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NEW YORK NEW YORK: A vanishing American dream?

Tony Best

NEW YORK NEW YORK: A vanishing American dream?

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A successful businessman in Colorado, Lloyd Lovell is living the American dream.
Offices in Colorado and Oregon, a three-bedroom home in the suburbs of Denver, 16 employees on his payroll and membership of the board of directors of the World Trade Centre in Denver are some of the indications of his climb up the economic and social ladder since he left Barbados in the 1970s.
“I have achieved parts of the American dream: a good education, owning a business, the ability to support my family, and being able to plan for the future with confidence,” said Lovell, who is from St Andrew.
“We came to this country from Barbados to better ourselves through education, hard work and persistence. My mother didn’t want her children to work in the sugar cane fields and thank God that didn’t happen. That’s why I am in the United States today. We are living in tough, very tough economic times and the American dream is disappearing for millions of people.”
His observation about the negative impact of the weak economy on people across the land and on the American dream was made a few days after the US Census Bureau released information showing that poverty was on the rise in the United States. That data came just before Bob Turner, a Republican, defeated David Weprin, a Democrat, for a Queens seat in the US House of Representatives.
Like the poverty figures, the special election to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Anthony Weiner, who was forced out in a sex scandal, threw the spotlight on President Barack Obama, his economic and Middle Eastern policies, and his chances of being re-elected in 2012.
According to the Census Bureau, about 43 million people or 14.3 per cent of the population lived in poverty in 2009, the year President Obama moved into the White House. That was an increase of four million from 2008. By 2010, 2.6 million more people had joined the ranks of the poor, defined as people with an income of less than US$10 830 for a single person and US$22 050 for a family of four.
Actually, the poverty rate rose to 15.1per cent last year; that’s less than one per cent over 2009. But that’s not all. The median household income dropped 2.3 per cent last year, falling to US$49 400 in real terms, down from the peak of US$53 252 in 1999 and US$52 282 in 2007.
When we look at poverty picture by race, there is clear evidence that Blacks are suffering the most, with 27.4 per cent living in poverty; Hispanics 26.6 per cent; Asians 12.1 per cent and Whites 9.9 per cent.
“What you see from these numbers is that things have got worse; but imagine where we would have been if President Obama hadn’t stepped in with his stimulus package and didn’t fight hard for health care reform,” insisted Lovell.
“It’s clear that the president has an uphill task on his hands and it explains why some of us are saying the American dream is disappearing.”