Six years ago on 12/8/14 I published an article in KONK Life whose words ring true today as back then: American Dream…..going Going GONE.
We have not made much progress in 6 years. If anything, we continue to drift backwards. I republish the article today as a reminder that we must move forward rather than backward.
Time is of the essence.
THE AMERICAN DREAM. Work hard, study, go to college…..The world is yours! Gone!
There was a time when parents hoped for their children a better life than they had experienced. The process was known as social mobility. It worked. The children went on to better jobs, educations and enjoyed the excesses of a material world. No more. Gone!
The American dream has been replaced by an American reality. People find themselves stuck in a social status. There is no upward mobility. Sociologists and economists claim what you will be is determined by who you are. Lineage and ancestry come into play. If your father was a carpenter, you will be one. If your father was a ditch digger, you will be one.
The United States is on the road to becoming a banana republic. We may already be there. There are two reasons. First, bad government policies. Second, systematic crime and manipulation by big banks. Both have little or no consideration for anything but themselves. The rich get richer and the poor poorer.
While this downward trend has been going on, the United States’ reputation has suffered a similar malaise. The United States is on its way to no longer be a leading power and shining city on the hill.
While the middle class has been disappearing, it has found significant success in other countries. We are going backward while the rest of the world moves forward.
What is replacing the middle class is a form of the feudal system known in the middle ages. The king in a castle on the hill and the serfs working the fields below. Fields owned by the king. Families doing so for generations.
The middle class was born of World War II. Soldiers returned. They wanted a better way. They went to school and worked hard. From 1945 to the mid 1970s, the system worked. As productivity increased, wages increased. A middle class developed. People were earning good wages. They could provide for themselves and their families. Their children went on to a better life.
Since 1973 there has been a downward spiral, however. Productivity has increased 80 percent. Wages, only 10 percent.
The reason obvious. Government first and foremost. Government has been bought by corporate America and the banks. Lobbyists hired by them have great influence. They write laws and have Congressional members introduce them. Congress dances to their tune.Who is doing similar work for the former middle class and other persons not so fortunate?
We have been sold a bill of goods. For example, U.S. corporations claim they cannot pay higher wages. They cannot afford it. If they do, they will not be able to compete globally. A crock. How can Germany be explained? Germany is an industrial nation. Successful by today’s standards. Germany has consistently raised the wages of its workers and has a strong middle class. Germany competes in the same world market as the United States.
People are discouraged and despondent. A 2013 CNN poll showed 60 percent of Americans believed the American dream was no longer available. Three reasons were given. Lagging wages, a tough job market, and greater income inequality.
A college education is more expensive than ever. Most students go into extreme debt to obtain a college degree. Purportedly the ticket to success and wealth. Then they cannot get a job upon graduation.
We are told the recession ended in 2009. Tell that to the unemployed or those making low wages. Control by corporations and banks of government power has resulted in the top 1 percent earning significantly more dollars in the past five years.
The unemployment figures fail to impress me. Yes, under 6 percent is terrific. However, that figure does not include the 92.6 million unemployed that have fallen off the radar and are not counted.
Workers’ wages have fallen 36 percent in the last ten years. Seventy six percent of Americans live pay check to pay check. Burgeoning unpaid student loans constitute a big economic threat. Employment growth is only found in the MacDonald’s of this world. Twice the number of people are on food stamps today than were in 2008.
There has been no recovery for the working people. Most will work till they die. Forget retirement.
The solution? People have to take back the government. It is not going to happen quickly. Election districts have been gerrymandered under the guidance of the rich. It has to start at a grass root level.The precinct level. People must organize and go door to door to elect people who genuinely have their interests at heart. A tough long term way. However one of the few if the middle class is going to have a chance of recovering.
If not my suggestion or some other workable one, I fear we may experience an Arab Spring. It has happened elsewhere in the world. Why not here? There already are demonstrations nationwide over the race/police issue. Such could grow into a why can’t we get a better jobs one. Remember that in the Egyptian demonstrations, college graduates who could not get decent paying jobs were in the forefront.
Our country is in a hole. We have to dig our way out. The road back is long.