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28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Towards Extinction

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it.  Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt.  Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be "middle class", and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high.  This is not a good thing.  Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be "okay" simply has no idea what they are talking about.  The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction...

#1 You don't have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying.  This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers.  The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled "The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World"...

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.


As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.

#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be "middle class".  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class".

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be "lower class".  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have "subprime credit".

#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.

#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.

#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.

#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far.  Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).

#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care.  At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.

#24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

As if the middle class didn't have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.

As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.

Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare.  For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers "were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance"...

And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.

Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.


That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.

But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.

The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.

The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today.  That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can.  Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master's degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post.  What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic...

Dear Mr. President,


I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment -- 16 hours each week at $12 per hour -- but I don't work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn't include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.


This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn't freeze -- if it freezes, we use the campground's restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it's cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV.


We don't have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn't working for us. We don't have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it's freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.

You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.

This is not the America that I remember.

What in the world is happening to us?


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Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:27 | 4410131 Millivanilli
Millivanilli's picture

Time for Revolution.  


Bankers have immunity from prosecution for money laundering, securities fraud and market manipulation.  They fuck over savers,  I mean investors, with zero return on their money and control capital in a way to choke off small and mid sized businesses.   Corps have outsourced labor and pushed down wages and benefits at the same time the bankers are destroying the purchasing power of every dollar.  


The solution is simple, BOYCOTT the banks and corps.  Make them bleed out their ass until concessions are made to restore a living wage, interest rate and currency.


I think this is a message most people can understand.  

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:27 | 4410144 OC Sure
OC Sure's picture

Far greater men long ago stood up for so much less...and won.

If we decipher the message correctly then:

Cause of our ills = counterfeiting; solution = gold standard.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:30 | 4410156 Millivanilli
Millivanilli's picture

I pay my kid for chores in silver coinage pre 1965.  I often reflect about how America used to have SILVER MONEY!   Now we get plastic, paper and base metals which opens the door for unfettered rape.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:36 | 4410168 ndotken
ndotken's picture

The time is coming when people will march on Washington with whatever they have ... even if its torches and pitchforks ... and that time is drawing nigh

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:50 | 4410206 Soul Glow
Soul Glow's picture

Unfortunately the people will not act until the bottom drops out of the markets.  The greatest generation won't react unless bonds rise above 10%, rendering their SSTF returns marginal.  Boomers won't react unless stocks fall under Dow 8k.  The younger generations won't make a move unless the dollar is shredded.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:02 | 4410254 BLOTTO
BLOTTO's picture

The masses are to complacent over here in N.A.


If anything, 'they' are probably surprised that we havent snapped yet as a whole.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:24 | 4410333 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

When an article title starts with a number less than 30[ish], I know it's by Michael Snyder.

BLOTTO, the snap happens in an instant, as soon as the dollar goes. Since that's not for a long time away, it only gets uglier and uglier until the breaking point when people are sticking their heads out the window and saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:44 | 4410404 cifo
cifo's picture

28 signs because February has 28 days.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:45 | 4410409 cifo
cifo's picture

"I pay my kid for chores in silver coinage pre 1965."

I have a friend who manages parking meters. Around the time school/university starts, he often finds silver quarters put in by these kids.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:59 | 4410435 Millivanilli
Millivanilli's picture



My kid follows the price of gold, silver, platinum and palladium and fully understands the bankers rackets- for example he watches prices rise in the grocery store.  You see, kids aren't stupid if they are taught how to reason using quantitative measures like mathematics.  

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:23 | 4410513 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

Gotta love the dumb people who tell you prices are the same at the grocery store when the item net weight has been reduced significantly.   That bottle of ketchup is still only 3.25!   (yeah but went from 25oz to 18oz)

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:58 | 4410594 Son of Loki
Son of Loki's picture

Middle Class, Private Sector is the correct description.


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:51 | 4410697 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

If I had faith in the American People, I'd expect that sooner rather than later, people would literally organize and take down Wall Street & too-big-to-fail banks that are literally the parasites that are draining the blood of what's left of the American Middle Class.

In fact, in times past, Americans would have already done this, whether by ballet box or cartridge casing.

It would only take III percent to effectively accomplish this, but are there 9 million out of 300 million Americans aware enough, motivated enough and rightfully angry enough to do something about the trajectory of their and their childrens' fate?

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 02:05 | 4410797 prains
prains's picture

Problem is TIS out of the 9 million most are still too brainwashed to organize, that would be like being a communist union leftist loser. To be truly KKKool it all has to be done alone, god forbid you organize cuz that's way to commie union lefty fag-like. Doesn't matter if it's 90 million ready to march if it's ALL in 90 million dofferent directions. YOU ALL need to FOCUS THE IMPACT OF THE PUNCH TO A VERY SPECIFIC POINT IN YOUR COUNTRY>


unfortunately that takes organizing, banding together, god forbid teaming up together.....LOFUCKINGL...never gonna're ALL too fucking STOOPID....brainwashed 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 08:00 | 4411006 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture





Yes we can......kill the middle class.


Everyone has to pitch in to make room the the deserving illegals.


Marco Rubio will be around to explain it to you in greater detail shortly.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 02:28 | 4410825 PT
PT's picture

I never counted how many signs were in here:

but it was all explained quite well.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:26 | 4410350 linniepar
linniepar's picture

And people still want to deny this is being done deliberately. 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:50 | 4410416 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Nothing like this could happen except by deliberate attempt.  We're just documenting it for future generations so maybe they'll have a better chance identifying it and heading it off earlier in the process.  Our goose is cooked- way too late to stop it.  The infection has spread much too far to avoid terminal decline.  

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:18 | 4410950 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Do unto others as you would have others do onto you.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:52 | 4410575 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

The middle class doesn't need to revolt.  All we have to do is stop working for a few weeks.


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:11 | 4410620 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture

Hate to break it to you but Brokaw's 'greatest generation' is almost gone...just a few 'tweeners' (too young for WW2 too old to be boomers) still around. Boomers are just starting to retire, most still carry the load.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:19 | 4410951 zhandax
zhandax's picture

All you relatively new dipshits pay attention;, if you had any capacity, this would fall on you.  Since you don't, the whole thing will collapse,

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:53 | 4410228 Agent P
Agent P's picture

Who is going to march against the government? The shrinking middle class who are trying desperately not to lose what they have, or the lower class who is becoming increasingly dependent on that same government for more and more of their daily expenses? Only way I see group 1 is if tax rates double to support group 2. Only way I see group 2 is of the gravy train is cut off because group 1 refuses to pay. Unfortunately, if this slow migration from group 1 to 2 continues, I don't see any pitchforks coming out of the shed.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:11 | 4410311 OC Sure
OC Sure's picture

They can't march against something unless they march for something.

This is what the 1st amendment petition for a redress of grievances is all about.

Remember the founders declaration and other writings coincided with the violence.

It won't go down the same way, never does; for now, it is still a battle of words.

A 2nd constitutional convention now would be a disaster without the media on the constitution's side.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:12 | 4410315 zaphod
zaphod's picture

And that is how a feudal system is recreated in north america. 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:06 | 4410609 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Meet a member of the American "used-to-haves"

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:41 | 4410675 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

I like the quip about "the GOP Congress"....yep. The Dems have no part in this. Fuck HuffPo.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:16 | 4410631 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture

Agent P

It does not require a tax revolt. The USG does not spend what it taxes it spends what it can borrow. The 'event' will be a dollar problem not a revenue issue. When borrowing begins to cause real inflation...well you had better be ready before then...

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 05:15 | 4410925 mrdenis
mrdenis's picture

"Americans won't be chained to their jobs" ....Obama 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:41 | 4410398 Kiss My Iceland...
Kiss My Icelandic Ass's picture

"BOYCOTT the banks and corps."


It's a kind of blunt instrument but the only weapon available to wealth creators is the boycott. Boycott the political process. Boycott banks and retailers. Most importantly, do not participate in the sham "political" process. Don't vote. Don't validate and legitimize these criminals with your vote.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:27 | 4410521 SilverRhino
SilverRhino's picture

Well said.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:35 | 4410542 kchrisc
kchrisc's picture

Printing is theft, government is death, guillotines are redemption.


The Four Rs
Rejection: Quit paying, quit obeying , quit playing
Revolution: It is inevitable, so prepare, as they are.
Retribution: Is there really any place for these sociopaths and criminals in a restored civil and Constitutional society?!
Restoration: Restore the Constitutional republic.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 07:34 | 4410997 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

Restore the confederation of sovereign states.

I recommend reading the Anti-Federalist papers.  They are enlightening.  The Constitution is part of the problem.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:01 | 4410597 The Dunce
The Dunce's picture

A country without a middle class is just a banana republic.  Sad.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 02:25 | 4410818 PT
PT's picture

Millivanilli:  It's easy to imagine the townsfolk storming the manor, but what is the modern, real world equivalent?

Realistically, what would it take for everyone to jump in their cars, buses and planes and storm DC?  'cos as far as I know, most DC-ites are doing okay.  I just don't see it.  Sorry, it could easily be ignorance on my part.  What's plan B?  Turn off the TV, radio, stop buying newspapers, demand to be paid in cash?  I guess that might work.  Don't pay rent or mortgage, publish a list of empty Blackrock homes for the homeless to occupy?  Organize a mob to turn away the sheriff?


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:24 | 4410133 So Close
So Close's picture

Being bled dry... drop by drop.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:45 | 4410190 CPL
CPL's picture

The orange was freshly squeezed a long time ago and slurped down without an after thought.  The situation right now is the orange rind is being grated over salteens because the pigs ate the whole spread a while ago.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:12 | 4410471 The man with po...
The man with pointy horns's picture

There's this piece of crap in the article: "Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be "middle class""

How the fuck are you independent when you're up to eyeballs in mortgage payments, credit card debt, tuition fees, healthcare insurance costs and that gas-guzzling humvee? The middle class are the ultimate debt-serfs. Bow to your banking overlords bitchez!

Ugh, yet more cognitive dissonance and misconceptions about the mythical middle class.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:33 | 4410161 buttmint
buttmint's picture

America is Casino Nation...or RV Nation, take your pick!


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:46 | 4410196 Occams_Chainsaw
Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Damn just spawned another stupid reality show.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:35 | 4410169 Tasty Sandwich
Tasty Sandwich's picture

I need at least twenty-nine signs before I'm convinced of anything.

Human beings are heading towards extinction.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:37 | 4410170 Soul Glow
Soul Glow's picture

The wiset people I know, when I asked them in '08 what they thought was happening, said it was the end of the "squeeze" for the middle class.  Some people don't believe the elite would "kill their milk cow".  Unfortunately for Betsie, she ran out of milk and the farmer's family is hungry.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:13 | 4410316 DanDaley
DanDaley's picture

Like Doug Casey says, governments see you as a milk cow, until they don't need you, and then they see you as a beef cow.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:32 | 4410330 Westcoastliberal
Westcoastliberal's picture

Sorry 2xpost

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:20 | 4410331 Westcoastliberal
Westcoastliberal's picture

This is being done at the industry level as well.  For example the Radio industry is now consolidated to the hilt with 3 owners holding most of the decent broadcast stations, and they've taken their employees through layoff after layoff to the point where in some markets just a couple of people are running 6-7 Radio stations.  Each of these formerly had a staff of at least 6-10.

Revenues are 1/2 what they once were, but they keep insisting on "squeezing the Goose".

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:49 | 4410975 Moe Howard
Moe Howard's picture

Maybe if someone put something on the radio worth listening to, things might be different. It's a wasteland on my dial.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:34 | 4410181 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

This article on the endangered middle class posited as it's final comment "What in the world is happening to us?"

For the answer to that, let me link you back to Gail Tverberg's ZH article from a few hours ago.

Then try reading between the lines, or connecting the dots, or X marks the spot, or shout Bingo, or wake up and smell the coffee, or have an epiphany, or a leap of faith, or get with the program, or shout Eureka I found it, or come to papa, or jump to a conclusion, or find your needle in the haystack, or see the light, or no shit Sherlock, or "it was Barzini", or "I see I see said the blind man" or  kiss that frog when you come to it, or the Great Oz has spoken, or Doh! or "You can't handle the truth", or "Did you order the Code Red? You're goddam right I did", or “I hold at your neck the gom jabbar”, or “Try looking into that place where you dare not look! You'll find me there, staring out at you”, or "You best start believing in ghost stories, you're in one.     Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  What are you lookin at, Back to Work"  -- Captain Barbosa Barbosa link, and Oh My Goddess, what an awesome Miss Turner

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:45 | 4410192 Occams_Chainsaw
Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Why does my ass hurt so much?

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:20 | 4410337 lordbyroniv
lordbyroniv's picture


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 03:30 | 4410867 dogmete
dogmete's picture


they say comedy is all about timing but sometimes it's about spelling.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:39 | 4410395 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Have you experienced any blackouts recently shortly after consuming a drink handed to you by somebody you barely know?

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:26 | 4410953 negative rates
negative rates's picture

A fatal mistake indeed, funny how the warnings signs were neglected, and then the lies followed by the denial and embarrassment of it all. And everyone (powerful enough) was doing it, and saying it was the right thing to do. Only to have it come crashing down when the first dominio began to fall. Or are you still in the denial stage here?.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:53 | 4410232 headless blogger
headless blogger's picture

Americans won't do anything to change the system until they literally have nothing left; when the food stamps are cut off, the welfare checks cutoff, the illegal aliens are cutoff from accessing the EIC on U.S. income taxes, etc etc etc....

But unfortunately, when the day comes that all is cut off, it will be far far too late to do anything about it. The Elites know they just neet to run the clock out on the masses and they have won. They have the entire globe to market to, they don't need America anymore.

I see no hope for the U.S., it will be broken up into smaller nations, with the remainder of the wealth concentrated in the Eastern Sea-board (Boston-Miami).

The "Alternative Media" helped keep a lid on any possibility of revolt by keeping the guys consumed with their own lives, "stacking" and "hoarding". There has been little to no ACTION taken against the People that have done this. It's one thing to spread awareness, but another to get people motivated to act.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:24 | 4410344 lordbyroniv
lordbyroniv's picture

One of the most noble things a person can do is to protect and look after his family.  Do not disparage the stacker.  

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:09 | 4410459 headless blogger
headless blogger's picture

Best way to protect the family is getting out and organizing against the elements that did this. Stack and hoard all you want. It will help for awhile, but without a bigger coalition and organization you won't last against the Military State or the hoards of gangs that will be roving. 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:57 | 4410982 Moe Howard
Moe Howard's picture

Simply not true. The best rebel is the individual rebel. The civilian population cannot organize and defeat a modern army unit for unit, but as individuals they can offer a disorganized resistance that would take huge resources to even attempt to contain. You wear them out rather than try to smash them. For example individuals could bring the economic system to a virtual halt, without resources the overlord power dries up.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:54 | 4412040 cpt crash
cpt crash's picture

This isn't Afghanistan.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:34 | 4411529 Kobe Beef
Kobe Beef's picture

Who wants to live through it? The goal is to inflict as much damage as possible before they take you out.

If your highest value is to survive, then you will sell out to remain alive on their terms. Hence the sorry state of things today-- a nation of collaborators and mafia wives. The problem is not knowledge, everybody on this site knows who is destroying our way of life. There are plenty of high value targets and they are not hiding. The problem is values. Everyone wants to live through it. Know that you will not, and act accordingly.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:54 | 4410237 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Thank a Bankster, personally, with vengeance.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:08 | 4410295 headless blogger
headless blogger's picture

If you live in a city, put some yellow tape out on the Sidewalks next to their financial buildings (high rises) in the form of a large X. Help them out by giving them a big target to jump to. Make sure you wear an Anoymous mask; they got cameras all over their places.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:15 | 4410324 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Maybe also set up recommended viewing areas, with good views of the Xs

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:57 | 4410253 Bdelande
Bdelande's picture




United States Federal Reserve                            February 5th, 2014

20th Street and Constitution Ave NW,

Washington, District of Columbia 20551


Dear Janet;


If I may be so forward, as a concerned permanent resident of the United States of America, it is with great consternation that I feel compelled to write you the following distressing note.


Purposely degrading this Nation's hard earned reserve currency status, which was so honorably passed on to you by previous generations who built this great country from the ground up through their virtuous and industrious blood, sweat and tears, only to then implement a disgraceful monetary policy that deliberately steals from future unborn generations in order to facilitate living standards beyond our means, so as to sustain an unearned, undeserved and unprincipled culture of grotesque illegitimate debt financed over-consumption, can only be characterized as a deplorable unconscionable abomination of Biblical proportion.


Respectfully yours,

Le Baron Bruno Camille Soucanye de Landevoisin



Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:33 | 4410378 SmallerGovNow2
SmallerGovNow2's picture


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:59 | 4410255 ejmoosa
ejmoosa's picture

You cannot have a socialist revolution if you have a content, strong, middle class.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:30 | 4410659 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Yeah well...there's a war going on too. This is not something that is going to just disappear either.

These units do not disband...and unlike World Wars One and Two...and even the Civil War...this has been going on for thirteen years now.

"We've never been here before" and at some point that military will pick a point on that map and say "ours."

The great irony of this age is that the USA has never produced so much wealth ever in its history. How this has not passed down to incomes and jobs simply boggles my mind.

Letting Detroit go bankrupt might be the biggest policy error since Lincoln assumed "extra Constitutional authority." The State of Michigan is one of the wealthiest polities in the world potentially.

And that State is HUGE. They can easily wind up burying (in an economic sense) every one of their political neighbors. And if that gas and oil stars to flow...that's exactly what they will do.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:28 | 4410956 negative rates
negative rates's picture

See comment above.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:17 | 4410262 MagicMoney
MagicMoney's picture

Meh, those retail giants are suffering because they thrived on growing consumer credit bubble that went full retard from 2003 to a bust in 2007-08, a result from the housing bubble going bust, investments went sour.  Consumer credit is fine when it facilitates savings. For example, when you want to buy a car, & don't want use your stockpile of savings in the bank, you use consumer credit to avoid depleting that store of savings. Leverage is by definition pulling future money to the present. Money is preferred today to buy something in the present versus allowing savings to increase in a longer time span to buy it sometime in the future. Retail giants like Circuit City, Best Buy, etc, simply existed on times of maximum consumption. When the consumer bubble corrects, retail is going to get hit hard for many years & will continue to have dissappointing sales, or muddled sales. Americans simply consume too much. The economy needs to rebalance itself. It's literally calling for it. There needs to be more savings, & more investment for better consumption & sustained consumption. Consumption requires investment to sustain it. All these Keynesian consumption goals, and biasness really don't tell the full picture of the economy. Yeah consumption is down, but it's down for a reason. A economy needs a natural balance through time. Levering up a economy on debt for current economic expansion, or increased GDP is not sustainable, nor does it promote real vibrant growth.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:25 | 4410651 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

And how do you propose folks save in an environment of declining wages and inflating prices? Take your time....

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:34 | 4410661 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

We had inflation then. The Fed determined that to be a problem...and their solution was total insanity.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:29 | 4410960 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Keep it together Humpty.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:06 | 4410291 Poor Grogman
Poor Grogman's picture

Q. What in the world is happening to us?

A. No State shall... make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debt.

End the fed!

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:45 | 4410406 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

You forgot to read the Ts & Cs on that back of that document.  

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:45 | 4410681 shutdown
shutdown's picture

Yes, but that notion was instituted back before the USA got taken over by ... "Them."

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:06 | 4410296 Playtime's Over
Playtime's Over's picture

After 5 plus years of liberal mania and the king turd stickin up the place.......I am at the end of my hope rope.  

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:08 | 4410305 Duc888
Duc888's picture




Gee, who the fuck could have guessed that giving China Most Favored Nation Status and shipping millions of manufacturing jobs overseas in the last 20+ years might have a detrimental effect on the middle class?


Seemed like such a good idea.




Better luck next time.



Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:27 | 4410356 MagicMoney
MagicMoney's picture

Middle class don't save. You obviously believe in the zero sum game. The chinese "take" jobs from Americans, and Americans get no benefit at all from the exchange. Problem isn't the Chinese being more competitive, problem is the american who isn't competitive, and doesn't save despite have cheaper consumer products from the Chinese, and use the aggregate savings for investments into investments that produce goods, and services of a higher order. Americans were losing their edge long time ago.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:33 | 4410532 bunnyswanson
bunnyswanson's picture

American politicians were losing thier edge long ago.  Policies decide how a country is run.  This troubled nation is being destroyed from within.  Protocols to implement agendas.  This is war.  The only solution to the present day distress is bring all people up to middle class status, duct tape major corporations and begin to explore alternatives, including moving large populations to new locations, creating dams, irrigation, recycling techniques after Science and Technology is placed back on track to improve life rather than eliminate it.  Madmen are in charge; they are living in a world that is a distortion.  A one world govt without a vote is a ticket for disaster under any circumstances because certain men will murder other men to get rich with no qualms, for the good of the cause.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:46 | 4410565 Clever Name
Clever Name's picture

No. When goods were made in the US everyone got a share of the pie. Now when we buy cheaper goods from China, only the corporations and the people at the top benefit and 'trickle down' is bullsh*t. We dont save because theres less money going around.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:59 | 4410591 drendebe10
drendebe10's picture

Could it be that the unioms drove manufacturingjobs away with their over reach of more and more? 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:23 | 4410643 IridiumRebel
IridiumRebel's picture

Some lardass making 25 bucks an hour with full bennies is totally more enticing than some ChinaMan who makes 5 bucks a day and is twice as productive. Totally!

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:45 | 4410682 gbresnahan
gbresnahan's picture

Foreigners just take jobs Americans don't want LOL

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:10 | 4410310 Duc888
Duc888's picture



MagicMoney: "The economy needs to rebalance itself. There needs to be more savings, & more investment for better consumption & sustained consumption. Consumption requires investment to sustain it."


....that would require decent jobs.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:22 | 4410345 MagicMoney
MagicMoney's picture

Investment creates jobs. Savings allows for investments. How you think rich people get richer, or lift themselves up from poverty, and from paycheck to paycheck jobs? Because they use savings. People living pay check to pay check with consumer debt isn't going to create jobs for nobody sorry, but that's the way it goes. If you don't think savings allows investment, you are likely don't know how a economy grows, and how rich people get rich, and stay rich. Consumption is the result of investment. Keynes turned it upside down turning a law into a travesty, because government can fill in the gap of consumer spending today, and everything will supposedly be ok in the future. Savings is what helps creates jobs. The more savings, the more productive jobs are possible. This is not rocket science, that is why capital accumulation exists in capitalism, because it allows for enhanced consumption, and jobs for people to have. Say otherwise, well look at the current state of the economy, consumer debt increasing, and was highly levered preceding the down turn. Reality is reality. Can't deal with it, well wallow in misery.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:31 | 4410377 MagicMoney
MagicMoney's picture

When you start from capital accumulation to capital consumption, ie consuming savings, selling assets to consume toward a bias of more consumption, that is capital consumption. Capital accumulation, and capital maintenance are essential. If they weren't essential, then we wouldn't have a banking crisis would we? If you can't understand that, well, too bad for you. Keep cheering on for more of the same stuff which is already should of been disproven by real events.


Economics isn't that hard, people make it difficult because they are hardcore ideologues who refute the best explanation and description of the state of things.


Americans simply spend too much money on things they don't even need. Isn't black friday shopping sales enough to think that? Wow..

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:43 | 4410405 MagicMoney
MagicMoney's picture

MagicMoney: "The economy needs to rebalance itself. There needs to be more savings, & more investment for better consumption & sustained consumption. Consumption requires investment to sustain it."....that would require decent jobs.<<<<Where do jobs come from? The sky? Investment creates jobs. You spend far more than you save, you don't create productive jobs for other people, just more retail jobs. When people save, better jobs are possible. Can't understand? Well because you don't know how a economy grows. 10% of the economy is only investment. The rest is governemnt and consumer spending. A consumer economy is a capital consuming economy. When most of the economy consumes, it leads to lower wage jobs, because it stimulates service retail jobs like stock boys, and retail clerks that grow on increased consumer spending. You want to build manufacturing hubs, and industrial production, you need savings. How does a real estate investor even have money to invest in real estate, because he uses savings period. Don't understand that, well too bad for you.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:01 | 4410718 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture


....that would require decent jobs.

That would require cheap oil.  If oil were $30/bbl and plentiful at that price, I bet the fraud would be masked again and our economy would start booming. 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:15 | 4410319 kurt
kurt's picture

Don't worry folks. A public relations team is working on how to make you forget this or feel better. Hey, did you see the guy tied to the chair being tortured by the smirking sociopath? Which show? Every show. Just relax. If you relax your sphincter instead of tightening it it'll just flop around in there and they'll pick someone else who still squeezes.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:21 | 4410341 gwar5
gwar5's picture

Middle class is being euthanized so they won't fight back.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:25 | 4410348 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Well, I guess it's time to roll out the " don't worry be happy" tape again. May be this time it'll stick. Or there's always the hollow points. Either way, they are covered.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:27 | 4410358 GeorgeHayduke
GeorgeHayduke's picture

Dmitry Orlov's blog talked about this same thing this past Tuesday. The theory is that the wealth of the people, below upper class of course, is used to make up the shortfalls of the status quo that enriches the upper class and their political minions. This will go on until the lesser classes are pretty much fleeced of everything of value, then the government collapses. You can bet that those to whom the wealth went will be long gone by that time.

It's a theory, we'll see how it plays out. My question is when will the folks getting fleeced finally draw the line in the sand? Because that's when things could get interesting. Will they do something while they still have something or wait until they've been robbed blind by "the elites" who are long gone. If they wait, they'll likely do what they always do and take out their anger on the usual targets: minorities, gays, non-relious folks, people with an IQ over 90, etc... Again, we will see as it appears to be in motion right now.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:48 | 4410410 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Well, if the Bolshevik Revolution acts as a template it's appears we have indications a revolution may be at hand. In Russia there was mass unemployment. At the same time, the cost of living increased sharply. The real wages of the workers fell about 50 percent from what they had been in 1913. Russia's national debt in October 1917 had risen to 50 billion rubles. Of this, debts to foreign governments constituted more than 11 billion rubles. The country faced the threat of financial bankruptcy and they were printing like mad to offset their war debts. Things didn't get really rolling until starvation occurred and major riots ensued. So I guess that will be the key critical step.


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:40 | 4410672 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

The Germans had defeated Russia in World War I.

If the Americans hadn't arrived France would have capitulated.

Interestingly just as Patton did in World War II (via a vis Moscow) so to did Pershing: "let's go to Berlin" said Pershing. If we had World War II never would have happened.

In my opinion the whole Contintnent has been an empty piece of (very beautiful) real estate ever since. Needless to say "we're it" over there pretty much.

"Forward it is."

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:05 | 4410724 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture


Well, if the Bolshevik Revolution acts as a template it's appears we have indications a revolution may be at hand.

Good thing those in this country who would opt for communism are generally the same people who don't have firearms;)

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:54 | 4410426 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

The status quo of the extreme rich has experienced no shortfalls.  Ever.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:40 | 4410397 Marley
Marley's picture

Middle class is dead and capitalism killed it.  Pope is right, and left.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:25 | 4410511 bunnyswanson
bunnyswanson's picture

That is exactly right.  I am shocked that so many down arrows were given.  Maybe it was because you forgot to add "deregulated" in front of capitalism.


Deindustralized nation has no jobs for the backbone of this country, the blue collar workers.  They were the customers on Main Street.  They saw dentists, bought clothes, homes, cars, were the audience at events.


Supply and demand economy has been replaced by investor only and with that investor protectionism financed by the now unemployed middle class, who were paying taxes at one time, at every level.


Corporations are monopolizing and without competition, it's a long slow kill off, for everyone.  The man left standing will succumb to the wounds of his last opponent and his servants and slaves, The Meek, shall inherit this sorry planet, and curse us to hell.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:51 | 4410414 Omegaman2211
Omegaman2211's picture

28 and a half reasons that Michael Snyder is a boring douchebag.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:03 | 4410437 AdvancingTime
AdvancingTime's picture

We should understand that demand drives investment, confidence is not the real driver. Lack of real growth is about lack of real demand. Much of the demand we see today is driven by artificially low interest rates and a mirage in the markets they distort. By this I mean that the distortion and illusion that the economy is healthy tends to cause people to make poor economic choices. Still CEO's are unenthusiastic about investing and banks have little incentive to loan money on half backed ideas for which there is little demand. It is becoming apparent to many that the financial system has become dysfunctional. 

We must differentiate the kinds of economic growth and understand that all growth is not created equal. If you spend money but afterwards have little to show for it you have wasted it. Sadly, much of the money America "invests in itself" each year through government spending and programs falls into this category. More on why the quality of growth is important in the post below,

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:06 | 4410455 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

All my troubles are governmental and electronic.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:12 | 4410479 KennyW
KennyW's picture

Ignore God of the bible at your own peril.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:18 | 4410495 illadeljim
illadeljim's picture

Look at General Motors, all of their new employees make half the wages and benefits of the previous generation. How do we expect them to be able to even afford to buy a new GM vehicle? This is what's happening all across America. The new corporate class wants slave labor, double their own salaries and bonuses, and less Unions that once protected worker rights.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:44 | 4410683 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

There are so many used cars lying around right it's really hard to say how these companies survive with the status quo.

At some point we will learn how to produce a car for less than an I-phone.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:36 | 4410967 negative rates
negative rates's picture

The latter is dubious, the trick is to make the car last so you dont have to keep buying or maintaining them the day after you,ve paid it off.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 06:34 | 4410965 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Over paying union workers to make things that were designed to break, says little about the past,  but so much about the predicament of todays future.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:20 | 4410496 Walt D.
Walt D.'s picture

We are heading full throttle towards Marxism/Fascism/Socialism/Obamunism. What do people expect. Marx had nothing but contempt for the middle class - bourgeoise, kulaks and other pejorative epithets.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:25 | 4410516 tempo
tempo's picture

It is now common for parents to take care of their adult kids and grand kids with families living in one room of a house. Also families with homes are renting out rooms at $500/month to help generate income. This trend seems to be accelerating. We see many single family homes in our neighborhood where there is a camper or RV outside where the adult kids and grandkids live. Yes there are always the 35% of college graduates with engineering degrees that are doing great. But for the majority its back living in a camper working two part time jobs and getting food stamps and Obamacare.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:36 | 4410539 Son of Loki
Son of Loki's picture

Millions of low pay immigrants flooding into the country plus the stagnant wages for [native] citizens....



Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:23 | 4410758 shutdown
shutdown's picture

With 60 million adults unemployed the USA decides to import two million workers annually, mostly third world unskilled. Brilliant. This will not end well. 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:13 | 4411425 Kobe Beef
Kobe Beef's picture

It will end in Civil War II. Which will be the beginning of something else, and whether good or ill, will hinge upon if your side wins or loses. Prepare--we are long past the point where words and analysis will solve our problems.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:39 | 4410545 ak_khanna
ak_khanna's picture

Middle class is dying as unemployment is rocketing around the world because all the efforts of politicians, government, central banks etc are focused on saving banks instead of targeting job creation which is the only way economy can recover. 

Jobs can be created by initiating the following :

Replace the top management of too big to fail banks, put the existing ones in prison and charge them with fraud and misrepresentation. Break the banks into smaller ones so that they are no longer a risk to the whole financial system. Implement the Glass Stegall Act.

Use the reclaimed billions of dollars from arrested bankers and use them to improve the infrastructure of the country. This would create jobs instantly and the improved infrastructure would give the confidence to small businessman to hire more people.

Tax richest 5% of the population heavily as they no longer create jobs in the country but outsource the jobs to the low cost developing nations. Stop completely the funding of election candidates by corporates and rich individuals so that their influence on politicians to make rules beneficial to themselves is clipped.

Stopping speculation and derivatives in commodity markets would reduce their prices substantially which would be beneficial to the majority of the population. This would lead to a better standard of living for the middle class families and they would go out and spend helping the revival of the economy.

But in the real world we can keep on dreaming.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 02:01 | 4410794 mijev
mijev's picture

Why replace the execs? Why not just get the fuck rid of them. No need to replace them as they do fuck all.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:41 | 4410554 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

got a letter from amex, raising my revolving rate to 24% despite running a couple million through the acct all paid over the past 25 yrs.  

anecdotal but watch for signs of major consumer finance tightening predicting another major downturn

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:10 | 4410735 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

OTOH, Citi and another major CC issuer (I forget which ATM) have fired their CC receivable securitization process back up.  Maybe they're getting ready to release some of the excess reserves?  Skimming as a straw purchaser while the Fed monetizes the debt and getting paid the alleged full value for their shit MBSs, plus .25% interest on excess reserves is a pretty good gig, but where is that extra income going to come from if the taper is really real? 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:57 | 4410582 drendebe10
drendebe10's picture

Yhank you very much, arrogant narcissistic, lying illegal alien muslim POS who contines to luve an imperial grand lifevstyle along with its xirrupt politico buddies, criny favored cimpanies an d unions. Karma will be a b-tch.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:39 | 4410669 Smiley
Smiley's picture

We got here by letting stupid people actually believe that they were all special and deserved ice cream just for trying.  The day the "Everyone is a winner" concept took root is the day we all ceased to exist as individuals and lost the middle class.  What is the point of winning at anything if losers who do nothing are entitled to just as much reward for no work as you are for busting your ass to make something of yourself?

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:40 | 4410671 shutdown
shutdown's picture

Resource depletion and corruption will convert the USA into a desperate, Venezuela-like, Third World dump within this generation. There is nothing that can stop or slow this fascinating process. And that's the optimistic forecast.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:41 | 4410673 The_Ungrateful_Yid
The_Ungrateful_Yid's picture

I'm hoping the Millenials  and the below turn out to be winners instead of pussies. They are going to either seal the coffin or be the next greatest generation.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:45 | 4410686 Smiley
Smiley's picture

Pussies get handouts, winners get taxed and shamed for winning.  This is the new normal. 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:46 | 4410781 mijev
mijev's picture

The other night I gave a pussy vet with half a leg a handout. I sure wish I could have channeled some of your wisdom towards him. Back in the day I think he would have liked to kick your ugly face.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:52 | 4410700 CheapBastard
CheapBastard's picture

Middle what?

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:00 | 4410716 baldski
baldski's picture

Mike Snyder, another right wingnut asshole!

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:15 | 4410739 TheObsoleteMan
TheObsoleteMan's picture

So the piece asks: "Whats happening to us?" If you really want to know, Mr. Wolfensohn will tell you:

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:19 | 4410749 draghithebearslayer
draghithebearslayer's picture

what is happening, dear americans, is that you're finally beginning to get the treatments you deserve. for years you looked down on chinese or some other piss poor developing nations' people who work for pennys til they drop; and yet, in reality your average american grunt isn't all that different from a chinese grunt when it comes to intelligence or productivity, is he? globalization, people. the poor and the "middle class" in america have been freeloading for too long off the backs of those truly exceptional and innovative people in the top 1%. for years you enjoyed cheap shit from china and thus the illusion of prosperity, while manufacturing jobs were steadily shipped abroad year after year. globalization means poor and ignorant american is no better than poor and ignorant chinese. the pampered poor and the "middle class" of america are put upto compete with those in the developing nations, a competition they cannot win. now they sit around blaming the rich for their incompetence and worthlessness. believe me. there won't be a revolution. there can't be a revolution because deep down people know there is no just cause. wake up, poor people of america. the rich don't need you. they have chinese serfs and indian serfs now. you're just a dead weight. if you revolt, they won't hesitate to wipe you out. you'll be doing them a favor.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 02:46 | 4410828 monad
monad's picture

Here is a thought experiment for you: Imagine there are no Americans. How is your miserable life as a brainwashed victim any different?

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:37 | 4410766 Kina
Kina's picture

Poverty BitcheZ!

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:50 | 4410783 Van Halen
Van Halen's picture

Hi everyone! I just got off the phone with the White House. They said that the middle class isn't going extinct, they're just getting a chance to follow their dreams unimpeded by the chains of employment.


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 02:43 | 4410830 Alternative
Alternative's picture

Boring. This is at least fifth time reading his rehash of the same stats.

What did Miley do today?

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 03:18 | 4410858 Incubus
Incubus's picture

bring this bitch down.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 03:52 | 4410878 ILikeBoats
ILikeBoats's picture

If not the actual descendants, the spiritual (like-minded) descendants of the same people that destroyed Russia, are now in the USA and they are implementing their plan.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 04:17 | 4410895 laomei
laomei's picture

Nigga please.  The "Middle Class" died along with that whole "American Dream" thing.  It's been dead for decades.  The only thing that made people think otherwise was the politicos addressing all the poors as "middle class" to make them feel better.  It's a talking point and nothing more.  If you are not pulling in six figures, you're not "middle class", you are "working class" or "poor".  The confusion is understandable, as there was indeed a point where working class was more or less middle.  It was post-war and it lasted just long enough for the boomers to grow up in it.  Sparking the consumer-whore trend of "keeping up with the Jones'", and hell, it was easy, wasn't it?  Back in the 60s, you could pull a minimum wage job and find an extra 10 hours and presto, you're at the median income.  Still, by no means "middle class", but solidly in the mid to upper working class.  Work any 2 random shitty jobs? Congrats, you're middle class.  That was the basis of the "American Dream" right there.  That pretty much anyone (white) could come over with nothing, pick up a shitty job or two, work hard and not only survive, but thrive.  Going to college? You can work most of a summer at minimum wage and pay for it all. That was the entire damned point of "summer jobs".  What does 50 hours a week at minimum get you now? $18k a year, pre-tax.  That's it.  And good luck finding 50 hours on a reliable basis that don't overlap, cus you won't.

Here's the new rules to be "working class":

You probably rent or own a very modest home.  You might marginally qualify for a government aid program, but probably not.  Using $50k as national median, you are somewhere between $40k~$100k depending on field/experience/etc.  To hit those upper bounds you are going to need LOTS of experience or working incredibly long hours or have a very specific skill set which is in high demand.  For the lower bounds.  You have enough savings that you can afford a season or so off the job if you have to, but if you are in the lower-bounds, then you're basically living one wrong step away from poverty.  You also have debts holding you off, some of them that just never seem to go away, but you can manage and still stash away some savings. Yes, you heard right, dual-income minimum wage still means POOR.  If you're smart, you might even see retirement, in fact, you probably belong to a union which makes sure you have a pension.

"middle class" means what it's always meant:

You own your home either with an affordable mortgage or it's paid off.  In fact, you might even own an extra home or two that you rent out.  There's the key in fact, the key distinction between working and middle class. Middle class families have what is known as "savings" or "disposable income".  Not the new definition of "disposable", but the real one, meaning everything essential has been paid for, a decent chunk has been saved and everything else is DISPOSABLE.  That EXTRA money gets cycled back via small business ventures, or vacations (real vacations), or big-ticket items.  Savings should be enough to live somewhat normally for a year or so.  You still have to work, but you have the ability to be pickier about it.  Retirement is an obvious end to working and you look forward to it.

If you can't do any of that, or you qualify for aid, sorry, you're poor.  Food stamps? Poor.  If getting unemployment is a matter of keeping a roof over your head? Poor.  Hand to mouth? Poor.  Juggling credit cards and bills to survive? Poor. 


What's happened in America is that personal requirements for living have expanded, increased in price as well.  Wages have not even come close to keeping up and therefore the dream is dead.  $100k a year is still considered "making it", and that $100k a year figure originated in the 70s.  Today, it's nothing special, or at least it shouldn't be.  $100k back then is $700k now.  The "middle class" as it self-defines itself is just a case of mass-delusion.  Might as well be a murder of crows thinking they are still dinosaurs.... or just "temporarily embarrassed dinosaurs" perhaps.  Class mobility is at an all-time low, and that's even using the fake definitions.  Using real definitions, it's so rare that anyone who does it is put on a pedestal as some sort of model worker or whatever.  It's bullshit, plain and simple.

How to fix it? Boost wages obviously.  But, they claim, these workers do not generate enough revenue to justify it? Either change your definition of "enough", increase prices, or shutter the windows.  The flow of cash to the top is disgraceful.  Walmart, for example, could simply NOT do stock buyback every year, and double the wages of pretty much everyone.  They claim that the market simply demands they do it.  Well, sorry, but if the system incentivizes that over paying enough to survive to the workers, then the system needs to be drastically altered.  These "entry level" jobs now have an average age of 29+.  

Oh, but laomei, that doesn't make any sense.  Here's some REAL econ for you tossers.  Aid, given out by the government, generates MORE economic activity than it costs.  Food stamps? $1.70.  Unemployment? $1.55. Section 8? $1.50~$1.80.  On AVERAGE, all these direct aid programs generate over $1.70 per dollar spent.  So Mr. Smart guy, let's just print money and give it all away to the poors.  Do you know WHY this type of return happens? It's because these people have fucking nothing, they are POOR.  Every dollar that comes in goes right back out.  Imagine now, if you actually ensured they had a living wage? By jolly, that might just work.  But why do they DESERVE so much? I get $12 an hour and am middle class, why do those slackers deserve $10 or $15 an hour? I'll just become minimum wage then too!  You're asking the wrong questions my friend.  Stop this in-class fighting and look at the bigger picture.  You DO deserve more, but you're not getting it and you are directing your anger towards the wrong people.  Look up, not down... and by the way, $12? You're poor too, no matter how you want to wrap it up and pretend otherwise.

But inflation! Fiat! My Savings!  Here's how a fiat system works.  Inflation is a feature, not a bug.. as long as it's kept in check and GDP outpaces it.  When GDP does not outpace inflation, you have stagflation and everything turns to shit in a hurry.  Stagflation is the "new normal".  Inflation is being sliced and diced and defined to hide it.  While economic growth is also being faked to boost it.  The benefit of inflation, is that idle money loses value over time.  Creating an incentive to invest it or spend it.  With moderate inflation, smaller sums are not impacted all that greatly, while larger sums are.  The lack of this is what created liquidity crises back in the gold standard days.  What's manifested itself here, however, is that America is a shitty place to invest in with the real interest (which cannot be hidden with statistics) in play.  Wages have not kept pace by a long shot either.  Those on their money hoards have also found flat out bullshit to invest in, rather than anything real.  This removes real cash from the economy, which, in turn kills economic activity and growth.  Once you're rich enough, you run out of shit to buy, and most of your spending is just going to funnel to other rich fucks... maybe a trickle or two down a level, but that's it.  There are therefore, TWO separate and unequal economies in play.  And one is a parasite.  Guess which one? It's not the poor one. 

It's an incredibly stupid situation of stagflation hidden by fed manipulation to ensure low interest rates.  But those low rates mean rich has free money, while poor sees nothing in return for their meager savings.  It also means that the cost of free money is that you have to be creative with it to see anything back.  The creativity we're seeing is pretty much just various legalized scams.  And as not everyone is all that creative.. and they still have to show growth, they just hack away at the middle/working/poor classes to get it.  Who, in turn get to experience the real inflation which the rich get to ignore.


The core problem with this environment, is that it's effectively uncharted waters.  That's right folks, shit's fucked in a way that no one's planned for, and the only thing that even remotely makes sense is to accelerate and hoard more.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 05:41 | 4410919 Escapeclaws
Escapeclaws's picture

A lot of understanding displayed in your post IMHO. The only thing I myself see that could turn things around are ideas expressed by Webster Tarpley at He advocates focusing on issues that will have "mass traction" such as reducing student loan interest rates to zero, a 1% tax Wall St transaction tax, forcing the Fed to finance jobs and infrastructure projects, disallowing foreclosures by banks that have received federal funds. He would shelve campaign finance reform and reinstating Glass-Steagall because, while being good reforms in themselves, they are too "abstract" to have immediate mass traction.

Hard to believe there's any basis for optimism. One negative in America is that every individual is expected to be self-sufficient and if you lose your job, it's due to some kind of personal deficiency. People mistrust each other in the extreme, and this prevents any kind of social cohesion from developing. On ZH, the ideal is the lone cowboy, gun-toting and stacking, living off grid in the backwoods. I believe that real social cohesion is ultimately the only viable approach, recalling the great success of monasticism in post-collapse Rome, for example.

Nowadays the best possible thing we can do is to fight against our lack of social cohesion and our mistrust of each other, first on a personal level with our immediate neighbors. This needs to become some kind of worldwide movement. No, I'm not dreaming. Things have gotten to the point where not doing this is no longer an option.

Imagine, for an example, a group of neighbors who band together to come to each others aid when a family is threatened by forclosure, there is a job loss, or a grave medical problem. Collectively, we would have more security than trying to go it alone.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 07:41 | 4411000 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Cohesiveness may require a homogeneous society to have a chance. The whole "diversity is our strength" mantra may be a bunch of bullshit. Empathy requires you to be able to put yourself in someone else shoes. If they bear no resemblance to you, how do you do that? Half the country has an IQ of probably less than about 102. Probably 1/3 of our society is may be functionally retarded when confronted with the task of competing in a modern economic system.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 08:22 | 4411037 The Wedge
The Wedge's picture

Helping your neighbor is a wonderful idea. Return of glass/stegal also a great idea. A 1% tax on wall street transaction would not be wise considering a return to sound monetary policy would be better. This would just be passed on to the retiree. Nothing is gamed so much as the value of money. The rise and fall of value means you can make a truckload of money fairly easy. So, having a stable currency tends to help stabilize markets. You can't game the system quite so easily. Flatten the tax code would go a long way to stabilize markets as well. Again, not as easy to game the system and you don't need to spend money on lobbyists. Most are resistant to this idea because they think somehow corporations will pay less tax. Not true. It stems from a lack of understanding of the tax code which is built for the large producers or nowadays, wall street firms that produce nothing.

The root cause of most of issues is an unsound monetary and fiscal polices dating back decades. In other words central banking. One very obvious result has been a further centralizing of power in government and select corporations. Banking bailouts...results, more power for the few. As it was intended I believe. And if banks and companies should fail when they make bad choices or just victims of circumstance, then so should the individual. I know you don't want to here that but further bailouts mean further centralizing of power and less upward mobility. Government caused many of these problems and are certainly not the solution. It's like running right into the serial killers arms. Decentralization of power should be a long term goal. And localizing neighbor to neighbor as you mentioned is a great way to cul centralized power. Simply cut big gov and big corp out. So, I'm saying solutions provided by those who caused the problem probably not wise. And as to your social cohesion, I think that is always positive. So consider that most people, I think, agree on many or most of our problems. It's self evident. We both agree on the problems but don't agree as much on the solutions. But the problem comes in when people don't understand the complex systems that got us here. Or how basic economics works so you'll have many running right into the hands of the bad guy. There is actually a term for this, Hegelian. Create the problem for the solution you want. And many bad ideas like a living wage appeals to some understandably. These are the worst kind of solutions because they don't address the root causes and in this case make things far worse. A living wage argument is not just a lie but a damned lie. Take away individual rights and responsibilities, like a bailout, (think of parents constantly bailing out their kids) they are robbed of the opportunity to grow, take away economic liberty, you are taking freedom, the most precious commodity and furthering centralized power.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 08:25 | 4410977 The Wedge
The Wedge's picture

"Aid, given out by the government, generates MORE economic activity than it costs".

Uh, NO. That's political speak. Also known as bull shit.

"It's because these people have fucking nothing, they are POOR".

That is not an argument. It is true that the poor live hand to mouth but that does not mean 170% per dollar spent go's back to the government. It's fuzzy math that has been completely discredited. This wasn't even a serious argument. It was meant to fool people into thinking that government can make you whole. They cannot. By this logic everyone should just quit and somehow magically we will all be richer. It's fucking retarded. Zero sum game.

And this living wage non-sense is exactly the same, political bull shit. Put in a living wage and I'll charge you $9.50 for a loaf of bread.


"Most economic falicies derive from the tendency to assume there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another". Milton Friedman

And another one from uncle Milt. "there's no such thing as a free lunch".

The issues that create economic inequality go far deeper than "it's the rich mans fault". Systemic cronyism, free trade, if there was ever a bigger lie. And much, much more discussed at great length here all narrowing upward mobility. If you want economic "equality", what you will get is everyone poor and centralize power even more so than now. Everybody poor except the few powerful elites. What we want is the ability to rise. If you want government to provide you with a chicken in every pot you will get a half a turnip in every pot.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 11:41 | 4411737 laomei
laomei's picture

The fact that you quote milton friedman on anything displays your utter ignorance of how an economy actually works.  

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 04:34 | 4410900 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

This is what is happening:


High energy prices = less consumption because everything including the fuel in your tank costs more = layoffs = less tax revenue = government cutbacks, layoffs and debt increases = less consumption = more layoffs = less taxes =====  economic death spiral.

 Compounding the problem is the fact that a weak labour market means real wages drop - as they are across the world right now - that means everything is more expensive and your buying power is dropping at the same time.

 Governments recognize this and are trying to offset with debt, easy lending (they are purposely inflating bubbles), lower interest rates and money printing.


See this presentation


Of course they will fail - because the disease is expensive oil.  And there is no substitute


The economic death spiral will accelerate when the QE and ZIRP no longer have any effect and the confidence game collapses.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 04:52 | 4410913 myne
myne's picture

Free trade brings everyone to the same level.

It will equalise when everyone globally has the same shitty lifestyle.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 10:24 | 4411492 Kobe Beef
Kobe Beef's picture

...all ruled by a transnational corporate elite with enhanced surveillance powers and unbacked, unlimited fiat funds. Welcome to the NWO.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 04:58 | 4410916 Debugas
Debugas's picture

middle class was artificially created and kept on life support during cold war to prove that capitalism is better than socialism (look how great our middle class lives compared to soviet working class)

After the collapse of the USSR no longer needed and life support taken out the middle class is going its natural way to extinction

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 07:25 | 4410994 FredFlintstone
FredFlintstone's picture

Interesting and plausable interpretation, thanks.

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:47 | 4415301 Polymarkos
Polymarkos's picture


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 05:12 | 4410921 mumbo_jumbo
mumbo_jumbo's picture

"What in the world is happening to us"


this is what happens when all the good jobs get shipped to somewhere else

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:48 | 4415299 Polymarkos
Polymarkos's picture

This is what happens when we let the communists run the country.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 05:13 | 4410922 The Vizier
The Vizier's picture

I knew I should have bought those shares in Winnebago when I had the chance.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 07:06 | 4410984 ArmyofOne
ArmyofOne's picture

A Masters Degree in what?  Indian smoke signals.  H.P. left that nugget out.  This is the problem with American workers.  30 years and not a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.   30 years later and it finally dawns on them they need to save 25% of there income for a time in there life when they could not work?


Time for a taxpayer bailout I suppose. 

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 08:18 | 4411033 Woodhippie
Woodhippie's picture

OT- For those that like to know the origin of phrases, " a pot to piss in" is interesting.

Way back in the day tanners of hide used urine on the pelts.  So, if you were really down on the economic chain, you could collect the family urine and sell it to the tanner.

Hence, if you were REALLY poor, you didn't even have the pot to use for the urine.

"Not a pot to piss in".

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:45 | 4415294 Polymarkos
Polymarkos's picture

I think it refers to chamber pots, in the absence of internal plumbing in homes to handle waste. Customarily, one tossed the contents out the window in the morning. The streets were open sewers, once upon a time.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 18:50 | 4413509 Debt Slave
Debt Slave's picture

For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers "were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance"...

"Darnell" probably voted for Obama, so he gets what he deserves, but we have to suffer along with him. Isn't democracy grand?

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:43 | 4415290 Polymarkos
Polymarkos's picture

All this mess is the direct result of a tiny minority of bankers, businessmen, and poilticians--all of whom suffer unbridled lust for power over the rest of us, and all of whom are traitors and domestic enemies.


Kill about 2500 of the right people, and all this will end.


Start with George Soros...

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:58 | 4415320 Polymarkos
Polymarkos's picture

Let me add this: many Americans have no REAL job skills. Learn to MAKE something real, something useful, something people really need. Then you have a trade to make a living with. I know welders who are idiots, but earn 4 times what I do with my degree. It's past time I learned to weld...

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