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The last days of the middle-class world citizen
October 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.
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what I think Janan Ganesh is talking about; the divide between the globally mobile elite and the locally restricted peasantry is getting increasingly stark, and the middle class is being hollowed out.
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'10s  Big_Tech  climate_change  decline  deglobalization  disposable_income  downward_mobility  dystopian_futures  frictions  future  globalization  Janan_Ganesh  lifestyles  middle_class  millennials  pessimism  societal_choices  subtractive  The_One_Percent  thought-provoking  travel 
9 weeks ago by jerryking
Reaganomics killed America's middle class | Salon.com
This country's fate was sealed when our government slashed taxes on the rich back in 1980
There's nothing "normal" about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it's a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation's middle class.
Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens' novels.
At the top there is a very small class of superrich. Below them, there is a slightly larger, but still very small, "middle" class of professionals and mercantilists - doctor, lawyers, shop-owners - who help keep things running for the superrich and supply the working poor with their needs. And at the very bottom there is the great mass of people - typically over 90 percent of the population - who make up the working poor. They have no wealth - in fact they're typically in debt most of their lives - and can barely survive on what little money they make.
So, for average working people, there is no such thing as a middle class in "normal" capitalism. Wealth accumulates at the very top among the elites, not among everyday working people. Inequality is the default option.
gov2.0  politics  80s  GOP  taxes  economics  middle_class 
august 2019 by rgl7194
An equation to ensure America survives the age of AI
April 10, 2019 | Financial Times | Elizabeth Cobbs.

Alexander Hamilton, Horace Mann and Frances Perkins are linked by their emphasis on the importance of human learning.

In more and more industries, the low-skilled suffer declining pay and hours. McKinsey estimates that 60 per cent of occupations are at risk of partial or total automation. Workers spy disaster. Whether the middle class shrinks in the age of artificial intelligence depends less on machine learning than on human learning. Historical precedents help, especially...... the Hamilton-Mann-Perkins equation: innovation plus education, plus a social safety net, equals the sum of prosperity.

(1) Alexander Hamilton.
US founding father Alexander Hamilton was first to understand the relationship between: (a) the US's founding coincided with the industrial revolution and the need to grapple with technological disruption (In 1776, James Watts sold his first steam engine when the ink was still wet on the Declaration of Independence)-- Steam remade the world economically; and (b), America’s decolonisation remade the world politically......Hamilton believed that Fledgling countries needed robust economies. New technologies gave them an edge. Hamilton noted that England owed its progress to the mechanization of textile production.......Thomas Jefferson,on the other hand, argued that the US should remain pastoral: a free, virtuous nation exchanged raw materials for foreign goods. Farmers were “the chosen people”; factories promoted dependence and vice.....Hamilton disagreed. He thought colonies shouldn’t overpay foreigners for things they could produce themselves. Government should incentivise innovation, said his 1791 Report on the Subject of Manufactures. Otherwise citizens would resist change even when jobs ceased to provide sufficient income, deterred from making a “spontaneous transition to new pursuits”.......the U.S. Constitution empowered Congress to grant patents to anyone with a qualified application. America became a nation of tinkerers...Cyrus McCormick, son of a farmer, patented a mechanical reaper in 1834 that reduced the hands needed in farming. The US soared to become the world’s largest economy by 1890. Hamilton’s constant: nurture innovation.

(2) Horace Mann
America’s success gave rise to the idea that a free country needed free schools. The reformer Horace Mann, who never had more than six weeks of schooling in a year, started the Common School Movement, calling public schools “the greatest discovery made by man”.....Grammar schools spread across the US between the 1830s and 1880s. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the tools for success in industrialising economies. Towns offered children a no-cost education.......Americans achieved the world’s highest per capita income just as they became the world’s best-educated people. Mann’s constant: prioritise education.

(3) Frances Perkins
Jefferson was correct that industrial economies made people more interdependent. By 1920, more Americans lived in towns earning wages than on farms growing their own food. When the Great Depression drove unemployment to 25 per cent, the state took a third role....FDR recruited Frances Perkins, the longest serving labour secretary in US history, to rescue workers. Perkins led campaigns that established a minimum wage and maximum workweek. Most importantly, she chaired the committee that wrote the 1935 Social Security Act, creating a federal pension system and state unemployment insurance. Her achievements did not end the depression, but helped democracy weather it. Perkins’s constant: knit a safety net.

The world has ridden three swells of industrialisation occasioned by the harnessing of steam, electricity and computers. The next wave, brought to us by AI, towers over us. History shows that innovation, education and safety nets point the ship of state into the wave.

Progress is a variable. Hamilton, Mann and Perkins would each urge us to mind the constants in the historical equation.
adaptability  Alexander_Hamilton  artificial_intelligence  automation  constitutions  disruption  downward_mobility  education  FDR  Founding_Fathers  Frances_Perkins  gig_economy  historical_precedents  hollowing_out  Horace_Mann  Industrial_Revolution  innovation  innovation_policies  James_Watts  job_destruction  job_displacement  job_loss  life_long_learning  low-skilled  McKinsey  middle_class  priorities  productivity  public_education  public_schools  safety_nets  slavery  steam_engine  the_Great_Depression  Thomas_Jefferson  tinkerers 
april 2019 by jerryking
The Shrinking Middle Class: By the Numbers | Fortune
The Tightening Squeeze of City Living The information revolution has increased the concentration of jobs in certain U.S. cities, especially in a few hotly competitive…
class  middle_class  economics  data_visualization 
april 2019 by jstenner
The Hoarding of the American Dream - The Atlantic
In a new book, a Brookings scholar argues that the upper-middle class has enriched itself and harmed economic mobility.
There’s a certain type of financial confessional that has had a way of going viral in the post-recession era. The University of Chicago law professor complaining his family was barely keeping their heads above water on $250,000 a year. This hypothetical family of three in San Francisco making $200,000, enjoying vacations to Maui, and living hand-to-mouth. This real New York couple making six figures and merely “scraping by.”
In all of these viral posts, denizens of the upper-middle class were attempting to make the case for their middle class-ness. Taxes are expensive. Cities are expensive. Tuition is expensive. Children are expensive. Travel is expensive. Tens of thousands of dollars a month evaporate like cold champagne spilled on a hot lanai, they argue. And the 20 percent are not the one percent.  
class  culture  economics  politics  gov2.0  middle_class  education 
november 2018 by rgl7194
The Rich Are Loving the Economy — It’s a Different Story for Regular Americans - WhoWhatWhy
Here are three indisputable facts: US GDP is up, the stock market is higher than ever, and unemployment is low.
President Donald Trump is quick to remind us of these facts, while largely taking credit:
Our Country is doing GREAT. Best financial numbers on the Planet. Great to have USA WINNING AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
The news from the Financial Markets is even better than anticipated. For all of you that have made a fortune in the markets, or seen your 401k’s rise beyond your wildest expectations, more good news is coming!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2018
JUST OUT: 3.9% Unemployment. 4% is Broken! In the meantime, WITCH HUNT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2018
It’s questionable whether these glowing numbers are attributable to Trump, but nevertheless they are a reality. Is it a cause for celebration? Should American workers be thankful for the economic position the US is in today? Perhaps.
But sometimes saying something that’s true can mask an ugly reality, if the stated truth is not given its proper context, or if other truths are left out.
Here are some other indisputable facts:
The richest 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of all stocks.
The top one percent own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, while the top 20 own 90 percent.
A majority of Americans can’t cover a $1,000 emergency.
One third of Americans have less than $1,000 tucked away for retirement, while another third have none whatsoever.
Forty percent of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic necessity, such as food, rent, utilities, and health care.
Approximately one third of hourly employees are working at near minimum wage.
Adjusted for inflation, minimum-wage workers in 1968 made more than today’s workers make.
Only one tenth of one percent of American workers earning minimum wage can afford a one-bedroom apartment in any state, while none can afford a two-bedroom.
Credit card debt is at an all-time high; the average worker owes $6,375.
One third of Americans hold debt that is currently in collection.
Adjusted for inflation, for most workers real wages have been stagnant for 40 years.
Union membership has been on a nearly 70-year decline.
economics  stock_market  middle_class  trump  politics  gov2.0  twitter 
september 2018 by rgl7194
Many Middle-Class Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck - The Atlantic
Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.
Since 2013, the federal reserve board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?
Well, I knew. I knew because I am in that 47 percent.
economics  finances  middle_class  money  credit_cards 
september 2018 by rgl7194
The Circles of American Financial Hell - The Atlantic
There’s no escaping the pressure that U.S. inequality exerts on parents to make sure their kids succeed.
More than a half-century ago, Betty Friedan set out to call attention to “the problem that has no name,” by which she meant the dissatisfaction of millions of American housewives.
Today, many are suffering from another problem that has no name, and it’s manifested in the  bleak financial situations of millions of middle-class—and even upper-middle-class—American households.
Poverty doesn’t describe the situation of middle-class Americans, who by definition earn decent incomes and live in relative material comfort. Yet they are in financial distress. For people earning between $40,000 and $100,000 (i.e. not the very poorest), 44 percent said they could not come up with $400 in an emergency (either with cash or with a credit card whose bill they could pay off within a month). Even more astonishing, 27 percent of those making more than $100,000 also could not. This is not poverty. So what is it?
middle_class  education  children  finances  economics  houses  money 
september 2018 by rgl7194
How to Teach White Kids About Race - The Atlantic
The sociologist Margaret Hagerman spent two years embedded in upper-middle-class white households, listening in on conversations about race.
When Margaret Hagerman was trying to recruit white affluent families as subjects for the research she was doing on race, one prospective interviewee told her, “I can try to connect you with my colleague at work who is black. She might be more helpful.”
To Hagerman, that response was helpful in itself. She is a sociologist at Mississippi State University, and her new book, White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege in a Racially Divided America, summarizes the two years of research she did talking to and observing upper-middle-class white families in an unidentified midwestern city and its suburbs. To examine how white children learn about race, she followed 36 of them between the ages of 10 and 13, interviewing them as well as watching them do homework, play video games, and otherwise go about their days.
books  education  racism  society  family  children  middle_class 
september 2018 by rgl7194
Is Thomas Goode a sleeping giant of British retail?
August 31, 2018 | Financial Times | by Horatia Harrod.

200 year old Thomas Goode & Co is a homewares powerhouse.... Outfitted in morning suits, the staff — many of whom have worked at Thomas Goode for more than two decades — are solicitous and impeccably well-informed. There’s only one thing lacking. Customers....Johnny Sandelson, is the property entrepreneur who acquired the store for an undisclosed amount in July 2018. .....Sandelson has set himself the task of waking the company up — and it’s going to take more than just turning on the lights. What is required is a 21st-century overhaul....Thomas Goode sells more over the phone than it does online, for the simple reason it has no ecommerce platform. Some 40 per cent of its £5m in annual sales comes from special orders — a loyal client outfitting their new yacht or private jet — but oligarchs alone are unlikely to keep the business afloat....The plan, Sandelson says, is to democratise. “Fortnums did it, Smythson did it. Those great British brands reinvented themselves to become relevant to the affluent middle classes, but Thomas Goode didn’t.”.......Sandelson hopes that, in an age of experiential retail, the shop’s peerless service will entice a new generation of customers. He’s also eyeing up collaborations to reach those for whom the Thomas Goode name has little resonance.......Parts of the business that had lain dormant are to be revived, with an injection of £10m-£15m in investment. There’s a voluminous archive to be mined for designs, and production of tableware in the Thomas Goode name is being restarted at factories in Stoke-on-Trent......Sandelson is committed to a revival. “We’re unashamedly proud of our British heritage and our British brand,” he says. “To honour that, you have to be involved with a very high standard of manufacturing in Britain. There would be cheaper ways of going about things, but the British way stands for quality. Stoke-on-Trent has been producing beautiful plates for 200 years. So it works for us.”....Almost inevitably, the top floors of the South Audley Street flagship are to be turned into luxury flats. “Will we be able to afford a shop of this scale in the coming years?” says Sandelson. “I think the brand is bigger than the premises. I’m pursuing the dream on the basis that the building will be developed over time and we’ll hope to have a space within it.”
21st._century  brands  commercial_real_estate  entrepreneur  experiential_marketing  gift_ideas  heritage  history  homewares  London  luxury  middle_class  property_development  real_estate  retailers  restorations  revitalization  turnarounds  United_Kingdom  Victorian 
september 2018 by jerryking
JORDAN’S GABBA3AT MOMENT - The Black Iris, June 4, 2018
Moreover, if the State does nothing to leverage this moment to drastically and genuinely change the course we’re on, tensions between the governed and the governing will inevitably grow, erupting more frequently and more violently. And this is just what the doctor ordered for Jordanians: increased levels of stress, frustration, and aggression. It might be in the everyday occurrence of increased crime rates, or fist fights at traffic lights, or facing off with police at protests. Whatever shape or form it takes, an increasingly heavily armed populace and an increasingly heavily armed security apparatus simply increase the probability of violence in any situation. Let alone a situation in which they are compelled to face off with each other, despite their mutual economic suffering.

And it’s this last point that’s most concerning to me.

Because the best-case scenario for the State – a setting where calm has been restored to an overwhelmingly expensive country – is just that: the best-case scenario. A scenario that comes down to buying time, because at the end of the day, this is the currency the State trades in. It has a tendency to move the goal posts, but in the process also delaying the inevitable, and rendering it all the much more volatile down the line. Those distributing water today can just as easily be shooting rubber bullets, and the differentiating line can easily become blurred in moments of public panic, anger, apprehension, resentment, or fear.
protests  economy  Jordan  austerity  middle_class  taxes 
july 2018 by elizrael

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