May 11, 2011

Coping. Or not.

In Robert Reich's Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, the author makes some interesting points. He sees the static or dwindling share of income for middle class and low income Americans to be a driving force behind the nation's economic problems. Since the late 1970s, incomes have been pretty much stuck for all but the wealthiest Americans.

Those outside of that happy circle had to cope as best they could with a changed reality that included a minimum wage that didn't keep up with the cost of living; assaults on unions; tax cuts for the wealthiest; shifting budget priorities; etc.

People coped as best they could as they tried to make up for stagnant incomes. Coping mechanisms included:

*more women entering the paid workforce. That's been pretty much maxed out.

*working longer hours. By the early years of this century, the average American family worked 350 hours more than the average European--and they worked 500 hours more than they did in 1979. You can max out there pretty easily too, assuming you can find work.

*drawing down savings and borrowing heavily. That didn't work out too well and isn't much of an option now.

Given the skewed priorities of those driving the agenda in Washington, things are likely to get worse, minus the coping mechanisms.

There's more about the book here.

GOVERNMENT BY PEOPLE WHO HATE YOU, CONTINUED. The House Republican plan to block grant Medicaid and related proposals (including the budget cap supported by WV's Joe Manchin) is going to hit seniors hardest of all. Seventy percent of people in nursing homes rely on Medicaid since even middle class families run through savings and assets quickly in such circumstances.

DENY THIS. Floods and extreme weather events keep piling up, even while politicians continue to deny climate change and/or block actions to deal with it.

DEFINITELY DENY THIS. From Coal Tattoo, here's info on yet another study of the health effects associated with mountaintop removal mining.


1 comment:

hollowdweller said...

El Cabrero/Donkey Whisperer,

Did you see the German Article on the Decline of the USA?

It quotes Reich a lot:,1518,726447,00.html