America the beautiful. America the brave. America the…poor? Well at least some of us are. Despite every piece of news this week talking about the rapidly rising stock market, Americans for the most part are still worse off than they were before the recession hit us four years ago.
Our income levels have dropped off…our purchasing power has been eroded…our entire standard of living has declined. So how come when Wall Street wins, you don’t?
Despite four years of so-called economic “recovery” more than 46 million Americans still live in poverty, that’s 15 percent of our nation’s population. And it’s been that high or higher for the past 3 years in a row. The last time the poverty level was above that mark was in 1983, and it was only marginally higher at 15.2 percent.
Why are so many more Americans living in poverty? For all but a few, income levels have remained stagnate or lower for more than a decade. A 2012 Census Bureau report found that the median annual household income, adjusted for inflation, rose ever so slightly from $50,700 in 2011 to $52,100 as of this past June, but it remained $2,400 lower, a 4.4 percent decline, than it was in June 2009, when the recession ended. Overall incomes have declined about 9 percent from an inflation adjusted peak of $56,080 in 1999, leading many economists to dub this ‘the lost decade.’
Why are income levels down so much since 1999? One theory is that the financial aristocracy that this recession created, the people that own the corporations we all work for, have no real reason to increase wages or hire more people. With the unemployment rate still at over seven percent, employers haven’t felt the need to give raises or hand out bonuses. These corporate fat cats know that employees have nowhere else to go to find a job and if they do they have a large pool of job seekers who will take their job for pennies. So instead they push for greater productivity and threaten to cut health benefits if things do not improve.
The census report all but confirmed this theory when it pointed out that the number of men with full-time year-round jobs increased by only 1 million in 2012, half the number predicted by economists as well as half of the number that found jobs in 2011. Instead the majority of new jobs created have been part-time and low-wage jobs in service industries. This underscores the belief that the economic “recovery” has failed to help the poor and middle class.
The actual “recovery” has been limited to the wealthy and the super-rich, who have recovered all of the losses they suffered during the 2008 stock market crash and subsequent recession. In fact they’ve not only recovered, they’ve grown richer than they were before the financial crisis.
This point was further illustrated last Tuesday when Forbes magazine released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans. These 400 individuals saw their wealth rise substantially from the previous year, from $1.7 trillion to $2.2 trillion. The personal holdings of these 400 individuals is more than twice the amount necessary to cover the federal budget deficit. It’s also greater than the combined wealth of the bottom 50 percent of Americans, roughly 150 million people.
In fact, one study pointed out that the since the so-called “recovery” began in 2009, the top 1 percent have received 95 percent of all income gains! What the government has termed a “recovery” is really nothing but a transfer of wealth.
Those of you that read my letter last week know that I predict this trend of corporate greed to continue for quite some time. The rich will continue to push for higher productivity and refuse to increase wages and benefits to help the struggling lower and middle classes.
And don’t expect the current administration to help you out either. The government promised last Wednesday to continue providing cash for the financial oligarchy in this country with the announcement that it will continue to buy bonds at the current pace of $85 billion a month. They have chosen to continue their financial support of the super-rich fat cats instead of using the money to address unemployment, build schools, improve roadways, fix any of our nations thousands of crumbling bridges or support the declining poor and middle class in any way through public works.
It’s time you stop believing that in time things will get better. Economists are predicting the gap between the wealthiest few and the poor and middle classes will continue to grow. And as long as these financial elitists that run these corporations we all work for don’t feel pressure to increase our wages or benefits our standard of living will decline.
The only way you are going to get rich in this new economy is if you do what the richest men in America did to get that way-they started their own business. No one gets rich working for someone else. In all my years I have never seen an easier way to get rich than by starting an internet based business. The margins in this business are the highest I’ve ever seen, which means you get rich that much quicker. You also don’t have to invest a lot of your time into one of these businesses, once you plug in your bank information and send an email these businesses pretty much run themselves.