The Destruction of the American Middle Class
The single biggest issue facing the United States is the destruction of the American middle class.
American society is bifurcating, squeezing the middle class out of existence. The ranks of the poor and low-income earners are growing and the rich are doing just fine – and no one is talking about it, much less doing anything about it.
Giant firms like Procter & Gamble and Heinz are even cutting back on marketing to the disappearing middle classes, and instead selling more and more to either high-income or low-income customers, abandoning the middle.
Why? The net worth of the middle fifth of American households has plunged by 26% in the last two years. The income of the median American family, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than in 1998.
The New York Times recently ran a story on the plight of the American working person. Solid jobs that once provided a secure grasp on middle class aims (a house, college for the kids, a retirement) have changed to become low-wage ones.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders published a report on poverty called “Is Poverty a Death Sentence?” It showed that in 313 counties in America, life expectancy for women has actually declined over the last 20 years. It showed six million more people have fallen into poverty since 2004.
Indeed, this week the US Census Bureau has released a survey showing that one in six Americans now live in poverty: the highest number ever reported by the organization. It also showed that real median household incomes dropped 2.3% in 2010 from the year before, reflecting the decline of the middle class.
At the same time, the richest 20% of the US population now controls 84% of the wealth. In fact, so staggeringly unbalanced has America become that the richest 400 American families have the same net worth as the bottom 50% of the nation.