The Death (and Rebirth) of the Middle Class

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It’s been well covered, but in this first article of the year, let’s take a look at the collapse of this most important segment of society.

The American middle class is fast disappearing, not because there is anything particularly wrong with the people involved – they are every bit as talented as their parents and grandparents were – but because the ruling class of the United States has pushed them into this position.

This middle class was once composed of proud and productive people… the kind who now exist primarily in advertisements for trucks. These people and their abilities remain, but Washington has taken power over nearly every choice they have and thinks of them only for the purposes of voting, fighting in wars, and creating more debt (aka buying stuff they don’t need).

These people are at a crossroads, facing fundamental choices about who they are and what they will be. The big threat in front of them is that by not stopping, thinking, and choosing (and it’s always easier to do nothing), they’ll stay on the path that has been grinding them into the dirt.

The Fall of the Middle Class in 60 Seconds

The first wave that undercut the American middle class hit roughly one hundred years ago, stripping away their surplus with income taxes, sales taxes, and debt-based money. This continues, transferring wealth from working people to governments and central bankers.

Older members of the American middle class will remember that small, self-employed farmers were once the backbone of the culture. These family businesses are now all but gone. Large farms remain, of course, but they have become, effectively, partners of the government and giant corporations. Gaps and exceptions remain, but the classic American farming family exists mainly on the fringes.

Self-employed people – shop-owners, mechanics, and so on – were another old American staple, and they are vanishing too, as you can see in this graph:

american middle class

The modern refuge for productive Americans was in manufacturing. But even manufacturing is dying in America. In 1977, there were nearly 20 million manufacturing jobs. Today – and with a much higher population – there are less than 12 million manufacturing jobs. (See graph below.)

american middle class

Service jobs are fine, but there are not enough of them. And because of overwhelming demand, they pay poorly.

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