Home > Project Overview > Project Overview-In Search of the “New Poor”

Project Overview-In Search of the “New Poor”

Welcome to Annabel’s Odyssey, the story of my trip across America in search of the “new poor”, formerly the great American Middle Class. The purpose of this trip is to create a book/documentary of the current depression. I know that the media has, for the most part, been calling the economic events since the financial melt-down of 2008 the “Great Recession”, and that they are claiming that the recovery began in June of 2009. Apparently no one notified Main Street USA of this recovery.

There are some well known economists that are calling this a depression, or at least hinting at it. Paul Krugman of the New York Times, on July 27th 2010 stated “We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression.” He goes on “… unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly.” People around the country are still looking for work for years sometimes, only to find a “job” that pays one tenth of what the lost job paid, not even a living wage. People that bought houses, all full of hope and belief in the American dream are being foreclosed upon, sometimes completely illegally. And the statistics that are used to calculate unemployment don’t even include self-employed people that are down by 60% or lose their businesses completely. Bankruptcies are on the rise across the country.

Now the report is that the state and local governments are being forced to dismantle the social safety net and cut services to the poor, because they too are going broke. This, just as the former middle class are turning to the system for basic needs, such as food.

I will be setting out in early January, the heart of winter, in search of the failed American Dream. I fear I will not have to look hard to find it.

I will be criss-crossing the country by bus and rideshare, couch surfing and researching the book. I will seek out and interview people that were doing fine just a few years ago, were comfortably middle class, and are now struggling to make ends meet. They may have lost a job or a house or both. Many are just a paycheck away from being homeless. The savings that were meant for retirement have been used for survival, and are almost exhausted.

Where there are strong-holds of the uber-rich along my way I will check those places out as well. The income disparity between the richest and poorest in this country has not been this great since the Gilded Age. For the uber-rich, there is no depression. In fact they are profiting from the pain of the middle class in unimaginable ways. No, this story cannot be told without including the super-rich.

If this project resonates with you, check back as I post my stories and pictures along the way. If you know someone, including yourself, with a story to tell, let me know. And if you would like to help, check out the donate button. Even five dollars will help. I sold the only asset I had left, my car, to make this happen. I hope to see you here as I check-in along the road. The first stops will be Santa Cruz and Los Angeles, then on to Phoenix and the Gulf States. Eventually I will visit every state. I hope to see you on my journey.

  1. December 31, 2010 at 9:55 AM


    I admire your courage and commitment. January is a tough time to travel. We will all be thinking of you and hold you in our thoughts and prayers.

  2. Catherine Merrill
    January 1, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    Annabel, Bless you for thinking of a group of people who are suffering and have not yet learned how to cope or to make things better for themselves and their loved ones. I will be interested in what you learn as you go, and will gladly talk to you about things from my perspective. I think I have some important things to say about being a woman in this economic downturn, things that may not have been discussed yet. I also have a friend who is an oft-consulted economist you may want to speak with….and a millionaire ex-husband (who may or may not wish to speak openly about his experience…) Write with the long view of history writing in mind….we cannot let it go down as the “truth” that people “took on more than they could afford” and then “depended on entitlements to bail them out.” The Truth is far from those scurrilous lies. Good luck. Please contact me!

  3. January 17, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    I have created some blogs that may help give you insight into the foreclosure aspect. As a matter of fact, don’t overlook how foreclosure is playing out all over the country. Rumor has it that the banksters make all of their shoddy paperwork go away if they foreclose on a home, plus they collect all kinds of money as well.


    here’s an idea. If you do a couple of stories from each place you visit, you could release one as it happens, and save the other one for your book. This way you could create some advance publicity about your book.

    I could add your blog to about 8 of my own blogs, which combined get a few hundred hits a day.

  4. Susan Glover
    June 8, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    My boyfriend and I were laid off in August 2008. We are called 99ers because we have exhausted all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. How sad that there’s a name for people like us!!! And 3 months ago we found ourselves homeless! We have been lucky to connect with old friends who have helped us and now thanks to a friend of theirs we have somewhere to live. We are both, for the first time ever, on welfare! I went to school so I could go into healthcare but can’t find a job there either. I have always been frugal but the last few months have turned me into Ms. Frugality!! We were also laid off in 2001 and 2002 and until recently no one believed us when we told them that we have NEVER recovered from it. We are very worried about our future, the future of my grandchildren and this country. I don’t know if all of Washington is corrupt but I do know that Obama doesn’t care about us. I voted for him because I really believed that he was going to help the working class, the middle class. What a joke! He has thrown us under the bus, turned a blind eye to our plight. People used to protest during the 1960s but I don’t see that happening now and I wonder why. I wish I could talk to President Obama and ask him why he isn’t helping us.

    • Annabel Ascher
      June 8, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      What state are you living in?

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