“Three Lost Decades” – How the American Middle Class is 20% Poorer Now vs. 1984

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 11.16.01 AMLike so many other things in popular American culture, this quaint notion of a “middle class” in the U.S. is at this point nothing more than a myth; a rapidly fading fantasy from a bygone era. As myself and many others have noted for quite some time, the decimation of the middle class began long ago. It really got started in the early 1970’s after Nixon defaulted on the gold standard and financialization began to take over the American economy. Median real wages haven’t increased since that time and the rest is history.

Although the evolutionary process toward oligarchy began long ago, its finishing touches have been applied in recent years. This has been easily achieved by the Federal Reserve and U.S. government’s response to the financial crisis, which was and continues to be characterized by an intentional funneling of all the nation’s wealth into the hands of their patrons; the 0.01%. As the chart below demonstrates clearly (and as I highlighted in the post: Where Does the Real Problem Reside? Two Charts Showing the 0.01% vs. the 1%), it is the tiny oligarch class that is reaping all of the benefits.

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 10.38.07 AM

This was further demonstrated in full color recently in a report by Oxfam International, which showed that 85 people have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion on earth. There is nothing moral, decent or “free market” about such an outcome. It can only happen in a world characterized by militarism, exploitation, cronyism and fraud. We are living in a global feudalism.

In case you needed any more proof of our current predicament, the Washington Post notes that:

Nostalgia is just about the only thing the middle class can still afford. That’s because median wealth is about 20 percent lower today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was in 1984.

Yes, that’s three lost decades.

Now, as you might expect, the middle class has been hit particularly hard by the Great Recession and the not-so-great recovery. It’s all about stocks and houses. The middle class doesn’t have much of the former, but it does have a lot of the latter. And that’s bad news, because, even though the crash decimated both, real estate hasn’t come back nearly as much as equities have. So the top 1 percent, who hold more of their wealth in stocks, have made up more of the ground they lost. But, as the Russell Sage Foundation points out, the slow housing recovery means that, in 2013, median households were still 36 percent poorer than they were a decade earlier.

 Though, to put that in depressing perspective, it’s still a heckuva lot better than households in the bottom 25 percent, whose wealth never grew during the good times, and then plunged 60 percent during the bad ones. That’s because, for both the middle and working classes, real wages have been stagnant the past 30 years, and housing equity has taken a nosedive.

So what if the stock market is up? Most Americans are too dead broke to own equities, and in fact, an increasing number need debt and welfare just to survive. Meanwhile, Obama is hosting $32,000 a plate fundraisers all over California, while the median wage in America is only $27,000.

That’s just how the oligarchs like it.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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  1. Obama was nowhere near being president 30 years ago, so implying this is his fault is just distracting from who is REALLY to blame. All politicians hold multi-thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraisers. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what is happening thanks to recent Supreme Court decisions. Those ’85 people’ are the ones responsible for what has happened to the Middle Class, not the Obama Administration. It is because they are pulling the strings of Congress, that his administration is unable to pull us out of this mess. He has proposed job bills, extending unemployment benefits, infrastructure repair (which would create jobs), all of which were blocked by Congress. Were his proposals wrong? If they were, where were Congress’ alternatives, and why weren’t they passed? Instead, they’d rather vote over 50 times to repeal Obamacare, instead of focusing on keeping the middle class from drowning even further.

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