It is a facet of the growing income inequality problem with potential to affect millions and millions of Americans and raise poverty rates to new highs.
This is, of course, the retirement disaster looking baby boomers square in the face. As the bulge of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 reach 65 years of age, the impact of so few having the financial resources to 'retire' is going to sock this country's economy and politics like a sledge hammer flatting an aluminum soda can.
What are you going to do if you have little if any savings, if you don't have a government or employer-based defined pension, or you have a 401K that is nearly empty?
You're going to live on Social Security and Medicare.
And that is poverty in 21st century America.
And the Republican establishment and corporate moguls are going to be telling you that is your own damn fault and stop whining. In fact, they will be agitating (as they are even now) for cuts to Social Security benefits and for privatizing Medicare. (Make no mistake, there are Democratic Party 'leaders' who are also arguing that cuts to Social Security is a necessity, but not so many as in the other party.)
Then what are you going to do if they get their way?
We still live in a consumer economy, but since the Crash of 2008 and for most Americans the still lingering recession, the middle class has seen stagnant if not declining income levels. Income inequality is a fact and reality for what might still be called the 'middle class' -- 'income inequality' is a term that is more than just political rhetoric, it is a description of lower wages, fewer benefits, more taxes and fees, poorer quality goods and services, fewer jobs and political paralysis.
Because we all know that indeed the rich are getting richer and the powerful are getting more powerful and all the rest of us are sensing that our lot is not improving and the future is getting more uncertain with each passing day.
So, here is a link to a grave report on the predicament of those approaching the retirement phase of life: Danger zone: America's retirement system is breaking down | CBS News, March 31, 2014.
Couple this situation with the shrinking middle class and the prospects that income inequality will likely grow worse in coming years. As a nation and as a society we facing a huge problem -- how to take care of a growing population of people with no income and increase health care needs. On top of this we have a younger population that finds its middle class quality of life potential fading with student loan debt and downward pressure on wages.
There isn't a "therefore we must do such and such to solve the problem" to this commentary and analysis ... because bitter partisanship and political extremism are growing in the United States these days. Instead of finding common cause, too many seem determined to pick a side, cite 'principle' and hurl invective towards the 'enemy'.
Just be aware.