How can you dream when, on average, a year of child care for a baby or toddler is more expensive than a year of in-state public college tuition? How can you dream when the cost of higher education has gone up more than three times faster than wages since I was in school in the eighties? How can you dream when you are drowning in student loan debt? How can you dream if you make minimum wage and work forty hours a week, knowing that, in 99 percent of U.S. counties, you can’t afford the market-rate rent on the average one-bedroom apartment? How can you dream when your pay barely budges no matter how hard you work, while everything else keeps getting so much more expensive? How can you dream when your son is sick but you can’t afford your copay or deductible? A middle-class life isn’t what it used to be. And right now it isn’t what it’s supposed to be. Being middle-class ought to mean having financial security and stability. But how is that possible when the cost of living is so high that you live one setback away from catastrophe? An injury. An illness. Nobody expects life to be easy, but it’s not supposed to be a life-altering crisis when your car’s transmission fails. And yet for so many, it is.
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