Not just Americans, actually, but people all throughout the West.
You used to be able to afford to pay for a family with 3-5 kids on one income and still be middle class. Now, both parents have to work, and even with only 2 kids they barely end up in the middle class, burdened by debt for their entire lives, living well outside their means until they retire. If they get to retire.
In the 1910’s, a teenager used to be able to work for 3 months over the summer and pay for an entire year of tuition at a private college. Now, that’s a laughable proposition.
50 years ago Americans would complete their college degree and take out a mortgage to buy a house. Now, by the time they’ve completed their studies, their student debt is equivalent to a mortgage on a decent house! Yet they have nothing to show for it: just a piece of paper that more and more people are getting, and that’s worth less and less in the job market with every year.
Our currency is just a piece of paper
A century ago, the U.S. dollar was backed by gold and silver. Paper cash could be redeemed for actual, physical gold and silver. In 1933, Roosevelt took the U.S. dollar off the gold standard, made it illegal to own gold, passed an executive order to confiscate all gold, and then devalued the currency two-fold by changing the exchange rate from U.S. dollars to gold. It remained illegal to own gold in the US until 1974. Nowadays, “Federal Reserve Notes” are not redeemable for anything and are not backed by anything. They’re used because the U.S. government forces Americans to use them with guns and violently attacks any alternative currencies. In Europe, there’s a strong push to get rid of cash altogether, in favor of 1s and 0s in a database. Because then central banks can create currency easier than ever! Just edit the database entry, and you have a few more billion available to you, while everyone else gets poorer and poorer.
Virtually every major statistic put out by the government is a lie. Unemployment, GDP growth, and inflation are all a sham.
When the government calculates GDP growth, it subtracts the official inflation rate (currently around 2%), and reports a reasonable economic growth rate of around 2.5%. However, if you subtract the real inflation rate, which is currently around 10% in the U.S., the U.S. economy is actually shrinking every year by about 5.5%.
Decades ago the government started falsifying these vital statistics, and tricked people into thinking things aren’t that bad.
The rise of modern conveniences and technologies like television and smartphones, most of which are of questionable value, has masked the decline in our living standards by making it seem like civilization is progressing. People talk of a technological singularity, meanwhile we can’t afford to live within our means and are drowning in debt. People say that technology makes our lives easier, but addiction to smartphones is causing record levels of depression and suicide among teenagers.
Something doesn’t fit in this narrative of “progress”.
When the late Roman Empire was crumbling, increasingly worsening living conditions, depreciating currency, and record levels of Romans on welfare (at one point as much as 30% of Rome was on the daily grain dole, where they would get grain from the government so they wouldn’t starve) were all signs of a coming collapse. Emperors, desperate to maintain order amidst the looming disaster, would spend their dwindling resources on something called bread and circuses. They would hand out food and distract the public in the coliseum, so they wouldn’t notice that things were getting worse.
Are we better off than our grandparents were, or are food stamps, smartphones, and YouTube the modern version of bread and circuses?