Thursday, August 23, 2012
The great American Middle Class is shrinking? Are we each, individually getting smaller? No, although there are some days lately when it feels like it. We’re losing income and wealth. While the precise definition of “Middle Class” is a bit fuzzy, what is clear is that this protracted recession is hurting everyone, some more than others, but everyone. And the effects for many of us are serious and long-lasting, the kind that take years, maybe even a generation or more, to reverse.
The poor, whether they’re working or not, are more stuck in their situation than ever. The Middle Class is suffering the effects of protracted un- and under-employment. Even the rich, highly paid professionals and on up, are making less than they could were the economy booming, it’s just that they’re rich and don’t feel the effects the way the rest of us do.
The President would like us to believe that, if only we had a strong Middle Class, the economy would be fine. That’s ridiculous. What is President Obama talking about? The obvious fact, however politically unacceptable to him, is that, if only the economy were stronger, the Middle Class wouldn’t be suffering.
This isn’t some chicken-or-the-egg question. Our economy made the Middle Class. It wasn’t the other way around. To even hint at that being the case, let alone making it a campaign theme, is just one more indication of how lost-in-space this President and other similar-thinking elected officials are with respect to the economy.
This is no ordinary business cycle that will go away anytime soon so that President Obama, if he’s still in office, can take credit for the recovery. This is a cyclical downturn that has occurred in the context of profound structural economic problems and a dysfunctional government overwhelmed by the politics of money.