The Financial Times, through statistics and personal stories, paints a bleak assessment of America's future going forward. In Crisis in Middle Class America, we see a major financial press group, finally acknowledge what we've been trying to document since the start of this site, the U.S. middle class is being shuttered off, destroyed, deceased, no more.
Once upon a time this was called the American Dream. Nowadays it might be called America’s Fitful Reverie. Indeed, Mark spends large monthly sums renting a machine to treat his sleep apnea, which gives him insomnia. “If we lost our jobs, we would have about three weeks of savings to draw on before we hit the bone,” says Mark, who is sitting on his patio keeping an eye on the street and swigging from a bottle of Miller Lite. “We work day and night and try to save for our retirement. But we are never more than a pay check or two from the streets.”
That's right, Ozzie and Harriet now speak Chinese. The United States, through policies and legislation demanded by multinational corporations, has literally shipped our economy to India and China (and a few other places for good measure).
The Financial Times also acknowledges the fact U.S. workers are being displaced by foreign workers. Corporations either offshore outsource the job and if they cannot do that, they bring in foreign labor to displace Americans. It's by the statistics people and U.S. worker displacement is also by citizenship status, not color criteria.
Look at the jobs of the Future. Low skilled, low paying service jobs.
Many of the jobs of the future will be in “inter-personal” roles that cannot be easily replaced by computers or foreigners – janitors, beauty technicians, home carers and landscape gardeners, for whom college is often superfluous. Furthermore, a large chunk of Americans who have been hit by stagnation over the past decade are college graduates. Even they are not immune. But more education, at the very least, will improve one’s chances. Paying for it is another matter.
These jobs are not innovating the next great thing. These jobs are not rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing base, U.S. infrastructure and to make matters worse, getting a great education might mean one has a pile of student loans and not much else.
The slow economic strangulation of the Freemans and millions of other middle-class Americans started long before the Great Recession, which merely exacerbated the “personal recession” that ordinary Americans had been suffering for years. Dubbed “median wage stagnation” by economists, the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 – having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1 per cent have tripled. In 1973, chief executives were on average paid 26 times the median income. Now the multiple is above 300.
The trend has only been getting stronger. Most economists see the Great Stagnation as a structural problem – meaning it is immune to the business cycle. In the last expansion, which started in January 2002 and ended in December 2007, the median US household income dropped by $2,000 – the first ever instance where most Americans were worse off at the end of a cycle than at the start. Worse is that the long era of stagnating incomes has been accompanied by something profoundly un-American: declining income mobility.
You know what else happened in 2002? Corporations offshore outsourced any job that wasn't nailed down and even when it was, they tried to rip out the floor boards. The China PNTR (trade agreement) kicked in. Factories suddenly got legs, moved to China, along with the jobs. Critical manufacturing equipment was either sold off at auction, also shipped to China and in some cases, sold as scrap.
Entire towns, dependent upon the manufacturing plants surrounding them, plunged into 3rd world county status.
While the Financial Times points to the left and right political views, on the causes, this isn't quite right. Those who are paying attention to the actual statistics and facts, not corporate propaganda, agree on the problems, causes and even the policy prescriptions. They come from all over the political spectrum, yet are never in the majority, simply because they are looking at the facts and what is in the national interest. The rare bird is not accepting glorified lobbyist bribes and perks by parroting the corporate party line.
When you have Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan agreeing on the same issue, you know the statistics are overwhelming.
Article author Edward Luce sums it up with a George Carlin quote:
It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.
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