Professor Starr writes about the “Hourglass Economy,” one in which the economy consists mainly of the rich and the poor with only a small middle class. Examples of this type of economy abound. Many South American and African countries come to mind. Without a strong and prosperous middle class, the United States is destined to become a third-rate nation. America will not longer be a world power or a major player in world economics. This will mark the end of the “American Dream” and the “American Empire.” The hourglass economy will not be able to support the type of “defense” budget now contemplated by conservatives. When future historians write “The Rise and Fall of the American Empire,” they will note that it did not last as long as the Roman or Babylonian empires, perhaps not even as long as the British Empire. Already scholars are contemplating the end, see “The Collapse of the American Empire and the Rebalancing of the World.”
Will this then will be the legacy of the Reagan administration and the following conservative movement, to have destroyed the America we knew by destroying the middle class by destroying labor and the unions?
By Bernard Starr
American corporations have pretty much written off the middle class. Their actions declare that the middle class is moribund. And they should know since they have been in the front lines shooting down and decimating the middle class. Indeed, American business has dismantled much of manufacturing and has eliminated untold numbers of other middle class jobs, sending them overseas where cheap labor fattens corporate pr of its at the expense of American workers. That’s why the employment and housing markets are struggling on life support, food stamp use is at an all time high and the ranks of the working poor are swelling— while corporate profits soar and the S&P 500 stocks show the best first quarter since 1998.
In view of the assault on American jobs and workers is it any wonder that a Stanford University study reveals a dramatic drop in American families living in middle class neighborhoods—from sixty-five percent in 1970 to forty-four percent in 2009. Robert Borosage, President of the Institute for America’s Future, adds this alarming note : “The broad middle class — the triumph and strength of America’s democracy — is sinking. Unless we change course dramatically, we will become even more a nation of haves and have-nots.”
Brookings economist Ron Haskins dismisses the notion of a suffering middle class. In his Washington Post commentary … Read More
In an earlier and related article, Professor Starr discusses the visions of the Republican presidential candidates.
Romney and Santorum Envision a Caste System for America
By Bernard Starr
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum will no doubt deny that they endorse a caste system. They will insist that they love the plain folks and will enthusiastically point to their family histories as they compete for blue collar credentials. Rick Santorum, spiffy in his sweater vest, will tell you about his granddaddy who worked the coal mines. And Mitt Romney, decked out in his everyman’s jeans, will describe how his daddy, when he was training to be a carpenter before he was governor of Michigan and later a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, could spit out nails, point first. But a hidden agenda lurks beneath these common man stories.
It’s troubling that Romney isn’t worried about the poor because they have safety nets (which by the way happen to be government programs), especially since more and more formerly middle class Americans have fallen into poverty, losing their jobs and their homes. … Read More