Wednesday, November 09, 2016

What Awaits Trump — An Angry, Collapsing Middle Class


When our elected leaders, of any party, brag about how many jobs they're creating, this is what they're bragging about (source)

by Gaius Publius

This will be short and number-filled, and not even many of those.

Yes, Trump won. But...

...the bottom line is still the same. The American middle class is collapsing and the job of the new president — any new president — is to fix that. If Donald Trump doesn't do that, I predict he will serve one term only and leave office under the blackest cloud imaginable, betrayed by the angry masses he rode in on.

The U.S. Is in a Pre-Revolutionary State

It's true that this problem, the collapsing middle class, has been brewing since the middle Carter years and the end of what now looks like a magical period for the working class in the U.S., the period between the Great Depression and the mid-to-late 1970s, after which the anti-liberals (neo-liberals and "free market" conservatives) took power in both parties.

But it's also true — and beyond apparent I hope — that the U.S. is in a pre-revolutionary state, the primary recent evidence being the simultaneous rebellion by voters in both parties to overthrow Establishment rulers and replace them with anti-Establishment candidates.

The November electorate didn't vote for a Republican to replace a Democrat. They voted for Change to replace the Establishment. Including the Republican Establishment. If Trump turns governance over to that Establishment, betraying his mandate, it's back to the drawing board for the country that elected him. And if Sanders Democrats are smart, they'll separate themselves from the tarnished Establishment brand and let the country know that under Trump, the Establishment is still in charge.

It would be a tragic mistake, though not uncharacteristic, for Donald Trump not to recognize these forces for what they are. It would compound that mistake for him to "triangulate" the solution so that all stakeholders — the predators and the prey, Establishment billionaires and those they want to keep feeding on — were made both somehow happy. (The same would be equally true if Clinton had won.)

Trump now has unique promises on the table, and unique vulnerabilities. If progressive Democrats (Sanders-led, I hope), instead of going all collegial, decide to fight for progressive values and control of their own Party, it can exploit those vulnerabilities. If not, 90% of the country goes back to being represented by neither party.

Again, the U.S. is in a pre-revolutionary state. Trump's election does nothing to change that. If he doesn't deliver on his promises by lessening the pain his voters are feeling daily, he exacerbates the danger he promised to alleviate.

Now the Numbers

I'm extracting just the data from this piece by Paul Buchheit writing at Common Dreams:
How a Disappearing and Deluded Middle Class Awaits the New President

...For every $100 owned by a middle-class household in 2001, that household had just $72 in 2013.

Half of us are barely surviving, and it may be more than half. A J.P. Morgan study concluded that "the bottom 80% of households by income lack sufficient savings to cover the type of volatility observed in income and spending."...

Nearly two-thirds of American families were considered middle class in 1970. Today it's half or less. The rest of us have gone up or down, mostly down....

Just a year ago it was reported that 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. That number is now up to 69 percent.

Numerous sources report that half or more of American families have virtually no savings, and would have to borrow money or sell possessions to cover an emergency expense.

3 out of 5 Americans spend more than they earn, not on frivolous extras, but on essential needs. Minorities suffer the most. The typical black household has enough liquid savings to last only five days, compared to 30 days for a white household.
And I'll close this section with this detail from Buchkeit:
The optimistic job reports generally fail to mention that most of our new jobs are in service industries, including retail and personal health care and food service. Over half of American workers make less than $15 per hour....
Over half of all American workers make less than $15 per hour. That means that more than 50% of all jobs pay less than $30,000 per year, a great many of those with few or no benefits, and certainly nothing in the way of a retirement plan.

From Zero Hedge, here's what that looks like (my emphasis):
Since 2014 The US Has Added 547,000 Waiters And Bartenders And Lost 36,000 Manufacturing Workers

As another month passes, the great schism inside the American labor force get wider. We are referring to the unprecedented divergence between the total number of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and minimum-wage food service and drinking places jobs, also known as waiters and bartenders. In October, according to the BLS, while the number of people employed by "food services and drinking places" rose by another 10,000, the US workforce lost another 9,000 manufacturing workers.
Zero Hedge is also the source of the handy graphic at the top.

That's what awaits Mr. Trump, fixing this problem. He can deliver on his word, or watch the Sanders-fueled mob that he rode in on, take him back out again.


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At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Gaius, as per usual.

Trump's popularity is also very related to hatred. Hatred for Latinos, Muslims, blacks and just beneath the surface, Jews. And women. The anger is not all about economics and it is a mistake to think this is the crux of it. American racism has been given a new look. White men could not tolerate a woman being in charge. Their hatred of Hillary was beyond, beyond. It was apoplectic and gut level. Their anger is also a vicious backlash against Obama, being a black President. I have little sympathy for Trump's supporters. They will get their just desserts when they see that Trump and the Republican Congress is not going to help their economics. It is laughable that they think so, although nothing is funny these days. Unfortunately, the rest of the country will be brought down with them. These are going to be horrendous times. Let's hope freedom of the press prevails.

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell, Trump's supporters love his style. They love his braggadocio, his lying, his bullying, his horrendous comments and his innuendoes about minorities and women. It is a mistake to analyze his win primarily economically. They love feeling the rage. They are fascists and trying to interpret this election rationally is a tough job. As Newt said, if he had to choose between facts and reason vs. emotion, he'd choose emotion. Hillary and the Dems could not compete with that.

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess that very soon, this year or in the next years, climate change will become obvious, and Earth will turn into science fiction. Trump will face huge disasters. If people are informed enough, they'll demand action on climate change.

At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they are informed enough - are you kidding? At least half of Americans are surely not. Science to them appears to be a belief system, fact free. Evolution? Nope. Climate change? A hoax. Too bad for us. But there is the other half of Americans out there so there is hope. And Hillary did win the popular vote - that is very important and says something, though worthless in terms of the White House.

At 5:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt much clearcut climate change will occur during the next four years to affect people's thinking. Did I say thinking? I should say feelings. Besides, religion is the opium of the masses, and thus the earth is only thousands of years old anyway and God will save us if we pray hard enough. So nor worries!

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Boris Dirnbach said...

Always insightful. But as a dedicated Bernie volunteer who knows many Bernie supporters, I think referring to "Sanders-fueled mob" is incorrect (maybe "working-class cohort" is better). I don't see Bernie supporters as voting for Trump because of the animus he displayed toward minorities and his standard econ plan, tax cuts for the rich, among many reasons.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger jvb2718 said...

A wonderful synopsis of the socioeconomic vector that started 40 years ago... AND HAS BEEN AFFIRMED IN EACH ELECTION BY 99% OF THE ELECTORATE EACH CYCLE SINCE!!!

Does nobody understand what happens when this shit gets to some point of (understood) no return?

Here is someone who gets it:

I am NOT ignorant of world history, as are the vast majority of american fools. I understand that when shit gets too real for the masses, we get violence and revolution. France and Russia and Italy and Germany know this.

The president elect is putting idiots and racists in his team. The climate is a done deal already, so putting those shitheads in charge of NOT fixing it is moot. But the white nationalists and authoritarians WILL do something to spark race riots... maybe on purpose. And then, will we get martial law? Suspended elections? Expanded executive powers? He's already vowed to imprison 3 million immigrants. Where? Concentration camps? Under martial law would they imprison "them all"?? yeah.

You scoff?

How many folks have bothered to read "The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich"??

Again, I remind everyone that with a hypothetical $hillbillary win, we'd be seeing the white nationalists and other haters protesting her illegitimacy, maybe rioting. And we'd be looking at an almost certain military conflict with Russia over Syria and Iran. And as $hillbillary did nothing to fix the vector nicely covered in this piece, the same "shit getting real" condition would mean that a drumpf would become inevitable shortly anyway... if it wasn't, in fact, one named clinton.

When the people become miserable enough, something ALWAYS catalyses the revolution. It doesn't matter that, in this case, the blame needs to be placed on our own laps for continuing to affirm the downward vector for the last 40 years.

"Stupid" never fixes itself.

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It IS the Revolt of Teh ILLEGAL$, enabled by the Purple Diaper Babies' NAPPYS (No Account Precedents and Party of You're Screwed); firmly affixed with their cognitively dissonant "safety" pins.

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might add that when the masses actually ACT, as they did last Tuesday, they usually fuck it up worse, as they did last Tuesday (not that either traditional outcome could possibly have made anything better).

History shows us scant few examples of the masses rising up... and actually making things better for themselves. Think Italy and Germany in the '20s and '30s; Russia in 1917, Mao's China; Pol Pot and so on.


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