Saturday, May 14, 2011

Documenting The Demise Of The Middle Class

The American Dream is now to get out of debt

— David Rosenberg, Chief Economist & Strategist, Gluskin Sheff

A new report has surfaced called The American Middle Class Under Stress (pdf). In a set of easy to understand graphs, New American Foundation researchers Sherle R. Schwenninger and Samuel Sherraden present a compelling case that America's Middle Class is gradually disappearing, and has been for some time. Many of their graphs show pressures on Middle Class incomes beginning in the early 1980s, which is when I date the decline of the American Empire. I have covered many (if not all) of the subjects covered in the report, so I have included links to older posts where relevant.

I believe the Empire's decline is inextricably associated with the decline of Middle Class living standards. America's ability to enforce its military and financial "interests" all over the world will inexorably decline as a result. When wealthy interests took over the country, the Middle Class got left behind. I agree with many of the views expressed by Richard Kirsch in We’re not Broke. We’ve been Robbed! Actually, the United States is broke. But we've been robbed, that's for sure.

We’re not broke, but the wealth grab [by monied special interests] is wrecking our economy. The rich can’t spend enough to keep the economy going. The engine that drives it is a strong middle class. The problem isn’t that we haven’t generated wealth, it’s that we’ve stopped sharing the wealth we’ve generated. If wages had kept up with productivity over the past 30 years, the median wage would be 60% higher than it is now. If income had increased at the same rate for everyone from 1979 to 2006, the average family would make about $10,000 more a year, but the top 1% would make $700,000 less...

The middle class is not only the engine of our economy, it’s the glue of our democracy. A bigger middle class leads to higher voting rates and lower levels of public corruption. When we believe that the system is stacked against us, we’re more likely to drop out or cheat.

It’s no wonder that despite elite celebration of economic recovery, Americans are deeply pessimistic about the future. Much of the public believes that our best days are behind us. And unless we build a movement for change, they will be right.

It would be naive to expect the deplorable trends documented by the New American Foundation to be reversed in the future. Your best days are behind you—if you're still in the Middle Class and still struggling to make ends meet, or you're a young person hoping for a decent life. Our "Democracy" exists in name only. Corruption is rampant in the Imperial Capital. A majority of desperate Americans voted for Barack Obama in the hope he would bring The Change. If you were among them, you have been betrayed in the profoundest way. (read more)