Stories these days dealing with your money almost always have to do with details of why you have less of it – and how much less. I’m afraid this little outburst of mine will continue that experience. But it might still be interesting because it’s reliable. And quite clear. And quite bad.

When it comes to making just so many statistics out of all of us, our many friends at the U.S. Census factory are the best and the most accurate. So it is with this tale of the monetary decline in nearly all our lives using comparisons developed in the 2010 nose counting.

Our national median household net worth went straight down about 35% between 2005 and 2010. No steeper drop in modern times. But here’s the kicker. If we ignored the wise advice of our parents to buy a home as an investment for our future as they did, your median income went UP – about 8%. That’s right. If you bought a home during that period, thinking you were setting a good example and building what we euphemistically call a “nest egg,” your little “egg” dropped your income more than your friends and neighbors who rented. Damn!

And you know what else went against the common wisdom of previous generations in the personal financial business? Another wise savers “must do” that probably cost you more than you made? Buying stock. Either through outright purchases in the market or in your I-R-A, 401k or other investing. That, too, added to your overall losses. The census folks don’t make this stuff up, regardless of what your broker says.

People who lost the most net worth during that period were older Americans. In absolute terms, median net worth for those of us 65 and older decreased from about $195,000 to about $170,000. Net worth is the value of your assets after subtracting what you owe.

No matter what your educational level, the losses were across the board. In 2010, those with graduate or professional degrees had a median net worth of $245,000 and those with only a high school diploma had about $42,000. With a bachelor’s degree, the median net worth was about $142,000.

And yet another interesting statistic. In 2000, if you had a bachelor’s degree, your median net worth was twice as large as those with only a high school education. But, by 2010, that disparity went up to almost to three-and-a-half times as large.

Finally, the group who lost the most. Homeowners ages 35 to 44. For those folks, median net worth dropped 59%. Largely because the value of their real estate investment went down so much. And in whatever savings plans they had.

While I’m sure there are some exceptions to all this – because there always are – the numbers reflect pretty much what life has been like for the last several years for most of us. We may feel our incomes have been pretty steady or even increased a bit. But the unvarnished fact is – no matter how hard we work or at how many jobs – our purchasing power is less and our standard of living is lower.

Regular followers of these SECOND THOUGHTS rants know I hold a low – make that VERY low – opinion of most of our national politicians. Especially the current crop in both parties who’ve have made finding solutions to our problems all but impossible. If you want to know what fuels my anger with these bipartisan enemies of their own constituencies, go back and read those numbers again.

As these fools cover their own butts and behave as if their election to public office gave them divine right, each of us in what used to be the proud American middle class is being sucked backwards by their refusal to govern. By simply not solving the economic problems that are severely wounding this country, the upward American elevator we’ve historically taken to new levels of middle class security has been stopped and reversed.

When home ownership and investment in the markets of commerce in this country cause us to go backwards in our personal economic status, something is terribly wrong. When figures as reliable as the census folk show us renting someone else’s property – and not investing in the nation’s economy for all our benefit – are better pathways to improving our personal economic status, that too, is terribly wrong.

These are not aberrations. These are not output from a political party with something to win. These are facts taken from numbers that are as real and statistically impersonal as it gets. They prove absolutely that our personal losses in income and net worth – as participants in America’s middle class – are not losses caused from unwise purchases or the vagaries of our investment system. They are caused by a national government that refuses to govern. They are the open sores on the body politic created by people in office who either don’t know what to do, or – if they know – refusing to act.

If these tragic numbers adversely affect your life as they do mine – as well as those we love – do what I’m going to do. Make a note of these statistics and – when the ballot is in front of you – refer to that note as you make your mark. ‘Cause if we don’t change this soon, we may not have the chance to do it again.

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