Zero Hedge
0
All posts from Zero Hedge
Zero Hedge in Zero Hedge,

Portrait Of American Oligarchy: The Very Troubling Income & Wealth Trends Since 1989

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

One of the primary purposes of Liberty Blitzkrieg is to dispel the myth that America is politically a democracy and economically a free market, and prove that it is in fact a centrally planned oligarchy. If the people were well aware of this and fine with it, that’s one thing, but my contention is that the vast majority of the public is merely buying into the myth. This is why the population is so passive and easily controlled. They simply don’t understand what is happening to them. The proverbial frog slowing boiling to death.

Whenever I note that real median incomes in America haven’t increased for decades, many people have a hard time believing it. Nevertheless, as John Adams famously proclaimed: “facts are stubborn things.” Indeed they are, and an article published today by Bloomberg View provides some disturbingly stubborn facts that must be admitted to and faced. We learn that:

If you worry about the declining fortunes of the U.S. middle class, take heed: It might be worse than you realized.

 

Tracking the middle class can be difficult, because the group is hard to define. Typically, researchers look at households with incomes or net worth in the middle of the entire population. This approach, though, might provide a falsely rosy picture.

 

Two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis — William Emmons and Bryan Noeth — sought to address this shortcoming by focusing on households’ demographic characteristics, rather than income or wealth. Specifically, they looked at families whose breadwinner was at least 40 years old and had achieved a level of education that would typically allow a middle-class standard of living. Whites and Asians needed exactly a high-school diploma to qualify. For blacks and Hispanics, it took a two-year or four-year college degree — a stark recognition of persistent racial inequality.

 

The results are not pretty. As of 2013, this group’s median annual income stood at about $45,000, down 16 percent in inflation-adjusted terms from 1989, with a big part of the drop occurring since 2001. Over the same period, a more commonly used measure of the middle class’s fortunes — the median income for all families — declined just 1 percent.

Yep, since 2001. This is not a coincidence. This is when America reacted like a bunch of scared imbeciles to a terrifying terrorist attack, and squandered what was left of freedom, civil liberties and common sense (see: How I Remember September 11, 2001). But moving along…

The picture for wealth is no better. The group’s median net worth (assets minus debt) was about $127,000 in 2013, down an inflation-adjusted 27 percent from 1989 and 38 percent from 2007, just before the financial crisis hit. By comparison, the median net worth for all families declined just 4 percent over the whole period (it’s also lower overall because it includes younger families that haven’t yet saved much). 

While the numbers revealed by this alternative methodology are downright devastating, I’d note that even by the conventional measurement income and wealth are still DOWN since 1989. Don’t worry though, oligarchs are more wealthy and more powerful than ever. This is no accident, it’s baked into the system.

*  *  *

For related articles, see:

The Stock Market Myth and How the Japanese Middle Class is on the Precipice Thanks to Abenomics

Just Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery – $100 Million Homes Being Built on Spec

The Face of the Oligarch Recovery – Luxury Skyscrapers Stay Empty as NYC Homeless Population Hits Record High

Another Oligarch Preaches to the Peasants – Charlie Munger Says “Prepare for Harder World”