Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kiss the middle class goodbye... say hello to the 19th century

         I heard a statement on the radio this morning with which I strongly agree" the post WWII era (1945 - 2000) in America will be remembered as an aberration from the historical norm.  I tend to think of it as a Golden Age.  It was just so easy to get by... strong unions and good wages for average-intelligence people on assembly lines; good benefits; defined benefit pension plans; affordable home mortgages; a graduated income tax that made the top taxpayers contribute their fair share; civil rights for minorities; education for all.

       Any doubt about the end of that Golden Age was put to rest with the collapse of Lehman Brothers five years ago today and the onset of the Great Recession.  We have undergone a sea change.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently confirmed that millions of office jobs, eliminated during the last five years, are never coming back.

      For the first time since WWII families are questioning the value of a college education.  With a $1 Trillion l student-loan bubble and a 9% default rate, it's clear that higher education has defaulted on its responsibility to the American people.  We have built country-club campuses, where the world's most inefficient, over-priced method of knowledge delivery is institutionalized and enshrined.

     Calls to repair our nation's broken immigration system entirely fail to address the most fundamental core question: what is the optimum population for the U.S.?  And even labor leaders, who used to be outspoken on this issue, no longer point out that immigration favors the top 1%... cheap labor... easy union-busting.

     2013 looks in many ways remarkably like 1913:  a wide (and ever widening) gap between rich and poor, indeed between the rich and everyone else... private-sector unionization below 10%... college inaccessible to large segments of the population.

     And those in the one-percent club scratching one another's backs.  As pointed out in an earlier blog this morning, five years after Lehman's collapse, neither the Obama Justice Department/SEC nor state regulators have put a single Wall Street mavin, who bankrolled millions if not billions from the sub-prime scam, has been prosecuted, let alone jailed or required to give back his booty.

       The clock has been turned back.  Hello to the 19th century Robber Baron Era and bye-bye to the great middle class of 1945-2000.

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