I can remember just a few years ago there were stories articulating how people in the top 1% income bracket were feeling insecure about their wealth. The reason was because those in the top 0.1% income bracket were getting so much richer than they were. Well, those stories are gone, but I won’t forget what they implied: the different income classes had shifted up, or down depending on your point of view. The upper class now had a segment that felt middle class, the middle class was now impoverished, and those that were poor were ignored to the point of nonexistence. Here is a chart I used from a post of mine titled Really Rich and Really Really Rich from June 23, 2008:
It just seems so ridiculous to talk about this now. Almost like a bad dream. But the inequality factor is very real. Productivity was very good over the last two decades and yet most of the wealth went to the top of the pyramid. This happened for a myriad of reasons including the threat of off shoring. Well today in the NY Times Bob Herbert wrote an Op-Ed piece describing this situation. It is called Reviving the Dream. Mr. Herbert hits on most of the vital stats and even grazes my 30 year President idea. I agree with what he says but he doesn’t offer a reason beyond failed theories – trickle down economics.
The reason for income inequality is mainly one of leverage. The US Worker is still just about better than anyone in the world, but that gap is very narrow compared to some time ago. A lot of that has to do with education and values. I’ve spoke to education frequently, but I haven’t really touched on values.
Values are changing in the US. Wealth is still very important but the field of play has become inaccessible to so many people that they decided to play a different game. I purposely don’t say “new game” because there has always been a subset doing things their way.
I wish I could easily coin a term for what these values are, but they are still evolving.
Here is what we know. These changing values are close to sustainability, but aren’t exactly just being “green” since that has become a marketing gimmick. They are about relationships but with some implicit understanding of deep relationships and superficial ones. Uniqueness is tied in some how, but not in a weird to be weird sort of way. And Science Fiction writers carry no cache because they can’t possibly come up with anything anyone would reasonably think is how things would turn out. It is so wide open.
But I will go out on a limb and predict one thing – the middle class doen’t exist anymore. And no one cares.