Why We’re Screwed, Part DCCCLXXII

Confirming what a lot of us have been saying for at least a couple of decades, see The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades….

… Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries, or stronger, a small percentage of American households is fully benefiting from it. Median income in Canada pulled into a tie with median United States income in 2010 and has most likely surpassed it since then. Median incomes in Western European countries still trail those in the United States, but the gap in several — including Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden — is much smaller than it was a decade ago….

The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.

What they’re doing is looking at median rather than average income, which is what they should have been doing for years. Also, too:

“The crisis had no effect on our lives,” Jonas Frojelin, 37, a Swedish firefighter, said, referring to the global financial crisis that began in 2007. He lives with his wife, Malin, a nurse, in a seaside town a half-hour drive from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

They each have five weeks of vacation and comprehensive health benefits. They benefited from almost three years of paid leave, between them, after their children, now 3 and 6 years old, were born. Today, the children attend a subsidized child-care center that costs about 3 percent of the Frojelins’ income.

Even with a large welfare state in Sweden, per capita G.D.P. there has grown more quickly than in the United States over almost any extended recent period — a decade, 20 years, 30 years. Sharp increases in the number of college graduates in Sweden, allowing for the growth of high-skill jobs, has played an important role.

The article stresses over and over that this didn’t just happen; it’s been creeping up on us for more than 30 years. (And who was President 30 years ago? Wait …. let me guess …). It seems the final year of American preeminence was 2000. (And who was President right after that …. don’t tell me…. it’s on the tip of my tongue …) But what was the reaction on the Right? You got it .. . it’s Obama’s fault. The famously stupid Jim Hoft is running a headline saying “Another Obama Milestone… US Middle Class No Longer Most Affluent in the World” — I’m not linking to the creep — and his brain damaged readers are writing things like

Since Obama has basically wiped out the middle class of America, do you think the democRATs have any chance to keep the Senate in 2014 or the presidency in 2016???
America would be ignorant to vote for democrats again after all that they have done to the middle class and our military.

And it’s because of dimwits like that who vote that we’re screwed.

I don’t know how many times I’ve told some wingnut that as far as I could see, the U.S. middle class does not enjoy a more affluent lifestyle than people of other industrialized nations, and they refused to listen.

Coming on the heels of another study that said the U.S. is officially an oligarchy now, people really should be waking up. But they won’t. Progressives will be saying see? We were right, and the righties will just hide behind some rationalization, like blaming Obama, or trying to claim that if you look at house prices the differences are no big deal.

You can check out the reasons given for economic decline in the article, none of which will surprise you, and none of which originated with President Obama.

7 thoughts on “Why We’re Screwed, Part DCCCLXXII

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given a brief history lesson as I’ve tried to rebutt a wingnut claiming it’s all Obama’s fault. Probably at least a hundred. It really is futility. They are emotionally attached to their position, and don’t want to hear anything different. It’s like one person (me) fighting a mass infection of stupid.

    Not only has the middle class declined economically in this country, and the comparative statistics are finally beginning to show it, but people have become dumber. Politicians that are taken seriously today, would’ve been laughed off the stage thirty years ago.

    Probable typo in your last sentence: “none” instead of “one”.

  2. I came across this a while back.


    I was particularly interested in the comparison with France. The median French citizen has over three times what the median American has.

    I know that everything is not, “la vie en rose” there, but they must be doing something right, especially considering the quality of their healthcare, education, etc. I could put up with a burdensome bureaucracy and extra rules and regs if I got a longer life expectancy and a higher literacy rate for my neighbors. At least, I’d be willing to try.

    I guess my perspective is jaundiced due to years working with people in reduced circumstances due to traumatic injury or onset of disability. The population that my wife works with in public health, exhibits a spectrum of tragic desperation. I think most people have no idea of the suffering that is going on behind the closed doors. Then some jackass like Paul Ryan starts to channel Charles Trevelyan and they think he makes sense. I better shut up now, or I’ll go on a senseless rant.

    The Reagan Revolution let’s the rich live at Versailles and the workers in China.

  3. Our “Cold Civil War” started right after the ink was dry on the Civil and Voting Rights Acts.

    And that led to racial wedge issues to be used (and then, with the ERA – women’s issues as wedges).
    Nixon’s “Silent Majority” was part of his “Southern Strategy,” to re-divide this nation.

    Uncle Ronnie welcomed in the Evangelicals, and started “The Great Give-away to the Oligarchs.” Money started to, not “Trickle-down,” but “Gush-up!”

    The fall of the USSR didn’t help anyone in America economically, besides the uber-rich.
    It meant that our Oligarchs and Plutocrats no longer had another political and economic system as competition to worry about, and had less fear of a Revolution than the rich in the 1930’s did.

    Outside of Clinton and the Tech Boom, we’ve been on a downward spiral since LBJ decided not to run for reelection.
    And Dumbaya almost put the final nail in our coffin, but just missed (no surprise form the supposed leader of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight!).

    And wedge issues keep being used, to help the ‘divided’ stay ‘conquered.’

    And tragically, we’re not even close to finishing cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
    But that’s ok, Mother Nature may stop the bleeding – at least in the sense that we’ll all be dead.

  4. Today, I was asked if Charlie christ would win the governors mansion back from rick Scott. I said yes, and the guy who asked me said Florida’s growing economy is due to rick Scott’s policies. The guy who asked the question hates Obama in particular, and ” niggras” in general. He is not alone in Florida.

  5. Maha, I can feel the exasperation in your writing. Believe me you are not alone. I have come to the place that I find them truly on another planet. I recognize that perspective has much to do with it but their excessive rationalizations for their cognative dissonance is very annoying.
    I have decided that it is some psychological thing that makes them need an enemy to prove they have some kind of heroic valor. They would have no purpose to their lives without an enemy.Someone to feel superior to, in other words take someone down to build themselves up.

  6. “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work,” (Rep. Paulie Ryan ( R- Wisconsin)

    Well, speaking of “niggras”, Paulie has got his own description of what constitutes a niggra. Seems that the folks in Florida just aren’t as articulate as their northern conservative brother from Wisconsin.
    The saddest thing about Paulie’s statement is not that he said it, but that he thinks and believes it. He’s just not tickling ears for a group of conservatives racists to win votes.. He speaking from the abundance of his heart. He’s articulating his core beliefs just like his buddy Romney who views 47% of Americans as lazy undeserving freeloaders.

  7. Swami: you’re exactly right. People who want to believe all the racists live in the south need to come to WI. We’re, meaning WI, dead last in so many different racial categories that you are better off living in the deep, Deep South than in Cheeseland if you’re African American. And then with the recent SCOTUS decision that basically guts affirmative action our great state senator, Glenn Grotham, came out and said he was going to immediately introduce legislation that would make AA ( affirmative action, not African Americans, tho for GG it’s all and the same) illegal in this state. He went onto state that people don’t realize how much race and gender play in hiring and college admissions. Simply stunning.

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