Tag Archives: Middle Class

How Easy Is It To Become Middle Class? By Charles Hugh Smith

One of the hallmarks of a successful society is an open, growing, and thriving middle class. You can tell a lot about people’s political views from their attitude toward the middle class. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

If we want social / economic renewal, we have to make it easy to climb the ladder to middle class security for anyone willing to adopt the values and habits of thrift, prudence, negotiation, and hard work.

Let’s stipulate that the rise of the middle class is the core driver of expansion, innovation and democracy and the decay of the middle class is the core source of economic / political / social disorder and decline.

The pathway to middle class security has profound social, political and economic consequences. As people acquire means, they can afford more education, and they have a stake in the system that needs to be defended / advocated. This advocacy nurtures a diversity of views, democratic / legal institutions and a free press.

As the book The Inheritance of Rome detailed, the egalitarian aspects of Roman rule continued to influence everyday life for hundreds of years.

It took centuries for feudalism to eradicate these holdovers from Roman rule (for example, peasant ownership of land).

The rise of ths middle class broke the stranglehold of feudalism by encouraging free movement of labor and capital, and strengthening weak central governments to the point that feudal fiefdoms answered to the central government again, as in the Roman and Carolingian eras.

The key factor that determines the rise of a middle class is the relative ease of laborers becoming middle class. In the classical Roman era, freed slaves often ended up doing very well for themselves and becoming middle class, as the class boundaries were porous enough to enable craftworkers and small merchants to improve their lot in life.

Continue reading→

The Middle Class Delenda Est. Part IV, by Bill Bonner

Middle class common sense is vastly preferable to upper class “brilliance.” From Bill Bonner at bonnerprivateresearch.com:

(Source: Getty Images)

Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Baltimore, Maryland…

“Look both ways before crossing the street.”

The common man lives with ghosts. They are the ghosts of parents whose children didn’t look both ways.

They whisper the lessons of the dead:

Don’t spend more than you earn.

Say please and thank you.

Mind your own business.

Never eat yellow snow.

The difference between the common man and the elite is that the former believes in following rules; the latter believes it can make them up as it goes along.

We have been exploring a grim subject – the destruction of the middle class. So far, we’ve seen that the elites use inflation like a thief uses a crowbar – to get what belongs to someone else.

It’s not exactly ‘intentional.’ A wolf does not eat a lamb with malice aforethought; that’s just the way it works. Inflation wrecks the economy and ‘The People’ who depend on it. So much the better, say the elites; they prefer the poor, who are more easily manipulated…and their votes more cheaply bought.

But there’s more to it than just money. The ruling class has ideas… programs… campaigns. ‘Middle class values’ often get in the way.

Continue reading→

The Middle Class Delenda Est. Part III, by Bill Bonner

The rich get richer on fake money and the middle class gets less middle-classier. From Bill Bonner at bonnerprivateresearch.substack.com:

Fed loans, printing press money, sham giveaways and other tools of the elite.

Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Baltimore, Maryland…

We doubt we will win a Nobel prize for this, not even in the category of “Political Crackpottery” or “Fed Follies.” But, perhaps posthumously, it will merit a footnote in the still unwritten “Cynics’ Guide to Political Philosophy.”

For here we explain why and how corrupt elites tend to devour the middle classes who support them. Alert readers may notice some wrong turns and dead ends. Don’t worry about them; we are exploring new territory, as yet unmapped.

We’ve seen a number of things already: Government is run by a small-ish elite. They use it as a way of transferring power and wealth from the middle-class to themselves.

Why the middle class? Because that’s where the money is. The rich tend to be firmly ensconced among the elite themselves…or have ways to protect what they’ve got. And the poor have nothing to take. That leaves the great multitudes in the middle, like lambs at a wolves’ picnic.

But if the elite depend on the middle class, why would they want to sacrifice it? That is our focus for today.

Continue reading→

Barbarians Inside the Gates, by Bill Bonner and Joel Bowman

The destruction of a great country often starts with destruction of its middle class. From Bill Bonner and Joel Bowman at bonnerprivateresearch.substack.com:

Soaring debt and massive layoffs cut deep into America’s bleeding Middle Class…

(The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum, Rome. Source: Getty Images)

Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Baltimore, Maryland…

The Middle Class Delenda Est (the middle class must be destroyed).

In the next couple of days, we will look at Baltimore rowhouses …the plight of small farmers during the Roman Empire…and the meaning of “common sense,” among other things.

All of these themes come together in one extraordinary and magnificent spectacle – think “Gone with the Wind” meets “Stalingrad” – that is, the destruction of the middle class and the societies that depend on them. CNBC:

Household debt soars at fastest pace in 15 years as credit card use surges, Fed report says

Total debt jumped by $351 billion for the July-to-September period, the largest nominal quarterly increase since 2007, bringing the collective household IOU in the U.S. to a fresh record $16.5 trillion, up 2.2% from the previous quarter and 8.3% from a year ago.

And while debt is increasing, job prospects are receding. Charlie Bilello updates us on the job cuts in the tech industry:

  • Twitter cutting 50% of its workforce (estimated 3,700 jobs).
  • Facebook ($META): cutting 13% of its staff (11,000 jobs), its largest round of layoffs ever.
  • Snap ($SNAP): cutting 20% of its workforce (1,200 jobs).
  • Shopify ($SHOP): cutting 10% of its workforce (1,000 jobs).
  • Netflix ($NFLX): cut 450 jobs in two rounds of layoffs.
  • Microsoft ($MSFT): cutting <1% of workforce (1,000 jobs).
  • Salesforce ($CRM): cutting 1,000 jobs.
  • Robinhood ($HOOD): cutting 31% of its workforce.
  • Tesla ($TSLA): cutting 10% of its salaried workforce.
  • Lyft ($LYFT): cutting 13% of its workforce (700 jobs).
  • Redfin ($RDFN): cutting 13% of its workforce.
  • Coinbase ($COIN): cutting 18% of its workforce (1,100 jobs).
  • Stripe cutting 14% of its workforce (1,000 jobs).

In addition to these cuts, Amazon ($AMZN) has announced a hiring freeze, Apple ($AAPL) has paused almost all hiring, and Google ($GOOGL) is reducing new hiring by 50%.

Continue reading→

Has The Military Lost Middle America? by Victor Davis Hanson

If you think of the military as an animal, then removing the middle class is like removing its spine. From Victor Davis Hanson at zerohedge.com:

Traditionalist and conservative America once was the U.S. military’s greatest defender.

Bipartisan conservatives in Congress ensured generous Pentagon budgets. When generals, active or retired, became controversial, conservative America usually could be counted on to stick with them.

Flyover country supported marquee officers such as Gen. Michael Hayden, Gen. James Mattis, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus and a host of others when the media went after them for alleged unethical conduct, financial improprieties, spats with the Obama administration, or accusations of using undue force or hiding torture.

When Democrats railed in Congress about the “revolving door” of generals and admirals leaving the Pentagon to land lucrative board memberships with corporate defense contractors, Middle America, rightly or wrongly, mostly yawned.

Yet traditional America also assumed its military leaders were largely apolitical and stayed out of politics. Brilliant World War II commanders Curtis LeMay, Douglas MacArthur and George S. Patton did not fare well when they clumsily waded through the minefields of partisan national politics.

No longer.

Continue reading→

Debt and the Demise of the Middle Class, by Charles Hugh Smith

When a governments screws up its country’s economy with feckless policies, invariably it will start running up the debt. This in turn destroys the middle class. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Unfortunately for those at the top who’ve benefited immensely from speculative bubbles, speculative bubbles don’t create a vibrant middle class–they push what’s left of the middle class off a cliff.

What exactly is the Middle Class and what unique role does it serve in the economy? Given that the Middle Class is constantly invoked by politicos and economists, you’d think the status quo had a solid understanding of the Middle Class. Alas, it isn’t that simple.

The conventional view defines the middle class by income, education or type of labor being performed. These are all superficial attributes and ignore what actually differentiates the working class from the middle class. Yes, the middle class tends to earn more, have higher educational credentials and perform white-collar labor rather than blue-collar labor.

But getting a higher education credential and increased pay doesn’t automatically provide a middle class role in the economy, nor does performing white-collar work. None of these automatically moves the individual up the social mobility ladder from near-zero ownership of capital (working class) to meaningful ownership of productive capital (middle class).

Continue reading→

The Experiment, by Robert Gore

How much longer will the middle class politely tolerate its own destruction?

A middle class that outnumbers the combined poor and aristocracy is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back to around 1900. The rise of the middle class was the result of Industrial Revolution capitalism. It has been one of the most significant and epochal developments in history, yet the intellectual reaction for the most part has been to either ignore it or treat it with disdain. Now the project to destroy the middle class is well under way, with unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences that promise to be just as epochal as its creation.

Intellectual condescension towards the middle class is so common it’s a cliché. What’s rare are attempts to go back in history and see things through the perspectives of that despised group and its progenitors, the poor.

In 1800, virtually everyone was poor, living under conditions of deprivation and grinding poverty. Even being wealthy was no picnic; present-day poverty-line Americans live better. Life expectancy was an estimated twenty-nine years. Farming, the occupation of most, was dangerous, backbreaking labor from dawn to dusk. Most of those so engaged eked out a tenuous subsistence. There was no electricity, no running water, primitive sanitation and health care, and none of the machinery, gadgets, and appliances we take for granted. Only a few wealthy poets who didn’t have to wrest a living from nature waxed euphoric about its “joys.”

As the nineteenth century progressed, primitive factories, mostly in cities, began producing goods of better quality, in more quantity, and at lower cost than had been possible by artisans handcrafting their wares. No doubt conditions in those factories were abysmal—long hours, pittance pay, child labor, dangerous and filthy conditions, and horrible accidents and injuries. All that has been well-chronicled and dramatized, but an important point gets overlooked. Bad as they were, the factories were a better option for those who worked in them than the farms from whence many of them came, or they would have stayed there.

Continue reading

The War On Trump Is All About Keeping Liberals And Their Lackeys In Power, by Kurt Schlichter

The status quo will never forgive Donald Trump for upsetting it. From Kurt Schlichter at theburningplatform.com:

And this year ends with our loser ruling class shedding any pretense of legitimacy in its quest to reclaim the power we took back from it in 2016. The reaction to Donald Trump by our alleged betters – SPOILER: They are much, much worse than us – is instructive. They have abandoned all the principles they once claimed to support – democracy, civil rights, due process, and equality. None of those principles help them to keep or regain power anymore, so they are expendable. As are you.

Liberalism was always a lie and a scam, right from its sordid beginnings among the progressives with their creepy messianic fervor, their infatuation with “expertise” (and hence, their embrace of evils like eugenics), and their contempt for the Constitution. Liberals consider themselves the anointed, divinely entitled to rule over us lesser folk, and they aren’t going to let anything get in the way of retaking the throne.

And this time, they mean never to give it up again.

Continue reading

The Long Death of America’s Middle Class, by Nick Giambruno

The rich get richer, the poor get poor, and the middle class is no longer the middle, if you define middle as the majority. From Nick Giambruno at caseyresearch.com:

Justin’s note: In America, what separates the “haves” and the “have nots” has never been wider. It’s a genuine crisis. And yet, few people know why this is happening.

Casey Report editor Nick Giambruno just shared all the details about this crisis in his latest issue. Read on to see what’s really dividing America… why this situation is only going to get worse… and finally, four time-tested ways to build lasting wealth as this trend play out.

By Nick Giambruno, editor, The Casey Report

The American middle class is dying.

In 2015, it dipped below 50% of the population for the first time since data collection started on the issue. It’s now an official minority group.

Meanwhile, nearly half of Americans don’t have enough money to cover a surprise $400 expense. Many are living paycheck to paycheck, with little to no cushion. And US homes are less affordable than they’ve been in decades—possibly ever.

I’ll tell you why this is happening and how to secure your spot among the “haves” in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at the America that was.

The Largest Middle Class in World History

The late 1950s was the golden age of America’s middle class.

This isn’t nostalgia talking. The US really did have robust Main Streets and thriving small businesses.

Back then, the US produced three-quarters of the world’s cars and airplanes. Americans produced most of the world’s steel and built the majority of the world’s skyscrapers.

Plus, the US stock market held the bulk of the world’s total stock market capitalization.

All this productivity gave the average American an unusually high standard of living.

Around then, a husband could support his family on an average income. He and his wife likely owned their own home, as well as their car. They had multiple children—and didn’t think much of the cost of having more. Plus, they had money to save.

To continue reading: The Long Death of America’s Middle Class

The Cultural Contradictions That Have Crippled the Great American Middle Class, by Charles Hugh Smith

From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The decline of middle class capital is partly self-inflicted.

Conventional explorations of why the middle class is shrinking focus on economic issues such as the decline of unions and manufacturing, the increasing premiums paid to the highest-paid workers and the rising costs of higher education and healthcare.

All of these factors have a role, but few comment on the non-economic factors, specifically the values that underpin the accumulation of capital that is the one essential project of middle class households.

Daniel Bell’s landmark 1976 book The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism held that”capitalism–and the culture it creates–harbors the seeds of its own downfall by creating a need among successful people for personal gratification–a need that corrodes the work ethic that led to their success in the first place.”

I would phrase this in the language of values and capital:

The primary cultural contradiction of the Great American Middle Class is the disconnect between the values needed to build capital and those of gratification via debt-based consumption.

To continue reading: The Cultural Contradictions That Have Crippled the Great American Middle Class