ABOUT OUR MIDDLE CLASS. An editorial by David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy for The Upshot page of yesterday’s New York Times (April 22, 2014) is titled “The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest.” The opening paragraph is a single sentence: “The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.”
Who’d a thunk?!?
We have had more than thirty years of the effects of Reagan-inspired, Republican-led and -enforced “supply-side economics,” which argues that “economic growth can be most effectively created by lowering barriers for people to produce goods and services as well as invest in capital.”
Or its kissin’ cousin, “trickle-down economics,” which encompasses the idea that “tax breaks or other economic benefits provided to businesses and upper-income levels will benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole.”
I prefer the term that then moderate—and let’s never forget, compassionate—conservative George H. Bush’s referred to his opponent’s (Ronald Reagan) economic/fiscal theories and proposed policies in the 1980 Republican presidential primaries: “voodoo economics.” Back to Leonhardt and Quealey:
“While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.
After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada—substantially behind [the US] in 2000—now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.
The poor in the United States have trailed their counterparts in at least a few other countries since the early 1980s. With slow income growth since then, the American poor now clearly trail the poor in several other rich countries.
At the 20th percentile—where someone is making less than four-fifths of the population—income in both the Netherlands and Canada was 15% higher than income in the United States in 2010.
By contrast, Americans at the 95th percentile of the distribution—with $58,600 in after-tax per capita income, not including capital gains—still make 20% more than their counterparts in Canada, 26% more than those in Britain, and 50% more than those in the Netherlands. For these well-off families, the United States still has easily the world’s most prosperous major economy.”
And so it is that the mossbacked editorialists, columnists, talk-show hosts, and related pundits for the major/mainstream media—that damn liberal media!—are FINALLY beginning to pay attention to what has been obvious to many of us for those thirty odd years!
And what are they FINALLY paying attention to?
We Americans who work for a living are getting screwed!
(I’d say “f*cked” but I believe that I could be overdoing it, given the three other posts concerning that four-letter word that will appear on this site.)
And by whom are we being screwed? Well, actively by almost every elected Republican in the country, all of whom support one or all of the “pillars” of Reaganomics.
And passively by more Democrats than is acceptable for a party dependent upon blue-collar workers and what’s left of their busted unions and who are sitting back and allowing these things to happen.
“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the [American] media.” – Noam Chomsky
A progressive response
This was followed by an editorial on the Campaign for America’s Future website titled “As Middle Class Falls Behind, We Need A Progressive Populist Response” by that site’s administrators (April 23, 2014).
“There is new evidence of the high price [that] working-class people are paying because of the stranglehold conservatives have on our economy that should embolden Democratic candidates to offer bolder, progressive populist prescriptions for addressing income inequality and remaking our economy.
The headline of the article on middle-class fortunes published in The New York Times on Tuesday could hardly have been more stark. The underlying facts are by now familiar: incomes of the top 5% have skyrocketed in the past three decades, reflecting the disproportionate share of national wealth that has moved from working people to the ownership class.
What we may not be used to hearing is the conclusion by authors David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy that ‘the American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.’
These are the consequences of deliberate economic decisions over the past three decades made by conservatives when they had control of the levers of power and fiercely defended against efforts by the Obama administration to reverse them.
Even after six years of the Obama administration in the White House and seven years of Democratic control of the Senate, tax policies are still in place that enable the highest income earners to have lower income-tax rates than many middle-class families.”
Finally, for those FOREVER sitting on the fence (while your world comes tumbling on down around you), who do not believe that there is ANY difference between the two major parties (despite the fact that the Democrats passed unemployment compensation, the 40-hour work week with its attendant overtime pay, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ad infinitum, against the vehement opposition of the Republicans EVERY time), who mistakenly believe that everything is a matter of opinion and prejudiced perspective (despite the evidence of more than one hundred years of history).
“The rascal multitude are the proper targets of the mass media and a public education system geared to obedience and training in needed skills, including the skill of repeating patriotic slogans on timely occasions.” – Noam Chomsky
At a loss for words?
Many years ago (I forget the year, but I would guess the 1990s), linguist philosopher scientist activist lecturer Noam Chomsky made a fact-finding trip to South America (I forget the country, but I would guess Brazil) to study how the impoverished city-dwellers were communicating and organizing politically.
He came back and did an interview with an alternative news-based magazine (I would guess it was “Z” magazine), in which he was obviously enthused and impressed by what he had seen. The locals, almost uniformly “uneducated” peasants, were politically aware, astute, articulate, and active—everything that the average “educated” American was not!
The final question from the interviewer was (and I am paraphrasing), “Why do Americans consistently vote against their own best interests?”
And Mr. Chomsky—a man who has given many interviews and who is NEVER at a loss for words—answered, “I don’t know …”
FEATURED IMAGE: The free-minded, free-spirited, freewheelin’ Cash family and family celebrate anti-capitalistic Noam Chomsky Day in the movie Captain Fantastic