As ABC's "World News with Diane Sawyer" has focused on the struggles of America's middle class this week, we've heard from thousands of viewers across the country. They are people who are struggling to make mortgage payments, find jobs, and care for their families.
They've weighed in on subjects ranging from banks to unemployment to the very existence of the middle class itself. We've gathered some of those comments below.
Does The Middle Class Even Exist?
Many commentators questioned whether or not America still has a middle class to save.
User SammieB12 wrote on our site, "Pretty soon, there will only be two classes: the rich and the rest of us."
"The middle class should now be called the struggling to survive," wrote 11jeanne.
Others thought that the American dream has already disappeared.
"I don't believe there is a middle class anymore," one user wrote. "It used to be about single homes, 2.5 kids, white picket fences and a mom and dad. That dream is gone... only the rich can afford that now."
Phillip9150 wrote, "There is no middle class anymore, I have been laid off for 8 months now [...] I have no idea what we are going to do when my unemployment runs out."
Others wrote about the shame that comes with the fall from the middle class.
"Back home with mom, at 50 years old I feel like such a failure," broke10 said.
Another viewer wrote in after seeing the soup kitchen they worked at featured on our broadcast.
"The face of hunger is your neighbor," they said. "I can't tell you how many people who are coming into my soup kitchen that once belonged to the middle class. I have actually served food to people I worked with at a previous employer, they were laid off and so was their spouse."
Disillusioned by Job Search
Many middle class Americans wrote us about their struggles to find work.
"Here in Tucson, a restaurant had 8 openings and 200 applicants," wrote wandering41645 on the site.
"We are baby boomers and I think most of the people hurting are baby boomers," said bulldogzig. "We are close to retiring and who wants to hire us?"
Viewers Sound Off on ABC's Series on Middle ClassIn a conversation on Skype today, Chicagoan Barry Scott told ABC's Diane Sawyer about his struggles to find work.
"I've put in about 300 applications, I've had about 25 interviews," Scott said. "I've been talking to a company in Australia that is looking at me. I may have to do what a friend of mine is doing. He's working in Dubai, and he comes home every 30 to 60 days to see his family. I may have to do something as crazy as that to try and find a way to get a job."
To Scott, part of the problem is corporate values.
"One thing that is different today than in the days of our grandparents is the sense of no corporate conscience, or a people before profit kind of thing," Scott said. "I understand the business need to make a profit. I want them to make a profit. At what point is there enough?"
That comment was echoed on ABCNews.com by another user.
"It's all about making money... it's not about people anymore," scrappin.mel wrote on the site.
Frustration with Banks
Others used our comment boards to express intense frustration with the Wall Street banks who many say helped to send the country into an economic downward spiral.
"It is time the people financing the bailout also got bailed out," user david_rosseau wrote.
Loretta from Chicago wrote to tell us about her struggles with Bank of America. After she wrote the bank requesting a loan modification, she sayus she waited six months for a reply. They said they couldn't offer any assistance and reminded her she needed to make her monthly mortgage payments on time.
"Their web site says 'we're here to help you,'" said Loretta. "I'd like to know, whom are they helping?"
User tdenis2010 said that the taxpayer dollars spent on the bailout were misused by the big banks.
"The money taxpayers gave was given with one thing in mind, to make credit available to the middle class and the businesses they run," he wrote. "What did they do with it? They started buying each other and making even bigger banks! So the fat bankers got fatter and the credit for normal folks to brow and build was eaten by these gluttonous and greedy people."
But not all our commenter's agreed with the criticism of the banks. Some thought Americans should take more of the responsibility for the financial crisis.
"I am tired of the blame the bank attitude of this country," one wrote. "Adults signed mortgage notes."
Many users wrote us, angrily accusing the government of ignoring middle class problem.
"We want someone to listen to us, someone who cares that we have lost nearly everything, if not everything," wrote gri14700 on our Web site.
"My family and I are struggling," said another user. "There's no help for the middle. If you're rich everything is covered, if you're poor there's public assistance, but if you're middle class you're basically on your own," blessed452 wrote.
"It seems to me that our government does not represent the average American anymore, only big business," said robert6449 on the site.
Staying Hopeful for the Future
Despite all of the problems, some found reasons to be grateful for what they have and to even express hope for the future.
For user j_wo56, just reading the comments on our page served as a powerful reminder.
"I sit here reading as many comments as I can, and it helps to put the problems I have in perspective," said j_wo56. "I realize I am not doing nearly as bad as many others... however I am not doing as well as I had hoped."
After reflecting on his unemployment, foreclosure, and other economic problems with Diane Sawyer today, Scott still maintained his optimism.
"I'm still hopeful for America," he said. "I was in the military, I served this country, and I love this country. There's hope. You just can't give up."
ABC's Sadie Bass, Michael Murray, and Hanna Siegel contributed to this report.i>