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Tag: middle class (Page 1 of 3)

Middle Class Political Economist: A Great Site!

Middle Class Political Economist: A Great Site!

I was cruising the Internet when I came across this site. I immediately liked it and I recommend it to you. He prefaces his posts with this –

I grew up in a middle-class family, the first to go to college full-time and the first to earn a Ph.D. The economic policies of the last 35 years have reduced the middle class’s security, and this blog is a small contribution to reversing that.

I, James Pilant, grew up in a middle class family, was the first to go to college, and the first to earn a J.D. So, I feel a certain affinity. I wish my fellow economic blogger luck and continued success. As for you, my kind readers, please go to the site and become a follower. You won’t be sorry.

James Pilant

Middle Class Political Economist: Subsidy Insanity in Western Missouri

I have written before about the gross waste of taxpayer monies on retail in the St. Louis region. According to the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (p. 18), governments in the bi-state metropolitan area pumped about $2 billion worth of subsidies into retail projects from 1990 to 2007, but only saw a net increase of 5400 jobs, meaning that each low-wage, low-benefit retail job cost the cities of the region $370,000 apiece. The price is only this low on the generous assumption that the subsidies were solely responsible for this job creation. However, given the growth of incomes in the metro area during that time period, it is likely that most if not all the jobs would have been created without the incentives provided.

via Middle Class Political Economist: Subsidy Insanity in Western Missouri.

From around the web.

From the web site, The Net Economy.


By David Rohde – For decades, praising the middle class has been a staple of American politics. Candidates vow to defend the middle class and accuse their opponents of betraying it. But what, exactly, is the “middle class”?

Despite the incessant political lip service paid to the middle class, there is no official American government definition of the group. The middle class has been intensively studied but no political consensus exists over how it was created or how to strengthen it.

The closest the task force came to defining the middle class was a January 2010 report “Middle Class in America (pdf).” The study never gives an exact income level that is “middle class.” Instead, echoing academic studies on the subject, the document concludes that “middle class families are defined more by their aspirations than their income.” 

Income Inequality Squeezes the Middle Class [via Beat the Press]

Inflation adjusted percentage increase in mean...

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I couldn’t agree more. There is less of the pie for the poor and middle class. No matter what your talents and your willingness to work, how do you compete with a system that distributes income upward toward those who already have the money? Income inequality continues to squeeze the middle class perhaps eventually into its disappearance.

James Pilant

This brief comment is from a posting on Beat the Press entitled –

If Millennials Do Worse Than Their Parents, It Will Be Because Bill Gates‘ Kids Have All the Money

The Washington Post had a column by a millennial columnist complaining about the lack of opportunity. It is striking that the column never once mentioned income inequality.

There is no doubt that millennials will on average be far wealthier than their parents. Output per hour has roughly doubled over the last three decades, meaning that the real wage could be almost twice as high today as it was in 1980. Insofar as the typical millennial is not seeing the benefits of this productivity growth it is due to the fact that so much income has been redistributed upwards, not the result of any generational dynamics.


Here’s some more from Mother Jones, the New York Times, and Slate.

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The Power Elite Abandon America

The Power Elite Abandon America

We now live in an age of the billionaire. Many of these power elite are Americans only by convenience. They are not really comfortable here. They are comfortable only with their own kind. When this nation becomes inconvenient, they will simply leave.

They know no bounds of patriotism, no civic responsibility (beyond a desire to destroy social security and public schools), and vicious antipathy toward taxes of any kind.

They are willing to spend billions to protect their interests which are largely financial.

Their contempt for the American middle class is almost unmeasurable. To them, Americans are overweight, greedy, overpaid, unambitious, a lumpen mass of losers – who history has long ago abandoned.

Globalization has left them abundant places to go that are not the United States, abundant ways to avoid taxes and an astonishing variety of way to vent their contempt for the unfortunate societies that spawned them.

Frankly, as a defender of the middle class, I feel woefully out gunned.

My strong suspicion is that if I am willing to forego my beliefs and embrace the coming new order, my life will improve materially.

By the standards of the new elite, I don’t even make fool.

I am a patriot. I believe in this nation and its future. I am disgusted by the strange sense of entitlement by those who have mercilessly exploited this nation and seem to intend the destruction of its economic base. So, I am not the right kind of person.

We are not as a nation fully abandoned yet. But the ties that bind the power elite to this country steadily weaken. The destruction of the public institutions of the United States will not end with Social Security but culminate in foreign owned roads, bridges, sewer systems, electricity and oil. This nation is valuable only for the money that can be squeezed out of it. The beliefs that created it and the sacrifices that maintain it are of no consideration.

I do not know if this can be changed. I have doubts that it is possible.

I fear for this nation’s future and not for just this nation but for many others around the globes who will be swept up in these changes.

Business ethics is not possible without law to support it. It is not possible with a sense of morals. It is not possible without consideration of other people and their rights.

So, in my mind, I am looking at the destruction of this field.

In fact, the whole concept of business ethics may become an idea only practiced at the bottom of the economic order.

But this is not necessarily the future. I would never have believed that the pendulum could have swung as far as it has toward bone headed obstructionism on the party of one party and an Olympic class level of ineffectuality on the other. History is full of these possible turning points. Sometimes, what seems inevitable happens inspite of struggle and pain. But sometimes, the righteous prevail. I want to fight one last fight and win.

James Pilant

James Pilant

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Steven Mintz, the Ethics Sage Comments my post on the Power Elites.

This is from January 7th and I did not (to my regret) publish the comment as a post. It was a thoroughly excellent comment and I am pleased to post it now. (The original posting can be found here.)

Here are the comments of the Ethics Sage

James, I agree with your sentiments. The divide between rich and poor with a growing middle class is expanding rapidly. I wouldn’t classify all billionaires as greedy. The pursuit of self-interest is always a factor and often at the cost of others as too often occurs in corporations. There are, however, a few good people that either use their money to better society, improve our educational system, help those who can’t help themselves, and even fight world hunger and illiteracy. We know of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in the business world who have started foundations for these purposes. They seem to be trying to do the right thing. The jury is still out on Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, who has pledged to donate a significant amount of his money. Oprah Winfrey comes to mind and her charitable efforts as well as using personal gravitas to improve conditions around the world. Perhaps we can include someone like Angelina Jolie who seems genuinely concerned about the unfortunate circumstances of way too many people in other countries. That said, you are absolutely right that the fabric of our nation has changed and not for the better. The middle class get squeezed more and more. The sad part is nothing has be done, even with the financial crisis, to address these issues and I fear nothing will be done because of the influence and desire of those with the billions to continue the trend and the willingness of our Congressional leaders, many of whom are already wealthy (or hope to be so after leaving office)to support the obsessively rich because they hope to join their ranks some day.

The Ethics Sage latest post can be found here.

James Pilant

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Elizabeth Warren Announces for the U.S. Senate

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressiona...

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This is from Daily Kos. The actual announcement is not supposed to be out until tomorrow.

Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren will officially launch her campaign for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts on Wednesday, challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

“The pressures on middle class families are worse than ever, but it is the big corporations that get their way in Washington,” Warren said in a statement. “I want to change that. I will work my heart out to earn the trust of the people of Massachusetts.”

Warren has been exploring a run in recent weeks, and has been on a listening tour of the state.

Professor Warren has addressed many issues particularly  consumer fraud. One of her specialities is the pressure on and the decline of, the Middle Class in America. I have watched this presentation. I recommend you watch it as well. Just click on the link.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class

You may consider this web post an endorsement of Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy. I wish her well and hope to play my small part in the struggle for that Senate seat.

James Pilant

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Support Growing for Verizon Strikers (via The North Carolina Letter Carrier Activist)

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

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It’s the work climate in this country. Work hard and produce significant profit and there will be no gratitude only demands for more cuts. The disconnect between a hard working middle class and the treatment they receive is stark. Over the last forty years, the economy has been re-designed to convey benefits from the middle class to the upper class particularly the financial industry.

Many in the middle class still don’t get it. Their intrinsic worthiness is pointless. Worthiness is worthless and intangible. The middle class is a source of money that is gotten through fees, tax increases, and off shoring. They can be squeezed and squeezed. It’s never going to end.

So, the Verizon workers made the company hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions, they need to be squeezed. Squeezing be it justified by Ayn Rand, or squeezing be it justified by Milton Friedman, is here to stay. It’s a civic religion among the monied elites.

James Pilant

Support Growing for Verizon Strikers By James Parks (This is a crosspost from blog.aflcio.org) The strike by some 45,000 Verizon workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), continues as workers across the country offer support to the strikers, whose struggle reflects the situation for millions of workers. Rather than reward the hard work of Verizon employees who have provided the quality service that earned the company more than … Read More

via The North Carolina Letter Carrier Activist

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The Biggest Middle Class Tax Increase In History Will Come In Five Months (via 1 Nation Blog)

Best comment from the post –

Is our government functioning properly?

Absolutely not! We may have just made the same (similar) mistakes that were made in 1937. I think all of Washington has folded on their responsibilities.

The attached essay explains better than I could the nature of the tax increase about to hit almost all of us in a few months.

James Pilant

The Biggest Middle Class Tax Increase In History Will Come In Five Months | Aug. 2, 2011, 12:33 PM | Image: ChuckHolton via Flikr Bruce Krasting URL Bruce Krasting is a former hedge fund manager There is one aspect of the final debt deal from DC that took me by surprise. I was convinced the 2% reduction in payroll taxes would be extended through 2012. On July 12th I wrote about this and  got it completely wrong. Not only did I think there would be a one year extension of the existing holiday; I forecast that the subsid … Read More

via 1 Nation Blog

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How The Rich Are Winning The Class War (via Blogadoccio’s Blog)

How The Rich Are Winning The Class War (via Blogadoccio’s Blog)

I think the author has some good ideas. Certainly our educational system is currently in a difficult situation. I think that the No Child Left Behind law had severely damaged character education, critical thinking and issue awareness among the young. An ability to take multiple choice tests, true false, or completion tests is not a useful employment skill. Yet that has become almost our sole measurement of educational achievement. Teaching is not simply a matter of getting your students to pass tests but that is a truth apparently forgotten.

But the inaction, the passivity of the middle class, whatever it’s cause, is critical to the success of the rich in shifting the tax burden. The Middle Class has been fierce in it condemnation of the poor but the chronic tax burden shifting of the last thirty years apparently leaves most Americans unmoved.

At what point will the Middle Class realize its existence is in peril?

James Pilant

The rich won the class war by depriving the middle and lower classes of education: history, civics, political education, and training in how to think critically. As a result, their mouthpieces can spout nonsense and the relatively uneducated voters now swallow it clean. The antidote, until we get a real education system back again, is for those of use whose eyes are open to educate those around us who cannot see what is going on. We need to devel … Read More

via Blogadoccio’s Blog

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The world’s greatest newspaper on the debt deal (via An und für sich)

The coverage in the mainstream press is as usual focused on the winners and losers in Washington, the “horse” race. This, of course, leaves out any real consideration of the agreement’s victims because after all, if there is anything more totally devoid of interest among the beltway elites, it is the middle class American. After all, they are not “job creators.” So, the actual terms of the agreement (blackmail) are not that big a deal unless you are a victim.

James Pilant

Last night, I arrived home to find that Obama and Congress had apparently reached a deal on the debt ceiling. As you all know, I’ve been following this story obsessively, so naturally I wanted to know what the debt deal was. So I clicked on the story and started reading. Markets were watching, Obama had a tough job selling it to his more liberal colleagues, Boehner would have a balancing act trying to draw in enough Democrats while not losing Repulica … Read More

via An und für sich

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What is middle class? (via jumpstone)

Minimum wages nationwide.

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There is certainly a disconnect between what your average beltway expert (including congressmen) believe average incomes are and what the actual data says. One writer I enjoy argues that the average congressman doesn’t actually know anybody who makes less than 250,000 a year, the great middle class, and they think those people are either average Americans or the ones that count.

Personally, I don’t get it. If I were a politician I would never let the basic income numbers depart from my regular reading, they are too important to policy making.

James Pilant

According to the 2010 Wall Street Journal, Gregory B. Maffei was the highest paid CEO at $87 million. If you take the highest paid person and the lowest paid (earning the $6.25 minimum wage) and average the two, “middle” would be roughly $43.5 million. But extremely few people earn that. Also according to 2010 statistics, the typical wage of the top 1% of earners is $380,354. In this case, “middle” should be $183,677. However, only the top 5% of … Read More

via jumpstone

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