Tuesday, August 28, 2012

 The Fading American Middle Class

While the Democrats during the U.S. election appear to be outdoing the Republicans in the low level of ad hominem attacks through down-and-dirty advertising, and despite their smudging of their own faces with the disreputable ink of dirty politics don't appear to be edging up in the opinion polls, the escalating economic emergency in the country continues to edge upward.

Republican women meeting at their own Republican-election-committee-improvised Woman Up! Pavilion close to the Republican National Convention, are downplaying the recent heat on the abortion issue with the message that there is room in their party for both sides of the argument, and that the focus of women, no less for men of their party is the state of the country's economy.

And it's not at all good.  So bad, in fact, that it rivals Greece in the misery of a large proportion of the population who once considered themselves among the bedrock of the secure middle class.  There are some financial analysts, in fact, who consider the current financial situation assailing the United States to be more than equal that of Greece's, and promising to outdistance Greece in the final analysis.

Consumers in the U.S. have less confidence in the ability of their country to outdistance the economic depression they're supposed to have overcome.  And they are not at all happy that the distance in financial security between themselves at the lower end of the economic spectrum is growing from that of the high earners in their country who are becoming wealthier while they themselves are stagnating and in many cases, faltering.

The U.S. middle class now faces its "worst decade in modern history", according to a new report which claims an impending "fiscal cliff" is far more disastrous than the feebling of the hoped-for recovery which seems ever more distant.  The warning that projected huge U.S. government spending cuts and tax hikes will cause greater financial damage if Washington continues on that road is ominous, with no discernible option for hope to turn the situation around.

Americans are being warned that a severe recession looms large in their near future.  This, at a time when people feel they've sacrificed enough, are struggling to get by, and were hoping for some relief.  The loss of a further two million jobs is in the offing if this scenario comes to fruition.  To add to the gloomy news a Pew Research Center study claims 85% of middle class Americans consider it more difficult currently than a decade earlier to maintain their standard of living.

The "worse decade in modern history" faces the American middle class, as its share of the country's income continues to fall for the first time since the Second World War.  The middle class share of the national income is singularly unimpressive as they've been surpassed by the affluent while median wages are going nowhere and the concentrated wealth at the top of the pyramid reflects the country's rich citizens' endowment.

The "middle class" are defined as those adults where household income falls between two-thirds and double the national median income of $39,428 to $118,255 for a family of three in 2010.  The middle class are comprised of roughly 51% of U.S. adults by this definition, falling from its 1971 status of 61%.  The share of income flowing to the middle class in 1970 was 62%; by 2010 that dropped to 45%.
"The job market is changing, our living standards are falling in the middle, and middle-income parents are now afraid that their children will be worse off than they are.  These are the disaffected middle class who work hard and play by the rules of society, but increasingly see their situation declining by forces beyond their control.  No matter who is president, the climb back up for the middle class and the recovery will be slow and often painful."  Timothy Smeeding, University of Wisconsin-Madison economics professor

It's all the result of a failed presidency, according to the Republican Party.  "Today's CBO report is another indictment of President Obama's economic policies that have resulted in overspending, increasing debt and a growing financial burden on the next generation", according to a spokeswoman for Mitt Romney's Republican presidential campaign.

Which actually doesn't acknowledge the fiscal inheritance of the former Bush administration, left for the Democrats and President Obama to finagle themselves and the country out of and back into prosperity through the dim period of a global recession and beyond.

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