending goes to programs that support welfare payments in one form or another. One of every five Americans is dependent on government for some or all of their income, one of the highest government dependency ratios among advanced economies.

I don’t share these statistics to trash my country. America does a good job of trashing herself in far too many ways to catalog here. Instead, I share them because they speak to the problem of misperception. Too many cling to the belief we live in the greatest country ever. We used to; no doubt. Alas, times change. Just as youth yields to age, the promise of what America was has faded into what America is. We are living on our laurels, the yellowing memories of the America that, at one time, was the wealthiest nation on Earth. We have yielded that title to others. Now, we are a modestly wealthy nation, without a lot of prospects for improvement in the middle. Blame government for that. Politicians — in particular, the bleeding-heart baby boomer politicians who grew up believing everyone deserves a trophy just for trying — have ruined the American ethos that once made us great with a series of laws and mandates over the years that have abrogated the notion of personal responsibility in favor of dependence and the belief that someone else should provide for my well-being. The status quo we think we know is not static. Perceptions might remain, but that doesn’t mean they’re right … and at some point, reality changes perceptions.

As Sovereign thinkers, all of this gives us direction. The decline of America is not the stuff of myth, as too many want to believe. It is a process already underway. – Jeff

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