After hearing, since January 2009, that Republicans want to take “their country back” there is no doubt it is what they really intend; but certainly not to “make America great again.” Like it or not, Republicans can never dispute that America was at the height of “its greatness” when the nation was home to a large and economically-powerful middle class bolstered by strong unions. However, like anything good in America, the middle class is on its deathbed after Republican attacks and they are making it impossible to ever recover.
There has been much said and written about how Republicans oppose closing the income gap because their religion dictates giving all the nation’s wealth to the rich and increasing the number of Americans in low-wage jobs and poverty. No semi-sane human being can possibly dispute that easily-proven, and historically accurate, fact.
Now, there is a rash of new documentation being released that shows not only has Republican’s pro-corporate agenda enriched the wealthy during and after their precious Great Recession, they greatly expanded the already “growing rates of impoverishment in the U.S.;” and it is only going to get worse; much, much worse. It is noteworthy that the Republicans’ poverty plague is in spite of monthly job increases and unemployment rate decline showing that the income gap is all about slave wages; not taxes, not regulations and not social decay.
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Recent data gathered by Pew Research shows how rapidly and stunningly dramatic the middle class is shrinking. In an earlier March report by the Pew Charitable Trust, the percentage of middle-class households dropped in every state in the Union between 2000 and 2013, and the median income fell in the states during that same time frame. Pew considers the middle class as “adults whose annual household income is between two-thirds to double the national median, or about $42,000 to $126,000 annually in 2014 dollars.”
To get a real idea of just how bad the middle class decline is, according to Social Security Administration data, over half of Americans make less than $30,000 per year which means that over half of the American population earns less than a living wage. According to calculations by the Alliance for a Just Society (AJS), an appropriate average living wage of $16.87 per hour for an individual is still “not enough, even with two full-time workers to attain an adequate, but modest, living standard for a family of four.”
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a modest living standard requires a ‘fantasy‘ median income of over $60,000 annually; a median income that will never happen as long as conservatives exist on Earth. Republicans and their wealthy supporters complain bitterly that the minimum wage is prohibitively high already, so Americans should get used to the idea of the median income dropping to the federal poverty level when every job pays slave wages as the new median income.
Many economists point out the “monthly blockbuster job reports” as proof the economy is booming, but those poverty-wage jobs only create wealth for the rich and big business. It is true that every additional job is encouraging, but due to the six year Republican crusade of cutting spending, attacking labor and protecting corporations, 90 percent of the ten fastest-growing occupations pay 23 percent less than the jobs Republicans have already killed or outsourced to China. Good job numbers offer very little to celebrate when new hires are working and still living in poverty.
Before the Republican recession, wages were not great and had been stagnating for a decade, but only 20 percent of American jobs were considered “low-wage poverty work.” Since their Great Recession, over 60 percent of “recovery jobs are poverty-wage employment” and it has been very profitable for business.
However, what those lost middle class jobs meant for real Americans who were once considered “median” is that by 2013 median wealth dropped by 40 percent. That monumental drop in wealth sent middle class families to join the growing “poorest half of the nation dying in debt-ridden negative wealth” just to survive.
All the while, as the rich reap most of the recovery, the poverty ranks, like the number of jobs created, continues to grow due to the middle class demise. President Obama has prodded, pleaded, and attempted to shame Republicans into raising wages and creating real middle class jobs, but that would conflict with the Koch vision and defeat the whole purpose of the Republican recession and slow the transfer of the nation’s wealth from the worker to the rich; something Republicans will not allow. People are falling fast from the ranks of middle-class living.
Sadly, many Americans are unaware that in some big business and corporate circles the Bush-Republican Recession provided conservatives with a “wage and compensation reset” Republicans could not accomplish by legislation. Republicans may be stymied in completely destroying unions and eliminating labor and wage laws, but they did the next best thing by creating tens-of-millions of desperate out-of-work Americans willing to toil for poverty wages. It is one reason why income inequality has grown wildly since the recession with all the recovery going to the rich at the expense of one-time middle class Americans working for poverty wages.
It is often heard said that members of Congress, especially Republican members of Congress, are either in denial or ignorant about the true state of America’s once vibrant middle class. Both of those assessments are sheer bovine excrement. Republicans know the middle class is either dead or dying because they have worked tirelessly to keep Americans in poverty to enrich corporations and the wealthy. Besides, no Republican can possibly ignore that in great expanses of the nation, especially the former Confederacy and Republican-led states, over half of the population is now impoverished and approaching what they live to create; a third world America.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.