13 06 2009

GOP-Leaning Majority Fading in U.S.

(This report in the Washington Post tells about an in-depth analysis of recent political outcomes made  by experts from both right and left.)

I’ve always felt this shift would happen eventually. Here’s why:

This chart, in the blog of economist Paul Krugman, shows the share of the nation’s total income that has gone to the richest 10 percent of the American population over the past 90 years. There was a startling increase in the percentage of total income that THE REST OF US received back in 1942, and a steep decrease in our percentage of the pie beginning in 1982. Krugman calls this increasing widening of the gap between the Rich and THE REST OF US “the great divergence.”

I could see the results of this divergence, starting back around 1990, in the everyday life going on around me. A few of the indicators I saw:

1.  Continual growth of Walmart, and, at the other end of the retail scale, of high-end
retailers like Neiman-Marcus, while retailers like Sears steadily declined.

This was evidence that the rich had ever more money to spend, while THE REST OF US had ever less, so we had to make finding “the best price” the controlling criterion in all our buying.

2. Continual decrease in the American savings rate, and a matching increase in use of credit.

This was evidence that THE REST OF US were being increasingly pinched as we tried to maintain a middle-class lifestyle on incomes that were not growing and often shrinking.

3. Observation of my fellow low-level office workers, among whom both parents’
working has become essentially universal, and among whom the wives invariably
take off no more than six weeks for childbearing — a period that I could see routinely
caused moms to leave their new babies so early that it almost broke their hearts to
do so. (And, no, most of these, are not jobs that represent promising careers for the
moms that would make them eager to get back to work.)

4. Ever-growing number-of-hours-worked-per-year statistics for THE REST OF US in
the USA, so that we are now THE people in the entire world who work the most. (We
passed the Japanese some time ago!)

This weakening of the American middle class relative to American rich people was the inevitable result of the long dominance of Republican ideas here. In every Western country since the middle of the 19th Century there has always been a Right, which represents the interests of the owners of capital, and a Left, which tries to make life better for workers.

That is the essence of the great, long contention between the two sides of the political  spectrum — an economic class struggle, represented in the USA by the struggle between Democrats and Republican. And ever since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 Republicans and Republican ideas have predominated here.

When workers are continually being weakened economically, eventually the worm will turn, and we will have a swing to the Left.

We are now seeing that swing begin.




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