The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that median incomes in the United States are down and the percentage of Americans living in poverty is up. This comes as no surprise on the heels of a deep recession, but the long-range implications are cause for concern about the social or the economic health of this nation.

A strong and large middle class has been a solid foundation of this nation, especially since the end of World War II. These are people who spend large proportions of their earnings on consumer goods; they pay federal, state and local taxes; they raise families; they grow and support their communities. It has long been the national consensus that people in poverty have the opportunity to rise to the middle class and from the middle class to the upper class.

This has defined the American dream, and it has inspired people around the world.

This dream will be shattered if the shrinking of the middle class continues beyond the recession, and more individuals and families are pushed into poverty while a larger percentage of wealth in this nation is put in the hands of a small fraction of the population.

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