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Americans from all walks of life comment on how they fared during the Clinton years

The AIDS survivor

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The pawn broker

The freed man

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The pawnbroker

Bob Sidowey works in a pawnshop in Atlanta, Georgia.

I'm free, white, single and 21. I'm a pawnbroker. I have been on and off for 30 years.

My life is better than it was eight years ago, economically and personally. I've mellowed a bit.

As far as Clinton goes, I can't stand the man, but you can't take away from what he's done for the economy. People are more settled in his leadership. They're more at ease. The economy lets people buy more. We're selling more high-end stereo systems these days.

People are mostly pawning jewelry. It's just the most convenient thing that people can carry around with them. We get a lot of wedding rings that we melt down and sell for the gold.

We've got a computer and we keep a log on everybody that comes in here. Candidly speaking, you can't trust anybody. You can learn a lot about people by their ability to repay their loans. If they pawn something and leave it and come back wanting another loan, that says something about them.

Nowadays, people have more money, it's true, and they're more apt to pay off their loans.

Crime is always a factor. When you have a small business, it can be a major catastrophe. Any kind of business is a dangerous one if you're facing the public all the time. How would you like to work in a service station every night? Being a pawnbroker is no more dangerous than anything else where you're dealing with the public.

We had a burglary just the other weekend. They cracked a window and stole 16 rifles from us. But as far as street crime goes, I think it's gone down the past few years.

Clinton's policy of trying to end [the threat of] nuclear war is something that needs to be revived. But disarming the American people, I don't know if that's going to work. If everybody would just agree to give up their weapons, that would be OK, but taking them by force would be like communism.

Clinton's morality is the main thing I don't like about him. I have high hopes for George [W. Bush]. I feel there's a morality change that is going to come into effect. I think we've heard the end of the Camelot crimes.

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