Is it Austerity or Is It Theft? The American Prospect • June 6, 2012

In the absence of rising incomes, debt was the means through which many people bought opportunity for themselves and their children. People became more comfortable with red ink because they had to, not because they lost “virtue.” These graphs, from the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America, are illustrative. Incomes for everyone but the richest Americans have stagnated:

And over the last twenty years, debt has gone up most for those in the middle:

What we’re witnessing, right now, is the failure of a social arrangement. In the 1970s and 80s, government began to pare back its commitments to decent wages, affordable housing, health care, and education, and in response, Americans took on debt to make up for the loss.