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Growing income gap makes 'living the dream' harder

Our national political leaders tend to disagree on just about everything it seems. One thing they do agree on, however, is that the concept of the American dream is foggier than it has been in decades. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau going back 46 years, the gap between rich and poor, as gauged by the so-called Gini index, hit an all-time high in 2013.

Rising income inequality is something that has been going on for decades. According to many experts, the expanse of the gap and its effects have been muted because families on the poorer side of the equation found places to scrape together additional funds.

But now, those experts say the various strategies that were used -- finding second jobs, working extra hours, or tapping home equity -- appear to have run their course.

The result appears to be a lot of people in Texas and elsewhere who may be desperate for debt relief, but who feel they have no means of getting it.

Bankruptcy is a viable option for many, though it may never be considered because of negative perceptions regarding the process. It's always wiser to consult an attorney with experience in bankruptcy and debt relief matters before making such a decision, however.

Evidence of how much the American dream appears to have dimmed is not only seen in the fact that lawmakers in Washington agree it's a problem. It's also apparent in the latest Bloomberg National Poll. By a ratio of almost two to one, respondents said that the notion that everyone in America has an equal chance of getting ahead no longer exists.

Source: Bloomberg, "Americans on Wrong Side of Pay Gap Run Out of Means to Cope," Rich Miller and Michelle Jamrisko, Dec. 30, 2013

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