40% of US workers make less than $20K a year. This is supposedly the poverty line, but that line is calculated in a pretty kooky way. People I know who are single making $50K a year seem barely to make ends meet. They live in run down homes that they rent significantly worse than those they grew up in, drive older cars that barely run, have a few small luxuries if they’re lucky like cable and a smart phone, and that’s about it. . . . almost no savings, often no insurance, and few of other marks of security and stability from America’s golden era of low immigration from roughly 1945-1975.
Lots of things are driving this devolution, but the biggest are the pincers of liberalized global trade and de facto open borders, both of which have led to wage competition with the impoverished Third World for workers in every sector of the economy, other than perhaps the “knowledge” sector, which few are equipped to excel in. This squeeze has led to a relatively low investment, lower capital:worker ratio, even as productivity may increase in this or that enterprise due to long hours, worker immobility, and high motivation in the era of high unemployment. One must add to these drains on the worker’s standard of living the growing cohorts of dependents–spendthrift retirees, pseudo-disabled, single mom welfare cases, prisoners, and the like–who suck out money from the economy and workers at every level, so that the tax burden increases and leads to lower reserves for private sector investment. Finally, it seems the era of cheap energy and plentiful fiat-money-fueled-consumer-lending were also blips that created an artificially prolonged sense of possibility and wealth that may never have realistically been sustainable.
Even so, the immigration piece is controllable. Countries with low immigration like Japan or Switzerland are, frankly, more pleasant to live in, have more community, more harmony, and, most important, maintain the balance of power and even commingling between the working classes and the investor classes. There is a social solidarity missing form the polyglot, increasingly divided US. The super rich today are frequently unpatriotic, often not from here, engaged not in creating productive enterprise but rather more complex gambling schemes under the rubric of financial engineering, and are not infrequently actively hostile to the middle class. The political classes share their worldview, often move back and forth along the NY and DC corridor, and have barely concealed contempt for the rubes back home. Both favor high levels of immigration because it cheapens labor-intensive services that they all benefit from, such as landscaping, house cleaners, the cost of dining out, and the like. They are both hostile to the those who cling to “guns and religion” out here in the provinces. They foist gay marriage and promote universal whoredom as a means of demoralizing the proles, even as they themselves are often exquisitely self conscious of the mores, respectability, and ethnic consciousness of their own sons and daughters.
There is no doubt this situation has something to do with the wage pressure on the American worker. The Wall Street Journal and others scoff at opponents of these aspects of the “global economy” as if we’re know-nothings, even though it’s a basic aspect of the law of supply and demand that pushing the supply curve to the right (i.e., increasing it) increases output and lowers price. Price is the wage of workers, so we have seen stock prices rise, the GDP grow, and other indicators of economic success buoyed by our 20 year expansion of coolie labor, but the American worker has seen his wages stagnate and decline oftentimes. It’s a national disgrace, and politicians from both parties and the cosmopolitan, unpatriotic outlook they share are to blame.