Walmart And Amazon Know The Terrible Truth: The American Middle Class Is Dying

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Daniel Lang via,

A lot of people were probably thrilled today about Amazon’s latest announcement. The online retail giant has revealed that they are going to reduce the cost of Prime membership, which provides free shipping for more orders and unlimited streaming for many shows and movies. But it’s not just for anyone. The reduced rate will be reserved for low income households.

Customers normally pay $10.99 per month or $99 per year for Prime subscriptions, which offers free two-day shipping on many products as well as access to streaming video and music services.


Now anyone with a state-issued debit card for government benefits can get Prime for $5.99 a month.


The aim is to make “savings more accessible” to everyone, according to spokeswoman Julie Law. She adds that delivery could make life easier for customers who may not have reliable access to transportation, and that Prime gives members discounts on essentials like diapers.


Amazon(AMZN, Tech30) already has a well-heeled customer base, according to analysts. With this program, it hopes to pull in more low-income shoppers.

It sounds like good news, but it’s really not. Not when you look at the bigger picture. Consider the fact that Amazon Prime memberships were originally targeted at high income earners. In fact, 70% of households that earn more than $112,000 per year have Amazon Prime memberships, compared to just over 40% of lower middle class households. It’s less than 25% among households that take in less than $25,000 a year.

If you haven’t guessed what I’m getting at, consider what Walmart is doing. The retail giant and chief rival of Amazon, has long been considered the shopping outlet of choice for low income families. But recently, Walmart purchased another Amazon rival known as, which markets to high income earners.

So, whatever happened to the middle class? Why aren’t these massive companies focusing on attracting middle income earners? Isn’t the middle class the perfect demographic for retail outlets? Though they aren’t rich, they still have a decent amount of disposable income, and there are so many people in the middle class that surely their collective disposable income outweighs both the rich and the poor right?

Unfortunately that’s not the case. That’s why the recent moves made by Amazon and Walmart aren’t in fact, good news. It’s a sign that the middle class just isn’t what it used to be. It’s been hollowed out by decades of economic malaise.

The two retailers’ strategies of aiming at the furthest ends of the income spectrum highlight the widening gap between wealthy and poor Americans and the disappearance of what was once the most sought-after class of income-earners in the country.


“This is absolutely symptomatic of a deteriorating middle class, or at least what we used to consider to be the middle class in America,” Stephens told Business Insider.


When Walmart was founded in 1962, the middle class in America was thriving.


“From postwar to about the late 1970s, you wanted to be in the mid-tier of retail. That is where everybody was making a fortune, including Walmart,” Stephens said.


“Then from 1980 onward, you wanted to pick a side, because it started to become clear that the middle class was evaporating.”

Walmart and Amazon know the terrible truth about our economy and our standard of living. The middle class is dying. It makes more sense for big companies to cater to the rich and the poor, because there aren’t as many people in the middle class as there used to be. It’s more profitable to make a few bucks off each poor person, because their are millions of poor people, and it’s more profitable to make millions of dollars off of a handful of rich people.

But people in the middle? Sure, they have some disposable income, but they’re a dying breed.

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Bill of Rights's picture

Anyone have napkin I can borrow I want to wipe that egg off Congressmen Al Greens face.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Wasn't WalMart the destroyer of the Middle Class?  Import cheap crap from China and drive middle class jobs out of America.

GoinFawr's picture

Why do you hate free market capitalism?

Jim Sampson's picture

"So, whatever happened to the middle class?"

It was relocated to China.

FreedomWriter's picture

Welcome to the new normal.

Or perhaps we should call it the new "poormall"

Pure Evil's picture

Maybe part of the reason the middle class looks like its shrinking is because they keep swelling the ranks of the poor by importing turd world monkeys with no skills or education.

Therefore the ranks of the poor are outgrowing the ranks of the middle class making the middle class look like its shrinking.

Son of Loki's picture

This is another "Fuck You!" to American middle class that gets zero benefits and zero breaks.

vato poco's picture

Can't have neofeudalism without a lot of serfs

any_mouse's picture

That is not Ethical Treatment of monkeys.

Monkeys have skills.

Monkeys can survive without government handouts.

MOM, Monkey on Monkey, homicide rates within a Monkey community are low.

Monkeys would fling feces at a Maxine Waters, not fling votes at her.

Luc X. Ifer's picture

Huh?! It is already dead for long, putrid.


jaxville's picture

  You hit the nail square on the head.  Our standard of living has been in decline since the late 1960's.  All the gains in productivity that should have benefit all have been stolen by the financial sector.  When turning us into debt slaves and robbing us through inflation of fiat wasn't enough, they stole our jobs by having our governments (which they own) sign on to treaties exporting production.


sixsigma cygnusatratus's picture

"It was relocated to China."

That's exactly correct. In order to hide the inflation from all the money printing, .gov had the great idea of letting companies produce crap in China for dirt cheap and sell it here. No inflation right?  So now everyone here is poor and jobless, but can afford cheap crap at Walmart thats all made in China. Nothing to see here, courtesy of Bill Clinton. 

Clinton Signs China Trade Bill into Law

NotApplicable's picture

I'm always telling anyone who will listen that WalMart's actions are a cause, not an effect of a much greater problem, debt notes trading with protected "legal tender" status.

Simply put, an honest business can't compete with monetized debt.


Miss Expectations's picture


Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Farewell to Dan River Mills


Almost unnoticed, the Dan River Inc. textile mill slipped quietly under the waters of the global economy. Dan River was best known for its bed-in-a-bag comforter, bed skirt, and sheet sets. It’s hardly news when a U.S.textile mill ceases production, but this time it feels personal. Virginia-based Dan River filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2004, and emerged from bankruptcy a year ago, only to be purchased by an Indian firm this year. The small paragraph in The Washington Post (Metro Section, January 15) read like an obituary: “Plant Closing to Cost 500 Jobs.”

Gujarat Heavy Chemicals, which bought Dan River last month, plans to idle the Virginia mill and move the remainder of production overseas where it is cheaper. Maybe U.S. labor and environmental standards will be applied, but how will we know? 

As with TimexPfaltzgraffLevi and others before it, the brand will survive but the American jobs will not. There will still be Dan Rivercomforters and sheets, but they will be made in China, India, and Pakistan. I wonder if consumers will even notice? In March, nearly 500 former Dan River employees will line up at the unemployment office and I will keep reading labels and looking for products still made in USA.

Paul Kersey's picture
"Walmart And Amazon Know The Terrible Truth: The American Middle Class Is Dying"

If the American middle class is dying, then Dollar Tree is making money catering the funeral. 

GoldRulesPaperDrools's picture

Funeral directors make a good living (pardon the pun), and they typically never run out of customers.

Erek's picture

Funeral homes are a dying business.

besnook's picture

where is real capitalism? i see fascism lite, crony capitalism with .gov as the main crony of, first, the tbtf banks, then all the tbtf megacorps. the only place i see capitalism are the kids up the street selling lemonade and cookies by the side of the road.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

It is NOT free market capitalism. It is target marketing to the womb-based socialism market.

Notice how the single, childless ABAWDS, Able-Bodied Workers Without Dependents in Department of Human Services lingo, with low productivity and making $25,000 or less per year, are the friggin' poorest, with Amazon not bothering to market to this group that is "less burdened" by the costs of raising children.

That is because they know that single, childless people have to pay everything -- from unaffordable housing to food -- on the low wages alone, with kick-in-the-head tax returns of $300 or less.

Whereas, those mommas and immigrants on welfare/taxfare have the following:

1) The low wages from the jobs that they dominate in bully cliques of absentee moms.

2) Free Section 8 housing or an amount off per child in mixed-income apartments, which are nicer, safer apartments than I can afford with a college degree, four licenses and twenty years of job experience, but then, employers often prefer to hire these unlicensed and frequently absentee mommas who have unearned income for sexual intercourse and reproduction that makes it easier for them to accept $9/hr wages.

3) Free EBT food, like $450/month for a momma of two.

4) Monthly cash assistance in the same per-child amount for children born within the time restrictions, assuming they name the children's father(s) to DHS staff.

5) Energy assistance.

6) Child Tax Credit / tax-cash welfare of between $3,337--$6,269 that the mommas can spend on whatever they want, including Amazon products, with many currently spending it on trips with boyfriends.

7) Daycare assistance, which makes it nearly free for many "working families" despite the constant harping on this issue by womb-based feminists.

8) Help from charities, almost all of which focus their efforts on "working families."

9) Help from live-in boyfriends who list mom or grandma's house as their residence so that single momma won't have to count their income against her expenses at the Department of Human Services, with the immigrants not counting the many adults who split expenses in their households, either, including multiple mommas with free stuff from Uncle Sam in many cases.

10) Help from grandparents with grandbaby fever, making it easy for the poor, beleaguered single momma to afford a new SUV on top of her $800 tattoos, trips to Floroda with her latest boyfriend, etc. Check out the parking lots in mixed-income apartment complexes and tell me I am wrong.

It only makes sense for Amazon to get in on this pay per child. But single, childless people who vote for politicians who kick them in the head, time after time, in the tax code, in the welfare system and in the rigged, womb-centric workforce are crazy.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans are childless, single, over 40 and more lilely to vote than people in the copulation/reproduction age range, with many of them struggling to pay all bills on $25,000/year or less, hence their low participation in the Amazon club.

These mom absenteeism-clique workers can also leave work whenever they want, taking off whole mornings, whole afternoons, whole days, whole weeks and even whole months with zero repercussions, giving them plenty of time to coordinate pick up of Amazon purchases delivered to their homes. Single, childless people who never miss a day of work and meet the sales quotas every month will be FIRED for even five minutes of that without the shield of the productive-womb cronies in these momma-backscratching jobs.

So, yes, Amazon will do well with that, and I guess it is better for them to get the money than for tattoo parlours to get it, although they are little, independent businesses. I guess it is better for Amazon to get the money that Uncle Sam and the U.S. Treasury Department dole out to reward sexual intercourse and reproduction out of wedlock, as opposed to the $96 million in CA welfare that went to out-of-town hotels and casinos. They are a major tech employer for one thing. The nice "working families" might spend their money on more things for kids at Amazon, rather than on gambling and hotel rendezvous.

One thing is for sure, U.S. politicians will keep on punishing low and moderate-ncome citizens without wombs, those with wombs who refrain from sex and those whose sexual intercourse does not lead to reproduction in every single policy they make. It likewise hurts the single moms, when their wombs no longer generate kids, leaving them with nothing other than the low wages from temp, part-time and churn jobs.

Membership rate -- 25%

Son of Loki's picture

Very very good summary. I agree with it completely. The poor saps working are not eligible for any of the FSA benefits while welfare queens, illegals, immigrants, etc get everything for free, even state tuition in many states including California and Texas, while hard working taxpayers fund it!

It would be so refreshing to hear something different for a change like, "Here's a tax break for hard-working middle class Americans" or how about, here is a discount for middle class Americans.

But no. The Working Donkey only gets whipped harder.

Oberst-Gruppenfuhrer's picture

Not in Russia...niet, niet, niet!   But don't tell (((George Soros))) and his bought and paid for whores in congress and the press. 

America NEEDS a civil war II to purge all the deadwood, and get rid of the snowflakes. 

unnamed enemy's picture

I logged in just to upvote you Sir.


GoinFawr's picture

None of which has anything to do with importing cheap crap, made by even cheaper labour, from China and driving middle class jobs out of America.

Or, was your point that China has a more robust capitalist system than the US?


FWIW whenever I can I will choose, even if it costs a little more, to purchase a product manufactured in the US over one built in China when available, so long as the quality is comparable (which, in my experience, is pretty much a given), because of (some of) that list you took such great pains to denigrate. Problem is: that's just me!

Ironic, hunh?

rent slave's picture

There is no capitalism in a nation that doesn't have sports betting.

any_mouse's picture

But, but, the USA encourages speculation on Unicorns. Is that not enough?

Maybe because Sports is just corporate entertainment with predetermined outcomes to distract the masses. Like politics.

How did the uproar over New England's deflated footballs compare to the uproar over the Patriot Act, or the follow on NDAA, Executive Assassination of Americans without due process?

Cam Newton's last play came under more scrutiny than US involvement in Ukraine, Libya, Syria, et al.

Witness the outrage from Cleveland fans when Le Bron moved on. They think the athletes have loyalty to fan devotion? Fans worship sports stars. They could give a shit, it is just a way to make tons of money, have sex with many white coal burners, and laugh at the white guys who worship you.

Opiates of the masses come in a variety of forms.

"Opiate of the masses." They even said that out loud and the masses didn't get the big picture. Everything is a production to keep you unaware and inactive.

"Skynet became self aware."

The masses become self aware and activate a shutdown of the system.

That is their nightmare, their terror.

passerby's picture

Because when free markets cross national borders the poorest country becomes the standard of living for all of them.

GoinFawr's picture

In a race to the bottom, MalWart is winning!

meditate_vigorously's picture

I hate free market capitalism because it is a tool of the Oligarchs to rob wealth from the masses, just as socialism is.

GoinFawr's picture

Which 'masses' are Norwegians 'robbing' then?

Peacefulwarrior's picture

The exorbinant amount of Body Odor stench that emanates from the Walmart front doors upon entering has made shopping there an impossibilty.

rejected's picture

Not in the beginning. In the 80's I can still recall the signs hanging calling for everyone to buy USA products. Started changing in the 90's and by 2000 they completely flipped.

Oberst-Gruppenfuhrer's picture

Yes...I do remember as a child of the 80s the "Buy American, the job you save may be your own." 


I remember this campaign vividly...on TV...on bumper stickers put on American cars' chrome bumpers.  When we used to head to the mall to buy clothes, I used to check the labels to buy American but....many were "Made in Vietnam"  I was like whoa...didn't we kill them gooks for sport and now we're buying shirts from an old enemy?  It didn't register at age 8.  However, knowing what we all know certainly does.   Now its all China practically, let alone 'nam.  Don't you love the smell of getting jewed in the morning?

whosetosay's picture

It seems Amazon is now is the welfare business as well....

The middle class isn't dying, thet're sick to death of pulling the cart. And now Amazon???? Really?

cheech_wizard's picture

WalMart... LOL! 

Now if you had said the Federal Reserve...

Amendment X's picture

You're confused..  WalMart is a symptom, not the problem.

Erek's picture

It's not just the middle class in the US. It's the middle class practically all over the world. The western world anyway. Being that all the western jobs went to China and India, their middle class is probably doing ok.

GoldRulesPaperDrools's picture

Remember, the `middle class` in China and India is three orders of magnitude below our `lower class` here ... which is why the work was sent to China and India in the first place.

Erek's picture

"three orders of magnitude below our `lower class` here"

Of course you can't compare the Chinese or Indians middle class to a western middle class. But you also have to consider that $100 goes further in those countries than it does in the US or Europe.

Son of Loki's picture

The middle class in China is booming and doiing extremely well. They would like to send a 'Thank you' note to the Kenyan for handing them all the American jobs and then buying all their cheap shit.

Killdo's picture

the Chinese I saw in China last time I was there looked better dressed and happier than Americans. Also compared to  PEK airport DC Reagan airport looks like a little shithole

Oberst-Gruppenfuhrer's picture

Actually Bill and Hillary did WAY more for opening up the floodgates for China than Obongo ever did.  Light in the loafers Barry was just a caretaker.

drstrangelove73's picture

Who is paying for the 'discounted'Amazon Prime memberships?You are dear Amazon Prime customer.This is simply the Bezos buying insurance against revolting peasants with pikestaffs and halberds.

GoldRulesPaperDrools's picture

Is that an egg or some banana left-over? ;)

Non-Corporate Entity's picture

Not yet, his face is a shit magnet and there's more heading his way.

Magnix's picture

Not unless we move to Costa Rica. We ll be fine financially

GoinFawr's picture

shhhh, I don't want condos where my pineapple orchard is going to be.

ZeroIntelligence's picture

Maybe I did it wrong but Costa Rica was not nearly as cheap as people kept telling me it would be...  Now Thailand on the other hand, woop !!

Bigly's picture

Anyone weigh in on Cuenca Ecuador?

Pure Evil's picture

Everybody in the US should move to Mexico and give them a taste of their own medicine.

StaySunny3000's picture

Ecuador is already getting a taste of that, and it is starting to hurt them a bit since the geezers are starting to stress their health care system.