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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:01 AM
Original message
The High Anxiety of America's Middle Class
Edited on Tue Dec-26-06 02:06 AM by Hardpan
America's High Anxiety

By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Sunday, December 17, 2006

U.S.News & World Report

Our nation's core bargain with the middle class is disintegrating. We are into the fifth year of a relatively robust expansion, but millions are worse off. Exposed to greater risks in job security, they feel abandoned, left to fund their own health and retirement programs out of static or falling real incomes.

Resentment and envy are not normal characteristics of our society; we usually don't care how much the other guy makes as long as we feel we're getting a fair shake. Today, however, the middle class is not. Most of our economic gains have gone to people at the very top of the income ladder. Median income for a household of people of working age, by contrast, has fallen five years in a row. What's more, in a rapidly changing economy, Americans are losing their jobs, and while they often find new ones, the average pay is 17 percent below what they were earning before.

Even college graduates have been hard hit, their wages having failed to keep pace with inflation over the past five years-and this at a time when the profits per share for the companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index have been increasing at double-digit rates while corporate profits are at the highest level in two generations. Wages and salaries, meanwhile, account for the lowest share of our GDP since the government began recording the data, in 1947. As former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers put it: "If the anxious middle's concerns about fairness are this serious when the unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, there will be far greater concerns whenever the economy next turns down."

Risk. The economy is going great guns-thanks to globalization, continued technology advancements, and improved productivity-but the middle class and working families just don't feel they are getting ahead, despite the fact that they're working very hard. Indeed, many ordinary Americans say they are either falling behind or just barely keeping up.

More:

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/articles/061217/25...
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Cobalt-60 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:39 AM
Response to Original message
1. Perhaps we'll have that revolution after all.
Wage Slave for life is unacceptable. Period.
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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #1
28. Unlikely. The Bonus March of 1932 was during the height of the Great Depression.
Edited on Tue Dec-26-06 02:31 PM by Hardpan
And no one on the bonus march that July was armed at all.

The Army, under George Patton and Douglas MacArthur were armed though,
and they rousted and managed to kill 15 World War I veteran marchers, may they rot in hell.

And that bastard, Herbert Hoover, who ordered them "cleared out", too !!!
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #28
36. I agree, but the difference back then was...
Edited on Thu Dec-28-06 10:48 AM by Javaman
the rich, middle class and poor all lost in the crash, everyone got the squeeze.

Today, however, is how it was like in pre-revolution Russia, oh say about 1890.

The rich were getting richer and the middle class was getting squeezed for all it was worth and the poor were getting poorer.

It would be another 27 years before the shit hit the fan.

With the coming peak oil, global warming and the soon collapse of the dollar against the Euro, it may come sooner.
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GOPBasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:42 AM
Response to Original message
2. This sums up my thinking in the last four or five years.
The one percent at the top is doing better than ever, but the other 99 percent of us are much worse off. The author really makes a good point about universal health insurance. I would rather be making half the money I'm making now, but have guaranteed health insurance for my family and me.
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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 03:14 AM
Response to Original message
3. The Economy is breaking up families...
This particularly affects American families. Marriage has always been a vital economic and social institution. Yet married people with kids are twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as single adults or childless couples, and they're more likely to lose their homes than married couples without children or single adults. Why hasn't the two-earner family protected more Americans from the risk of financial disaster? Well, to most families, a second income is not a luxury but a necessity, as wages for men basically flattened out as women entered the workforce. The job market has become more uncertain, with roughly as large a share of workers involuntarily losing their jobs every three years as during the steep economic decline of the early 1980s. The cost of housing, education, healthcare, and child care, meanwhile, has gone through the roof.
...
Perhaps that's why for the first time, according to the Census Bureau, households headed by single people outnumber those headed by married ones.
...

Where is all the cry for the sanctity of marriage? Why aren't the fundies jumping on this?

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Triana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 08:26 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. My Mom & brother had to leave my town
So they (he) could find work. She's retired and too old to live alone so she lives with him - he HAS to have work. Every company he worked for went under. Now they live a damned 8-hour flight away from me.

My sister and brother-in-law had to move across the country too, because he lost his job at an auto company - they were getting lean and mean. He was management even - financial - and they cut him.

The bastard corprats are ruining people's lives and bu$hit, Inc. is letting - hell, even encouraging them, to do it.

Damn right the economy is breaking up families. The corprat mentality needs some 'adjustment' - shall we say, and we need an administration that doesn't LIE about unemployment/employment numbers and the TRUE state of the economy and jobs.

I won't hold my breath waiting. :mad:
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maxsolomon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 10:57 AM
Response to Reply #9
15. 8 hr. flight?
you can fly from seattle to london in 10 hours. i don't think it take 8 hours to fly from boston to san diego.

are you including a layover?
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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #15
24. They could have hit a head wind. Took me over 7 hours to get from HI to CA last time I flew. eom
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Triana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #15
29. Yes - there are no direct flights from here to there..
...so with layover it takes 6 - 8 hours.
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maxsolomon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. i'm the same distance from my family
but its by choice, not neccessity.

good luck to your brother in getting back.
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #3
19. Because for fundies
Edited on Tue Dec-26-06 12:35 PM by undergroundpanther
marriage isn't about a man and woman in love or even children it is about subjugating women to men. It is about making women breeders for creating more arrows in the husbands quiver for god.

That is why the fundies are not howling about this.
Fundies also feel being poor is god teaching heathens and uppity women they are sinners for not submitting.
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Sherman A1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 03:19 AM
Response to Original message
4. I have felt this way since the Esteemed President Reagan
fired the Air Traffic Controlers... Things have been going downhill for the worker bees since that time. Our current Mr. Bush didn't do this on his own, he simply isn't that engaged or talented.
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snappyturtle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #4
12. You are so right.....
Remember when Reagan died? I really didn't get all the pomp and whatever......Has everyone forgotten de-regulation?
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tbyg52 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #4
13. I also remember that as a dark time
Just because Reagan had a smile rather than a smirk did not make him a nice guy.
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 12:43 PM
Response to Reply #13
21. I hated regan
I hate all republican beliefs because they are about really evil things akin to feudalism,. if you tear off the flowery and convoluted verbal twists,,

Republicans stand for:
Social stratification
Cheap labor exploitation( religion and hetero marriage(kids force adults to work harder and for cheaper due to the obligation kids create for couples) and being lax on immigrant protections fit in here.)
Social authoritarian rule, ordered liberty
theocracy if it helps profits and keeps the masses distracted and self depreciating enough to not ask questions
and see their leader is lying like Leo Strauss said leaders must do to keep the masses subdued.
And lastly republican conservatism all boils down to fascism, eugenics, social control and the divine right of kings.
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suziedemocrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #21
31. Feudalism!!! EXACTLY!!!!!
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longship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 03:29 AM
Response to Original message
5. Recommended and kicked


:kick:
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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 04:36 AM
Response to Original message
6. K&R
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ClintonTyree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 04:47 AM
Response to Original message
7. How laughable is this?
"As former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers put it: "If the anxious middle's concerns about fairness are this serious when the unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, there will be far greater concerns whenever the economy next turns down." :rofl:

Our government manipulates the unemployment figures to give the appearance of steady employment, but in reality the unemployment rate is probably TWICE that number and that's not even counting the number of under employed. :puke:

If the swine in Washington told the unvarnished truth about unemployment there would be widespread panic in this country. Lie, lie, lie....that's the only thing the Bush administration is good at. One day the truth will come out about Bush and his manipulation of just about every aspect of the American economy. But, he'll be out of office then and he won't be held accountable for his statistical manipulation, just like he's never been held accountable for ANYTHING he's done in his life. :mad:
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pretzel4gore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 07:55 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. when we remember the plunge protection team
AND the treasury's new policy of not reporting on how much money's printed; the tade deficit vis the asian tiger, and all the outright criminality that has been main feature of bush's administration, then include the fact that the bush criminals, aided by mediawhores, have SCHEMED constantly against the people (many even suspect that 911 was a inside job) all this says bush won't get away with it, but can only finish us off or else
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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
26. They also take people off the unemployment figure if they work part-time, one day per week as temps!
Yeah, eight hours at a temp job somewhere is really going to bring home the bacon.

NOT!!!

Vote Union-Work Union!!!
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LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 08:45 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Absolutely
"Our government manipulates the unemployment figures to give the appearance of steady employment, but in reality the unemployment rate is probably TWICE that number and that's not even counting the number of under employed."

I work part time as a marketing writer. This year I had the lowest earnings since starting the job in 2000. Almost everything I earned was between January and the end of July. In the past five months I made less than a fifth of what I earned in the first seven months of 2006, because our clients ran out of money.

No matter what the liars in the Misadministration claim about employment statistics, I can see that the economy is doing poorly for the average person. The money is going to the CEOs and the already wealthy, and to companies like Halliburton that are fattening like pigs on our tax dollars.

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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-27-06 03:17 AM
Response to Reply #7
34. Unnecessary employees of the prison-industrial complex--
--aren't counted either. Looks like the real growth in jobs is taking in each other's laundry, bullshitting each other, and locking each other up. Does anybody here actuall MAKE or sell anything these days?
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The2ndWheel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 09:02 AM
Response to Original message
11. What isn't part of our society?
"Resentment and envy are not normal characteristics of our society;"

What? He is talking about America, yes?

"we usually don't care how much the other guy makes as long as we feel we're getting a fair shake."

And as that shake endlessly grows, we can't stop caring.

"The economy is going great guns-thanks to globalization, continued technology advancements, and improved productivity-but the middle class and working families just don't feel they are getting ahead, despite the fact that they're working very hard."

Get ahead of what by the way? By definition, the middle class is always chasing the wealthy class, so they can't get ahead of anything.

Why aren't they "getting ahead"? Globalization, technological advancement, and productivity. Golly gee, what a tangled web. All three of those aspects make people less and less valuable. Most of us are useless and in the way.
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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:11 PM
Response to Reply #11
23. New jobs are paying 17% less, on average, then the old one did...
NoMoreMyths wrote:

"The economy is going great guns-thanks to globalization, continued technology advancements, and improved productivity-but the middle class and working families just don't feel they are getting ahead, despite the fact that they're working very hard."

>>Get ahead of what by the way? By definition, the middle class is always chasing the wealthy class, so they can't get ahead of anything.<<


Yes, they can.

Each other, as in keeping up with the Jones', which is near impossible for most wage slaves.

When working class people in America lose thier old jobs, the average wages decline about 17 percent, and that figure doesnt include healthcare benefit reductions, loss or higher costs, at the new job.


>>Why aren't they "getting ahead"? Globalization, technological advancement, and productivity. Golly gee, what a tangled web. All three of those aspects make people less and less valuable. Most of us are useless and in the way.<<

Well, you can thank robotics, automation and the endless breeding by humans of even more "consumers" to make and buy all these endless products that we shell out even more $$$ for less goods. (seen how the food makers' package less food per container and still charge the same price for the same product, lately?)
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The Anti-Neo Con Donating Member (402 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 10:46 AM
Response to Original message
14. I know things are bad for the middle class...
but things are VERY bad for those who are below the middle class. The media tends to ignore those people however. :-(
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Who are these "blue-collar Americans" you speak of?
:mad:
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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:15 PM
Response to Reply #17
25. Most of us here on DU, dont you think? eom
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 06:52 PM
Response to Reply #17
32. I think that should read
"the Americans formerly known as 'Blue Collar'.

The name has been replaced with the symbol for 'unemployed'.
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #14
22. The media
Edited on Tue Dec-26-06 12:46 PM by undergroundpanther
and most other people ignore the poor we don't exist except as abstract or statistical "problems" and those scary unkempt people not allowed in the nice whitebread neighborhood.
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maxsolomon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 10:58 AM
Response to Original message
16. i can't even afford to see a psychiatrist!
its :crazy:!
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
18. Gee, Mort, did you slip on the porch and accidently ram a newspaper up your ass?
Gotta git up pretty early in the morning to get one past the bright-eyed boys of US News & World Report.

OTOH, at least ol' Mort isn't smarmily condescending a la Krauthammer.
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Tellurian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 12:35 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Really- ck this out..
from Mortimer's article..(really Mort!)

Risk. "The economy is going great guns-thanks to globalization, continued technology advancements, and improved productivity-but the middle class and working families just don't feel they are getting ahead, despite the fact that they're working very hard. Indeed, many ordinary Americans say they are either falling behind or just barely keeping up.

...gee, Morty, job loss, an important phenomena absent your economic jubilation?

Philosophers and politicians-from Plato to Disraeli to John Edwards-are fond of the "two nations" concept (slave/free; rich/poor; black/white). Today, we can add another: secure/anxious. Risk, even more than the level of incomes, is the main issue. As family incomes have become more stable, loss aversion has become increasingly important. By a margin of 2 to 1, Americans-traditionally, eager entrepreneurs-consider it more important to protect current sources of income than to take an opportunity to take a chance on something new and make more money.

Tens of millions of Americans live in fear that a major health problem can reduce them to bankruptcy. They realize their families are one health crisis away from family hardship, which is a key reason for the pervasive feeling of personal and permanent insecurity."
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #20
33. An aspect of the aging of the boomers.
When I was 30, I took all kinds of risks. Few of them paid off, except in experience.

Now, at 53, I see retirement looming ahead and risks are much harder to accept - I have no cushion against job loss and am in the peculiar situation of having the most stable work I've had in my life, due to those former risks, and fearing the loss of this most stable, but inadequate, work. In my 30s I didn't worry about my health. In my 50s, the thought of risking my health insurance in completely untenable.

And I am but one of 87 million of my generation.
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Hardpan Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-26-06 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #18
27. LOL! Well at least Mort got the message out at last, eh? eom
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-28-06 01:05 AM
Response to Original message
35. Mort's assuming too much
"static or falling incomes"??? How about NO income? A lot of us former middle class types DO NOT HAVE JOBS. WE HAVE been UNEMPLOYED or UNDEREMPLOYED for a decade or more. I fell out of the middle class when the amount of work I got declined greatly and I let my certification lapse, because I was completely burned out, in 1996.

and "College graduates have been hard hit"? What about those of us with a Master's or Doctorate degree that can't find a job in our field? Neither my Bachelor's or Doctorate has ever helped me get a job that I can tell. Goodbye, time and money.

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