Reprocessing the Middle Class

Given I have firsthand experience of the reprocessing (term borrowed from my beloved brother known as Dragonstrand) of the middle class, I figured this post might carry some weight when taking into account the status quo for the vast majority of American citizens.  In a nutshell, I went from making at my peak $180,000 with bonus, to a three-year period of unemployment or no full-time job, to recently taking a night shift job making $11 dollars an hour with a huge corporation.  I still have two years of federal taxes to pay and over ten grand in credit card debt to pay off.  I have a few personal reasons for my predicament, but nothing that would realistically prevent me from landing a decent job at a decent wage relative to my experience and education.  I don’t really have any other options available.  I have tried to pull myself up and applied to over a thousand white-collar professional jobs during that three-year period, but I couldn’t secure a job offer despite over a decade of solid work experience and higher education from well-known undergraduate and graduate institutions.

The middle and upper middle class in America has been downsized and is being “reprocessed”.  To understand this phenomena one must agree to a fundamental principle.  Wealth, as measured by money, does not grow for the money supply in theory is constant.  Sure, those in charge of the money supply can print more money, but that simply waters down its assumed value and purchase power.  As such, wealth is merely lost by one and gained by another.  There is only one pie to cut up and serve.

 In the United States, the few have mastered the art of accumulating and taking more and more and more money away from the many.  No other developed nation has such an enormous gap between those few that have most and those many that have little.  The art the few have mastered to siphon money away from the majority centers on a multi-pronged strategy and a closely knit group in powerful positions in banking, Wall Street, venture capital, huge multinational corporations, media (advertising and marketing), and government (controlled by lobbyists and big campaign donors).

The only problem with their strategy is eventually the many have little left for the few to take and the well runs dry.  And when the well runs dry they have to figure out how to appease or deceive the mob to avoid a rebellion before they take their winnings and leave the country.  Currently, the power structure is employing delay tactics to avoid the inevitable – a revolution.  The game can best be described as kick the can.  Obama, a man of change, says the right things, but his actions are merely status quo.  And the republican presidential front-runner wants to return to the Reagan era where the wolves were set free.  The truth of the matter is that there is no way out given the current power structure.  Politics and your vote isn’t going to create any change to the fascist power complex.

My next several posts will summarize the multi-pronged strategy used by the few to siphon away money from the many.  Much of this has been discussed in this blog via previous posts, but I feel now is the time to re-iterate and summarize.  The upcoming election between a republican presidential candidate and Obama is all smoke and mirrors.  The game ahead of us is quite simply a game of kick the can.  We have reached the stage of no way out unless we are willing as a majority to make bold moves.  All that is really needed is an enlightened sense of what is and what will be if we do not act.  I am the farthest thing from a protestor or revolutionary and I have a son I dearly love, but if there is a movement with intelligent momentum, I would be willing to put all that matters in this one life on the line for the many that are yet to come.

Why the U.S. “Middle Class” is Poor

The Federal, state, and local government takes in over five trillion dollars in the form of tax revenue each year.  Guess where the majority of that tax revenue comes from?  No, it doesn’t come from huge corporations, or investment banks, or insurance companies, or Wall Street.  Close to 90% of that tax revenue comes from you and me and really small businesses.  Never mind that these government entities can’t break even with all this money as that is a topic for a much longer post, but just imagine for a moment that we the citizens of the United States provide the Federal, state, and local governments with approximately $4+ trillion in tax revenue.  Larger corporations only provide roughly 6% of government revenue through taxes.

Large U.S. based multinational corporations have been enjoying record profits during the last few years while main-street american citizens are struggling.  Large corporate profits are approaching $2 trillion a year.  As a result, the stock market is fairing pretty darn well considering the struggles many Americans are facing economically.  Huge American corporations are enjoying cheap international labor and a lean base of U.S. employees that are terrified of losing their jobs.  Labor productivity is very high for these large American companies.  Why hire U.S. citizens when profits are hitting historical record highs?  Those at the top of these large U.S. corporate entities are rolling in the money as are investment bankers, Wall Street, and the rich that are in the know and invest money to make more money without doing anything to make that money.  Is it any mystery why the income gap in our great country is wider than any other developed country in the entire world?  Is it no wonder that the gap is still increasing?

Now, in addition to the enormous tax burden individuals and small businesses absorb, there is another high-priced burden — prices of everything we buy.  How do corporations make a profit?  Because we, the ordinary citizen, pay more for those products than they cost to produce and distribute.  Because we believe all the advertising bullshit that makes us think a product is worth more than its cost.  The marketing gurus call this “perceived value”.  So, as a result, not only are we supporting all our governments with the majority of their tax revenue, but we are also giving excessive money to huge corporations so that they can enjoy profits.  We, the middle class, are getting fucked on both ends.  And guess who gets all our money?  The government and the 1% that runs corporate America (huge corporations, investments banks, Wall Street, banks, insurance companies).

Now, in addition to the above two burdens, most of us must resort to forms of credit and loans to enjoy life.  As a result, we end up forking out money in the form of interest payments to the altruistic banks.  If we a buy a car, a house, or simply enjoy a vacation or dinner out — along comes the extra expense in the form of monthly interest payments.  Or, if you are young without wealthy parents and want an education to get a job then you also need to take out a loan (a loan you will be paying for the majority of your youthful life).  And since the corporations we work for aren’t going to give us annual pay raises above the rate of inflation (or hire you young folks after taking out that big loan to get an education) we will never be in a position to pay off that debt.  Therefore, monthly interest payments simply become a life-long additional expense in addition to income taxes, sales taxes, and inflationary prices coined “perceived value”..

The final piece of the elimination of the “middle class” comes in the form of higher inflation above an beyond the already considerable price inflation forced on the individual through corporate prices that are far above production and distribution costs.  This additional inflation is caused by the incompetence and cronyism of the Federal Reserve combined with our governments that can’t contain spending to the some $4 trillion bucks we hand over to them.  The crook-like Federal Reserve just keeps printing more and more U.S. dollars which simply waters down what little dollars we have left in our wallets.  Why do they keep printing more and more dollars?  I am not the one to answer that question, but it has something to do with our mounting Federal debt, trade deficits, and currency wars.  But it really doesn’t matter why when you consider that in the end it is the “middle class” that ends up disappearing.  How much more are you spending to fill up your gas tank?  How much more are you spending at the grocery store?  How much more are you spending when you travel and have to check bags?  How much more are you paying to heat or cool your homes?  How much more are you paying for entertainment and dinner out?

I don’t have a fully developed solution outside of a Utopian creation, but I do have a broad fundamental concept.  It is time to tax the shit out of the rich.  It is time to tax the shit out of huge corporations that are taking our money by shipping jobs overseas, charging us too much money to buy their products, and working current employees like dogs without raises greater than inflation.  It is time to cut the shit out of government spending.  I don’t care if the stock market takes a major hit.  All I want is the middle class to have a chance to get back on its feet.  A country without a healthy and strong middle class isn’t going to be around long in its current form.  And I for one am reaching the point where I would be more than willing to ensure that current form no longer exists.  But, a new form must first be envisioned through logic and true leadership.  Tearing down a corrupt and broken form without envisioning a radical but workable new form simply leads to a bandwagon of buffoons beating their chest and demanding a free bushel of bananas in exchange for nothing.  My Utopian visions could solve our problems, but then again, people would have to understand and agree that money is a myth and that the true form of currency is human energy, motivation, cooperation, sacrifice, and acceptance of some inequality not in gender or race, but in ability..