WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Hollowed-out U.S. middle-class the 'new normal'?

This blog has seen a lot of debate about the decline of the middle-class - particularly blue-collar folks who used to enjoy fairly lucrative industrial jobs - exacerbated by the Great Recession.

Attached, see a recent penetrating analysis from SALON, which I actually first saw on the DELAWARE LIBERAL website.

A key passage: "The shrinking of the middle class is not a failure of capitalism. It's a failure of government. Capitalism has been doing exactly what it was designed to do: Concentrating wealth in the ownership class, while providing the mass of workers with just enough wages to feed, house, and clothe themselves. Young people who graduate from college to $9.80 an hour jobs as sales clerks or data processors are giving up on the concept of employment as a vehicle for improving their financial fortunes: In a recent survey, 24 percent defined the American dream as 'not being in debt'. They're not trying to get ahead. They're just trying to get to zero..."

Later, the author of this piece, Edward McClelland, heaps praise on - incredibly - President Nixon:

"The last president who had a plan for protecting American workers from the vicissitudes of the global economy was Richard Nixon, who was in office when foreign steel and foreign cars began seriously competing with domestic products. The most farsighted politician of his generation, Nixon realized that America's economic hegemony was coming to an end..."

Later, President Carter deregulated the airline, rail, and trucking industries, and President Reagan fired the striking PATCO members. Then came President Clinton's push for NAFTA and repeal of Glass-Steagall. By this analysis, all of these were essentially nails in the coffin of the American middle-class.

Please read and comment....


Posted at 7:55am on September 24, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Sep 24, 2013 8:27am
I keep reading and hearing American employers complaining that there are not enough Americans with they skills they need for the available high-tech jobs, thus these employers hire folks from overseas to come here and work.

So maybe the question should be, why aren't American kids taking the more "beefy" courses of study in college, so they'd be the ones qualified for those really good-paying jobs that seem to be in demand, here in America?

Also, the trades pay good wages. My plumber is a kid of about 35 and lives in a far larger home than mine in a rather pricy side of town. There are such shortages of skilled workers such as millwrights, machinists that corporations have problems finding enough young folks with those skills. Too many of our kids want to sit in front of a computer screen and not do any physical work or get their hands dirty. The trades are a place where middle-class kids could eke out a pretty good living in today's world.

For those less mechanically-inclined go for the really technical type jobs: Engineering [Mechanical, Electrical, Civil], Computer Programming, Medical [nursing, doctors, doctors assistance, nurse practictioners], Medical Lab work, the Sciences: Chemistry, Physics, Mathematicians, Research, etc. Granted these are NOT easy courses, but if you have the brains and the drive, you can makes excellent money in these fields.

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 9:09am
"The Most (And Least) Lucrative College Majors, In 1 Graph"

But the question remains: Should people follow their passions or go for the bucks?

Nixon came from a time when big business saw their interests in protectionism: Protecting the US market, US industry and US products from foreign competition. This had been a basic stand of the Whig/Republican Party going back to Henry Clay and Lincoln. But business, and therefore the Republican Party they control, saw internationalism as more profitable: Foreign markets opening up to consumer goods and foreign workers willing to work cheap. And trade barriers came down and workers were thrown under the bus.

Paddy Chayefsky summed this changed corporate attitude up in "Network:"
"You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! ... There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. ..."

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Sep 24, 2013 10:31am
That graph definitely shows where the money is to be made.

Billsmith's question: "But the question remains: Should people follow their passions or go for the bucks?"

I'd follow my passion, but then the person following his/her passion also needs to understand that his/her salary isn't going to be as grand [unless that passion happens to be for one of those technical jobs], so if that works for you not pulling in the big bucks, then follow your passion.

If money is more important to you, then you'll probably end up following the money trail, being wealthy, and probably working at something ONLY for the money. But funny, I've never heard of anyone on their deathbed saying, I wish I had spent more time at work making money, or look at all the money I made [Because you cannot take it with you, as there isn't a U-Haul trailing behind the funeral hearse]. I've been involved in ministry via the various churches I've been involved with over the years, so I've got some firsthand experience in this, but no statistics].

So in my opinion, you might as well work at something you like to do, where your passion resides. The 40 years you end up working will pass far more enjoyably and quickly than if you're working at something you aren't interested in, only for the money. That can make getting up each day a real drudgery. Then you've become a slave.

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 2:08pm
MikeFromDelaware: You been reading Ayn Rand, haven't you?

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 8:24pm
Is that any relation to Rand Paul?

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 8:28pm
What about Rand McNally?

Mike from Delaware
Tue, Sep 24, 2013 11:45pm
Billsmith: I did read an article about her a few months ago.

Wed, Sep 25, 2013 3:10am
MikeFromDelaware: You might start with the film version of The Fountainhead. If you find her ideas interesting, you can try the novel. The Fountainhead has some weaknesses as a movie but it does present her basic ideas pretty well. The film of Atlas Shrugged works better as a movie but the ideas really don't come through.

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