Open Thread: The Shrinking Middle Class in One Chart

This week, the Census Bureau reported nearly 1 in 2 Americans live in poverty or are just barely scraping by. Meanwhile, America’s top CEOs enjoyed pay hikes of between 27 and 40% last year. This is an open thread. (Credit: Mother Jones)

5 Responses to Open Thread: The Shrinking Middle Class in One Chart

  1. hannah December 19, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    We’re talking in terms of dollars here–worthless script.  If we were talking about regular script, the written word, would it make a difference if a pundit used millions and the President made do with a sentence? No, the value of the written word would not change on account of quantity but on account of who uses it. Dollars are only different because one class of people (financiers and investors) has managed to persuade almost everyone that money is properly sequestered, denied to some would-be users, and doled out on demand to banksters and financiers.
    When banksters and financiers lose money on bets, our agents of government give them more.  But, when ordinary folks’ houses are about to be auctioned off, no money can be found to help them out.  Now, why is that?  Why did the Congress, which was given control of the public purse in the Constitution, fob off that responsibility to the Federal Reserve? Could it be because our stalwart representatives have never liked being accountable for anything? Could it be because “give an account of your stewardship,” rings unpleasant in a Congressman’s ears? Could it be because disasters averted, even if caused by themselves, get the right electorate to the polls?

    Just think what a coup it would have been, had McCain, on the strength of the argument that it’s bad to change horses mid-stream, had been able to ride to the rescue in 2008 and, instead of continuing to sit on $2 trillion in cash our industrial moguls had proceeded to invest in new oil refineries and nuclear plants and the recession were turned around in a matter of months. Just think how much time and money would have been saved, if our industrial sector didn’t have to deal with health care initiatives, workers’ rights, waste management and paying full price for oil. McCain would have gone on to bomb Iran and the American people would be entirely too shell shocked to be agitated about their civil and human rights being ignored.

    You think a President McCain was never a possibility?  Don’t kid yourself.  Just look at 2010 to see what happens when thinking voters stay home.

  2. elwood December 19, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    Often these stories report that a family making $90,000 a year and spending all of it on immediate needs is “just scraping by” (and in many cases that may be a fair description).

    But this data isn’t about income versus outgo. Half of America is in poverty or classified as “low income” just based on what they earn, not how they spend it.

    This seems like an enormous change in American life and self-image. I hope this data will be sliced and diced and presented in a few different ways, as we come to terms with it.

    Maybe as we come to terms with it, we can try to fix it.

  3. StraffordDem December 19, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    but here he gets the chasm between the haves and have nots just right, particularly as it relates to the Occupy movement.  Plus, I love the throwaway line at the end about a possible wave ride for Ron Paul – Paul is, after all, the only GOP candidate who’s not had a ride on the Anybody-But-Romney circus bus.

    From Yahoo Finance:

    • elwood December 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      Gingrich is fading fast. Paul is poised to win Iowa, or post a close second. Huntsman may have some momentum in New Hampshire, and be able to win a chunk of “independents” – third place is possible.

      If every dog has his day, Rick Santorum is a cat.

      • StraffordDem December 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

        is that GOP primary voters do not like Romney.  It’s gotta be hurting his feelings.  

        I’m still not convinced Perry is through.  If he finishes top 3 in Iowa, skips NH (where Obama is more popular among GOP voters than is Perry!), and starts hitting the southern primaries hard…well, if is a big word, but still.  I’m not writing him off – the level of dislike for Romney is too much to do that.

        Also thought I’d share the following graph from a post by Suzanne Mettler, who has done some work and written a book on what she refers to as the Submerged State.  It really demonstrates how the US does redistribute wealth – upwards:

        You can read more of Mettler’s work here:

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