Monday, July 19, 2010

The Result of Conservative and Neoliberal Economic Policies

Let's get this drilled into our collective consciences: the economy we're experiencing today started in 1981 (or thereabouts) with the election of Ronald Reagan as president. The crazies who call the unemployed "lazy" and unemployment benefits, that the unemployed have paid into mind you, a disincentive to seeking work - they're just saying what conservatives have said for decades.

And trust me, when trouble starts knocking at your door, you won't mind someone with a "bleeding heart" coming along to help you.

Michael Snyder | Jul. 15, 2010, 12:21 PM

The 22 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. 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.

See proof of the Middle Class extermination

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.

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 ten times more (plus benefits) to do the same job? The world is fundamentally changing. Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new "global" labor pool.

What do most Americans have to offer in the marketplace other than their labor? Not much. The truth is that most Americans are absolutely dependent on someone else giving them a job. But today, U.S. workers are "less attractive" than ever. Compared to the rest of the world, American workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing more rules and regulations seemingly on a monthly basis that makes it even more difficult to conduct business in the United States.

So corporations are moving operations out of the U.S. at breathtaking speed. Since the U.S. government does not penalize them for doing so, there really is no incentive for them to stay.

What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing quite well, while most Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to make it. There are now about 6 unemployed Americans for every new job opening in the United States, and the number of "chronically unemployed" is absolutely soaring. There simply are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.

Many of those who are able to get jobs are finding that they are making less money than they used to. In fact, an increasingly large percentage of Americans are working at low wage retail and service jobs.

But you can't raise a family on what you make flipping burgers at McDonald's or on what you bring in from greeting customers down at the local Wal-Mart.

The truth is that the middle class in America is dying -- and once it is gone it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild.

  1. 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
  2. 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
  3. 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
  4. 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.
  5. A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
  6. 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
  7. Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
  8. Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
  12. The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
  13. Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
  14. In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
  15. The top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
  16. In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
  17. More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
  21. Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.
  22. The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of our national income.
All statistics are sourced at the link.

Now let's see can't we wrap this up, make sense of everything. 3 of the past 4 presidents have been Republicans, and none of them ever had a budget surplus. Even the most recent Republican president George W Bush, who inherited a budget surplus from his Democratic predecessor, ran the budget to a deficit in less than one year. And let's make a distinction between federal budget surpluses and deficits and the federal debt. There can be a budget surplus at the same times that there remains large national debt. It would be similar to your family having money left over at the end of the month, and you probably haven't experienced that in a while, huh? But anyway, even though you can have money left over at the end of the month, you could still have debt, ie car payments, mortgage, credit cards, ect.

As for the national debt, the first year it topped a trillion was under Reagan. And yes, the Obama administration has done something monstrous to the national debt, but that's what you to get the national economy going again. Keynesian economics works. It's not WWII that got us out of the Depression; it was the spending for the war that got us out of the Depression. We would've been out of it much sooner had FDR not listened to conservative economists and pulled back on spending everything it appeared the economy was getting back on its feet. He should've continued spending until the economy was standing firmly.

And remember, for all the vitriol he gets now, FDR was elected 4 times. And it wasn't because everybody'd just love to have a beer with him.

So I want middle- and working-class white Americans to think real hard about this. Women of means will always be able to get safe abortions. All the laws you've been fighting for only hurt the poor. Not even after a white man bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City did the government come for your guns. And can you tell me the point of trying to keep prayer in school? Is your god so weak that you can't pray at home and in your churches and get the same results?

And go ask the elderly member of your family when they first started voting for Republicans. Especially those of you in the South. It's no secret that Nixon and others employed racism in order to win the South. It's no secret that many Southern Democrats, Dixiecrats they were called, joined the Republican party. And it's no accident that tax-day protests finally gained massive traction not 4 months into the first year of the first black president.

Yep. I'ma have to go A Time to Kill on ya. Before you decide who to support both with your wallet and your vote; before deciding whether or not to go to the next conservative rally; before deciding whether to support Arizona's immigrations laws coming to your state. Before all this, I want you to imagine everybody is white. Imagine the president's white; the poor and unemployed are white; all illegal immigrants are white. Imagine everybody being white - now, what would you do?

Don't answer. We already know.

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