The confidence is crumbling

siena sri consumer confidence chart 2011-08-03

A chart of consumer confidence since 1999. The red line is New York State, the blue line is the nation.

Were you as spooked by the debt ceiling debacle as everyone else seems to have been? A new Consumer Confidence poll released today by the Siena Research Institute shows that people are feeling pretty down about the current state of the economy and even more bleak about the future. Siena polled the state as a whole and also separated out the numbers for upstate as compared to New York City. Across the state, consumer confidence has fallen by 1.9 percent. In the upstate area, it's fallen by 3.1 percent. And that's just the overall number. When confidence in the economic future is measured, the numbers get even worse, with upstate confidence falling by a whopping 8 percent.

This chart on Siena Institute's main page shows how precipitously consumer confidence has fallen in the country and state since 1999.

What are your thoughts on the current economy? Are you, your family and friends better off financially than you were a year ago? What do you expect your financial situation will be a year from now?

graph: Siena Research Institute


Given the deep recession we're trying to climb out of, and the failed economic policies forced on us by fiscal conservatives holding the federal government hostage, of course our confidence is crumbling. What's sadder still is we're in for a long, long, stagnant economy, especially here in New York state.

Thanks, Republicans, for taking care of your wealthy patrons, getting us in this situation, and keeping us in it....

With over 3 million New Yorkers receiving food stamps today its no wonder. That's progress.

Better off? I don't think so.
I am without a steady job for more than a year now. I didn't qualify for unemployment benefits (for reasons I don't want to discuss). I work odd and low-paying jobs to help cover the bills while seeing my skills dwindle. My spouse has a job which pays just enough so we don't qualify for food stamps or other assistance.
We slowly but steadily exhaust all the means of savings. We don't have cable TV, we cancelled landline phone and downgraded our cell phone plans to a bare minimum. We don't buy new clothes or shoes. We haven't had a vacation (or even a getaway weekend) this year. Our "eat out" consists of a takeaway pizza once a month.
And yet we are slowly but steadily spending our funds allocated for a downpayment for a future home.
I am ready to move to any part of the country for a job (even by temporarily splitting the family) but nothing is available in my field. Soon we will be forced to downgrade from our decent 2BR apartment to something way different.
So far future looks very bleak. It's the persistence of the trend which makes things so depressing.

Alas, Boo is right and his/her situation is quite (all-too) common.

The problem is that those who are supposed to protect the hard-earned rights (rights-not privileges) of the non-rich are either unable (through media marginalization) or unwilling (through fear of upsetting the "independent"/"median" voter and/or more likely, their corporate or to a far lesser extent, union handlers) to do so.

This leaves the vast majority of Americans with the feeling of nowhere to turn and a sense of (well-founded) hopelessness. Gradually what we are seeing is the transformation of the "American Dream" into an "American Illusion." If you still believe that it is possible to get ahead in today's America, you wouldn't be wrong, but you would have to recognize that that is increasingly not the case for most citizens.

Most citizens played by the rules and continue to do, losing what they had at the margins: an increased insurance premium, dippings into savings, higher gas prices, and a tearing social safety net (after all, who really does want the government involved in their medicare?).

Everything is upside down, taken out of a reasonable historical context, and oversimplified. A perusal of large family get-togethers reveals the tendency to blame the wrong side of the equation and imperialistically expand upon cliches: "corporations are bad, but those goddamned unions are the real culprits!" "Bush may have spent alot, but that Obama has really spent too much!" "The Government has to get out of the way and let private businesses create jobs!"

Many of the people who make comments such as these are good people; they serve/or have served our country in the military, they help their family and friends and neighbors, and they work. But they are afraid--and until the spell of fear can be interrupted, we will continue down the path toward our social-Darwinian future. Extra copy of "Thunderdome" anybody?

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