Need to Know, January 6, 2012: Help wanted: New Hampshire

How is Main Street doing? On the eve of the New Hampshire presidential primary, Need to Know visits Nashua and travels up and down that city’s Main Street to find out. Scott Simon hosts.

Watch the individual segments:

The view from Main Street

The poverty rate in New Hampshire is the lowest in the nation and the unemployment rate is the fourth lowest, and several small businesses and restaurants in Nashua are thriving. But Need to Know also discovered many people drowning in debt, unable to pay back their student loans or to pay their medical debt. A marriage counselor along Main Street in Nashua describes how financial distress is causing severe marital discord.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

 

Comments

  • Eduardo M Nogoy

    How can I help my fellow Americans who are down but not out?  Renewable Energy business is going to be big, very big.  Hang in there my good old Main Street Americans!

  • Mary Derstine

    Each Republican candidate, all members of Congress and our President should be made to watch this segment on Need to Know, spend hours talking to the poor and one-time moderate income voters and learn to work together and connect for the good of our country.  They should all have to read and re-read the book: That Used to be us by Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum.  I really worry about what my children and young grandchildren will face.  We need to conserve our natural resources, work for jobs in alternative energy fields and get back to basics and sustainability.

  • John Deitering

    Just viewed “Main Street”, the show just left me speechless (and depressed). The middle class is in SO much trouble, my heart just aches. Worse yet, I don’t think this can be solved by any particular politician or political party. So sad.

  • Linda Vaccaro

    Excellent segment and about time someone showed the truth about what’s really going on and
    in the minds of many of “we the people”.  Those of us that are shaking in our boots about the
    economical mess we are in as individuals resent the numbers they flash on the news as if things
    are getting better because we know better;  we’re living it and it’s not better.

  • rvgypsy

    The recession of 2008 was really only a very sharp wake up for a generation of the middle class that’s been losing out to corporate maneuvering and the rich since the 1980′s.  Two decades of “trickle-down” economics, right-to-work laws, a health-care system built for profit, not people.  A desperate, debt-laden drive by folks to hang on to their life, their house when their income flat-lined and everything else went up.  All happening while the most massive transfer of wealth in American history was taking place from the middle class to the wealthy. 

    It’s going to take a long time to unwind, and the party that mostly brought it to us, the Republican party, simply tells us to trust them that more of the same will fix it!  Come on folks, have we learned nothing?  Are we really that gullible?  The rich don’t “create” wealth, the middle class does.  We’re the ones who innovate, who design the product, make the product, sell the product, and consume the product.  The rich do some steering and take some risk, that’s about it, as any one of them as honest as Warren Buffet will tell you.  The rich don’t need tax breaks, they need a thriving, educated middle class. 

  • Brill Galt

    ___Titanic America___

    If things are this bad in such a statistically “good” place, just imagine how bad it is elsewhere.

    This ship is circling the drain and there isn’t a darn thing anyone can do about it.

  • Discouraged

    Seriously? This was just more of the liberal slant… These were not “middle class” examples… The truth is that “we” have been living above our means for a long, long time… And, yes, that catches up to us. For the person who claimed that the wealthy do not create wealth…the middle class does…? Good Lord… I don’t know what is wrong with people… Times are tough, right now…that’s a fact. But, “we” used to know how to persevere…how to work hard…how to better ourselves. Now? “We” just keep looking for someone else to give it to us… Discouraging to say the least…

  • http://twitter.com/brainsplus2 Rebecca Highstreet

    Excellent and insightful program about middle class Americans and how helpless they feel when it comes to the ever changing economy. No one seems to be immune – I’m not. My husband is the only person in our family with a job – actually, he lost it over Thanksgiving. We’re both college graduates but I’ve had ongoing medical issues and now this. We’re sinking just like this program shows happens to people everyday.

  • Xavier_Onassis

    I fail to see how this was a liberal slant, or how you can say that the people they interviewed are not middle class. I recall my parents telling me about how they got through the Depression, with three families in a two-bedroom house my grandfather built, how they walked downtown to save a nickel bus fare, how they picked up cigarette butts and took them home and re rolled them for a smoke after a dinner of beans and bones they scrounged from the butcher, who was a neighbor.
    What people used to do is go hungry.

  • Discouraged

    Xavier – I was raised by depression-era grandparents on pinto beans, potatoes and cornbread…clothes were hand-me-downs. My grandfather worked well into his 80s to support my brother and myself. “I” worked two and three jobs to put myself through college…and I PAID my debt… I didn’t receive any government freebies. There have been plenty of weeks with no-meat dinners and counting change to put gas in the car. YOU can’t tell me about sacrifice. And, no, these families are NOT examples of the “middle class”. The lack of continued education and/or training should have been your first clue… The point? “We” are supposed to instill in our children the desire/motivation to better ourselves… Each generation should get better…that used to be the way… Now? It is expected that we/our children are going to have HELP in achieving. Not that we/our children have to work hard…sacrifice…to achieve… It’s very sad.

  • Jmppake

    I sell renewable energy infrastructure and worry it won’t take off till the lights and heat gets turned off

  • jan

    A really good job on a story.  Thank you. 

  • jan

    Make that each republican and democratic candidate, all members of Congress and our President.  They all live in what amounts to physical and virtual gated communities where they don’t have to see or listen to or think about us.  They get their money from corporations, not us.  We might as well not exist until a few months before an election.

  • http://twitter.com/sue__b Sue Barnhart

    This story did show some real life issues real people face BUT after highlighting the regular working people who are deep in debt over medical bills & college loans it completely COMPLETELY ignored the facts that these are two of the main problems this President & the previous Democratic Congress spent all their political capital trying to fix & thanks to that effort already the banks no longer skim hefty profits off student loans & currently on it way in place is ObamacareS that once fully implemented will provide a safety net for the very people shown in this story.  I find it AMAZING that on the all the so called “libural media” there has been no effort explaining to people what this law will do for them once fully implemented in 2014.  & then you end it by PRETENDING that politicans attempt to do nothing????  Didn’t we spend about 9 months debating the ObamacareS that address these very problems???? 
    When you claim “politicans” do nothing you need specify which politicians do nothing cause the only ones I see doing nothing or blocking anything being done are the Republicans.  You could also mention that the American Jobs Act proposed by the President proposes to limit student loan payments to 10% discretionary income, forgive the balance after 20 yrs of payment & allow an estimated 6 million college grads to consolidate their current debt at todays low interest rates.  OH OH but you might be accused of having a “libural’ slant if you brought up any of those FACTS & didn’t just pretend that ALL politician & politcal parties are the “same”   I hope next time the Teaparty tries to cut PBS from the budget the President doesn’t bother to fight for you, I’m sure not going to.

  • http://twitter.com/DrCarlHindy Carl Hindy, Ph.D.

    I was glad to get my thirty seconds as “the marriage counselor” in this engaging video shot on the Main Street where I head to work each day.  I’ve looked out that window onto Main Street, Nashua, NH for twelve years, and worked locally for twenty-five:  that’s how many recessions?

    Frankly, I would argue that “the recession” was the one which occurred in the 1989-1990 time frame, and that’s when so much changed, never to fully “recover” in the sense that many of us would wish.  When I saw counseling clients during that recession circa 1990, they were long time employees laid off from major companies where they’d worked for decades, and often where a parent worked for decades as well.  They were devastated financially, but especially wrought with feelings of betrayal.  Those companies in which they’d worked their way up, those companies which had seemed to invest in them and their families to keep them for the long term (and fund their retirement thereafter) were cutting them loose based on numbers and organizational charts at headquarters far away.  “How could they do this to me?” was what I heard day after day.

    These folks were heading into the new era, given the new lexicon of buzz words that were to be their hope for the future:  “Network … Keep your skill set up to date along with your resume … Go to the outplacement service, see the headhunters, attend support and networking groups … log onto Monsterboard…”  Everyone was to be a free agent now, looking out for yourself, not expecting long term employment (that actually would look like a negative on your resume!). 

    And the stock market recovered.  Or did it?  And the recession ended.  Or did it?  It seems to me that we entered an era where corporations increasingly lived quarter-to-quarter — or even more tempestuously, as news of the quarter presaged the quarter’s end.  The stock market has risen and declined, but always seems to be on a razor’s edge, susceptible to so many forces (international, political, psychological) and fluctuating as much from the superficial factors as the fundamental ones.  It’s a short-term world.

    I’m a psychologist and marriage counselor, not an economist or politician.  What hits home in the therapy room, I believe, is that we are living longer term lives in a shorter term world.  And this is very stressful.  I believe that individual, couples and families need always to feel that they’re “getting somewhere,” “making progress,” “have something to show for the year,” “are further ahead this year than last year” … That we are “getting somewhere,” not just getting older (and approaching whole new sets of worries!)  The sense of forward movement seems very important.  Without forward movement, we feel more buffeted by all the daily problems and pressures.  Psychologists always talk about the influence of our pasts.  I think it’s important to see that we are pulled toward the future … and when the picture of the future is fuzzy and uncertain, anxiety and depression increase.  We need to feel an “internal local of control,” “self-efficacy” … Call it what you will, but it’s the belief that our efforts, our work, our determination, will lead to the goals we want in life.  What is the opposite?  It’s that the rewards in our life are not under our control, but under the control of luck, chance, and powerful others  (And folks point to a gridlocked political system, corporate greed, shortsighted profit-taking over longer term “values,” and so on).  Maybe if folks feel little control over their future, we can understand why they might just run-up their credit cards, buy the lavish items, head out on vacation using the home equity, care less about your weight and nutrition … The future is NOT where it’s at.  Spend!  (Hey, we are told that spending is what’s needed to invigorate the economy!)

    In doing marriage counseling, I believe that couples need to have their dreams for their future.  They need to be able to share those dreams by talking about them, exploring them … It’s part of that pull toward the future.  When we the degree of uncertainty we now face in our lives, it seems that the pull of the dreams is lost.  Talking about “what we hope to do in retirement,” “selling our house and moving to the lake,” and “sending our children to top notch colleges” now raise our blood pressure rather than give us pleasure, and they come between husbands and wives rather than bring them together; so we are more likely to avoid those conversations.  The sharing of the dreams is too often replaced with the sharing of the tensions of the day.  Couples come to counseling increasingly bickering about the daily minutia as they don’t feel they are “getting anywhere.”

    I’ve noticed the psychological research of eminent psychologist Carol Dweck, at Stanford.  She asks the question, “Is there such a thing as will power?”  Her research, in short, indicates that there is will power for people who believe in it!   This sounds a lot like the “internal locus of control” and “sense of self-efficacy” of which I spoke earlier.  How do we restore it, for more people more of the time?  How do we restore the belief that we can achieve what we want in life through our self-determination and hard work?  We need to find ways to take that back.

  • Sagefeldemeyer

    When the narrator of the segment asked residents of Main Street about their opinion of politicians (aka Washington), the standard reply was:  both parties don’t do anything–it’s gridlock.  Actually, there is one party that has consistently stymied any piece of legislation that helps people on Main Street;  they are Tea Party Republicans.  I wish the ‘both parties are at fault’ for the failure of policies to help Main Street would be challenged.  The record of obstruction on the right needs to be highlighted;  it is called responsible journalism.

  • Sagefeldemeyer

    Typical conservative reply:  Living beyond our means;  no, they don’t have the means to live–that’s the issue:  jobs that pay a living wage and affordable (single payer) healthcare, and there would be a less anxious, more functional Main Street!

  • Thrasyllus

    This was one of the most compelling programs I have seen in a long time. I hope the presidential candidates and all politicians watch and UNDERSTAND this program. It is not an hyperbole to say that the federal government is broken and that the middle class is about to collapse. I find this downright frightening.

  • http://twitter.com/sue__b Sue Barnhart

    & its not hyperbole to say just what do the American people expect when they vote in a group of politicians who explain EXACTLY what they plan to do, ie Reform Healthcare & then freak out when those same duly elected folks do what they said they were going to do & vote in an absolutely opposing group who say they will STOP and reverse everything the other group is doing?  NOW the general complaint heard from American public is ”Washington gridlock, they cant agree to anything, they can’t get anything done, oh know!”  

    Just at what point do the American Voters stop whining & start paying some attention (just a litte tiny bit) to policy & engage in the difficult debate/discussion without falling prey to sound bytes?   When do we ever ask citizens to do their duty to upholding this democracy & educate themselves?  A democracy that works needs informed & engaged citizens. I think we need to quit excusing the intellectually lazy & dishonest comment “they are all the same” coming from news media & the public alike.  “they are all the same” is a lie.

  • Swigley7

    A very powerful and accurate picture of what’s happening in every town in America – not just Nashua, New Hampshire. Let’s call it what it really is: a global depression.  We need a radical change at the congressional level since our business (the people’s business) is not being done.  Corporations are running the show; the Supreme Court is now deciding your future along with our do-nothing Congress; regulations have been obliterated on behalf of the greedy.  Regulation is NOT a dirty word – it’s OUR protection.  We need a Congress that pledges allegiance to helping America – not Orville Norquist’s pledge of “no-new-taxes or die”.  What a petty little king-maker he thinks he is!

    GET OUT THE VOTE; TAKE TIME TO KNOW THE ISSUES AND KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO TAKE BACK YOUR LIVES!

  • Charlotte Shapiro

    Excellent program, one candidates of both parties should view!
    Thank you for your presentation.Charlotte Shapiro
    Nashua, NH

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6YO7AJCBMZNLQZALJRODURQGNE BBailey

    A very good program.  But spare me the “politicians of both parties” crap.  The Democrats have agreed, again and again to compromise.  It’s the Republicans who are stonewalling, and who are the obstructionists.

  • Plzvote

    Sorry, just ain’t feeling it.  One guy is so big his eyes are just slants, has money for smokes, a daughter has a baby with her “fiance”.  The exterior of the house has enough christmas lights to be seen from the space shuttle.  Then the segment of “college loans”.  Sorry, just ain’t feeling it.  The money that is borrowed is to live on, party on, travel on, buy books on and sometime attend school on with oh woe is me do I have to pay it back?  It’s all soooo unfair.  

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/2SVZPTEXIUOWFQC5TOL6WZM4DI Conrad

    Hey dumbshit, we had more jobs in the year 2000 than we do now.  You Republicans have to be the dumbest motherfuckers in the history of mankind. Both parties are corrupt. They BOTH sold out to our God damn traitorous multinationals with this bullshit Free Trade dogma.  Hell, it’s over. Your prodigy will curse your kind in the future for being so damn dumb.  It doesn’t matter with me anymore because I’ve been to the mountain top and I looked out and saw God damn Peak Oil and it dawned on me that I was on the Titanic.  Christ is our only hope now.

  • Bill Zaffer

    I said someday we would regret Nafta and now we have to hear these politicians just give us the same regurgitated nonsense.  I use to make $80.000 a year and last two years down to $35,000 and now just did $20,000.  I do not have kids and no cable which is a waste, drive a hybrid, organic garden, live healthy and green.  Now I cannot even go out on a date since to many women at my age of 62 look for security with no understanding of how many are hurting now. I have to watch my money now more than ever.  I would say to young people.  Be patriotic, become smart have less children due to technology eliminating jobs and all of us start buying American not from Communist China abusing them for cheap labor.  Don’t expect a corrupt political system that money buys off and then representatives turn in to lobbyists.  It is just a career today with little concern for our country.  Washington sells their soul to money and yes this is a class war and sorry but evangelicals hiding behind religion versus common sense and science make me sick.  We all need to sacrifice with less entitlements, more efficient regulations, and higher taxes for the wealthy and at same time reform our tax system for companies that create jobs here and if not tax them 91% like Eisenhower era did if they take jobs overseas to Communist China.

  • Deborah Partington, PsyD

    Thank you for the provocative picture of Main Street, Nashua.  I lived at 100 Main Street back in the late 70s and 80s.  I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation, taught at Rivier College and at the Arts & Science Center. When I needed extra income,I worked part time at Miller’s Department Store. My studio,which I shared 2 artists, was at 310 Main Street. I spent many hours walking up and down Main Street, Nashua and knew many of the local business owners and  frequented many of the businesses along Main Street and downtown Nashua. I knew Main Street, Nashua. Seeing your program brought back many memories. 

  • John Larson

    Please take a moment to read all of Dr. Carl Hindy’s comments. As a co-producer of the segment, we wish we could have included more of Dr. Hindy in our story – he offered deep, well considered thought about how we are being influenced by a new economic environment. In our interview, he spoke of how we all, in our own way, want to feel we are making progress. He said we need to believe in a narrative, a story, about how our lives will work out — and in a political sense, we want to believe our country is a place where people can find answers and solutions.  That belief, said Hindy, is what is being damaged at all levels of American society right now – the faith that, as Americans, we will find answers to a better tomorrow. Deep thought, I know, and provocative.  Who would think that a marriage counsellor would have such a clear sense of the big picture?  But then again, who better?  Thanks for all the comments, John Larson

  • parhiscan

    I just watched the segment on Main Street in Nashua sadly this is the reality of many Americans. There is a gigantic disconnect between our politicians and ordinary Americans struggle to survive. Our pols are only worried about the big business community and how much is in it for themselves. We need statesmen and all we are getting are more useless politicians who can’t truly understand or care about the people of this country, cannot compromise with each other and are merely puppets of their corporate masters and the flood of money in our elections.

  • GeorgeD

    Certainly general economic conditions have a great deal to do with the problems seen in this report, but a large number of the individuals profiles, perhaps more than half, are in trouble via making economic decisions with their hearts instead of their heads.

    A good deal of time is spent on college debt, speaking with two students who have between $40,000 and $80,000 of debt accumulated at Rivier College.  While there are a number of professions (stronly concentrated around the S/T/E/M fields) that may be capable of providing jobs that would make $80k in student loans viable, there are not many, and a quick scan of the programs offered at Rivier does not inspire confidence in the ability of these students to be able to repay those loans without a significant struggle in the future.  In a similar vein, the father taking out $140,000 in loans for his daughter’s college loans looks to be a massive undertaking to try to repay, unless piano tuning is a lot more lucrative than I think.

    Parents and students need to make an assessment as to whether it is financially viable to attend a particular program at a particular school.  The solution is for the individuals in question to make a dispassionate financial decision at a point where that decision really matters, not to shift the risk onto others via payment limits and loan expiriation over time.  This requires a level of personal discipline and control, moving it past the stage of “I’ve always dreamed of going to this college” and towards determining if taking an potentially crippling loan is justified for what the student will be taking from the experience.

    In a similar vein, the music store owner putting his life savings back into a rapidly contracting business at this stage of his life may not have been his best choice.  If the financial outlook for the businees is such that it would make sense for him to make a similar investment in an “identical” operation that he did not currently own, then it’s an appropriate move.  If, however, it was driven by an emotional attachment to a family business, it may not have been the best path to choose. Certainly, no one want to see a multi-generation family business close, but it’s certainly better than watching it fail with no recovery for the owner.

    Sometimes, going cold and dispassionate is hard (actually, most times). But, knowing when to fold it and walk away (or to avoid getting involved in the first place) is often the basis for financial survival and growth. And, if you care for someone, sometimes that’s what you need to tell them. All too often we don’t, frequent looking to either spare their feelings or our own.

  • jan

     A few problems with that.  I compared the costs of Rivier to a midwest college that has a reputation for being a good education/low cost college/university.  Rivier is slightly but not much higher.  However, Rivier is on the east coast and cost of things are almost always higher on the east and west coast than they are in the midwest so I would call cost of education at Rivier vs. the midwest college a draw.  Given the fact that children need a college education if they are to survive in the future but denying it to them on a survival of the financially fittest basis is unofficially ending the American dream that you can go to college, make a living wage, support your family and own your home; all fairly modest dreams that are now under attack.   Denying them the opportunity to go to college and graduate will result in only the well-to-do being able to educate their children.  You would deny them the chance to dream.

    The system as it currently is has already denied someone I know the chance to become an engineer due to costs.  The system as you envision it would have denied him the chance to become a mathematician.  Do you really think he shouldn’t have aimed any higher than his truck driving father who never graduated high school?       

  • ellen

    Close-minded! How do you really know?  Some have been living beyond their means but you can’t say “we” all are… you must listen to Fox
                                       

  • http://www.hindyassociates.com/ Dr. Carl Hindy

    I
    was glad to get my thirty seconds as “the marriage counselor” in this
    engaging video shot on the Main Street where I head to work each day. 
    I’ve looked out that window onto Main Street, Nashua, NH for twelve
    years, and worked locally for twenty-five:  that’s how many recessions?

    Frankly,
    I would argue that “the recession” was the one which occurred in the
    1989-1990 time frame, and that’s when so much changed, never to fully
    “recover” in the sense that many of us would wish.  When I saw
    counseling clients during that recession circa 1990, they were long time
    employees laid off from major companies where they’d worked for
    decades, and often where a parent worked for decades as well.  They were
    devastated financially, but especially wrought with feelings of
    betrayal.  Those companies in which they’d worked their way up, those
    companies which had seemed to invest in them and their families to keep
    them for the long term (and fund their retirement thereafter) were
    cutting them loose based on numbers and organizational charts at
    headquarters far away.  “How could they do this to me?” was what I heard
    day after day.

    These
    folks were heading into the new era, and handed the new lexicon of
    buzz words that were to be their hope for the future:  “Network …
    Keep your skill set up to date along with your resume … Go to the
    outplacement service, see the headhunters, attend support and
    networking groups … log onto Monsterboard…”  Everyone was to be a
    free agent now, looking out for him or her self, not expecting long
    term employment (That actually would look like a negative on your
    resume!). 

    And
    the stock market recovered.  Or did it?  And the recession ended.  Or
    did it?  It seems to me that we entered an era where corporations
    increasingly lived quarter-to-quarter — or even more tempestuously, as
    news of the quarter presaged the quarter’s end.  The stock market has
    risen and declined, but always seems to be on a razor’s edge,
    susceptible to so many forces (international, political, psychological)
    and fluctuating as much from the superficial factors as the
    fundamental ones.  It’s a short-term world.

    I’m
    a psychologist and marriage counselor, not an economist or
    politician.  What hits home in the therapy room, I believe, is that we
    are living longer term lives in a shorter term world.  And this is very
    stressful.  I believe that individual, couples and families need
    always to feel that they’re “getting somewhere,” “making progress,”
    “have something to show for the year,” “are further ahead this year
    than last year” … That we are “getting somewhere,” not just getting
    older (and approaching whole new sets of worries!)  The sense of
    forward movement seems very important.  Without forward movement, we
    feel more buffeted by all the daily problems and pressures.  In a
    quarter-to-quarter short term world, this seems increasingly difficult.
    Psychologists always talk about the influence of our pasts.  I think
    it’s important to see that we are pulled toward the future … and when
    the picture of the future is fuzzy and uncertain, anxiety and
    depression increase.  We need to feel an “internal locus of control,”
    “self-efficacy” … Call it what you will, it’s the belief that our
    efforts, our work, our determination, will lead to the goals we want in
    life.  What is the opposite?  It’s that the rewards in our life are
    not under our control, but under the control of luck, chance, and
    powerful others  (And folks point to a gridlocked political system,
    corporate greed, shortsighted profit-taking over longer term “values,”
    and so on).  Maybe if folks feel little control over their future, we
    can understand why they might just run-up their credit cards, buy the
    lavish items, head out on vacation using the home equity, care less
    about your weight and nutrition … The future is NOT where it’s at. 
    Spend!  (Hey, we are told that spending is what’s needed to invigorate
    the economy!)

    In
    doing marriage counseling, I believe that couples need to have their
    dreams for their future.  They need to be able to share those dreams by
    talking about them, exploring them and dreaming them together … It’s
    part of that pull toward the future.  When we the degree of
    uncertainty we now face in our lives, it seems that the pull of the
    dreams is lost.  More than lost, it can cue feelings of powerlessness
    and despair. Talking about “what we hope to do in retirement,” “selling
    our house and moving to the lake,” and “sending our children to top
    notch colleges” now raise our blood pressure rather than give us
    pleasure, and they come between husbands and wives rather than bring
    them together. So we are more likely to avoid those conversations
    about future hopes and plans.  The sharing of the dreams is too often
    replaced with the sharing of the tensions of the day.  Couples come to
    counseling increasingly bickering about the daily minutia as they don’t
    feel they are “getting anywhere.”

    I’ve
    noticed the psychological research of eminent psychologist Carol
    Dweck, at Stanford.  She asks the question, “Is there such a thing as
    will power?”  Her research, in short, indicates that there is will
    power for people who believe in it!   This sounds a lot like the
    “internal locus of control” and “sense of self-efficacy” of which I
    spoke earlier.  How do we restore it, for more people more of the
    time?  How do we restore the belief that we can achieve what we want in
    life through our self-determination and hard work?  We need to find
    ways to take that back.

  • jan

     It is difficult to reply to someone with a Ph.D. so I’ll just ask. 

    Do you really think it is possible today for most of us to be able to retire and have money left over to give our children a small boost?  Keep in mind that if you don’t die quickly while you’re still fairly healthy (the irony of that thought), hospital and nursing home expenditures will eat up anything that you might have had left for retirement.  I don’t think the fact that most of us will never make enough to save enough to retire with or without a 401k plan is something that very many people understand.    

  • http://www.hindyassociates.com/ Carl Hindy, Ph.D.

    MY REPLY TO JAN, BELOW.  Since you replied to me, this posting program would not allow me to reply in turn to you.  So I’m just putting it as a new post.

    Jan, what you are saying is very much to point of my little monologue:  If it feels impossible to reach your goal (e.g., retirement savings), it’s distressing, and dwelling on the out-of-reach goal just makes you feel bad.  So it’s understandable if you forgo the goal and try to be happy today.  But the future lurks and it’s scary, no matter how big we make the TV sets or stare at our fancy cell phones!  I know the feeling that, so often, it seems like “the problem is so hopeless that it’s not serious,” i.e., how serious can I get about something over which I have little control.

    Honest to goodness, I had a dream a few weeks ago that I won Megabucks, and I was upset.  I explained to my wife, “I won Megabucks but it was only One Million Dollars, and I realized I couldn’t retire on that … I’ve heard all the investment radio shows about how you can only draw maybe 4% per year off your savings if you want to preserve the principal and not out live it.  And that meant $40,000 per year.  With tax on that, let’s make that $28,000.  Have you seen the price of groceries and gas?”  It’s exactly your point, Jan:  If I had a million dollars in my 401K, I’d still have to shut off the cable TV, and sit at Sttarbucks to get the free WiFi (and bring my own coffee!)

    I’m not a rich doctor.  I’m a psychologist.  I work in the mental health field.  I have kids in college and am grateful they get financial aide, and they’ll have their share of loans when they graduate as well.  I keep playing by the ‘old rules’ of trying hard to save, learn all I can about finances and make prudent choices.  I guess I feel good, in some small measure, that I’m doing the right thing … Going about the right motions, anyway, even if it doesn’t get me to the old goals.  I read statistics about how more than half of people cash-in their 401k’s rather than roll them over when they change jobs; and I think, with one half of my brain, “They are so foolish and short sighted.”  Yet with the other half of my brain I’m haunted by the thought, “Maybe they have the right idea.  Live for today for tomorrow you die.”  It’s in my nature to be a thinker and a worrier, and I just couldn’t do the latter.

     With my clients at least I share the sentiment that, amidst all of this, we need to find things that do give meaning and purpose to our lives, and a sense of forward movement even if it’s not with money-linked-goals.  At least not in these financially changing and challenging times.  In sharing these struggles, I do feel some camaraderie, and that’s a plus (like people bonding in hard times) … And I try to remind myself that psychological studies of happiness show us that it’s our relationships with others, our daily experiences and engagement in life that brings happiness.  

  • Deborah Partington, PsyD

    Developing a personal narrative and healing the faith crisis guiding the heart and minds of many Americans is crucial to surviving this economic crisis.  Underlying personal narrative, I think, is a social narrative. Part of the social narrative of the Main St. Nashua,  is the fact that many of its businesses are family owned–at least werewhen I lived there. Things were changing while I lived there. I saw the  CVS open its doors  on Main Street. Families look after each other is another strong component of the narrative of the social fabric of Nashua. This narrative may often lead to decisions that may not make sense in hindsight.  Being poor in the United States brings with it shame. Our social narrative is that no one should be poor if they work hard enough.  We’ve seen that narrative challenged throughout the country in the past few years. We should not be so ready to judge decisions based on narratives that we may not fully understand. Perhaps a step in regaining  faith in the American way is to examine how personal and social narratives interact and can support each other so that our solutions are strength-based for individuals and families. Although I found the segment on Nahua moving and provocative, I’d have liked to see some families presented who have adapted to changing circumstances and are “making it.”

  • Plzvote

    Sorry, just ain’t feelin’ it.  I saved every penny and dime I could find or earn from a very early age.   That thankfully was instilled in me by my parents.  Parents today seem to instill a very different tone.  I live in a very rural area in a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.
    Yet for the last two years I have nary a one, child or teenager or college age, person come by and ask if they can mow, rake, wash my car, shovel the snow, pull weeds.  All things I did to get money for the things I wanted in the future.  Nowadays, those same kids walk by with their eyes glued to their phones, their ears plugged with iPod earphones.  More often than not they drive by.  Sorry, just ain’t feelin’ it.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Catherine-Summers/1808760519 Catherine Summers

    Statesmen indeed.  We need people in D.C. who have actual skin in the game instead of cushy untaxed expense accounts and a lifestyle that belongs more to reality tv than the real world the rest of us live in.  Maybe we should start with the politicians who think that waging war is such a good idea–put THOSE guys in the front line and leave the next generation at home.  Think of it: we couldn’t lose a war either way–either we would conquer the “enemy” or get rid of a lot of useless baggage.

  • George in Puyallup

    (I did not have time to read all of the posts, but…) I almost fell over when, near the end of this piece, the correspondent (John Larson, I think) posed this question(at 22mins.54secs.).  ”What would happen if all the politicians, who talk about Main St., came here, not to campaign, but to listen?”

    WHAT?!! Isn’t that, in fact, their job?

  • Anonymous

    This is a response to the person who said sorry they just weren’t feeling it.  That person like the politicians didn’t seem to be listening to what people were saying.  The people with the Christmas lights and children were struggling because they had huge medical bills.  Between medical bills and the cost of education, people who previously would have been doing well are sinking.  We are the only advanced country where people go bankrupt because of medical bills.  The high cost of medical and education will eventually bankrupt this country.  In the past, politicians have responded to we the people when we have demanded it of them.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is a start but it needs to grow significantly and we all need to get involved.  We can’t just complain, we need to get active and make our voices heard over the money of the corporations.  Unfortunately, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United has made this harder but not impossible.  There are a lot of grass roots efforts that are happening and that give me hope that we can eventually turn this around.

  • Anonymous

    This is a response to the person who said sorry they just weren’t feeling it.  That person like the politicians didn’t seem to be listening to what people were saying.  The people with the Christmas lights and children were struggling because they had huge medical bills.  Between medical bills and the cost of education, people who previously would have been doing well are sinking.  We are the only advanced country where people go bankrupt because of medical bills.  The high cost of medical and education will eventually bankrupt this country.  In the past, politicians have responded to we the people when we have demanded it of them.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is a start but it needs to grow significantly and we all need to get involved.  We can’t just complain, we need to get active and make our voices heard over the money of the corporations.  Unfortunately, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United has made this harder but not impossible.  There are a lot of grass roots efforts that are happening and that give me hope that we can eventually turn this around.

  • Vern

    The small sample of Main Street covered a wide range of people, worried about the future.  I hope there will be more from other Main streets, to continue to getting a real stories from regular people.  The marriage counsellor identified the consequences of this worrisome environment. Great job.

  • Scott_libby2000

    this was a great episode it show the working poor
    the politcians tell us thing are getting better us on main street are not seeing it the same way they are

  • Weller

    I missed the last statistic of the show. It said some percentage of college educated people had found jobs while some percentage of people with a high school diploma or less had lost jobs. What is the exact quote?