The PBS Frontline documentary “Two American Families”, produced by Bill Moyers, follows two middle class families in Milwaukie, one black and one white, for over a decade as they struggle to achieve the “American Dream”. This documentary mirrors the struggle of so many American families who work hard and play by the rules, yet fall victim in a struggling economy to a series of policy decisions made. The hand of policy ineffectively steered the lives of the two families featured, the Neumann’s and Stanley’s, despite their hard work ethic and sincere determination to succeed. Many policy implications played a role in the documentary, including those around education, institutional racism, taxation, overseas jobs …show more content…
The Foreclosure Crisis
Terri Neumann’s home was taken and resold by her bank for just $30,000. When they got behind on their mortgage for two months, Terri stated that it would take two years to pay off the interest and the fees. This is ridiculous. Policymakers need to assure that abusive loan practices don’t play a part in pushing people into foreclosure as in Terri’s case. Since the foreclosure crisis occurred, wages have not improved enough create better conditions for renters or homeowners. According to a study done by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the average household must earn at least $18.44 an hour to afford a two bedroom apartment and meet basic needs. That’s more than double the current federal minimum wage.
As we saw with the Stanley’s who bought time by paying Keith’s college tuition on a credit card, many Americans in a lower income bracket rely on high interest credit card debt to bridge the transitions and make ends meet. Often credit cards are used to cover the gap when they are out of work, but once they miss a payment or two it becomes harder and harder to manage and dig their way out. As Keith pointed out on his college