Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some curious statistics this week

Did anyone else notice:

1. that the CDC announced a 20 percent increase in suicides for people aged 45-54 from 1999-2004? They also announced that this is the highest rate in 25 years. They could not offer any reasons for the dramatic increase.(source)

2. the Congressional Budget Office release a report concluding that from 2003-2005 the increase in incomes of the top 1 percent of Americans from 2003 to 2005 exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of Americans. (source) President Bush said that the shift had actually been occurring for at least the last 25 years.

Hmmm. Is it at all possible that financial stress and despair could be behind the some of the increase in suicides among middle-aged people? These are people who have moved past the sense of immortality of youth. They are struggling to make it, raise children, save for retirement, pay off mortgages, pay for college tuition while still paying off their own college loans. These are people pop culture tends to leave behind. They are not the young and the beautiful. These are the tired and responsible laid-off line workers and outsourced middle managers. They might be stuck in dead end jobs precisely because they are afraid there is nothing else for them. They have seen their real income stagnate as their living expenses continue to rise. A little discouragement in the economy of the last seven years definitely makes sense. It will be interesting to see if there is another increase in suicides coincident with the bust of the housing bubble.

In the meantime, if you are middle-aged, down on your luck and trying to make ends meet, know that you are not alone. You did nothing wrong. These really are tough times no matter what the corporate spin masters say about globalization. You have not failed if you have not met your financial goals. In the end, all will be well. And ultimately there will be justice.