War on the Middle Class

Earlier this year, the New York Times broke some news that was difficult for many of us to swallow. For the first time since we began tracking such things, the American middle class lost its status as the world’s wealthiest and most well off. Many measures of our economy, such as growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, seem to show that America is maintaining its lead as one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, only a tiny proportion of America’s population, those at the absolute top of the economic ladder, are benefiting from this economic growth, while the rest of us are being left in the dust. The wealthy corporations of Wall Street and our political leaders in Washington, DC are waging a class war with the ultimately self-destructive goal of eliminating the American middle class.

The statistics are chilling. According to the Pew Research Center, 51% of Americans are considered “middle income” or middle class today. However, in 1971, 61% of Americans were earning middle class incomes. That means that the middle class has shrunk as a percentage of the population by over 15% in the last forty years! Over that same period, the average worker’s wages, when adjusted for inflation, have fallen 30%, while consumer debt has risen by an astonishing 1,700% as Americans struggle to maintain their lifestyles, care for their children, and pay the ever increasing costs of gasoline, tuition, and health care. Instead of the American Dream of upward mobility, one in three children born to middle class families fall out of the middle class as adults. What is causing all this?

Quite frankly, Wall Street bankers and their friends in Washington have conspired to transfer money from the pockets of the middle class into the coffers of the wealthiest among us. This process has been ongoing for decades, but it accelerated rapidly with the economic collapse of 2008. That collapse gave corporate America the opportunity to eliminate millions of high paying jobs in the interests of cost cutting, and despite the so-called economic recovery, those jobs have not been restored. Fewer Americans are working today than at any time in the last three decades, and huge numbers of those who are working are underemployed – working low paid jobs that don’t make the most of their skills and experience.

Wages as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time low, while corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high. At the same time, politicians in Washington are saying that American companies are constrained too much, so they need more tax cuts and deregulation in order to be profitable. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are guilty of these lies, and it is clear that both parties only care about the financial bottom line for their friends on Wall Street.

Many Americans are not taking this attempt to pilfer the middle class lying down. Both the Tea Party movement on the right and the Occupy Wall Street movement on the left are middle class reactions to the corporate and government elite’s theft of America’s wealth. Those movements have both lost steam because people have realized that there seems to be no democratic solution within the two party system. If something is not done, we will soon reach a breaking point. As the extremely wealthy entrepreneur and investor Nick Hanauer wrote, “You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising.”

It’s clear that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will do anything to solve this issue of a shrinking middle class and rising inequality. If we value our society, if we think America is worth saving, we need to find a solution outside of this two party system. I am ready and willing to fight for America and make sure that this country is as great as it can be. If you want to join me, I urge you to cast your write-in vote for Art Drew for President of the United States in 2016.