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She says she’s fortunate not to have needed government help herself. Williams remained employed throughout the recession even as many states and localities cut jobs.
"People will always need therapy," she says. "My field is in demand."
Together with her husband, an Army reservist and military contractor, Williams has maintained a comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle. They have two children: One is in college; the other is working on an internship and attending college classes.
She’s kept up contributions to her 401(k) and doesn’t fret about retirement. The couple owns a home that’s held its value. This year, they had hardwood floors installed in the kitchen and bathroom.
"The houses in our neighborhood are selling," she says. "If we wanted to get out, we would make a nice profit."
In her view, the president doesn’t deserve all the blame for the still-weak economy or high unemployment, now at 7.9 percent. She wishes Republicans and Democrats would work more cooperatively to strengthen the economy.
"My dream for America," Williams says, "is that we’ll go back to our core values of taking care of other people and looking out for other people instead of just looking out for ourselves."
— Associated Press Writer Michael Sandler
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When Ray Arvin isn’t worrying about his own financial plight, he’s fretting about the government’s. He’s troubled by gaping budget deficits and galled by what he calls lax leadership in Washington.
What America needs, Arvin says, is to restore a spirit of individual self-reliance. And force the government to become leaner and more responsible.
"I’m against that government-down approach — spending without a thought of how we are going to balance the checkbook," Arvin says.
He tries to live by his own words.
When his company went bust three years ago, Arvin fell into unemployment for several months. He had blown through his savings — more than $100,000 — trying to save his business.
He now works in sales for a company that sells supplies to power companies. His income has shrunk.
Arvin’s 2005 Chevy Suburban has 235,000 miles on it. When gas prices rise, his take-home pay drops. When the car breaks down, he fixes it himself to save money.
"I’ve lost my retirement that I had built up," he says. "I’m having to start from scratch right now, looking at an economy and a government that is going to make my great-grandchildren pay the price for what they’re doing."
Political leaders in Washington leave him shaking his head. It isn’t just President Barack Obama. Arvin opposes Obama. But he’s also appalled by the actions of long-serving politicians.
"We have too many people in government who have made it their career to be in government," he says. "And they don’t seem to be in it for the country. They seem to be in it for themselves or their party."
He isn’t looking for the government to help restore his financial security. He says he’ll keep working hard and hope for the best.
It’s an impulse rooted in American culture, he says.
"What made our country great," Arvin says, "was people sucking it up, working hard and being energized to go in a direction because they could believe in their dreams and know their dreams were possible because they believed in themselves."
One way he thinks he may realize that dream is with an invention he hopes catches fire: A makeup case Arvin decided to design after noticing how powder from his wife’s compact case would spill.Next Page >
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