Richard Wolff describes the economic reality facing most people living in post-crash America:
The combination of high unemployment and high home foreclosures assures a deeply depressed economy. The mass of US citizens cannot work more hours – the US already is No 1 in the world in the average number of hours of paid labour done per year per worker. The mass of US citizens cannot borrow much more because of debt levels already teetering on the edge of unsustainability for most consumers. Real wages are going nowhere because of high unemployment enabling employers everywhere to refuse significant wage increases. Job-related benefits (pensions, medical insurance, holidays, etc) are being pared back.
There is thus no discernible basis for a substantial recovery for the mass of Americans.
Of course the banks and super wealthy have not suffered from the mess they created – the government stepped in to ensure their losses were covered and they could borrow cheaply enough to climb back on top. The rest of us however, have had to contend with market forces without the flow of cheap credit or government support. The results have been disastrous for the majority of Americans, the economic divide increasing exponentially and serious poverty becoming an epidemic.
Where does this lead? Societies are too complicated to make accurate predictions, but history tells us that these trends cannot go on forever. There is only so long that the people can be told their country works for them while their earnings go down and savings evaporate. The disconnect is made possible by relentless propaganda emanating from the wealthy, dispersed through their paid for politicians and giant media conglomerates, and swallowed by work weary citizens unable or unwilling to face reality.
Because that reality is so unfair and unjust that only massive action can reverse it – and when couples are working four jobs to put food on the table, there simply isn’t the time or energy to face it.
That is until it gets so bad that people have no choice but to act, and given the alarming acceleration of economic decline, that time may be sooner than we think.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.