There is an increasing level of financial uncertainty amongst the citizens of the US, a situation which is not helped by indecisive government or an inherent absence of concise fiscal planning. As the federal government continue to debate the details of spending cuts for the coming fiscal year, so too increasingly inappropriate financial fees and charges are being applied to everyday functions, serving only to make a a difficult existence even more troublesome for family units and individuals of the numerous states. Put simply, a disproportionate burden of the nations debt is been placed upon the shoulders of ordinary citizens, with the inevitable consequence that they are finding it difficult to manage their finances. It is a frequent but distasteful corollary of many recessions, whereby an issue caused in the main by irresponsible government expenditure or lending becomes an issue for the people, leaving them to face economic constraints amidst rising unemployment and social hardship. Rising ATM Fees in the US An example of the everyday expenditure issues are hindering the citizens of the US can be witnessed through rising ATM fees, which apply to non customers who use a machine outside of their network. These fees have been in existence for some time, but their continued rise is at odds with the current financial situation facing most of middle class society. Quite aside from the timing, there is a separate issue concerning the methodology utilized by banks and financial organizations, especially those who retain a large amount of ATM's within a small geographical area.
Budget restrictions are in inevitable consequence of a recession, especially one which itself is the result of irresponsible fiscal management. Subsequently, society and its individuals are forced to endure several significant economic sanctions, which include sizeable reductions in public expenditure and also inflated levels of income and duty tax. While these are an accepted if much maligned aspect of economic recovery, there are serious questions as to how far governments should go to deliver financial stability. This week, the governors of Michigan supported a move to close up to 70 schools in the troubled city of Detroit, with a view to halving the number of educational outlets in the region by the year 2014. This proposal is in addition to the legislation that closed 59 schools throughout 2010, and will mean that the average high school class would include an estimated 60 students by 2012. Regardless of the economic need, the question that needs to be addressed is whether this sacrifice is worth any amount of fiscal saving. The Social Cost of Budgeting This decision is been driven by a desperate need to reduce a vast $327 million school budget deficit, regardless of the cost to the educational well being of US students and parents. This is a government stand point, which states that there are bound to be unfavorable consequences of an economic recovery from a recession, and that the closure of schools is a necessary evil in the pursuit of financial prosperity. The issue with this assertion is that by doing whatever is necessary to secure a short term financial future, there is the potential of damage being done to the long term education of high school children.
It was revealed this week that leading US banks are considering imposing a cap on all consumer debit card transactions, with a view to limiting the swipe fees which cost retailers valuable revenue. Although the motion has yet to be confirmed, it would go further than simply assisting retailers in obtaining a higher level of profit, and would also potentially change the way in which American citizens purchased both everyday and luxury items. While the benefits for US companies are obvious, any potential advantages for consumers are far more contentious and debateable. Firstly, it is unclear whether this restriction on how and when consumers use their debit cards is either entirely neccessary or reflective of a democratic society, where individuals should be free to spend their wealth as they desire. However, there is also a very pertinent argument that forcing consumers to make more cash purchases would lead to an enhanced fiscal responsibility within society. Enhancing Economic Awareness The second of these points is the most interetsing facing the contemporary consumer, especially in an age where consumer and credit card debt has soared beyond $26 billion in the US. Although this issue was not helped by the global recession, the excessive use of debit and credit cards has also been cited as a major influence, with the clear inference that consumers are more likely to spend higher volumes of their wealth through card payments.
While the common consensus of global opinion places the blame for the recent recession at the door of high level banking and investment operatives, its continuing effects are most significant amongst the working classes of society. Even as we continue along the steep and well worn paths of economic recovery, governments are still being forced to make budgetary cuts and modifications to combat the remnants of their financial deficits. In Wisconsin this week, 15 educational facilities were forced to cancel classes in the midst of a staff protest at the state, in reaction to a proposed bill that would impinge their collective bargaining rights and reduce the governments contributions to their benefits. While the protest is perceived as one that is concerned with the financial implications, it is clearly more focused on worker rights and the punishment of staff for federal errors in judgement. A Countrywide Issue This issue is part of a larger picture, in which budgetary restrictions are being replicated and contested in many of the poorer US states. Put simply, the proposed legislation will implore workers to invest more in their individual health care premiums and pension contributions, while removing the burden from government institutions. Also, workers would default on their right to have dues deducted straight from their weekly or monthly salary.
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of democratic representative Gabrielle Griffiths at a neighborhood meeting yesterday, a sharp and sudden focus was drawn against the increasing extremities of feeling that exist within contemporary US politics. Although an exact motive for the attack that killed and wounded others has yet to be determined, their are rumblings of the accused gunman being extremely hostile towards the current government regime and also especially vocal about his inherent dislike and reasoning. This reaction is extreme and entirely unjustified in a civilized society, but the instance is not isolated in terms of the level of threat and deep rooted animosity toward the existng political government. There have been several occasions in the last 18 months and 2 years where democratic representatives have been subjected to verbal abuse or vandalism, as concerns and issues with economic policies and health care legislation have combined to produce increased levels of frustration and discontentment with government representatives and legislation. A Diversity of Opinion While this particular instance and general type of political protest is repugnant, it is not the only reason for concern in federal circles. At the entirely opposite end of the spectrum, there continues to subsist a growing apathy towards voting and policies in particular geographical and age related demographics, and one which is born of the same levels of disenchantment that fuels acts of violence and anarchy. In a society where two opposed and yet deeply similar and related political issues are pertinent, there are several conclusions and portents that can be drawn.
When the individuals of a country are afflicted by the hardship of a recession, the very suggestion of prosperity and optimism can seem foreign to the concept of logic. As unemployment rises and jobs are cut from the private and public sectors, so too consumer spending power diminishes to create a vicious cycle within the economy. However, there are signs emerging through the gradual recovery that adults in the US have not only taken heed of the financial portents of the recession, but also developed a positive attitude in moving forward in society. A recent survey of young adults aged between 18 and 34 has revealed that this demographic have learned important financial lessons through the recession, and in fact resolved to save more of their disposable income and through budgeting and reducing their levels of impulse purchases. The published findings also suggest that this generation of citizens have also developed an increased responsibility concerning their debts and burdens, and are motivated to committing more money throughout 2011 to reduce their financial duty appropriately. Aside from the bare statistics, this survey also reveals some key points concerning young adults living in the US. Adapting to Social Conditions One of the most significant conclusions that can be drawn from the survey is the malleable and adaptable nature of young adults living in contemporary society. It is a well versed theory of psychology that young adults are more adaptable to the change in social conditions, and also more likely to modify their behavioural trends to a more positive end. This capability to conform to changing environment and conditions is believed to diminish over time, as adults more experienced in life are either too comfortable with their own wisdom or embittered by specific instances of hardship.