Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bag Lady syndrome on the rise

MSN Money discusses "Bag Lady syndrome", the (semi-)irrational fear felt especially by women that they could easily end up penniless and on the streets. And not just working and middle class women: according to the article, even wealthy and successful women like Lily Tomlin, Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine and Katie Couric have admitted to this fear.

Homelessness is not, of course, unique to the USA, but for a developed nation, America suffers greatly from an epidemic of homelessness. The lack of government or social safety nets makes financial security a matter of "not-so-easy come, easy go", and the US has Third-World levels of economic inequality and poverty: a tiny percentage of mega-rich sitting at the top of a pyramid of many insecure and nervous middle-class and an even bigger base of working class people who are one pay cheque away from the streets.

I think that it is very telling that this anxiety is becoming more comment at the moment. Consumer debt, already at dangerous levels in the USA, is rising, there is great uncertainty in the housing market, banks are offering insane loans, and the political Right is crying The Sky is Falling over Social Security. The increasing levels of financial insecurity and anxiety are surely a factor in the American move towards religious fundamentalism.

(Link thanks to Boing Boing.)

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