*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
COMMENTARY | My American dream has become almost Gothic. This was not always the case, but the tragedy of 9/11 and subsequent events forever changed America, and not for the better.
I am a baby-boomer and worked in corporate America for nearly 30 years, in a high paying field and had a nice marriage and nicer home. Any planning that I did for the future included receiving a pension of about $100,000 per year. When I was in my 40s the future looked great on paper. The economy of the 80s and 90s was buoyant and any hiccups always seemed to be just that - a hiccup. Our political system seemed to be more functional and open to compromise.
As we learned from Charles Dickens and his Christmas Carol, the future is seldom cast in stone and can change rapidly. When I was only 44, I left the job on which I had based my pension assumption and that reality translated into a pension of only $20,000 per year, beginning in 2016. I celebrated the new millennium by getting divorced and selling the house. Suddenly I was 50 percent poorer.
Now, my dream seems to be one more of survival; I have pushed the idea of flourishing into deep recesses. Financially I am okay. My business provides me with enough income to take care of everyday needs and I have the ability to increase revenues each year. The fact that I am self-employed does make me the "master of my own destiny" in a manner of speaking. I can control my income through the simple process of accepting or rejecting new clients.
My retirement accounts are intact and I do plan to work for another ten years. In four years, I will be eligible for Medicare and that will reduce my own health insurance costs by over 50 percent. A year after that, I can collect social security and not worry about losing benefits because of excess earnings. My condo is underwater and won't provide any equity should I decide to sell it, but that isn't a huge problem, assuming property values stabilize sooner rather than later.
My American dream is less about my current level of income and assets and more about the polarization that has gripped my country. While much of the population probably is moderate, each political party has fringe elements which seem to be in control. Literally, I see that as the tail wagging the dog.
I am tired of reading about all the political one-upmanship that is going on. I am tired of hearing newly elected rookies pontificate for immediate and draconian reform, just for the sake of reform. I am tired of my tax dollars being wasted on social programs for people who have come to this country thinking that it is the land of entitlement. Both the left and right cause me too much agita. Soon I think that the OWS reference to 99 percent will be referring to those who think that Congress is doing a bad job.
My dream is evolving - as all should- but now for the first time, it may not include America and may be of a retirement in a foreign country.
- Politics & Government