12.15.16

“Half of the US got nothing”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 5:12 pm by George Smith

Of the handful of people I know face to face the majority haven’t done particularly well over the last few decades. A smaller number have done OK. They have not exceeded their parents.

But we’re all educated and to my knowledge the majority vote among us was for the famous career civil servant sandbag of the wealthy class. Here I’ve called it the 40 year national slump.

It’s been the experience for my friends. There was never a time when things were getting better unless you consider slight variances in the rate of decline being the equivalent of up.

There’s been the experience of precarious work or no jobs at all. Micro-contract work. Piece work. Free-lance labor with every year a reduction in rates. Layoffs as various industries consolidated. Diminishing opportunities, uncertain futures and certainly no real increases in purchasing power except for a select few. For years, no health insurance or the kind of policy that’s just a rip-off, coverage only for things virtually guaranteed to be bankrupting and terminal.

Want to see my SNAP card?

“Half of the US got nothing” in the last 30 years was the intro to an explosive piece on the NYT homepage last week. That’s 117 milion people. Even the cheerleaders for the plutocracy couldn’t candy coat although they did try.

So why did a tidal wave of “screw you” win the White House for Trump? You figure it out.

The US is now unstable. And it is definitely not a democracy. You could say we’ve had it coming. There’s certainly an argument for it. I prefer to think of it as a bill for mistakes, miscarriages and manipulations in leadership and their role in setting the rules of the economy. The social cost is of epic proportion.

The NYT:

Even with all the setbacks from recessions, burst bubbles and vanishing industries, the United States has still pumped out breathtaking riches over the last three and half decades.

The real economy more than doubled in size; the government now uses a substantial share of that bounty to hand over as much as $5 trillion to help working families, older people, disabled and unemployed people pay for a home, visit a doctor and put their children through school.

Yet for half of all Americans, their share of the total economic pie has shrunk significantly, new research has found.

This group — the approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder — “has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s,” the team of economists found. “Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent.”

There was one cheerleader for the system trying to strain lemonade from an ocean of urine: N. Greg Mankiw. In the interest of balance, I’d call him the rich man’s economist.

“As troubling as some may find inequality, it is not necessarily the fault of a rigged system, said N. Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard … ” reads the Times.

“Inequality is a symptom of a variety of things,” Mankiw told the newspaper.

So well said.

Mankiw was briefly a subject of a talk given by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America,” mentioned here a month or so ago:

Ehrenreich: “A certain cleaning staff would go through the garbage to find the Chinese food containers left behind by Harvard students that still contained sme food in them because you could take them home to your kids … whoah. Meanwhile, at the other end at Harvard you had a guy named Greg Mankiw, who was an economics professor, who made it his mission to point out why low wage people couldn’t have higher wages. It would destroy the economy, pure and simple.

“I always debated him on the radio. And in the years since 2002, traveling around the country talking about these issues on different college campuses I began to get the impression the whole purpose of economics departments was to teach kids that whatever is going on in the economic status quo is perfect and how it has to be, so shut up.

“Some fresh guy [would] stand up, ‘Well, we learned in economics, you can’t raise wages.” But [you] can make $100,000 or whatever.

“I began to get really impatient and even, in some places, to go so far as to say, ‘What the hell do they teach at this university?’ Because if they taught math you could figure out that on six dollars/hour you’re not going to live anywhere in the environs of Cambridge, Mass., or any property of any other major university. That’s simple.”


“[Less educated] white voters had a solid economic rationale for voting against the status quo — nearly all the gains from the economic recovery have passed them by,” reads the Times in a related piece.

“There are almost nine million more jobs than there were at the previous peak in November 2007, just before the economy tumbled into recession. But the gains have not been evenly distributed.”

It’s a continuing piece of received wisdom, courtesy of the swells. It was just the “less educated.” If you were educated, you did well.

No, it was many of the well-educated too. And until the establishment, or the people controlling the opinion and analysis big reads begin to get this, the anger will not be abated. The country will continue on into instability, rocked by irrational electoral jolts and setbacks.

Merry Christmas.


Quotable

“We’ve been told in rural America ‘f— you’ by the Clintons before with NAFTA, and with further banking deregulation … and told ‘f— you’ when they said the tech revolution would spread jobs across rural America …” – Dave “Mudcat” Saunders

“Things never got that much better for them. Trade a union job for a fast food or retail job that pays half, and life is pretty bleak. Things got better in cities. Things got better on the West Coast. It would be pretty easy to believe that everything was getting better everywhere but York. They told people to learn to code, but you try to teach a 55-year-old trucker or bricklayer to code and you tell me how far you get.” — Brenden Gallagher, here

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