The angle of a just-released New York University study is, of course, that ole’ left-wing canard known as “income inequality,” but the findings are still useful in drawing other conclusions, and not ones that are very pleasant. Is America now a bigger version of Chicago, where Democrats and the media have so expertly rigged the electoral game that, even as their policies fai,l they’re able to stay in power?
According to the study, we are now back to 1969 levels with respect to median net worth in this country. A large part of this is the housing crisis we’ve yet to recover from, which cost the middle class 18% of its net worth. The news isn’t much better with respect to median incomes, which have dropped to $26,364, setting us all the way back to 1999.
And as middle class incomes declined, the debt-load among the middle class has increased “significantly.”
In a nutshell: those of us in the middle class earn less, are worth less, and owe more. Meanwhile, during this same period of time, the wealthy increased their wealth by an unbelievable 71%.
Normally, I don’t care about the gap between the rich and the rest of us. I’m not rich, and at the age of 46, it’s probably safe to say I’ll never be rich; but I didn’t care because I begrudge no one their success. But that was before…
Before we looted the Treasury and mortgaged the futures of generations to bail out the Too Big To Fails; before we started losing ground while the Bailed Out prospered.
What’s especially troubling, though, is that it didn’t have to be like this. All of us, rich and poor alike, would be doing fine had Barack Obama only done what Ronald Reagan did when Reagan inherited an economic situation even more dire than the one Obama inherited. Instead of getting out of the way of the economy, though, Obama did just the opposite.
Obama exploded the deficit, attempted to micro-manage the economy through a failed stimulus, enslaved tens of millions on various forms of social welfare, hyper-regulated everything through policies like Dodd-Frank, and created years of economic uncertainty with leviathans like ObamaCare and the creation of one debt ceiling/fiscal cliff economic crisis after another.
Now those of us in the middle class are going backwards. The rich, however, are getting richer, because the rich always get richer. What’s galling this time, though, is that the size of the pie is decreasing for the rest of us.
Which wouldn’t be so troubling had Obama not just won re-election — in large part with the support of the wealthy who understand that Obama’s class warfare rhetoric isn’t so much about punishing them as it is about empowering the government — which in turn protects the wealthy. Bank of America, General Electric, and the monster conglomerates that share ownership in most mainstream media outlets love it when cumbersome government regulations increase the cost of doing business.
They can afford it. Their biggest threat — up and coming competition — cannot.
See how this works?
But I digress.
What does it say about the everyday American people that falling incomes, chronic unemployment, increasing poverty, collapsing net worth, and stagnant economic growth qualifies as an acceptable enough record to win a second chance to do more of the same? But the most frightening prospect in all of this is that our current economic situation has apparently become the new and accepted normal.
People seem to have forgotten the boom times between 1983 and 2007 — almost a quarter century of unprecedented growth, incredibly low unemployment, manageable deficits, and a growing of the wealth pie that was interrupted only by two shallow recessions. Just a few years ago, the thought of celebrating 100,000 new jobs per month and a 2.7% GDP was unimaginable.
And yet, here we are.
But what does it mean?
Well, my worst fear is that Obama and the Democrats have cracked the same electoral code Obama and the Democrats cracked in Chicago and most every big city in America. A code that wins them election after election after election in places like Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, even as those cities literally crumble into bankruptcy before the voters’ eyes.
But if you get enough people on the government dole; divide the population as a whole but conquer through a fractured coalition; empower the unions, and so weaken, defeat, and demonize the opposition (Republicans) — you can stay in power even as your policies decimate everything they touch.
Oh, and the media. In order for America to become The United States of Chicago, Democrats must own the media — a corporatist media for a corporatist party that defends the status quo, demonizes the opposition, and, most importantly, regards the creation of 100,000 jobs and a 2.7% GDP as something worth celebrating.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC