Tuesday, February 04, 2014

NY Times: Holy Crap, the Middle Class Is Disappearing

The middle class is disappearing.
In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.
As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.
Sigh.  Once again, for what seems to be the hundredth time...this is the predictable (and predicted) outcome of the Obamacrats' economic policy.
How did they achieve this feat? Easy. First we must start with a misdiagnosis of the financial crisis. Politicians blamed it all on the banks and business, when it was largely the creation of government through highly distorted incentives. They further chose to tackle a financial panic, a monetary event, as a traditional business cycle recession and applied traditional counter-cyclical Keynesian "stimulus". Also, coming out of the financial crisis, the politicians ramped up both anti-business rhetoric and an anti-business policy agenda the likes of which this country hasn't see in seventy years. So as the monetary disruptions healed, the government was sucking the oxygen out of the economy by crowding out private capital to borrow and spend on "stimulus" and sending risk-takers to hide under their desks. So as the world beyond our borders recovered, having indulged in less over the top business bashing, US manufacturers have been able to secure alot of business exporting our great products to the world, but have little incentive to hire (ObamaCare) and expand here at home (card-check, EPA, NLRB, etc). Ergo the profits but not too much hiring. So that's how we got an economy that stinks for "workers" but is OK for "owners".
Plus, the Democrats are pining away for lost era - the union-driven, middle class golden age of post-WW2 America - that was arguably an anomaly and may never come back.  Michael Barone's well-founded theorizing has dubbed this era the "Mid-century Moment".  Problem is, says Barone, that it was just that, a moment unique to the mid-20th century.


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