Friday, May 8, 2015


Over the past 10 years the richest Americans have become even richer. As well, in terms of standard GDP measures, the United States is still considered the richest country on the planet. Accordingly, if one were to buy into the GOP's tax cuts for the rich strategy, those on the lower economic rungs of America's economic ladder should be enjoying the financial benefits of this wealth as America's riches naturally "trickle down" to the rest of us, right?

Think again. 

Via the Huffington Post we learn that when we stack the U.S. middle-class up against other nation-states that the U.S. is ranked 27th. Countries like Iceland, Spain, and Qatar have a better standard of living for its middle-class than the U.S. 

So, why is it that the U.S. no longer has the richest middle-class and standard of living in the world? The reasons are many, and are tied to issues our Congress seem to have no clue about - like events in Baltimore and Ferguson - nor any inclination to fix.  Here are several of those reasons:

  • We don't have real universal health care. 
  • Weak labor laws undermine unions.
  • Our minimum wage is pathetic.
  • Wall Street is out of control.
  • Higher education puts our kids into debt.
  • It's hard to improve your station in life if you're in prison, often due to drug-related charges that don't even exist in other developed nations. In fact, we have the largest prison population in the entire world, and we have the highest percentage of minorities imprisoned. "In major cities across the country, 80 percent of young African Americans now have criminal records." (See Alexander, Michelle (2010), The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York, The New Press. p. 7. as cited in Wikipedia.)
  • Our tax structures favor the rich.
  • The wealthy dominate politics.
  • Big Money dominates the media.
  • America encourages globalization.

The top reason for our declining middle-class status is complex, but pretty straightforward. 

Simply put, we have gone from being a nation that builds and provides real goods and services in the real economy to one that thinks we should focus on making money from money in the symbolic economy.

In fact, we have been disproportionately rewarding market players in the area of finance over those who work in the non-financial sector.

The financialization of our market system has turned our economy from one that strongly rewards those who produce real wealth through hard work and sacrifice to one that lavishly rewards those who extract wealth by securing favorable legislation, deregulation, and regular bailouts from Congress and state houses across the country.

It's the difference between playing monopoly and building them.

- Mark 

Kudos to Marion for the link.

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