As you might recall from a history class you took on U.S. history, in the 1930s there was a monumental event that struck the entire world, known as the Great Depression. Due to many factors, the economies of many countries, including ours, were in disarray, and most people endured quite lean times, for many years. One of the tenets of information I took from those lessons, were the formation of what came to be called "Hoovervilles." These were shantytowns formed by people who were left jobless and homeless by the Depression.
An article in Yahoo reminded me very strongly of this. Due to the mortgage crisis, there is a tent city in a South California suburb. It's a growing "city" that now houses 200 people, including several children. I feel this is probably a harbinger of things to come; one person with Catholic Charities says in the article that the rising home foreclosures are an indicator of a "trickle-down effect". In that once those who would have bought homes find themselves renting apartments, the people who would have rented apartments, well, who knows what they'll do now, and so on and so forth.
I have no doubt that we're on the path to becoming a third-world nation. It became apparent once factories began moving south and to Asia, leaving us with not much of a manufacturing industry to speak of, and then you add globalization and NAFTA and all the other stuff, and it's been downhill from there.