Friday, August 15, 2014

Mexico Or Bust! ...And Bust?

Notes taken from Thom Hartmann's presentation on c-span referring to his book, The Crash of 2016:

In spite of bubbles, busts and booms, one thing was true of our economy for the first 200 years or so of our existence. As productivity increased, wages increased.  Workers were rewarded with higher salaries or shorter hours which is, as a practical matter, the same thing. This changed under the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

The author points out that in the 19th century people worked anywhere from 60 to, in some cases, 80 hour work weeks.  By 1900 the average was 60 hours.  By the 1920s the average was 50 hours. By the 1950s the average was 40 hours, and that was generally a matter of law as well as simple economics.

In the 50s, 60s, and 70s we saw, for the first time in American history, three consecutive decades of GDP growth of over 3.2%. During those decades, America had the richest middle class in history. That middle-class had large amounts of equity in their homes giving them a net value which was the highest in the history of the world for an average population.  During those decades, the average American, while not what we would call wealthy, nevertheless was acquiring more wealth than ever before.  They may not have been rich, but they were definitely worth something more than their fathers or grandfathers or great great great great grandfathers had been.

Even more:  They had leisure time. They had pensions.  They had job security.  They had paid vacations!

Where did they get all of this? They got it from the well regulated, smoothly functioning,  free-market economy created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Before Ronald Reagan, and yes, right up to Ronald Reagan, we were:

The greatest creditor nation in the world. After Ronald Reagan we became the greatest debtor nation in the world.

We were the largest manufacturer and exporter of finished goods. After Reagan we became the largest importer of finished goods.

We were the largest importer of raw materials to make finished goods. We are now the largest exporter of raw materials to make finished goods.

So, in the 30 years since Ronald Reagan we have gone from the leader of the world in wealth to a state which we would have thought back in the 1970s could only happen to a Third World nation.

Now to be clear, remember that productivity has continued to increase, wages have not kept pace.  Average worker income in the 1980s was about $25,000. Average worker income today is about $25,000.Back then, a single worker earned enough money to keep the house, to support a household, and to accumulate wealth (usually in the form of home equity). Today both partners must work to barely keep afloat, and we have a long way to go before we recover from the devastating effects of the housing bubble.

What the hell happened?

Hint: What happened to destroy all of this was not the Democratic Party. Neither was it moderate or liberal Republicans (yes, Virginia, these things used to exist).

Conclusion: Keep voting Republican. They will turn America into a Third World country. We are heading toward Mexico as it was 20 years ago, even as Mexico benefits from a growing middle-class.The Dons and the Patrons will rule America. The rest of us will be peons. By the next century it is possible, if we keep electing Republican administrations and congresses, that Americans will be desperately trying to escape the poverty north of the border by sneaking our way across the Rio Grande to find jobs in Mexico.  That'll teach them a lesson! Let's see how they like it!

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