America ranked 27th when it comes to middle class wealth!

capathy21

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 16, 2014
1,365
534
Houston, Texas
I heard Thom Hartman talking about this today on his radio program and I had to look it up to double check. I knew things had deteriorated for the middle class in America but this, this is just sickening. How long before we start to advise our younger generation that their best shot at a good future will start with them relocating to another country?

http://www.alternet.org/economy/americas-middle-class-27th-richest

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires, and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet's riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that's what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it's a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we're number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution—50 percent of the adult population has more wealth, while 50 percent has less. You can't get more middle than that.

Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc.) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity. While the never-ending accumulation of wealth may be wrecking the planet, wealth also provides basic security, especially in a country like ours with such skimpy social programs. Wealth allows us to survive periods of economic turmoil. Wealth allows our children to go to college without incurring crippling debts, or to get help for the down payment on their first homes. As Billie Holiday sings, "God bless the child that's got his own."

Well, it's a sad song. As the chart below shows, there are 26 other countries with a median wealth higher than ours (and the relative reduction of U.S. median wealth has done nothing to make our economy more sustainable).

Why?

Here's a starter list:

1)We don't have real universal healthcare. We pay more and still have poorer health outcomes than all other industrialized countries. Should a serious illness strike, we also can become impoverished.

2)Weak labor laws undermine unions and give large corporations more power to keep wages and benefits down. Unions now represent less than 7 percent of all private sector workers, the lowest ever recorded.

3)Our minimum wage is pathetic, especially in comparison to other developed nations. (We're # 13.) Nobody can live decently on $7.25 an hour. Our poverty-level minimum wage puts downward pressure on the wages of all working people. And while we secure important victories for a few unpaid sick days, most other developed nations provide a month of guaranteed paid vacations as well as many paid sick days.

4)Wall Street is out of control. Once deregulation started 30 years ago, money has gushed to the top as Wall Street was free to find more and more unethical ways to fleece us.

5)Higher education puts our kids into debt. In most other countries higher education is practically tuition-free. Indebted students are not likely to accumulate wealth anytime soon.

6)It's hard to improve your station in life if you're in prison, often due to drug-related charges that don't even exist in other developed nations. In fact, we have the largest prison population in the entire world, and we have the highest percentage of minorities imprisoned. “In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records” (from Michelle Alexander's 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness).

 

noodlemanc

macrumors regular
Mar 25, 2010
208
17
Australasia
5)Higher education puts our kids into debt. In most other countries higher education is practically tuition-free. Indebted students are not likely to accumulate wealth anytime soon.
The reason why university costs so much is because the U.S government keeps dishing out cheap loans, greatly increasing the demand for degrees and thus pushing the price higher.

Also, what "most other countries" are these where higher education is practically tuition free? In both New Zealand and Australia, where I've lived, university degrees cost a ******** of money just like in America.
 

G51989

macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
2,506
10
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
I heard Thom Hartman talking about this today on his radio program and I had to look it up to double check. I knew things had deteriorated for the middle class in America but this, this is just sickening. How long before we start to advise our younger generation that their best shot at a good future will start with them relocating to another country?

http://www.alternet.org/economy/americas-middle-class-27th-richest

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires, and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet's riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that's what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it's a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we're number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution—50 percent of the adult population has more wealth, while 50 percent has less. You can't get more middle than that.

Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc.) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity. While the never-ending accumulation of wealth may be wrecking the planet, wealth also provides basic security, especially in a country like ours with such skimpy social programs. Wealth allows us to survive periods of economic turmoil. Wealth allows our children to go to college without incurring crippling debts, or to get help for the down payment on their first homes. As Billie Holiday sings, "God bless the child that's got his own."

Well, it's a sad song. As the chart below shows, there are 26 other countries with a median wealth higher than ours (and the relative reduction of U.S. median wealth has done nothing to make our economy more sustainable).

Why?

Here's a starter list:

1)We don't have real universal healthcare. We pay more and still have poorer health outcomes than all other industrialized countries. Should a serious illness strike, we also can become impoverished.

2)Weak labor laws undermine unions and give large corporations more power to keep wages and benefits down. Unions now represent less than 7 percent of all private sector workers, the lowest ever recorded.

3)Our minimum wage is pathetic, especially in comparison to other developed nations. (We're # 13.) Nobody can live decently on $7.25 an hour. Our poverty-level minimum wage puts downward pressure on the wages of all working people. And while we secure important victories for a few unpaid sick days, most other developed nations provide a month of guaranteed paid vacations as well as many paid sick days.

4)Wall Street is out of control. Once deregulation started 30 years ago, money has gushed to the top as Wall Street was free to find more and more unethical ways to fleece us.

5)Higher education puts our kids into debt. In most other countries higher education is practically tuition-free. Indebted students are not likely to accumulate wealth anytime soon.

6)It's hard to improve your station in life if you're in prison, often due to drug-related charges that don't even exist in other developed nations. In fact, we have the largest prison population in the entire world, and we have the highest percentage of minorities imprisoned. “In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records” (from Michelle Alexander's 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness).






/s off.

Yeah, this is why I wonder why anyone thinks America is the best at everything.

Its a great country full of mostly great and nice people. But it has serious issues.

----------

The reason why university costs so much is because the U.S government keeps dishing out cheap loans, greatly increasing the demand for degrees and thus pushing the price higher.

Also, what "most other countries" are these where higher education is practically tuition free? In both New Zealand and Australia, where I've lived, university degrees cost a ******** of money just like in America.


Higher education is crazy expensive in America.

I've lived in other developed countries, the one I have most experience with is France, my wife who is from there got a 4 years degree and a very highly ranked public university for about 750 Euros over a 4 year period.

That same level of education can easily cost 70,000 dollars in America.
 

FreemanW

macrumors 6502
Sep 10, 2012
472
87
The Real Northern California
I don't understand why this is news to anyone.

Class Warfare has been waged against the working class and middle class for decades.

The wealthy have won. The war is over.

The winners are writing/have written the history books to reflect their unfair persecution.
 

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,779
211
UK
Yea. America could do with subbing education and healthcare. (And banning guns but that is a totally different nest of vipers).
 

aerok

macrumors 65816
Oct 29, 2011
1,488
135
The reason why university costs so much is because the U.S government keeps dishing out cheap loans, greatly increasing the demand for degrees and thus pushing the price higher.

Also, what "most other countries" are these where higher education is practically tuition free? In both New Zealand and Australia, where I've lived, university degrees cost a ******** of money just like in America.
In Canada, students are given interest-free loans and bursaries during the time they study (BAC, MA and PHD). They are only obliged to pay when they are no longer in school full time. Interest kicks in but only 3% yearly interest. This does not include scolarships.

So your reason is just wrong.
 

jnpy!$4g3cwk

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2010
1,100
1,293
Doesn't it make more sense to compare by purchasing power? The US is fourth in terms of PPP.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_household_income
Without rehashing all of the discussions about it, PPP has serious problems, too. (Not that exchange rate is perfect by any means.) When you buy a hamburger in Bergen, Norway, there is a welfare state behind that hamburger that is supplying health care to the entire population. When you buy a shirt in Toulouse, the price includes VAT-- similar to sales tax, while the sales tax is "extra" in the U.S. and not the same in every state.

An overall comparison of how well the middle class is doing across a bunch of countries would have to include health, education, food quality, dwelling quality, and so on.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,373
UK
Without rehashing all of the discussions about it, PPP has serious problems, too. (Not that exchange rate is perfect by any means.) When you buy a hamburger in Bergen, Norway, there is a welfare state behind that hamburger that is supplying health care to the entire population. When you buy a shirt in Toulouse, the price includes VAT-- similar to sales tax, while the sales tax is "extra" in the U.S. and not the same in every state.

An overall comparison of how well the middle class is doing across a bunch of countries would have to include health, education, food quality, dwelling quality, and so on.
As far as I understand this is comparing disposable income so that stuff should be taken into account.
 

Sydde

macrumors 68020
Aug 17, 2009
2,105
2,163
IOKWARDI
27th? Wow, that is a lot higher than I would have guessed. Though, one does have to take into account the size of the "middle class", in US I understand that it is a pretty narrow band of people.
 

kingalexthe1st

macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2013
469
164
Does anyone in this thread live in Australia, or has spent a significant time there? Because on that list Australia is no. 1 by a large margin. But from what I know, the cost of living in Australia is pretty huge; everything is expensive. The same goes for Japan (3rd place, respectively)

What I'm getting at is that just putting up the middle-class $$$ without some sort of measure of the cost of living provides only one side of the picture. You can earn $5 a day, but if it costs 25 cents to live in a mansion then you're doing pretty well.

Also...
This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that's what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.
I thought it was fairly obvious this just doesn't happen. Unless you tax the rich (which the USA doesn't) then the only way to get that wealth back in to the system is to assume that the rich spend more. But not everyone who earns 100 times more than the next guy, spends 100 times more on clothes, gadgets and all the other stuff. So it just accumaltes at the top

Anyone seen Inequality For All? It's a documentary that talks about the middle class problem of America. It's pretty good.

Alex
 

Desertrat

macrumors newbie
Jul 4, 2003
2
706
Terlingua, Texas
By the late 1960s, developing nations had begun industrializing, and previously developed nations had pretty well rebuilt from WW II. That began taking us out of decent-pay blue-collar jobs. Thus the rate of pay increases didn't keep up with the increases in consumer price inflation initiated by LBJ's guns'n'butter policy. The increased taxation needed for the Great Society programs plus the increased slow-down of business activity from ever-greater regulation exacerbated the problem.

Once the economy shifted toward consumerism via debt, and financial transactions as an ever-larger sector of the overall economy, the middle class was well-shafted.

And it's getting worse. The monetary policy of the last six years guarantees it. Yellen ain't helping.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,373
UK
Does anyone in this thread live in Australia, or has spent a significant time there? Because on that list Australia is no. 1 by a large margin. But from what I know, the cost of living in Australia is pretty huge; everything is expensive. The same goes for Japan (3rd place, respectively)
I bet Britain is up at the top too. The reason is because housing is so expensive.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
2,428
1,722
America's Third World
By the late 1960s, developing nations had begun industrializing, and previously developed nations had pretty well rebuilt from WW II. That began taking us out of decent-pay blue-collar jobs.
That's an oversimplification. There's much, much more to the big picture that your explanation leaves out.

For one thing, you're missing the story of numerous emerging nations, the "low wage" newly industrialized countries that the American megacorps began farming out their manufacturing work to, beginning in the 1960s. Sure, the number of manufacturing jobs in America has declined, but in the mean time, the American mega-corporations have been doing well. Very, very well, in fact.

And guess what -- manufacturing jobs have begun to decline across the globe in recent years -- as automation and robotics has begun to replace more and more types of assembly line workers.

"Pretty much every economy around the world has a low or declining share of manufacturing jobs. According to OECD data, the U.K. and Australia have seen their share of manufacturing drop by around two-thirds since 1971. Germany’s share halved, and manufacturing’s contribution to gross domestic product there fell from 30 percent in 1980 to 22 percent today. In South Korea, a late industrializer and exemplar of miracle growth, the manufacturing share of employment rose from 13 percent in 1970 to 28 percent in 1991; it’s fallen to 17 percent today."

"The decline in manufacturing jobs isn’t confined to the (now) rich world. According to the Groningen Growth and Development Center, manufacturing jobs in Brazil climbed as a proportion of total employment from 12 percent in 1950 to 16 percent in 1986. Since then it’s slid to around 13 percent. In India, manufacturing accounted for 10 percent of employment in 1960, rising to 13 percent in 2002 before the level began to fall. China’s manufacturing employment share peaked at around 15 percent in the mid-1990s and has generally remained below that level since, estimates Harvard economist Dani Rodrik. As a proportion of output, manufacturing accounted for 40 percent of Chinese GDP in 1980 compared with 32 percent now."

Source: Why Factory Jobs Are Shrinking Everywhere

The old fashioned goods producing economy of the Post War period is obsolete -- we've moved into a Knowledge Based Economy in which "goods and services can be developed, bought, sold, and in many cases even delivered over electronic networks" and an increasing number of hard goods will be manufactured via more advanced technology, e.g., 3D printers, etc.

Thus the rate of pay increases didn't keep up with the increases in consumer price inflation initiated by LBJ's guns'n'butter policy.
Don't just blame LBJ. Blame all the policies and practices of both parties during the entire Cold War era that allowed the military industrial complex to flourish.

The increased taxation needed for the Great Society programs plus the increased slow-down of business activity from ever-greater regulation exacerbated the problem.
Are you serious? Thank goodness we did implement more regulations on industry, otherwise the bastards would still be dumping toxic crap into the air, onto land, and into the waters. Remember lead -- the crap industry used to use virtually everywhere on everything?

Once the economy shifted toward consumerism via debt, and financial transactions as an ever-larger sector of the overall economy, the middle class was well-shafted.
The fate of the middle class was sealed long before then.

And it's getting worse. The monetary policy of the last six years guarantees it. Yellen ain't helping.
Hmm? Can you elaborate on this?
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
17,060
16,564
The Misty Mountains
The fate of the middle class was sealed long before then.
It was sealed by Capitalism, the generator of great wealth, in combination with human greed, the "me over we, I deserve great wealth glutton" standard. It's a human moral failing the human species has yet to overcome.
 

localoid

macrumors 68020
Feb 20, 2007
2,428
1,722
America's Third World
It was sealed by Capitalism, the generator of great wealth, in combination with human greed, the "me over we, I deserve great wealth glutton" standard. It's a human moral failing the human species has yet to overcome.
Indeed. A little greed can be a good thing. Too much isn't.

Corporate profits and profit margins are at an all-time high -- to suggest that companies are suffering from "too much regulation" and "too many taxes" is absolutely absurd.
Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 5.06.33 PM.png

Meanwhile wages as a percent of the economy are at all-time low -- the profit maximization obsession is actually starving the rest of the economy of revenue growth.
Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 5.12.13 PM.png

And fewer Americans are employed than at any time in the past three decades -- the result of frantic firing of workers in the name of "efficiency" and "competitiveness" and "return on capital" is that the U.S. employment-to-population ratio has collapsed.
Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 5.19.18 PM.png

And the share of our national income that is going to the people who do the work ("labor") is at an all-time low -- income is going to owners ("capital"), who have it better today than they have ever had it before.
Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 5.21.32 PM.png

Source: If You're Wondering What's Wrong With America, Look At These Four Charts
 
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Dmunjal

macrumors 65816
Jun 20, 2010
1,488
1,201
It was sealed by Capitalism, the generator of great wealth, in combination with human greed, the "me over we, I deserve great wealth glutton" standard. It's a human moral failing the human species has yet to overcome.
Do you really believe that what we have in this country is capitalism? We haven't had that for a long time. The US is a fascist state with corporations and government colluding together to screw the average citizen. Calling it just crony capitalism would be too kind.
 
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