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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Do you really think this is by accident?
Posted by Jill | 7:31 PM
The evisceration of the middle class started during the Nixon years, but the process really started to accelerate with the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, a man who slipped the shiv into the guts of the middle class, smiling affably all the way, so that said middle class didn't even know it was being disemboweled. Since then, as Republicans have appealed to the reptilian brain that has responded to a bunch of rich guys saying "Look DOWN the ladder! Look at that Black guy/Latino woman with 5 kids/Muslim/[fill in your own group down the socioeconomic ladder here]! S/HE is the one causing your problems!" -- while all the while lifting the last two dollars out of the middle class' pocket while their backs were turned. And now the nefarious plan has almost completely succeeded:
Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.

Here are the statistics to prove it:

  • 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
  • 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck,
    which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
  • 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
  • 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.
  • A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
  • 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
  • Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
  • Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional
    income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential
    housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
  • In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
  • As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
  • The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
  • Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
  • In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
  • The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
  • In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
  • More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
  • For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on
    food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
  • This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker
    makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
  • Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.


The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an hour on the other side of the world. After all, what corporation in their right mind is going to pay an American worker 10 times more (plus benefits) to do the same job?

And THAT is what is really going on in America. It isn't desperate Mexicans crossing the border. It isn't lazy, shiftless black people -- or lazy, shiftless white people for that matter. It is a systematic effort that has been developed by our own government, in thrall to wads of corporate cash, to eliminate the middle class -- a middle class created by the New Deal and the G.I. Bill and the Great Society. The problem is that a middle class that has a full belly and a roof over its head tends to do things like unionize, and ask for fair wages and benefits and safe working conditions -- things that are antithetical to the greedy corporate mindset. A desperate population is one that will enlist in the military to fight wars concocted out of lies. A desperate population is one that will work in a sweatshop for pennies. A desperate population is one that will train its replacements before being laid off because it doesn't know when its next paycheck may come. A desperate population is one that is too busy scrambling for the scraps left under the table by the wealthy who are stuffed to the gills with caviar fois gras and Ferraris and 40-room mansions.

And that is also why Dick Armey and other corporate shills founded the Tea Party groups. Because they need to channel that anger into scapegoating of those at the bottom of the ladder. Because when a desperate population looks to the top, well, just ask Louis XVI.

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