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A continuing trend: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer

The United States isn't a democracy with its economics; America has, in fact, one of the largest gaps between rich and poor in the developed world. In the second decade of the 21st century, the top 1 percent of people have 25 percent of all the wealth. They also pay a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes than middle class people do.

Part of this discrepancy is due to tax breaks passed by a Congress well funded by business contributions, and part of it is the natural rewards of educated workers in high tech industries. Previously, although the rich got richer, the middle class and most of the poor still had enough money to get by. This hasn't been the case since the Great Recession that started in 2008, at the end of George W. Bush's second term.

Life in the USA

As family ties have broken down, people have established new families of friends. One out of two marriages end in divorce, and more and more people live alone or in single parent households. Chat sites have replaced front porches, and surfing the Internet has largely replaced reading newspapers.

More people exercise, and fewer people smoke. After waddling into the 21st century due to the yummy presence of cheap fast food everywhere, Americans are starting to get a grip on their waistlines. President Obama and Congress managed to pass the first national health care bill, the Affordable Health Care Act (2010).

Most elderly people now live comfortably into advanced age with Social Security and Medicare. Because Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, the number of young workers available to pay taxes that support retirees is critical. In the early 21st century, there were seven young workers for every retiree; by the year 2050 there may be only four. Because people live longer, the need for new sources of funding threatens old-age benefits. Social Security already costs more than regular taxes for most working people.


Question: As more Americans became older, what system is threatened?

Answer: The Social Security system needs an overhaul to maintain benefits.

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