|Job creation has largely fallen to the middle class. Source: Google Images|
Right wing politicians like to talk about the rich as the nation’s job and wealth creators, but the truth is that the rich generally invest or save what they make, often in offshore investments and savings at that.
In fact the rich actually spend too little to actually power the nation’s economy in the way that the politicians (employed by them) like to say they do.
Consumer spending is 70 percent of the U.S. economy. It's what keeps the economy solvent.
That means it's the middle class who are really the job and wealth creators in America. When they find that they can't afford to spend it means the nation's economy is in danger.
History has shown us what can happen when the wealth of nations gets concentrated at the top. Right now the 400 richest people in America have more wealth than half of the country.
That means that 400 people here now have more cash, stock and property than the entire assets of 155 million Americans combined. While the nation struggles it's an unprecedented boom time for the richest one percent.
One percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. They've become so staggeringly rich they can't even fit on pie charts alongside ordinary Americans anymore.
They have more in common with each other than the nation now. They are citizens of the little island of the rich, much more so than of the U.S. Now that their interests and investments span the globe, they're their own nationality.
On Fox News the angry pundits like to say that anyone who brings up these facts is waging all out war on the productive class (the rich) by the moocher class (you and me, presumably). On Fox News the fact that America now has the worst wealth inequality on earth is not a problem.
But how did we get here? Well, last year the U.S. economy grew at the rate of 1.8 percent, which means it hardly grew at all.
Consumer spending is down because the middle class is tightening their belts. Home prices are still down. Jobs and wages are going nowhere.
Despite the squeeze we've all been living with for so long it's very important to remember that America is still the richest country in the world. It's richer than it’s ever been, as a matter of fact.
The wealthiest one percent are doing better than they ever have. And they sure want to keep it that way.
So just follow the money to Washington. There, every day, fabulously well paid corporate lobbyists line up to meet with the representatives and senators whose campaigns they made the maximum donations to.
Those doors are always open and the occupants are most attentive. And that's how money can shape our politics.
But who is looking out for the average worker in Washington, D.C. and in the state capitals? The answer is no one.
When wages stagnate – as they have done for 30 years now – workers buy less, and when workers buy less unemployment rises.
That's where we are now, where we have been for the past 30 years through booms and busts. Stagnant wages have been our old familiar, as we've tried every trick in the book to pretend they didn't happen.
First women entered the workforce in large numbers in the eighties when families noticed that their paychecks didn't go as far as they used to. Then we all started working much longer hours. People took on two or three jobs.
By the 2000s the typical American worker worked more than 2,200 hours a year -- that's 350 hours more than the average European worked. Finally we started eating into our own savings and borrowing, with increasingly dire results for our families and the nation’s economy.
But it's the middle class that powers the American economy, and it's only the middle class who can save it. Remember we have been here before in the twenties, and remember what we did then to turn our fortunes around.
We demanded that our employers pay us enough to buy what they produced. Mass production and mass consumption worked in tandem and they worked well.
That meant that almost everyone who wanted a job could find one with good wages, or at least wages that were trending upward. In those years everyone’s wages grew, not just the gilded few at the top. The middle class had the money to spend, and their spending created new jobs.
As the economy grew, the national debt shrank. So the most pro-business thing you can do, economic data shows, is to help the middle class.
Currently no one is in Washington is. That must change.
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